Thursday, February 28, 2013

One Busy Day

Most days, though we are busy, we aren't all that busy outside of our house. What can I say, I do tend to be a home body, especially as I near the end of pregnancy and/or I am sick.

The girls didn't really do anything in the way of "school work" today. It was a slow going morning for us.

This afternoon, however, was pretty busy. We started out with art. Today we worked with pastels and got to try out the technique of scratching off excess color to reveal an underlying color. I forgot the term for it. We used paper clips. It was a lot of fun. The kids made cat pictures, and even blessing #4 gave it a go. After that, the girls and I made racoons, while the boys played. It's a semi-informal class. I'm so thankful for it. I love getting to try what the kids are doing. It gets me itching to do more of what we learn in class, which means my kids also get to do more.

Here are our masterpieces for the day:

 This is Blessing #4's cat.
 Blessing #3's cat. He was the only one who really tried the scratch technique.
 Blessing #2's cat.
 Blessing #1's cat.
 Blessing #2's raccoon. We decided it has anime like eyes, but the most realistic ears out of the 3.
Blessing #1's raccoon. We thought hers had the best eyes.
 My raccoon.. Probably the best tail. I was trying to following the instructions in the book. I don't think mine looks much like a raccoon.
Art was a lot of fun for all of us. Then it was off to an audition for Blessing #1. While she did that, the rest of us headed to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things to tide us over for the weekend. I really need to get into meal planning in a way that will actually work for me. I feel like we go to the grocery store way too often and spend more than we need to. Anyway... Then it was back to pick up Blessing #1 and finally come home.

It was nice to get home, until I realized the sheep were still out and the dog had gotten into the trash, dragging it all over the kitchen. I put on my big girl pants, dealt with each issue, and then it was back to being in a good mood. It helps that I'm starting to get past this cold or whatever, I've had and that today has been full of blessings.

My life certainly isn't all sunshine and roses. I yell and scream and have tantrums, just like my kids. Fighting amongst my kids is pretty much a daily occurrence. My husband and I have plenty of ups and downs. My house is often a big mess. As I type, I have dirty dishes and a bucket full of compost, waiting to go out, on my kitchen counter. The dishes I'll clean up tonight, but the compost will probably wait until tomorrow. We eat fast food sometimes. Today's lunch was Burger King. We are far from perfect. I just have a bad habit of seeing so much of the bad that sometimes I don't even realize all the good. Blogging, as a way to count my blessings, as often as possible, is really helping me to turn my perspective and my attitude around. Hopefully it inspires others and doesn't discourage anyone or make them think I've got this all figured out and am some super mom. I'm not even close to being super mom! I know tons of moms that I look at and think WOW! I don't even do a quarter of what they do. The truth is, I do way more than I realize. We all do.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday

This morning, I woke up to a phone call saying my midwife appointment was cancelled for today, due to the roads. I also woke up to an outside that looked like this:

It was beautiful It has warmed up enough, since, to begin melting the snow and ice some. I should've probably made sure we all enjoyed it while we could've. Instead, I insisted the girls get going on their school work. It has been a struggle today, and they still aren't finished. I spent the morning evaluating where we are and what is still left to do. I bought them their own planners in January, but they haven't really used them yet. I took their planners and wrote down their assignments for the rest of the school year. I'm hoping that having that accountability with mom and dad, as well as that independence, will help them to get things done better. This way they can look and see when they'll be done with lessons and choose to get ahead or to stay on track. I let them know the length of their "summer vacation" is up to them and what they are willing to do. I want them to take more ownership of their education.

My glasses broke today. They've been on the verge for a while now. My daughter throwing her math workbook down on them was the final impact. The arm on the left side broke off. Thankfully I'm due for another eye exam, so insurance should cover a new pair. I can still wear them for now, but it is a little annoying. Could be worse, though.

It seems like it's been some what of a rough week for me this week. Getting sick, cancellations, broken glasses, etc... Yet, I still have joy. I don't feel weighed down by these things, like I normally would. I've managed to focus on what is good, working, and positive. This week, with all its downers has been filled with little blessings. I've finished some long over due projects, had time with my family, played my guitar, done some art, gotten some reading in, and so many other little things. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tricky Tuesday

Up early this morning to have a girls morning out with my daughters. We went for their yearly check up and turns out they are as healthy as I figured. Was able to discuss Blessing #2's failure to verbally communicate in certain situations. She was vocal today, though. The doctor said not to be too worried unless it becomes disruptive to her life.

After the we were done at the doctors office we stopped by the town's bakery for some doughnuts. The girls and I each got a doughnut to eat then and some water and a dozen doughnuts to bring home and share.

Then we hit up Indigo Forest in Ann Arbor. I am planning on doing belly binding after this baby is born and wanted to make sure I got my stuff for that ahead of time. Was hoping to find something, there, that I could use now and later, but they didn't have anything like that. I've read I can just use a ring sling or something for support now, but I haven't done it. Although, I must admit, the chiropractic care has alleviated, or at least relieved, at least half of my pregnancy complaints, even the reason I was considering the belly support.

When we were done there, we headed to the Salvation Army. I had seen a little kids table with 6 chairs there a couple weeks ago for $25. I should've bought it then, but ignored that nagging feeling. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, it'd be there today or at least something like it. I was too late, it was gone and they didn't have anything like it. However, I was able to pick up a new winter coat for Blessing #1 who has out grown hers during the middle of this season. Also picked up a "barn" coat for each of the girls. Coats they can wear when they help out in the barn or take horse lessons.

