Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hey Jeff* - We Got Our Chickens...

Yep, it's been a fowl couple of days. (sorry, I couldn't resist) Ever since we moved out here to the "country" we have been kicking around the idea to try our hand at raising chickens for eggs. I always thought this to be something we would do further on down the line... I mean, I have enough critters to take care of just counting the kids, but this winter I could tell that Isaiah needed a challenge and he asked me if we could get some chickens in the spring. Well, I thought a chicken wouldn't be too bad... maybe 2 or 3 even. We'd see what we could do.

Orscheln began their chick days in March and the pressure was building... we pretty much promised some chickens... we pretty much had an area we could use to house them and free range them... we pretty much knew the kids would enjoy it... and we pretty much didn't know what the heck we were doing.

I went to Orscheln one day without the kids with me (to avoid the guilt trip and begging process... "but look mom, they're so cute! and here's some ducks! oh, look at these brown ones!"... yeah, you know what I'm talking about) and told one of the associates, "Look, I just want to get a couple of chicken to have for eggs only, so what exactly do I need equipment wise in order to make this work?" She gave me a check list and I went home. I returned later to buy a watering can, some feed trays, some chick feed... but no chicks. My excuse was that I was going to let Huston pick them out (it was near his birthday, ya know.)

Well, life got busy and for a week or two not another word was said about the chicken possibility... and yeah, that didn't last too long though before the kids were reminding me that we had everything we needed but something pretty crucial to our chicken rearing success. That's when I got the idea that we should try to incubate some eggs! Sure, that would include some good ol' science for school too! Yep, we'd be killing two birds with one stone. Ok, bad analogy.

I looked into renting an incubator from our local 4H group - they said sure, but not until mid-May cuz they were kinda using them all at the moment. No big deal, we could put this off a little longer.

Mid-May came so I got on-line and found some eggs on ebay. I purchased them and we waited for our science experiment to come to our door.... meanwhile....

A lady at church heard that we were interested in raising chickens and she just so happens to be in the midst of dismantling her small farm. Would we be interested in taking her chickens? Ummmm, sure? I'm still a little intimidated, cuz I don't know what I'm doing! But a few days later, I was bringing these ladies to my home in the back of a borrowed pick up truck.

and now all 6 of them are in our yard.

I think they're kinda pretty. This one's name is Susie. (the boys named her)

Then we've got these black ones (which... they all look the same)

Isaiah, well and the rest of the kids too for that matter, practically lived in the chicken yard that first day. They watched them closely, they followed them around, they smiled and giggled about everything they did (well, er... ummm, not quite everything) but turns out they were really good with them. Isaiah especially, I called him my "chicken whisperer."

Meanwhile, guess what? - the gal has a guinea hen and a rooster she is going to give us at a later date. Sure, why not? Cuz, I know what I'm doing. Really though, our chicken beneficiary has been an excellent resource and we are doing just fine - no mishaps yet! and it's been a whole 4 days!

Meanwhile, remember that order I made, yeah, it came in the first day of chicken ownership. So here are 8 more in the oven. (Notice the chicken information and note taking material on the table too - yes, we're that studious around here.) These are Buff Orpington chickens - they'll grow up to be like Susie, that is if they survive our science experiment.

And last, but not least in this chicken tale is that we not only got eggs in the mail that first day... we got eggs in the hen house too.

Mmmmm... farm fresh eggs. Can you guess what we had for breakfast the next morning?

*Cousin Jeff from Iowa - you were right, we like having chickens.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

That's What Friends Are For

We've been busy lately - not extremely busy, more like piddly busy. A little here and a little bit there and it all adds up to become like a dog chasing it's tail... you wonder what you're accomplishing, but it still keeps you occupied. I have a lot of different things in transition right now...

1. Steven's brother and his wife with their twin daughters (almost a year old now) have come to the states. The girls were born in Honduras, the country in which their mother's family lives and they have come to stay with Daniel (Steven's brother) while he's here to earn some money for them. (confused?) Anyway they are living with Steven's folks for the moment and we are enjoying having them close. With Daniel working long days, Gloria is Carol's right hand mother-in-law, helping her with the girls. This is wonderful and I am happy that Gloria gets to shift her attention to the grandbabies she has rarely seen, but it definitely makes working at the church minus kids that much harder.

