Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mom time...a yarn along

Tuesday after work I come home and pick C. up.
It's girl time.
She worries that we won't make it on time.
She urges me to go faster.
It's ballet night.
Ever since our date to the ballet she has thought of very little else.

She goes in and exchanges her street shoes for her dance shoes.
She goes with the other little girls.
And momma gets a full hour to knit.
I love having something to do while waiting for a sweaty and joyful 4 year old to come spilling out of class to tell every detail of the class.
Other moms laugh; they claim that her report is the only info on dance class they hear all week.
I joke that it's the only thing I hear about all week.

I also get an hour and a half Thursday mornings to spend time with the girl and knit while W. has classes.
She holds the ball of yarn and gives it out slowly.
She colors while I talk with the other mom that is there Thursday mornings.
We have a lot in common, the same name, kids in the same activity...

It's so nice to have something mindless to do while chatting.
When in the waiting rooms for our activities, I love to be able to pull out a ball of yarn and some needles and have an instant project.
The other moms have their phone, but I spend my time creating.
People have stopped the phone habit to chat now at ballet.
It's become a chat time rather than screen time.
Stitch by stitch, row by row...knitting has created a community.

C. got two ballet books from the library, but they were returned before they could be photographed (or have the late fines pile up.)
W. and I are still reading Harry Potter 4...The Goblet of Fire.  
He cuddles up and listens.
I love our book time, and try to savor it while I can.

Yarning along with Ginny again

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gardening at night

I awoke at 3 am with a long list of troubles rushing through my tired brain.  The nagging of the thoughts brought me out of be and to my feet.  
I gathered laundry and began washing.  
After hanging out the first load in the dark, I felt like it was time to begin some garden work. 

I got out the hose and gave the chickens their water and then watered the plants I'm holding on the porch until the fence is up.  
I Planted the cucumber seedlings and dug around in the potatoes to see if we had any growing. 

I know what was keeping me up, but thought it would be good to get my hands dirty and do some chores while the rest of the world slept.
After the sun came up, I saw the beauty in keeping busy. 
While keeping focused on the work I was able to clear my mind.
Able to focus on the task at hand.

Eventually, the rest of the household woke and it was on to "mom" duty.
Making breakfast and packing a lunch.
It got to be time that I could focus on the tasks that kept me up.

Making phone calls and writing emails.
Paying bills and fixing my schedule for the week.
On to filling out paperwork for yet another doctor for W.
We have an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.

The glasses came in and the patching has begun.
I can't see a thing through his glasses.
They are quite strong.
But he loves them.
At last he can see.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

W's mighty bites!

W. has always been on the "thin" side.
Over the past few months the "thin" has transformed to "very thin."
See, he has gotten taller, but hasn't gained weight.
He is a pint sized version of a gangly teenager.
But much cuter and sweeter, by the way.

Last check up the Dr. told us W. had to gain weight.
(Along with the eye checkup, it wasn't a good well visit.)
Many who I asked about weight gain ideas thought it sounded crazy.
Or suggested that we go to McDonalds like "normal" people.
That just doesn't fly with me.

One person suggested a natural muscle builder that was made from whey protein...
a bit better, but after one try at sneaking it into his almond milk, he now watches me like a hawk when I prepare it.
It will find a new home somewhere else.
So next I was looking for alternatives and I think I have hit the jackpot.
Pretty healthy, sweet, packed with carbs, protein and fiber, and oh so delicious.
I altered the recipe to go with what we have on hand and they are yummy.

W's Mighty Bites
(borrowed heavily from Smashed Peas and Carrots)

1c. oats (mine are thick rolled...nice and chewy)
1/2 c. peanut butter with flax seeds (trader joe's)
1/3-1/2 c. honey (depending on consistency and sweet factor can also use agave)
1 c. shredded coconut (not sweetened)
1/2 c. wheat germ (or other dry powdery substance...cocoa, flax seeds, whole wheat flour etc)
1/2 c. mix in (chocolate chips, more coconut, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, whatever floats your boat)
1 Tbs. vanilla (homemade! more on that another day.)

Mix it all together (use hands, spoon, your little sweetie's almost is like playdough) refrigerate for a little bit to help it firm up and then roll into balls.  If it is dry and not sticking together well, add a touch of coconut oil or honey...just a drop at a time.  Keep them in the fridge and begin snacking.  They are full of energy and options.  Even my healthy eater enjoyed them (but suggested that if I left out the chocolate chips, he'd still eat them.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And for something different...a yarn along...

I have been in a rut of Shalom sweater making.
The problem with it is this...after you get so far, it isn't quite a portable project.
It gets some heft and length and then becomes something that you want to sit on a table and work on rather than an "on the go" type project that can be carried about in a purse or small bag.

I needed something that I could tote along when the kids have lessons outside the home or were at baseball.

I made a few socks a while ago to see if it would be something that interested me.
I heard that they were addictive.
It was not for many stitches with minuscule needles and even smaller yarn.

