Sunday, April 29, 2012

Silver and Gold

What a difference a simple phone call can make!  I have gained another sweet, special friend in my life who, until today, I had only spoken with through email.  What a surprise she gave me today when she called me!   Oh, I was so excited.  We had a wonderful conversation.  As I tried to finish up supper and all the watering and animal feedings, I couldn't help but think how the phone call made me smile from the inside out.  I wanted to do the same for someone else.  Who better to pick than another very special, close friend?  I have been missing her quite a bit more than I have slowed down enough to realize.  There was a song we used to sing in my Girl Scout days that said, "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other's gold."  Oh, how true!  It is so good to have friends who have and will continue to stick with you through the thick and thin of life.  What a blessing it is, too, when God places in our lives new friends, and we can journey along life's road together!

I love the close friends I have, new and old.  Each is beautiful in her own unique strengths and weaknesses.  What a blessing it is to have bonds with those who can share the special and ordinary moments in life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tacos Without the Seasoning Packet

Most of the time, I love it when my kitchen looks like this, at least until I have to clean it up, lol!  If my kitchen look like this, it means something fun is going on in the kitchen.  This is the mess I made tonight when I made homemade pizza- again.  Of course, the eggs and yellow onion had nothing to do with the pizza.  They were just waiting their turn to be put away after grocery shopping and egg gathering!  I have practiced and practiced the recipe, and I have finally gotten it right!  It is so soft and light!  I had to take a picture of the pizza I made to suit everyone.

There is adult pizza on the left, cheese pizza for Jacob in the middle, and pepperoni for Alissa on the right.  Pizza our way!  It's the beauty of homemade!  And we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

But!  The real purpose of this post was to ask you this one question:  What could you make if you had all these spices and a pound of ground chuck?

I made tacos!  I really do not like using store-bought seasoning mixes.  I have several recipes to make a large quantity of  taco seasoning mix to keep on hand, but I have yet to read through them or try any of them.  When I made tacos last night, I just looked at the back of a taco seasoning mix packet to see what spices were used, then I started experimenting!  This is what I came up with.  I'm sure it will change with time, but I heard no complaints last night!

Taco Seasoning
3/4 tsp salt
1 t paprika
3/4 t onion powder
3/4 t garlic powder
1 T chili powder

To make the tacos, I browned the meat and drained it.  Then I added all the spices and 1/2 cup of water.  I let the mixture come up to a boil.  Then I turned down the heat to let it simmer uncovered until most of the liquid was gone. 

Do you have a favorite seasoning mix you like to make?  Perhaps you have a taco seasoning mix that is better.  I would love for you to share!

You know I just have to give you a better look at the eggs in the basket.  These are the eggs I got out of one nest today!  We have four nests, but all the chickens want to lay in the same nest where Fern has been sitting on her eggs.  For two days the chickens and I couldn't synchronize our timing for me to retrieve the eggs.  Poor Fern was trying to lay on nine eggs this morning!  She finally got off the nest to let Rosetta get on, and at last, I was able to get the eggs.  I know Fern was happy!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Where the Wild Things Are

For weeks my eyes have been watching, looking, searching.  Not one trip by a window has found me not stretching my eyes as far as they might see.  The ears, too, filtering every sound of movement, filtering the joyful songs of spring from the birds, the grunts and squeals of my own hogs, the brays and calls of the neighbors' donkey and peacocks.  It is close.  It is near, but when, where?

Is that it I hear in the woods as I stand alone feeding my hogs?  Is that it I smell?  My heart tries to race with fear, but my mind tells it no.  It is only the rustling of the leaves blowing in the wind, the sounds of little critters playing in the cover of trees, the smell of my own hogs as the spring temperatures rise.

