Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Try not to Be Jealous.

Ever since Turken and I got home from our little four-day getaway, I have been run ragged.   I don't want to go into the details.  They are boring to live, so I can't imagine they'll be any fun to read.  Let's just say that if instead of shuttling the kids around town for the last two days, I spent that same amount of time in the car driving south, I could have made it back to Hilton Head by now.

Indulge me while I take you back to the awesomeness that was our trip.  I need to go to a happy place for a bit.

First, I have to tell you about the trees.  This area of the country has the most wonderful trees.

They are huge, if you consider 40-60 feet tall and a canopy of up to 100 feet wide to be huge, which I do.

Many of these Live Oaks are made even more beautiful by the Resurrection Ferns that dress their branches and the Spanish moss which drapes down in gorgeous blonde curls. 

I see these trees as places to pull up a rocking chair in order to cool off in the shade while admiring the beauty.

Turken sees the trees as the best climbing opportunities in the entire world.

Climbing trees is exhausting!

Ok, one more, and then I'll move on.

On to the rest of our trip.

Can't go to Hilton Head without visiting the gorgeous beaches!  (We only went to one.  It really pays to visit a local who knows the best places to go!)

Turken love, love, loved playing in the waves.  As I watched over him, my thoughts kept going back to how small and insignificant we are compared to that never-ending ocean.

My sister taught Turken how to find crabs in the sand.  Too bad they never actually managed to catch one. 

After swimming for three hours straight, we had sand in every nook and cranny.  It bothered him not one bit, so he was content to play in the large tide pools

while I enjoyed a deliciously refreshing drink. 

 A good strawberry daiquiri really helps one forget all about the sand inching its way farther up into areas where the sun don't shine.
When you ask Turken what his favorite part of vacation was, he will answer that it was a three-way tie between swimming at the beach,

riding "his" pony at Lawton Stables,

his pony named Popsicle
 and going on the pirate cruise.

After getting the kids into character with the clothes, the face paint, and the pirate names (Angry-eyed Turken was his),  we were loaded onto the ship.

Angry-eyed's goatee melted a bit when he drank some water.

It was an awesome cruise.  I was expecting the usual cheesy ride around, but it was far from it.  The pirate leaders got the kids fully into their roles by hoisting the flag, finding the treasure map which had been stolen by one of the parents, then pulling things out of the ocean.  They actually pulled "grog" out of the ocean and let the kids have a drink.  And then, Stinky Pete, the bad pirate who took the key to the treasure, showed up.  The kids took to the (water)cannons and took care of Pete.

That poor guy was hit with water for three rounds, ten minutes each, ten cannons each time.  I have no idea how he didn't drown.  Or at least keel over from exhaustion.

The treasure was found, pulled out of the ocean, and divvied up amongst the eager kids.

The kids weren't the only ones who enjoyed the cruise.  My sister posted on facebook that she is looking for another little kid to go on the cruise with her.  Some of the parents really got into it, taking a water cannon for themselves.  And then there was the family with children named Murray, Oscar, and Ruby.  Everyone on the boat knew Murray, Oscar, and Ruby.  And everyone knew that Murray, Oscar, and Ruby had wimps for parents. 

And now, some random photos from the trip.

I have no idea how that goat got its massive horns back in the fence.

Top of a lighthouse that never actually functioned as a lighthouse.  It was simply built for decoration.

On a walk through the marsh, looking for birds.

We ate.  A lot.  Yes, this is at IHOP.  It was the only meal we ate at a chain, only because my sister didn't know of a local breakfast place.  Everything we ate was delicious! 

On the last day, we swam in the pool at my sister's place.  My niece has a cover for her iPhone to allow her to take it under water.  Don't think I'd be brave enough to test it.
I feel better now.  I just may have the energy to get all the potatoes and tomatoes COW harvested from the garden while I was gone into cans and on the shelves.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Listicles - Photos of Life with Six Kids

Joining up with the Listicle gang today with the fun topic of 10 Photos of Life with Kids.

I had only a few minutes to go through the albums and narrow down to 10 that made me smile and told a bit of a story.  I'd love to have you over to pour through all 25 albums, but since I can't, here are some old photos to give you an idea of what life with six kids is really like.

