Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mini Road Trip

I just have to get my fix in sometimes :)

So, John's Grandpa Jack had his 80th birthday party in Dallas last weekend!  We drove down on the scenic route - 540 to Fort Smith and 71 S to Texarkana then 30 W.  The drive was beautiful!  And so much more interesting than driving the interstate through Oklahoma!  It was cold and rainy when we left, and as the rain let up, we drove in fog for a few hours.  It was kind of eerie seeing all of the dilapidated rural Arkansas towns and homes on the back highway and bright purple buds all over the red bud trees all shrouded in fog.

As we drove further south I kept seeing wisteria growing.  Eventually I became convinced that it grew wild, because there was no way people were planting that much of it in the woods.  It was all in bloom and SO beautiful :)  Just north of Texarkana we drove through Freedom, AR, home of Tracy Lawrence.  We had no idea who that was - I guessed old movie star, John guessed country singer (saying that it's the only thing the south would be that proud of) and sure enough, he was right!  Lol, should I know who he is???

We got in JUST in time to drop off kids and head to the restaurant everything was being held at.  It was too short, but it was wonderful to see all of John's extended family (who I love and have adopted as my own very nicely!) and hear stories of Grandpa Jack from his friends and family.  It was adults only, so Niko was the only 'kid' around (well, besides John's brother, Adam, who is 12?) and he got passed around the whole time. I tell you what, that kid is C-U-T-E!  And gets more so every day!

That night in the hotel was a NIGHTMARE!  By the time we picked the kids up, they were so hopped up on adrenaline, we couldn't get them to crash.  I think we all got to sleep around midnight.  But, NOTHING is more frustrating than having two hyper kids playing off of each other in the dark while you're trying to sleep.  GAAAAHHHH!!  That must be the root of insanity.

The next day John went back with his folks, and I took Kristen, John's sister, with me.  We hung out with John's cousin, Jane, and her ADORABLE daughter, Georgia, who was born on Kate's 1st birthday.  The two girls professed that they were 'best friends' - SO stinking cute!  Jane picked kale out of her garden and made a batch of kale chips (kale sprinkled with olive oil and salt and then baked) for us.  They were really good - kind of tasted like popcorn?  But with the consistency of paper?  Strange, but good, I'll make them sometime :)

After we left, we went downtown in search of good coffee, and came up with just coffee.  Then drove to Frisco to go to Ikea.  Oh, big shiny Ikea, how I've missed you!  We were there WAY too long, and spent WAY too much money, but I got a guest bed/futon/play room couch out of the trip, so I'm super happy!  We got out of there later than we'd wanted to, and then I got on a highway going the wrong way for a long time, so it was a LONG trip back in the dark.  We got home at 1:30 :P

Since then, I've been assembling Ikea things, hanging shelves, pictures and what not and waiting ever so impatiently for the weather to get good again!!!  I tried to go outside to build my chicken coop today, but my fingers went numb pretty quickly and I didn't want to risk operating a circular saw like that...  probably a good move ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things I Like To Hug

Babies and trees.  Took me a while to think of what these two things had in common.

Today we went to my friend, Rochelle's house and I got pictures of Jasper, who is 5 weeks older than Niko, and Niko together :)  AND I got my mail order trees today.  I was so unsure of how they'd look and how healthy they'd be, so I thought I'd post pictures so you could see if maybe YOU wanted to risk mail order trees.  I got these from Stark Bros. in MO, I read reviews on a few places first, because I kept reading about some companies sending out dead trees :/  But these looked great!  Buds on some of them, and the roots were packed in shredded newspaper to keep damp!




This is to show the box they came in.

It was late when I got home tonight, so I packed them in water in the bag they came in and hid them in the shower so the kids won't mess with them!

Oh, also - I got a new camera!!  Enjoy the superior pictures it takes :D

Niko and Jasper



I took this picture as I was driving home tonight.  I <3 Arkansas!

Some friends of ours just opened a great coffee shop in Siloam Springs.  Today was their grand opening!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chickens and Children


So, yes, I got chickens for their eggs, but I also got them for days like today :)  


The kids chasing the chickens

Kate being 'mother hen'

Jack: I want THAT one!