Supper is over.  Alissa runs to play in her room, and Jake runs outside to find his daddy.  I remain in the kitchen finishing up the cleaning.  In and out a couple of times little Jake runs wanting to know where Daddy is.  For one last searching trip to the front he heads.  I turn to put away some little something, and there I catch the sight from the kitchen that has no window but only a view from the adjacent breakfast room.  No, the eyes are playing tricks with the shadows again.  There is nothing there, but the heart commands the eyes not to move as hard as they try to look away.  There is a black bear in the field, my baby is running around somewhere out there, and what is that I see moving just now?  The brain commands the eyes to focus.  Hogs!  I run to the front to find Jake.  Praise God both he and his Daddy are on the front porch!  I feel sick as Bill asks me what's wrong.  "What's wrong?" I want to sarcastically repeat at him.  Is he not sitting on the front porch seeing right in front of him what I saw from a windowless kitchen?!?  Better yet, can he still not see what I still see that was not spooked off when I ran out of a noisy front door?  Are my eyes still playing mean tricks?  Feeling rather dumb, I ask, "Is that not the hogs?"  He looks up and scans the field before replying, "Oh, I guess it is."  Then he tells Jake and me to be quiet.  Really?  I just run through the house, tear open a terribly noisy front door to rescue my baby, stand on the porch talking about hogs that had remained invisible to eyes that looked out over them, and now I have to be quiet so they won't run off? 

Satisfied that my baby was safe and my husband was still crazy :), I went back through the noisy door only to find my little girl had slipped out the garage door to head to the swing set, completely unaware of the terror that lay in the field in front of her.  Though I knew Bill was outside, the sight of my precious little girl within seventy-five yards of those vile creatures (okay, maybe that was a little exaggerated?) turned my blood cold.  I've seen them run.  I know how quick they are.  I quietly gathered her back into the house.  The sprinklers came on causing the smelly creatures to become mildly concerned enough to return to the woods.  Why can't they find some other woods besides the woods that border my children's swing set, the animals, and me?  So much for my hopes of a garden this year.

The reality is here again.  What I already knew without seeing, has made itself known by sight.  It is spring, and the hogs have returned.  Even if they are just passing through to somewhere beyond, as Bill tries to tell me, they are still passing too closely for me.  Gone is my beautiful carefree spring.  Gone is my false sense of security.  My already heightened sense of alarm will be even more heightened until late September or November when the hogs are gone again.  How in the world am I supposed to let my children play on their new swing set, and how am I supposed to not be afraid to go feed the animals?  It is already after 9:00 in the morning, and I am dreading going up to feed them.  I've normally already fed the hogs and turned out the chickens by now.  I don't like feeling like a prisoner of my own home and land.  All I can do is pray for God's protection...and ask for a holster for Mother's Day!  ;)

These are very young wild hogs from late last summer.

This is one of the hogs Bill killed last summer.  It made a couple
of nice meals!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Easter Egg!

This morning was such a special morning.  I have had my chickens for a while now.  One of them, my sweet Marge, is an Easter Egger.  She is a true pet.  No matter where she is, when I walk outside she comes running and clucking her "hello," and she follows me wherever I go.  She's never laid an egg, but she's such a sweetheart, I just didn't care.

This morning when I went to the chicken pen, she didn't come out, and she is usually the first out the door.  She was poking around the nests which I found odd because she has never had any interest in them.  I wanted to stay with her, but I had to go feed the hogs.  When I had fed the hogs and she still hadn't come out, I went back to check on her.  She was sitting on the eggs my broody Fern has been sitting on, and Fern was still sitting on the perch.  I thought it was very odd and thought something was wrong with one of them.

I went back out and threw out some scratch feed for the chickens that were outside and gave them some water.  When I went back to the chicken pen, I knew Marge was either very sick or about to lay an egg.  I didn't want to leave her so I just stayed.  Suddenly, there plopped out the prettiest blue-green egg!  My eyes must have been as wide as my mouth that fell open in amazement.  I was with my sweet girl when she laid her first egg!  I just couldn't believe it!  I rubbed her head and back for a few seconds and told her what a great job she did!  :) 
Marge's egg in the middle

She kept standing, acting like she didn't know what to do, and I was worried about the other eggs that are about ready to hatch getting too cold.  I was just as inexperienced as her.  I lifted her off the nest, put her in the next nest, and put her egg in my jacket pocket.  It didn't occur to me to put her egg in the nest with her until I was walking back to the house.  After I moved her, I turned around and got Fern to put her back on the nest of eggs that she's been sitting on.  I hope they didn't get too cold.  I guess we will find out in a couple of days!  If I have remembered and figured correctly, the eggs should hatch by the end of the week!
Fern on the nest

Until we meet again, be blessed!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Not to Cook in Your Kitchen

There are so many blogs out there with such helpful suggestions on how to cook and be neat, clean, and organized that I thought I might try something a little different.  This post is dedicated to all those who are as scatterbrained as I!