2. My folks' house is amid remodeling - new floors, new counter tops, refinishing of cabinetry... lots of room rearranging and workers in and out of the place. They are close to being finished, but there was a delay with the counter top and thus a lot of the kitchen work still needs to be tackled. They've been able to help with a few kids at a time for a little while, but again, still to dismantled to really help me with the kids so I can work.

3. The church is under construction. They are in the process of relocating all of the preschool classes to the basement area. So all of the rooms that my kids could hang out in and watch movies and play with toys are now stripped bare and filled with construction workers. We have temporary quarters in a few classrooms in the basement, but they aren't quite unsupervised play ready for my children... on top of the fact that it turned into July temperatures overnight and the heat and humidity makes the prospect of playing on the playground about as tempting as eating vegetables... they can take it for only so long.

So what does all of this transition have to do with friendship? Well the thing is I'm not the only one experiencing the busyness of life... a lot of my kids' friends and my friends have also been crazy busy for a really long time, or going through a lot of life Junk (with a capital J) that has totally changed perspectives and occupied huge chunks of time. And through all of everyone's busyness, I'm beginning to feel quite isolated. It really hasn't been too bad... the vacation and such has helped break up the monotony a bit, and all of the above things that are effecting me has only transpired just within the last 3-4 weeks (now I'm feeling rather wimpy), but it's beginning to take it's toll. It's just made me realize how much we all need good solid people to experience life with.

I miss my friends; I miss my kids being able to hang out with good friends. It will only be for a short season that this will occur, but golly, I need someone to laugh out loud with, ya know. So if you've got someone easily accessible and ready to pick up life with, be very thankful and hug 'em around the neck, cuz they're worth their weight in gold!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pictures This Time!

I know, it's amazing. (It has been awhile since these little things have appeared on my blog.)

If you want story, without pictures go here.

The first stretch of the legs - at a HyVee store in Lake of the Ozarks. We don't have cowboy hats available in our HyVees... nor do we have aisles of lake wear and water fun like this one did...

Lillie quickly learned how to relax in a hotel room...

The first group shot at Silver Dollar City.

Avery and I riding the roller coaster. He LOVED it (and yes I did too.)

The flying elephant ride - a favorite with the boys. (The tiny speck in the one elephant is Isaiah.)

Lillie on some fun climbing toys at the Geyser Gulch ball pit (still in Silver Dollar City).

Isaiah milking a cow (he was a pro... ok, so what if it was a fake cow?).

Lillie riding the cow being milked (it calms the animal, I'm sure, even if it is fake).

And here they are posing in front of the huge King Kong along the Branson strip. Avery and Huston always anticipated seeing it when we would drive around.

There. They're needing something again, so I must go. :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Well... Where Have I Been?

Here, there, and everywhere I guess. Isn't it funny how each season of the year brings about it's own sort of busyness. The spring brings outside busyness. The summer brings traveling and vacations for most. The fall brings about the start of all things schedule related and the winter brings the holidays.... that must be why the years seem to go by so quickly.

Just today I had to sign Isaiah in for Sunday school class and I had to stop and think what grade he's in! (not a good commentary on our homeschooling process I should think...) And I can't even fathom that the boy will be in the 3rd grade in a month or two. It almost makes me go into a crises. It's just not right. I can barely remember him as a baby anymore.... ok, now I'm getting depressed, so we're going to talk about something completely different. Like:

Branson, MO

What is the draw to Branson, MO?? Hillbilly lifestyles? Plastic faced people singing campy songs? Bad comedy routines? It is definitely an old people paradise. We just got back from a little jaunt down there - our destination of choice is always Silver Dollar City, cuz it's awesome. But as you get past Springfield MO the billboards definitely start to change... you see Yakov Smirnoff, you see Andy Williams, you see some family singing group (they're all the same ya know...) and of course there's Shoji. I actually saw a billboard advertising the new Titanic exhibit down there, but it said, "Come and experience the dogs of the Titanic" and below the caption was a picture of some poor soul in a maid's costume holding a dog. Seriously? Do people spend their hard earned dollars to experience the dogs of the Titanic? (Let me spoil it for you... the dogs died too...)