Kate: Here, you can have THIS one

There's no escape, chickens, no escape

Kate, please stop poking the chickens

Jack: (insert baby talk here)

This is much more peaceful than most moments
of Jack holding chickens

Three of our four little guys

Jack: Chicken want a hug?

Heeeeere chickie, chickie chickie!

I took Niko out for a little bit, but he wasn't nearly as thrilled with the outdoors ;)

All in all we had a fantastic day!  Tomorrow we're inviting some friends over and we'll probably do it all over again.  Chasing chickens.  Playing in the Sprinkler.  Eating fake ice cream.
These are the things they'll remember :D

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ohhh, my back!

So, today, I got up and just wanted to get SOMETHING done!  And, of course, as I hate housework and the weather has turned beautiful - I went outside!  I ordered some blocks for our firepit from Lowes.com so that i could take advantage of the 2% cashback at fatwallet.com.  Then went and picked that up.  I had to make two trips because the blocks weigh 25 lbs each!

I've been considering putting box hedges along our front walk as a barrier between kids playing in the front yard and the road.  So, I checked those out at Lowes - $7 each.  Yikes.  I needed 7 of them, so I called Home Depot and asked how much their were - $2.50 each.  Nice :)  So, I also got out the whole clan at Home Depot after two trips to Lowes.  Then, with fresh, new plants, and a van full of blocks, I set to work!

I dug up a 30' x 32" section of lawn.  Which was pretty back breaking!  I still haven't bought a wheelbarrow, so I hauled my gigantic city trash can along with me to put all my yard waste in.  What do people without compost piles usually do with yard waste?  I've been contemplating a compost pile, but I'm afraid it'll be more work and take up more space than it's worth.  Thoughts?

Anyways, I dug up the lawn, dug some holes, put down weed barrier and planted my mini-shrubs.  It'll be sometime before THESE prevent my children from running headlong into the road ;)


One really nice thing about working outside in the front yard is that I got to talk to all three neighbors on my street at one point in time during today!

After I finished up front, I was EXHAUSTED!  But... I had a van full of heavy blocks that needed to be unloaded.  So, instead of just piling them up, I figured I'd put them where they belonged!  So, I dug out a hole in the back yard, cleared the middle and laid down 48 twenty-five lb. blocks.  Yeeeeeesh!  Needless to say, I'm good and worn out.


Afterwards I hopped in the shower with Kate to rinse all the dirt off.  I didn't realize I'd been exclaiming until Kate started copying me.  "mmm.  oh, man, that feels so nice."  and whatnot.  Lol, after that I made a conscious effort to not sigh every time I thought about how in love I was with that hot shower.  When John put Kate to bed tonight she was telling him all about all the cool things I'd done and how hard I'd worked, and I could tell she was just beaming.  Who says being a mom is a thankless job :)

It felt so good to work outside, but now I think I'm going to go collapse.  Again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Silkies!

So, cute won out.  Today I made a well thought through inpulsive decision.  I've been going back and forth about chickens.  And really, the only hang up is POOP.  But, that hang up won't go away, and I won't know how big of a deal it is unless I try it out!  So, I went on craigslist, found the cutest silkies on there and drove 5 hours round trip to go pick up four of them.  I know, I'm crazy.  Probably $50 in gas to go spend $12 on chickens.

But, these aren't just any chickens, these are silkie chickens.  Remember the pictures from a few posts ago?  Ridiculously cute, right?  Plus, these are considered the best 'pet' chicken breed out there, they're really good with kids and I keep hearing the word 'maternal' used in reference to them.  Um, okay.  Maternal chickens, that's got to be a good thing, right?



It was such a blah day today anyways.  Why not take a long drive into unknown territory?  The chickens were in  Waldron, AR, about 45 minutes south of Fort Smith.  I'd never been any further south in AR than Fort Smith, so it was new to me.  And it. was. beautiful.  I mean, you know that feeling you get when you're going home after a long absence?  It was like that.  It reminded me so much of Washington, like, in the rural areas east of Olympia.  There were evergreens, which aren't very common in my part of Arkansas, and beautiful fields lined around with beautiful trees, and rolling hills in a broad valley surrounded by the Ouachita 'Mountains' (growing up on the west coast makes it hard for me to actually call anything in the mid-west a mountain...)