How Not To Cook in Your Kitchen
  1. Don't start your supper on the stove, bringing your meal almost up to boiling, and then have a sudden emergency sending you running to the restroom.  If you do, you will work through the thinking process way too quickly bringing you to the conclusion that the best, logical solution is to turn of the stove and run.
  2. When you return to your kitchen don't look at your pot and ponder why it is taking so long to boil.  If you do, you will come to the conclusion it was because the food you added to the pot was frozen and it's just taking a little extra time to heat up.  Don't stress over this step too much, though.  If you do accidentally do this, you will eventually realize you never turned the stove back on.  Your supper will just take some extra time to cook.
  3. When you make your peach cobbler, don't use all-purpose flour when the recipe calls for self-rising.  If you do, you may be lucky enough to realize the error of your ways.  If you do realize your error, you could make a big mess trying to pour the wrong flour back into the canister.
  4. Finally, when you are cleaning up, don't turn the warm water on too high when washing out a bowl.  You could accidentally soak your daughter who is standing nearby admiring the cobbler baking in the convection oven!  Warning!  Please be very careful not to do this.  It can cause uncontrolled giggling and laughing!

I hope you enjoy experimenting in your kitchen.  Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hog Wash

What a Crazy day!  You just haven't lived until, in one single day, you've nearly been the victim of road rage and been given a shower of dirty pig water!

I did my normal Friday trip to Thomaston to do my grocery shopping, but the children decided to stay at home and play since Bill was on vacation and could watch them.  What a rare treat for me to be able to shop alone!  I decided to treat myself to the Country Cupboard Deli for lunch.  It was very good!  I've never had wheat bread so light and soft.  For all my readers who live in Thomaston, if you haven't tried it, you should!  I only had half a sandwhich, but it was very filling.

After getting groceries and gas (where I nearly became the victim of road rage) I headed to Cake House Bakery to take my mother a little something for her birthday.

This evening, I decided to experiment in the kitchen.  I found the cutest little bell peppers in the store today and decided to use them in spaghetti for supper tonight.  They were called Baby Bells and came in a package of one yellow, orange, and red bell pepper.  They were so good in the spaghetti!

What?  You don't plant seeds while you cook in the kitchen?  Lol!  That's right.  The experiment wasn't using the peppers in the spaghetti, it was seeing if I could grow my own cute peppers.  Bill did plant a couple of pepper plants for me last week, but they were regular green bell peppers.  I wanted to see if I could grow these cute colored peppers that I never buy in the store due to the outrageous price!  I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but as the food cooked on the stove, I planted bell pepper seeds right there in the kitchen!  I don't know if they will grow, but I tried!  Any suggestions for next year are certainly welcomed!

As I we finished up eating supper, the power went out.  Since I couldn't do much until the power came back on.  I finished up the little things and headed outside to the animals.  I got tickled as Marge, the hen, and Otis, the pig, came running to me as usual.  Bill finally got to see it for himself as he was already at the hog pen when I joined him.  Little Otis will stick his snout through the hog wire as far as he can trying to reach me.  I have to reach in and love on him to make him stop.  His favorite place to be rubbed is the soft area just behind his ears.  He's so sweet!  I'm glad we don't have to eat him!

I also took advantage of the power outage to catch up on some weeding and planting.  I got one whole bed and part of another weeded.  I also got forty cups of lavendar seeds planted/started and my two lemon verbenas transplanted into a bigger pot.  Does anyone out there have and suggestions for how to use the lavender and verbena?

