Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Something to laugh about

Kids say the cutest and funniest things sometimes. I love listening to my kids. They have a great imagination.

Recently during Bible time when I was asking for their prayer request here is what they said. Josiah said to pray for baby Hailee (an 18m old from our church that is in the hospital). Robert said to pray for a bigger van and for us to have more kids to fill it. He still wants a boy baby! Abby wanted to pray for everyone to have more babies. .

Later that day at lunch time I went around the table asking them what they wanted to plant in the garden next spring. Robert said, "Carrots and corn." Abby said, "I want peas and watermelon." Josiah quickly added, "Spam and eggs!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas photos

Beth was laying on the floor playing with someone's toy. She was very content just laying there on her back so I took her picture.We opened our presents on Christmas Eve. I helped the kids buy little gifts for each other. They had a lot of fun buying and wrapping gifts, and it gave me some one-on-one time with them. Grandma brought gifts the day after Christmas.We spent Christmas day with my sister and some friends in Colorado. Aunt Becky went sledding with the kids. Her husband drove the ATV and pulled the sled. Robert rode once, but Abby kept going over and over again. They finally bribed her to quit by telling her there was hot chocolate inside.It was very beautiful and snow covered there.

It may be a while before I blog again. I feel like I have nothing interesting to share and I should be busy with the kids and housework instead of wasting time on the computer.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


We had a good Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for. At the top of our list is family, friends, home, Bible, and salvation.
We stretched our celebration out over three days. Wednesday I cooked a big meal while the guys (Gabe and Rueben) were at work, and the kids were coloring turkeys or playing computer games (after finishing their chores). We ate our thanksgiving meal Wednesday evening before going to church. We have done it this way for several years, and I really like it. In past years we have done different projects or gone hiking, if the weather is good.
Thursday we had a nice home cooked breakfast and then headed out to the Bisti Wilderness to go hiking. The weather was cool, but when hiking in the wilderness that is a very good thing. The sun was very bright and the kids soon took off their coats. The kids hiked for about two hours, and Gabe and Rueben went a little further before returning to the van. We had dinner at Gabe's mom's house, then came home and played games like Dutch blitz.
Friday we went in to town to check out some of the black Friday deals, but soon gave up, too many people for my liking. After lunch of turkey sandwiches we went to the Four Corners. We had read about it in a library book, and the kids wanted to see it.
Elisabeth with potatoes all over her face.Starting our hike in Bisti WildernessBeth enjoyed the ride!
Nice photo of Rueben!This is what we went to see.Exploring the badlandsThe kids found a bit of snow on the northside of the hills.Four Corners
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving as well. We set up our Christmas tree and the kids are now all excited about Christmas.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Organizing and controling the toys

Have you ever noticed that toys seem to multiply as the children grow. The toys get smaller and have more pieces, too.
A few months ago my husband pointed out that the toys were taking over the house. He was right. They would take out all their toys at the beginning of each day and then whine and complain when it came time to clean up. My husband wanted to get rid of the toys. That thought crossed my mind a few times, but I resisted the urge to throw everything away. I do purge the toys from time to time. I also have noticed the most popular toy is usually new or the one that they haven't played with for a long time.
I attacked the problem with an idea I got from “Managers of their Home” by Steve and Teri Maxwell, which I purchased from Titus2.com. It was suggested to get out only one kind of toy for a certain length of time. I sorted all the toys one day during nap/quiet time, and then put the containers up high, very high – Abby likes to climb up to get things.
I get down one box for them to play with at a time. Sometimes I let the one who finished his/her chores first chose the toy for the day. If they come and say they want a different toy, I make them clean up all the pieces to what they have out, then I put it up and get a different one down. They learn quickly. They now come and tell me, “We picked up all the cars. Can we have the people?”
This has greatly cut back on the toy clutter. We still have some toys through out the house, but it is much easier to pick up since they are not ALL out.
I am constantly looking for ideas to better organize my home and my life. I get so much more done when things are in order.

