Friday, 31 October 2008

Our New Tractor

We purchased the Ford tractor, which turns out to be a 2N instead of an 8N. I'm still happy with it, but somewhat frustrated due to the lack of hydraulics. It'll be a great lawnmower and an adequate snow remover and post hole digger if and (most likely) until we decide we need an upgrade.

Pics of the tractor on the trailer - it's parked at a friends house until we get onto the farm in December.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


I love my crockpot. Seriously. I mean, I usually adore it, but today it will keep my family fed.

Yesterday I tried to wait for my husband to call home and ask if there was anything I needed from the store, just so I could say, "Yes Dear, a new oven. Could you pick one up on your way home?"

Sadly, I could not contain my wit, so he got an email that said OMGtheovenisbrokenagainHELP!WAAAAAAAAA!

He came home at 5:30pm and started right in taking apart the oven and troubleshooting. Kitchen more fully in chaos than I could deal with. Headache set in at the same time. So we headed out to dinner instead of trying to figure it out at home. All was good. Came home, I snuggled up with girls and good book and the three of us were snoring in dreamland soon after.

So today the replacement part has been acquired and house is being put back together. Ham is in the crockpot and beds are being made. We have company arriving tomorrow (YAY!) and we are totally ready (or will be soon) just without the homemade bread I had hoped to have done.

Life goes on.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Tractor Time!

Battle of the tractors!

John Deere 60 with front loader


Ford 8n with mower, snow blade, chains, post hole digger

For general farm like chores, mowing 6 - 10 acres and removing snow on the driveway. I test drove the ford and it's in good condition.

Who wins?


Today is better. Actually, yesterday turned around eventually. The boiler got fixed. Poop was cleaned up. Tot decided to act human instead of feral. Found phone number of daughter's friend and we were invited over for a make up birthday cake playdate. Perfect timing since the boiler guys told up that it would take about 4 hours to h eat the house back up.

We had a lovely time.

Then we met Dearest at Pawpaw's and Nana's house and warmed up there for a while. Snacked for dinner and headed home. You know, crappy days are always made better when I am reminded what wonderful people we have in our lives.

Today, we are chilling out at home.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Craptackular Day

Monday morning, boiler has been off all weekend due to leak and unwillingness to pay weekend rates for repair that should have been done LAST WEEK. Freezing bums off. Boiler guys show up. Lilbug decides to melt down and throws her "I can't walk" fit. Blueberry explodapoops all over her one pair of warm jammies (and me and the baby carrier) while above mentioned tot wails and thrashes on the floor because I can't carry her upstairs that very second. Boiler guy needs padlock key, can't find, call Dearest, then found, call Dearest back to tell him coming home is unneccessary.


Continue dealing with screaming tot and poopy baby and obnoxious cat and excited dog and broken boiler questions.

Dearest comes home anyway to give us all hugs. Awesome. Day looking better.

Remember that Lil'Bug's best friend in the whole worlds birthday party was YESTERDAY and we missed it. WE MISSED IT. Lil'Bug doesn't know but I bet across town there is a very sad little girl whose birthday wasn't right and that is breaking my heart. I would call her but I don't have her phone number because of my phone phobia and I sent an email but darn it, how tacky is that? Seriously, an email? I am such a loser. We (the mamas) even made a special effort not to schedule parties on top of each other (since they share a birthday). It was a big deal that they re-scheduled the party so Lil'Bug could come and then I go and forget it. Big fat L on my forhead doesn't even begin to describe how I feel.

Also, shiver. So much for Christmas savings. Happy holidays boiler guys. I know their rate I know price for parts. I am so glad we have savings. I am also thankful that the boiler decided to crap out this year instead of any of the past years that we would not have had savings. Warm is important.

I'm now baking bread and cookies and planning dinner to be something in the oven too and I plan to hover over oven all freaking day long. Why can't I leave? Well, boiler guys need me right here to show me all the things they are charging me for. Shiver. I just went outside to have explained to me that the entire length of pipe on the back section of the house needs to be replaced. Yippee.


Warm Wishes,

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Slowly Realizing plus Pictures of the View

I am slowly, bit by bit realizing what our upcoming move means. For example:

We will be able to see the stars at night! We can't because of city light pollution right now. I want a telescope all over again. One that I can attach my SLR to.

No more middle of the night loud not very talented rappers outside on the street waking up the babies (myself included).

I can grow sweet potatoes! Heck, I'll be able to grow carrots, radishes, turnips, potatoes, and anything else that is a root/dirt veggie. I can't here because of lead in the soil.