1.  Appointments.  Lots and lots of appointments.  Between baby check-ups, sports physicals, sick visits, broken bones, 6 month dental visits, and emergency I-knocked-out-a-tooth visits, we have had more than our fair share of appointments.

   2.  Crying.  Especially during those first few years, with all those little ones running around, there always seemed to be someone crying.

 3.  Odd medical phenomena.  Weird rashes, odd swelling, mysterious bruises, baffling blood.  They are all a part of raising half a dozen children.

Turken woke up one morning with one of his ears a whole lot bigger than the other.
4.  Hysterical mishaps.  Kids get themselves into the craziest predicaments, and I just can't help but to laugh and take a photo before helping them.

Buttercup went out to collect eggs, but forgot the basket.  She decided to simply put them in her pocket.  Before she made it to the house, she forgot about the eggs, bent over to get something, and broke one.  She sobbed for 5 minutes before I could stop laughing and help her that day.
5.  Firsts.  First steps.  First words.  First time sleeping through the night.  Baby books are filled with all of the "firsts".  Multiplied by six kids.   I'm always just as excited with Cuckoo's firsts as I was with Phoenix's.
Cuckoo's first haircut.  He was the only one with hilarious curly hair.  I waited way too long to cut it the first time.
6.  Traditions.  They help build a family, and with six kids, we need all the building and bonding we can get.

We always go to the state fair's farm for children and take a photo next to the same barn.  Watching them all grow taller in comparison to the stationary sunflowers really helps us see how much they've changed.
7.  Special occasions.  Birthdays, sacraments, important days.  Times six.  There's always something big going on.

Buttercup's First Holy Communion
8.  Messes.  Good heavens, can six kids make a mess.  Especially when helped out by colorful food.

Star, after eating an ocean-themed birthday cake.
9.  Stuff to do.  As they get older, kids want to join things.  With six kids, that is a whole mess of stuff to do.

Giant in a soccer game.
10.  Love and happiness.  When they aren't arguing or wreaking havoc, they are just plain lovable and making me smile till it hurts.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 8

1.  I am thankful for the idea COW and I had to take the kids on individual trips.   Many years ago, when the kids were coming fast and furious, we decided each year one child would get to go on a trip all alone with one or both parents.  The big kids are on round three, with Phoenix getting to go this year.  We have decided the little kids are now old enough to move into the rotation, so Turken gets to go this year.  Actually, he and I are on his trip right now.  As you read this, he and I are having some good fun in Hilton Head, SC.  (Which means I won't be around to your posts until Sunday night or Monday.  Don't be concerned when you don't see any comments from me.)

2.  I am thankful for relatives who live in lovely places.  For one of the kids' first trips, we keep it pretty low key.  Simply going on an airplane and being alone is a huge deal, so we just go visit a friend or relative.  Can't tell you how happy I am to have a sister who lives in the gorgeous town of Hilton Head.

3.  I am thankful for the conversations of little people.  This week with my niece and nephew has brought such joy.  One of the best parts is listening to the three little ones (Turken, Cuckoo, and Niece) chat with each other.  The three of them seem to talk non-stop and cover every topic imaginable.  They all have clear opinions on topics such as Santa Claus, game-playing, prayers, good songs, Play-Doh creations, chick behavior, and rain.  They haven't just been arguing, but actually conversing, taking turns, listening to each others' points of view, giving their "proof", and simply hashing it out better than many adults do. 

4.  I am thankful for kids who appreciate simple things.  On Monday morning when the kids woke up, I told them it was going to be a rainy day.  Giant immediately cheered and said, "Yay!  We can play games all day!"  No joke, my kids are thrilled with a day at home doing nothing but playing games.  (I started the day by trouncing them in SpongeBob Monopoly, and they were happy.)

5.  I am thankful for the Children's Museum of IndianapolisIn every national ranking of museums for kids, ours ranks in the top 3.  It is five floors of hands-on activities for kids.  We have always had a membership there, so we can go for just a couple of hours to run off some steam on a yucky day.  We had one of those days this week, so we took my niece and nephew for their first museum experience.  Niece was a bit honked off that we were going to a museum, not understanding what a "children's museum" actually was.  She was a-pouting the whole way there, but quickly changed her tune when she saw the life-size dinosaurs busting through the outside of the museum.

