Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Couple of Random Things All This Week

Monday we met Wheelchair Mama and her boys at the Urbandale Library Chapters Cafe. They gave us free cookies, which was cool. What I didn't know was that they were clearing out edible inventory. It closed that night and has not re-opened. Still. Good time, good friends, yummy free cookies.

I felt the baby flutter today. I'd felt it before, but today it was really strong and repetitive. So very cool.

"I'm queen of the bumper mat!"

This week I had a major problem with my online classes, tried very hard to fix it myself, but ended up going in to see the tech support at home campus in person.....with tot in tow. She chanted that she hates the town that it is located all the way there. Once we got there there were no parking spaces and the building was surrounded by emergency vehicles, CNN trucks, satellite vehicles, and construction vehicles. No tape, so we went on in. So.....why the fuss? Hillary Clinton. Speaking to the students in the gym. Most of the students were not terribly interested and Hillary was 2 hours late, but still the place was packed with excited political participants, business people, and reporters with big bulk equipment. It took 32 minutes to walk through the building to tech support. Since we had to park so far away I had Lil'Bug in the emergency stroller that she is really too big for. 3 hours later, we repeated the same task escaping the chaos. Computer program problem unresolved, tot cranky, and then asleep.

"I hate your work Mama. Can we go home and have ice cream now?"

"What? Why are taking my picture? Go bother that cat."

Oh no. Maybe I am turning into one of those bloggers who takes lots of pictures of their cat.....


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

12 Weeks, 2nd Trimester

Time for a baby update!

I am finally feeling less nauseous. That's good. Less tired too. When I really need to pee sometimes I can feel the baby squirm. That's uncomfortable but reassuring.

I inventoried what baby stuff we still have (re: didn't sell at garage sale in June or give away) and realized that we have all we need. We kept what we used, but for clothes. I might need to get another pack and play......maybe. I'd like a new sling and I have my eye on a website that does custom silk and Solarveil, a local mama at that. Those things will wait until May. My sister suggested that I just register for loads of diapers. That's funny because that's all Dearest Husband wanted to register for with Lil'Bug: diapers. It is funny how experience can dampen the effect of Pottery Barn ads, eh?

Lil'Bug is excited. She sometimes says she is worried about being a helper or a big sister/brother and now and then expresses anxiety about sharing. She also says she has a baby in her belly too. Cute. This does get varied reactions from people.....

I'm a bit nervous as to how our dynamic will change too. I know there is more of a difference between one and two children than any more after that. I am a little tired of hearing that Lil'Bug NEEDS a sibling. We are welcoming a baby, but she doesn't need one just as she doesn't not need one. I'm also tired of hearing people say snottily about moms of one, "Yes, BUT she only has one......" What does that mean? The best moms I know have one child, some of the other best moms have 2-3-4-+. I know the dynamic is different, but I fail to see how it makes one a better mom.

That's it. I had the monthly check up with my midwife today. All stats are fine, baby eluded the heartbeat Doppler for a bit, but we found the beat eventually: good and steady and fast! So far so good. :)

Confirmation that zero fibroids is such a wonderful thing. That means that so far, nothing stands in my way for having a healthy VBAC. We had quite a chat about the missing fibroids too, my research and theories- her research and theories. It really is quite an amazing thing that has happened.

I have decided to use doulas again. Since I won't have my choice of the doctor who attends the birth (of the 7 in the office I visit and that's my choice if I want to be under the care of this Midwife who I trust and feel comfortable with....) and my extended family are mostly far away- I am building our birth team. I plan on having Dearest Husband, 2 doulas, and maybe a mama friend. Lil'Bug if she wants to, but Nana and Grampa will be close by to help with her if she gets overwhelmed or scared. I have decided to have a note made in my chart to not offer me narcotics. I didn't do that last time and I tend to be a weenie in the hospital, if they'd offered to shave my head I would have nodded and said, "whatever you think is best..." Weenie. I have a selection of music for my Nano and I ma searching for a good book to read. Reading is the one and only thing that relaxes me.

What other things am I missing? I have plenty of time to think about it. If you don't mind sharing, what kinds of things did you do? Any other VBAC'ers read here?