When it gets really cold or the boiler/furnace goes out, we'll have a wood cook stove and a fireplace to snuggle up by.

And my day comprises of these tiny realizations just sparkling at me like magic. All day. Everyday.

i feel so blessed to have the opportunity to give my children what my Aunt gave me, a magical woods to explore, chores to be responsible for, and a healthier food culture.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Follow Follow Follow

I just discovered that I had followers on blogspot. Neat. So then I am attempting to find the follow me button on blogs I love. Is it just a blogspot option? I like that I can publicly let the bloggers I read know without having to comment, because I just don't get around to commenting as much as I read. I tried (remember back in July?) to comment at least once on everyone I read, but I failed. I managed to leave like 10 comments but I read about 50 blogs.

Any way, follow me! :) (The button is in the sidebar).

Also, facebook? I am still chewing over if I like it or not.

Food Food Food

I am thinking food today. Dinner tonight is the easiest, tastiest turkey recipe EVER!

I like things simple since I am just learning. I found this recipe and was doubtful it would be good because it is TOO simple. I was wrong.

1 Turkey Breast Roast
1 stick of salted butter (I like Prize of Iowa Sweet Cream or I make my own)
Crockpot on low 7-9 hours.
Optional: grind mixed peppercorn over it before serving. We use a green and black mix, but I like the red, green, black, and white mix best, from Penzy's.

The gravy is rich and buttery.

That's it. Really. It is the most tender, lovely turkey meat; slices up nice, feeds about 6 which means for us dinner and two lunch servings. I bought the breast roast on sale for 7$, but I have seen it as high as 13$. That makes raising some turkeys a tempting possibility.

Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer

Those of you who know me locally, might know that I am a HUGE Harry Potter Fan. That said, one of the things that has intrigued me is that I have yet to find a cookbook with the recipes of the food mentioned in the book. While some of it is odd, most of it seems eatable and cookable.

Here are some of my favorite links online to inspired cooking. It is perfect for October!

Hogwarts Celebration:
Butterbeer Recipe

So far, the cream soda/rootbeer mixed with butterscotch Italian soda syrup and clarified butter seems the most plausible to me, or rather the most palatable. I somehow don't think that JK intended it to me mixed with Schnapps or instant pudding (both of which I found in variations of butterbeer).

Pumpkin Juice is easy. Boil and puree pumpkin (just like apple or grape juice), season and sweeten to taste, and then chill to drink.

I am still bewildered as to why there is no official cookbook. I mean, there is every other merchandising junk theme out there, why not a cookbook? Just saying.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Wish Me Luck

In the next of our using all the beef series, I am making a Shank Boil. Wish me much luck.

Farm Roof Progress



What Dearest is doing right now is stabilizing the roof structure and preventing further water damage. We plan to re-roof in the Spring/Summer (gah, more color decisions!). If we left the leaks through the winter, not only does water continue to penetrate the house, porches, and basement, BUT it also would freeze-thaw cycle. That does the most damage, more so and more quickly than just water and water rot. Freezing actually destroys the wood fibers by exploding them on a minute level, allowing for more rot and instability; many freeze-thaw cycles later it is almost like paper fiber and about as strong as cardboard. Water is an amazing and formidable enemy to homes of any age.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Many Apoplgies Owed to My Dearest

I was a big baby. A big whiny baby all day long. The thing is as the "thing" cooked it looked and smelled more and more like a beef roast. I had actually planned to take Lil'Bug to the Science Center that day, so I wasn't really escaping. Not really. I did clean the kitchen, really well at that. I talked with my aunt in TX who assured me that it was actually tasty and I needed to stop be such a snot about the whole thing.

So I was ready to try it. Sort of.

But Dearest didn't know that and he came home he was frustrated at me. He grumped a lot, discovered that we were out of tortillias, and finally plopped the tongue out onto the block to be cubed and sauteed.

I ran from the room. Um, poopy diaper to change.

When diner hit the table, Lil'Bug was confused that these "tacos" didn't have cheese. She wanted cheese. Also, she likes to build her own. Things were not right and she got ancy. Blueberry started insisting on being fed, NOW, and because of the lingering latch issue feeding her takes two hands. Dearest was frustrated. He took a bite of the food. Apparently, it was not good.

And that was that. I never even had a chance to take a bite. Dinner was cleared from the table. Feeling were hurt, tot was climbing things in another room, bellies were still hungry. We headed out of the house to diffuse the anxiety and buy art supplies.

I still feel bad, because I intended to be supportive and a good sport, especially after I worked up to it all day.

Friday, 17 October 2008

"I HAVE TO HOLD THEM!" she exclaimed with delight.