6.  I am thankful Phoenix made it home safe and sound.  Ten days is a long time for a 14 year old to be away from home and with 46,000 strangers.  He got home Wednesday night, just in time for me to leave on Thursday.  My trip with Turken will be much more fun knowing I don't have to worry about my baby.

7.  I am thankful for the olfactory system.  A friend went to Michigan and came back with pounds of blueberries for us.  All but two of our family members would agree with Cuckoo's statement of, "I like them in the muffin, but I don't like them out of the muffin."  I have been making blueberry muffins like crazy, and they smell scrumptious.   The entire house now smells like a warm blueberry muffin instead of a well-used soccer cleat. 

8.  I am thankful for cooler temperatures.  The last week and a half has been stiflingly hot.  (That humidity will get you every time.)  Over the last two days, we've had some minor storms blow through, and last night was just plain glorious.  The perfect temperature, the perfect breeze, the perfect blue in the sky.  And today is more of the same.  The kids are currently having a ball playing hide-and-seek tag, and not one of them has come covered in sweat to tell me how hot he is.

9.  I am thankful for window screens.  Our 145 year old house has gigantic original windows that don't open (except when you break them, which happens way more often than I like).  The only fresh air we can get into our house is through the front screen door and our bedroom window.  Until yesterday.  When we had the kitchen redone, we took out the window to nowhere (really.  It was a full window with a curtain that had a view of the inside of the wall.) put in new windows and more in the mudroom.  Unfortunately, the screens were on backorder.  We finally, finally got them yesterday, just in time for this lovely weather.  At least my kitchen is full of fresh air as I bake all day.

10.  I am thankful for lazy days.  It seems we always have something going on, and this summer didn't give us much of a break.  Appointments and practices and meetings and blah, blah, blah just took up part of every day.  This past week, though, I don't think I've gotten in the van more than 3 times.  I'm usually in it three times in one day!  We actually had several days where we didn't get in a car one time.  I have been loving it.  You'd think I'd spend the time getting the house clean and doing all the stuff we need to get done.  You'd be wrong.  While I got some things done, I have done a lot more playing games with the kids.  Once I get back from Hilton Head, the appointments and practices begin in earnest again, and school starts soon after.  Really, really cherishing these laid-back days.

Your turn!  Link up your post or give me your thankful list in the comments.  I won't be home until Sunday, so I won't be hopping around to visit until I get back.  

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Have Kids. Still Must Shop.

I'm so grateful to have plenty of grocery stores in the area in which to purchase all the food my family needs and the yummy items I want. 

That being said, I also despise grocery stores with the passion of 1,000 unfed lions being taunted by a giant gnu just outside of their grasp. 

In my many, many years of grocery store shopping, I have come up with a variety of tactics to make the trip with children a touch easier.  By "a touch", I mean you have a good chance of making it out without having to do the walk of shame, dragging an out-of-control toddler to the car while your partially filled cart sits inside, waiting to be emptied by the grocery store worker who was giving you dirty looks as you left.

Here I have 10 Ways to Make Shopping with Children Easier.

(Daggum, I wish I knew how to make a badge/button thing.  It's on my to-do list.  Right after clean the outside of the windows.  Pretty much means it's never going to happen.) 

1.  Leave the kids at home.  It really is the best way to shop with children.

2.  The worst part of any shopping trip is the check-out line.  The candy aisle you can avoid.  The paying for the groceries aisle, you cannot.  Besides the candy and the stupid little toys, once your kid can read, those magazines take on a whole new level of danger.  (Count how many times you see the word "sex" one week.)  To combat this, we use the candy for good instead of evil.  While I unload the groceries onto the belt, I have the kids find different letters of the alphabet in the names on the candy wrappers.  And since I always choose the line that takes the longest (despite taking into account the check-out person, the number of people in front of me, and the fullness of their carts) we usually get through at least 18 letters.