Maybe that's the problem... maybe the money they throw to these events is not "hard earned" - or maybe once you get into the hills of the Ozarks your mind just goes a little screwy. Who knows what causes this phenomenon.

Anyway, we spent three nights and a little over 2 days there and we did have fun (because we stuck to Silver Dollar City). We did go to the IMAX theater and watched some fish documentary one night that ended up being a warning about how we are destroying our planet (thank you for the political propaganda hidden within the family show Mr. IMAX).

While we were at Silver Dollar City we, ok I, was very excited to see that it was their Bluegrass Festival and Ms. Rhonda Vincent was there preforming. I love Rhonda Vincent. I secretly (ok so much for secrecy now) wished that I could sing and play the mandolin like she does cuz it's just. so. cool. We saw her preform and that made me happy - and the kids enjoyed it too even though they try to pretend that they didn't.

We also got all of the kids to ride some sort of ride, which is huge, especially for my oldest boys. Isaiah still refuses to ride the coin operated machines that you find outside grocery stores. Silly boy. But I got him to fall in love with a kiddy roller coaster that was there and in the end he said it was his favorite thing at Silver Dollar City. Avery and Lillie were ready to hop on anything and everything but their size restricted them greatly. I'm sure it won't be long before they can do more than just the handful that they qualified for... cuz like I was saying before the days of our lives are like sands through the hour glass... or something like that.

And now I'm going to end this because as I sit here, I have 3 boys hovering around me begging to be fed and watered. They're so demanding. But I promise I will get back to this sooner than later... unless I get busy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gotta Love My Kids

Yesterday being Mother's day I figured it would be best to say how very thankful I am to be a mother to these 4 wonderfully crazy kids.

I never thought that I would be a mother of 4 - and while I am definitely not that much of an oddity or anything that special, I am certainly a mom to some very special kids.

The oldest - Isaiah - such a great big brother. He loves his siblings genuinely and is my right hand man most every single day. Yeah, he hates to sit down to do school, but for the most part it comes so easy for him and he can knock it out in no time flat. Guess who volunteered, folded and put away 3 baskets of laundry the other day? Yep, that's right. He's a huge help! and he's getting so darn big. He also painted a picture for me from his art class. He did a great job and I love it... will have to frame it and hang it somewhere.

I guess it's modeled after the artistic styling of Wassily Kandinsky (yeah, I'm not familiar with him either...)

Huston has the middle child role down to a science. He is sweet and caring and goofy and impulsive and sometimes asks that most obvious questions just to be funny? to gain attention? because he really doesn't know the answers? (I hope not.) He can be the most lovey at times though. Just now he came over to me and hung on my shoulder, laying his head on me. I asked him, "What do you need, honey." and he answered, "Nothing mom. I just need you." And I needed to hear that right then.

Avery is soooo entertaining. We love him because he loves life. The boy is very rarely bored... in fact, just the other day while we were in the car, a radio advertisement asked, "Do you find life boring?," and Avery answered, "No!" Half the time we are trying to contain him while the rest of the time we are trying to calm him down. He is the most likely to come over with a spontaneous, "I wuv you mommy." and I wuv that! The only times the kid is quiet and focused is when he's A.) drawing or B.) watching a show - every other time he's making some sort of noise!

Lillie is a treat. She nurtures a baby doll in one hand and totes a gun in the other. (a gun she is ready to use! she'll point it at you and say, "bam, I shoot you." and yes we are discouraging this behavior... after we muffle a laugh...) She can talk so well. I really don't remember any of the boys talking in full sentences so early. Her best bud is Avery and they act like a little old married couple. Avery will try to share a story at the dinner table and Lillie will interrupt him with an, "Avery, shhhh!" This of course frustrated Avery and he tries to explain to her that he's telling a story so the dialogue goes something like this....

Avery: Hey dad, today at school...
Lillie: Avery! Shhhh....
Avery: Lillie! I'm trying to tell a stor....
Lillie: Avery, shhh.
Avery: But Lillie, I'm trying....
Lillie: Avery, shhhh.

