Oh my goodness what a great break!!  We took a vacation (literally) from the internet and our television.  I initially intended for the vacay to be 21 days.  BUT, then I loved it and decided I’d make it ’til December 1st.  Alas cabin fever set in and I caved after TWENTY THREE days.  But, with a twist.  I went ahead and installed a child guard software on the computer that only allows me a certain amount of time on the computer and only during very specific hours.  It’s one half hour in the AM (6:00-6:30) so that it falls after dressing/devotions and before the little ones are awake.  In the afternoon it’s an hour between 2:00 and 3:00 – so after phonics (little kids) and history/science with the big kids.   So far so good!

Although it took a LOT of work!  I had to transfer all my files into shared folders and set up separate windows accounts for each family member.  DH was sweet enough to password protect his account and promises not to tell me the password, lol.  Truth is, I have NO self control, so I have to build it in for myself.  And it’s working beautifully so far.

So, did I accomplish anything during those 23 days?  Sure did!  I switched out all of the summer/spring clothes for winter/fall and packed up the warm stuff.  Separated everything into Trash, Give Away, and Keep piles and got them packed back up, with the exception of the shoes.  I made the girls dresses and skirts for Unschool Day and we have really thrown ourselves into Tapestry of Grace and we’re loving it!

Unschool Day Picnic

Unschool Day Picnic

Pic1 Unschool Morning

I had time to make Abigail a new bag and an apron, complete with an EGG pocket for her birthday.

An apron like mama's!

An apron like mama's!

A mama from RGT made milk crate covers and they were so cute we made some as well!

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

I did INDEED learn to knit while we were on our break and I can now honestly say I can cast on, knit, purl, yarn over, bind off, and a couple other hand things.  With the help of online friends I discovered RAVELRY.com and I’m loving that!   Now, there are knitting sites and there are KNITTING sites.  This is the latter.  Oh my!  You can look up yarn reviews, patterns that are most popular, HUNDREDS of free patterns, you can sort through them, see the completed projects… It’s absolutely incredible.

My next project is LegWarmies.

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

I just know they’re perfect for us because the little girls will go through tights like crazy but Iowa in the winter is too cold for just socks.  I’m going to forego the stripes for the first pair and give it a shot on some pretty peony colored wool.  I’m using this pattern and I’m pretty excited to get started!   Ana suggested I size them for Sarah so that IF they’re too small they can be for baby Daniella and if they’re too big then Abigail can wear them.  Good idea!

So, it was a pretty fruitful three weeks.  We spent a few weekends at the timber and on the trail.  We gathered wild berries, wild elderberries, wild plums.  We harvested most of the garden.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

And some taters

And some taters

Did a little baking…

Pic9 Making bread on the weekend

We’re preparing to hatch our last round of laying hens for the year.  I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am that we got out of the house and enjoyed the bounty of the season.  It’s hard to truly appreciate how beautiful fall is unless you’re outdoors.  Here in Iowa  it is absolutely the BEST time of year.  It isn’t too hot, it’s not too cold, and there is a harvest to be seen all around you.

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Our Bounty of Plums!

Our Bounty of Plums!

Trail5

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

And, naturally we had time to read a few good books.

Pic11 Reading more

Legend has grown this year into a big beautiful brute.   Tira, our beloved good mama, has had a new litter of baby bunnies.

Pic12 Leg and Abby

On the homeschooling front we’re also seeing our hard work come to fruition.  Little Rebecca has memorized almost all of her phonics… She’s in SUCH a big hurry to be able to read.  But her enthusiasm is lovely.  Elizabeth Grace is reading quite well now.  She memorizes with ease and we made her some flashcards yesterday, lol.  She was so excited.   She’s reading four and five letter words now with ease and some that are larger as long as they are phonetically correct.  We ordered new math books for her yesterday as she is a WORKBOOK lover.  Gasp!  Yes, I suppose every family has to have one.   Ana and Christian are enjoying TOG.  Although I’ll readily admit that Christian is the one who loves it most.  This surprised me VERY much as he was originally a hesitant book lover.  I’m thrilled!

Tapestry is working out just as I had hoped.  At this point I can safely say we WILL be using Tapestry next year as we enter our first year of high school.