I hope you enjoyed a great day today, too!  Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Bill's vacation started Saturday, but I haven't worked this hard in a long time!  One whole day was spent finishing up a swing set.  The "neighbors" came over to help with that project.  I cooked lunch for everyone that day.  As they finished up, I wasn't much help, so I took care of all the animals and watering (And there was A LOT of it! Bill had just bought three drake elm trees for shade and twelve crepe myrtles for the beds.  Then there was my normal watering of tomatoes, peppers, and flowers. ;) ).  I knew Bill was exhausted and wouldn't feel like doing it when he got through.  They ended up working so late that I cooked supper for everyone too.  It was close to 10:00 before I got everything cleaned back up, but I am so thankful to be blessed with one set of kind neighbors that live just a little down the dirt road.

The next day we had to go to Thomaston to get weed block fabric to finish up our flower beds, to get more hoses, nozzles and a sprinkler to make watering the new trees and garden easier, and to get landscape timbers to go around the swing set so we can cover the dirty sand (the children are getting so filthy playing up there all day!).  Unfortunately, the sprinkler for the garden didn't work, the nozzles we paid for never made it into the truck, and two of the hoses were missing a rubber ring.  In addition, when we got home, we found one large shelf holding all my stuff that I was storing from my classroom had fallen over.  Bill was not a happy camper!  I had already planned to sort through all the school stuff this week, so I guess that was God's way of making sure it got done, lol!

We had time to plant the three Drake Elm trees and finish one complete bed when we got home.  I started sorting through boxes in between helping Bill.  As he finished putting in the river rock, I took care of all the feeding and cooked supper.  It was nice to enjoy a nice, late supper on the porch that evening.

The sprinklers take care of these trees now!

We worked ALL day Tuesday finishing up the beds but first thing that morning, Bill took the training wheels off Alissa's bike.  She has been waiting for a long time!

Silly Daddy!

The children also stayed outside on their new swing set all day.  I continued sorting in between helping Bill.  Why did I have so much stuff?  I had so many files to sort through!  It is Wednesday, and I am still not done!  It was overwhelming to see how much I used to try to teach in one year!  I have saved less than I got rid of, but I don't know where in the world I will put it!  I can use it with Alissa this year and Jake in a few years.  Then I can get rid of all of it for good!  :) 

These are pictures I took this afternoon of two of the new trees and the flower beds.  We still need border flowers, but that will have to wait...maybe for a very long time!  :)

Thank goodness it is Wednesday, and it is finally raining!  I am way behind on my cleaning, and I need to catch up, but I thought I would share a few farm pictures while I have the rare free time!

Fern has turned broody on us.  I hope we have a couple of chicks
in a couple of weeks!

The pigs enjoy playing with the empty pool and each other!

Psst!  Can you keep a secret?.

A pig with a full belly is a happy, sleepy pig!

Thank you for stopping by to share in our time and adventures on Southland Farm!  I'd love to hear about your own adventures, big or small! 

Until next time, be blessed!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Busy, Fun Times!

What a busy two days we have had!

Yesterday, the children and I started the day by heading to my hometown to do our weekly grocery shopping.  Since  my sister has opened her own bakery, Cake House Bakery,  her shop is always our first stop for cinnamon rolls!  This time I picked up two cupcakes for a childhood friend who had given birth the night before and made a quick delivery to the hospital.  Due to a couple of minor issues, I wasn't able to hold the precious, beautiful baby.  I was so surprised to find myself with tears in my eyes as soon as I laid eyes on him!  Is there anything more precious than a newborn?

After going back to the bakery to pick up my own two precious babies, we headed to the store.  We had so much fun buying stuff to plant when we got home, and they were so sweet in helping me with grocery shopping.  After returning home, we couldn't wait to get started on our plants!  We have been studying plants in science ( I saved this unit just for this spring!), so the activity was perfect!  We turned it into a science experiment with some math mixed in.  They didn't even realize it!  We made predicitions, measured, counted, multiplied, and discussed how the seeds would grow.  For this project, we planted giant pumpkin seeds.  I had picked up a couple lemon verbena plants and lavendar seeds (my two favorite plants in the world!) to work on later.

Here Alissa and Jake are measuring out the correct amount of
water to add to the soil pellet.
Alissa breaking up the soil.  Can you believe
Jake didn't want to get his hands dirty?

Jacob didn't want to get his hands dirty, but he had no problems
adding the seeds!