Let all things be done decently and in order. - 1 Corinthians 14:40

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sewing a new skirt

Friday I had a yard sale so in between costumers I worked on some of my sewing projects. Most have been setting for months, even years, waiting for me to find time and motivation to work through the pile. After a few repairs I picked up a project for Abby. I was given a skirt for her that was too short. The top was denim and the bottom was camouflage. I am not fond of camouflage on girls, so I cut that part off. I had some left over material from other projects – I have a hard time throwing out material. I took the left over material and cut rectangular pieces out of it, gathered it and sewed it on the denim part of the skirt. Abby is so happy because it comes down to her feet, and I’m happy because I got rid of some left over fabric.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Developing motor skills

I have been thinking about why little ones tear everything out that they can get to – shelves, cupboards, and boxes. They are working on their motor skills. Fine motor skills are needed to pick up objects and large motor skills are needed to lift and drop items. This logic doesn’t help the house look any better, but it is something to laugh at as you watch such a cute little girl make such a big mess to clean up. It also works to pick up all her toys and set them in a box. Somehow, she feels that she MUST remove everything that she can reach, whether it’s her toys or someone else’s stuff. Here are photos of her emptying the box of library books.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken update

Having so many chicks has been a real experience to say the least. Last year I had five chicks at one time. But there has been several problems with having 33 chicks (I think it was 33. It is hard to count that many fluffy chicks). Everything went well during the first few weeks. Two of the 33 chicks died – not sure why, but by the time I discovered that they weren’t acting right, it was too late for them. Then I gave about a dozen to a friend, and had plans to give a few to a neighbor girl who has several animals. However, before I got to go see her, dogs attacked.

The first time was when we weren’t here on a Sunday, killed my rooster and two hens. The second time they came on a day I was home, they killed my last hen, then they chewed through the chicken wire and got into the chicks and killed 12 chicks before I intervened. I was mad and frustrated. All the work we had put into building a coop, feeding, and caring for them gone in a few short moments. The owner of the dogs says he will pay for the chicks and damages, but no money, yet. We covered the wire on the current coop with stronger wire. For a few days my remaining seven chicks didn’t want to leave the house part of the coop.

In between the dog attacks I put the chicks in with the remaining hen. She did not like that and killed my smallest chick in the batch. It was a extra chick that the company threw in when they sent the order. I was looking forward to what kind it would become. I then removed her and set up temporary housing for her beside the coop with the chicks, and inside the chicken's yard. I let her run in the chicken's yard even though I was worried about dogs returning. We had fixed where they broke through, but they found a different way in.

Then my friend who I gave the dozen chicks to has returned them. At first I didn't want to take them back. I had planned from the beginning to give her some, but her hens were picking on them and a bantam hen that she was given. She didn’t have a cage that the chicks would stay in so they were wondering loose in her yard. It is amazing that dogs didn’t get them!

Currently I have 18 chickens. Most of the chickens are red star, which will lay large brown eggs! I miss my fresh eggs. One is the bantam hen (given to me with the chicks) and is smaller than some of the chicks. Another one is a black chick that hatched in my friend’s incubator. She had one out of fifty eggs that hatched and lived. Only three hatched. I’m not sure I want to try incubating again. One is a buff Orpington that may set (sit on eggs and hatch them). I love the idea of having baby chicks, but I think the hen will make a much better mother than I do to the chicks.

We have plans to build a bigger coop. The current one is too small for 18 chickens. We also need to put a fence around our acre of land to keep out the dogs!! Rueben also wants to get a gun to shoot dogs that are on our property. It is not going to break my heart to see a dog die especially if it is killing my chickens.

These photos were taken this week a day after adding back the chicks from my friend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Text messaging for kids

Today Abby and I were in the store shopping while Rueben was watching the rest of the kids out in the van in the parking lot. Shopping goes faster this way and the weather is cool enough for it. It is not good in the middle of summer. Anyway, Rueben sent me a text message telling me that Beth had fallen asleep, and I texted him back. Well, Abby wanted to know how I could text with my phone. I showed her how to use the number pad, to choose a letter, and type a word. Her curiosity was satisfied about that subject and she went on to other questions. She is a continual question asker and has been that way since she could talk clear enough for me to understand her.
After getting home and unloading the groceries, Abby asked for a banana. She pretended to be talking on the banana "phone". Then she brought the banana to me pointed to a section toward the top of the banana and said "Look mom, I got a text message." What an imagination and so funny!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One of "those" days

