Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A room with a view

   I love having our kitchen in the front of the house. I can look out at our court and be aware of who is getting a FedEx delivery, who is getting dry cleaning picked up, who is leaving and returning in five minutes flat. I like knowing what is going on in our neck of the woods. It makes me feel a little safer.
   A couple of days ago I watched as a couple of neighbors were clearing a lot of items out of their house. Lots of small pieces of furniture and such. With each load out I would see what it was and think, ooh that would be nice in so and so's room. Or ooh I like that.
   On my counter is, was, the big ten page black friday ad for Jo-Ann fabrics store. I have had it on the counter since it arrived Monday. I have perused those pages many, many times. I love that store. I have had to put down some strict rules about that store, and limiting my going into that store. Well for this week they are having 75% of sales for flannel and fleece. Fun fabric, soft fabric, there is always some project that can use flannel or fleece. There are a few other deals that piqued my interest but I had to remind myself that I am in the middle of TWO sewing projects, both of which have fabric already cut on the office table. There was another that I sewed last week that I had cut out at least six months ago. I need to get these done so that I can move on to the ten other patterns for which I have already bought fabric.
  So I mention these two experiences because they are so related for me. I love getting new things, even if those things aren't new. I won't pass up hand me downs, especially for the kids, and clothes for me. Most of our furniture are hand me downs or second hand, only the beds and mattresses are all new. And I am more than fine with that. It is so fun to get a new thing, but with seven people in the family, there are a LOT of "new" things coming into our house. And it is harder for me to get rid of things than to get things. I feel like if the item is usable than it shouldn't be tossed unless it's nice enough to put in the DI truck, and with five kids I also think that another of the kids will want it. That is especially true with clothing as their likes are so different and you never know what will be in good enough shape to be passed on to the next sibling. But I have learned that too much is too much, even if it is good clothes, good furniture, anything really. The last few months I have had to purge the kids drawers of extra clothing, anything they didn't like or wear had to be removed. It was overwhelming. There is a happy medium of enough that can quickly move to stifling fairly quickly. So it is with seeing the furniture leaving my neighbors' house, we have no NEED of any more furniture. So it is with the fabric store, there are a few things that I would LIKE a lot, but I don't really need. Too much stuff is awful. It takes time to organize, time to keep organized, money to acquire, energy to move and organize, and energy to remember what you have and where in the house it is. Oh that last one is a killer, the I-Know-I-Have-It-But-Where-Is-It brain teaser.
   The tail end of the having process involves a little thought about part of the whole picture. When I don't want, need or use this, or it breaks, now what do I do with it? We had to deal with that a cople weeks ago. Joe was given a Lay-Z-Boy chair 11 years ago from a lady who had had it at least that long. This chair was in good cosmetic condition but that back support was gone and the kids were destroying it slowly with all the rough housing. My M-I-L got us a new one as new baby gift and now we needed to get rid of the old one. You know how big they are, they don't fit in the garbage, you have to pay to get rid of it at the dumps. No thanks. So I spent a couple hours dismantling it down to the frame and was able to get it into about four garbage cans around our block. We even got the metal parts off to recycle. Man, it was work. Things are work. That chair was 27 years old!!! It was well used but the wood frame was in perfect condition. That chair was solid except for the comfort part. What a lot of resources went into making it and into getting rid of it.
   In reading the creation story God told Adam and Eve to take GOOD care of the earth. I do think we will be responsible for how we use the resources of the earth. I don't think we need to live in a shanty with no amenities like running water or luxuries like hanging christmas lights. But I do think that our overall impart will be part of our character. Am I extravagant? Am I oblivicous? Am I extreme in my non-impact dedication? Am I trying to be wise and prudent and use what I have to the fullest? I use the sun, I use our windows and blankets and jackets, I capture rain water, we turn gray water into black water in the bathrooms. I will not give up my disposable diapers so I try to offset it with being extra frugal in other places.
   We live in such a disposable society that it's easy to get caught up in it. But I have found that the simpler (to a point) things are the easier it is to function and enjoy them and life. Enjoy deep stuff...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

