Sunday, August 30

Me, My, Mine

I did something yesterday just for me.

I love blackberries, love 'em! Blackberry cobbler, blackberry ice cream, and blackberry jam!

The kids don't like blackberries too much because of the seeds.

Shawn likes them OK, so I guess I will not be completely self-absorbed and share some of my homemade blackberry jam... but only cause I have a huge crush on him.

I love to can. It is a new venture for me, but I am hooked!

Here is the beauties waiting for their hot water bath.

I ended up with 16 jars of Blackberry jam. That should last me a month or two, snicker!

I love the jewel tones of canned goods. I canned 24 pints of pickles 2 weeks ago. I chilled a few jars right away and tasted them... for quality control purposes... and they are so yummy!!

So as to not seem too selfish... I will also can some strawberry vanilla bean jam for the kids, at least until they get some decent tastebuds and fall madly in love with blackberries like ME!!!

Wednesday, August 26

Farm Labor

Good help is hard to find.

Thankfully, I know just where to find cheap, willing (most of the time), helpers right in my own home. Sometimes my 13yr old son likes to spout off some mumbo jumbo about child labor laws... but I stick my fingers in my ears and sing a happy tune till he stops jabbering ;)

Each laborer fits a specific criteria, and together they are a well-oiled machine!

Please don't tell Ty, but he fills the slot of grunt and gopher. He mainly brushes dirt of prepainted surfaces, and paints the lowest surfaces that older siblings can't easily reach.

Savannah is the quality control. She can be rigid and bossy, but she is the reason this fence will ultimately look beautiful. Perfectionist, she is... perfectionist, Christian is not....

Case in point, do you see the huge drip in the above picture? That would be Christian's handywork.

But without Christian, this project would not stay on schedule. He keeps things in perspective, this is a farm fence. He talks his older sister down off her sometimes impossible standards... and between the two, they crank out beautiful results.

I sure love these kids, and my appreciation is HUGE! After all there is over 600 feet of fencing to prime and paint at the entrance of our property.

I think it would be wise for me NOT to show the kids my future plans of additional farm fencing. You can't argue the point that sometimes... ignorance is bliss.

Monday, August 24

Creepy Crawlies

Ty and I studied Phasmids, aka walking sticks and stick bugs, last year in science.

At the time, we tried to find one in the woods, but had no success. This morning Ty found this fella on our front porch.

Between the 2 of us we can remember a few facts on this insect...

It is vegetarian. Female phasmids do not need a male to reproduce. Baby phasmids are called 'nymphs'. There are many species of phasmids and they range in size from 1/2" to 13". And walking sticks are cousins to grasshoppers.

The fact that Ty is sure to never forget... cause he is a boy... most phasmids are nocturnal and stay idle during the day, even swaying slightly from side to side to imitate a branch blowing in the breeze. BUT some phasmids are quite defensive and can regurgitate food (PUKE) on their attacker or spray a poison like substance that to a human is as painful as being sprayed in the face with mase. (I just realized I have no idea how to spell that, grrr)

That is sadly the wealth of our knowledge on these interesting bugs... after all we studied many creepy crawlies and like Ty always says..."I only have so much room in my brain for school stuff!"

Saturday, August 22

the claaaaaaw....

This is my smug little son.

He is smug because his mom continues to tell him not to waste his quarters on those machines INconveniently located in Red Robin's burger joint.

But he has his own money and he wants to try 'the claw'.

And dadgummit, shootfire, cottonpickin'.... that darn guy always wins something!

How dare 'the claw' make my mommy advise a mockery!

So to make me look even more silly, Ty wins this little diddy.

A very fancy, red velvet hat... with the lovely purple ribbon as an added accent.

Then he proceeds to hand the hat to me. What?! For me?! And when I opened the hat... there was a sweet set of bling earrings. My sweet son is very proud of his gift. He always shares his loot from the claw games, I guess I will just hush. Now I will proudly go wear my lovely diamond earrings. The boy has the touch.

I must document that on our way home from Red Robin, Ty also thanked me for taking him on a date. He said, "I know I can't date girls until I'm 16, so mom?, will you be my date until I'm older?"


I would be glad to son!

Thursday, August 20

Noah?! Where is your ARK!!

Today was our Garden Club at my house. It was hot and then rainy so all us gals brought sewing projects to work on. We love visiting and the kids play so well together, it is the highlight of my week.

Then Debbie, clever mommy that she is, noticed that she had not seen Taylor in a while... so she went on the hunt.