It was home for lunch and to share our doughnuts. Thankfully we got home when we did, because we'd forgotten that their horse lessons had been moved to an earlier time! They had time to eat and change, before heading out with their dad. When they got home it was my turn to head out for a massage.

Upon arriving for my massage, it turned out the therapist had accidentally been double booked and the other person had booked first. So my appointment for today was cancelled. As disappointing as this was for me, I'm actually thankful. I know the weather was supposed to turn kind of ugly at some point. I didn't realize it would happen so early, though. As I drove home from the massage clinic, I drove through big puddles of water as my car was pelted by little chunks of icy rain.

I had plans to attend a bible study my friend is hosting tonight, but when I got home my husband asked if I had thought about icy roads. I hadn't. I never think about these things. Thankfully, being an air traffic controller, and just a guy who likes weather stuff, he does think about these things. I contacted my friend to let her know I didn't know if it was a good idea for me to go. When my husband worries about something, I listen because he pretty much doesn't worry. While I was talking to her, he informed me that he really didn't want me to go. So I'm not. It was the wise, though unwanted, decision to make.

When I started my blog this afternoon, it looked like this outside:

Right now, it looks more like this:

Not much of a difference, I suppose, but it has only been about 10 minutes and it is still coming down!

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Lovely Monday

As I readied for bed last night, with achey ears and throat, I asked my husband if he would take our boys to their doctor appointment in the morning, if I wasn't feeling up to it. He had no problem with this. I on the other hand tossed and turned most the night trying to decide if I was just going to let him take them or if I would put on my big mama panties and take them. I had planned a great morning with them, meeting the new doctor and going out for breakfast. I don't like when plans get thrown off and this left me restless.

In spite of the disruptive sleep, I woke up rested enough to decide that I would go ahead and take them. I hopped in the shower, not feeling like talking, and hoping that a little eucalyptus oil would help clear me up a little. It did. As I got ready to go, my husband let me know he was going to join me after all. I was so relieved. I dread driving to new places and being late.

The rest of the day has been just sunshine and butterflies, for me since. I loved the doctor and am so thankful she was recommended to us. She respects our holistic approach and is more than willing to make time to seriously discuss, non-judgmentally. The boys are healthy, though small. Blessing #3 is in about the 5th percentile for his age and Blessing #4 is in the 3rd. No worries though, I'm not very big either and smaller people run in my family, although so do taller people.

After the doctors office we took the boys out for brunch. We don't get to do that sort of thing with them often. It reminded me of all the fun we had going and doing stuff with their sisters when the girls were younger, before we had the boys. It was lovely. I love going out as a whole family, but also believe that it is important to make time for each of the kids, no matter how many we have.

Back home we got the girls going on their school work and spent a little time relaxing. Then off to the chiropractor, I went. I'm so thankful I've found a good chiropractor and close to my home too. I've been noticing improvements in the way I feel both physically and mentally. Thankfully, I remember, from massage school, that it takes time to retrain our bodies and that it will take time for the changes/adjustments to begin to be held in our bodies.

I got a nap in and then I decided to go through the baby clothes looking for gender neutral outfits to put in the closet for our baby. I have as little as 2 weeks and as many as 7 weeks left. Depending on if the baby arrives early or "late". I'm getting pretty excited and am trying to knock out my "to do wish list" before I get any closer to their arrival. I also put together our little bouncer seat. That is 2 things I can take off my list.

I didn't really get any pictures today, but am trying to do a much better job of keeping my camera handy. I don't like the one on my phone. I don't care how "fancy" it is. Looking at yesterday's post and seeing all that we did yesterday, I realized I often do way more than I give myself credit for.

Now it is time for me to go make some spaghetti! Especially since Blessing #4 is climbing in the fridge looking for something to snack on!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday, blessed Sunday

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a double ear ache. My oldest dealt with these same symptoms this past week. She's better now, though. I'm praying it doesn't hit me as hard or long as it did her. However, out of courtesy to others at church and since I really didn't feel like being around anyone else, let alone driving anywhere, I decided to let this be a "lazy Sunday". 

My ears and throat are still bugging me, but aside from that, I've had a very blessed Sunday. I started this morning out with my cup of pregnancy tea, admiring the view from the back door, and trying to decide what I should do. I never got around to baking poptarts or muffins yesterday, so I thought that would be a good start.

I had pinned these ideas off of pintrest. Yep, I've been sucked into that portal. I started out with the poptarts since I assumed they'd be quieter to make. The recipe I used came from here:

I went ahead and made my own pastry dough. I'm not very good at making pastry dough, even this easy recipe. My dough didn't want to roll out very well so I ended up with some thicker slabs and I was only able to make 7 poptarts. Then my glaze didn't cover the poptarts quite the way I had expected it to. In spite of that, they turned out deliciously. My kids have decided these must be made again!

Before baking:
 After baking:
Finished with glaze and sprinkles!:
Kids enjoying them, best part of all!:

After the poptarts, I made some strawberry muffins from this recipe:
It seemed like a good healthy choice and I've been trying to come up with healthy breakfast ideas for the kids instead of cereal. I did accidentally forget about them, but amazingly they didn't seem to burn, really. Sadly, I didn't really like the bite I had. I might give it another try later, since I wasn't really in the mood for it to begin with. I'm not big on oatmeal, though. Thankfully, Blessing #1 and #4 (I think that's how I'll refer to my kids from now on) thought the muffins were good. One more thing I can make for them!

Muffins before:
And after:

With breakfast a success, I cleaned up my little mess in the kitchen and went out to check on our sheep. Blessing #4 decided to join me. He is such a great little helper. We checked to make sure they all had plenty of water and were all doing well. Then we checked for turkey eggs, but found none, and fed the cats.