Ever wish you could start your day over? Well today I do. It started about 4 am with Beth kicking me. She was restless, and didn’t want to nurse. Gabe’s alarm went off and he got up. Abby started coughing in the living room (She sleeps everywhere, but her own bed when given the slightest chance). I told myself maybe I can get a lot done this morning and then nap when the kids nap (ha, ha). So I got out of bed before 4:15! Abby and Beth played on the floor while I fixed Gabe’s lunch and breakfast, put the laundry in the dryer, and unloaded the dish washer (Abby helped put away some dishes). I was off to a great start.
At 5:15 I sat down to eat breakfast with my husband before he left for work. After he left at 5:30 I tried to read the Bible and pray in between Abby’s questions (Can I play the computer? Is it Thursday? When can I go to Heaven? Can I eat a cookie? on and on). Next, I was interrupted by Josiah who woke up at his usual 6am, and asked for his usual peanut butter & “yelly” sandwich. Then Abby wanted one. Somewhere in all this confusion Beth was nursed and went back to sleep. Josiah took his sandwich to his usual spot on the recliner, curled up and ate it quietly (sometimes he goes back to sleep). Abby took two bites of her sandwich, left it on the table and went to sit on the sofa. She asked if she could go back to sleep. My answer, “YES!” I peacefully read another chapter of the Bible, took laundry out of the dryer, hung up items that needed hanging, and was thinking about sleeping again myself. It is about 6:45-7:00, Beth woke so I nursed her and napped a bit, Josiah crawled in bed and began playing with Beth (my napping was over). Then Abby woke up and pucked all over the sofa – YUCK. I feel her head; she has a fever. I clean her up, change her clothes, and clean the sofa. After laying down a towel and getting her a bucket in case it happens again, she went back to sleep. I started the washer full of pucked on stuff, left Beth and Josiah in the play room, told Rueben to keep and ear out of trouble (he was awake, but not out of bed), and went to care for the chickens.
I lost three chickens Sunday to dogs while we were at church. I put the month old chicks in with the remaining hen, Red. So they were all in the same cage I was keeping and eye on her because she seemed to pick on them a lot. Yesterday I had let her out to roam in the usual chicken yard, but I can’t let the chicks out. We have a hawk around here that last year came and sat on my chicken coop. I’m sure he would love chick for lunch.
Anyway, I cared for the chickens, and told myself that I should let Red loose later so she doesn’t pick on the chicks too much. I hurried back into the house knowing that Rueben wouldn’t do much if the kids were getting into trouble. Washed my hands and checked on the kids. Everyone was fine so and Robert was up and playing too. I then loaded the dishwasher. At 8 am I did our usual Bible time with just the boys. You should hear Josiah quote scripture. I marvel that a two year old can memorize like he does, but then he is a little sponge and is soaking everything up that I do with the older two. Next I fed the boys their breakfast, set Beth in the high chair, cut up a banana for her to eat (she refuses to eat anything mushy like baby food and she doesn’t like anyone putting food in her mouth), and I cleaned up more of the kitchen mess since I had already eaten.
Rueben needed help with his school work today. After a few weeks of his “Dynamic Bible Living” subject, we have switched what we are doing. I don’t like what they are trying to teach him on how to live a Christian life. The book makes it confusing and hard. The final straw was a sentence that said memorizing the Bible was not meditating on the Bible. "Memorizing generally is sounding or saying words and then forgetting them." I would like to know how you forget something you memorized. They are trying to teach some strange knowledge process that he is to use to learn how to have a "dynamic Christian life". So instead of doing the complicated, confussing work in the book I have him listening to preaching from this site and writing what he learned from the sermons (two per week). I listened to the sermons with him (while folding laundry, making woopie pies - a promise I made yesterday, fixing lunch, checking on sick one, nursing Beth…), so we could discuss what is taught and help him write down points. If I had to sit still and listen to the sermons, I would have fallen asleep. I love the preaching, but my body goes to sleep if not doing something, especially when waking up at 4 am. I have the same problem on Sunday mornings. That is why I help my husband in children's church where I can stand, more around and stay awake.
After lunch I looked out my window at the sink and noticed that there was a problem at the chicken coop. I had forgotten about Red! I rushed out of the house and left the kids in Rueben’s care to check on Red. She had killed the smallest chick. The one I got that was going to set (hatch eggs) and my favorite.
Right now is quiet/nap time, but since Abby has been sleeping off and on all morning she is awake and fussy. I am not going to get a nap myself, so I will continue drinking tea, and other things with caffeine to keep myself going. I will try giving Abby a ginger-bath. I tried earlier, but discovered that the hot water heater needed to be relit. By the time the water was hot again, I had forgotten and Abby was back to sleep.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings and complaints. I love being a mother. It is much, much better than being a single school teacher. However, there are days that I would love to have two of me to get more done. I am blessed with four great children, a great step son and a hardworking, wonderful husband. What more could any woman want?
In case you are wondering, I did not write this all at the same time. It has been written over the past few hours in between other tasks, but I just had to “tell” someone. My friend, who has five children under five, lost her cell phone (it is on vibrate so she can't find it by calling it), so I can’t call her to share problems. Some how “telling” makes me feel a bit better about the things that didn’t go my way today. No day ever goes completely the way I want it, but that is part of life. I’m not the one in control. God is. So I should get off the computer and go get more things done instead of sitting here ignoring them because they make me feel so overwhelmed some days. I will never get everything done, but I will keep trying to.