My Husband is Ruining my Crockpot

All I have to say is that I am not being a good sport about this. He's slow cooking a beef tongue for tongue tacos. Ew.

I am trying to be open minded about the whole deal, using every last bit of last years cow before this one's arrives. I cooked liver. It was even a stretch for me to touch liver, let along cook it. But I did it. Yes indeed. I did it. But the thing in my crockpot right now? I covered the whole thing with a towel so I didn't have to see it so raw while I made breakfast. Lil'Bug just may get a trip to the Science Center today so I can escape the thing that must not be cooking but is. The smell is already permeating the whole house as a constant reminder of its presence.

Sure I will be a good sport and try a bite. I might even eat as much as Dearest ate of my latest apple pie. I mean that was just apples, sugar, and flour. Hmph.

You know, I am thinking it may be a good night for a mama coffee break escape too.

I know, I sound whiny. I am sorry. I am grateful we have food, warmth (yay, boiler is on!), and a loving family (even if I am not feeling especially lovey towards dearest right now).

Thursday, 16 October 2008

And Now For the Interesting Bits

OK, so perhaps I did not post, after all the build up, about the farm. Our offer was accepted and one of the terms of the deal was that we wait to close until December so that the family that owns it can build their new house and move. At first, I was skeptical about the timeline (who builds a house in 8 weeks?) but now I realize that it is one more thing about the Amish culture that is simply different from ours. Building a house should only take that long, weather permitting. What we are accustomed to is ridiculous. Anyway, back to the update.

Another stipulation was that since we have to wait so long, they allow us to come and make minor repairs to the house, specifically repairs that will help weatherize and water deter until Spring when we can actually work on the house. Also, we'll need to chop firewood and get the systems ready before we move in and before they move out so there isn't a gap in there where anything could freeze. Make sense? They agreed. Nice folks.

So last weekend Dearest headed out alone to patch the roof. The main body of the roof, over the house, is fine. It will last another year or two with maybe spot black jacking when needed. However, both porch roofs have serious issues. The front porch has the added delight of being inhabited by bees. We love bees.

So the above is the before and below is the after. It is just a patch, but as you can see, a little black jack would not have done the job. Really, we need to completely tear off and redo the foundation of the roof, replace some joists, and rebuild the column. I think the only reason the porch still resembles a porch is that it has a concrete deck and foundation AND it was really, REALLY, well built originally.

Here's what I mean:

:) Nice. So that's the exterior of the house everyone keeps hounding me about seeing. Do you see why I am spending all my time at the color preview website? Do you see? Gah. White trim is a definite. My color choices are narrowed down, for the main body, to sage green, butter cream yellow, or a gentle sky blue. All would be stunning. Now picture me 10 years ago trying to choose the SEVEN different colors for the haunted mansion. Right. I was unbearable to live with and got no laundry done for months. Really, it was the paint colors. Not that I was 21 and had enough clothes to last that long. Heh. Back in the day when it was just as likely that raccoons would eat our dinner as it was that we might also fall though the floor while chasing them with brooms. Yeah, the first year in the haunted mansion was really fun; laundry was the least of my concerns. Anyway.....

This is the view from my new front porch. This is what keeps me in daydream land imagining what kind of tea I will sip while enjoying my first winter sunrise. Vanilla Chai? Cinnamon? My own raspberry leaf? Ahhhhh. Likely something spicy. At the bottom you can kind of see the last remnants of where the kitchen gardens were. I'll keep that location. Next week I am getting together with a gardening friend to shop catalogues for seeds. *I am giddy!*

So another thought that I had, as inspired by several other bloggers of late, was sort of a reverse meme. Ask me questions and I will answer them! Ask me anything, what haven't I shared? :) Not just house/farm related, but anything. This could be fun!

Grandpa, Do Not Read This One, aka Spider

Wednesday, 15 October 2008



We have not yet turned on our boiler (steam heat). So far so good. We didn't plan this though, it came about because of a scheduling problem with the boiler guy. Last year we had it on in September, but usually we aim for October 1st. They were supposed to come to yesterday and then today, but today is our out of the house day and......


Ok, also, Lil'Bug starts art class today. At first she was excited, then confused ("I already know how to paint mama......"), then mad ("I want Kung Fu Panda classes!" which she cannot enroll in until she is 4 and a lot more calm and focused). I suppose we will see how it goes. That said, I have an uncanny penchant for dressing like a goon when she has classes, so I must now go double check that I do not in fact have mismatched socks or anything inside out. Gah.

