Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nisqually Valley Wildlife Refuge, and a visitor

Every week, I try to throw a little excietment into our school work with a small field trip. Last week we went to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. There were hundreds of birds there, of every type, but mostly Canada Geese. We have seen tons of these lately in our vacation travels.

Cyan loves the geese. We have the movie "Fly Away Home" which is a really wonderful movie about a little girl who adopts a set of Canada Geese and then flies with them to their migration habitat 1700 miles from home. Cyan loves this movie, and she got it for Christmas. The geese sightings have been very timely, and just peeked her interested even more.


My MIL sent a little project to Cyan for this week. This little pink dog tucked under Cyan's arm is named SnowSweet. SnowSweet is traveling around the country. She lives in Georgia with her owner Kendell. Kendell will get her back after April 30th and see where she went. I think the project is so amazingly cool that I am planning on having Cyan send out a little friend at the begining of next year. So far SnowSweet has come through the car wash with us, to Alex's school program, to the Wildlife Refuge, to Cyan's homeschool winter party, eaten food with our huge cat Taio, and collected eggs with Cyan. (She is only here for a week.) We wrote in her journal today, and are sending her to Cyan's friend in WI so she can share in the fun. It has been a fun little project.

My life has been taken over by how busy we are at the moment. I am trying really hard to get all my projects done so I can move my sewing area back into the garage and take a break from sewing. The kids are moved in their new rooms, and some tweaking needs to be done, but they are getting settled. Logan has a cold and is getting 6 teeth at the same time... poor sweet baby... and so he is grumpy and pretty much hate it when I am on the computer. I am entering a time of few and far between updates. I am hoping that everything picks up again with the spring.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

First Birthday Party

Logan's first birthday was a very small afair. We only invited people that would fit comfortably in our house in January. And most of them were not able to come. So it ended up just being my dad, Margret, her daughter Rae, and us. It was nice though. Very relaxed, very easy. Just Logan's cup of tea.

Pictures of babies eating their first birthday cake, with cake smashed all over their faces, is apparently a new trend (at least in the last generation). My dad was a little flabergasted we wanted to take so many pictures of my sweet baby with chocolate covering all of his cuteness. lol... He remembers me doing this with both other kids too, and says he didn't get it then either.

But man, he is SO cute!

And his celebration called out the baker in me. You may not know this, but I am not a baker. I am very good at cooking, but baking is not an art I possess. I tried to make these cupcakes look like mushrooms. I think the rock candy at the bottom is the only part that really gave it away. They are cute anyway. Just not necessarily mushrooms. I have to keep working on it this year to see if I can get it for next year (which of course, I already have all planned out in my head).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy First Birthday Logan!


My baby is a year old today. Can you believe it?! I sure can't. It is very hard for me to wrap my head around what has happened in the last year. But here I am, with a husband with a good paying job, a drive to grow as much as possible, and get out of as much debt as possible, a 1st grade homeschooler, a preteen, and a toddler. Who would have thought?


I feel endlessly blessed by this life.

Logan can now walk a mile a minute... all with his little hands up, ready to catch him if he tumbles, which he rarely does now. He is starting, slowly, to sign and speak words again. Which I whole heartedly appreciate now since he took that screeching hiatus for becoming bipedal. He is starting to have preferences in toys... he is starting to have "favorites".

Like his tooth brush. The kid LOVES that thing. It is so cute. But, if he looses it while toddling around the house, and he follows me in while I brush my teeth, a small floor riot ensues, in which he nearly pulls my pants off, trying to look in the toothbrush cup again to see if it has magically appeared in the 5 seconds since he was picked up to check it out last. All the while pointing and being particularly cute when I say it isn't there by crying, in the sweet open mouthed, heart broken way, into my face.

Similar tactics have ventured to other areas of his life... namely: food. If we don't like a food, what we do is put it all in the bowl on our tray, and throw it, bowl and all, on the floor if no one is close enough to catch it. This is getting old. But, if you are there to catch it, he will hand it to you... so it is sort of a race between the thrower and me, to see if it hits the deck, or not. If I am totally on top of it, I may save my carpet.

All in all, he has been such a blessing and this last year has transformed my life in way more ways than just being the mother of three. He is an amazingly bright kid. As every parent proudly professes when their child is 'normal'. lol... but he is. Smart, and sweet, and oh so cute.

I love him dearly.


Happy birthday sweet baby!

Here is a link to a set of pictures I put together of this year. It is so amazing how they grow! The first year goes by so fast... transformation in life and in this little person who went from being a new born, to a little boy, in no time flat. The miracle of life is truly just that... a miracle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A little bit on buying local...

