{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Survival Week Edition

Isn’t this a lovely view? It’s from the top of the hill in our back field, near our survivalists’ camp site. I made a watercolor painting inspired by it. Oh, it’s not very good, I know, but I’ve always wanted to learn to paint, so I just went ahead and painted, with a complete disregard for my lack of skill. Life is more fun when you don’t worry about what you can’t do. :-)

Tommy spent a happy afternoon building block towers for Evie to knock down, and she was happy to oblige. I love how much they all love this baby.

One warm, sunny afternoon, we went on a wander, the little children and I. I thought I might try a photograph or two, even though I was holding Evie, whose happy foot wiggling tends to prevent focused pictures. So I arranged them each against the fence, but Chuck the Steer kept licking them through the wire! Oh, well. It was a long shot anyway.


One of the children inherited my prepper gene, and she’s been building her survival backpack for nearly three years.  She decided it was time to see just how prepared she really was, so… Survival Week!  David and Jonny decided to join her, and they all left Tuesday morning after chores.  The rules are that you can only use what you have in your packs and whatever you can legitimately scavenge.  No milking the cows or pilfering eggs or hens from the chicken coops.  However, a la The Hunger Games, helpful gifts may arrive from fans back at the Capitol.  Each day, I check on them to see what they’d tweak, given the opportunity, and I bring them necessary things (like a sleeping bag for Laney, who underestimated the cold nights and thought a wool blanket would be enough), a challenge (like catching, cleaning, cooking and eating a fish), and a gift (like a real can opener).  Tonight is their last night, and they’ve been having such a great time, we’re already planning another one for next spring.  I’m a little envious, so Evie and I will play along next time, too!  Oh, yes.  That is one of the neighbor’s new goats, who just won’t stay in her fence.  They did try to milk her, rightly figuring she was fair game.  She’s dry, but it was worth a try!

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Kid Quote: On Royalty

“Mama,” said Penelope, whilst eying her baby sister, “Evie isn’t a princess like the rest of us. She’s a queen, because everybody always does whatever she says. Even you do whatever she says!”

Which is kind of true. Except that, at this particular moment, Rosie was bouncing Evie on her knee while I cooked dinner, and Evie was, in the grand tradition of her sister Penelope, glaring at me in an attempt to gain a changing of the guard.  Since her wants are hugs, milk, sleep, and clean diapers, it’s hard not to oblige, but she sometimes has to wait or have her commands carried out by underlings.  I think that knocks her right back down to princess.

Retro Weekend

A new feature here on the blog, as I find our old stories highly amusing. Maybe you will, too! If not, feel free to skip them. I think only like six people read this anyway! :-)

The Mysterious Midnight Visitor

It’s been happening for about a week. I wake up sometime in the early morning hours and find my little companion sleeping beside me. I’ve been wondering how she gets there without waking me up. Is she so considerate that she walks around the bed and climbs in on Davey’s side, so as not to disturb me? Or am I so tired that I haven’t even noticed her crawling over me? Last night I had occasion to find out. Her little whimper woke me up, and I lay there quietly, waiting to see if she actually needed me or if she would settle back to sleep by herself. In a few minutes, I heard her diaper crinkling down the hall. As she toddled into my room, I pretended to be asleep. I had to know how she’d been getting into bed! So what do you think? Is Rosie a thoughtful baby, detouring around sleeping bodies, or am I just dead to the world? Much to my midnight amusement, she grabbed hold of my shirt (and quite a fistful of skin underneath!) and dragged herself into the bed. She tried to lay down right there on the edge, head butting me as she settled in. Shortly, she decided there wasn’t really enough room there, and grabbed my shirt (and belly) with one hand and my hair with the other and clambered right over me. Comfortably settled in the middle of the bed, she engaged in her favorite going-to-sleep activity – slapping my back. Well, I guess that answers my question. I should probably try to get to bed early tonight!

From October 2005, very near the beginnings of my blog!