3.  The elderly and children generally have the same naptime, so you can't avoid them at the store, which means you can't avoid the comments and stares from the grandparent set.  Instead of fighting it or trying to come up with good comebacks, be proactive.  Give them something of your choosing to talk about.  Let the kids wear the most outrageous yet adorable thing in her closet.  She wants to wear a tiara and tutu? Go for it.  He wants to wear his turtle costume in May?  Certainly!  The child will be happy in the costume, and the grandparents will smile and coo about how precious your little ones are.

4.  Unless you are ready to buy something every time you enter a store, DO NOT buy them anything they want. EVER.  If they ask, the answer is no.  This is not a time to be wishy-washy.  They can smell weakness a mile away and know when you are on the brink of giving in.  The whining and asking will not stop until they get what they want.  If they know that the answer will ALWAYS be no, they will no longer ask.  And don't fall for the, "If you buy it, I'll pay you back at home," trap.  These children have fried our brains.  They know we'll never remember to collect the money.

5.  Small children often just want to help.  Unfortunately, their help means a waterfall of apples cascading onto the produce floor.  Tap into their helpful nature by providing them their own "list" of things at the store.  When the big kids were little, I made flashcards, each with something we normally purchased at the store.  Each child had a ring of cards and was responsible for finding the items on their cards.  These days, I don't bother with the cards.  With two kids, it's a lot easier, so I just give them some coupons and tell them to find those items.

6.  Our generation is very good at distracting our children with food.  If you are going to try this tactic at the store, make sure to bring a snack that takes a looooong time to eat.  Ringpops are perfect for this.  Besides the fact it takes forever to eat them, ringpops are hard to drop.  Always beware of the dropping of the food.  The temper tantrum that will ensue when you won't let him eat something after it fell on the floor is just shocking to the system.  I have seen women who failed to bring a snack simply open something they took off the shelf at the store then pay for it when they get to checkout.  I have never done it, and I never will.  (I can say "never", seeing as how I am well past the most difficult grocery store runs of my life, and if I didn't do it then, I'm certainly not going to start now.)  It just seems too much like shoplifting to me.  The kids see Mom open something and eat it right off the shelf, but how often do they see her pay for it?  With a big box of something, it's harder, but if something smaller is opened and finished, how often is the item forgotten about and then not paid for?  I would forget.  So I just don't do it.

7.  If it's a rainy day, let your kids wear rain boots to the store.  It has two benefits.  One, kids can't run as fast with boots on, so catching him when he runs down the cereal aisle while channeling Veruca Salt, screaming, "I want it all and I want it NOW!" will be a little easier.  Two, you can be the awesomely fun mom who parks far out in the parking lot, next to the biggest puddle, so the kids can jump in it while you put the groceries in the van.

8.  Bring a toy.  The kind of toy is very important.  It must be made of only one piece, seeing as how multiple pieces will only mean you will spend 19.6 minutes each aisle picking up dropped pieces.  Examples of good toys are Travel Etch-a-Sketch or a "find it" jar.  (I made these for the big kids long ago.  Get a plastic jar with a lid, put lots of little items in it like coins, buttons, army men, marbles, etc, then fill jar with sand.  Shake it up, seal the lid (fellow rednecks will use duct tape) and let the kids look for the items in the jar.) 

9.  Be silly, but not too silly.  There is a fine line between silly to make a child happy and silly to get a kid all wound up and hyper.  Try for the first one.  Perhaps talk in a Julia Child voice as you pick things off the shelf, telling the kids why you're buying it.  See how many "gross" things you and the kids can find, the definition of gross being whatever you want it to be.  It's best not to do this from the moment you walk in the store.  Save it for right before the kids are about to lose it.  You do not want to be talking like Julia through the entire store.  Trust me.

10.  Talk and sing.  If all else fails, talk and sing.  I don't mean with the child.  I mean to the child.  I know you know what I mean.  That way of talking to your child, telling him why you are doing something, but really you are talking to everyone around you, telling them how you aren't a horrible parent.  You are doing a fabulous job raising your child, and he just won't meet you in the middle.  Something like, "I know you want out of the cart, but when I let you out of the cart, you ran from Mommy.  There are consequences for not following directions."   All in a high-pitched, sweet voice as you look at items on the shelf and ignore the child's cries and kicks. 

