Friday, July 31, 2009

Quote: Barchester Towers

Few men do understand the nature of a woman's heart, till years have robbed such understanding of its value. And it is well that it should be so, or men would triumph too easily.

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

Abundance

We know have a chest freezer full with half a steer and half a hog. All natural! (Which we hope means they didn't want to hassle with being certified organic.) We are thrilled, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Any suggestions on rationing so much meat? I feel like it should last us a year, but I'm not sure.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's the Little Things

I missed the fun of posting some Small Successes last week while my parents were in town, so there are lots of things to choose! Having my parents around gave us a lot of time to work on a few things together -- like hanging pictures. (I picked the place, Kansas Dad did the hammering, as always.) Second Daughter especially likes having the pictures all around. She points to them and jabbers because she recognizes us. Now I just need to order updated pictures for some of the frames so there are pictures of her!

Here are my official Successes:

1. I finished the dressing frames for our preschool next year. Mostly these are for First Daughter, but First Son could use some button help as well, so hopefully they get a lot of use. My mom was an amazing help in getting these done and there will be (eventually) a complete post on them.

2. Hanging things! Kansas Dad and I had some time to shop by ourselves last Monday while Grammy watched the kids so we finally picked a little valance for the kitchen window. Now we can wash dishes in the evening without going blind from the setting sun shining into our eyes.


You'll have to forgive the mess on the sill. I wanted to leave in the bright red zinnia Kansas Dad and the kids grew (one of the few the bunnies didn't eat).

While my parents were in town, Kansas Dad and I had some time to shop the local Catholic bookstores for a crucifix for our living room. (We hate taking the older ones to those shops because there are so many things to play with break there.)


It's above our poetry and religion bookcase, which I think looks wonderful when it's not being used as a resting place for everything else. As you can see, I cropped it for the picture.

Last, but not least, Kansas Dad finished repairing the clothesline and we used it! (Until the rains came.)


3. I experimented with making chocolate graham cracker animal crackers and learned the hard way that you have to separate them completely before baking. The best thing to do is roll the dough out onto parchment paper, cut the cookies individually with lots of space between, pull up the excess (to roll out later) and bake. Beautiful, but time-consuming.


We also learned the graham crackers are much better when sprinkled with sugar before baking. Not that it kept us from eating them. I have crumbs left I intend for a pudding pie this weekend.

Head over to Faith & Family for more Small Successes!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Make a Joyful Noise


We chose her present wisely (even if a little late).

Query III

Does it count as hand-eye coordination exercises if First Son is throwing a t-ball up in the air and then trying to hit it with a hammer into the vacuum cleaner, as I'm vacuuming?

Don't Miss Out

Head over to marie-madeline studio for a chance to win this beautiful quilt. Just looking around over there makes me want to plug in the sewing machine and make something...but I've got a full plate already to get my homeschooling plans in order. Maybe I could settle for one of the aprons...of course, I've spent nearly all my discretionary money on books. (Homeschooling just gives me another excuse to collect them!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Do Crave

I have checked The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life out of the library at least four times. I really must get my own copy.

I made the Pumpkin Pie Muffins yesterday. Have you ever noticed how pumpkin muffin recipes always call for one cup of pumpkin rather than one can (which is something like 1-3/4 cup)? I modified the recipe by using the whole can and then substituting ground flax seed for the canola oil. I think the added pumpkin is just enough moisture to make up for the dryness of the flax seed. I ended up with 16 muffins, instead of 12, and they are moist and delicious!

We've enjoyed so many of the recipes in this cookbook. The Zucchini Parmesan Crisps are one of the best things you could possibly do with zucchini (other than chocolate cake, of course). Kansas Dad said he'd eat the "Dirty" Broccoli again (a miracle since he doesn't like broccoli). The Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream are the best fish tacos we've ever made at home. Mmmm...fish tacos.

The Maple-Glazed Walnuts are "dangerously delicious" according to Kansas Dad. And the Nutty Granola is our new favorite granola. It tastes even better after sitting overnight in the fridge.