Blessing #4 braving the wind on the way to the barn:
Checking out the lambs:

Here are Dasher and Poppy:

Back in the house Blessings #1 & #2 were playing a computer game together while blessing #3 played a video game on the xbox. Blessing #4 and I decided to paint. I am working on a birth art project that is taking patience and a willingness to wait. It's been a long time since I've done a painting that took more than one sitting. It's not amazing or anything, but it'll be neat when it is done.

Blessing #4 painting:
My painting:

Cleaned up the art mess, although I still need to mop the floor where we painted, and I went out to open the barn door for the sheep to have some outside time. A couple of days ago we let Dark Chocolate, Pepe', and Valentine join the flock. This afternoon Oreo and Brownie got to join them. Sometime next week Clover, Poppy (Blessing #1 finally named her lamb) and Dasher will join the rest. We have another sheep who hasn't given birth. She doesn't have a milk bag. We don't know if she got pregnant later than everyone else or if maybe she isn't pregnant at all.

When I returned to the house I was greeted by my little cave baby. Blessing #1 had taped a rabbit pelt to the shoulders of Blessing #4 like a cape. He ran up to me, as I opened the door, and growled. I made a couple of movies, with help from Blessings #1 and #2, of Blessing #4 acting so silly.

Now I'm off to make some buttered toast as a snack for Blessing #3, who is currently playing a game with an umbrella, while the other 3 are upstairs playing in the girls room. I know I haven't mentioned him much today. He isn't always missing out on what the rest of the family is doing, but I gave him some xbox time today and that's what he's been up to. I've been working on really limiting it, though.

With half the day still left to live, I must say it has been a pretty blessed one already. I look forward to all that we will do with the rest.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Moment of Reflection

I still haven't taken pictures of our newest lambs. I keep forgetting to take our camera out there. However I gave my daughters the pleasure of naming them. My oldest hasn't named her lamb yet, but my younger daughter has chosen Dasher, for the little black and white one.

I took her to the store with me yesterday to get groceries while leaving my oldest in charge of the boys, with her uncle close by to keep an eye on things. I am so thankful for the opportunities to help them grow as caregivers and as consumers.

The more opportunities I've given my oldest to take charge of her brothers, whether I'm running an errand or she is acting as mother's helper, the softer her heart grows towards her brothers and the more I see her grow also.

The grocery store went well also. Usually, I take all my kids, but with the snow we had yesterday and the cold, on top of the crankiness my youngest was experiencing, I knew it would be better to just run there and back. The nice thing about taking my girls with me is they run and grab stuff off the list, while I wait at the deli. By the time I was done at the deli counter yesterday, my younger daughter had grabbed just about everything we needed from the produce section, which accounted for about half our list or more. Her independence and her ability to actually pick out good produce impresses me. When I was her age, I didn't know how to tell what to look for in good produce and I certainly don't remember grabbing stuff for my parents while they waited for deli stuff.

My kids are great and I'm thankful that this is an area of parenting I'm doing well. They've also gotten better about getting their lessons done. I gave my oldest the week off, since she'd been sick, another reason I decided to leave her home, and she still managed to do most of the school work I had originally had on the schedule for her. We've managed to stay pretty much on track, so far, for this second half of the "school" year.

I don't often stop and look at these every day accomplishments and often feel as though I'm failing as a mom. I think I need to put to use the example from Lydia over at and focus on mindfulness and intentional living, loving, and laughing.

Today we've cleaned, and I'm half caught up with laundry. My girls are cleaning their room and my sons are playing. The good thing is they are really playing, not playing xbox. The cleaning in our house doesn't take long when we all work together. We just need to make THAT a daily habit. Sadly, while checking on her hamsters, my younger daughter found that one had passed on. It was her favorite too. She has one more and she likes that one alright. Hoping to make home made poptarts and some muffins later. I have gotten some good snuggles in with my sons. I have to say one of my favorite things is co-sleeping. Though our oldest 3 don't do it very often anymore our youngest still does. Waking up to his big blue eyes and cheerful smile is one of the highlights of my day. I can't wait to share moments like that with our little one on the way.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Perfect" Birth

This morning, around 12:20 am, my husband came in and told me one of our sheep was acting strangely. She was clearing a corner of the barn. He suggested that she might be gearing up to deliver. I was surprised. I really thought she still had about another week or so, before she'd deliver. I asked him if she had any other signs of labor. He said no then asked how often I thought he should check on her. He is obviously more in tune with these sheep than I am, as he was sure something was happening. I told him, I would probably check on her within a half an hour, just to see if there were any other signs of labor. Our other ewes had had mucus and had been acting strange the whole day, before delivering. Not this ewe. When he went back out around 1am she was licking her new lamb clean and it was up and nursing. Within the next 30 minutes, he watched her deliver lamb number 2. When he saw that this one was very alert, shaking it's head and breathing and that mama was doing a good job of cleaning both lambs, he came inside to get me. I went out and we watched them for about a half an hour, making sure they were doing well. Both lambs and mama were doing so well, that I decided they didn't need me. Not much I can do to help my husband with them right now anyway. He went back out, after walking me back into the house, and prepared a stall for them. We were planning to prepare one of our other jugs for her and her lambs, when it was freed up tomorrow, but I guess she didn't want to wait.

I haven't taken pictures of the newest little family yet. When I do, I will post them. These lambs don't have names yet. My younger daughter and I are both pretty sure the black and white lamb is a boy. The multi-shaded light brown one, we aren't sure about yet.