OK, so number 10 doesn't make the trip easier, but it usually doesn't get to this point until you are nearing the completion of your trip.  Far enough in that there is no way on God's green earth you are abandoning your cart for some unpleasant toddler.  It will give you the "respect" of the elderly and keep you from going all "Wal-Mart" on your offspring. 

That's all I've got.  Good luck out there. 

And if you have any ideas to add, please do so in the comments.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 7, Part 2

It's been a good weekend.  Mostly.  Gotta give credit where credit is due.

(I've decided to not number my list today.  For some reason, I frequently misnumber my lists, and Dyanne catches them every single blasted time.  Dyanne's not going to get me today!

A.)  I am thankful for good music.  Lizzi put together a compilation of songs for me, since she felt bad that I only got to listen to kids' songs.  Listening to the songs while playing the longest game of UNO ever experienced by a group of humans (No, really.  The longest game ever.) made me actually want the game to go on longer.  Thank you, Lizzi!

B.)  I am thankful for hugs.  My niece and nephew (who are staying with us this week) love to give hugs.  I've been gathering them up all week.  Plus, when my kids see them doing it, they get a bit jealous, and hug me, too.  It's a virtual hugfest going around the coop.

C.)  I am thankful for parties with friends.  I spent a lovely evening at our good friends' summer get-together.  Sure, COW couldn't come with me for a large variety of reasons, but I wouldn't have seen him all night anyway.  I got to sit at a table and talk and laugh and enjoy the evening with a great group of ladies.

D.)  Once again, I am thankful for garden goodies.  I had forgotten that I was supposed to bring an appetizer to the party until late in the afternoon (far after I could have gone to the store).  I was able to throw together a quick cucumber/tomato/onion salad, and all the ingredients were out of my garden (except for the olive oil and red whine vinegar, of course).

E.)  I am thankful for my strong stomach.  When Cuckoo began spontaneously combusting from the mouth, all over the kitchen floor, cabinets, and dining room carpet, I managed to get it cleaned up without gagging one single time.  It happened as I was about to sit down and eat the biscuits and gravy breakfast I had just made.  As soon as it was all cleaned and Cuckoo was taken care of, I went and had my breakfast in relative peace (and by relative peace, I of course mean scarfed it down, surrounded by loud children who weren't actually demanding anything from me for a moment.)

F.)  I am thankful for the ease of texting.  I cannot even believe I'm typing this, but I am so thankful for it.  My boys are not big talkers, but by typing, they give me a whole lot more info and share more than they normally would.  It has been especially wonderful this week, with Phoenix being out in West Virginia.  It makes me happy to hear what he is up to and to be reassured that all is well with him.  Last night he texted me, "I just went to a show with the king of Sweden, Mike Rowe, and Three Doors Down."  No, he didn't actually sit with those people at a show.  Phoenix sat in the crowd to watch a concert, and the king and Mike Rowe came to say hi. 

Also, as all mom's know, kids can sense when their mothers begin a phone conversation.  They choose those moments to fight, scream, poop in their pants and cause general mayhem.  The children have yet to perfect their texting radar, but even when they do, their tactics are not nearly as effective when the party with whom I am conversing can't hear them.

G.)  I am thankful for bodily functions.  Yes, it is crude and rude and immature and impolite, but my word, the giggles that come out of a little child after he "toots" and announces it to the world is absolutely precious.  (It kinda loses it's endearing qualities as the child gets older, but sometimes, yes, it's still funny.)

H.)  I am thankful for my brother.  He lets me have his kids every year for extended times, and he doesn't mind when I post pictures like this on Facebook.

While we were outside yesterday, one of the kids said, "Let's go find the dead pig!"  Jumping and running and shouts of, "Yeah, let's find the dead pig!" ensued.  Upon return, bones in hand, observations included:

"We found it's bones!"
"It still has teeth, and they're wiggly!"
"It's like seeing what's inside a pig!"
"What part of the pig is this?"
"Can I put it in my special drawer?"  (Each little kid has a drawer in his dresser for the special toys/objects he doesn't want/have to share with other kids, thus the name "special drawer".)**

Not many parents would be cool with this type of behavior.  My brother is a cool dad who encourages such things. 

