Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Aunt Neice's Farm

Once again Rachael is visiting “Aunt Neice’s Farm.” She is a riot to have around; however, when she leaves tomorrow, it will take me a few days to recuperate. She was still interested in seeing the chickens a zillion times a day, with the added benefit of having the one legged chicken “Hopper” conveniently located in the garage. She had to feed Hopper about 10 times a day along with the dogs, Pretty Boy and Hershey. She really loves the chickens, just ask her, she'll tell you. She loves them 670 pounds, I told her I loved them all the way to the moon and back, she thought that was pretty funny.

Pretty boy is an indoor dog. A lanky, old greyhound, he stands as tall as she. He is gentle and took a lot of “love” from her, but by the end of the day, would run when he saw her coming his direction. I just hope he ran that fast during his racing career.

“Aunt Neice, you know why pretty boy is so happy now?”

No but I’m quite sure you’re willing to share that information, ran through my head. But I answered with a simple, interested “Why?”

“Because he just got a new baby.” She said as she wrapped up the stuffed Hershey dog replica.

“Um, ok, well, here’s the problem Boys don’t get babies!!”

“Well” She muttered and gave some serious contemplation. “The mom had the baby in her tummy and then Pretty Boy got the baby. That’s why he’s happy.”

“But you know what?” she continued

Um, apparently not, “What?”

“Pretty boy just has to go to work. He says au revoir, I’m goin’ to work, and then we have to take care of the baby. Isn’t that silly aunt Neice? We just have to take care of pretty boy’s baby all day.”

Oh ya, I’m laughing. That’s your job for the day.

We walked up to the coop and fed the hens. On the way back she exclaimed “Surprise!! I’m not taking a nap today; I’m just going to bed early.”

Ha! Surprise, you’re taking a nap today and going to bed early. At least one of us is, but I get to pick.

After lunch she wanted a “dessert”, so I went to the kitchen to whip something up.

“Put your armpits up or I’ll shoot” she excitedly exclaimed as she ran toward me. I was mixing up a batch of brownies, but paused, stuck my finger out and said the same.

“Noooooooooo” she whined as her eyes began to water. “You’re not playing it right.”


“You can just let me tickle you.” She answered

“I can’t tickle you?”

“Noooooooo” she whined again. She then ran into the bedroom and shut the door behind her, obviously tired and ready for a nap.

I continued with the brownies. She quietly poked her head out the door twice hoping I wouldn’t catch a glimpse of her. I pretended not to notice. On the second time, she piped up, head sticking out into the foyer, “Hey! I want some brownies!

“You do?”

“Yes, I want some brownies.” She said with a touch of indignation in her voice.

“Ok, are you going to stay in there or are you coming out?” I asked

“Well, I want brownies, but I’m just not happy with how you were acting” she scolded.

“Not happy with how I was acting?” I asked holding back a chuckle.

“Yes, that’s right, I’m just not happy with how you were acting. You were not behaving good!”

“Ok, well, I’m gonna have a brownie, you gonna have one?”

“Yes” she muttered as she shut the door and pouted on the way out. “But I just call them browns”

Tomorrow she goes home. I’ll miss her, but I understand God’s wisdom in giving kids to young people. After she leaves tomorrow I’m planning on taking a bubble bath with a good book and a plate of browns. Right now I’ll settle for a couple of Advil and a dark room.

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Pretty Boy, his "baby" and Rae

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Dude!

Hey Josh, you turned 17 today. Wow, those 17 years have been filled with excitement and mischief!

This is a long post, but I couldn’t begin to summarize what you mean to me in just a few paragraphs. To start off you were almost a month overdue….that should have been a huge red flag. Over the 9 months, I ended up having 4 ultrasounds because they thought there was something wrong with you….can you say red flag? I won’t ask your sisters for their opinion on that.

I was so worried about you. Each ultrasound pegged the due date right around August 28th give or take a few days, but no, you decided to hang out till September 21st, in fact you’d still be in there if we hadn’t taken measures to kick you out. The midwife kept assuring me, baby comes when baby is ready, but I think she finally became wise to your plan to hang out in there forever. Just think, we could have made the Guinness Book of world records, woman pregnant for 17 years, 9 months finally gives birth to active teenage boy. Wow, I’d never fit into my clothing again…come to think of it, I wouldn’t fit in anybody’s clothes after that.

After 3 days of intense labor and no sleep, you finally had to be pulled out kicking & screaming. Of course you entered the world in style; you’d have it no other way, nothing plain for you. You just wouldn’t cooperate for the midwife so the Dr. had to be called in from some function to unstuck you and you were delivered into his tuxedo-clad arms.

