A Crossroads

Well, It seems that Blogger will no longer allow me to post pictures without an upgrade so, I've come to a point in my blogging where I have to make a couple of decisions. Do I like it here at Blogger well enough to stay or, is it time to move on? I have been considering this for a while now and I'm feeling the pull to move but, I'm not sure how much work it will be and I really have no major complaints about Blogger so, I'm not sure yet.

The other thing is, if I must upgrade, or even go through the trouble of moving, that effort and money must be justified. In other words, it's time to attempt making some moolah with this here blog either directly or indirectly. And, just how do I plan on doing that?

In any event, it appears that it's time for things to change around here and, much like kids growing and seasons changing I am so very unprepared and unsure and desperately wishing I had a pause button for this whole life thingy because, I'd really like to hang back, right here, for just a little while longer.

So, it'll be quiet around here for a bit, while I sort all this out and fret over how terribly fast this planet of ours moves round and round. And I hope that when I return with my upgrade or news of moving, you'll still be here. Well, not here, here, necessary but, checking in periodically as you do. :-)

Double Digits!

And just like that, she's 10. TEN!

I hope all your wishes come true my little chicken hugger ;)

A New-ish Bath Mat

Scraps from the discontinued, designer fabric samples that my cousin pulled from the trash at the furniture store she worked at, and passed on to me.

An old towel for the back attached stitch in the ditch style and, store bought binding around the edge.

 Pulled from the trash and now used to catch the drips from little toes.

Summer Reading

We started listening to the Penderwicks in the car early last week, on the way to gymnastics for one and a walk in the woods for the rest of us. It's a wonderful, funny, summery story about the adventures of four sisters vacationing at a cottage in the country and the boy they meet there. We're finding ourselves looking for more places to go and making up excuses to sit in the car so we can listen just a little bit longer. So good.

I'm re-reading a favorite homeschool/unschooling book, The Unschooling Handbook, one of the first I ever read and a source of great inspiration.

The boy can not wait until he can read it on his own so, I've started reading the Harry Potter Series to him. He just can't stand being out of the loop any longer, and honestly neither can I. Yes, I confess, I've never read them myself.

The middle girl started reading May Bird in bed at night but, learned it was just a little too creepy for her overly active imagination and has decided it is definitely a daytime read. I read it to everyone a few years ago and although I can't remember the details I do remember we all enjoyed it. She has also started Shakespeare's secret (since she needed a night time read) and is loving the 4th book of the Ranger's Apprentice. How she can have so many stories going at once I have no idea.

My oldest is reading Kira Kira She says, "It's good. It's about 2 sisters and they're moving." She's only read through the second chapter, but it sounds promising.

And, the baby girl, who is definitely not a baby, is still in love with her Skippyjon books, thankfully they all come with CD's so she can listen again and again, without me having to loose my voice.

And for the hubs and I our first Patrick Rothfuss on audiobook The name of the Wind.

What's next on the list? I'm thinking we'll join Bird and Little Bird's Read Aloud Book Along. And Jessica makes The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making look too good to pass up.

What's on your reading list? Anything old or new to suggest? I'm giving myself permission this summer to read and read and read for the fun of it and I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do so, don't just keep it to the kids books, although I do love those too.

While I do have an Amazon Affiliate account and, would greatly appreciate the little bump towards school supplies if you choose to purchase any of our suggested books, we found all our copies at the local library. The library is always the first place we look for good books and we'd encourage you to do the same.

Not in a Million Years

This morning I woke and did the, now routine, emptying of the dishwasher while brewing my tea. Right now, I like drinking it on the front porch with a view of the garden, the kid's sand pit and the chicken coop.

It's important, that first cup of tea. It deserves my full attention and I sometimes have to force myself to just relax and enjoy it. It's taken years for me to be okay with the fact that I am not an early or quick riser and, that it's okay to take that extra 10, 15 or 20 minutes every morning to let myself fully wake and prepare for the day. And, today was going to be a day I knew, I'd need that slow start.

So, I sat enjoying my tea, ignoring the nagging voices telling me to water the garden, wake the kids and just start our busy day already.

As I drank my last sip and contemplated taking a few extra minutes to just stay there and soak in the fresh morning air, the chicks decided to pay me a visit. You see, they have figured out that there is an unfenced, poorly tended, little garden growing along the walk leading up to the front porch and, that those tiny pea plants, small tufts of lettuce and ripening strawberries, are quite delicious.

Now, I'm really okay sharing a bit of the harvest with our sweet new pets but, after spending an afternoon with a grumbling 9 year old scrubbing the front porch, because it was covered in chicken poo yesterday afternoon, I was not about to let them anywhere near that sidewalk or my front stoop.