Brownie, Pepe', and Valentine are all doing quite well. Valentine and Pepe' are both boys and Brownie, we're pretty sure is a girl. I suppose I should use the terms 'ram' and 'ewe'.

Aside from the birth of another set of twin lambs, we showed off the lambs to some friends today and baked cookies. Soon, I will be making Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner. We make our own sauce and it is so yummy! I buy the noodles though. I've not had much success in making yummy pasta noodles, yet. After dinner, and a little clean up, I plan to just enjoy my kids, as we have nothing on our schedule for tonight. Sometimes, ok almost all the time it seems, I get caught up in the "to dos" and the other less important things that I forget to appreciate the treasures right in front of me. I haven't even been taking pictures as often lately as I have been known to do. Right now my 3 younger ones are using paint dobbers and making pretty art on notebook paper. We don't do things like that often enough.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

That Time of Year

A lot of the homeschooling forums, blogs, etc I come across have a similar sound resonating. It's time to start thinking about next fall. We're not even half way through the second half of the "school year" and yet it really is time to start making some plans for the fall and figuring out what curriculum we might want to use. That way when all the curriculum sales happen we are ready to get what we will need and have time to lay out a plan for the following year.

The thing is, on my mind, right now isn't just what to do next fall. I have one going into 6th, one into 4th, one into K, another that will be 3, and a fifth that will be around 5 months old when we start our next "school year". I put that in quotations, because we're kind of year rounders, but that is when we do our yearly turn over. In recent discussions with my oldest 2, the topics of vocation, graduation, and college have all come up. They may be young, but they do have passions. My oldest wants to graduate before she turns 15 and then go to college to become a Zoologist and Marine Biologist. All the kids are taking classes at the local zoo and she is planning to do the internship as soon as she is allowed to. My next oldest wants to be a midwife. My midwife told her, at my last appointment, that she could become one as soon as she finished high school. She wants to graduate before she turns 14 so she can do her training. She hasn't decided if she wants to be a CPM or a CNM there are pros and cons to both. The fact is, if we can really look at their individual educational needs to achieve their desires, it is in fact do-able. So now, that is what is on my mind. Making educational goal maps for each of the oldest two and even starting on a plan for my son, who has insisted for the past 3 or so years that he IS going to be a fireman. Will he change his mind? Will they all change their minds? Possibly. Maybe even probably. My oldest wanted to be an artist from the time she was 18 months until she changed her mind and decided she wanted to be a Marine Biologist 2 years ago. She still loves art and wants to do some nature art. Especially after we talked about John James Audobon. The fact is, having a map will certainly be very helpful in the coming years. Even if we do end up changing up the route here and there.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Day of Rest

Today, I decided to take a day of rest. Granted, I wasn't able to take the whole day "off" but I did get some time to just do nothing.

I had a chiropractor appointment at 10 this morning and, even though I'd been up since before 8, and had plenty of rest last night, I was tired! The chiropractor appointment did a lot of good, but when I got home I decided, since my husband was home and everything was fairly calm, that I was going to just hang out in bed. I laid down with the baby's blanket that I'm knitting and worked on it until I was too tired to keep my eyes open. Then, I gave myself permission to take a nap. I don't do this often. I only spent 3 hours, at most, in my bed resting, but it did a world of good for my body.

I'm still tired, but my body hurts less than it has been lately. I pretty much never get a real rest day or day off. Probably true for most people. When I do go out, by myself, I'm usually running errands for the family or going to appointments or something.

In the bible God tells us repeatedly to rest. Rest is good for us! In massage school I  learned how rest encourages healing and health of the body. Yet, I don't get enough real rest. I'm not talking about sleep or being lazy. There is a difference. I'm talking about taking time to just allow myself to not worry, stress, etc... but to just be. To just listen to what my spirit and body are telling me and to heed them. I'm thankful for the rest I got today.

Lamb Photos

This is Pepe'. He was the second lamb born to Dark Chocolate, on Valentine's Day. His dad's name is Skunk, so we thought of Pepe' Le Pew.

                 This is Valentine. He was our first lamb born to Dark Chocolate on Valentine's Day.

This is Valentine and Pepe' with their mother, Dark Chocolate, on the 15th.

 This is Brownie. Still haven't checked to see if Brownie is a boy or a girl. We chose the name Brownie because of the brown hair and black legs. Brownie was the first of Oreo's lambs. Her second was stillborn.

Success! This is Brownie nursing from Oreo on the 16th, after spending the early hours being warmed up and bottle fed.

So far all 3 lambs are still doing very well, as are their mothers. We have 2 more sheep waiting to deliver. I'm hoping that one of them will be on Easter. There were about two weeks between our first sheep, Fawn, delivering her twins and losing them and Dark Chocolate and Oreo having their twins. From what we've read multiples are very common with this breed.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Growing Flock

Yesterday was another really good and peaceful day for the kids and I. We started by going to the zoo where the 3 older ones took classes and the youngest and I wandered the zoo looking at the animals. Then we hit up Burger King, though I'm not big on fast food, so we could go straight to the store for some things. Went to JoAnn's to pick up glue sticks and their Valentine stuff was 70% off and the No-Sew fleece blankets were still 50%. Plus I had a teacher discount card for an extra 15% off. We ended up getting a couple decorations for next year and a blanket kit for my brother-in-law, who was super excited to get it. Then we stopped by Costco for a few things. It was about 5pm when we finally got home and amazingly no one had had a meltdown!