a day

  Tonight was one of those nights that I need sometimes. Where I start a project and finish it, all in one fell swoop. A project that has an end and won't need to be done again, and again, and again, and probably again. I just needed it for me. To do something and be done. So I made a clothes pin holder. It is quite the sight. I wanted to make it pretty out of pretty fabric and then I got real. Where is it going to hang? Outside in the sun and heat so I went utilitarian. Duck clothe. Bright orange duck clothe mind you. The same orange duck clothe I used to make fishing pole lure covers (don't ask) for Joe. Oh and bean bags. So it should last. It may fade but it should last longer that the nifty pop up one I was given, whose strap frayed, no disintegrated from the harsh sun rays.I found a really cute hanger that has a metal hook and a cute little star and covered it with the newly made clothes pin bag and it's awesome. And it's done. I don't have to think about it anymore, except to bring it in from the rain, and use it. Maybe then my clothespins won't disappear and weather so badly, and stay in one place. Sometimes you just need to be able to check something off a list, somewhere.
   It really helped that the kids have been doing so much better at bedtime. I had a near breakdown a few weeks ago that coincided with the kids deciding that bedtime wasn't at 645 anymore, but more like 930. I was at wits end. I need, need, NEED those few hours at the end of the night to be kid free. When they are up at 615 every morning, and all five are at home all day, there needs to be an end to the chaos and loudness and the whys (which now will earn 5 push ups). I need to go shopping without kids at times, clean up the kitchen sometimes, sit down and read sometimes, go to the temple sometimes (okay more than sometimes, it's my therapist). It just needs to be me, sometimes with the chickens because they can be calming, sometimes with Joe, sometimes with other people, just without the kids.
   The last few nights that I have been out with the chickens I have felt and smelt the changing of the seasons and makes me so happy. I LOVE fall. I love the colors and the change in temperature. I love to wear sweaters and jackets and feel the cool air on my face. If we had one, I would want to curl up in front of the fireplace, with a cozy blanket and a good book. I just read one. The Unlikely Journey of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Except for the few swear words, I thought it was an amazing book. Made an impression on me. I hate having to qualify things, except for... aghh. If only I could push the edit button, they didn't add anything to the book. Swear words rarely do add anything anyway.
   Our chickens are doing a little better, there is still a definite pecking order, but number 3 has joined the "Mean Girl Group" and can be the most aggressive, she just seems to want to bother Whitey. But in whole the 2 Big Reds (the original Mean Girl Group) have mellowed a bit towards Whitey. That allows us to let them all out for 60-90 minutes at night. For a while it seemed like they would boot her out of the coop at night but no longer. Also, we are up to four laying hens out of the six. I am really hoping that Scout and Whitey start laying in the next month. That would really help with the egg production. Have you seen the price of eggs lately? Safeway is charging $7.50 for 18 eggs!!! That is nuts. I would not spend that much for eggs. Free range eggs go for $6 a dozen and we have a friend selling their eggs for $9 a dozen. A dozen. That is unreal. I can't believe anyone would spend that much for chicken eggs. I never would. I balk at spending $3.50 a dozen.
   My calling in our ward is Music Chairman. So I get to arrange all the special musical numbers. It awesome!! I get to pick the music and the songs and it's the best calling ever. This Sunday I am leading, conducting sounds to formal but it's the right word, a large group in singing "Come Thou Fount". I am so excited. I love that hymn (and am sad it's not in the hymn book anymore). We are going to change a bunch of things while still keeping the original beauty of the words and music. Oh I am excited. You know what sounds awesome to me? Having the primary sing "When He Comes Again" the Sunday AFTER Christmas. What a beautiful thought, having just celebrating His birth to think about preparing for Him to come again. Therein lies the awesomeness of my calling. I get to make that decision. :)

   Okay, I have a question for all you that read this post. Please give your response in a comment, please please please. I need feedback. This shows that I spend way too much time thinking up these special numbers, and well in advance.  Do you think that the primary should sing on Mother's Day, or is it okay to have a group that sings to the role of mothers and women? My thought is that Adam calls Eve "the mother of all living" before she is the mother of all living, before they are even married in fact. So the role of mothering and the attributes it describes are in use by many who aren't in fact "mothers". There was an amazing song about womanhood presented in the Relief Society general session a few years back. So please tell me what you think. I asked someone in my ward, and the response was an emphatic no way, primary must sing. But I still wonder. What do you think??