I tried shooing them away with my hands but, they seemed to think I had some yummy offering from the kitchen, I tried scootching them with my foot but, they thought my shoe looked quite interesting and tried inspecting it, I tried shouting at them, they looked at me with blank stares of confusion so, I did the only other thing I could think of. . .

I grabbed the broom left behind from the previous days cleaning and brushed those birdies away like some crazy lady from an old western film. And then, I started laughing (making me look all the more crazy) as I realized that never, not ever, not in a million bajillion years would I ever have thought I would be shooing chickens off my front porch with a broom!

If you had told me just a few short years ago that I would someday be scrubbing chicken poo from my front stoop, or desperately trying to keep a few strawberries, peas and lettuce leaves from those great grandchildren of T-rex, I would have laughed in your face.

To be honest, they kinda give me the heeby jeebies, with those beaks and emerging wattles and claw like feet and, I shriek like a school teacher who has suddenly found a toad in her pocket, when they start flapping those wings.

This chicken thing, it's not my thing.

And that, is the coolest part.

I never thought that by encouraging them to explore their interests now, these kids of mine, would strew my path and make my life so much richer. Because really, not in a million years would I have brought home a box full of chicks, or spent hours watching and learning the finer details and strategies of baseball, or learned to grind stone into shiny jewelry, or read Skippyjon Jones enough times to perfect my Spanish accent (okay, maybe perfect is too strong of a word)

And, I can't help but wonder what other, not in a million years moments, these awesome littles have in store for me.

Hammers and Nails and Shovels, Oh My!

My kids like to dig. A lot. And to build things, or at least, pretend to build things. Most of the time nothing much comes from all the banging and sawing and digging except some banging, sawing and, well, holes of course. It took a couple months but we were able to contain the hole digging to one large sandy area in the front yard at the bottom of the berm separating us from the road. We refer to it as the sand pit. But, the rest of the building occurs wherever and whenever it's needed.

This means, that at any given moment of any given day my yard will be strewn, not with toys, but saws, hammers, nails, boards, shovels and any other dangerous tool a kid could find useful. They are all aware of the need for safety and, for the most part, are trusted to use the tools.

To be honest, I'm never far away. Of course, that does not mean we don't have the occasional smashed thumb or, most recently and most severe, a severed fingernail but, I agree with Gever Tulley, and my own mom, when it comes to kids and tools.

Many, many years ago I called my mom to ask whether she thought my daughter, 3 or 4 at the time, was old enough to use sharp knives, she loved to cook and desperately wanted to help with the chopping, my mom lovingly pointed out that the worst that could happen was that she'd cut her finger, need a few stitches and learn a valuable lesson and she was right, of course.

There is a sense of importance when they use the tools, their play becomes more than play, it's serious business. I love that my kids are comfortable with tools, that they are aware, first hand, of the dangers and listen intently to warnings, even more so since the fingernail incident.

I don't usual think much of this hobby my kids share but, yesterday a man stopped by to survey the house for the insurance company, we had no idea he was coming. The house was a mess and the yard, well, the yard to me is lovely, sprinkled with the things that make us happy and keep us busy. But, to a surveyor for the insurance company? Not so much.

Not only had the kids been happily digging in the sand pit all morning, they had also been constructing a lovely home within it, meaning shovels, rakes, miscellaneous boards and the entire contents of the recycling bin, were everywhere.

My son's recent obsession with baseball means there is always a field set up and what's a resourceful boy to do but use the available scrap wood he finds as bases.

Then there's the "dock" the kids built when their friends visited, the one that's basically pallets stacked on the edge of the pond.

Not to mention the still under construction chicken coop with two by fours tossed under and around waiting to be made into fencing for the run, and all the garden junk I have laying about and oh yeah, there's that swing set in the back that is still waiting to be put back together from the move over a year and a half ago.

I believe the term construction zone was used.

I suppose I knew it was bad, but it all looks so pretty through my rose colored glasses. The kids happily digging and raking in the sand, the boy tossing the ball in the air, swinging his bat and running the bases and the messy garden waiting for me to finish my tea and get back to planting. The coop and run are looking great and only need another solid weekend of attention before they're done and that swing-set, well with a sand pit, a garden and chickens to tend to who can blame us for letting the swing-set go?

I tried not to let it bother me, but it did. The negative voices crept in, "What kind of mother lets her kids use a saw or hammer and nails? I should be ashamed. Why is it I can never keep up with all the messes, inside and out? I must be doing something terribly wrong. These kids should be playing with toys not tools. You should put away all your garden mess even if you're planning to get back to it after that tea break.

