when mother nature says slow down

I had such big plans as 2014 started.  Oh, my list of projects was long.  Rather than being overwhelmed, I was excited to get started.  About halfway through the month, I started getting a little cold — you know the one — a few sniffles here and there, a scratchy throat, a cough or two.  Then I started getting tired.  Like super tired, I don’t want to do anything tired.  If I was a napper, I would have napped a lot.  Unfortunately, naps and I don’t mix even when I’m sick.  If I nap during the day, I can completely forget about sleeping at night.  Normally, I would fight the urge to do nothing, but this time, I embraced it.  I have to admit it was nice.

I kicked all my projects to the curb.  In fact, I kicked everything that wasn’t essential to the curb.  I tidied the house, did school and hung out with the boys, made dinner (sorta), and sat on my duff.   It’s actually quite amazing the things you can check off you to-do list while seemingly doing nothing.

School was a ton more fun without the nagging feeling that I had other stuff that I need to do cluttering up my time with the boys.  We actually did all of the fun science activities that went along with our lessons.  Friday, we made our own volcano complete with the destruction of the dinosaurs per Thomas’ request.

volcano 002Here’s the actual eruption.

Sorry for those that got sea sick.  I really need to work on keeping steady while recording.  Anyway, it was fun.  I also need to be better about just spending time with the boys doing things that they want to do rather than only doing things with them that I think they need to do.

While on my duff, I read.  I forgot how much I enjoy reading.  Life of Pi has been on my reading list for over a decade.  I kid you not.  I finally read it.  I’m still not sure if I liked it or not; however, it has certainly stuck with me.   I even checked out the movie from the library this weekend and made Greg watch it with me hoping that I could find some sort of closure to all my thoughts.  No such luck.  If you’re a deep thinker — you’ll love it.  If you like neat and tidy endings — this book is not for you.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts.

I also continued my quest to find a learning to read program for Muf.  I tried the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  I liked it’s good solid style, but Muf lasted about five minutes.  Total no go for him.  Next, I tried doing a few things on my own.  Bad idea.  This last week, I checked out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons from the library.  It’s not my ideal, but I think it will be a good fit for Muf.  We did our first lesson this morning.  When we got to the end, he wanted to do more.  I’m taking that as a good sign, and I ordered the book.  I’ll keep you posted.

I also picked up a copy of the FastDiet from the library.  My sister had just finished reading it and thought I might be interested.  Basically, you fast two days a week (not necessarily back to back and it’s not really a fast — women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories on fast days) and the other five days you eat normally.  The research presented in the book is really impressive.  You lose weight (nice) but there are a bunch of other health benefits linked to fasting including lowering your risks of cancer, diabetes, and even dementia.  I’m giving it a try — what the heck.  So I’m off to sip on some broth and sit on my duff.

Wait, I’m actually feeling better today.  Drat — even though I’m not technically sick anymore, a little downtime during the day is probably not such a bad thing.

it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas — finally

I decided this weekend that it was finally time to do something about Christmas — you know, since it’s less than two weeks away.  Anyway, here are a few of the highlights.

This is our mantle — eventually, it will have a few stockings hung up with care, but really, we have way too many for them all to be hung.

Image

ImageThis is our family room tree.  It’s the tree for all of the ornaments the kids have collected over the years.  It’s hard to believe that pretty soon many of the ornaments will be hanging on other trees.

ImageThis is the tree in our living room.  It’s been unofficially labeled my tree because I’ve made most of the ornaments on the tree.  It’s simple and understated.  What I’d like to be — one day.

ImageThis year I added a new ornament.  I’m really pleased with the way they turned out.

I also added a new sign to our front window this year.
ImageIt’s a great reminder for me to stay happy this time of year and not get bogged down in the details and the hustle and bustle.

Oh, and I have to show off my birthday present.  We finally put it up this weekend and even threw on some lights.  It was worth the wait.

ImageBy far, my favorite Christmas decorations are the nativities.  That’s what Christmas is all about after all.  This is the one in our living room.  I made it oh so many years ago when I was on my mission teaching others about the life and ministry of this tiny babe of Bethlehem.

ImageAnd here’s the nativity from our family room.  Whenever I look at it, it’s as though I am transported back to that first Christmas night.  I can almost hear the angels singing.

ImageGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.  Merry Christmas.

down on the farm

Oh wow, it’s been longer than I thought.  We’ve had all kinds of craziness around here.  We headed up north to spend Thanksgiving with family (holy cow did we have a good time) and got home just in time to put the finishing touches on our congregation’s Christmas party, bite our nails as Hayden tried out for Heritage’s production of Phantom of the Opera (first ever high school production in Arizona), and get Taryn out the door for winter formal.  Once I get all my photos in some kind of order, I’ll share.

So now, we’re buzzing around trying to get our house ready for Christmas in between holiday parties, concerts, and other various and sundry obligations.  I’m not a big holiday decorator, but I do like decorating for Christmas — nothing crazy, just a few things here and there.  In my imaginary world, I was going to have it all done by this morning.  Umm, no.  So you’ll have to wait for those pictures as well.  Don’t hold your breath, you may not see them until New Years.

Our biggest news comes from the homestead front.  A few days before we left for Thanksgiving, we received word from the state that the quarantine on our property had been officially lifted.  HURRAY!  We quickly made arrangements to pick up our new goats.  With that, we pleased to introduce the newest residents at Blissful Homestead — Strawberry Shortcake, Flame Princess, and Daisy.