Speaking of hospitals, we’ve made 7 visits to the E.R. ….so far. But to really be fair, only 5 were actually you, the other two were merely “Josh induced” visits, once when you tossed Em on the bed, and she bounced into the dresser needing 5 stitches; it’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt! The other was when you lowered her down into the window well on a rope and she slipped and fell in scraping her back all the way down, I think she was three at the time. She wouldn’t stop screaming, but thankfully everything turned out okay. Your visits were for broken bones, your first one when you were five and fell off the monkey bars. Just weeks later we had to take you in again for swinging from 2 chairs and landing on your chin, we were pretty sure it must be broken with all that screaming and crying going on. When the Dr. asked what happened you looked at the Dr., then Dad and then at the floor, paused and said “I fell?” We are very lucky that Dad is still with us.

I’ll never forget the mischief you and your pal Tim got into, probably my favorite was when you were about 5 yrs old and you both ran through the church buck naked during a band practice, singing “We are girls, we are girls”. I didn't think it was too funny at the time but most of the crowd got a chuckle out of it. At that point I would have preferred to still be pregnant with you.

Speaking of church, I’ll also never forget when we were called out of service by the children’s minister. We had a guest speaker at the church that night and turns out you got into an argument with his son and slugged him in the face giving him a black eye. “But he started it!” was your defense. We later became good friends with his family and they often stayed with us when they were in the states.

I’m fond of saying you make my life interesting. I am both sad and excited for you to grow up and move into the next phase of your life. I try not to think about it too much, I wish I could keep you by my side forever, but I know God created you to spread your wings and become the man he created you to be. And I must say He has done an exceptional job with you so far.

I’m so proud of the man that you are becoming. You have great people and leadership skills, you’re a hard worker and try so hard to please me and your dad in all you do. Everyone that meets you instantly likes you, you just have that way about you, I know that God has great plans for your life.

I hope you know how proud of you I am. You stand on your own feet and don’t follow the crowd when they go contrary to what you believe to be right. You have a strong moral compass and although I’m sure you must struggle at times with doing what is right, you generally pick the right way. You have a great head on your shoulders and you’re your cool in stressful situations, I’m guessing it’s due to all those E.R. visits.

You are a wonderful son, who has turned out better than I could have hoped for, and I know that God will continue to perfect the great work that He has started in you. Hope you enjoyed your special day!

Love, Mom

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

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Having a little fun filling Becca's car with leaves

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Becca wan't so happy. At first she cried, she thought she left her sun roof open and nature did its thing. When she found out you did it, she quit crying and after a few minutes thought it was pretty funny too.

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All dressed up for prom...love the shoes!

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One of your many passions, along with soccer, drums and girls. You are a great runner, with enough metals to melt down and build a small ship.

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My all time favorite pictures. I went to upload pictures one day and to my suprise you had left me a couple of special ones. I laughed for days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Thief

My chickens suffered another hit. This time I think it was coyotes, fox, lynx or mountain lion(s)…got that narrowed down now don’t I? Whatever it was, they dug under the coop and began to pull the chickens out by their legs, killing 10 in all. For some reason, even though I put roosts in, the chickens prefer to sit in the corner on the ground. Apparently whatever had gotten them knew that they were on the ground in the corner and that’s where he dug. 4 were completely gone and the other 6 were laying in the fenced in yard, several missing a leg. To say I was really bummed out about it is an understatement.

One of my little black chicks died to, but there ware no visible marks, not sure, but I guess he died of fright or stress. Another two survived their injuries, so far, and are in the ICU which I made in the garage. One is missing a leg and I was going to put him down, but he really has a will to live, drinking and eating and hopping around, so I’ve been making sure he has what he needs to survive, including putting him on antibiotics that I had leftover from the time they got sick. Not sure about the other, which seems to have a pretty minor injury, relatively speaking, but does not want to drink much at all. It’s an awful feeling to put so much time and effort into something and then have it stolen from you.

We fortified the walls inside and out with some very large heavy boulders and although the thief came back the next night, he dug, but couldn’t get to them.

On a lighter note, the plum jelly came out great, really nice flavor and color. The kids seem to be enjoying it.

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The plums before I cooked them. They looked so pretty.

Also, have to share my grocery trip. I got 160.43 worth of groceries for 39.92 after coupons and sales. Here is a picture of my bounty. I love a good deal. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I ended up with:
4 boxes of cereal
6 5lb. bags potatoes
9 cans tuna
2 pouches tuna
2 cans soup
2 boxes waffles
4 brownie mixes
4 boxes taco shells
6 boxes hamburger helper
2 boxes toaster strudles
6 cans frosting
20 cake mixes
2 muffin mixes
6 boxes granola bars
2 boxes pop tarts
1 box cheese-its
3 boxes fruit snacks
2 boxes instant oatmeal pouches

I think that was all. It was a great haul for sure! Now to keep the kids from inhaling it all within a week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

You are 70 today. 70 is so much younger today than it was when I was a kid. I thank God that you are still active and able to enjoy life.