{P,H,F,R} Zoo Edition

We sometimes – or often – get to working so hard around here that I forget to take a break and have fun with the children! The zoo is one of our favorite places, but we don’t get up there as often as we’d like.  This week, though, we’d been having a hard week and needed some refreshment desperately, so off we went!


The zoo was dead on the day we went! Everything just felt so… sleepy, so even though the temperatures were mild, which usually translates to more active animals, there was just nothing going on.  And our favorite Ape House was closed.  We did, however, get to see this newborn pigmy hippo testing the waters for the very first time.  And there were keepers making sure he stayed safe, so we got to ask questions.  And, photography-wise, I like the reflections in the water, so, pretty. :-)


IMG_5669 IMG_5666Would you believe this is the children’s favorite habitat?  The geese and ducks, for crying out loud!  They always surreptitiously save the crusts from their lunches, only to whip them out as I blithely meander by, because, these are just geese!  I think we end up standing here for a good twenty minutes.  Every time.



They had all sorts of these little photo displays set up, in anticipation of their big Halloween party.  What do you think: pretty tough looking soldiers, no?  I think they mean business.



This little man was the source of the angst which drove us to the zoo in the first place.  He’s just two, and potty training, and under some stress himself, since he’s two, potty training, and abandoned by all the people who profess to love him (in his little mind).  We haven’t had him here since he was a baby, and he just wanted his mama, or his nana, or anyone, really.  He was clingy, and whiny, and he wet his pants a lot.  A lot a lot.  I did a lot of laundry those two weeks.  And if I, the mother of eight children, think I was doing a lot of laundry, it must have been a lot of laundry!

Find more contentment at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Why We Don’t Answer The Phone When You Call

A ring of cumulous clouds at sunset

A ring of cumulus clouds at sunset.

5AM-6AM: Jennie is up, quietly sipping coffee, goofing off, saying her morning prayers, and generally orienting herself to the day.  It’s too early to call anyhow, don’t you think?

6AM-6:30: The elder family members start waking up, and we get ready for milking.

6:30-7:30: Some of us head to the barn while others stay behind to make breakfast, start on the housework, and tend to the baby.  The little children are getting up now, and there is a lot of activity, but it is still too early to call, yes?

7:30-8:15: Breakfast time! Whew!  It’s nice to sit down together after our busy morning.  Jennie nurses the baby while she eats, and we all talk about the day ahead and any current events that have captured our fancy since we last gathered.  We will probably answer the phone at this time, just out of curiosity.

8:15-9AM: We clean up the kitchen, wash up the milk gear (if it isn’t done already), hang the laundry on the line, and take care of the rest of the livestock.  We’re also getting ready for our homeschool day.  If you catch us indoors right now, we may answer the phone, but we’re in a hurry!

9AM-11:30: We are homeschooling during these hours, and we do that away from the main house, believe it or not!  We do not take a phone with us unless we’re waiting for a call back from a doctor or something, so you will most likely not be able to reach us during these hours.  We don’t have internet out there, either.

11:30-1PM: We’re back in the house!  At least for a few minutes.  We have lunch, clean up the kitchen, do any other chores we missed in the morning, then head out to take care of the livestock again.  A few people have gotten wise to the fact that we’re actually usually in the house around now, and time their calls accordingly.  A few. :-)


Fingers of storm cloud encroaching on our fair weather!

1PM-4PM: The elder children probably have a bit more work to do, so they go back out to school to finish up.  The rest of us are usually involved in some other project, sometimes inside, sometimes out, and we may or may not answer the phone based on how much dough is on our hands and whether or not we actually heard it ring over the hum of our activities.

4PM-5PM: Dinner prep and more chores!  Somebody has her hands in the meatloaf, and other folks are vacuuming the floor and tending to livestock – again.  We’ll answer if we can get there, but we’re not going to worry if miss your call!

5PM-6PM: This is dinner time, and we absolutely, under no conditions, will answer the phone at this time!

6PM-6:45: We’re washing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen, putting together our milking gear and sterilizing the glass jars for later.  The little ones also take their showers as they finish their chores.