And finally our most important update.  You all know we had our cerclage surgery in Iowa City.  The placenta had moved 100% out of the way and is not even considered low lying.  I’m now past 22 weeks…. A point we greatly feared we’d never even make it to.  God is good…  ALL the time.   Our Baby Girl is growing beautifully and is right on track.  We had a beautiful ultrasound of her last week and we are SO incredibly grateful for this little one.  I get comments like this must be old hat.  She’s our ninth baby, our eleventh pregnancy.  No, no it never is.  Each time is special, each time is unique.  Each pregnancy is a completely and totally different resulting in a completely unique and beautiful blessing especially meant for our family.  Old hat?  Um, no.

Sooooooooo… What’s next for the family?

Well, we have play-doh and some bread to make today.  Afterall it’s difficult to make the earth without play-doh.   It’s time to gather nuts and I’m wrangling for a trip to the timber again this weekend.  My great uncle went through and labeled various types of trees in the timber… It will make for an incredible leaf collection for the children.  They’ve learned to identify many trees but there are SO many we don’t know yet.  I’m dreadful… I can tell a maple from an oak, but the only tree I REALLY know is a shagbark hickory.  And that one is REALLY obvious.    We have a pioneer festival coming up in October that will be fun and exciting.  We go every year and drink real rootbeer, see blacksmithing and spinning, and enjoy talking to the soap lady.  They always have lefse and Ana enjoys the lady who does geneaology.  It inspired the trip to the Norwegian festival this year.    The boys are going on their annual camping trip to Wisconsin in the next few weeks. I’m only a tiny bit jealous, kwim?  Ana and I have a llama and alpaca festival planned for October as well.  We’re going to buy some natural yarn and try our hands at some simple dying…. tutorial here if you want to peek.  I’m terribly excited about this… And a little fearful that I’ll destroy some really beautiful Alpaca wool.  And, of course, we’re expecting the wee one to debut in December.

We’re also planning a move.  To where?  Oh sigh.  DH got transferred in his job.  The REALLY big decision is whether to have him drive there 2-3 days per week or to move there full time and he’ll work there 4 days a week with one day at home.  He’s been doing the drive for weeks now while all of this medical mess was up in the air.   But, we’re thinking we’d like to be moved by Spring.   We like this house well enough, but I’m not going to lie… If we could find a house with an acreage with a BIG barn or with a little pasture, we’d love it!  A four bedroom farm house with a horse barn and pasture came up last week, but it would only increase his drive at this point.

We’re still very much up in the air about this and it is on my prayer list…  Not to necessarily find the “perfect” house but to be where God wants me when He wants me there…  After all, that’s the best place to be, blossoming wherever God plants us.

Advertisements

I know how busy ya’all are…. It being Spring and all.  You can hardly tell here today as it is a very chilly 50 degrees.  We *did* get internet back as I’ve been missing it desperately, wanting to do some writing and planning of some of new curriculum for the oldest two…  And wanting to post, but since I didn’t have any pictures, and I know ya’all LOVE pictures, I resisted the urge to post at all.

 

First a couple of my newest chickies…  DH ordered a few of every kind he could think of that were available from McMurray’s.  Unfortunately, we lost several.  Eight to be exact.  They felt it was probably my use of alfalfa as bedding as it can have mold or mildew in it and chicks are extremely respiratory sensitive.  Despite this fact, they DID honor their livability guarantee which just SHOCKED me and I was so very impressed by that.  Honestly, I’d have rather had the chickens.  But it was nice that they performed so honorably.

My favorite chicks have been the Hamburgs, which unfortunately were decimated in the last two days of death.  But, I also LOVE the Blue Andalusions!

Blue Andalusian Chicks

Blue Andalusian Chicks

 

If you look in the background of these chickies, one of which is my new Buff Orpington rooster, you’ll see the rainbow of chicks we received!

Rainbow 'O Chicks

 

We’ve been very busy creating a colony for our rabbits vs. keeping them in hutches.   It’s in the works, so I promise indoor/outdoor pictures when we get the opportunity.  Christian bought a Flemish Giant buck this last weekend and  he’s a cute little guy.  I have ZERO idea what we’ll do with him, but he is very loveable.  And Lizzie finally got to pick up her little pygmy doe.  Angel is the sweetest addition we’ve gotten so far and we LOVE her.  Wait ’til you see!!  She is too cute for words.

Legend has been growing like a weed and he has the most beautiful personality, not to mention he is one GORGEOUS German Shepherd!  We have recent pictures of him as well.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend on alert.

Legend on alert.

He is absolutely an amazing dog and we love him dearly.  He’s TRULY been a family addition although he certainly listens to Ana best of all. 

And finally, we prepared dandelions for a midafternoon pick-me-up.