And on it goes until I tell Lillie to stop shushing! But she wants to do everything with him. She won't take a bath or lay down at night unless he's right there.

She's also fond of purposely making a mess and then exclaiming while feigning surprise, "Oh! Big mess, mama." Yes, she's quite full of herself, and we will address that very soon!

While Mother's Day is not the funnest of holidays for me at this point, (because my husband refuses to acknowledge all holidays and special days no matter what they are for, cuz you know, it's all about what he wants - but that's another matter entirely... and my children are still too young to really know to do anything different.) I am very happy to be a mother and will put up with the lack of recognition for as long as I have to. I know Someone is noticing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That's So Not Like You...

Disclaimer: The following post may just be my way of subconsciously reconciling the fact that I can't recall anything anymore, especially concerning my kids.

I spend quite a bit of time with young families. It's a huge aspect of my job, and I am one (ok, so I'm not so very young to many people anymore, but I do have young children), and a lot of people within my circle can call themselves a member of this demographic as well. I'm surrounded.

I love this season of life and I love witnessing others living/struggling through the same things that I'm going through. (yeah, potty training and all the other glorious duties that go along with raising preKs.) But here recently, it seems that I have overheard a few too many different conversations involving a theme that always make me a little nervous, but before I start into this one-sided blog monologue I want to assure any of my readers out there that I'm not talking about anybody specifically that I know in real life - thus I will again stress the phrase "overheard conversations." (Yes, I'm snoopy - lets just call it a studier of humanity - ok, snoopy is fine.) And also there are certainly times in my life that this blog post could be directed at me, cuz I make mistakes too!

Here's the problem; we're not letting our kids just be kids. Now, I know that this topic could cover soooo many different subcategories, but the one I seem to be witnessing a lot of young moms doing here lately is the dangerously slippery slope known as sibling comparison.

It's really a natural thing to do and there are times that it can be rather harmless. Oh look, Jr. started crawling so much earlier than Wilbur. But the harmless can quickly grow into the questionable. I don't remember Ethel giving us such a hard time at bedtime like her sister does. To the downright wrong. Judy is so much more demanding and high maintenance than her older sister, I really hate dealing with it! I wish she was more like her sister. We've all done it. This is where my disclaimer comes in, for the most part all of my kids developmental stuff is just a huge blur in my head. I can't remember who did what when, and I kinda like it that way. But I can sure fall into the temptation to compare my kids' abilities, personalities and temperaments. (and you don't have to have more than one kid to fall into this trap - comparing reaches far beyond familial lines)

To a point it's good to get a handle on how our kids are different from each other. As their parent, this will give us valuable insight into how to connect with them, the best ways to train and discipline them, and to know how to encourage them into activities in which they are gifted. The danger is when we esteem one over the other or we too often verbalize our laments for them to be in some way different.

Can we not just be thankful for what we are given? I firmly believe that families are not built out of chance. There is a Designer to this world and He not only knits us together in our mother's womb, even knowing us before the event took place, (Psalm 139:14, Jeremiah 1:5 - and these verses apply not only to "us" but also to our children) but I also think that He planned our families (Acts 17:26-28).

Each individual has their own set of personality and talents - they have God's fingerprints all over them and to compare two different handiworks of God is like comparing one flower to another, or comparing the ocean to the mountains - they each have their own beauty and purpose! Yes when you go to the beach you have to deal with the never ending grains of sand in every crack and crevice, but there is still no denying the sheer awesomeness of it.

Every child will bring challenges, every child will bring joy, every child should be raised and brought up according to their created "bend." If it's a difficult journey... to be blunt... let's all just suck it up and deal with it, trying to figure out what is at the heart of the matter. Because if we think we are ultimately going to change what God has programmed then we are in for downright rebellion and broken relationships. And let's face it. God puts up with us all. the. time.

There needs to be so much room for grace in parenting. Let's extend grace to each other and to our children. Let us have words of encouragement for our kiddos, not words that will scar and hurt them that will leave them feeling like they don't measure up. God is the one that gives us value - so lets treat everyone as valuable, ok?