Monday, 26 November 2007

Trimmin' the Synthetic Tree Substitution

We set up our fake tree last night. It was meant to be an all day event BUT we decided to put it in a corner that had no baseboard trim and so such had to be found in our architectural salvage pile, cut, and installed. Then cleaned. Then the tree and accoutrement's had to be located, cleaned, sorted, and THEN the lights didn't work and had to be spliced and repaired. Not the holly jolly time we had been looking forward to.

During the course of our search for our one little, tiny box of childhood ornaments the thought occurred: When did families, our families, go from decking the tree in kid made, collected, and personal ornaments to a Martha Stewart designer competition for the perfect home decor? When did our childhood art/fun ornaments get relegated to dump box in favor of plastic and glass perfection on a hook? So why am I inheriting that? I don't have to- it's a choice, not a tradition.

When did our lives get like that? How do we undo the damage of "look, don't touch/eat"?

Historically trees were trimmed with presents, food, and paper craft. Next year, when we have a new old house, we will have a real tree with real ornaments made by our very real family. This year we will enjoy what we have and add what we can. This year we added candy canes to offer guests and we will be adding more as the weeks go by. It will still be beautiful, but touchable.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Turkey Noodles

Turkey Tetrazzini


  • 1/2 package uncooked spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups seasoned chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup half & half
  • 1 + 1/4 cups shredded Parmesan (Asiago and Romano blend, yum) cheese
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 2 coves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion
  4. Stir in flour. Mix in chicken broth and milk/cream. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.
  5. Mix chicken broth mixture and turkey with spaghetti. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until surface is lightly browned.
Even better and leftovers the next day, which is funny to me since I made it with leftovers......
I got the base recipe off of allrecipes but changed it a bit according to the reviews and what I had on hand. Enjoy!
* Note: Lil'Bug calls it Turkey Noodles.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Our Traditions for Turkey Day

Our traditions here are fairly new, as in about 11 years old. That's how long we've been together. We go to the in-law's, we don't cook, we try to help and end up getting in the way, we enjoy good food, my dearest picks a fight with his brother, everyone but brother has a good laugh. We pack up the leftovers and head home.

I think the food is the tradition. We always have turkey, sweet potato casserole laden with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, and a green Jell-o and nut "salad". This year grandma is in Texas for the holiday, we miss her.

This is Dearest Husband making the gravy. Gravy is very important to him.

This year we almost didn't have candied yams. Yikes. I am so glad we did. I love the marshmallow-y goodness. Nana is adding the marshmallows. Yummy.

Grampa carves the turkey breast. I don't have many pictures of Grampa. I got one today!

LIl'Bug waits hungrily at the table. This is her first year not in an elevated high chair. She was so excited!

Ah yes. This is Uncle J. Oh wait. Where is he? Dinner started 45 minutes late.....where could he be? No problem. He's still at home. We called to check. Don't worry, being late to holiday feasts is his tradition. :)

So, upon reflecting on this glorious day, (a day that started for me at 5AM with Lil'Bug's latest bout of "bad poopies".....) I asked my dearest if he realized that I, at age 30, have never cooked Thanksgiving dinner? That this year all my offers to help or cook something were refused? I then asked him if I am really that bad of a cook?

"Yup," he replied, barely looking up from his computer. Then, in response to my stunned silence, he offered, "You're just inexperienced and Nana doesn't need that stressing her out in the kitchen...." He blathered on for a bit but I decided to change the subject, as my heart, fueled by sleep deprivation and pregnancy hormones, was totally broken. Just know that despite the attempted change in subject I ended up in tears. He thought he was being funny, I was over sensitive about it.

You see, I burned myself last week re-heating cheese noodles. Not an, "Ouch, that hurt," burn....a full on, thumb blistered and bleeding burn that is still healing. Then yesterday I burned the same hand, re-scorched the thumb, added the next two fingers to the emergency. My tot now knows about 17 new swear words, hearing them spew from my mouth and I cried and screamed in pain. How did I do this, you might ask? Stupid. I am a walking accident in the kitchen. I always have been. I decided to wash the stove top, but first boiled water and made a cup of tea. The grate was hot, I forgot I had just boiled water using the front burner, and grabbed it to throw it in the sink to soak. Gah. It still hurts. Yay for ice packs.