Friday, August 7, 2015


Here are the six newest members of our family.
This is Whitey, she is Joe's hen. She is #6 in the peck order and is therefore the target of almost all of the harassing by # 1 and #2. She likes me, I'm her protector. She is separated from the others for her own sanity, until she gets bigger and can better ward of the bossy duo.

This is Scout, she is Julia's hen. She is #5 in the peck order and is harassed at times, though less then Whitey. But put Whitey and Scout together and Scout will peck Whitey. Scout is a barred Plymouth Rock, about 5 months old.
These are the girls, plus one.These are the girls that rule the run. From left to right, they are (I think) Beezus, Rosie, and Izzy, and Marabelle. It is sometimes hard to tell the three on the left apart, I needed a couple of days to figure it out.
This is #1 (mean) girl, Beezus. This is what she looks like from above, lots of white. She has beautifully colored feathers.She is a Red Sex Link hen, aka Red Star et al, about 6 months old. She will see Whitey or Scout off somewhere in the chicken run and chase them and peck them, without provocation and without reason. She is Sean's hen.
This is #2, Rosie. She is just like Beezus, down one notch on the ornery scale. She is graced with just a hint of white in her tail and back. She's the same age and breed as Beezus. She is Molly's hen.
This is Izzy, #3, she is my hen. I think that she is just a little younger than Beezus and Rosie but the same breed. She doesn't get in on the mean action but she likes to hang out with the other two big reds.
This is Marabelle, #4 in the peck order. She is Cassidy's hen. She is like Switzerland, neutral, she bothers no one and no one bothers her, except us humans. She does not like us and will not let us pick her up or pet her. She is a Buff Orpington, about 5 or 6 months.
 It has been an interesting nine days, that's how long we've had them. They are up at 6 am every morning. They start to bawk until we let them out of their coop. It's not loud and its not as annoying as some dogs we know, but they let you know they are ready to rock and roll. I try to keep the poop picked up every other day at least. And hens poop, a lot. Seriously. It verges on gross, but you know? At least the poop is useful. It is great for garden soil, and our soil can use all the help it can get. And if it's free, even better. Well, not free, as we had to pay for the feed. But isn't it great to be able to use the waste of one project for the substance of another? They love to eat corn, zucchini, bugs, dandelion greens, watermelon, homegrown sunflower seeds, pumpkin, etc. We let them out of their run a few times during the day for a couple of hours in total. The hens only spend the night and laying egg time in their coop, which was quite the ordeal to make, but that's okay. In the evening the hens will make their way into the coop around nightfall. If I fail to get Whitey out of her run and into the main coop before it gets too dark she will refuse to move, I have to carry her. As did Scout. That must be a hen preservation thing, don't move at night when there are predators that might be out and about. Just hide.
  To go from no pets, to pets that require care throughout the day, everyday, is a big change. I didn't expect it in all honesty. I don't know why? I do need to get a few things sorted out because of the strength of the peck order, which I was not prepared for. I need to put out a second feeder in the main run, one in the small run for Whitey, and likewise waterers for the small run, one for the coop, and a small alternative one for the main run. Cheap me refuses to shell out $25 for a prefab waterer or feeder.
  (Almost) loving having chickens.
Holding our first two eggs, from our own chickens.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Glorious Liquid Gold

Despite our drought here in California and sever water cut backs. Despite the fact that both our hives swarmed because we let them get too crowded (the population got bigger than we had given them room for) and half our bees flew away. Despite the weeks that went by during which one hive had no queen laying eggs and a declining population. Despite all that, we just harvest 125 pounds of honey from our two bee hives, and there is a lot more still in their hives, and they are still bringing in the nectar. Maybe we'll still have more to harvest this year, maybe not. But wow. We have two nearly full 6-gallon buckets plus the quart jars we already bottled. I love our bees, they have been gentle and busy this year. We have enough to sell some this year and maybe recoup a little of the money we've put into those bees.
Bees and now chickens. Clothes hung on the clothes line. Compost bin constantly being turned and filled. Hand me downs. I feel so pioneer-ish. Thank havens for indoor plumbing, toilets, hot showers, electricity, automobiles, air conditioning. I love modern conveniences. A give and take. Pick and choose. Oh and clothes- scratch that, disposable diapers. Those are my absolute must luxury item. I don't want to live without them. I'd give up the dishwasher before I give up my Luvs. :) Seriously. 