Oh yes, I really must get my own copy of this book!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Leaving the World a Better Place

There are some picture books so lovely, they are appropriate for all ages. They encourage us to be more than we are. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is one of those books.

It is wonderfully illustrated, as I've come to expect from Barbara Cooney, but it is also a delightful story of Miss Alice Rumphius. She goes to school and travels the world, but knows she must do something more. She must make the world more beautiful, which she does in her own way. And so must we all.

I was going to buy this book (as much for myself as for the children), but by waiting patiently, I have received a perfect hardcover copy from PaperBackSwap.com! I had planned to plant lupines around the Range and read this book when they bloomed, but our garden took precedence and the lupines are still sitting in their seed packet. Perhaps now I'll read the book with the kids as we plant them next year.

Other books written or illustrated by Barbara Cooney that I have particularly enjoyed are Island Boy, Eleanor, Roxaboxen, Emily, and especially Ox-Cart Man. At first, I searched the library for all the books she wrote or illustrated and checked them all out. I suggest you do the same.

After Her Grandfather's Heart

Kansas Dad: She's a silly girl. They asked her what color she was and she said, "I'm pink with purple polka dots."

First Daughter: No, I'm not! I'm only just orange and blue.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Portrait of Second Daughter at One Year and One Week


She weighs about 22 pounds (70th percentile) and is about 30 inches tall (75th percentile). She has six teeth (the last peeking through just a few days ago).

She signs more and all done.

She says two words, bye bye and baby. An unpracticed ear cannot tell the difference.

She scoops up each baby doll she finds, hugs it to her chest and rocks back and forth, soothing the little one. Sometimes she does this with other things she finds. Like the phone.

She crawls, pulls herself up and even cruises a little. In the past week, she has started walking if you hold her hands. But she loves stairs most of all. She'll climb stairs all day long, if you let her. (We don't.) She can't resist climbing. She's always climbing on top of the bins we use for toy storage, and then crying because she can't get down. She also loves to crawl up on her brother's toddler bed. And then cry when she can't get down. When you pick her up and put her back on the floor, she immediately climbs up again.

She dances when we sing, especially when she hears Veggie music or songs with her name. (We modify Pig On Her Head by Laurie Berkner, changing the animals and the names to suit us. We sing it every day.)

Her favorite foods by far are green beans, peas and blueberries. So far, the only meat she'll eat is bacon. She's the only one of our children to like watermelon. She loves to feed herself applesauce and yogurt, but that's probably partly because she gives herself facials at the same time.

She screeches when she wants something. It is a very unpleasant sound.

If you give her a cup with a tiny bit of water in it, she can get about half the water into her mouth. The rest goes everywhere else.

She hates the fly swatter. She'll cry if she sees someone pick it up.

She is, as you can see, practically perfect.

Just So You Know

Sticky traps lose their effectiveness after a while. If you're not careful, the mouse will escape as you put it into the plastic bag. A set of new ones will do the trick, though.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Bunnies Attack

Warning! Sensitive eyes and ears may want to avoid this post.

Grandma called First Son to the window to watch the bunny. First Son said, "There's no bunny, just a snake!" Since I hadn't seen a snake on the Range yet, I hurried over to take a look.

There were actually two bunnies...and they were attacking the gopher snake! It was incredible!


The snake was infiltrating the warren. At one point, we could hear the babies crying out, so I'm guessing the snake had a tasty afternoon snack.





My mom was concerned for the baby bunnies (though First Son wasn't really worried about them). As far as I'm concerned, the snake did us a favor since the bunnies (while cute) eat their fill in the garden. The gopher snake in particular is always welcome on the Range...at a distance.

Learn more about snakes in Kansas here.

A Parent's Goal

If you're interested in education, or even if you're just a parent, take a few minutes to read this post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We're Off Having Fun


My parents are in town. We're celebrating birthdays, going on play dates, eating out, and generally having a great time.

Hope you are, too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Scent of a Sunday

This morning, Kansas Dad made his usual Sunday breakfast (and will make Saturday's usual breakfast tomorrow morning). He thought it would make our Sunday morning easier with guests (my parents will be here tonight!), church and Second Daughter's birthday party.