So instead of being pissed off and really sad, I am grateful that my talents are acknowledged and that means, for one day, I don't have to cook food or clean my kitchen or maim myself in the process of either. This one day I got to take lots of pictures, take a nap, AND eat pumpkin pie. Cool.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Weather Outside is Frightful......

....but let it snow!!!! Wednesday was our first snowfall in Iowa. It wasn't supposed to do much but flurry in the afternoon, but at sunrise (Lil'Bug's new found waking up time) she ran to the window and declared snow! No kidding. We got 3-4 inches. She watched it on and off all day.

She had no snow pants or boots and so soon after a cold there was no way she was going to get to go outside and play. I'm a mean mommy. I heard about it quite a few times. We went out and bought her both today (Thanksgiving at Walmart) but today was too busy and frantic to let her loose outside.

Ah yes. The haircut. This is the first time I got a good picture of it. She hated her long, beautiful hair. Maybe she hated having me fuss over it, brush it, wash it, whatever. She's asked to have her head shaved "like Daddy's" over and over again for the last month. I took her to get a hair cut and let her pick out the cut. She eventually settled on a short bob BUT the hairdresser had ideas of her own. At the end of it Lil'Bug was almost in tears because the lady didn't take enough hair away. The lady also did a crappy job putting in "layers" that I specifically said "no" to. Next week we will go get it fixed IF Lil'Bug decides she still hates it. So far she's gotten a lot of compliments and I haven't needed to coax out knots so she's pretty happy. The thing that really rattled me was how her self expression is so much different from what I would have chosen for her. I like long hair, she wants a shaved head. I like jeans and a T-shirt, she likes pretty spinning dresses. I don't know. It was really hard for me to let go and let her choose, but I am glad I did. Everyday I get to know her better.

This is the view of snowfall from one of our front parlor's picture windows. It's a pretty view.

This is the tree Lil'Bug was watching. There were her friend squirrels running up and down and a red cardinal family. It's a White Oak that is over 100 years old. It's the only tree left in our yard still holding on to its leaves. Which is funny. All of our other trees shed them during a wind storm, which means we did zero raking this year. Didn't need too. See that lovely house and yard across the street from us? Yeah. I think they got all of our leaves and then some.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Secret Shopping Tip

The Wednesday BEFORE Thanksgiving......all the sale signs for Black Friday are out and have to be honored, you have good selection, AND you pretty much have the stores to yourself. Run quick.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Better Blessings

I know people who are like this. I've been guilty of it a few times myself. Nearing Thanksgiving, a time to count out loud the things we give thanks for while gearing up for the gimme gimme's of Christmas, I think this situation gets exacerbated.

My challenge for myself this week is to not compare my blessings to others. To simply appreciate my own home, family, and health.

All She Wants For Christmas

She talked us into this at 11 am while at the mall getting a replacement Nano case (mine fell out of the car near Bethany, MO. Gah....) and she was so excited. She really was confused about asking Santa for presents though. It took her a while to think of something so he read her a book for a while. Very cool, not very busy.

So, all she wants for Christmas....are some Christmas Cookies (to share?) and a Christmas tree (ha ha Dearest Husband! We definitely get a tree this year!). She added at the last minute that all she has is a princess crown and would like a Queen hat since she is the Queen of Queens.

We do a traditional Christmas holiday. I still believe in Santa. When I had doubts as a child, I simply doubted that I was being good enough for him to visit. Now that I am older (I dare not say wiser), I fully believe that the spirit of this man lives on. His good deeds are exactly the kind of thing a good Christian would have done- he saw the needs of suffering children and worked hard to bring joy into their lives. What are you doing to bring joy into the lives of your loved ones and friends? I worry about the commercialism of Christmas and all of the holidays BUT we choose to celebrate the giving and the friendship. We are not piling the toys on the tot this year but focusing on others. She will have presents under the tree, but not so much that we have to make two trips home from Nana and Pawpaw's! This year we will share craft days and cookies with friends and offer refuge to those local mamas overwhelmed by their own stuff and chaos: just email me and come on over. Their will be a cup of tea waiting. :)

Monday, 19 November 2007

Happy Birthday (Great) Grandma!

Here are some memories and pictures from our recent trip to KC:

Happy 85th Birthday Grandma!