Again, my husband came home in the later evening. He told me he noticed something was going on with one of our pregnant ewes. Just before midnight he came and got me. Her water bag had appeared. We rushed out there to standby. The first lamb came out and she quickly began to tend it. We heard our dog barking outside of the barn. At first, when my husband checked, it didn't seem to be anything. However, when he went back to the house to do something, he realized our dog had been sprayed by a skunk. While he took care of that mess, I stayed and kept an eye on our new mama. I could tell she was gearing up to deliver again. Thankfully, my husband came back to the barn just a couple moments before she pushed lamb number 2 out. Immediately we both noticed something was not right about this lamb. As the head came out, it was so tiny. We watched for a couple moments and then my husband went in to check the lamb. It was stillborn. In fact it looked like it hadn't completely developed, with white eyes and a small size. My husband tried to feel for a heartbeat and tried to see if it would breath, to no avail. So he took the lost lamb aside to encourage the mama to turn back to her live lamb and tend to it. Mama did and did a wonderful job. Even though she was so attentive and the baby was making some effort to get up and move around, the lamb just didn't seem to have the energy, strength, or drive to really get up and latch. My husband moved them to their jug in hopes of getting the lamb under the heat lamp and encouraging more bonding. We even harnessed mama, stripped her wax plug, and put lamb to teat. It didn't work. We ended up having to bring the lamb inside to warm it up and give it a little colostrum formula and some milk we'd pumped from our first mama a few days before.

It amazed me to watch my husband, the shepherd, tending to this little lamb. The care and tenderness he expressed. The patience and the drive to do whatever he could to make sure this lamb survived. This is one of the things I saw in him as a possible father and fell in love with. It is one of the reasons I married him. 

The lamb is now back out in the barn and we are frequently checking on it and mama. Never checked to see if it was a boy or a girl. So far the 2 seem to be bonding very well and the lamb has latched a little. I'm hoping that the lamb finally does get a good latch and that the mother continues to tend her lamb.

Later when I have a chance, I will post pictures of all our new lambs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Happy Valentine's Day Indeed

I hope anyone who reads this had a wonderful Valentine's (or even Anti-Valentine's) Day. Our Valentine's Day started out with my girls waking up to their alarm clock, which is a new thing we are trying. They came and got me up, thanking me for the Valentine's I got for them. Then we went downstairs for breakfast and to get their lessons done before their party. They had asked to throw a party for their homeschool friends. They love throwing parties. Their lessons were done quickly, easily, and without complaint! Then we finished prepping the house for our party.

The party went so well, I forgot to take pictures! There were craft centers for the kids, set up by the moms. I did home made clay. One mom did bead bracelets and flowers. Another did wire/twine hearts with yarn wrapped around them. One mom brought a mural for the kids to color together and another brought bingo. The kids had a blast doing the activities. Then they got to pass out their cards and have some snacks. It seemed to be a great success, which makes me very happy, of course.

After the party, the girls and I cleaned up the house. An easy job, since I'd managed to get the house clean and organized the 2 days before the party and then my friends helped clean up some before they left. With a clean house, happy kids, and free time, my girls and I got to sit down and play our first game of Apples to Apples: Bible Edition, which my oldest had gotten with her toys r us gift card from Christmas.

The whole afternoon/evening was one of the most peaceful and pleasant we've had in a long time and I couldn't help but continually praise God for such blessings.

I even had time to read some of Anne of Green Gables to the kids before getting them settled into bed. Although, I did have to discipline my older son about stealing, after he took my oldest's Valentine chocolate and ate half of it while the girls and I were busy with the story. He shared it with his little brother. Then I took the opportunity, after getting him to bed, to share with my daughter how sweets and flowers will disappear, but love is forever. The the love I have for her comes from God's love for her. I've taught my children that no matter how many children I have, no matter how many people I love, I will always love each of them with my whole heart. I may love them each differently, because they are each different, but I love them all equally too. Because with each child I have, God grows a new heart within my spirit just for that child and fills it with love just for them. That God also has that and that is how He is able to love us all, individually. This brought peace to her broken heart and she and her sister went to bed.

My dad could've ended wonderfully, right there, but it didn't. My husband got home from work around 10 and checked on our sheep, as he always does. He came in and told me he thought tonight was the night for another of our sheep. She had clear stringy stuff hanging from her. We sat and talked for a little bit and how he planned to stay up all night to be there if it were the night. At 10:30 he headed back out to check on her again. He just had a strong feeling. Then I got a text. She was licking a lamb clean! I jumped out of bed, ran to my daughters' room and whispered loudly "We have a lamb!" and ran down the stairs to throw on my boots and coat. My younger daughter excitedly joined me and we rushed out to the barn. There she was, mama and baby. She was very attentive to her lamb. We whispered back and forth excitedly and with my husband. About 15 minutes later I noticed her bow her front end. My husband thought she was trying to let the lamb nurse. I had remembered that, that was one of the signs of labor. After doing this another 3 or 4 times, she went and laid down. I turned to my husband and said something like "Either she is trying to nurse her lamb or... she is having another." He flashed his light at her rear and sure enough, there was another head making it's way out. It took maybe a minute for that baby to come out all the way. Thankfully my husband was there and ready to step in. Mama got back up, almost like she had no idea she'd had a 2nd, and began licking the first lamb clean again. My husband gently picked up the 2nd lamb in towel and brought it to mama's face and set it down. She began sniffing it and then started licking away at it. Before my daughter and I headed back in the house the 1st was up and nursing. My husband stayed up at least half the night making sure to check on them often. Things were so much better for mama and lambs this time around. Today the lambs are doing wonderfully and so is their mama. I told my daughter how awesome it was that they were born on Valentine's Day. The day we remember what it means to love others and to show others that we love them. That Jesus, the lamb of God, did just that when He chose to come to Earth, live and die as a man, and to take our sins upon his own shoulders to pay our debts for us. We have 3 more pregnant ewes. We aren't sure when each of them got pregnant, because our ram is in with them. My daughter and I are hoping that one will give birth on Easter. I was hoping to add some photos, but will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Bready Weekend

The bread I made the other day was such a success that it was gone by the end of the night. So, Saturday, I decided to make more. I used the flax seed bread recipe in our Bread Bible book.My 2 year old and 9 year old decided that they wanted to help.

