Thursday, April 29, 2010

Receiving Blessings

These days......these crazy, messy, beautiful days....

There are so many things I could share with you about these past few days.  The part about finding the courage to call the plumber yet again.  The part where we found out that no worker men would be here for several more days.  The part about going outside for the umpteenth time to fetch something from the fridge for the ever hungry the rain.  The part about the bat that has taken up residence in the unfinished kitchen.  You get the idea.  Lots of challenging parts to these days.

Yet, the part that has grabbed my focus is how every day for the past few weeks people have reached out to us.  To offer friendship and fellowship :) I'm sooooo thankful that some of you love us enough to offer help and offer again and again until I finally say yes!

I've really been thinking about why I am so hesitant (stubborn?) to accept help.  And I'm not sure there is some really deep reason.  It's just pride.  Yeah.  Pride is stubborn.  It doesn't budge for anything.  It has to be melted away.  It is the Love of God that brings us to Him.  It is Love that opens us.  It empties our cup enough to let something actually get in there.  (if your cup isn't a little empty then anything being poured in just runs right out!) 

We have so many blessings around us.  It just seems that many of us, myself included here, often are too "full" with other things to reach out and accept the blessing, whatever it may be.  (a friend's help, being provided for by someone other than yourself, or even forgiveness)  I'm so glad to be learning this right now.  

The boys have been learning it too, each in their way.  We've been playing alot more at friend's houses and having many shared meals too.  It's been so amazing to see them stretching and growing and thriving during this time.  They are so much more capable than I sometimes realize!  And I'm learning to trust God a little more with them as well.  Afterall, His love is for each of us.  For them too!  And He surely looks after them as well as He looks after me!  How silly of me to worry! is our first quiet day at home in a long while.  I hope to find time to post more pictures for you.  We'll see..... The big bed upstairs and the new library books seem to be calling me.....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In the midst of the craziness....

Our beautiful one started walking.  Last night.  Right at bedtime.  Just decided to finally do it and took several steps from me to papa and back.  Again and again.

He's really happy to be walking now because it makes it easier for him to check his email. 
Doesn't he look like J in this picture?!!  He definitely has papa's smile, which just melts my heart.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bucket of Happiness's arrived.  I love it.  It makes me smile when I walk past it.  See, I even gave it a hug with my feet.  (what?)

Well, actually my foot was just in the picture to give you a sense of scale. LOL.  See, I wanted you to be able to really feel just how big the bucket is.  I wanted to take the picture with one of my little cuties sitting next to the bucket, but alas....they are all upstairs snuggled in the big bed listening to the Magic Tree House books on CD.  We have had a visitor off and on this past week, called the stomach flu.  Not fun.  Even less fun when you have no washing machine, but yet we have made it through alright.  (only one more boy to go?)  Anyway...I can't wait until we are all well enough to actually open the bucket.  Because, it just wouldn't be fair to open it if you couldn't actually eat what's inside right?
In case you really can't see it, it says, Organic Peanut Butter.  35lbs. of it.  A 5 gallon pal.  A bucket of happiness.  

Now, what should I make with all this?  And where are all my canning jars? (i will have to refrigerate it after opening right?)  Perhaps I didn't think this through......

If you have a favorite peanut butter recipe that we just have to try...please leave a comment for me!  I don't have a kitchen just now....but chances are we will still have peanut butter when the kitchen is finished. ;)

*editorial note :  I figured out how much money this has saved us.  $47.  I actually paid less for this per ounce than I would at the grocery store for non-organic natural peanut butter.  How long do I expect it to last us?  About 6 months.  And just think about all those jars I didn't have to now i have a nice big bucket for carrying chicken feed..... ha ha. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Picture Window

Pictures of the Picture Window.  The photos do not do it justice.  It is 4feet x 4feet.  Yeah.  And my favorite part is that it is up high on the wall so I can see the sky!!!! And the towering Norwegian Pines out back!!! It's so very beautiful and I find my heart just sings whenever I catch a glimpse of it!  Hurray!
The sink will be under the big window. :)  
Do you see the new boards in the middle of the picture?  That is the framing for a very little wall which will be dividing the wee laundry area from the rest of the big room.  The washer and dryer will be up against that wall in the corner there.   Next to the little wall going out to the left, will be the cabinets and breakfast bar.  It will seat 4. :)
No wall!  It feels really open.  (and freezing!)  I am starting to feel the space differently and I am eager to see how it feels when the drywall is in!  Progress!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