Grandma was one of the first women to train at Camp Dodge, IA to be an Army medic for WWII. Below are her graduation pictures, her dog tags, and her diploma.

Lil"Bug practiced and practiced Happy Birthday To You only to at the last minute add the "you live in a zoo" verse. Lucky for us, she was too excited when the time came to sing to remember the added verse! Her Great Grandma is one of our best supporters for our homeschooling decision- for that we are grateful. In the below picture, Nana (Lil'Bug's grandma) holds her while she squirms. Nana organized the whole birthday party in KC from at home in Iowa. She did an awesome job. I'd like to add here that my MIL is wonderful. I am so grateful not to have the adversarial relationship so many have with their in-laws. I feel so blessed that they welcomed me into their family!

The pinata. Lil'Bug tentatively handed back the big stick to Dearest Husband in exchange for a more appropriate sized one. Then she whacked at it with all her little might. Too cute. Later a big kid managed to bust it and it was a free for all for candy. Dearest husband gave the littles cups to aid their collection efforts and Lil'Bug got all the mints because the bigger kids hate mints. She thought she was getting a good deal, let me tell you!

I had the opportunity to meet people and family that knew Dearest Husband when he was a wee tot. I met his preschool Sunday School teacher. Her stories about him were so sweet and really capture the core of his personality. I can definitely see why he misses this particular church community.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

This Weekend

Tot and I are in Kansas City for a birthday party this weekend. It's a family reunion of sorts, which is really cool. KC is where Dearest Husband is from and the party is at his childhood church. We'll post pictures later tonight.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Simple Tree

Several years ago I worked for a museum. It was a living history Victorian museum dedicated to celebrating the story of corn hybridization. Every year I worked there I was in charge of creating Christmas for tours. There were several criteria of authenticity: no electric light, firesafe, simple, under 25$ total.

I worried over these many weeks. People expect pretty twinkly lights. People expect elaborate schemes and themes. Ugh. Then a good friend brought me a box of ribbon, some wheat, pine cones, and old post cards. Ah ha! She grinned. We spent a good Saturday tying, twining, and stringing. We invited some neighborhood kids to help, we sat by the fireplace and chatted, we drank hot chocolate until we could burst!

The tree ornaments, tree trimmed by friends and children:
  • Red glass balls, each with a ribbon tied at the top
  • Wheat, wrapped in bunches with wire and tied with a ribbon
  • Pine cones, looped with wire. Sometimes tied in bunches and garnished with ribbon or glass balls
  • Postcards, hole punched and tied with ribbon or rafia
  • Candy canes! Given as gifts to all who visited

Gearing Up for the Holidays

I love Christmas, oh let me count the ways.......

Growing up I had some pretty rotten Christmases. My family was not religious, but dragged us to church, the big Catholic Basilica, for midnight mass some years. Some years certain relatives spiked the punch or the turkey stuffing (thus my dislike for stuffing). One year, I was 16, no one in my family remembered to wrap or set out any gifts for me. They were there, but were not found until February when someone cleaned out a closet. Other years, the family dysfunction was at its prime. Tears were shed over the not perfectly trimmed Victorian tree, the family pictures, presents not wrapped in the right paper.

There were goods years/moments too. That's what I wrapped myself in. I was really good at wrapping presents. I was also pretty good at wrapping myself up in holiday spirit and reminding myself what the spirit of Christmas is/was all about. It's not about presents, it ia about celebration of faith, friends, and family. It's about giving not receiving. The good years were spent trimming a fun tree and baking cookies while watching the ABC family movie or helping my little sister write letters to Santa. Trips to the mall to find gifts, thoughtfully picked out, for everyone that I loved..... AND the best Christmas memory, a gift shared by my Dearest Husband and I, our first kiss: Christmas Eve 1996. We've been inseparable ever since.

Now that I am a mom, I get to make memories for my daughter. I get to share with her the gathering of friends and family and memories of holiday cheer. This year we are baking cookies and decorating a Nutcracker tree and hosting craft days, the monthly IHE meeting, the cookie exchange, and other things yet undecided too. I get to help her make cards, decorate boxes, and generally have a good time. I get to take pictures!