So this whole blog is turning into conversations (mostly with myself, I have noticed... lol) about food and how it is prepared, and where it comes from, and books I am reading on it. lol... What else to do in January when you are a die hard gardener and the ground is frozen solid? You plan. So I am planning... and also thinking, re-evaluating, and re-prioritizing.

What does it mean to buy local? I have been having trouble with this. Becuase it seems that all the stuff I can get local will help, but what about the stuff I know I can't? Grains? Oatmeal? Rice? These are staples in our diet. And buying them locally would pretty much mean either getting them from a feed store (and then their practices would be seriously questioned and not near as defined by law) or growing it myself (I can only do so much with my back yard!). It seems, from my readings, no one else really bothers either... that or they can't get it local just like me.

I am now reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... which is an awsome book. I am finding it hard to put it down to do anything but perhaps take a bath (it comes with me). But even she has recipes in there that call for flour... rice... and other things I know don't grow in New England. So what is up with the grains? Do we just bypass them for the greater idea that if the other things in our diet are local that is enough? I mean, I can totally do that. I don't mind supporting people who grow large crops of good organic rice, or process whole grains into flour. I feel fine supporting those people. But are there any other ways to get these things? Or just buy organic and hope for the best?

Just my thoughts for the day.

That and a cute picture should do it:

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma



I have just finished the Omnivore's Dilemma. It is an intense book. It is one of those that you really want to read with a highlighter and a pen to write in the margins. lol... I am interested in reading whatever else Micheal Pollan puts out.

Man, the book is SO interesting. Really good information, put out in a way that is matter of fact, and not alarming in the slightest (unless of course, the content is alarming... I think I meant not "alarmist" in the sense that he doesn't go "This is TERRIBLE, look what THEY do....." KWIM?) He goes through four different meals, from as industrial as you can get to as 'natural' as you can get. McDonald's of course, came first. Then Whole Foods industrial organics. Then PolyFace Farms (a sustainable grass/meat farm). Then a meal he hunts, kills, grows or gathers himself.

He follows each one back to the very start of the food chain on which they were formed.

For McDonald's it was industrial grown corn to feed the chickens and the beef (cows are not made to eat corn). It is pretty amazing how much of the fast food is made from corn. You'd never know from eating it, but really, it is all corn fed meat, fried in corn oil, battered in corn starch, corn fats, and salts from corn, with a side of High Fructose Corn Syrup soda. I had some idea, but I just didn't realize how true his most famous quote is: "So that's us; processed corn, walking."

He follows that up with a nice stint on an industrial organic farm. Then moves on to PolyFace, then on to his own hunting/mushroom hunting/gardening experiences.

Fascinating. Just really really interesting stuff.

He makes a point of staying very objective through out the entire book, and sharing his opinions in a language that it is clear he is owning each and every one of them. He doesn't expect you to think the way he does... he just says what HE thinks. It is a nice refresher for those of us who have read "fad" diet books where there is only ONE way to do things (and here is why - and here is the science behind it is on page 452 - and here is why everything else is wrong on page 597... lol.).

The other two books I have right now promise to be lighter, and I am ready. Don said to me the other day that I really need to find something that I can read for pleasure. Something that doesn't give me more to work on and worry about at the end of the day. I said that is what NetFlix is for. lol... he wasn't convinced.

Busy Busy Bees

We have been busy. Don is home (since the 5th, and until the 21st) for vacation. We have been trying to do the best we can to fit again in this little (900 sq ft) house. Currently, we are moving every one around. lol... Logan and Cyan are moving into the large room (which is Alex's right now) Alex is moving into Cyan's smaller room. But since Cyan's room was painted bright purple with little butterflies all over it when we moved her in it, it had to be changed. So now both big kids are camped in the big bedroom and Logan is still with us, while the third room is under construction. We are hoping it will be a nice arrangment, because this will, no doubt, be the last time we move everything around in this house (that is, with out moving out of this house).

I appriciate your patience. :) Soon my world will be back to normal, as will my blog. I have been reading a good deal (Don and I really like to sit and rub each other's feet while reading on the couch after the kids go to bed) and I have two new books to share in the book reviews. It has been a wonderful, although busy, couple of weeks. I am ready for the world to get back to normal... but I am also excited for a couple new set ups that will make life easier (namely, Logan being able to sleep somewhere else for at least a little bit of time.)

Other news will be bulleted for ease:

* Logan has given up everything (all forms of communication have been reduced to screaching) for walking, but man he is cute toddling around!

*Cyan is reading. And her math is really taking off. That is exciting... we also just joined a second homeschool group to add some other kids into our days. This should help with the social aspect, which is our only trouble these days.

*Alex is recovering from surgury on his arm. He got a something removed. We get it back from the pathologist sometime today or tomorrow. They doubt it is anything, but I am anxious all the same.

*Don is loving having time off, although he is really enjoying pointing out every traffic infraction he can while we are driving. This gets annoying.