Abby is feeling better now that she finished her ginger-bath (1 Tbsp of ginger added to bath water). She is eating, asking questions and being her normal self – except for her cough. Hopefully the food will stay down.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hair Care

Back in the spring, I started using baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair instead of store bought shampoo and conditioner. I was a bit skeptical of how it would work since my hair is quiet long and thick. However, after a few tries, I decided it worked alright and I could do it since it would defiantly save money. Another unexpected benefit of this switch has been my hands. For years I have struggled with dry cracking hands that didn’t seem to be helped by any lotion or oil or supplements that I took. Amazingly my hands are all cleared up since I quit using shampoo and conditioner. For those who are interested it trying this hair wash, I use 1 Tbsp baking soda in 12 oz cup of warm water for my “shampoo” and 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in another 12 oz cup of warm water for my “conditioner”. Don’t mix them in the same cup – unless you like science experiments or foaming messes. I just pour a little at a time on my hair and work it in until I have used up all that was in the baking soda cup, rinse it out and then do the same with the vinegar cup. I have to wait until my hair is dry before I try to comb or brush it. It doesn’t get as smooth as the store conditioner makes it, but once the hair dries it is manageable. I really love having my hands back to normal. I can do things I used to avoid, like making fry bread for my family or shaking hands at church.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Busy Days

In the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of canning and freezing, which is one of the reasons that I haven’t done much blogging. Other reasons are taking care of my family, new chicks, caring for teething baby (I'll be glad when the teeth come through), home schooling, etc.
We canned nectarines and jam. I got them on sale at a local orchard, and one of our bus riders came over to help. I froze green beans (from my garden) and green chili’s. The kids helped out some. I am happy to see them old enough to start helping with things like this. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of canning week when Grandma came to help us can and freeze. I love the way canned foods look in the pantry.
My husband’s work has slowed a bit and he is not getting as much overtime, so we have had time to do more hiking as a family. Here are a few photos from our most recent hike to Potato Lake. We told the kids that we were hiking to a lake so Robert carried a rock from the parking area to the lake (about a mile). There were plenty of rocks along the way, but he kept his rock!
Not much has been done in the way of official home schooling, but learning continues to happen throughout our day. I have gone to several yard sales this summer of teachers who were retiring or changing grades and I have bought games, visual aides and more – too much maybe, but they were a good deal! We are fairly well set with curriculum for first grade. I really enjoy using My Father’s World. It is very gentle, fun, and hands-on. The kids like it, too. They ask to do school, if I skip a few days. They are really enjoying art and continually ask to do more. I am having trouble staying ahead of them in reading the book.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Baby chicks

After we failed at hatching chicks in the incubator a few months ago, my dad offered to buy some chicks for us. After some time thinking about it, I finally decided to go ahead and get some chicks. We ordered them from this site. I like the way they describe the birds and how the site is organized. It was easy to use.
We now have 30+ chicks in my laundry room! They arrived yesterday. The majority are Red Star, the two black ones are Buff Orpingtons, and a few rare chicks that they added for free. The kids are all excited, and I am, too. I enjoy raising animals and my gardening. I used to tell my parents I wanted to live on a farm. My dad, who grew up on a farm, told me it was too much work and that I wouldn't like it. He is probably right. The animals and garden that I have now take enough of my time. I don't think I want much more right now. Here are pictures of the cute little fur balls.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Math for Breakfast