Sometimes I get a little haunted by Christmases past, but this year we have much to be thankful for. Our little family is happy and healthy, we will enjoy the company of friends and family again this year, and many other things too many to list. I will be posting our crafts, past fun crafts, and recipes in the following weeks. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Life Lessons

I've been deeply concerned that I do not model friendship well for my daughter. Don't get me wrong, I am a good friend to people but I have never been able to recover a friendship from a disagreement or fight. This was not a big deal before I had a little one who looks to me for example and deeply bonds with people that I choose as my friends.

Recently such an incident occurred, it hurt us both very deeply and we've taken a long time to grieve the passing of the friendship. Today I met with a new friend who had a different perspective on the situation: I modeled for Lil'Bug a refusal to accept some behaviors by friends as acceptable, that people change and move on, and that we all grow as people. Not exactly her words, but certainly the point. This will certainly serve Lil'Bug well when she matures and encounters friends who will experiment with drinking and drug use and other such dangerous behaviours. She will encounter friends who are mean to her or influence her in negative ways. I hope to set an example by modeling action in the face of hard decisions, decisions that can bring immediate unhappiness but are the best for self and family.

If I continue to brood over it, that is what will set a bad example. So here's to new friends, a happy holiday season, and new beginnings.

Easy Peasy Turkey Dinner

We eat turkey all year, mostly because I found an easy recipe that makes enough for the three of us to eat one night and freeze enough for one more meal (so approximately 8 servings).

1 Turkey Breast
1 stick of salted sweet cream butter
Crockpot, low setting 8-10 hours
Cracked ground pepper

I make mashed potatoes and steamed peas on the stove top, but sometimes throw carrots in with the turkey.

So then we decide that it is cheaper to buy whole chickens and turkeys. Well, a whole turkey doesn't fit in the Crockpot. So it has been in the freezer since we bought it. I have an excellent recipe from a friend but I have to buy a roasting pan. I like the whole chickens, but I do like the simple turkey breast much better.

Monday, 12 November 2007

I'm about to get tossed......

You Are a Fruitcake!

You taste like nothing else in this world.
And get ready, you're about to get tossed!
What Crappy Christmas Gift Are You?

No matter how I changed my answers (some were very close) I always came out a fruitcake.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Those We Remember

When I was 11 I wrote a poem for my paternal grandfather Popo about his time served in the Navy in WW 2. He was on a ship approaching Pearl Harbor when the island was attacked. His captain decided to turn around and head for Australia, but the crew stood on deck and watched the whole thing shipside. He fought in most of the major pacific theatres after that, but watching Pearl harbor, knowing there was nothing they could do but sail away, was the story he always told us. Perhaps the only age appropriate war story. He kept my poem with all his photos of grandchildren and reminded me to be a great writer every time I talked on the phone with him. He really wanted me to write country western songs.

My maternal grandfather was not a vet, but during WW 2 he was conscripted to serve at a lumber camp in Washington State. He carried tiny books of poetry in his pockets. He was away from his family for over a year doing hard labor. He was a carpenter, a cabinetry guy, by trade. He also encouraged my writing but I did not know he so loved poetry until he left me all of those little books when he died.

Those two heroes have passed on, leaving a shimmering light in my fondest memories. The following still have stories to write:

My father served in Army during Vietnam, but never left stateside. He learned his trade through the Army. Though he served stateside, he never talked about it.

My cousin is a Naval Officer right now. He does something with submarines and has three young children at home. Many prayers to them right now.

My second cousin is re-enlisting in the Navy in January. He loves to travel. His family will miss him so.

I have various other relatives in various degrees of service right now, some of them with new babies and young children.

They are all serving by choice and with honor.

My husband's grandmother was in the Women's Corps in WW2 as well. I don't know much about her experience there, other than her picture is in a local museum. Over Christmas holiday I plan on asking her to interview with me so I can record it for our family history. She turns 85 this year!

Cold Remedy

I've had suggestion after suggestion since being inflicted with this awful cold (which is actually a sinus infection). I can't take medication because I am pregnant and just drinking lots of fluids wasn't cutting it so I sent my dearest to the grocery store for Kosher salt and made a baking soda & salt warm water nose flush and gargle. It worked. I cleaned out all sorts of gunk and dried up so much mucus that my headache went away. I'm not entirely free breathing yet, but continuing the rinse at night before bed is working wonders. My sore throat is gone too.