First, we had to crush our flax seed. It takes a while.

After getting the dough prepped and letting it rest, we kneaded the dough.
Each batch makes one loaf, so while one baked, I made another loaf.
Such beautiful yummy bread!
Today is Monday, and already I need to make more bread. Granted we have 7 people in our house, devouring this bread. I have enough for 2 or 3 slices left. So today, I will spend working on that some, among other things.

I was also able to get my girls' room cleaned out and organized this weekend and even started gathering the cloth diapers I have into a bin in the boys' closet for the baby.

Today, my oldest has already finished her lessons for the day. I still need to get my other daughter done with hers. She is at a point where she says she knows how to do her math and wants to move on, but then when I finally get her to work on her math, she gets stuff wrong. I've told her time and again, if she shows she is ready to move on we'll move on. I don't like to linger to the point of boredom on things, when they get it. The problem is, she wants to do math first so she refuses to do her other stuff and then go back and finish her math. I know we'll get through it, though.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Speaking of Detours

Yesterday started with my husband asking me to check on the sheep every 2 hours. He had noticed some different behavior in one of our sheep and wanted to make sure, if she went into labor, someone was nearby.

While I waited, I got my oldest going on her school work for the day and worked on other things myself. Two hours later and that sheep was acting "normal" again, but another sheep had distanced herself from the flock. While I stood and watched them she rejoined the flock and I had the feeling that nothing was going to happen that day. I was right. They both were "normal" for the rest of the day and so far, today, nothing seems to be happening.

We had an art lesson at 1 about 45 minutes away, but I usually try to leave an hour ahead of time. Around 11:15, I decided to continue the work I had started on decluttering my daughters' bedroom. At 11:30, I asked my girls to get their brothers ready. Instead, they called a friend who had the day off from school due to icy roads and asked if she could come to art. With her parents ok, she came over right when we were supposed to be leaving. No problem, except, when my girls came to get me I discovered they hadn't gotten their brothers ready to go at all. In fact, they weren't even ready! It takes about 20 minutes for me to get everyone ready to go and out the door. We were 20 minutes late leaving. Then I had to drive extra cautiously as I haven't really driven on icy snowy roads much and kept coming across patches of road like that. Then my gas light came on, so I stopped and got gas. I didn't have my gps with me, and didn't know how to get the one on my phone to work since I currently have it disabled. So I had google maps up instead. The gas station I stopped at wasn't far from our art lesson, probably 15 minutes. I turned the direction the map told me to only to end up, somehow, on a different road in a totally different town. I texted my friend, who set up the classes for us, letting her know we wouldn't be there after all. Frustrated, I checked the map to try and figure out where we were. I'd forgotten that I had turned on to a different road, again, and so I thought the road I was looking for may actually be just up the road. I had stopped at another gas station to check this. Instead, as I started driving again, I realized I was on a different road, but thankfully saw a sign for the road that lead back towards our town. This whole thing took about an hour and 20 minutes. From the time I found the road that led towards our home, til the time we got home, took us 20 minutes. When we got home, I couldn't help but shake my head and wonder, first off, what in the world just happened. Secondly, how sad is it that I've become so dependent on a piece of technology to get me where I need to go. I think I may be losing my navigation skills, although I've never been known for being good with directions, which is why my husband got me the gps in the first place.

My girls ran off with their friend to play Minecraft. (I am really beginning to hate this game. Everyone around me seems addicted to it and have become mean and disrespectful and lacking in responsibility since they started playing it. That's all they want to do from the time the wake up til bedtime.) I on the other hand, shamelessly grabbed our tin of chocolate chips and started chomping away at them as I opened our "Bread Bible" book and started making bread. I had bought whole flax seed recently, wanting to make bread with it. I didn't realize, I needed to crush it first. We don't have a mill, but thankfully, we do have a mortar and pestle. I got it crushed up and got my dough made.

As I waited for the bread to rise I continued with my daughters' room. Yes it really was THAT bad. I am almost shocked at the amount of stuff they had accumulated in that bedroom. Almost... It is now nice, neat, and organized. Although, it does need to be vacuumed still. When I finished their room, I tidied up the rest of the upstairs and did take a moment to vacuum my room and the hallway.

The bread turned out great. In all my busyness, I didn't start on dinner until 7:15. Pork chops and rosemary roasted potatoes. It was yummy, when it was finally ready. The bread finished as I was starting dinner. Apparently it was delicious, since there is none left. I made it, hoping to use it as sandwich bread. It was shaped like a school bus when I took it out, but I forgot to take a picture of it. I think I've gotten used to my husband leaving my camera in inconvenient places and I don't like the pictures my phone takes, very much.

My daughters' friend stayed the night and for the most part they played Minecraft. I've told them before that playing when we have only 2 controllers is going to leave somebody out, but they did it anyway and sure enough, someone was upset they were left out, but got upset if I turned off the game because they didn't get to play.