I had some left over sock yarn that I won from an etsy shop Knit it up! (now McMullin Fiber Co.)
Titanic was it's name.

I needed a cool breeze on a summer evening type item.
So I decided maybe a shawl would be the ticket.
An Oaklet Shawl to be exact.

I've heard that they are also addictive like socks.
We'll see about it.

As for reading, I haven't had much time to get into any books of my own.
I have kids.
They love reading and being read to.
So even though it is not Christmas (or even Christmas in July) we are in the midst of  another rut...
Amelia Bedelia and her antics have entered our favorites.
And Merry Christmas Amelia Bedelia is a big time hit.
We've read it at least twice a day for the past few days.

Come and Yarn along with Ginny

Monday, May 14, 2012


Chickenomics (chi-kin-om-iks) noun: def: the branch of study concerned with the consumption production and transfer of chickens and their financial viability.

We are well into three plus years of chicken ownership and have learned a few things along the way.  I have shared our lessons learned about winter chicken farming and fall brooding
So now I share with you what I have learned about Chickenomics...

For our family of four usually eats a few eggs for breakfast each week and uses eggs for baking a few times each week or about a dozen eggs a week...which means we need about four chickens for our personal use since a chicken lays about one egg every other day (more or less depending on breed, lighting conditions, food intake and age.)

The one in the front was just layed...that's the bloom still wet on it.

We have a dozen chickens which provides us with usually seven eggs a day (or 49 eggs a week...or four dozen more or less.)

So we have three dozen left after our personal consumption.

What do we do with the extra...

We let others "share" the wealth.
Sometimes we gift eggs to our neighbors as well (a few eggs really warm some hearts to chickens.)

We have several people locally who "board" their chickens with us and in exchange "buy" us feed for their chickens and ours.  In other words...the chickens lay eggs which we sell to locals in exchange for money.  We then put the money in a jar and when they need feed, straw, a new waterer...etc...the money comes out of their jar.  We get our eggs for free in exchange for taking care of the chickens.  In the summer when they are laying well, we sock away money for when they don't lay well and have expenses without income.

For example...people give us $3.00/dozen to board their chickens.
If 3 people a week board with us the chickens have $9.00 in their kitty a week.
Since they lay well for about 36 weeks a year it gives us $324/year.
During the other 16 weeks, we do not sell eggs, we use what little we get.
Grand total of income $324 more or less.
Feed costs $16/month or $192/year.
This means that the chickens bring in a wopping $132/year.

There are other expenses to the chickens including adding to the flock, straw, and the time/labor costs.
When we go on vacation, we barter eggs for chicken sitting so there isn't an expenditure there.

There are other benefits to the chickens in the form of brown gold...fertalizer...composted, I get enough chicken guano and spoiled straw, leaves, and other unsavory items to take care of all of my gardens.

So you see...taking care of chickens may not be the most financially profitable endevors one may have, but to boil this down...

Fertalizer (guano)
Compost (deep littler)
Waste desposal (food scraps)

Time and labor (1 hour or so a week plus a deep cleaning 2x/yr)
Out building up keep (a bit here and there, but we keep it simple)
Straw (which costs about $6/year which is then composted so it becomes "income")
Flock replenishment (new chicks/ or get pullets...we get a few new ones each year)

Linked to The Morris Tribe and The Monday Barn Hop and Simple Lives Thursday

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yarn Along...continuing the shalom or antishalom

Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up - Ginny

It seems as though I am in a constant state of in the cardigan.
It is strange to me that I knit when under stress...Shalom (Hebrew for Peace) and Stress don't seem to go together.
Yet, maybe in stress I am looking for peace of mind, and the mindlessness of knitting seems to be very calming.
I have been getting lots of time to knit recently in the evening since the kiddos have been going to bed early.
I also get to knit Tuesday nights when C. is at dance class (one whole hour!)
So my Charcoal Shalom is coming along nicely.
I already have the top and the arm holes made and am continuing on to the lower half...
the truly mindless meditative half.
I even tried it on...not quite ready since the stitches on the needles make it difficult until it is a little further along.

As for reading...I am currently reading lots of websites (I know I should read a book, and we're reading Arthur's Eyes and Charlotte's Web, me peace or Shalom of mind.)
Lots of eye patch reviews...lots of different options.
Amblyopia Kids is currently my favorite website.
I bought some patches from here.
After all, they're cute, all cotton, our flex spending account pays for them, and have a coupon code until the end of the month (FB100 gives you $1.50 off if you need some.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of the readers are moms.
I bet a large percentage of the kiddos are home schooled or go to private school ( school vision screenings.)
I bet a lot of the kidos are little.
Please, I beg you, get annual vision screenings for the kiddos.
Get an optometrist to check them out as well if you can.
Often medical insurance will pay for it (6 hours on the phone with doctors offices and our insurance companies taught me this.)
Even if you don't think anything is wrong.