The hunt ended in my master bedroom, standing in front of the master bathroom doors, with water coming out under those doors onto the hardwood floors, EEEEEEK!!

Debbie urgently called us all into the bathroom for 'backup'.

Can I please add a disclaimer on Taylor and Noah's behalf? Anytime the nieces and nephews come to Aunt Dawn's home, they always ask to go swimming in the bathtub. The tub bubbles, it can fit MANY cousins, and the best part is the handheld shower.

Seems Taylor and Noah felt they would go have some good, clean, fun with the handheld shower hose.
There was water everywhere! I did not know that the shower fixture could get enough pressure to shoot water to the ceiling, good to know.

Noah and Taylor were very thorough and made sure everything got a good cleaning. No vessel was left unflooded.

From the looks of things, Noah was the head shower controller. At least we think so since he had at least a tad bit of dry spots left to him....

Where as Taylor, was soaking wet! When we all barged up into the bath... there was not an itty bitty ounce of guilt on either of their faces.

Aunt Dawn wanted to give them creativity points... their moms?... not so much.

I think Noah and Taylor were sadden by our haste in mopping up all the glorious puddles.

Am I a terrible Aunt that I laughed and laughed and laughed, then grabbed my camera. Am I mean for thinking this precious, wet, gal is adorable when she cries?

The water was nothing a few dozen blankets and towels couldn't handle. The wet bandits even helped with the clean-up. Now my window sills, windows, walls, baseboard, and every nook and cranny is clean. Absolutely sparkling.

I've got several loads of laundry ahead of me, but it was worth the excitement. Hopefully Noah and Taylor's mommies will forgive Aunt Dawn finding this all so hilarious. In the future, I promise to give a little more instruction to all the nieces and nephews of when and when NOT to play with Aunt Dawn's swimming pool bathtub sprayer. Slight oversight on my part, oops!

And little Miss Eden seemed quite entertained by the commotion. She is mobile now but picked up on the clear vibe that she should just stay put, and dry.

As for the other kids in the house...

the fabulous Murphy gals were here and thought the whole thing quite scandalous!

Bella was happy the whole time viewing the craziness from her mom's arms.

Kena was none the wiser.

Lil' Nate seemed a tad bummed at the fact that Taylor and Noah did not include him in the merry making! Poor Nate, there is sure to be plenty of future fun amongst the cousins... no worries!

Saturday, August 15

Weakest link?

Savannah and Christian woke up early this Saturday morning, did all their chores... and promptly went out to prime and paint our farm fence.

Shawn and Ty headed out early to help Uncle Chris disassemble an outdoor play set, haul it to his house, and reassemble the play set for Noah and Eden.

Me? Um, well, there is tons for me to do in this RARELY quiet, abandoned home of ours....

Embarrassing photo... mounds of dirty laundry still to wash from this week.
Note, Tuesday is my laundry day, seems I am a tad behind...

Clean clothes hanging on banister that need to be hung up before they fall to the floor and have to be rewashed and pressed...

A sink FULL of dirty dishes...

Payday was Thursday and I did not get the bills all paid and ready to mail...

The kiddos homeschooling materials arrived this week. They still are in the boxes, neatly shrink wrapped, and waiting to be organized...

And even the fun activity of researching plants for our 'hopeful' future landscaping project. Alisha, can you believe I have THE Monrovia plant book in my possession? I really should put a protective cover on it while I have it on loan, as to not leave drool marks...

And yet with everything I have on my to do list, I sit and read! All those other activities may break the beautiful silence in the house. I'm all about inviting silence... not chasing it away, grin! Truly I am helpless in this matter. Truly!

Wednesday, August 12

I love nice people!

We had to call a member of our church family early Sunday morning. He is a doctor, and we needed help. Keep in mind that Shawn is a dentist and after hour calls are plentiful and can really put a damper on pre-made plans, so we only call a doctor for absolute emergencies.

And an emergency is what we woke up with on Sunday.

Christian had gotten into some poison ivy. He always reacts badly to exposure but this time, it was becoming scary.

Our handsome son did not even look like himself when he awoke on Sunday.

The entire shape of his head and face were distorted. But what really worried me was that his nose,lips, and ears were swelling! I was afraid, unchecked, he could have breathing issues.

Hence the phone call to the doctor. He agreed with my panic and I was off to the pharmacy for prescription antihistamine and steroids.

Thankfully, within 48 hours, Christian was more comfortable, swelling was greatly reduced, and he was resting again. And my mommy alarm stopped blaring once he started to look like my son.

So blessed to have a wonderful Ward family, that includes a kind doctor that graciously helped us on a busy Sunday morning.