Yesterday, was not what I would consider a good parenting day for me. At the same time, even with the stresses, it was a productive one. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Off to a decent start

This morning has started out decently. I got up before everyone else and was able to get some laundry going, run the dish washer (since I forgot to last night), and even tidied up some around the kitchen and playroom. I really should get in a better habit of doing these things at night. It would be a lot easier if we had a more consistent bed time. Honestly, however, my husband's inconsistent schedule throws a wrench in our day to day consistency. Although, last night, I crawled into bed and read some of a locally focused gardening book instead of cleaning. I'll justify that since last year our garden didn't turn out well and I know that it's about time to start prepping for this years garden.

After the boys came down, we ate breakfast and then I went out to the barn with my husband to try my hand at milking our sheep. That was a learning experience, but I figured it out. We decided to freeze the milk we got from her today, in case we end up with a rejected lamb. We would like to use some of the milk, we get, for ourselves, as well. Currently, it looks like we may have 2 more sheep closing in our their deliveries. I'm praying that everything go smoothly with both of them.

Once back inside, it was time to start our lessons. Today's devotion reminded us that God provides for us and that we can do all things through Him, for He is our strength (Phil 4:13). The devotion told the story of Ben Underwood. A young man, who lost his eyes due to cancer at the age of 2 or 3, who used the gift of echolocation, that God gave him, to do all kinds of stuff. It mentioned that there were videos of him online, so we decided to check them out. We ended up finding the website dedicated to sharing his story. 

I was born with PHPV and for me, I always felt like my parents felt I was broken because of it. It has effected my self esteem and I've often been told of all I can NOT do, because of it. This young man's mother, on the other hand, told him that he could do anything and to trust in God. Though this one thing was different about him, it didn't have to stop him. She reminded him of all the different ways we see, other than with our eyes and he learned to appreciate the other forms of sight that God gives us. Not only is the faith, this young man had, an inspiration, his mothers is as well. For me, she is an inspiration as a parent as well. I'm thankful to have been able to share the story of Ben Underwood and others with strong faith like that, such as Bethany Hamilton, with my children. These people not only inspire me but are a good display of God in the modern world.

A great start to this beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 6, 2013

I didn't get out to the store today and will have to wait for my belly supporter for 2 more weeks due to other priorities. I've heard of using a child's ring sling. I might go ahead and make one, since I already have everything I need to do that. Then after the baby is born it can go in the toy bin for my kids to play with.

Got a late start to our school day. I think it was about 10:30 when we sat down. We try to start with devotions. Today's devotion was about God's creativity. It talked about the bolas spider and had us check out a video of the spider catching its prey. The bolas spider doesn't use a web like many other spiders do. Instead it makes a string of web with a ball on the end. It secretes a pheromone that draws moths to it and then it flings this string at the moth! This is the video we watched.

After that we watched a quick video about bees, because my 2 year old is very interested in them. Then it was time to open our science books. Might as well since we were already on the subject. Today's topic was feathers. We are studying birds. To the joy of my oldest, we examined bird feathers with a magnifying glass to see the different parts that made the feather up. She has a collection of a variety of feathers she has gathered. In fact, one of her feathers looked just like one they showed in the book, which only thrilled her more. She hopes to be a zoologist and a marine biologist when she grows up. She was disappointed to find out that she is too young to become a licensed bird bander. I'm trying to convince my husband to do that, since Project Feeder watch is his idea and has really sparked her interest in ornithology.
While I read their science lesson to them, they work on their handwriting.

With 2 subjects completed, we broke for lunch. As I sat and ate mine at the table, the kids already done with theirs and off playing, I looked out our back window and saw something moving around. It was a grey fox! Our chickens are free range and were wandering around the backyard.  The fox was prowling around, obviously hoping to catch an easy meal. I started shouted, because I was so excited and wanted the kids to see the fox too. We all stood at the back door looking at it as it stood and stared back. Then my husband and our dog went outside to chase it off. It started to run, when my husband went out, but then paused. Until my dog went out. Then it started running. My dog found it's scent and bolted after it. All I could think of was the Turtle Man shouting "That's live action, there!" They ran off through our field. Just as our dog was gaining on the fox, my husband called him back to the house. The fox ran to the top of a small hill near our field and watched and waited. My husband and my oldest daughter stayed out there, getting fresh water for the chickens and bringing them back, closer to the coop. Thirty minutes later, the fox headed off a different direction and my husband and oldest came back in the house.

I took the opportunity to get the girls going on their math lessons for the day. That was the last subject they actually completed, from *my* plan. By the time they were done it was time to head out for lego time at the library with some friends. The kids were all excited about it. I know we home school, but we haven't been to the library in a while and my kids missed it!  They picked out a book to check out and then sat down at the lego table. I continued browsing the books a little, but had to remind myself to stick to just a few to make sure we got them read. I'll admit, we have a habit of not always reading everything. In our excitement over books and certain topics, we often check out more books than we actually getting around to reading. This time, I picked up one about the lives of birds, since we are studying them. I also got one about Valentine's day since it is right around the corner. One about Aquariums, because my little animal scientist got one for Christmas and is wanting to know everything she can about them. I also picked up one for myself about gardening in our state. I want to be better prepared and on top of things this year. Maybe we'll actually have a crop to harvest, if I do! I did great with our garden in KY, so I know I can grow a good garden. It'll help a lot to know what to do up here though since it is different than down there.

Tonight we have church. I work in the nursery tonight, which I love, because my boys are in there with me.

I was looking into making a more personal header for my blogs and was trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I scrolled through some of our pictures and of course got all sentimental. Even with all the ups and downs in our lives, we are so richly blessed and homeschooling has just magnified that blessing for me. I have a great family and we have some really great memories we've made and more to be made, God willing. Too often I take it all for granted, just like everyone else, and get caught up in the moment of chaos and negativity. I don't always see how beautiful our story really is. Today was a good reminder for me, that it isn't about what we plan, but how we deal with things when plans go awry.