I suppose a major yard clean up is in order for this evening, it's wet and rainy and none of us are in the mood but, not everyone can see just how awesome it can be to live in a construction zone and we really wouldn't want to have any visitors get hurt, we'll try to be more careful Mr. Insurance Man and, maybe it's time we start working on that wood-shop we keep saying we'll set up in the garage.


 ~The fact that the train, that has gone by the house twice a day almost every day since we moved here over year and a half ago, still fascinates them.

~How tough my littlest little pumpkin can be. Lost a fingernail? No problem, "just paint the rest of my nails red so my fingers all match."

~The games the big girls create while completing the much dreaded chore of washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, and the fact that those big girls still love to play pretend.


~That my boy will practice baseball for about 2 hours in the rain before coming in soaked to the bone and grinning from ear to ear.

~The way getting high fives and cheers for a big hit or a good play, makes him cheer louder than anyone else for his teammates.

~How his sisters, who get very tired of watching little league, light up, giggle and bounce anxiously in their seats until they can congratulate him when he does well.

~The fact that my 7 year old, who only a short time ago would fall to pieces if he lost or was wrong about almost anything, has learned that loosing is part of the game and deals with it amazingly well. (Sometimes with 2 hour practice sessions in the rain.)

Between the Loads of Laundry

I'm always impressed at what kids can get done in the shortest bits of time. A call of, "we're leaving in 5 minutes!" is plenty of time to start one last game of make believe. 15 minutes waiting for mom to find the car keys, someone's missing shoe and the bag of library books is plenty of time to create a masterpiece with markers (with or without paper). And, that half hour or so before bed? Well, the possibilities are endless.

I have decided to take this lesson from my littles and try to squeeze more out of those bits of time I find sprinkled throughout the day. As it turns out, the time it takes to boil the water and steep my morning tea, is the perfect amount of time to unload the dishwasher. And on laundry day, I discovered that, apparently, the 58 minutes it takes for one load of laundry to go through the washing machine is plenty of time to head to the nearby park for the first, cold, swim of the season, find cool bits of seaweed, play in the sand, enjoy a little reading, and then stroll through the park on our way back to the car.

I feel like I've discovered a secret well of time, the ladle is small and I only get a sip at a time but, with enough sips, who knows, maybe I'll be able to write a blog post every now and then, or finish that quilt I've been working on for 5 years now, or maybe, just maybe stock my etsy shop that has been so neglected for so very long. 

The possibilities are endless, but somehow I know that what will most likely come of this discovery is just a few more stories for my youngest who's growing way too fast, a few extra conversations dreaming and planning with my oldest, a few more cuddles on the couch with my chicken loving ballerina girl, and some extra games of catch with my sweet boy.

And of course, a few quick trips to the beach between the loads of laundry.

The Kiddie Kitchen

This past Christmas, I sorta gave my husband an ultimatum, Santa needs to build something cool, or I'm buying her this because my sweet baby girl has asked for nothing since we moved to this house (and got rid of the broken, 10 yr old, plastic one) except for her very own kitchen.

Well, Santa, could not have us spending money we don't really have and she was really, really good this year. He sure is amazing, that Santa, with all the other work he's gotta do, you know, besides the Santa-ing, he really must be magic to have pulled this off.

And, I know for a fact, that he worked on this late at night, in a cold garage. It's perfect. And, she absolutely loves it.

So, the details.
  • The base was rescued from the discounted, damaged or returned cabinet pile at a local cabinet supplier. (Santa told me all about it, he knows how we like re-purposing things headed for the heap.)
  • One door was turned and a handle added for the stove. A ledge of wood scraps installed around the inside supports a cookie cooling rack for the oven rack. 
  • A piece of oak routered and stained to match was placed on top, we originally thought we wanted it painted, to look like a counter top, but all that wood is just too pretty.
  • Real stove knobs that actually turn, magic I tell you, and foamy, sticky tape finish off the stove top.

  • Custom, Santa built, shelving stained to match was attached to the back of the cabinet, extending above, to hold all the pretty little pots, pans and dishes. 
  • The sink is a thrifted, stainless steel bowl that, my girl discovered Christmas morning, actually holds water so, I covered the entire thing with some of our leftover oil and beeswax mixture to save it from water stains. She doesn't seem to mind the missing faucet so, for now, it'll stay like this.

  • The legs are store bought and add just the right amount of height for our growing 4 year old and her big brother and sisters.