Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family Tradition, And How We Accidentally Got Our Neighbors Deported

Jeff's mom used to have a police scanner. She would hunch over next to it and listen to the wild and crazy*  happenings in little Fruita, Colorado. *If there was a sarcasm font, I would use it here.* When something 'exciting' would happen, she would get in her car and drive to the scene to get a closer look. We always wondered why she would do this. Aside from the obvious bottle-necking, she had no driver's license or insurance and some illegal habits. Why would you put yourself closer to the very cops who could arrest you? That's one I never figured out. When Jeff and I got married, he got himself his very own police scanner. When we weren't sitting around in our camp chairs watching our hotel-hand-me-down TV which had to be turned off every 10 minutes to cool down, we would listen to the scanner. When we were first married, we found a nice-sized and affordable condo to live in. It happened to be affordable because it was in the bad part of town. Now, I will say that the bad part of town in Grand Junction is probably more like Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood when compared to parts of Philly. But alas, it was the ghetto to us. One night we woke to the sounds of an all-out screaming match a few houses down. It was a domestic dispute and sounded quite ugly. Jeff called the cops and then turned on the scanner. We listened both out the window and on the scanner as the cops showed up. (This makes us sound like total rednecks, doesn't it?) The police knocked, and no one answered. Um, duh. You are the only one with lights on at 3am. They know it's you! The police knocked and knocked and finally someone answered. In the meantime, they ran the plates on the truck parked outside. Next thing you know, we head 'Call in the INS van.' Oops. Turns out they were illegal and they got taken away in the van. Can't say I've ever witnessed that  before or since. When we moved here, the police scanner no longer worked. Something about going digital. Fast forward to last week. Jeff got an iphone from work, and guess what it has on it?! That's right, a police scanner. Now we can listen to various police departments along the east coast. Something tells me that 12 years and 3 kids later, we won't be spending much time listening, but its kind of funny that we have it. Maybe we'll have to bust out the camp chairs and reminisce about old times while listening to the scanner, and pass on the tradition to the kids.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I'm Having A Bake Sale

The farm house across the street went up for sale. It has TWO acres, which is quite a bit of land for around here. The house is huge and the kitchen is awesome. And it's only $425,000. I figure if I just charge $100,000 per cupcake, I will only have to sell 4 cupcakes. Any takers? Any rich uncles reading this? Anyone?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Put That On Yer Resume!

I must say that having chickens in full of adventures. I mean...skunk attack, wayward chicken wrangling and an accidental meat chicken. Exciting times, I tell ya! This week I had another experience to add to my chicken resume. I am currently trying to break my poor broody hen of her broodiness. After 6 weeks or so, she still hasn't figured out that she's not going to hatch anything. I have to keep taking her off the nest, and she is skittish and kind of crazy. I think it is a combination of her broodiness, her previous flightiness left over from when she was attacked, and the fact that she has pretty much isolated herself from the other chickens for the last month and a half. Anyway....it has been interesting, but I'm rambling. I had gone to check on her and found one of the other hens tethered to the chicken door. She had something around her foot, which was also wrapped around a stick, which was jammed in the door. I extracted her and took her out into the sunshine to see what the deal was. Turns out she got tangled up in some of the stupid garden netting we have (seriously...its terrible stuff...never buying it again!) It wrapped twice around her claw (toe?) and was really, really tight. I don't think she could feel it anymore. I had to perform some serious chicken procedure to remove the netting. I pretty much felt like a brain surgeon when I was finished and mentally patted myself on the back when I had some horse medicine to spray on her.** Now she's as good as new, and I am ready to perform surgery on anyone who needs it. Any takers????

**I have this around on the recommendation of my blog friend and Chicken Expert Linda and if she says it works for chickens...then I believe it!