We have been taking the kids to the pediatricians for annual well visits as well as optometrist visits.
Just to be sure.
We homeschool and know our kids well.
We are well educated and hold five degrees in education between the two of us.
And yet, we were clueless...
We have a large and supportive family on both sides.
And yet, none of them noticed either.

It all started a couple of weeks ago at our 4 and 7 year old well visits.
W. could read the appropriate lines on the chart with his eyes together.
W. read the appropriate lines with his right eye.
When W. went to read the lines with his left eye, he said "I can't see anything."
The nurse thought he was joking around...but he was insistent.
He was getting frustrated with her.

The nurse brushed it off as being a kid.

C. read everything fine and enjoyed showing off (as usual) that she knew what it said...and tried to sound out the off.

The doctor recommended that we get an eye eval from an optometrist...and was glad that everything was fine last's a good sign that everything is fine this year.
But it wasn't.

On Monday we found out W. couldn't see out of his left eye.
We had to wait until Friday to find out the exact reason.
We  hoped that the optometrist made a BIG mistake (denial.)
We knew that most likely everything was healthy and he just needed strong glasses.
Just like every other family member.
We were trying to put out of our mind the possibility that something was really wrong.
And we were fortunate to have my brother talking us through the process...
giving tips, and reassuring us that it was going to be treatable...
He's an optometrist, but lives far away.
And last Friday, we got our answer...Ambylopia.

The more I read about Ambylopia...the more it all makes sense.
Crashing into things and falling down.
Unreasonable fear of heights and amusement park rides.
Hating to read or write.
Being extra "W.-ish" as my sister calls it...
We thought of it as being extra boyish and a bit immature.

But Ambylopia is very common and treatable...
That is if you discover it.
If it isn't taken care of by the time a kiddo is 8, their brain can become blind (not just the eye...the brain.)
After that you can treat it, but the results won't be as good.
Treatment is most effective when caught at a very young age (as it is usually present at birth and caught around age 3-5 so his case is unusual.)

So he can be treated, and if we are aggressive and work hard,
he will (keep your fingers crossed) get good results.
And the treatment isn't too bad.

He gets every little boy's dream...he gets to be a pirate and not just on Halloween.
He will be wearing a patch on his good eye for part of the day and glasses when he's awake
(which now by law have to be lightweight, scratch resistant, and shatterproof...)
The hope is that the weak eye will have to work harder if the good eye is covered.
This will strengthen the bad eye and hopefully correct the problem and teach is brain to see.

And that is my public service announcement.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heap to bin

Here in the burbs we had a compost heap.
It was a pit.
It got swampy.
It got twiggy.
It got every local root sucking the nutrition from it.
In other words, it did the job of getting rid of yard and kitchen biodegradables, but did not put out as much compost and nutrition as it could.
So I went to my local feed shop and got some of their pallets.
Five to be exact as that is how many fit in the back of my van without risk of breaking the rear window.
Then my girl and I started working.

We asked our new neighbors for a carpet scrap that they had on the curb for the garbage man.
They gave me a funny look and said it may need to be unrolled and left in the sun to dry.
I said that I was using it for the bottom of a compost bin in order to help retain some moisture and keep weeds out.
They laughed and said...oh so you don't need to do that after all...and the funny look went away.
The girl and I lugged, banged, and moved things around.
We weaved and tied.
We made a new double sided compost bin using only:
5 pallets
1 carpet scrap
lots of Rose of Sharon bushes
I know it sounds like it would never stand up...but it does.
We live on the top of a ridge and get extreme winds, but they haven't done a thing to the bins we built.
I built them in the shelter of bushes, the coop, and wove the boards into an old fence using the bushes.
Once we are sure that is exactly where we want it, we can use nails and screws, but for now it's on a test drive.
It is so much more convienient...I just drop the compost off on my way to the coop.
If there is something in the coop that needs to be removed, it's easy to transport it a few feet to the bins...
Things like eggs without shells and straw the girls kicked out the door.
It may not be pretty, but it seems to be getting the job done.

Linked to Simple Lives Thurday...The Morris Tribe...Homestead Revival

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yarn Along...the black shalom

Well, the first shalom is off with her new owner...I hope it is happy and well.
I know it's new owner takes good care of her woolies.
Now for me.
~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. - Ginny

I feel comfortable enough now to alter the pattern.
More M1 in the shoulders...more button holes in the rows between each circle.
My sister and I are built very differently and this is a pattern to truly show this.
I am making my new shalom in charcoal.  I have a plethora of grey sweaters and this will fit in.

As for reading, I am getting bedtime stories now.
W. is really reading.

His current favorite (and my all time favorite children's story) is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
I love it so much several people have given me copies of it so we have a family read along at night now.
Adults read the part of the tree on the "tricky" (long) pages and W. reads the whole thing with exception of adult part.

He's really growing up all the sudden.

As for my husband and I...we are sharing a book.
Cider by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols.
We are talking trees for next year and preparing for a mini orchard next year.
We are storing large glass bottles and thinking cider hard and sweet.