Aren't they beautiful?  I wish I'd brought my camera so I could show you what I saw, not just what wikipedia was doling out...

So, we pull up to this 200 acre cattle ranch to get the chicks.  The wife, Elaine, runs a daycare out of her home and is so good with the kids.  In fact, the reason she HAS chickens is so that the kids she watches can see them hatch and play with them.  So cute.  She kept the chickens in her well house, which had walls lined with home canned foods covered in cobwebs.  When Kate saw the chicks, she started grabbing, one at a time, and putting each one in our box.  I had to stop her and explain that these were mommy's chickens too, and that I got to pick at least one AND that we weren't taking ALL of them.  We had practiced holding baby chicks at Tractor Supply earlier today, so I was faaaaairly certain that neither she, nor Jack, would squeeze the poor little buggers to death.

I let her pick one, and then I tried to get Jack to pick one, but he was too delighted with how they ran in a circle around the inside of the galvanized tub when he waved his hand at them.  So Kate grabbed on and told him that was his pick and plopped it in the box.  She let me pick my mottled chick out of a pile (okay, maybe not PILE) that had been set aside for someone else when I started going on about how cute they were.  The whole ride home, Kate sat with her nose on the edge of the box staring in and jostling them periodically to get them peeping again :)

video



Sunday, March 6, 2011

I like food, naturally.

This morning I woke up and Kate and Jack had chocolate mouths already.  No, just because you eat my girl scout cookies does NOT mean I'll go out and buy more.  Besides, that was the box I wanted least anyways, and you only ate half.  So there.

We went to church at John's Aunt's church in Springdale.  We went last week and I really liked it.  But, I think for Kate to go to church at the same place she goes to Mother's Day Out is confusing.  First of all, she was really bummed when we pulled up that we weren't going to 'church' because she didn't see the place as a church.  And then, she couldn't sit down and be quiet, because it's usually a place to run and play!  I'd like to go back, but I think finding a place that's new and hers will help her.  Is that weird?

After church we drove to downtown Fayetteville to have lunch at Hammontree's for gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.  I got all three kids out and walked 3 feet to see that they weren't open on Sundays, so I stood there for a while looking around at all the bars on Dickson St. trying to decide which I should take my kids to and then we piled in the van and drove off.  I'm a PROBLEM SOLVER!  ;)  Sooooorely disappointed in not getting my 'Brie's Company' sandwich though.



With nothing else to do we went to the Ozark Natural Food Co-op annual members meeting.  I heard they were giving stuff away and had child care.  I didn't really need much more incentive than that.  We went, Niko is the Moby wrap and the kids in the double wide, and walked around, sampled organic cookies and salsas from local vendors and visited their lovely bathroom several times.  Because once Kate finds a bathroom she likes, she seems to need to pee more.

They had live jazz music, a catered lunch, child care and lots of people to fawn over my adorable baby in his adorable wrap.  All in all, a good time had by all :)

Afterwards, we went to the co-op and  Kate ASKED me to buy broccoli and kale.  I'm highly doubtful that they'll actually get in her mouth, but I couldn't pass that up... just in case!  Jack fell asleep in the car on the way and went right to bed when we got home.  I started nursing Niko and Kate was apparently eating the REST of the girl scout cookies, which I apparently didn't put high enough up.  So, she got an early bed time, and I got in TWO movies before bed.

It was a good, full day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Garden Ramblings

I went to Atwoods today and they have individual potted strawberry plants with lots of flowers on them for $.99 each!  I've been debating on how to plant my strawberries after hearing from a friend long ago that snakes liked to live in their plants.  How do you guys keep your plants?  I thought about getting one of those 'strawberry pots' with the holes in the side, but can't rationalize spending $25 each for such a little container, and then I looked at the hanging strawberry baskets, but kept reading that the bottom plants die out from lack of water while the top ones thrive.  I'm half inclined to go all hillbilly and plant them in our old gutters and fasten the gutters up on our chain link fence.  Bad idea?

After Atwoods, I went to Tractor Supply and found GOLDEN RASPBERRIES!  I LOVE these, so excited!  I forgot to mention in my last gardening role call that I have 2 red raspberry plants, 2 thornless blackberries, and 2 different seedless grape varieties to plant as well.