P.S. Guess what we spent Saturday doing?! Sit down before you read this...we visited actual CAR DEALERSHIPS to look for a new ride for me and the kids. We even visited my old place of employment which was...strange. Have I ever mentioned how I am SO GLAD I don't work there anymore?! Regardless, we are (finally) looking for a vehicle with a) air conditioning, b) more space, and c) air conditioning. And did I mention more space? Oh, yes, that will be nice. Now, for those of you who know Jeff, I will answer your burning questions:

1. No, we are NOT looking for minivans. Have you seen pigs flying lately? Didn't think so.
2. No, we are NOT going to buy anything new or pick up a fancy-schmancy car payment.
3. And no, we are probably not going to buy from a dealership. He is looking on Ebay actually. And good ol' Craigslist. We just wanted to get a feel for what we wanted.

So the vehicle in our sights, as I am sure you are all dying to know...2005 Ford Expedition with the Eddie Bauer package.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacon Roses, Etc.

I think we've all settled back in nicely after the craziness that was VBS and having company. However it seems I keep forgetting I have a blog, thus the lack of updates. Here are a few random bits from the last few weeks:

Shelly had seen bacon roses somewhere and wanted to try them. Why not, I say! So we hit the grocery store for bacon and the dollar store for fake roses. They were remarkably simple to make, and pretty hilarious. Shelly wants to make her prom date a bacon corsage, so we decided that her qualifications for finding a prom date now include the willingness to find prom attire at the thrift store to avoid ruining a suit with bacon grease.

So...these pictures...it all started when we finished the wolf shirt (post here). I was taking a few pictures of Shelly in her flashy new shirt, and it all went south from there. He, he! Johnathan took the pictures and we just goofed off for the camera. Shelly scored the sombrero at Amish Walmart for only $3. Everyone needs a sombrero, right? The funny thing about these pictures is that the whole time, Shelly kept saying 'you have to post these on facebook! They're so awesome!' and I kept saying 'I'm too old for this! I can't post ridiculous pictures of myself on the internet like this!' In the end, I did post a few (she has the photo shoot in its entirety on her page...) and it totally made her day. :)

While the kids were here we took them to Five Mile Woods, which is a pretty nature preserve near us. I decided not to tell Johnathan that salamanders lived there, because I knew he would stop and turn over every.single.log in the place. That kid is a critter magnet. Although I do aspire to actually see a salamander in this area someday. I have only heard they exist...

Other than that, we've been keeping busy sitting in front of the air conditioner, visiting the library about every other day, or more, picking stuff out of the garden, and finishing TWO chapter books! (By The Banks of Plum Creek and Old Yeller...if you must know)

**P.S. I think I am up to almost 70 pounds from the garden so far. I am nearing the point where I will be hauling stuff in by the bucket every day. And I've said it before, but eating fresh garden tomatoes every day, all day, is one of my favorite luxuries!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Really Old Squirrels

On the day that I set up for VBS, Jeff bravely took Johnathan, James, Shelly and Tyler to the Franklin Institute in Philly. I kept Katie with me. While at the museum our nephew Johnathan wandered over to a lady who was giving a lecture. He listened intently for more than 15 minutes. When he came home, he told me all about it. He said there was this lady, and that she was talking about some really old squirrels. He listened and listened as she talked about the really old squirrels. Then she started talking about how they had writing on them, and he began to get confused. Writing? On a squirrel? She asked what they thought the squirrels were made of, and he answered that they were made of hide. She told him that while there were a few made of hide, most of them were made of parchment. It was at this point in the conversation that I realized he wasn't listening to a speech about really old squirrels, but really old.....scrolls. Dead Sea Scrolls! Needless to say we all had a good laugh about that one. Dead Sea Squirrels! :)

The Beach

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Saga of the Cheese Steak

Note: We spotted one of the few remaining pay phones in the US. An overly helpful homeless chap informed us rather loudly, not once, but three times! that that pay phone didn't work.