Funny thing is, a few years back I was going into see our family physician what seemed like every other week, every time with a different complaint: nausea, hurt leg, head ache, infected toe, bug bite, etc and every time the verdict was......drum roll please....sinus infection. Geesh. She's the one who wrote the prescription out for the salt and baking soda rinse. Kudos to her.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Blogging Break and Neat Project

I took a break from blogging over a long weekend. I was not in any way in an emotional state to write. So I wrote draft after draft of emotional vomit and then deleted instead of published. No one would have wanted to read that drivel anyway.

So instead, over the weekend I cleaned the house, painted the upstairs long hallway, and watched X-Men 3. Dear Husband and Lil'Bug tiled the front parlor fireplace. It will be gorgeous when it is finished.

Both our fireplaces and surrounding tile were stolen by urban miners long before we bought the house almost 8.5 years ago. It was not on our priority list (as were floors and ceilings) but now they are. We have to set the tile before placing a mantle. I'll show the after pictures when we finish it (cross your fingers, next week!).

*Edited to Add:
Tile setting is a perfect project for a tot like Lil'Bug. She is great with shapes, color sorting, and placing puzzle pieces. She is incredibly eager to help Daddy at every opportunity and is now pleased that she helped with such an important project. It is one of those moments that I am so happy I remembered to take a picture!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Dangerous, Tot Chasing, and we're all Sick

Thoughts for the week:

There are homeschool blogger awards going on and here are my thoughts on them: anything that further divides and isolates a group of people that should be uniting and supporting each is not a good thing. At first I was disappointed that our blog doesn't qualify for a variety of reasons (though the fact that I am writing from "Mars" may have got me at least nominated in the geography category), I was then mad about other parts of it. The hostility and further division of our growing, yet still small, community is not good. One of the problems that we have with labeling the kind of schooling we do or don't do is that it further others us from the community, we're not radical enough or not normal enough or not religious enough or too religious or or or....we, as all families, are unique. Labels are the first step in othering.

That said, I am seeing similar things happening locally and to the children of some families. We talk good talk about becoming an individual and celebrating what makes us unique, but when it comes down to it a certain level of conformity is still expected. Guess what I think about that? In my daughter's wise words: boo boo to them. I have boundaries, I stand up for them, but I can still accept people as friends who are way different from me, even disagree with me on key issues, to a rational extent. I'm not passive about it either. But I am 30 and watching children explore this dynamic is heartbreaking, even when it is not my own.

On a totally unrelated note: we are all still sick. It has been almost two full weeks that the evil snots and fatigue and off and on fever have ransacked our happy home. Now it's a cough. Something must give. Why is it that wee tots can still have the energy to run and run and jump and jump and tear apart a clean room in a single bound....while they are dripping with snot sick? I can barely lift my weary, nauseous, pregnant self off the couch to turn off the hated Barney and she is feverish, yet dancing and tearing it up old school.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Birthday Girl!

My Lil'Bug is finally 3. She is insisting that she is four when you ask her though. :)
Funny things she still does:
  • She plays with ears, mine or her own, to fall asleep. When she was a baby she would play with her fingers. So cute.
  • She hates shoes. If I turn around she's barefoot before I turn back.
  • She is so wise and kind and full of life.
I am so blessed to have such a child in my life. So, on to the birthday pictures! My sister, Aunt Beezer to Lil'Bug, made a cool three layer tie-dyed style rainbow cake. What a cool surprise. The big day with friends we had planned with only a family party at the end did not really work out as there was another formal birthday party that day and many people felt more comfortable with that idea and then other friends were ill. Lil'Bug was sad, but the few friends that came to art co-op and the science center were very appreciated. The e-card Lil'Bug received made her smile! The family party was good, but Lil'Bug wanted her friends there. I still don't think that the big deal themed parties are a good idea for little kids, but next year will just do one thing instead of making such a big day with so many things. We invited friends over the following Saturday to share the leftover cake. That seemed to make up for it.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

The Farm Thing/Dream

Today is very very busy with Birthday Girl activities so you all get a post I've been working on.

