Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Auntie Snuggle Pictures


Here are a few more pics of Rachel snuggling with Tyler. Can you feel the love?

In other news, the children are still worn out from the weekend. Yesterday they (ALL!!) slept till 4:30. I was about to send out a search party, because they usually only sleep til 2:30 or so. I would like to say that I spent that time skipping around with puppies and unicorns, while rainbows arched over my head, but that wouldn't be true. I did a second load of dishes, folded laundry, picked up toys, made four quarts of refrigerator pickles and did a few other chores. What a waste of a good nap! Next time I'm sitting down with a good book and some chocolate. Now if only I could get them to tell me in advance when they are going to take a long nap!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Of Awesomeness

I dream of having a nice family portrait someday....with all three children cooperating, at the same time!

**Please excuse the ridiculous formatting of this blog post. Blogger is getting on my nerves tonight, and I don't have it in me to keep trying.**


Fly, Henry, fly!!


Henry 'the Love Machine' getting a little too much lovin'


And again...


I caught James jumping over Henry. I photographed him, then told him NO MORE!!


I must say, my sister really outdoes herself in the Auntie category. Can you tell she loves my kids, just a little bit?? :)




We had a fabulous weekend! We kicked it off with a potluck at the farm. They took us on a wagon ride around the fields, and afterward we walked over with some friends to see the animals. James proclaimed, 'Look! There's the sheep with the big testicles!' Our friends looked at us and said, 'Did he really just say that?' Yes, yes he did. My apologies if their son picks up on that term. At least its anatomically correct.

On Saturday the whole fam was together all day long. It was awesome! Rach and Phil, Nate and Nikia and Mom and Dad. We basically sat in the backyard and watched the kids and the dogs play. We ate some really good grub and enjoyed each other's company. Now that I think of it, the only thing lacking was the absence of off-color discussions. Mom didn't have to brandish her fork at us this time. We'll have to remedy that for next time. We can't have Mom thinking we've completely grown up, now, can we??


Can you handle the cuteness?? I can't. I'm keeping that bathing suit for her, forever and ever.


Playing in Grammy and Chappy's magical backyard


Why look! There they are! The magical grandparents.



Henry 'The Love Machine' (Rachel and Phil's dog)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Goofballs

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Proud Mama

One of Katie's best traits is her generosity. She wants to give, give, give. In the past she has used her own money to buy toys for the 'shoebox kids.' (Operation Christmas Child) The other day, she wanted to get her money out. She made one big pile for 'Acho,' a child we just started helping in Bolivia. Then she made another pile for the 'people who don't have any money.' She asked for ziplock bags and had me label each bag. Then, she wanted me to drop Acho's money in the mail right away. She asked me about 5 times already. Then at dinner she asked me how long it would take for Acho's money to get to him. With the other bag of change, we went to the dollar store and she bought some toys for this year's shoeboxes. She bought one toy for herself, and 4 to give away. She doesn't really have a concept of money, but I can tell that she really wants to give generously. She put about $5 in change in each bag, and kept only $3 for herself. She told me how happy the kids would be and that God would be really happy that she did a nice thing for them. I have to say it made me very proud. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Random Randomness

  • Tyler can say 'backhoe' very clearly. He also saw a picture of an eagle today and said 'chicken!' Won't be long before he's chattering up a storm.
  • This same kid snuck into the coop again when I was putting the chickens out. This time, he grabbed one by both wings and tried to bring it to me. Note to self: must keep chicken door locked at ALL TIMES!
  • Katie has been running around, (mis)quoting Napoleon Dynomite saying 'Make yourself a darn quesadilla, chief!' She's a nut.
  • James has been setting up obstacle courses in the backyard to race Patty through (Patty is his beloved stick horse)
  • Patty had to have a little surgery. The stick was basically in shreds so she got a new implant. She is recovering nicely.
  • Jeff has been working long days since he got a promotion about a month ago. He's taking over the world! Actually, he got assigned to schedule all design employees for his company in Marlton, NJ and their offices in Ukraine and India. Its a big job. But I know he can do it. I just can't wait for him to get caught up so that we can actually see some more of him (when his eyes aren't glazed over and thinking about Excel spreadsheets). Wait. He starts class next month, and its two nights a week. So really, was I thinking I would get a break?!
  • Our neighbor caught a toad for the kids, which was delivered after dark, over the back fence, in a wipes box. Very shady business, you know. The kids were thrilled to wake up to a toad (in addition to our lone tadpole). We made him a toad house and named him Patty, and set him (her??) loose in the garden. Patty (the toad, not the stick horse) had the nerve to up and leave and the kids are miffed. Katie and Tyler have been checking the toad house obsessively to see if she (he??) came back. I just hope that Patty steers clear of the chickens, because I wouldn't put it past them to eat her too. I saw one eating an illuminated lighting bug the other night. It was pretty funny.
  • My siblings and their spouses are coming up on Friday and all spending the night at the 'rents, and we are all so excited!!! The girls are going to the flea market on Saturday morning and it should be lovely! Yipee!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grazing