Yesterday we put our niece and nephew back on the plane for Colorado. I have mixed feelings about all that. Shelly and I had a blast together, and I miss her already. When the other kids were in VBS, we went off on a few adventures. One day, we dropped the kids off at 9am and drove straight to South Street in Philly. South Street is this eclectic, funky, edgy place...not really sure how else to describe it. It is home to the famous Jim's Steaks. If you are in Philly, the first thing you think of when you hear 'steak' is not a steak in the traditional sense...as in T-Bone, rather it is thinly sliced steak fried on a ginormous griddle and thrown in a hoagie roll along side some 'whiz, as in cheese whiz. The thing you must know is that you can't just meander into the place, spend an hour gazing at the menu, and then mosey up to the counter to order a 'cheese steak with cheese whiz, and...oh, mushrooms sound good. And peppers! Yes, that would make a mighty fine sandwich.' Jim's is usually incredibly busy and manned by some pretty intimidating grill sergeants. Ha, ha! I just made that up. Anyway, the first time we were there Jeff took too long to order and got yelled at. I was so afraid of the wrath of the steak man that I ordered exactly what I heard the person in front of me order. Usually the line at Jim's is out the door and it takes a while to get to the counter. Guess what?! There are precious few people brave enough to eat a steak at 10:30 in the morning. With only one group in front of us, I was feeling pretty fine. Then, one of the GINORMOUS grill sergeants looked at me and said 'Ma'am, with summer school in session we aren't allowed to accommodate school age children until noon.' Now I was taken aback and thought for sure he must be kidding. I asked him as much and he looked at me and said 'Do I look like I'm smiling? I'm serious.' Well, he sure wasn't smiling and he sure looked intimidating, but still! I asked him one more time if he was serious and he said yes. I asked him if I could buy the sandwich and leave the store with it. He gave me this 'I'll let you just this once look' and said yes. I was mentally shaking my head, but also didn't want to tick off GINORMOUS grill sergeant so I just stood there. After a minute or so, he looked at me and told me he was just messing with me. Oh, funny, funny! So I ordered our steak 'wit wiz' because that's the way a Philly steak is meant to be I'm told. My GINORMOUS grill sergeant buddy then harassed me about not ordering a beverage. He kept heckling me about it, but all I could think about was that I was approximately an hour and a half away from a bathroom that wasn't infested with herpes, and didn't want to push my luck.  But how does one explain that to your new-found but intimidating buddy? You don't. After a little back and forth, he went to the fridge to get Shelly's water, and grabbed another one for me. It's 'on me' he said, just in case you get thirsty. Thanks, GINORMOUS grill sergeant buddy, thanks!

P.S. All our adventures were part of our YOLOcoaster campaign. I am not really up on ye old young people's vernacular, but apparently YOLO is the new slang for 'You Only Live Once,' which can surely be used as an excuse to indulge in all manner of sketchy and destructive behavior. We, however, used it as the motto for all our fun adventures, and bonus points for actually being able to remember it all later and with no time spent in the slammer. Woo!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

VBS Decorations

Here are a few photos of the VBS decorations. The theme was 'Incrediworld Amazement Park'. I couldn't have done it all without the help of my (lovingly called) minions. Incidentally, while the prep took hours upon hours upon hours, the tear down was completed in about an hour. 

Sunday, July 08, 2012


Being the super Uncle that he is, Jeff decided to dress in his Sunday best to pick up our niece and nephew from the airport.

I don't think they were too surprised, coming from Jeff. Apparently he ended up getting chatty with a Chinese guy, convincing him that this was the trendy thing to wear. The Chinese guy told him that he didn't look right. Somewhere in the conversation Jeff also got to get the guy to neigh like a horse. I really wish I could have witnessed that whole conversation. Poor guy probably went back to China wondering at the state of Americans these days. We have been having a lot of fun with the kids and I am happy to report that the VBS decorations are set up with only minor mishaps. I'll post pictures another day.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Three blog posts in one day...that's a record. I forgot about posting this and want to write it down for posterity. Jeff took the kids to the fireworks stand over the weekend. He came back with a sheepish grin and said that he had 'spent more than he planned on spending.' He rather quickly followed that up with the statement that 'the kids need to have fun.' Yeah. I am sure it was for the kids. Ha! We had a good laugh out of that one. The kids have had fun lighting off a few things each night. Tyler covers his ears, even when we light the 'nakes' as he calls them. (We always called them snakes...the box says glow worms?) Also, as the kids were watching the first snake coil outward, Katie remarked that it looked like the ground was pooping. And I must admit, she wasn't too far off.