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I love this picture of you. I think first because it reminds me of my kids at that age. They used to laugh with the same expression. And second, it reminds me that you went through a very difficult upbringing, but you managed to turn life around and become a wonderful, loving mother to nine children and raised them to be productive, contributing, loving citizens. Not to mention the over 300 foster children that passed through our doors and your heart. You allowed God to work a work in and through you to set aside some things that would otherwise have held you and us back.

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I love this one too. You look like a movie star…and just days after giving birth. Too bad I didn’t inherit that from you. :o) I remember you could still wear a bikini after the ninth baby, and guys would hit on you then too. I would have settled for a bikini after my first, but it didn’t happen for me. And about the guys hitting on me…ya, well, one can dream.

With a family of my own, I really can’t comprehend how you raised nine. Especially when I think of you having to cook from scratch, work the garden, make your own butter and soap, can food, help on the farm, do all that laundry, make all those sack lunches every day, sew & mend clothing, grocery shop and menu plan, taxi children around, counsel regarding heartbreaks and bullies, and still you remained sane. I have many days where I want to resign and I only have three. And to think that you had 5 teenagers at one time, yikes!

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One of my favorite family pictures, taken before John or Melissa was born. I remember how you used to fix your hair with that Dippity Do gel and hair tape to hold it till it was set. You were strong, but yet still a girly-girl, always taking great pride in your appearance; you always took the time to look like a million dollars….another gene that I didn’t inherit.

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I cherish the deep love you and dad had for each other when we were growing up. You both provided a secure environment for us kids. I remember the times you guys would dance around the living room and how you both would nap together on the floor. Guess that’s how you got your rest in with nine kids.

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There we all are. Not sure how you did it. Many days I wish I could go back in time and relive just a day or two. Our kitchen was the heart of the home, we would all sit around the table on those benches and eat, do homework, spend time together. I remember visitors calling us the Walton’s.

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This picture sits on my mantel; 50 years together. Hope I make it that far. :o) And, to think that you still have your natural hair color. Nine kids and you still haven’t gone grey??? What’s that about? Once again I missed another great gene.

Mom, thanks for taking the time and effort to instill Godly values and morals into me, for giving me a heritage to hold fast to, for instilling in me the knowledge to make a pair of pants from a piece of fabric, how to can pretty much any fruit or vegetable and how to stretch a chicken onto five nourishing meals. Thanks for teaching me how to be a good mom and for being my cheerleader; it’s nice to know you are always just a phone call away.

My blog name originated from the Rich Mullins song First Family, that I think so accurately describes our family. It's as if he had written it for us, I've just made a few minor adaptations:

My folks they were always the first family to arrive
With eleven people jammed into a car that seated five
There was one bathroom to bathe and shave in
Six of us stood in line
And hot water for only three
But we all did just fine

Talk about your miracles
Talk about your faith
My dad he could make things grow
Out of hard Nebraska clay
Mom could make a gourmet meal
Out of just cornbread and beans
And they worked to give faith hands and feet
And somehow gave it wings

I can still hear my dad cussin'
He's working late out in the barn
The spring planting is coming
And the tractors just won't run
Mom she's done the laundry
I can see it waving on the line
Now they've stayed together
Through the pain and the strain of those times

Talk about your miracles
Talk about your faith
My dad he could make things grow
Out of hard Nebraska clay
Mom could make a gourmet meal
Out of just cornbread and beans
And they worked to give faith hands and feet
And somehow gave it wings

And now they've raised nine children
One winter they lost a son
But the pain didn't leave them crippled
And the scars have made them strong
Never picture perfect
Just a plain man and his wife
Who somehow knew the value
Of hard work, good love, and real life

We may not have been a First Family in the eyes of the world, but you managed to make me feel as if we were.

I love you and hope you have a birthday that is as truly wonderful as you are. Wish I could be there to help celebrate your milestone day. Happy 70th birthday.

Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Chilly Day

It turned dramatically cooler today. A cold mist enveloped me when I took the dog out at 5:40 this morning. I was still too asleep to notice that the temperature was hovering just above 40. I crawled back in bed and tried to grab a little more sleep, normally I can’t make that happen, but it was so dark that I easily fell back to sleep. When I awoke, there was only 20 minutes till we had to leave for Sunday school. It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit.

A cloud hovered over the top of the mountain all day, occasionally dropping enough that our view down the mountain was obscured as well. The sun eventually broke through in the late afternoon and it warmed up a bit, but then the cool cloudiness returned and it misted the rest of the day.