Sauteed Dandelions

Sauteed Dandelions

We sauteed dandelion greens in butter, garlic, orange peppers, and onions.  The taste was wonderful, but way too salty.  I added a bit of extra salt and it definitely did NOT need it.  We’ll try again tomorrow.

Friday we’re making dandelion syrup for the weekend pancakes.  It should be a lot of fun for both the  kids and myself.  I’ll post pictures!  Thank you Donna from BabyWearers for the idea!!

The weather has gone from a high of sixty, to today…  Expected high of 32 degrees.  Oh, yes, and 2-4 inches of snow.  Sigh.  This wouldn’t be so incredibly disappointing except Mark and I were going away!  We were leaving the children with my folks and going to see Tim Hawkins!  Do you know him?  We find him wildly hilarious, but you have to be able to laugh at yourself.   Homeschoolers, beware.  If you can’t laugh at yourself, do not watch his Adams Family parody!  And, yes, he’s  a homeschooler.   Funnier than that is Cletus Take the Reel.  Unfortunately, we’ve found the hard way that unless your family is “redneck” and you know country songs, you won’t find it very funny.  HOWEVER, considering that we meet both of the former criteria, we were laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks. 

I’ll admit that I absolutely CAN’T wait to see him.  Although, the concept of just getting to spend 15 hours alone with my husband is thrilling!  What will we do?  We’re coming home that night so that we can milk Cinderella in the morning.  A bit of a bummer.  Cinderella however, has amazed us with her drive to be near people.  As a matter of fact, she cleared a 4.5 foot fence yesterday.  How does a goat do that?   It’s amazing.  So, we’re working on a new fence for her this weekend.  She gave a whopping full gallon on Wednesday!  I was so impressed.  It made her prison break a little more bearable. 

Half of our new homeschooling books came yesterday!  WooHoo!  Nothing like opening a huge box of shiny, new books!  What a thrill!

Legend is doing beautifully.  He has had zero accidents so far and Karen tells me that he was not potty trained.  She did tell me to get a large crate, but with a divider to make it smaller. I’m sure that made all the difference.  She sent him home with all sorts of goodies, but his absolute favorite is a little blue fleece blanket, covered in brown puppies, that smells like home.  What a thoughtful gift to give a pup!  He goes to the veterinarian this morning for his physical and to meet her.  We told her we were homeschoolers and that we’re using it as a field trip, so she’s preparing a little package for the kids!  How thoughtful is that? 

So, Ana is absolutely in love.  She is convinced that Legend is the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful puppy in the world.  I’m not sure she’s wrong.  He can sit like a good boy.  He isn’t fearful, jumpy, timid, or hyper.  I think he’s the perfect fit for us.  He just seems to be energetic, friendly, and the perfect velcro pup.

Ana, Dog Whisperer

Ana, Dog Whisperer

Legend loves being near us.  Everywhere we go, he goes.  He especially seems to love Mark.  But Tim loves him best I’m pretty sure.  Legend has not quite figured out steps yet.  And he thinks he’s a big dog.  He tried to convince me yesterday that he doesn’t need to use steps.  He thinks he can just hop on the porch like a big dog.   Maybe someday Legend!  Right now his front half can get up there, but that back half is just weighing him down!

I Think I Can

I Think I Can

And, of course, one step behind,  is Tim.  “Need help Boy?”

Legend will meet Bear this weekend.  Bear is my parents’ dog.  She is an Akita mix and really should have been a lap dog.  She’s getting old, but she’s the sweetest, quietest dog.  And she likes other dogs.  Well, maybe.  Actually we’re not sure Bear likes or dislikes anything.  She’s just okay with everything.  With the exception of her lawn chair, which she loves.  It is really odd to be sitting out at Mom and Dad’s, everyone in a lawn chair around the fire or whatnot, and Bear in her lawn chair. 

I was thinking the other day about how all three of us kids have dogs.  My brother and his wife have two, Baby and Precious.  One is a German Shorthair, the other a Lab.  My sister and her husband have Jeep.  All are spoiled dogs, though well behaved.  Jeep is exceptionally talented.  I, no kidding, watched the dog open his own Christmas presents this year!  I wish I had had it on camera, I would put it on YouTube for all of you.  It was amazing!  Sean (my brother-in-law)  has spent a huge amount of time with Jeep.  Dalmatians aren’t well known for their trainability to say the least.   Sean has apparently deeply influenced Tim.  I found this out yesterday as Tim tried to explain to Legend how to “High Five.”  Hmmmm…  I think “Down” might be easier.

Have a wonderful day!