**The answer was a big, fat, resounding "NO!"  I have my limits.

I.)  I am thankful for my children's good sportsmanship.  Three of the four big kids played in a 3v3 soccer tournament this weekend.  In the first game of the day, for the first time in family history, Giant and Star were on teams which played against each other.  As COW said, "I feel like Archie Manning." 

The boys took it so well, with very little trash talk.  And afterwards, when telling me about the game at dinner, they were both gracious about it.  They were able to see the good moves/plays of the other while still being happy with their own performance, despite the fact that one team trounced the other.

J.)  I am thankful for chicken and noodles.  We had it for dinner last night.  As niece said, "This is DELICIOUS!"  (If you don't have a recipe for chicken and noodles, I'll be happy to pass on mine.)

Hope you all are having a delightful weekend!

There's still time to link on up!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, July 19, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 7

So, so much to be thankful for.  Let's get to it!

1.  I am thankful for helpful readers.  In Friday's post, I did a little garden update.  In it I included a photo of a cucumber which I thought was unusable.  Within hours of posting, I received an email from a lovely woman telling me that my cucumbers were most certainly NOT unusable, but were perfect for making cinnamon pickles like her grandma made.  (I didn't know who she was, until I saw a little note in the sidebar with her picture and name asking if I wanted to be friends with her on facebook.)  So, to AB, thank you very much.  I look forward to trying the recipe.   And of course I will take photos and let you all know how it goes.

2.  I am thankful for opportunities my kids have to try new things and become more independent.   The day after we got back from vacation, both Buttercup and Phoenix headed out to camp.  Buttercup is at a CYO camp she's been to every year for 4 years now.  She always has a blast horseback riding, doing the high ropes, swimming, and all of the usual camp activities.  I picked her up at 2 on Friday, and she didn't stop talking for at least 2 hours afterward, telling me all about her week.
Phoenix is at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in West Virginia.  It is 10 days of service, high-adventure activities, learning, and growing.  He is trying things he has never done before, and being taught by pros in the fields.  It has been so fun texting him each day to see what has been going on.  For example, Friday's exchange included:

Me:  What did you do today?

Phoenix:  An 8 mile hike  throwing knives  the usual

Oh, and the 8 mile hike?  Was up a mountain. 

Phoenix:  There was a pretty bad thunderstorm today.  I was on top of the mountain when the lightning warning was sent out.

What mother doesn't want to hear her son say such things?

3.  I am thankful for visits with my nieces and nephews.   Every summer, my brother drops his kids with me for an extended visit.  My nephew is only 2 months older than Giant, and my niece is 3 months older than Turken.  It all works out beautifully.  They arrived on Thursday and will stay with us until Wednesday.  So far, we haven't done much besides hang out at home.  Next week should be cooler, so we'll be heading out to have some fun around town.

4.  I am thankful for air conditioning.  I am not complaining about the heat, even though it has been a week to prove the cliché "It's not the heat, it's the humidity."  We go outside to play and do our chores and sweat buckets and practically drown on the moisture in the air, then smile when we get to come in and recuperate in the cooler air.  (I can't say "cool", seeing as how our house is old and incapable of cooling the upstairs to a "cool" temperature. (But I'm still thankful.))

5.  Speaking of the heat, I'm thankful for popsicles.  If the kids know popsicles are coming, I buy an extra 15 minutes of outside play time/Mom gets stuff done in peace time.

6.  I am thankful for my grandma.  She is 88 years old and still lives in the house my dad and his siblings grew up in.  (I wrote about her once.)  I spoke with her on Monday, and we discussed her carpel tunnel surgery coming up.  She had surgery on her right arm a few years ago, and this week it was time for her left.  She said to me, "When I had my first surgery, I figured 'I'm old and will die before I have to do that again.'  It hurts enough to wake me up at night, and I'm not dead, so I have to get the surgery.  Who would have thought?"

I adore that woman.