5 things about Today

1.  They are finally cutting the hole for the window today.  Finally.  Phew.  This is the last phase of the ripping out that needs to be done before the plumbing gets roughed in.  Hurray!  I am still trying to get enough courage to ask the plumber about hooking up the washer once things are roughed in??? Please oh please!!!??? See, once, a while ago, when I was very pregnant, dear plumber came to our house one wintry morning during our bathroom remodel.  We had been waiting and waiting for the toilet to arrive.  (it was backordered or something)  And I was having to drag my tired pregnant body down the stairs during the night whenever I had to pee.  Which was a few hundred times a night.  So when dear plumber arrived that morning to tell me that "it still had not arrived!"  I think I may have bitten his head off.  Or perhaps I cried.  I can't exactly remember because I had a cloudy pregnant brain at the time.  But either one is really enough to scare any man far, far away.  And now when I see dear plumber for the kitchen remodel he just has this look in his eyes like he remembers.  I know, I know.  I'm probably crazy.  But still.  I am nervous about asking him about the washer.  Poo.

2.  The two oldest boys are sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpa's tonight.  Yep.  They are excited.  They are packing their bags.  Badger is writing down important things to remember. (ha ha.  his idea honestly!)  Cricket has mentioned more than once that he hopes there will be plenty of time to play with Papa's legos while he is there. (yes, J has saved all his legos from childhood in their original boxes and the boys adore them!)  I honestly have very little "feelings" about this.  I think Grandma and Grandpa perhaps thought that I was not too keen on the idea because I didn't jump at it when it was mentioned awhile ago.  It's true I didn't jump at the idea.  But that's only because truthfully it doesn't really benefit me at all.  (selfish I know)  I think lots of parents would admit that the real fun part of letting your kids stay at Grandma's is that they get a night off!  But with 4 littles you just don't get that very often.  So papa bear and I will still have two littles to spend time with.  I suppose it will be a little quieter.  But in my experience, when a few of the others are gone, the ones left behind are all the louder. ha!

3.  Owl has decided what he wants to do tonight on his "special night" with mama and papa.  He wants to go out for icecream.  That boy has a sweet tooth!  But I'm totally in!

4.  A while back I posted on buying things in bulk.  Remember?  Well after talking with a few of you I decided to go the next step up in peanut butter.  Instead of 5lbs.  I ordered.......35lbs!  That's a 5 gallon pal!!!!  of peanut butter!!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA!  I'm going to go pick it up today.  I know it's a little crazy, but I bet secretly you wish you had a 5 gallon pal of peanut butter too!

5.  Today I'm planning on starting to paint the unfinished cabinets.  I'm going to set up shop in the garage.  I love love love love love to paint so I am quite excited about this.  :)

That's all.  

Hope your day is filled with things that bring you Joy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Blooms

We've finally gotten into the "swing" of things regarding the remodel.  It goes something like this.  Wake up super early (before 6am).  Shower.  Read and pray.  Pack lunch in cooler.  Make supper by loading crockpot.  Make sure there is enough drinking water.  Make breakfast.  Then go on with the day from there. :)  This all has to be done before 7am when the worker men get here because the room that has the refrigerator and pantry is closed off to us once they are here.  (for lead and mold issues.)  

Anyway....we feel like we have finally gotten used to all this and have settled into it quite nicely.  The boys are doing well with it too for the most part.  There is definitely a struggle with the noise of the construction being over stimulating for all of us during the day, so we try to escape when we can to the great outdoors whenever possible!  The only time we are indoors is for Hen's nap or for a little break from the windy chilly Spring that we've had for the past several days.  Little Hen is an awesome little napper these days and sleeps right through the hammering and drilling.  I'm sooo thankful for this!!!

We are working away in our flower and vegetable gardens.  We made a worm house last week and released our worms in the garden yesterday.  (they had made babies! while in the worm house!) Today we are hoping to have enough time outside to actually get the onions and spinach planted!  Here are some pictures from our outside times.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

by Reba

1.  Plan ahead.  Specifically, remind yourself that it always takes longer than they say it will just does.  Tell yourself that it will take at least two weeks more construction time than "they" say.  Then you will feel more prepared and able to handle the chaos a little longer.

2.  Get a crock pot and figure out how to use it to make everything.  No.  Really.  Did you know that you can make breakfast in your crockpot while you sleep?  You can.  :)  French toast while you are curled up in bed.  :)  Just think how nice to wake up to a warm meal and a great smelling house!
--just a note careful what kind of crockpot you with a stainless steel insert is the way to go.  I had no idea about this until last fall while "shopping" for one for my SIL.  They are a bit pricey, but worth it!  You don't want to eat a side of yucky chemicals in your baked oatmeal. 