I've been plugging along on my Mini-Farming book.  I'm a little intimidated by the science of good soil, but I'm hoping it's less complex than it seems once you get into it.  It's like reading the trouble shooting section of a manual before you have any problems with it.  Also, trying to decide if I should try composting at home, or just buying compost.  It takes so long to develop and takes up precious yard space, and buying compost is SO CHEAP.  Thoughts?

Also, I've been looking for Etsy people who have things I want to trade with and just found one :)  She makes homemade jams and marmalades and lives in Tulsa.  So we're going to start bartering delicious things like meyer lemon vanilla bean marmalade or blood orange fennel marmalade for coffee.  Yay!  Plus, I make it to Tulsa once a month or so, so I can just meet up with her and we can both save on shipping :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Urban Homesteading

I'm a wee bit of a compulsive researcher.  I know, I'm a rare breed.  But, once I get my mind on something I can spend hours every day trying to figure out how to get what I want.  But this can't actually be manipulated, to say, something my husband wants, because unless I'm interested I get bored out of my mind.

So, my latest endeavor is to use the 1/5 acre lot our house is on to it's fullest advantage.  I've ordered two books, one on Homesteading, Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre and one on gardening, The New Self-Sufficient Gardener. I grew up on 24 acres in the NE corner of Washington State, and being outside and using the resources on the land was just part of our life. We added new planters every year, had an orchard, canned our produce, and built a 2200 square foot house out of the trees grown on our land.


When I was younger we had a couple of sheep and goats, but I really don't know anything about raising them and am not really what one might call an 'animal person'.  But I LOVE to be outside and work with my hands, I'm really rather useless indoors ;)

So, back to this year.  I've been perusing the  Botanical Interests and Baker Creek Seeds websites and have put together an order that may need some serious paring back.  $80-100 worth of seed might be a little excessive...  Fortunately I've found two other families to split the packets with which will afford me the fruit trees I want to plant :)

I'm also considering Silkie chickens, just two, but still contemplating the cute and egg production to poop ratio.  But, come on, they're like big fluffy cotton balls running around on two little chicken feet!  And they still produce eggs, and are considered the best 'pet' chicken.  When looking at a site where we could order the baby chicks, it actually warned against rubbing the baby chicks on your face.  How did they know?!  That was my exact intention!

Spring is Almost Here!

I can attest to that because of the fantastic tree pollen currently disabling me!  Yikes, seasonal allergies, calm down!  Apparently the Ozarks is one of the worst places in the country for seasonal allergies, and while I managed to avoid having any kind of allergies for most of my years, I've finally succumb and and trying to figure out what this looks like!  Okay, tree pollen: check.  Medicines I can take while nursing  (Claratin and Benadryl): check.  Icy cold wet washcloth pressed against my eyes for days: check.  Going to bed at 8 am to avoid having my eyes open for three days: check.

Aye-yi-yi!  This is no fun folks!  Although... I did get to laze about in bed with my baby most of the day, so I'm not going to complain too much about that.  :)

I am SO excited for Spring, and am very much looking forward to getting over all of this silliness that my body is inundating me with.  I have lilacs, hydrangeas, and a chicago peace rose to plant out front.  I have room for and may build up to 6 raised beds on the back side of our yard and I have an ungodly amount of seeds I need to plant.  I'm ordering up 12 rhubarb plants and 8 fruit trees to plan just over our fence so that the dead fruit rolls down into the drainage ditch next to our house.  I'm not going to let a silly thing like pollen stop me from all of that!


I'm really excited about the Chicago Peace rose I'm planting.  I had one growing up at my Dad's house.  They are absolutely stunning and remind me so much of him.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grateful


Lately I've been feeling very blessed to have such smart, healthy children.  I mean, sure, the smart part is a little annoying when they out-smart ME, and when they use my own logic against me, but there's absolutely nothing more amazing than having healthy children.




It's something we tend not to think about.  Until something goes wrong.  Then, we're down on our knees praying and begging God to make them well again.  Hoping that doctors have the wisdom to help our child.  But lately, with no disaster or catastrophe to remind me, I'm just so grateful they're well.  I'm thankful for all the bullets we've dodged without ever knowing.  I'm thankful for running, jumping, climbing children.