7.  I am thankful for time spent with my friends.  Specifically, this week, with my friend who has been moved to Japan for three years.  She and her kids came to the house on Wednesday for the last time before they head back.  It was a wonderful visit, and I'm so grateful that she was able to come to town for the entire month.  One year down, only two to go.

8.   I am thankful for garden goodies.  Giant wanted a breakfast burrito with green peppers this morning.  I LOVE being able to say, "Go out and pick a pepper for me."  It's a great feeling to be able to feed my family with organic, can't-get-any-fresher-than-that produce.  We (mostly me) like to look at the dinner table and see how many things came from our own land.   I do a little happy dance when we have pork, salad, potatoes, and canned apples, all that we grew or raised ourselves.  Can't wait until these chicks start laying eggs in October and get our breakfasts on board!

9.  I am thankful for the 10th of August. (previously known as the 4th of July)  My dad has a big 4th of July party each year for our extended family.  Usually, there are about 40 people there.  It really is his favorite day of the year.  Unfortunately, only one of my brothers could go this year.  Since three of us couldn't, everyone started cancelling.  Not one person went to the 11th annual 4th of July party.  The tradition at the party is to take the family photo on the front porch with whoever attends the party.  On the 4th this year, my dad posted this on the facebook: 

(get the tissues ready)

How sad is that?

Once we saw the photo, we all got out the calendars and found another date.  August 10th it is.  The red, white, and blue will come back out, the burgers and dogs will be grilled, the baby pool and corn hole will be drug out of the garage, and we will have us a 4th of July party. 

And we will never miss a 4th of July at my dad's house again. 

10.  I am thankful for my husband.   I know, I'm usually making fun of him when I mention him here on the blog, but I am so grateful that I get to be the person he spends his life with.  He's absolutely wonderful and supportive and hilarious and responsible and encouraging and perfect for me. 

Now it is your turn.  If you blog, link on up.  If not, let me know in the comments what good things are you thankful for this week.

We have a new co-host this week!!!  Kristi from Thankful Me has agreed to help us out in the co-hosting.  Check out her blog or the interview Lizzi did in order to see why she is a perfect match for this blog hop.  (Lizzi will be posting an interview of each of us co-hosts, one per week.  Clark is up next week.)

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

7 QT - Farm Update Edition

Thought I'd bore you with some farm and garden photos today. 

(If that isn't a sentence that grabs you and makes you want to read further, I give up.)

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I realized when the 5th person asked me how the pigs were doing (click here if you have no idea what was wrong in the first place.  It involves me giving three pigs shots in their necks. (Now THAT is a "gotta read further" sentence!)) that I never really told you how it all ended up.

The pigs are perfectly healthy.  Getting bigger by the minute, eating me out of house and home, and practically knocking me down and eating me every time I go in there. 

Some photos:

Come closer, little boy! 
Turken wanted to take some photos, so I gave the camera to him while I fed them.

You can't tell, but I'm trying to run to their food bowls before they can get to me and knock me into the massive mud puddle (which we have not because it rained, but because COW turned the hose on to fill their waterer and forgot about it.)  I made it to the bowls, but not without being splashed.

When I returned to Turken, he had a grin on his face and said, "I took pictures of their bottoms."

There were 26 photos just like this one.

(Hope you weren't eating when that one was thrown at ya.) 

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Two days before vacation, I saw the green beans were ready to be harvested.  The kids and I went a-pickin, and brought in tons.  The next morning, we picked a ton more.  I got to canning right away, knowing they wouldn't last until we got back.  We had enough for 7 quarts and dinner that night.  Right before we left town, we picked some more and took them with us to eat all week.  I also left a note for the folks who watch the place while we're gone, telling them to pick green beans and take as many as they wanted.

When I got home, I was so sad.  There are still lots and lots of beans, but more than half of them are days past when they should have been picked.  Certainly no good for canning.  I will probably be able to get another 3 or 4 quarts out of what's left.

I hate for all the work of planting and caring to go to waste like that. 

My only consolation is the beans didn't do so well this year, thanks to some naughty rabbits eating the plants.  We would have wasted a whole lot more if the plants were thriving. 

Also, I will cook up those that are too big and save them in a frozen chicken treat for when the chicks get older. 