Katie has a new habit. She goes into my garden and grazes. She eats kale and mint. Her favorite thing of all is basil. She will eat leaf after leaf after leaf. I planted a dwarf variety this year, which I hate, but it does have nice little kid-sized leaves. Yesterday I pulled a few carrots and they didn't even make it into the house before being claimed by the kids. I went in, washed them, and they decided who got what color. (There were purple, orange and white) I was thinking that at least one kid would decide they didn't want their carrot after all, but no. They ate them all up. James wanted more, but the rest are just not ready. Now, I suppose before blaming the rabbits for anything, I should check with Katie first! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day!


The kids planned a special day out for Jeff for Father's Day. We went to the Covered Bridge and had a picnic dinner. The menu consisted of sandwiches, chips, grapes, strawberries and caramel apples. We walked over the bridge, waded in the creek and caught a lonely little tadpole to bring home. Clearly, they chose their activities just for Daddy! ;) I also helped the kids make a list of things they love about Jeff. Of course, he does all this fun stuff with them that I never do, like swinging them around or running around acting like a tiger. One of the craziest (and entirely fictional) ones came from Katie who said 'I love when Daddy plays hockey with oranges.' Huh?? And while we are speaking of Father's Day, I will say that one of my very favorite things in the entire world (seriously!) is watching Jeff play with the kids. I love it when he holds their hand and they look so tiny next to his 6'4" frame. I love it when they all pile on top of him to read their Bible story. And when he gets home from work, all the kids go running and screaming and hollering to the door. Its pretty darn precious. Happy Father's Day, Jeffrey, even though I know you aren't reading this...

We also got to go over to the 'rents to celebrate Father's Day. I made a Meg-z-ican** dinner and we all sat around and watched the kids play in Grammy and Chappy's magical backyard. It was pretty swell. So is my Dad by the way. Happy Father's Day, Dad!!!!!!!

(**My brother made that term up long ago because I am always making something Mexican ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

State of the Garden


Broccoli


Calendula


Bronze Arrow Lettuce


True Blue Potatoes


The Garden


Cilantro, Cabbage

The garden is really taking off. Everything is growing really fast now, including the weeds. Good thing the chickens like weeds! So far, I have harvested 14 pounds of vegetables, mostly greens, radishes and turnips. This is the first year that I planted early, and I am happy I did. I am already passing lettuce off on the neighbors because we have more than we can eat. That is a good problem to have!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Norm Abram's Got Nothin' On Me


After waiting and waiting for Jeff to have the time and inclination to build the chicken coop, I took matters into my own hands. Watch out! Mama's got a miter saw and she knows how to use it! It was a nice sunny day, and I let the kids loose in the yard while I went to work. Jeff provided me with a very applicable quote that I would like to share (in regard to why it takes so long for him to get stuff done): "There comes a time in every project when you've got to shoot the engineer and start production." Nuf' said. I got out various tools, a measuring tape and went to work. For the left side, I was able to frame it up using a pile of window screens we had laying around. (I can get away with that because their coop is inside the shed and they will be locked up. Otherwise, predators would tear right through.) The board across the back is their roost, which they have yet to figure out. I even built the nest box myself! I wanted it to be easy for the kids to collect the eggs when that time comes. For the door, I also used a window screen for the top half. Check out the fancy doorknob. I was looking around for a door handle of some kind and remembered I had this old knob. I can always remove it if I find a place for it inside, but for now the hens have a little sparkle in their house! :) It isn't perfect, but its good enough. There are a few finishing touches to add, and then it will be all done! Despite the fact that they spent the first several nights in there cowered by the door, scared to death, I think they like it now. While I was building it, my neighbor came over to see what I was doing. He was very surprised that I was building it myself. He said, and I quote, 'Wow. You really are a tough broad!' He went home and told his wife, and apparently they had a good chuckle every time they heard the miter saw. 'There she goes again!!!' :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You Want Me To Make What?!?!