Do I dare hope for an uneventful upcoming weekend? One with no chicken pox, or missing animals, or poison ivy, or, or, or. I'm an optimist, so surely!

Tuesday, August 11

Good Morning Sunshine

Today was Savannah's very first day of Early Morning Seminary.

For those who are unfamiliar with this program... our church provides an Early Morning Seminary class for high school students.

They meet every morning before school from 6:20-7:20am.

This program is voluntary, the kids choose to go, and it is amazing to see all those virtuous teenagers filing into the church building that early in the morning to study and draw closer to their Savior. Powerful!!

Savannah and I were up and out of the house by 5:55am to drive to church. Luckily, Savannah is my morning child... she was all smiles and giggles.

First day surprise, Mickey D's, yippee! Savannah loves their chicken biscuit. She was really lovin' her mom this morning ;)

When we returned home at 7:30am, Bella was the single participant in our welcome home party.

I love this gal! She is a Proverbs 31 Maiden in the most beautiful form. She is everything wonderful and precious all wrapped up in a perfect daughter of God.

I too attended Early Morning Seminary in my youth. I know it strengthened my testimony of His true gospel. I know that while all my choices during those years were not always right, I had the foundation to continually return to what I knew, without a doubt, was true. I am a daughter of God, a wife sealed to my husband in a Temple of the Lord, a mother with 3 children born into the covenant that Families ARE Forever, and today... a very proud mommy of a daughter that daily is making wise choices to follow her Savior.

After yesterdays little miracle... and this early morning trek with my daughter... I'm feeling extremely blessed and happy today!

Monday, August 10

Believe it or NOT?!

We have learned that living in the country, makes others think of you first when they hear of an animal needing a home.

A friend called to tell us of a litter of kittens that had been abandoned in a storage unit. She had taken them in but could not keep them as she lives in an apartment.

So, she called us and we said we would take two tiny males. They were so pityful, but they seem to be doing quite well. We keep them in our garage, because they aren't big enough to roam the farm safely.

Last night, Shawn parked his truck in the garage.

This morning he left for work and when the kids got up and were feeding animals... they could not find the little black kitten, Shadow. They looked everywhere with no success.

Shawn drove 11 miles to work, parked his truck, and went into his office. At around 3pm, many hours later, someone out in his office parking lot kept hearing a little meow. She tracked the sound to Shawn's truck but could not find the kitten.

She finally came to Shawn's office to tell him that she thought there was a kitten in his engine and asked him to come raise the hood on his truck.

We had not been able to tell Shawn about Shadow missing, so he was completely clueless. When he went down to the truck and lifted the hood... no kitten. But he could hear the meows too.

So my sweet, soft hearted hubby, dressed in his nice clothes... searched all up under his truck. Finally he found our little kitten on a little slat above the muffler. Shadow rode all the way to Shawn's office under his truck. And stayed there all day until he was rescued. Miracle!

Shawn called home to tell the kids that he had found Shadow and they were crying they were so happy with the good news.

I am still wrapping my brain around how Shadow held on, all that way, down a long gravel drive, bumpy country roads, two railroad crossings... 11 miles later, still holding on. THEN staying put for 8 hours to be found. So thankful!

And this is Shadow's little brother, Smore. He cracks us up because most of the time he looks cross eyed ;) Smore was NOT happy today in the garage all by himself. He was literally thrilled when Shawn returned home with Shadow.

And my precious 7 yr old son, who was the first to discover Shadow missing this morning because he is responsible for feeding them. My poor son that shed the most tears today as he looked and looked for Shadow... is now happy as a little guy can be... sweet dreams lil' man.

Saturday, August 8

Searching for Shade

It was just too hot here today to do much of anything. Shawn and I decided to grab a picnic and head to Green Mountain for a stroll in the woods.

It was beautiful and shaded.

Savannah is the fastest walker of us 5. She just sprints ahead of us... I'm sure that has to do with her regular workouts on the treadmill. She is an on the go gal!

There are beautiful buildings throughout the trail around the 17 acre pond. Love it all!

My favorite stop by FAR is this gorgeous old covered bridge.

My incredible oldest son is in a world of hurt. He has an awful case of poison ivy.

He did a project on our property this week. He is always good about showering immediately after working outside because he seems to have a real sensitivity to poison ivy. But this time he forgot, until it was too late. Every surface of his body is covered, his mood has been somber. Poor guy!

He is normally our rambunctious fella, so hard to see him hurting. But he seemed to especially enjoy the quiet time in the shade,

I love this guy!