052

054

Strawberry and Princess love playing on their chicken poop covered table, and Daisy is sweet as sweet can be.  All come from awesome milking lines and we’re really optimistic.  Strawberry recently miscarried a kid, but there’s a possibility that she is still pregnant.  We’re going to try and have an ultrasound done to find out for sure.  Princess may be with kid as well, we should have the pregnancy test results back tomorrow.  Daisy, well, she’s too young to be going on any dates, but by this spring, she should be good to go.

060

All the animals seem to be getting along great.  It was kind of funny watching the chickens after the goats moved in.  They didn’t quite know what to think.  Oddly, the goats and rabbits really seem to like each other.

The little chickens are getting huge.  Pretty soon they’ll be ready to move in with the rest of the flock.  They’re not quite a skittish as they used to be and will even pose for a picture or two.

041

042

We did run into a bit of trouble this week.  We had a few nights where we dropped below freezing.  The peas, beets, and broccoli, seemed to fare the best.

047046

048

The lettuce and swiss chard did okay.

043

The tomatoes, corn, and zucchini — not so much.

044

050

045

Pretty sad looking.  Oh well, we’re happy to chalk it up to another learning experience.  We planted a little too late this year — timing is everything.

Speaking of timing — I better run — that count down to Christmas clock is really moving fast.

our week — 23 jul 2013

I can’t believe July is almost over.  I’m pretty sure I make some sort of similar comment every time I post about our week.  Sorry.  Not too much going on around here.  We did receive a little relief in the heat department.  Temperatures have finally settled back down into the low 100s.  I think we even had a high in the 90s this week.  Sad that 98 degrees is reason to celebrate.  Anyway, relief came because of some much appreciated rain.

ImageImageImage

How can you not play in the rain when it comes only five or six times a year (okay, maybe a few more times, but not many.)

We picked the last of our pumpkins this week, I think the goats are enjoying them the most.  (Speaking of goats, we’re drying up Cyclone in preparation for her hopeful delivery this fall.  We’re already missing the milk.)  Got off track, back to the garden — our butternut squash is still not quite done and has oddly started producing again.  The leaves are still as green as can be.  Same is true with our sugar baby watermelon plant.  Much to my surprise, I counted eight new little watermelons starting to grow.  Hurray.

jul 23 010

Joy’s little babies are getting so big.  This past week, they began to eat solid foods.  They started with fresh veggies and are now nibbling at the rabbit feed.  Joy is by far our sweetest rabbit, and her babies have all had her temperament.  They love to be held and handled.  Eve’s babies on the other hand are more like her — not really into people and a bit mischievous.

jul 23 014

The baby chicks are not babies anymore.  They are so big.  It’s time for them to move into the big chicken run.

jul 23 011

Introducing new chickens is tricky.  Chickens are not nice.  Bad timing for our older chickens.  Egg production is getting pretty low.  I’m not sure if it’s the temperatures or if they are done with the whole egg laying gig.  When we first started this little homesteading project, I thought there was no way I’d be able to harvest the chickens just because they stopped laying.  I would feel too much like the mean farmer’s wife in Chicken Run who wants to turn the chickens into chicken pie when they stop producing.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I totally understand the idea that farm animals are not pets.  When they stop producing, their time is up.  For the record, I still don’t like the farmer’s wife.

On the family front, our big news for the week is that Thomas learned how to swim thanks to an excellent teacher, dad.  Hurray for Thomas.

Oh, and I have to include this picture of Muf in his new goggles (note to self, do not wait until the end of the season to buy goggles — your choices are very limited).

ImageAm I the only one that thinks he looks like Elton John?

our week — 15 july 2013

This summer is flying by.  I can’t believe we are less than a month away from school starting.   So many plans made, so little accomplished, or so it seems at times.  Oh well.

Life on the homestead continues to revolve around handling the heat.  The garden looks pretty ragged.  We have a few pumpkins and butternut squashes left to ripen and about half of our sunflowers are not quite brown enough to pull yet.  It’s kind of fun walking our your door and snacking on a sunflower seed or two that you plucked out of your very own flower.

Greg, Thomas and Muf got a head start on our fall garden this week by planting some jack-o-lantern pumpkins seeds.  The goal is to have them ready to go just in time for Halloween allowing the kids to have a little pumpkin stand.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  Anyway, check these babies out, they were planted four days ago.  Holy cow.

ImageThe animals are doing well.  We’ve been exploring some alternate food sources for everyone and even gave the baby chicks and goats some free range time.  The chicks had a blast, but it came to an end after just a few short days when they discovered the sweet potatoes. Boo.  The goats are loving chomping on the bermuda grass in the backyard.  Muf however isn’t so happy,  Nightingale ate the one and only orange on his orange tree.

Image

He got over it though and is back running around with the goats in his new chicken shoes (all the kids have a pair of shoes that are dedicated for use in the animal run — goats and chickens poop A LOT).  They were a great $1.50 Goodwill find.

ImageSpeaking of Goodwill, Thomas also got this first bike.  I love half off day at Goodwill.  We only paid $7.50 for it, and it’s actually a decent bike.  Now, if he can just learn to ride it (with shoes on of course — he wasn’t actually riding here).

ImageOne last little tidbit on this week because it’s so cute.  We read scriptures together every night as a family.  Aren’t Greg’s dollar store reading glasses cool?

ImageMuffa thinks they are.  So much so that he keeps his sunglasses with his scriptures so he can be just like dad and wear them when he “reads.”  ImageLast night, Muf insisted that his baby bunny have her own scriptures so that she could read as well.  Greg would read a couple of words, then Muffa would repeat them, followed by baby bunny repeating the same words with Muffa acting as voice.

ImageI think it took us five minutes to get through that single verse, but hey, Muffa sat still and actually read with us.  Can’t complain about that.