Jeff called me yesterday from work. He told me he needed a favor and I knew it was going to be something ridiculous. Little did I know how ridiculous. As it turns out, he wanted me to make a librarian/Mr. Rodgers type sweater for a Smeagol (from Lord of the Rings) bobble head doll. This doll is seriously disturbing and to add to the difficulty, it has extremely large hands which means that I couldn't sew the sleeves together before putting it on. I had to sew them after putting the sweater on. The whole reason for this project is because he has a coworker who supposedly looks like Smeagol (he doesn't) and wears a librarian sweater (he does). Someone bought the doll and was trying to figure out how to make a sweater for it. Jeff volunteered me. I am pretty sure that this is the most bizarre sewing project EVER.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pathetic Blogger?

I can't seem to get around to blogging much these days. Warm weather, the children, the garden, the children, my canner, the children, a nice long walk...they all call me away from the computer. I have even done a little drawing lately. I'm pretty rusty but it is fun. Tonight, instead of cutting out a dress as I had planned, I have been charged to make, by far, the most ridiculous sewing project EVER. Wish me luck and stay tuned....

Monday, June 13, 2011

What A Day

Yesterday I went to Kensington, in the city of Philadelphia, for a block party. There is a church down there that reaches out to their community every year by throwing a block party for the people. Our church sent a bunch of people to help out. Now, for those of you who don't know Philly, Kensington is one of the worst sections of town. It was definitely like being in a different world. Trash blows in the streets (as it does in a lot of Philly, honestly). Many people have bars on their windows and doors. A lot of people have boarded up their windows entirely. The giant Dollar General looks closed because all the windows are covered in corrugated metal. The only sign that it is open is the small open door on the corner. We walked past a huge, very run down warehouse building, and heard someone inside jamming on their drums. There was graffiti on peoples windows, fences, etc.. It was pretty much your stereotypical scary ghetto. When we arrived, the street was blocked off and they had set up carnival games and several inflatable play areas. We were briefed on our responsibilities and how to behave. The highlights? Don't be stupid! Don't wander off the street. Don't leave anything unsupervised that isn't nailed down, because they 'guaranteed' it would be stolen. (My shirt disappeared...not off my back, but right by us. I had tied a balloon to the bag my shirt was in, and I don't know if they took it for the balloon, or the shirt?) Even the church bathroom cabinets were padlocked. Between visits to the bathroom, someone must have stolen the soap dispenser because it went missing. And my favorite instruction? We must watch the back of the inflatables at all times, because people like to a) puncture them, b) turn the generator off just to see them deflate, and c) untether them. I was stationed at the bounce house and mostly I got to be with the kids and keep them in line. We were specifically told to enforce the 'no cutting' rule, which was hard because there were some sneaky kids who wanted to be in the front of the line. I really enjoyed the kids, and there were a few I wanted to bring home. Behind us someone had brought out two huge speakers and there was a Puerto Rican dance party going on! I don't know how to say this politically correctly, but white people just do not have the rhythm that people of certain ethnic demographics do. Even the littlest children have got moves I could never dream of. Another person rolled their grill out in the street and had a cookout right in the midst of it all. While I was there, I saw some sad stuff, particularly a little boy who had sores all over his arms and face that looked untreated (to my untrained eye). He was also pretty dirty, and I felt really bad for him. Too many people let their small children roam about unsupervised, or supervised by a slightly older sibling or cousin. There was a little 4 year old boy that was lost and it took almost an hour for someone to come looking for him. I had a girl who came up to me and she had lost her little brother. I also saw a lady with some pretty nasty knife scars across her back and arm. Even though I felt pretty out of place, the kids still smiled like children do. They shook their little booties to Beyonce for me, and showed me their tricks. One little kid (maybe 5) was doing back flips down the street. I am sure if I knew half of their stories I would be heartbroken. I just hope that yesterday those kids felt loved and cared for, and that they will want to come back for more.

PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I really, really wanted to bring my camera but it was one of those things where I would either have to hold onto it for 7 hours straight, or have it stolen. I felt like I was missing an appendage or something, not having it with me.