First Son announced, "It smells like we're going to Grammy's house later today."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Crossing Things Off the List

Small Successes is a little late this week, but not forgotten! I'm so pleased because I think we had a good productive week here on the Range.

1. My husband and I both went for eye exams and ordered new glasses (prescription sunglasses for me and I promise to really really try to not lose them this time!).

2. Kansas Dad and I went on a date! Without kids!

3. We've been fixing baby gates, hanging pictures, installing baby-safe outlets, purchasing and installing a new used printer (oh, how wonderful it is to print again!) and replacing the batteries in our weather alarm. And by we, I mean Kansas Dad. I did, however, put the June pictures in our photo album. I also made my favorite recipe successfully in the new bread machine, made two loaves of banana nut bread and planned a small gathering for Second Daughter's birthday this weekend.

Read more Small Success at Faith & Family Live.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time for the Two of Us

Today, for the first time ever, Kansas Dad and I left Second Daughter with Grammy (along with the older two) and went off for a few hours on our own. (We saw Star Trek, and it was fantastic!) I've left her with Kansas Dad a few times, but this was the first time without either of us and I was anxious.

She, of course, was absolutely fine. She didn't nap, though, and fell asleep in the car on the way home, an hour and a half early. We'll see how she does overnight. It was worth it, though.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

Crime: feeding nutritionally deficient white rice to the kids for dinner.

Punishment: sweeping the floor after dinner.

Organizing, Organizing and Baking

1. I uploaded all my June pictures to Snapfish to share with family and friends. I also uploaded all the pictures I want to order from Winkflash (which has much cheaper rates, but the customer service is not nearly as good) and I ordered them! I've gotten much smarter about my online photo ordering. Now as I go through the pictures during the month, I put them all in a folder, renaming the ones I want to order with the date. Then, at the end of the month, I don't have to think about which ones I want to print. When they arrive in the mail, I don't have to look up their dates (which I like to have for the album), because the file name is printed on the back. Perfect!

2. I helped Kansas Dad go through a pile of clothes at the bottom of the closet and we have a whole box to drop off for charity in addition to the cleared floor space. I also found a bag of maternity clothes that had somehow made it from my sister-in-law to my sister to my mom to me, even though they would never fit me in any stage of pregnancy or non-pregnancy. I was supposed to donate them to charity, but stuck them in the closet and now am happy to say my sister-in-law needs them again and was very glad to hear they were still around! (Now I just need to box them up and mail them to her...but surely we must save something for next week's Small Success!)

3. I've made two successful loaves of bread with the new bread machine and am building my confidence to attempt my old favorite recipe, which will need a little tweaking in the new machine.

And, as a bonus, Kansas Dad was able to successfully release the skunk caught in the trap we set for the raccoon without getting sprayed.

Head over to Faith & Family for more Small Successes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Cleaning Paddles (Not the Canoe Kind)

It's been a while since I participated in Works for Me Wednesday. In fact, I haven't been a part of it since it moved from Rocks In My Dryer to We Are THAT Family. I'm jumping in with another kitchen tip (no surprise there).

Having trouble cleaning the inside of the paddle on your bread machine? I used to try to scrub in there with a bottle brush, but now I just grab a toothpick (stored right above the sink for quick muffin-testing when baking) and scrub the inside. All clean!

Head on over to We Are THAT Family for more Works-For-Me-Wednesday.

Different Dipes for Different Shapes

After trying a few diapers out on First Daughter, we eventually filled out her stash with Knickernappies pocket diapers, which worked perfectly. So, when we needed a few for Second Daughter we bought the same thing. They did not work for Second Daughter. They leaked when she made a wet diaper. Every. Single. Time.

First I tried fixing them. I tried different inserts and combinations of inserts. I contacted Heather (who was very helpful) and even tried hand washing my diapers to rid them of any residues. Nothing worked. They simply didn't fit well enough around her thighs.

We tried a different pocket diaper, a Fuzzi Bunz One Size, because it looked cute and I couldn't resist. It seems to work just fine, no leaks at all. Personally, I don't think it's as easy to stuff as the Knickernappies (especially the new version!), but mostly we decided against them because we were afraid to buy another whole pile of pocket diapers when we were 100% sure the fitted diapers would be successful.

