Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why I Love To Eat Beef

    This morning I went down to turn the barn chickens out into the pasture and to make sure they weren't all washed away after yesterday's torrential downpours!  They were all still there scratching happily.  While I was out I decided to go and check on the pond level.  I had to drive Green Jean (my golf cart) through the cow pasture in order to get there.  I parked it at the top of the hill in the pasture because the path to the pond was pretty slick.  I made my way through the muddy path on foot.  The pond looked GREAT!  The water was way up and both streams were running! 

    As I made my way back toward the pasture, I could hear the cows mooing away!  They are ready to be moved to fresh grass and letting me know about it.  I turned the corner to find them surrounding Green Jean, licking the steering wheel and chewing on the seats!  There is little worse than cow spit all over everything!!  I waved my arms and yelled.  Most of them scattered, except for the young bull, he just sat there staring at me...chewing on my seat.  I yelled, "Hey!  Get out of here you big dummy!  What is wrong with you??  I'm gonna eat you first!!"  As if he understood exactly what I said, he quickly swung around bucked up his hind legs, and flung what I choose to believe is mud ALL over me!  

    So yes, every bite of steak, every mouthful of burger, every slow roasted prime rib I enjoy even more because of moments like these.

Green Jean Surrounded!

Chewing on my seats!!

I am choosing to believe it was mud.

Friday, June 19, 2015

How I Hosed My Hair Day

I would like to start by saying I have the BEST, most amazing stylist in the world.  I love her.  She was born to do what she does.  And best of all, she totally gets me.  She understands that I really do want to look nice, but I have no idea how to do it, nor the patience to actually take the time to care enough to fool with it.  And she doesn't judge me for it...or at least not to my face :-D

We have a deal.  I come in approximately every 6 weeks, I sit down, we chat about kids, life, etc.  She does "hair magic", I get up, and I look great.  Once in a while she suggests I buy some easy-to-use products and I buy them, no questions asked.  She knows to give me a cut that is no fuss, but makes it appear like I am all put together. 

It is a sweet arrangement.

Recently my worst nightmare amazing stylist became ill.  She was going to be okay, but she was laid up for a while.  The salon called me and told me I would be seeing a different girl at my next appointment.  I knew the salon was loaded with super talented ladies and I would be in good hands.  I was not concerned. 

The day of my appointment arrived.  I sat down ready for hair magic.  Then...she started asking me questions about my hair, the color, she was throwing around brand names, asking about the style, using words like long layers or short layers, and did I want it angled???  I was like a deer in headlights.  I just kept saying, "I have no idea,"  "I am so sorry.  What did you say?", "Ummm...I usually just come in, sit, and she does stuff."

This kind of thing went on for a while, and I think I stunned her by my complete ignorance.   I finally sheepishly said, "I think I need to call  my stylist before we do anything major.  I am sorry."   The two of us didn't say much during the rest of the appointment. 

My stylist is not JUST my "hair girl", she's a friend.  Though this humorous post made it seem that her illness is all about me, it really was meant as just humor.   I pray she is back on her feet soon.  It's been a rough road for her.  I miss our chats.  Get well soon, Stephanie!! 

( I am in SERIOUS trouble when you decide to retire!!!) 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Farm Strong

Growing up on a farm is a blessing and so rewarding.  But as a kid, it can be tough.   It's hard being "farm strong".  When the  kids grow up, I know they will look back on these days fondly, and hopefully pass on the skills and traditions they have learned here to their kids.

Recently, Q had one of those tough days.  At the end he learned a valuable lesson, but it was a tough (and kinda funny) one.

The kids have had an egg selling business, Chicken Scratch, for quite a few years now.  It entails raising chickens, culling chickens, washing eggs, packaging eggs, and finally selling eggs.  Over the years the kids have learned not to get too attached to their flock, because...well...chickens are stupid and everything loves to eat chicken.  They've lost a lot of birds....a lot...over the years.  But sometimes, even though they know better, a certain chicken carves out a special place in their hearts.  One such chicken was Suzie, she was the oldest of their flock, a whopping 3years old.  She was a black and white barred rock, very matronly (think Lady Kluck from Disney's Robin Hood).

A few weeks ago, a family of coyotes came through and took 10 of our 40 hens.  Poor Suzie's heart couldn't take it, we found her without a scratch keeled over in a patch of tall grass.  She was spared from the attack and died from an apparent heart attack.  The kids were sad.  A funeral was in order.  We placed her (now stiff) body gently on the back of the golf cart, and took her to the house, where the "special chicken grave yard" is.   It was a solemn occasion.


Life happened.  We didn't have time to bury sweet, sweet Suzie that day, so I did what any good mom would do,  I wrapped her in plastic and tossed her on top of the chest freezer in the back corner of the garage.  And guess kept happening.

3 days later I went to grab a bag of tomatoes out of the freezer and THERE. SHE. WAS.  Oh my gosh!!!  We (I) completely forgot about sweet, sweet, dead, Suzie!!  I pulled Q aside and told him the situation.  He understood.  He wanted to know the options.  I shot straight, "Either dig a grave, or throw her into the woods for the buzzards."  He chose to dig.  This was Q's first go at grave digging, I gave him a few pointers and sent him on his way.

Q is a young man who does not take a task lightly ( I am a mom who does not watch her children closely enough...this will be made clear later).  He dug the grave, made a wooden cross for a tomb stone, complete with the inscription, "Susan 2012-2015".   Very classy.  The chicken was well served.