Much love to you bloggers!

Living The Good Life

Yet another book about the ethics of food, (and this one also goes into the ethics of energy, water, and even waste disposal).

In this book, well it is really a diary of a families choice (mama, papa, and one spunky 6 year old boy) to go "money free" for 6 months.

They live in Australia, and so much of the culture, and even some of the language was different than something I would normally run into. Esp being from the wettest part of North America myself, drought often has no reach here. But there, it is becoming an every year problem. In the book you follow this family through their 6 self sustainable months through everything, from eating pumpkin (which they call all squash, from what I gathered... I would hate to think they were eating actual pumpkin all that time) every day for a while to what to feed Possum, their noisy and demanding milk goat.

The book was well written, although some of the language was clearly Aussie, and terribly interesting.

One of my complaints about the book is that I wish that she had gone in more depth about how they did their daily self sustainable things. She talks often about the 5000 kilo tanks she has outside, but does not ever show a picture of them, or where they are on her property. She talks at length about the composting toilet, but again, no picture, or how they put it in, etc. Some of those things would be helpful if they ever were to print a second addition to the book... to help others get used to the idea of that path.

It was nice to read that it took her three years to get ready to do the 6 month project (and in some cases much much longer prep was employed. Trev, her husband, built his own log cabin in the bush and it took 15 years.) So they had some tools. And it was nice to know that not just "everybody" could do it, but that this goal, of getting off the world oil tit, was a long term one... one that even the most prepared had to work at for a while before they could really employ.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Our Birdfeeder

Alex, Cyan and I spent the afternoon making a bird feeder today. It looks so great! Our idea was to make one so the birds would come right up to the window... it has been two days and they still wont eat there (or they haven't found it)... Cyan pushes her stool over every time she thinks of it to see if they have eaten any of the birdseed we put in there.... but alas, they really haven't touched it.

(EDIT: Two weeks later this is still true, not sure what to do about that.)

In other, bird related news, OMGoodness! I have producing chickens. We can't keep up with them. :) We have been giving away eggs for Christmas, and for no good reason after that one was used up... because we have far more from our 6 bitty's than we could ever eat. It has taken me on a fun tour of baking that has put a bit more meat (or not-so-meat) on all our bums. lol...

My plan is to start letting the kids sell these wonderful back yard free range organic chicken eggs for $1 a half dozen. And throw the producing chickens into my garden area to turn it over for me... I think I got the better end of this deal, but I don't think the chickens are minding too much picking bugs out of the dirt all day long, and wow... these are some wonderful eggs!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

OUTSIDE!

Sorry, I have been absent for the last week. First off, a couple days after Christmas I got food poisoning. This isn't the first time I have had it, but man, it was the worst. I was so sick that I was ill for days, although the throwing up only lasted about 7 hours (which is a lot when you think the average flu, you only throw up three times, and I threw up closer to 8 and was still heaving after). And from nothing except Arose Con Pollo lunch, at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It is sad, but I don't think I will be able to eat there for quite a while.

But the other reason I have been absent is because we have been getting OUTSIDE! We took a walk at the waterfall park next to us yesterday and spent the rest of the day drawing and talking about it. There were these beautiful Canada Geese that were nesting in for the night about 10 feet from the path and were completely undisturbed by my two kids exclaiming loudly each time one of them moved. I wish I had my camera with me, but alas, I didn't.

Then we had a 9pm New Years Eve party with Cyan and Logan and a bit of sparkling cider. We called Alex (who is on East Coast time and therefore was perfect!) at "midnight" and watched the ball drop from last year (we were 4 minutes late for the live feed) on You Tube. It was a lot of fun.... the kids loved it, and it was only an hour after bedtime. So Don and I loved it too...

Today, I spent the whole of the afternoon being creative with some chicken coop issues. My chickens are happy birds for the most part, but their coop lacked some serious comfort that would make me feel better about having them. Like nesting boxes, a roosting pole, and a floor. I solved all of that with no money... and am terribly proud! We had boxes that they had been avoiding because they were on the ground, and so I took two 10 gallon buckets and flipped them over, then put a board across the top and put the nesting boxes on there. Then I added a 2X2 that I nested into the dog kennel siding securely as I could and put it across the front of the three boxes. Then I took a bale of ceder chips (that we use for their bedding and floor) and I put the whole thing in there and added some to the boxes. I moved their light so it was warming the part where the boxes weren't... so they could sleep if they wanted to while it was on.... and I have a completely comfortable chicken coop. I didn't even have to leave the house. The chickens are enjoying a treat of scraps from making some chicken noodle soup (no, I don't feed them meat) and digging around their new "floor" right now.

Creature comforts are good.

In other news, I have been reading the book Omnivore's Dilemma... wow. What an intense bit of information.