Did I mention I am cold? Seriously, the stat SAYS 64, no wait, 54? degrees? No wonder.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

OK, Yeah, Now I am Procrastinating

Made beds, did dishes, loaded laundry, put away laundry, tidied up only to have tornado tot swirl through, answered emails, preheated the oven only to find the broiler pan from last night still in, cleared out smoke, answered emails, puttered online, gawked at pictures.......all while the babe is asleep.

Why do I feel like I've gotten nothing done today? It's only 11 am.....


I have been spending way too much time at this color site. Seriously. Does it have to be that hard to choose between green, blue, or yellow? Gah. We won't even paint until next summer. Bugger. Don't even get me started on the interior.

I have papers to grade and pumpkins to freeze and sauce to can. Must. Extract. Myself. From. Daydreaming.

Monday, 13 October 2008


There is a new playscape at a local park. It is made from all natural materials and is basically just kid friendly landscaping. No slides. No swings.

And kid will spend hours there. She's never once come home from there dry. She asks to go there over any other park right now. If it wasn't 35 minutes away, we'd go more often.

When we move, we will be 45 minutes away from Des Moines and all of its fancy playgrounds. Sure, we'll build the girls a swing set and slide, but it is not the same thing. We will have lots of wooded and marsh landscape to explore. The fact that Lil'Bug favors the natural eases my worry quite a bit.

Looking at the pictures I took that afternoon..... I think that if we ever did coming of age portraits..... we'll have to incorporate mud or puddles.

Anyway, I've been mulling this over lately. Which is better: natural or equipped? When we go to park day, Lil'Bug plays on the equipment for a bit off and on, but the majority of her time is divided between the trees, one of which she calls her house. I know I am over thinking this, but it started to form a huge metaphor for me about unschooling vs homeschooling-school-at-home-model vs the extreme counterpart of public/institutionalized schooling.

The playgrounds are sparse (sometimes empty, but not usually) most of the year and have kids of various ages. We homeschoolers like to descend upon the parks during the "school" day. We often stay there for a long time and inevitably a few PS kids get there later in our play. We are not secluded from them (read as: we are not "unsocial" and yes, that is as much I will address the S word), just well established in our games when the arrive and still playing when they leave. For us, it is like summer never ends.

We have the flexibility to play and learn and run for as long as needed, to come back to the game later, to jump and climb and get dirty until we fall asleep exhausted in the grass. We have less of the time constraint of bells and appointments and lessons that dictate play time for most families.

Water is not off limits. Nor is mud. Or fire for that matter. Because we have the time to build a fire and stay with it and doing so is a normal natural thing, none of the kids we play with are fire obsessed and they all treat it with respect. Not to say that they are not roasted/burned marshmallow obsessed though. I know, these are not elements that most mainstream families consider a normal part of going to the park. Well, most things we do as unschoolers are not considered normal. I can live with that.

The equipment. Playgrounds are equipped. There is some variation, but you can expect some sort of swings, slides, and maybe a tunnel thing. These are the basics. If these are not present, the playground is typically judged as not good by kids and caregivers. Sometimes it is not even considered a playground by kids or adults. That is where I challenge the norm. Play/learning can happen anywhere at anytime. One does not need a slide to have fun, or a swing to reach the sky. Sure it is "easier" for the kids to run to the presubscribed equipment, sure they learn to take turns and share, they get the "right" kind of exercise. Sure. But is it better? Is that the only, or even the main kind of play that we should provide them? Is it easier because we can sit on the benches and let them play? Maybe help them on the slide when they get stuck, or push the swings for a bit? Or let them tough it out.

Maybe. For us the joy is in participating in our kids life, playing and learning. It is nice to have swings and slides but for us the boat, the camp fire, the bugs in the dirt, the puddles, the garden, the trees, the sky, the air....well, really, life are the better tools for our play and learning all day every day. Not just after the swings and slides, and on weekends.

Now imagine if all you had was swings and slides. Imagine that it wa sall you were allowed five days a week, 7 hours a day. Would your play suffer? Not at first, but eventually. Even if you got to move up to a more complex swing and slide compound it would still be limited to what was being offered. Sure, after hours and on weekends you could visit other places, but is that the same? You still have to go back to the same playground when the week starts up again. What social skills are you really learning playing with the same kids day after day after day? Sure that's like some real life jobs, but not all. Even if you decide to install a swing and slide set in your backyard, it is still just swings and a slide.

My kids run to me when they get hurt, unless they can't, but then I am nearby enough to help and nurture. Most of the time they work it out. The other day one of the kids (age four) was caught upside down in a tree. The three of them quickly assigned roles, one (age five) ran to get the mamas, the other (my Lil'Bug) stayed and held the stuck one so she wouldn't fall more AND comforted her. A small crisis handled well. I know adults who can not act as level headed in crisis. When it was done, they returned to play un-traumatized.