PPS! I spotted a Tumbleweave!!!!!! If I wasn't an out-of-place-white-girl I would have done a happy dance right there in the street, just because it was so hilarious, but I didn't. I had only heard of them before, but now I've seen one with my own eyes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

There Must Be A Mistake

Those innocent looking creatures outside are really pigs moonlighting as chickens. All they must do is hear the door knob turn and they jump up from their siestas and run to the gate in hopes that I have brought them some scraps. Its ridiculous!! They are like Pavlov's dogs, jumping at a moments notice. I give them weeds and veggie scraps, grass clippings and the occasional pancake. I think they would probably eat just about anything I put in there. I've started calling them the little piggies.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Strawberries



This morning was week 2 of our farm share. I can't tell you how much I love everything about the deal. This morning we got there early, before the weather warmed up. We picked our 5 quarts (!!) of strawberries, saw the pigs, checked in on the goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks, then swung by to admire the cow. Then we went back and picked up our share of veggies. I got another bunch of turnips and a bag of spinach, among other things, so I am a very happy camper!

Monday, June 06, 2011

They Call Him Tina Turner

This weekend we drove waaaay up to some little dot on the map in New Jersey called Sergeantsville. We went because a lady from church has a pony named Chevy and she does pony rides at this little farmers market there. We all know James and his fascination with horses. He and Katie spotted that pony about a mile away. I couldn't see it for the life of me and they kept pointing saying 'there he is!!' Well, we parked, got out of the car and followed our little eagle eyes straight to the pony. 'Chevy' is his real name, but they call him Tina Turner because his mane has some spectacular volume. I have never seen such a thing. It was pretty fantastic. (Imagine I am showing you a picture of Chevy...complete with voluminous hair, and an adorable tiny western saddle...I forgot my camera.) James and Katie both took quite a nice ride around on Chevy, two turns around the field each. Both of them had grins a mile wide, and Tyler busied himself chasing Chevy with handfuls of grass in his chubby little hand. He loved the pony. He wouldn't keep his hands off of Chevy. After the pony rides, we decided that since we were already in the general vicinity we decided to go to a really cool living history farm nearby. It just so happened that they were weighing a pig, the old fashioned way, and everyone got to guess the weight. There were quite a few adults and children guessing, and who ended up winning? Katie! Despite the fact that she had no idea what was going on (she guessed 10#, I added a '0' to make it 100) she won a $15 gift certificate to the gift store! While we were walking back to the gift store, Tyler made a running start into the (shallow) creek. He stood up, looked down at his clothes, and made a face. I don't think he was expecting to end up wet but he didn't care. He just finished walking across the creek and went about his merry way. We had a lot of fun, and now its Monday, time for long naps (hopefully!) and a skype date with my sister! Woohoo!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Farm Day!! And Random Pictures


Tyler and the Saggy, Baggy Diaper


Dew on a Radish Leaf: Amazing!


Before he was sick, James decided to give himself a mud bath

Our CSA opened this week! It was so exciting to drive out there and be at the farm again. We got to pick 3 quarts of delicious strawberries, and brought home a bunch of spring greens and veggies. Last year, I got hooked on Hakurei (?) turnips, which I am growing this year. I don't know what it is, but they are so good. We got a bunch with our share and I ate them on the way home. Mmmm! We have been experiencing near record heat lately, 96 degrees yesterday and very humid. Today is finally back down in the low 80's, which feels wonderful. We've spent the entire morning out in the yard. Woo!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Well That Was Interesting

So I'm back (that's the theory anyway). Katie was sick last week, very weak, couldn't keep a thing down, said her belly hurt, around her belly, her feet, etc.. I figured it was just a virus and tried to keep giving her fluids and keep her comfortable. After three days, she was keeping a little down, but still so lethargic I decided to take her in. I just wanted to reassure myself. Well, due to the fact that none of the other kids were sick, and that she was complaining about her stomach hurting, the doctor was concerned that it might be something more. It is hard to get a 3 1/2 year old to say where/how it hurts. The doctor felt some places on her stomach and Katie complained of pain in one side...the appendix side. So, the doctor felt that it would be best to get to the ER as soon as possible to check her out. She even asked if I wanted an ambulance, which made me realize that they were pretty worried. So off I went, all three kids and myself, to the ER. They were fabulous. There was a nurse there waiting for me. I was carrying Katie because she said she couldn't walk, and she was very weak. They got us back and did some checking and felt that it was not her appendix. She was very dehydrated though, which was no surprise. They wanted to give her some anti-nausea meds and IV fluids. The IV was a nightmare...Katie was the 'hardest one I've ever done,' according to the nurse. They had to try in both hands. It was terrible. It took a bit, but she did perk up and they sent us home. Later that same day, James caught the bug and got sick. Still a week later, they are not 100% and still getting tired pretty quick. James is still not eating much. This is the bug that just won't let go. But we're here, and I'm still sane. (I think...) I don't know what it is, but it seems that when my kids do get sick, they go big. Here's to a healthy summer!