PS. I totally just used "Grammar Girl Presents: The Ultimate Writing Guide for Students" to remember if I should use it's or its when talking about the spider. So thankful I bought it to teach my girls grammar!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5th

Today, I finally went to the chiropractor for the first time in close to 5 years. Why I waited so long, I don't know. I'm glad I went. I felt so much better than when I went in. Hopefully I sleep well tonight. I do feel more free and fluid in my movements. Hoping to add massage to my schedule soon, as well. The two combined will make such a world of difference for me. Toss in some yoga and I'll probably be pretty well off, physically. I was asked if I have a tendency towards high stress. I have to admit, when I was seeing a physical therapist, they said the same thing. I'm going to have to answer yes to that. I do tense up a lot and worry and stress way too much. It's certainly time for me to consider that even the bible tells us to meditate, rest, and be restored. The chiropractor also suggested a belly support for the rest of my pregnancy, which my midwives have mentioned the last two appointments I've had. Tomorrow, I'm going to finally go get one. Hoping to find one I can use now and after the birth for belly binding.

Our school day went well today. My oldest and my husband are participating in Project Feeder Watch, through Cornell University.  They are watching the birds on Mondays and Tuesdays. This morning, I woke up before everyone else. As I looked outside I saw a bird, I think it was a Purple Finch, at the bird feeder. I spent some of my quiet alone time appreciating the beauty of the sun, snow, and birds. Getting through our lessons went mostly well. Our devotion today was about focusing on spreading thankfulness when you're tempted to take in someone else's negativity. Much needed devotion today, when one of my girls got a negative attitude. I started to pick up on it and then remembered our devotion and decided instead to calmly switch to independent work time. That's where they work on their "homework" and stuff. Her attitude changed and she was done with her lessons by lunch time. My other daughter, however, has been resistant about "homework", especially her writing assignments. After school was "over", because I went to my chiro appointment, they decided to hang out and play. My older son, who is only 5, spent a good chunk of the day playing Minecraft. My daughters have spent the evening playing. I'll be honest, as much as it seems to appeal to everyone else in my house, I'm just not a fan. Granted I have trouble playing games with more dimensional graphics like that, and would probably enjoy it more if it wasn't for my vision issues. At this time, I just don't get it, though. The funny part is, my husband and his brother (who is currently living with us) both tried to tell me how it was educational because they learned about resources and geology among other things. I have to give them a little credit and have heard of other homeschoolers who utilize it as a teaching tool.

Lost lambs and finding our groove

On our hobby farm, we have chickens, turkeys, and sheep. Last week, one of our ewes went into labor. This was our first lambing experience. Unfortunately she wasn't progressing as quickly as I'd read she should (I know, I know, sometimes we have to trust our instincts more!) so after a couple of hours we called the vet in. I know I'm pregnant and shouldn't even be involved in the lambing process, but my husband was at work and honestly I'm curious. The vet was able to manually get the babies out within about 15 minutes or so. Turns out she was carrying twins, rams, like my husband suspected. The babies were set aside while the vet worked to get the mothers uterus back in place, after she completely prolapsed, and then he stitched her up. The mom, didn't really get to smell or see her babies until after the vet was finished. A part of me felt like I should've made sure that they'd had a better bonding experience to start with. I had hope, since the lambs were moving and making noises and the mom had been licking them some, after the vet was done, that everything would be ok. The vet told us to check on them every hour and within 2 they should be up and walking about, within 4 they should be nursing. We did our first check and they were still moving and making noises, but weren't up and walking about. They seemed fine, to my girls and I, so we let them be. Sadly by the 2nd check they had passed away. I cried and cried and couldn't help but feel like I had failed them. My daughters reminded me that as a shepherdess, death is part of the territory. It would've been one thing if they were old and died because of that, or if they were at least older and intended for nourishment for our family, but they weren't. They were brand new. It could've been my fault, it could've been the trauma of the labor and their delivery, it could've been how cold it was. It could've been that, though their mom had licked them a little, she really didn't seem interested in them. Maybe it was a combination of everything. I don't know. I know there is a lot to be learned being so new at this venture, but it didn't make it any easier. I just hope the rest of the lambing season goes more smoothly.

We are also getting back into the swing of homeschooling, which never really ends, but the structure aspect gets set aside sometimes. I'm having to really learn to let go of everything and everyone else that create kinks in our lifestyle in a negative way and just trust more. I'm trying to have better lesson lay outs for the girls and I so that we might do a better job of staying on task. It seems to be helping the girls to get stuff done, knowing what I expect from them each day. Doesn't mean they always get it all done, but with the new arrangement it puts more of it in their hands to control and less in mine, which at their ages they should have. We are currently using "English for the Thoughtful Child", Math U See, Exploring Creation Zoology 1, the  Taking Godly Care Of series, some character building books, Print to Cursive Proverbs, and other random stuff, as well as the bible. Remembering why I want to homeschool and making it a bigger focus in our life is certainly helping. It isn't always easy. In fact, I face resistance every day from my kids on certain things. However, to really look at where we started at the beginning of the school year and where we are now, I feel like we might be on the verge of finding our groove. I don't work with my sons as much as I would like, though I do try to encourage my husband to do so since he is home at least in the morning on our school days. In spite of the lack of "busy work", both boys are surprising me with how far they have come this school year as well. I'm very thankful when I look at my family and see the growth, especially since somedays I get so caught up in the chaos that I forget the most important stuff.