6:30-7:30: This period overlaps the last one, because we split into two teams.  The barn people head out for the evening milking, then feed the calves.  The milk goes back to the house for straining and bottling, and the rest of the livestock gets put to bed.

During this hour and a half, there is usually someone inside, and either David will answer the phone, or one of the children will take a message.  Jennie, however, is never available during this time.

7:30-8:30: This is the children’s hour.  We all gather together in the evenings, and Jennie reads aloud to the children while they fold the day’s laundry and the baby nurses to sleep.  After evening family prayers, the folded laundry gets put away and the children are tucked into their beds.  (Even the big kids get tucked in!)  David may answer the phone during this hour, but nobody else will.  We look forward to story hour all day!

8:30-9PM: Jennie readies things for tomorrow and puts the house to bed, while David finishes up his activities at the computer.  Again, David might pick up, just to keep the phone from bothering anyone, but Jennie will just leave it for the machine.  Whatever you need can wait till tomorrow.

9PM-5AM: Few people try to call us at this hour, and we will seldom answer.  We have no local family who might have an emergency, and as we are going to or already in bed, we are not going to deal with minor requests right now anyway.  Leave a message if you like.  Or just wait till tomorrow.

So how does one actually get in contact with us?  Well, leave a message!  We are probably listening to it live, and we’ll call you back in a few minutes, when our hands are free, or in a few hours, when we get in.  But we will call back!

So how about you: Are there any times that you just won’t answer the phone?  Do you set your cell aside now and then, or do you get twitchy if you’re out of the loop?


Fire in the sky.

A Cautionary Tale

The trouble with going out into the world is that those people have germs, and they really don’t care who they share them with.

Brenna came home last week and mentioned that her coworker had hand-foot-and-mouth disease, but that the doctor had said it wasn’t contagious.  Guess what?  Oh, yes.  It’s contagious.

Evie started with a very high fever for about 48 hours, then an apparent sore throat, which upon examination at the promptings of the all-knowing google, turned out to be peppered with blisters.  Then Rosie came down with it, sans fever, and Jonny, too, with the added benefit of nausea.  We had Evie checked for strep just in case, but it’s just a virus we’re going to have to weather.

At least my crew of sickies is pretty cheerful about it!

But let’s just go ahead and analyze this situation for a moment:

This particular virus – and most others – is spread by poor hygiene.  The girl in question was showing off the sores inside her mouth to her coworkers.  Brenna, assuming it was not contagious, used various equipment in common with this other girl without taking any precautions.  Most adults have natural immunity to this virus, so she never showed any symptoms, but she was a carrier, and she came home from work and hugged and kissed her baby sister, and passed the germs on.  And since Evie is the most popular person in the house, and quite drooly, she, too, passed on the germs.

If only the coworker had washed her hands after showing everyone her blisters.  If only Brenna had washed her hands before coming home.  Or before hugging the baby.  The whole thing could have been avoided simply by washing hands.

So.  Let this be a cautionary tale, as we head into cold and flu season.  Wash up whenever you use the bathroom, before eating or preparing food and anytime you come back into the house.  Keep those hands clean!

Funny story: My mom says I’ve always had a thing about dirty hands, so much so that when I was a baby, I crawled on my wrists so my hands wouldn’t touch the floor!  I still wash my hands something like three thousand times a day.  In fact, I can feel the germs on them now, just from typing this post.  Computers are dirty.  Very, very dirty.  ;-)

In Living Color

8x10 IMG_5739 IMG_5717a IMG_5732 IMG_5760 IMG_5762 IMG_5768

Back in the old days, long, long, long ago, when I used to use actual film, I’d shoot every third roll in black and white.  I love color photographs, but I love black and white.  I always figure, with the digital, that I can just make my photos monochrome after the fact, but I just never like them as well as shooting in black and white to begin with.  I guess I should make it a point to change that setting once in a while, like in the old days.  :-)

These are just a few snapshots of my evening, nothing fancy, but they sure do make me feel glad.  We’re living a colorful life here!

Happy weekend, friends!