The poor children were trying to pose with the completed
project, but the sun blazing down from one side, and the light
bouncing of the white siding on the other caused us to not be
able to open our eyes for very long!  :0

This is the science jounaling we started for our experiment.  I had intentions of doing a lot more with it, but Jacob had a rare moment when he was ready to work and learn.  We just had fun with moment and got the essentials in.  We'll add the other stuff as we add more entries.  Jacob was so excited to get his own notebook.  I got a great big hug and thank you.  He hopped in my lap and got busy!  I held his hand to help him write, and I let him give me answers.  He had fun drawing people for the first time and writing a "J"!  He even "read" to me the words "I am" a few times!  I promised to make him an "I Am" book.  I'll share that creation soon!  What a treasure to see the excitement and enthusiasm in his eyes and voice.   I know he will be reading soon, and I am so happy that I will be the one to hear him read his first book the first time.  While I was working with Jacob in my lap, little Alissa was beside us at the table with a little light shining in her eyes.  Her little arm curled around her notebook as she worked so hard, "Don't look, Mama!"  Her little nose would wrinkle up in that sweet way as she bit her lip and ducked back down to continue working.  "What color do you want to be?"  she asked.  Finally she was done.  She drew a picture of us planting the seeds in the cups.  She had figured out all by herself how to draw us sitting on our knees!  What a special, precious little girl!  I am so blessed to be able to be at home and share these precious moments with my children!  Thank you, Lord, for your blessings on me!

Today, Saturday, we drove almost an hour to a Jesus party!  The daughters of a friend of mine wanted to share Jesus with friends and neighbors so they decided to throw a Jesus party in their front yard!  How could we not go and support those sweet little girls?  The two little girls led the whole thing.  One led the crowd in songs and one played "Amazing Grace"on her guitar.  There were crafts and refreshments.  The kids were even provided chalk.  You'll see from the pictures what they chose to draw.  I wish I lived closer to this sweet crew!

When we got home, we found Bill had just finished clearing the hopeless flower beds.  I can't share those picutures yet!  That's a blog project for Monday or Tuesday!  The following pictures are of one of the hogs drinking from the hose when we went to feed them and of my first daylily of the year! 

There was one more big project going on over the weekend, but that is for another blog post too!  Stay tuned!  What homeschool or springtime projects do you have to share?

Until next time, be blessed!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garden Time!

We have been so busy this spring, that I had almost given up on a garden.  Oh, the disappointment at the thought of not having yummy, organic tomato sandwiches made with my homemade bread this summer!  The thought of going another whole year avoiding recipes with bell peppers wasn't too appealing either.  I just hate going to the store and spending so much on one bell pepper that has been sprayed with who knows what!  Well, at the last minute, on a whim, my husband came home and planted a garden!!!  There was NO planning to it whatsover, so we don't know if anything will grow, or, if anything does grow, if it will survive the deer, wild hogs, rabbits, and any other wildlife out here!  I didn't even know he was planting it!  We also thought it might be too late.  Can you tell we don't have a clue about gardening, LOL!?  I've heard people say plant after the last frost in April (That's always sounded crazy to me.  How do you know it's going to be the last frost, lol? :)).  Well, with our crazy weather this year, we figured we were okay since the chances for frost seemed to be over.  The temperatures had been in the 80's to 90 .  But, would you believe it?  Many counties around us in Georgia had frost warnings last night?  I don't think we had frost here, or if we did, it was very light.  With all that being said, I guess the timing on the planting wasn't too bad.  We had also planned to put up a game fence to ward off all the critters before planting a garden, but I guess we will have to work on that as time and money allow!  He did plant my tomatoes and bell peppers close the house, not in the garden, using my organic potting mix and fertilizer, so I know I will have beautiful, yummy, healthy peppers and tomatoes!  Oh, just think if the garden does grow!  We will have our own pork, eggs, and vegetables!   Now, I want to rush out and buy some herbs to grow and meat chickens to raise and stock my freezer!  ( I actually spent a lot of time this evening reading about meat chickens!)  Hopefully, next year, our pasture will be ready for cows and goats!  I can't imagine having organic meat and vegetables all year!  I wonder if I can figure out how to get the milk to my table without making anyone sick and if I can figure out how to make butter with it?  Oh, the possibilities!  I get so excited just thinking about it!  I can get used to this kind of living!  I guess the years I spent as a Girl Scout "ruined" me! ;)

Today, Bill got to stay home.  He has been outside cutting grass all day.  We had some lawn mower troubles, so the grass had gotten taller than he likes.  Even with a bagger, the grass made a huge mess on the lawn and drive way.  My heart swelled with love and happiness as I watched my little boy helping his daddy tidy things up.