I am a perfectionist and I must be crazy

   I must have thought for a moment that my life isn't crazy enough when I fell for the idea of raising chickens. We don't want a dog, or a cat, or any pets for that matter, but for some reason we, or maybe I, wanted chickens. We have bees, why not chickens. After taking care of our friends' flock for a week and seeing that really there isn't a ton to do, we decided to go for it. What was I thinking?
  I don't know what I was thinking and we don't even have the birds yet. Our plan was to get the coop built in time for the county fair and buy some there. Well, it didn't get built in time. Three days before the fair ended I went bonkers and thought I could finish it all. Oh man, that was two weeks ago. I have spent HOURS working on this thing. I designed it, came up with a plan, a list, and multiple headaches. And it still isn't done. So often this last week I have told myself "its strong enough" (even though I didn't frame it the right way) "it's a chicken coop, it doesn't have to be perfect" (perfectionist me says that it's not good enough, not exactly right, done the right way, it's not totally plumb, the list goes on) but no matter how often I think that it doesn't really matter, it does to me. And to top it all off, I found last night the plans (with a few slight differences) for a coop just like mine. Had I found that 2 months ago, this coop would have been done so long ago. Oh the injustice of it all. This is one of my big struggles in life, my weakness rearing its ugly head. I have to be right, do it right, I can't be wrong, about anything. That's the one thing I remember my 5th grade teacher telling me "December you don't always have to be right." But I do, it's wired in me to be right and to churn and stew and worry and get in a tizzy if I am not right, or I did it wrong, even if it really doesn't matter.
  I hope I love these darn chickens when we get them or all I will think is I spent how many hours and how much money for this disaster. I just want it all to be done and over and then enjoy those darn birds. I don't want to constantly be thinking about how much each of those little eggs is really costing. And how much cheaper it is just to buy those stinking eggs. Oh I hope ours don't stink.
  What did I get us into?? What if we want to go on vacation? Now we have pets, oh the joy of no longer being free. I am complaining, sorry. But then again we go on vacation one time a year. or at least for the last few years that has been the case. we don't go anywhere so why am I worried about it. It'll be good. The coop won't fall apart, it won't rot to the ground, it cost a little more than taking a woodworking class and I got a coop. And I don't have 20 years woodworking or construction experience, how can I think that I will do it perfectly? Especially when I find the perfect plans three weeks into building it. Even the color is wrong, too light, see... focusing on the negative. I've got to stop doing that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

it's PT time again, oh joy

There is a stage in every child's development that requires parents to prepare for, prepare more for, and then some. Potty training. Aagghhh. It's the only thing I think that rivals the sleep deprovation for awfulness. And we are doing it for the fourth time. I am so grateful to my in-laws who had talked about taking the three older girls with them to their cabin. I so jumped on that, potty train a kid and not have the antics of three other kids. WONDERFUL idea. So today was day #1. Our resident potty training expert's advice in hands and we started after a nice 2 hour semi-nap. There were lots of accidents. But without the girls there were no freak outs. Not even when he pooped in his panties (yes, they are panties, with three older girls they just are) within the first TEN minutes of putting on the panties. AGGHH. Oh well. He did much better in the afternoon after having peed out most of the liquids from the morning. Oh the over share. Sorry.
Tomorrow will be day #2, obviously. Here's to hoping that it is at least as good :) as today. Want to know his reward for peeing on the potty? Croutons!! Hilarious. Cheap, not much sugar, and he LOVES them.

I also started back at the gym. After Sean was born I started going but experienced knee pain which took months to resolve, and there went my resolve. But I am back. Twice last week, twice already this week, with the plan on twice more this week. It's great. When I was in college studying Athletic Training, students were required to take 10 phys ed classes. How awesome. No need to go to the gym and no excuse to not go to the gym because your grade is on the line. I got in the best shape of my life during my last year in school and that really helped leading into having five babies in six years. Now it is time to get strong again. As nice as it will be to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight, I am most excited about getting strong and firm and energized again and regaining the desire to run around and roller blade and do physical things. I felt like a tightness was lifted once I started moving again. What a great way to spend 75 minutes in the evening. Doing something that will benefit me AND my family. It's great. It's also wonderful to get away from the house, seeing as we don't always leave this address everyday. Especially with potty training now in force.