So is my metaphor clear? I don't know. I just was thinking about this all week. A friend of ours brought up the socialization issue in polite conversation. It really hit home with me that she just doesn't get it. It was also said that my kids are not old enough to homeschool. See? Doesn't get it.

The playgrounds may have lots of swings and slides, complicated and varied equipment, even trees and water features, and and and. Some playgrounds are far superior to others for many types of play. Some are not. Some have broken toys, drug paraphernalia littering the sand, etc. In some places you can't choose which playground you get to use. Some playgrounds don't have safe or good foundations or are infested with bugs. Some flood often. Some are great, clean, and safe. We like to use those, as a tool, not a default.

So in short, my conclusion is simple. Neither is better, it is all about the options, yo. The more there are the better.

Zoo Zoo, We're Going to the Zoo, You Can Come Too!

Last week we went to the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo. A very cool zoo about two hours away from us. Dearest got tickets from a co-worker and off we went for the day. The above picture is from the new butterfly house; it is an owl. I kind of expected it to be like Blank Park's butterfly room, but wow, it was not anything like it. First of all there were actual butterflies. LOL.

This is the hatchling nursery. We got to see various stages of cocoons hatching and butterflies emerging. Some of them looked like seashells.

This is an aerial of the pygmy hippopotamus. Saying the word hippopotamus makes Blueberry giggle. Singing, "Armadillo in your pillow, armadillo, oh rock me armadillo," to the tune of that '80's song Amadeus makes her squeal with giggles. I am addicted to baby giggles and so I find myself singing that to her almost all day.

Try the water Dave. It's really real. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself......)

Every year we go, every year Lil'Bug wants to pose on the statues. Works for me!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

What in the World are These?

This is a picture of the thing in the field. Since the field is currently in a cash crop, we did not want to go stomping through it. So we must form a conjecture from a distance.....maybe 20 ft tall? What is it????

*edited to add....wouldn't that make a cool night sky observatory if it is just stable old stone ruin? Climb on top with the old telescope.....

New mystery plant. Only one picture. Hanging from a tree. Ideas?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

More of Sarah's Amazing Photos, Anyone Want to Buy a House?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Quick Hello

I'm still here. Just super busy and feeling a bit under the weather. I plan to post bunches tonight, but we'll see if that actually works out.


Monday, 6 October 2008

October and Apple Butter

Every October I suffer a little bit of depression. Not without reason, as some pretty traumatic things happened so long ago in October, always Octobers. So this year I am going to try and write through it.

This time at the park a discussion that has been in my draft box over and over in the past year came up again: perfect birth obsession. Not just wanting, planning, and hoping for a "perfect" birth, but to the detriment of the baby. I could have held out with Lil'Bug or with Blueberry but to what end? To what harm? With Blueberry I know that I went to great lengths to ensure a healthy pregnancy, baby, and mama, and this paid off in my recovery and in her health. It was one day. I'm the mama to these babes for their lifetimes.

So the discussion veered toward, get over it it is just one day.

But, you know, I get it. I do. One day of feeling helpless, victimized, ect. can really haunt you. One day is enough for years of nightmares, depression, and life changing consequences. One day.

On the other hand, the lifetime outweighs the one day, especially if you can fill it with joy.

For me, I'm not talking about the births of my babies. I am talking about my own liberation from a childhood of hurt. A separate traumatic event slammed my world into something else, like a tornado destroyed my world and set me down somewhere else. Something somewhere someday. From there I was new, afraid and fragile. Soon after I was blessed with meeting my husband (again, since we were introduced several times that year) and he helped me heal as a person and then blossom. But it was just a day, right?

I don't know. It's October.

Also, October means more of this:

Spoons to lick.

Mmmmmm, apple butter.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Farm Crawl 2008

Today we farm crawled, mama with two in tow, hurt wrist style. That means no pictures.

We toured 3 of the 6 farms and focused on the three that were most like what we want to do. CSA, orchard, pumpkin patch/pick your own......veggies, apples, pumpkins, honey, chickens, but no beef. I know that one of the farms we did not visit has meat herds but by 2 pm Lil'Bug was clamoring to go home and sick of being in the car with a 45 minute drive still ahead.

We met some people that will be our neighbors. They were friendly and helpful and this reinforces our decision to move there. Did I mention the crawl was through the county our farm to be is located in? Yes indeed. For those of you who were wondering...we close in December!