3.  Remind yourself often of your blessings.  I keep thinking about how my house, in its current chaotic, messy, plaster dust filled state is luxurious!!! compared to how real people live in other parts of the world.  I still have more than I need to feed my family and to live here everyday and I'm really thankful.  So what if I have to wash the dishes in the bathtub or go outside around the house in my pajamas to get to the refrigerator or coffee pot?

4.  Take pictures of the process.  This helps see how far you've come and that makes everything seem worth it. :)

5.  Be nice to the construction workers.  Tell them they can use your potty. (they won't ask usually)  Offer them coffee in the morning or ice water at noon.  Ask them how they are doing and show respect to them by letting them work without being in the way.  Happy workers do a better job. :)  

6.  When all else fails....and the day is going horribly....when you can't stand the noise and dust anymore....and you have only enough energy to do one more thing....then go put some lipstick on and comb your hair so that when your hubby comes home he will see you put some effort into looking nice for him and realize how sweet that is considering the chaos you've been in all day.  Then he'll take you out to dinner. (away from the mess!)
They are taking the old windows out and putting the new giant one in today!  And the weight bearing wall is gone!  And the new ceiling beams are up!  I hope to take picture this eve and post them for you. 

*and a big thank you to those of you who have helped with laundry and meals.  we love you! and are so glad to have good friends like you. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

The End of Day One

What the kitchen and dining room looked like after the worker men finished yesterday. 
That darker spot on the floor shows where the sink used to be.
This was taken standing in the "new" dining room looking into the kitchen.  No wall!
This was found in the wall in the laundry room.  A wasp's nest.  Yellow Jackets I think.  It is hard to show you how very large it is.  It was about 3feet x 3 feet and as you can see is several layers thick.  Wow.

They also found in the walls an old comic book, an old betty crocker recipe card, lots and lots of walnuts (squirrel?) and a few dead birds. (ew!)  

They are putting up supports so they can take out the weight bearing wall today.  I can't wait to see it!  I'll post more pics soon. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cricket's Day

We celebrated Cricket's Birthday again today. :) I guess he is having a birthday week. :) :)
The day went down kinda....well....shall we say wonky? Yes. The day was wonky.

First off....the construction crew was set to come this morning to rip out the walls. So J and I stayed up waaaaay to late last night finishing up everything we could to prepare. See...the more we demolish ourselves the less we have to pay them. (hourly rate and all) Plus, I had to make the cake last night. So....all of this led to a tired, tired morning for us. And the construction guys never made it here today at all. That is how it goes sometimes. (but don't worry, i will not lose heart)

Secondly....Cricket was really tired all morning. And he said his tummy hurt. He ate breakfast and played with his bros but he just seemed a little off. By lunch time we headed outside with a picnic lunch and he just laid on the blanket and looked at his sandwich. Now....if any of you know Cricket, you know how much that is just not like him!!!! He asked to lay down and rest. Um...okay little buddy. This all went down about 45 minutes before his birthday party was set to begin!

We had plans with friends to meet at a park to play and share cupcakes. He was really looking forward to it of course! I took his temperature and he was fine. So off we went.

We played with friends. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing gently. It was a beautiful day! But poor little Cricket was definitely not himself. He tried to play. He even smiled for a couple of pictures, but I could tell he wasn't feeling right. When it came time for cake, he didn't have any. Oh dear. He asked to go home. Okay. Then as papa and I proceeded to pack up and round everybody up.....little Cricket got sick. Oh dear. Oh, poor poor boy. Everyone was really great about it, but still. How sad is it to get sick on your birthday...especially in front of your friends? :(

To make up for it, we ran to the library and got Star Wars to watch while he laid on the couch. He requested a Star Wars Movie. He may have been sick, but the little man knows an opportunity when it comes knockin'. He said something like, "Can we get a Star Wars movie to watch while I rest since I don't feel good? It is my birthday you know." How could we say no? ;) are a few pictures of the cake for those of you who requested them. :) It's a timber rattlesnake, Cricket's request.
see the dirt and rocks around it...those were Cricket's idea too. :)
the fangs are made of almonds
i'm not sure you can see it in the picture, but the rattle is standing up which is a defensive you better watch out! ;)

*sorry about all the little faces...i know that can be annoying but i'm tired and emotional today. please love me anyway. :) sorry too about the weird colored font in parts...too tired to fix it today...