It's About To Get Crazy

We found out on Saturday that my niece and nephew are coming...tonight. Craziness! I am really excited they are coming even though things are going to be nuts. I have VBS decorations to set up on Saturday, and I think that might be a bit monumental. Next week is VBS and Tyler's birthday, and then the kids go home on the 14th. Our kids have NO IDEA that their cousins are coming. I decided that with such short notice I could manage to keep it a secret. Tomorrow morning they will wake up to find that two of their Colorado cousins have magically appeared in the house. :) We haven't seen them in 4 years, and they have never met Tyler...I'm excited!

Nitty Gritty Garden Post (Here's To You, MJ!)

The tomato jungle (that's our shed in the background)
Despite the fact that we live right smack dab in the middle of suburbia, I am trying to squeeze in a little piece of 'farm' into my yard. My sister keeps shaking her head at me and telling me to just go and get a farm. And believe me, I wouldn't complain. Although I do know enough about farming to know it is very hard work. I think what would suit me is to have a rambling farm house, with a rambling garden and enough space  for the kids to run free. I would have more chickens, a few fruit trees and maybe convince Jeff to spring for a goat or a cow. Until that happens...I'll make the most of the space we have on our spacious .19 acre Franch. :) 

My main garden

My main garden is about 11' by 50'. It is along the south(ish) side of the house. We actually moved the side fence up to accommodate it. The soil was pretty decent and mainly rock free when I started. However, I have noticed a huge difference over the last 4 years by adding compost and tons of grass clippings. My neighbor doesn't treat his lawn, and he dumps his grass clippings over the fence for me. He also brings me magnolia petals in the spring and leaves in the fall. I use them as mulch to keep weeds down and add nitrogen to the soil. He also brings me scraps for the chickens and the compost pile. Nice neighbors bring you their rotting food, didn't you know? This year I have been able to include compost that includes chicken manure and I think it has made a big difference.

I have three rhubarb plants in a raised bed. They are very productive.

The last two years I have been researching companion planting which has been helpful. Basically, it is about what crops grow well together, even benefit each other. Some plants can repel each other and stunt their growth. Last year, I planted lettuce under a trellis in early spring. Right around last frost, I planted cucumbers. By the time it got a little hot for the lettuce, the cukes were tall enough to provide some shade. I got a ton of lettuce and the cukes did well too. There is a book called Carrots Love Tomatoes that is really good for this. 
The garden (looking out toward the street and my neighbor's giant motor home)

I also recently planted 3 blueberry bushes along the side of the chicken run. I don't think they'll produce this year, but I was able to find nice tall bushes from our CSA for $10 a piece! Along the other side of the yard I dug a bed this spring but it doesn't get a lot of sun so I think I'll stick with greens and flowers over there. 

Oh, look! Chickens! They make sure to trim anything that grows near the fence except of course the poisonous pokeweed that grows everywhere around here (on right). 

This is my lame-o side 'garden'. You can't really tell but there are flowers on the left near the compost bin, and unplanted on the other side. Next year...
There you go...probably way more than you wanted to know. ;) 

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Well, That Was Interesting

Yesterday Jeff planned on replacing his radiator. I took the younger two and left James with Jeff. I was browsing in Tar-jay when the cell phone rang. It was James. Now James never uses the phone, so I knew something was up. He was very calm, and said 'Dad cut his finger. You need to come home.' I told him I would come right home and hung up. I felt surprisingly calm, despite the fact that I knew he must have severed a major appendage in order to justify a phone call. I didn't even think to ask how bad it was or anything. On the short way home, James called again to see how long it would be before I got there. Then I started to really wonder what had happened. He told me it was really bad and we needed to take Dad to the hospital. Turns out while the cut wasn't particularly large, it was very deep. He cut through a vein and it wouldn't stop bleeding. His hand had slipped when he was working under the car and he cut it on something. Fortunately the ER got him in right away and stitched him up. He was pretty nauseous and had to get a tetanus shot, but all is well now. And yes, he did come home and somehow manage to install the new radiator with very limited use of his hand. I am pretty sure the doctor would not approve of that one.