We did spontanious hands-on math at breakfast today. We openned a new box of Fruit Cherioes cereal. I usually don't get colored cereal, but it was on sale and I had a coupon for it as well. The kids started telling what colors they had on their spoon which prompted me to start making a pattern and having them add to it. We have been discusing repeating patterns and sorting recently in math so this went along with what we have been doing.
After several patterns we sorted them by color.
Then I grouped them in small groups and had them add them together to find the total.

We also have released our second butterfly this year. It was not a monarch! I was surprised. After checking my butterfly book I learned that it was a queen, another kind of milkweed butterfly. It looks very much like a monarch when the wings are folded, but when they are open it is definatly different. It doesn't have the black lines that the monarch has.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review

I wanted to share a few books that we have used lately and are enjoying. Our curriculum suggested reading books that deal with math topics. The first one I tried was Beep, Beep, Vroom, Vroom by Stuart Murphy. It is about making patterns with cars. It was a big hit with my kids. After I read it once, Abby then read it again and again out loud to her brothers. There also is fighting over who gets to look at it, and since it is a library book I have put it up high. I'm sure I will have to read it several more times before we take it back to the library. We are now looking for and making patterns in our everyday activities.

The other book making a big splash around here is Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes. I love the way this book breaks down the drawing process into easy to understand elements. I didn't think I could teach my kids how to draw, but this book makes it all very easy to understand and teach. My curriculum schedules art once a week, but my kids are asking for more art time. I love the quiet as they are busy drawing. I am looking forward to teaching this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday with the whole family

Our family headed for a hike after finishing our bus visits today. The first place we stopped had WATER!! Abby got herself wet up to her waist in no time and the boys were busy throwing in all the rocks they could find. Us adults sat in the shade and watched them.

Beth enjoys sticking her tongue out.Sisters
Next we went hiking up the canyon to a ruin. It was a short hike and rather hot. The kids did great on the way up, but on the way back there was a bit of tears from tired children who missed their nap. They fell asleep shortly after we got on the road, so we had a peaceful ride home.
Robert and Josiah, and
I even got a good picture of Rueben.
The ruins on the rock is what we hiked to see.

Now I need to wash up dirty kids and get them to bed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aren't they cute!?

Elisabeth is climbing up on everything. Josiah loves to lay on the floor and let her climb over him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Science with little ones

We have been reading and studying on the water cycle. It is a bit hard for my kids to understand since we live in a very dry area and there is not much natural water cycle happening. The curriculum that I am using for the twins called for an experiment to demonstrate the water cycle, and it really seemed to help them understand it. First I filled a pan 2/3 full of water and brought it to a boil. I removed it from the heat, set it on a hot pad on the table where everyone could watch, and put a cookie sheet covered with ice cubes on top of the pan. After about a minute we lifted the pan and watched the water vapor rise, meet the cold tray and turn into tiny water droplets on the bottom of the tray. When the drops got big enough they “rained” back into the pan. Monday we released our first monarch for this year. I have one caterpillar that will soon make his chrysalis. I also have a baby caterpillar and two eggs that we found Monday when we released the monarch. It has been fun listening and trying to answer all the questions that this has brought up. I wish I could remember them all so I could list them here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


For those who may want to try raising monarch butterflies, here are photos of the milkweeds we have growing here. I often see milkweeds along roadsides, edges of fields, and near waterways. Milkweed is the only plant that the monarch caterpillars eat, so feeding them is easy. Finding a butterfly egg on the milkweed is a little more challenging, since the egg is very tiny - smaller than a pin head. The egg hatches four days after it is laid. I have a very tiny caterpillar crawling around on a leaf right now. When it hatches it is white with a black dot for a head, so it is hard to photograph. After a day or two you will start to see stripes. Here is a site that has some great pictures of the eggs. There is other information and photos of the monarch's life cycle. I encourage you to give it a try, especially if you have children, this is a great science project.