Monday, April 12, 2010

To the Zoo

This past Saturday we celebrated Cricket's upcoming birthday by meeting Grandma and Grandpa at the Zoo.  It was a blast!

I hope you can tell which wild animal belongs to our family and which belongs to the Zoo!

Must go rip out cabinets now......Check back soon for an update.!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Eek! Get going!!

Yeah, talking to myself here...but get going Reba!!!!

You we were informed that the construction crew is coming to rip out the walls next week already!!!! HURRAY!!! and EEEK!!!

So there may not be alot happening here on the blog for awhile because we have tons to do before they get here.  Like.....

finish packing up the dishes in the kitchen and finish setting up a makeshift kitchen in the spare room....
rip out the cupboards in the kitchen....
rip out the tile ceiling in the dining room....
clean out the laundry room and figure out where to store the machines....
take down the trim around the windows.....
take down the light fixtures....
order the cabinets....(at least we have them all picked out now)
buy the primer and paint....
prime and paint the cabinets.....
pick out a sink and faucet....
figure out what water filter to go with....
figure out how many and what kind of light fixtures and buy them....
and somewhere in there paint all the new drywall, repair the floor, and CELEBRATE CRICKET'S 6TH BIRTHDAY!

phew!  i'm tired just making the list.  

so...if you think of us in the next couple of days/weeks....pray for us!  My prayer is for us to get through this whole process with thankful hearts, calm spirits, and healthy bodies. (and perhaps a little money left in the savings too?!)

well...papa is putting the boys to bed....i'm going to brew a pot of coffee, put on my monkey pants, and get out the crowbar.  ( that how you spell that? spellcheck says yes but it just looks so funny...)  i think i'm going to enjoy the ripping out part.....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Menu for the Week

Here's what's cookin' at our house....

M - Sloppy Lentils on whole wheat buns, fresh veggies & strawberry peach crisp

T - Quiche (scallion, spinach, mushroom & cheddar) w/ biscuits & the last jar of homemade grape jam!

W - Black Bean & Rice Burritos w/ fixin's

Th - Ginger Marinated Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

F -  Vegetable Soup w/ homemade Beer Bread 

S - Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken w/ some kind of spuds and salad or asparagus (if enough is up by's starting!)

S - homemade BBQ chicken pizza with salad

I'm also finishing the emptying of the kitchen for the remodel this week.  That means this is my last week to try to do some extra cooking or baking for the freezer.  I hope to make a couple of batches of bread and muffins and waffles and perhaps also some extra soup or chili to be reheated at a later date.  The ceiling and walls are coming down! Whoot!

Monday, April 5, 2010

10 things

10 things of a recent keep you up to date..(and because i'm sort of in a "doing" phase at present..)

1. We dyed easter eggs.
2.  We made these geode eggs. (actually grown salt and baking soda crystals)
3.  And hunted for plastic eggs filled with goodies at grandma and grandpa's Easter morning.

4.  We saw the first butterfly of the season while weeding the strawberry beds.

5.  We planned out our sunflower house soon to be planted.

6.  I wrote a mission statement.  Really!  It's an awesome idea and I'm soooo glad about it.  For more insight as to the why and how check out here.

7.  I woke up early early and had a good start to the day by a cup of coffee alone and some time to read and pray.  Followed by a trip to the bakery with Badger.  (note to self: remember how very worth it it is to get up before the kids do!)

8.  I baked a peach strawberry crisp while the 3 youngest boys napped and Badger did word searches.  
9.  Badger and I snuggled in on the couch, watched the rain and played Hangman.  His first time learning the game and he really enjoyed it.  I think it was my favorite part of the day today!

10.  We found out about the annual Sandhill Crane count and are making plans to join in.  Look into it if you wish.

That's what we've been up to.  What about you?  What's up in your neck of the woods? We'd like to know.  Leave us a comment with your news or a link to your news.  :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

25 things I don't want you to know about me

Inspired by this post from this cool blog that I've stumbled upon I've decided to follow suit and give you an honest list.  Oh, and the woman who wrote that blog has a new blog all about helping Mom's be more purposeful.  It's great!  Go ahead and check out her other blog too.'s my list.....

1.  I spend way too much time reading other people's blogs.  And thinking about what I'm going to write on my blog. 

2.  Sometimes, when the dog is quiet in her kennel, I actually forget that we have a dog.   

3.  I secretly feel a strange satisfaction when vacuuming up a lego or other small toy.  Like it's just a test of how strong my vacuum is or something....with little or no concern for the boy's feelings who owns the lego.