So we made an investment in a days' worth of fitted diapers to use with our trusty Thirsties covers. We have three or four different kinds of fitted diapers and they all work well with only minor differences in fit. The fitted diaper with a cover seems to create an incredible barrier that nothing has penetrated.

We're hoping Second Daughter's shape changes a little as she grows so she can wear all those large Knickernappies we have from First Daughter. In the meantime, she's still wearing them when we're home and frequent clothing changes don't matter so much. Though I wouldn't suggest investing in six diapers just as backup, it is nice to know I have lots of extra diapers and can easily go three days between washing!

Query II

If you're washing the table and intend to immediately sweep the floor, do you wash the crumbs onto the floor or into your hand?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love Is In the Popcorn


It was late when Kansas Dad was debating to plant any corn. He decided he'd try a small plot and asked if I wanted popcorn or sweet corn.

Popcorn.

You can never never have too much popcorn.

We're not sure how well it will do, being planted so late, but I have high hopes.

When In Doubt, God Is the Answer

After reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom before our quiet time today, I used the alphabet page at the end of the book to spell First Daughter's name. Then we spelled First Son's name. Then I spelled my name, which I knew would be tricky.

First Daughter answered first, even though she's still hasn't quite made the leap to the concept of letters spelling words (nor can she name all the letters if I were to point to them out of order). She made a valiant guess, though.

"God!"

That's Number Five

Second Daughter had a fifth tooth break through yesterday and I wanted to mention it here on the blog before I forgot (because someday I'm going to make a baby book for her and this blog is the only record I have). It's on her right side, on the bottom.

In other news, Kansas Dad tripped and hurt his ankle. He's at the doctor's office now with his mom (and brother to help him hobble) so we'll know the verdict soon, but we expect him to be on crutches and off the foot for a few weeks. Looks like I'll be getting a crash course in chicken-care. At least I'm not three weeks shy of a due date.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Suffering a Loss

Well, it was bound to happen eventually: we lost a few chickens last night, seven to be exact. Kansas Dad is pretty sure it was a raccoon. So he modified the chicken tractor for greater security, set a trap and plans to check on them a few times early tonight to see if he can catch the culprit in action...and take care of the problem.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

We won't be watching any fireworks (First Son dislikes them; and I'm not a big fan, either), but we'll be celebrating with something really American. Like ice cream. Or chocolate chip cookies.

Or both.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday! And happy anniversary to our friends (you know who you are)!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Did I Mention She Could Climb?

Kicked Out of the House




In case you were wondering, the plans for building your own chicken tractor in this book are near disastrous. Kansas Dad does not recommend you try them at home. He'll be looking elsewhere for the next one. (This one will house all of them for a while and the males until they head to the chopping block. He's going to build a different one with nests for the hens.)

Kansas Dad now plans a thorough cleaning of the master bathroom, which has housed our seedlings and our chicks for the past few months.

I Didn't Know Chocolate Could Do That

Tonight, I made some hot chocolate on ice for me the kids. (I've had it saved in my recipes to try since June 2004 but in my defense we didn't have a functioning blender for much of that time.) Everyone liked it. Even First Son said, "This is yummy!"

Then, after only a few bites, he changed his mind. According to him, it hurt his throat and his ankle.

So we gave the rest of his to First Daughter and he had a banana. (And then First Daughter needed a banana as well, in addition to her chocolate.)

I think you could even decrease the cocoa a little; it was very rich. (Though we skipped the whipped cream. Perhaps that would soften the cocoa taste a little.)

Apparently, She Can Climb Stairs



Quite well, in fact.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mmmm...Chocolate...


It's time for more Small Successes!

1. I did make chocolate graham crackers and they're fantastic. Kansas Dad even made me feel like I did something healthy for my family because they don't have any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. They are a treat, though, not for every day!

2. I've been making real progress on preparations for First Daughter's preschool activities next year, all from this little book.

3. I finally put away all the outgrown shoes that have been floating around my bedroom.