The next day we caught the house chickens  making a dusting hole on top of Suzie's grave ("house chickens" is what we call the few bantam chickens that we keep in our yard, as opposed to the the ones we keep at the barn...those are "barn chickens").  The kids were mortified.  I told them that we all mourn in our own way, maybe in chicken language it's a show of respect to dust on top of a grave.  Q smirked and ran the bantams away from the grave.  However the NEXT day Otis & Boss Dogg found poor Suzie's shallow (MUCH too shallow) grave.  There was no passing off what they did as respectful.  It wasn't pretty.  Nope.  Not at all.

Q knew what had to be done, he had to move Suzie's grave.  He was a man about it.  And he learned the valuable lesson of how deep a chicken grave should be dug.

Q is becoming "farm strong".

Monday, May 25, 2015

Taking Back The Dining Room

Why do so many of us home school in the dining room??  For me, it’s because it’s so close to the kitchen.  My kitchen is the most used room in the house.  We cook.  We cook a lot!  And I am a messy cook.  I’ve never mastered the clean-as-you-go-method.  There is always a mess needing to be cleaned, a meal to be prepped, dishes to be put away, floor to be swept, I could go on and on.  I allow myself to multi-task...teach and clean.   And by the time the school day is done the dining room table is completely covered in books and papers so we do not eat in there ( clean-as-you-go-method).  It ends now.  This summer I am taking back the dining room.

When we built this house we put a school room in upstairs where the kids bedrooms are.  We’ve never, ever used it.  Instead it’s morphed into a TV/kid hangout spot.  It resembles a a frat house but picture snacks and toys in place of the beer cans and cheap liquor.  It’s a wreck. 

So we’re re-arranging things this summer.  My monster white board will now hang in the room.  The bookshelves will no longer have underwear hanging from the shelves, they will be filled with resources to gain knowledge.  The coffee table will be replaced with a study table.  My dining room walls will no longer don laminated maps.  My china cabinet will be filled with fine heirloom china, no longer will it house the microscope and slides.  And come hell or high water I WILL get a round dining room table that will seat 8 and have a lazy susan so big you could dance a small elephant on it.  And with any luck, I will become a less distracted and better parent while we do lessons. 

I’m DONIG IT!  I’m REALLY doing it, people.  Wish me luck! 


Monday, June 02, 2014

Handwriting….It Sucks.

I hate handwriting.  I have horrible penmanship, always have.  I hate teaching handwriting, but on the classical education road my family stumbles along we teach it and put a stress on it.  It.  Is.  Difficult.  But it matters, I know this because I see the fruits…eventually.  Once they are of an age where they are writing with ease (pardon the pun homeschool nerds!) I am happy we struggled through it (even if there were days I wanted to slump into a corner, draw my knees to my chest, rock back and forth, muttering, "It's a 'B'!!  It's not that hard!!  Just write the stinking 'B'!!!).  All of my children have developed the wonderful skill of retention, much of it thanks to the task of copy work and dictation.  every.  single.  day.   Not all of them have beautiful penmanship (they come by it honest), but they can hear something, retain it, write it and recite it.  Brain builders.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Otis Meets The Swans

While at The River House, Otis, our 5 month old puppy, met the resident Potomac Hissing Swans.  They hated him, but he loved them :-)   Listen closely for the hissing.

Monday, May 05, 2014

End of an Incredible School Year

In one sense, I cannot believe how fast the time has gone.  How can we be the parents of a now 8th grader, 6th grader, 2nd/3rd grader and a K/1st grader??  And how am I a homeschooler???   Looking back on our path it is all quite amazing.  It doesn't really make sense, but I am thrilled with our decisions and of course can see God's guiding hand through it all.

The kids have continued to amaze me in their capacity to learn and more so in their love of learning.  I take no credit!!  Really when I give in to temptation and listen to all of the other homeschool parents I am surrounded by, their creativity, their fun lesson plans, etc., I quickly realize  that I am the laziest homeschool mom ever.  But whatever, it works for us.

Since the kids worked so, so hard this year we decided to blow off some steam and go down to our favorite place on The Potomac, The River House.  Though it is a tiny place with really no amenities (save the beautiful river!!!), my kids love it here.  We lived here for a year (one. very. long. year.) while we were building our current home in Stafford.  Though Todd & I thought at times we would never survive, it really is one of the best years our family ever had.  As soon as we walked into the little cottage last night Everett (7YO) exclaimed, "MAN!  I love the smell of this place!!  It's my FAVORITE smell!"  This little place holds so many awesome memories for the kids, especially the littles.  But there are quite a few I remember too: 1.  Todd & I were married here in the yard.  2. Kayaking…lots and lots of kayaking.  3. The hundreds of pounds of fish that have been caught from this beach.  4.  Cleaning fish, assembly line style, with the kids in the side yard and then eating them.  5.  Everett running naked around the house, yard and sometimes neighborhood, daily.  6. Maisie learning to walk and then very soon after RUN.  7.  Everett getting a fly trap stuck to his head.  8.  Bald Eagles.  9.  The washing machine that had the broken agitator and would literally fly like a bullet out of the machine at times on the spin cycle.  And how the kids would scatter.  LOL!!  10.  Cooking dinner during the winter while wearing a parka because the kitchen has no insulation…or heat.  11.  That STUPID huge crab that almost broke my toe, me screaming…seriously screaming…then looking up and seeing my 4 scared children staring at me, then trying to play it off like it was no big deal, so they wouldn't be scared of the water….we all invested in water shoes after that!

Yep, lots and lots of memories here.

This week I hope to give the kitchen a little fresh paint, hang some new curtains and re-do the shutters.  The kids will undoubtedly play in the and sand make more memories.  Good stuff, all of it.