4.  I sometimes fall asleep while praying.

5.  I pray when I'm in the bathroom.

6.  I have been using disposable diapers for three weeks now (for the baby!) and haven't changed back because I love how easy they are.

7.  I need to lose 70lbs.  Yeah, that's a big number. 

8.  I think about my looks too much.

9.  I spend too much money on groceries and am really bad at following "the budget" in this one area.

10.  I am really bad about putting the clean laundry away and I make excuses about why I can't get it done.

11.  I am a little obsessed with the dirt that is in the cracks of the unfinished wood floors in our house.  Sometimes I waste time by vacuuming all the little cracks meticulously, all the while the dirty dishes are waiting or the clean laundry waiting.

12.  I have moments regularly where I'm only pretending to listen to my children.   You of them is talking to me and I'm saying all the right things but I'm not really listening....

13.  I hate being late.

14.  I get frustrated when my kids touch me too much.  Too much hugging, nursing, hanging on, hand-holding makes me angry (or something).

15.  I love to start projects, but am pretty bad at finishing them.  

16.  The whole time I am writing this I keep thinking about the cinnamon rolls in the kitchen and how there are enough that if I ate one no one would know.

17.  I have a plant in my bathroom that I'm purposefully not watering because I "don't like it".  I can't explain why I don't like it, but I would like to use the pot for something else.....

18.  I really don't like being misunderstood, so I feel the need to overexplain things quite often.

19.  Sometimes I get tired of explaining so even though someone has misunderstood me I just go along with it.  Like that one guy who for the whole time in college thought my name was Rachel.

20.  I am really bad at returning things to the library on time.

21.  I always make a big joke about paying my fines at the library but really secretly, I'm disappointed with myself for not returning things on time.

22.  I like being "right" far too much.

23.  I like "knowing" far too much.

24.  I am afraid of bees.  And I'm afraid of my kids getting stung by bees.  (that's so random, but what can i say? it's true!)

25.  I sometimes like to watch things on TV that are not worthwhile, because I like to see the "pretty people" and see what they are wearing.  (weird, right?)

Ok.  That's my list.  See.  I'm a real person.  Hopefully next year at this time some of those things will be not on my list anymore.

What about you....what's on your list?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Armadillos and Buying in Bulk

Reason number 23 for buying groceries in bulk?
Yes, that's right.  Armadillos.  We love to eat Armadillos!  They are just the perfect snack. Healthy and sweet and some protein to keep you going! And I would've never discovered how to make armadillos if I had chosen to stay in my comfort zone and not ask the lady at the Natural Food Co-op about ordering groceries in bulk.  :)

But, now, see, I get all kinds of things in large quantities.  Which is great for so many reasons but mostly I like how it's sparked some creativity in us to figure out what else we can make with our 25 lb. bag of rice or our 50lb. bag of wheat berries. 
(the giant raisin jar...little owl's favorite thing in the kitchen i think)

The armadillo recipe we came up with in order to use two of our favorite things that we buy in bulk....peanut butter....and raisins.  Both come in a 5lb. quantity.  (although I'm thinking about making the jump to the 10lb. jug of peanut butter because, well...why not?)  

Here is our recipe for armadillos.  
1 cup organic peanut butter, preferably the crunchy variety
2 T. to 1/3 cup of honey, depending on how sweet you like it or how dry your PB is
2 T. cocoa powder
a large pinch of cinnamon
2/3 c. raisins
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecans, chopped 
In a glass bowl of medium size, mix together all the ingredients besides the pecans.  With clean hands make small teaspoon size balls of the mixture and roll them into the pecans making sure to press the nuts into the balls so they stay put.  Chill.  Eat.  Yum!
*porcupine variation** in place of the pecans use the same amount of toasted unsweetened coconut.  (super good too)

I encourage you to figure out a way to buy in bulk some of the things you use in your everyday cooking experiences.  It simplifies things so much!  It saves money, time, and packaging!  And I have found there is less temptation to order out food because of my usual excuse of "there is nothing to make" because I always have rice and beans now!  I always have wheat! I always have rapadura and oats and peanut butter!  I am so thankful that we have such a huge variety of food in our lives.  We really are so blessed.  And for me, buying in bulk is one small step toward being a good steward of what we've been given.  Plus, it means porcupines and armadillos for afternoon snack. :)