Same goes for the cucumbers.  We canned some, we took some with us, we wasted some.  Although, unlike beans, the cucumber plants still have plenty of blooms on them, seeing as how each plant makes approximately 50,000 cucumbers.  We shall have plenty of pickles.

One of the many unusable cukes.

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Other plants were nice enough to wait until we got back home to mature.

Our first attempt at onions has gone very well.  What I'm going to do with them all, I have no idea.

Very happy with the pepper plants this year.

We didn't plant a single sunflower.  These all just popped up from last year's seeds which landed in the garden.

While the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen, the plants themselves are a mess.  They looked great before we left, but upon return we found them falling over and being taken over by the cucumber plants.  There are plenty of tomatoes, if we can get to them.

Imagine my surprise when I found this in the middle of one of my tomato plants.  Can't say I've ever seen that before!

a blanket of watermelon plants.  They tripled in size while we were away, taking over one row of beans.

Fortunately, there are lots and lots of watermelons hiding in there.

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In orchard news...

We came home to a mess of problems.

Most of the apples on most of the trees look like this.

We planted a couple nectarine trees a couple of years ago.  This is the first year we have some fruit, but they are splitting and looking not so good.

The pears are doing well, as usual.  They never seem to be affected by bugs or any other malady.  This is from one of our newer trees.  Too bad I don't like pears.

************ 5 **************

On to the root veggies...

The carrots are growing strong, despite the weeds that grew over vacation.  COW picked one the other day, and they aren't quite ready yet.  The one he picked, though, was nice and orange and straight, so we're hopeful.

We had a bumper crop of potatoes last year, so we're hoping for similar results.  The tops are starting to brown, so we'll know soon.
As I was out picking beans yesterday, in a row between the melons and the falling over tomatoes, I saw some leaves that didn't belong.  I then remembered that COW had planted some sweet potatoes this year.  We have about four plants (I can't tell exactly how many with all the overgrowth crowding them) that are doing smashingly well.  Can't wait to see how those potatoes look!

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The moment you've all been waiting for and didn't even know it...

chick photos!

Chickens grow quickly, and ours are in their awkward teen phase.

And as in high school, there are those annoying girls who are immune from the "awkward" of the teen phase.  The "Easter egg" chicks are the popular cheerleaders in this coop school. 

Notice the legs?  They're green!  And they're supposed to be! 
We have one chick that I'm still worried about.  (The one with the crooked neck straightened out nicely.) 

Is that the most pathetic thing you've ever seen?  She still eats and drinks, but she's not nearly as active as the others.  Plus, she looks like Ros from Monster's, Inc.  Not a good look for a chicken. 

The 31 chicks outgrew their little area, so we have now opened the entire room for them to run around. 

These buggers are so fast, and with the generous amount of room, the kids can't catch them anymore. It's fun to just sit and watch their antics, though.  It was especially fun to watch one who had caught a bug try to eat it without the others snatching it first.  The kids were in a fit of giggles every time she had to quickly pick the bug back up and take off around the coop with 5 chicks chasing her.  It took her about five minutes, but she finally got that bug down.  (It was a really big bug!)

Update:  After writing this, I went down to feed the chicks.  The sick one has gone to chick paradise, and no, I don't mean the backyard of Backyard Chicken Lady.

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For those of you not on Facebook, we have new animals on the farm, who (smartly) do not depend on us for their well-being.  They live in our driveway's tree line and simply saunter from one side of the drive to the other.

Mama Turkey and her five little poults.  (One is still in the grass.)

Much to my brother's chagrin, and despite Lizzi's wonderful idea to catch her:

"Such a rookie hun - soak raisins in brandy and leave them in little paper cones with glue round the rims...bird tries to eat raisins, gets head stuck, gets drunk, wanders around blindly and you go and collect. Old poacher's trick AND you've made a start on the stuffing

this mama will not be on our table come Thanksgiving, and her babies will not be in our coop in order to feed us next year.  If she can survive (and help her babies survive) the coyotes and dogs which live all around us, she deserves to live.

Now, go see Jen and all her Quick Take friends.

Have a lovely day!

Don't forget to come back for our Ten Things of Thankful this weekend!