So for mother's day, our ward did the See's chocolate thing, the decorated cookie thing (that is eaten by the child anyhow), the awesome cards with the B&W 5X7 of the child (thanks Carol, they are GORGEOUS),  but the men in charge of primary added a super keeper. My kids, minus #2 Molly are at  40 seconds Julia, 49 seconds Cassidy (mini me), and 56 seconds Sean. Isn't it awesome??
Mother's Day video
I had a tear or two in my eyes when I first saw it. Love it. Keep it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A new year

   January and February have been good to us. I received a new calling. Oh how I dreaded hearing the "N" word, nursery, or the "P" word for that matter, primary. They are wonderful places to be, right now just would not be a good time for me to be there. And that is why I wasn't called there. I am now the music chairperson for the ward in charge of arranging for all the special musical numbers in Sacrament meeting at church. And that's a lot in our ward, the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Sundays. The 3rd Sunday is for the choir. I am liking it so far. It's one thing to be in charge of doing the music, it's another to be in charge of getting OTHERS to do music. There are enough people who usually do the music, but I'd like to get all the others who are willing to get in on the fun. So I am hopeful and optimistic that this will help our meetings. I am a firm believer in the power of music. And the power of beautifully presented hymn is unmatched.
   With all of our 70 degree weather, the kids have been outside a bunch. All three girls now ride without training wheels. Julia just decided to learn two weeks ago, she can't start unassisted but she's good to go once she gets the tiny push. Sean is just a matter of time. I tried putting on our training wheels on the little 12" bike but the back wheel didn't touch the ground once they were on. With training wheels on that little bike he'd be off to the races. You should see him on the little scooter he has, oh man, the boy has balance to spare. He coasts done the incline of the street on one leg and can turn the scooter all at the same time. It's really quite a sight to behold. Today he even started to ride his bike down the 5 steps of our front porch. That quickly was stopped. He's not ready for that yet though he thinks there's nothing wrong with it. Daredevil.
  Oh so it was supposed to be 79 degrees at Santa Cruz beach on Valentines Day so we thought, hey, lets go. Well so did tens of thousands of other car owners. The trip is 70 miles or 60, well, we got almost half way there and hit a wall... of cars. Oh my the radio said traffic was moving between 10 and 40. We hit 10 MPH once, it was more like 0-5. And it stayed like that for HOURS. Long after we got of the road and headed to the lake we saw off the highway in Los Gatos. We had been on the road an hour and a half and sick of the kids asking "how much longer". What were we thinking?? Who wouldn't want to spend valentines day on the beach with 79 degree weather?  Next time we will go during the week.
  I think my personal favorite happening has been that Zachary is no longer getting up in the middle of the night. And it only took two nights, with only one wake up those two nights. Another benefit of the bottle feeding for us. A tender mercy. No more having to wake up in the night to a crying baby. Uninterrupted sleep, there isn't much better than that. 
Oh, this little guy. He has lungs, and knows how to use them. Boy can he go from content to pissed in no time.

Getting through her reading lessons. Some days are more of  struggle than others, but isn't that true for everyone??

Love this little guy. Can't imagine life without him. He has so much spunk and life in him. Oh that smile, and giggle. Ask him to say "hamburger", and he says "Han-ga-bur" super cute.

As much as I struggled to be able to nurse him, bottles and formula have their benefits for us. It's so true, formula is not the devil's poison. I have enjoyed sitting in the rocking chair holding him super close while giving him a bottle. He used to look up at me while eating when he was younger. Now he's so into everything else.

Check it out, five car seats in an Odyssey. That's how we roll. no room for anyone outside the immediate family.

Factors X and Y. These two are dynamic. So much personality and they can talk the ears off anyone. For anyone who thinks a boy doesn't talk or that a fourth child doesn't talk much because the other siblings do it for them, meet Sean. He is a chatterbox.

She's a cutie. But man, she is growing up quickly all of a sudden.

Doesn't it look like she's sleeping?? She decided to take a snooze while the others were looking at the bunnies.