They are talking snow in the higher elevations later this week. I’m looking forward to seeing the snow-capped peaks again. Josh broke in the new chainsaw and cut a bunch more firewood. I think about 2/3 of what I had collected has been cut so far. With it looking so dreary and cold today, I really wanted to crank up the wood burner, but donned a heavy sweatshirt instead.

Becca was asked by the youth pastor to start up and lead a college and career group. She is excited to have the opportunity to be involved in something that she is passionate about; social and spiritual sharing. They hammered out the specifics tonight. I’m confident she will do a great job at it. She is the party-type social personality; I tell her she should be a social coordinator or something along those lines. She can make anything into an event, complete with balloons, food, games, movies….the whole works.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Weekend

Steve took Friday off and we ran some errands in town and worked around the house. It was a sunny day and the weather was just perfect. We took full advantage of the great weather and in the afternoon went for a hike around the “neighborhood.” We took the Garmin to see how far we would go, the altitude we’d climb, the time we’d spend etc. Its 6.33 miles around the loop and from the highest point to the lowest is just about a 1600 foot climb. It took us just over 2 hours, but we did stop and visit with a neighbor for a bit. Steve said he felt cheated, because the satellite doesn’t distinguish ups & downs, but views it all as flat when it comes to distance, so a 100 foot climb straight up would register as a distance traveled of 0 feet. We decided to take a bike on it in the near future to find out just exactly how much longer it is.

Today we ran a bunch of errands. I had some great target coupons; however the checker missed 6.50 worth of them. I might try to go back and see what they will do about it…I have a feeling I already know…nothing. We took Becca her phone. Seems her texts’s in and out boxes were so full that her messaging quit working. Steve had to call and have them talk him though purging it. I asked her how she managed to get her phone constipated.

We ran to the sporting good store to get Josh new cleats. He has outgrown the pair he has…sheesh! How much bigger can his feet get? He is 16 and wears an 11. Of course the ones he wanted were 79.00 and then there were the $10 socks he had to have. Then we ran to get another load of firewood, I think I have a good 2 full cords out back. We ran to Kmart, I had coupons and all, so got cereal for .33 a box after sale and coupons. Not bad. I ended up getting 30 boxes this week, some for Steve and some for the kids. After that we ran to the farm store for chicken feed and a bag of dog food. They have free popcorn, yum. I love that, it made me want to go see a movie, lol. We were looking for a chainsaw, but they only carried one brand and although it was a great brand, it’s also a really expensive one; the one I really wanted was 459.00. So we ended up going to home depot and spending 200.00 on a decent lower model. Yikes!! It’s still a lot. All in all it was an expensive day.

We did end up cutting a good ½ full cord of wood this afternoon though. I figure we can get a full cord cut by tomorrow evening and there looks to be another full cord left to be cut and split. Once I’ve got all that is out back cut, split and stacked, I should have about 2 full cords of wood. Good thing, since they put snow in the forecast for the higher elevations this coming week. We could see a freeze here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day

Labor Day we took some time to go up to drive around and explore the national forest. It started to rain…as usual, so we mostly explored via truck, but it was really pretty. We stopped at a grocery in Estes and picked up some ice cream sandwiches for the ride back. The leaves are just starting to turn a rich yellow. So much earlier than in Oklahoma; I thought for a minute that a branch on our tree was dying, but then realized that several trees in our creek and around the canyon are beginning to turn. It has also become cooler, especially at night, lows in the 50s mostly, with lows of 40s expected by the weekend. It still reaches into the 70s & 80s during the day; I really like this weather.

I’m looking forward to firing up the wood burner this fall. At this point, I figure I’ve only collected enough seasoned wood to last for a month, but hopefully I’ll get enough to burn all winter before things get too cold. I’ve been monitoring the propane tank and we’ve used 10% (since our June 22 fill) on the water heater. I’m hoping to hold off a tank refill till next summer, putting a little from each paycheck into the savings in anticipation. It’s a 500 gallon tank, so it’s pricy when they do fill it up. Also, still need to get a chainsaw to cut up the green wood that I’ve collected from the tree guy.

The electric company came out today and installed a time of use meter, to see if it would be beneficial to us to switch to that rate plan. Not certain we would benefit, since on peak is 6-9 a.m. and 4-9 p.m., both times when we use the most electricity, but we’ll see. They will come out Friday and remove it and give us the results. Now we pay a straight .07/kwh, but the new plan has off-peak at .04 and on-peak at .13/kwh. Funny, the guy commented on the eagles up on our peak, he said they were the biggest eagles he'd ever seen, guess those chicken snacks are doing them good.

Steve is planning to take this Friday off, he has taken so little of his vacation time, that he is starting to lose the days he does have. Hopefully he will be able to get away from work, even if it’s just for the afternoon. He is constantly reading e-mail via his Blackberry; there are times when I am awakened in the night to the chimes of a new message. Sometimes I just really detest technology.