Ok, the farm thing. I grew up on a farm/ranch sort of, in rural Colorado, off and on through my childhood. My dream then was to live in a concrete flat with metal furniture and lots of abstract paintings and weird music. Funny now. For a wedding present a neighbor taught us how to garden our 25 X 17 ft yard. We quickly out grew that and bought a bigger fixer upper house, with a bigger fixer upper yard, then bought an adjacent lot for more garden space.

There are problems with gardening/farming in the city. Livestock restrictions for one, though some places allow 10 or less chickens, if housed and penned. Lead soil contamination is also an issue. Exhaust, dust, noise, etc....

We built raised beds and planted fruit trees. We have yet to get any fruit because of the hooligan children who live next door; they keep vandalizing the branches before blossoms set. We have a 6 ft fence to no avail.

We garden the veggies and trees organic. This means picking off pests by hand (or shop vac) and composting.

We've been visiting farms and talking the business side of things with the farmers. Two sites I am following, both are unschoolers: Pile of Omelays and Sugar Mountain Farm. There is actually a homesteading unschooler's ring too; I found it on Doc's Sunrise Rants.

We are moving soon so we started looking at farm properties both near and far just to get a good idea of what we will need. Here is what I have learned so far:

1) Check for urban growth and development encroaching. 10 acres is a minimum for us, but it has to be away, away from housing (I don't mean other farm houses.)
2) Ag near by: no hog confinement lots please. Corn fields are a potential hazard too because of "drift" or over spray of pesticides. A slightly windy day could take out all of your vegetables. Pasture is good, but roaming livestock will require good fences. Wooded can also mean shelter for predators.
3) Out buildings. What we decided we need is a good multipurpose barn. One property we looked at had a 3 level: hay loft, main floor for pig, cow, horse, poultry, and a walkout basement level with more horse/cow stalls and a sheep/goat pen. Perfect. They had a milk house that had been converted to a smoke house. Then a machine shed/4 car garage. the multipurpose barn is something we are now looking for. We saw another property with twice the acreage but a separate building for each and it seemed sooooo much smaller. We also want a pond.
4) Viable well water. Past wells surveyed. Old farmsteads just covered the hole when a well dried up. In Iowa we have aerial maps for the past 80 years to tell us where these are and back fill them. Very dangerous.
5) The house itself. Electrical wiring, heat source, etc.....Farmers like to do their own repairs. Sometimes good, sometimes not. A modern update can be more detrimental than one done in the 1950's. Good, fast, or cheap: pick two. Can you guess which ones our "peers" like to choose?
6) Flood plains. Check.
7) Generator and food stock. Winter storms can really bury you in.
8) Internet access. Some places in rural Iowa are actually wire-less as in there is no way to get a wireless signal or even dial up. Satellite connection only. Can be very expensive.
9) Nearest hospital? Get trained as an EMT first responder and volunteer with the fire department. This alone may save your life or someone you love's. In rural Colorado, the nearest neighbor was 20 miles and the nearest hospital was 120 miles. My aunt was the paramedic and they owned their own firetrucks. I can remember more than one occasion where someone knocked on the door and said their been a car accident. Sometimes, they were a bloody passenger/survivor who walked 5 miles to her house on the hill. Sometimes it was too late. I also remember when my baby sister ate a bottle of heart medicine, there was no trip to the ER. We had to work fast. Cells phones (where there is a signal) and helicopters have made this less of an issue, but not much less. Ah, and fires? If your house goes up, it's likely a loss since you'd hope someone is close enough to see the smoke, call it in, and then wait for the volunteer fire department to gather.
10) Gas prices are only going up up up. Cost of commute and activities with friends will too and might be impossible in adverse weather. Consider changing vehicles (though what we drive will work rural too...)
11) An added concern in Ohio are the natural gas well pumps on almost every rural farm we looked at. Bonus is that some of these homes get free gas from the gas companies as a kick back for the pump and royalties, downside is how dangerous the pumps can be.
12) Check for meth labs. Check in the woods, in the outbuildings, in the basement/crawlspace, in the bathtubs. Those chemicals are very very toxic.

We've been practicing for years now. We are so ready. We will not be doing it as a business though. We will be "homesteading" and producing only what we will need and maybe selling meat to friends or setting up a booth up at a farmers market on a whim. We will start with chickens and a pig, then add a cow, and go from there.

Ok, that's all I have for now!