Jake loaded up the back of his Gator with grass scraps, and Bill
showed him where to dump it.

After working on the lawn, the two of them headed up to the garden to measure for a garden hose.  I had to run back outside with my camera!  Such sweet, precious, fleeting moments have to be captured!

While the "boys" were outside, I was inside cooking collards to go with the grilled BBQ leg quarters, yellow rice, and baked beans.  This is my daughter's favorite meal.  My husband makes the best BBQ chicken!  I can't tell you how to make it, because I'm clueless when it comes to grilling!  All I know is that he doesn't cook it right over the coals.  He uses indirect heat.  I can tell you how to make the collards!  I had them at our family Christmas dinner, and I thought people were going to make themselves sick from eating so many!  No one could believe I didn't use any fat in them; I never do!

To make the best collards we've ever eaten, I buy (hopefully, I will never have say buy again!) one large bunch of collards (I learned my lesson with the pre-cut, washed, and bagged collards.  Please don't go that route!).  I wash each leaf and remove the whole stem.  The stems are tough and make the collards bitter.  After the stems are removed, I cut the leaves into one-two inch pieces.  I place the collards into a large stock pot half full of warm water. The warm water helps wilt the leaves just enough so that all the collards fit into the pot.  Then I fill the pot with water until the water covers the collards or until the water reaches about one inch from the top of the pot.  The collards are placed on the stove and brought to a boil.  When the collards have reached a boil, I stir in one-two heaping tablespoons of Better Than Bullion Beef Paste (You can find it in the store right beside bullion cubes.  It has no msg and tastes so much better!).  I try to get away with one and a half due to sodium.  Then I lower the heat so that the collards are at a slow boil.  I usually let mine cook for about 4-5 hours.  Keep a watch on the water.  More can be added if needed.  All that is needed then is a good, homemade pepper sauce and cornbread!  Mmmm...mmm...mmm!

I found this quote on today on a free issue of their e-magazine.  It pretty much sums up my new lease on life.  I'm not there, but I am on my way! 

Simple does not mean easy because the “simple life” is

hard work. You have the “simple life” when the majority

of your time and energy is put towards the basic needs of

life, which are food, shelter, and clothing

Until next time, blessings!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

She Said I Was Spoiled?

Some days life just overwhelms me.  The kitchen is a mess from the latest meal, the family room is scattered with toys and books, the toilets need to be cleaned, clothes need to be washed and put away, animals need food and water, eggs need to be gathered and the coop needs to be cleaned.  BUT most days I have it under control!  As I was responding to a post the other day, I realized, that even though I have a long way to go,  I have taught myself a lot about organizing, cleaning, and managing my home.  What a long way I've come!  I remember days my husband was ready to walk out and leave me!  SO!  Don't despair!  If I can do it, you can too!  I used to be the queen of clutter and mess!

I thought I would share a couple of tricks I use to keep myself and my home in order.  The first method has to do with my laundry.  Not too long ago, my daughter had company spend the night.  The little girl went with Alissa as she put away her clothes for the day.  Upon walking in the laundry room and seeing our system, the little girl said, "Now, that is just spoiled!"  After I picked my jaw up off the floor from having a child speak to me in such a way, I thought to myself, "Oh, little lady, you'll see one day, I am very, very smart to have done such a thing.  Just you wait!"   :)

I started my laundry system about four years ago when my daughter was almost three.  I have four mesh bags that now hang from my folding table in my laundry room.  I have one bag for towels, one for cold clothes, one for warm clothes, and one for whites.  At the end of the day, each person deposits his/her clothes into the proper bag according to the directions on the tag in the clothing, except for the towels and white clothes.  Even Jacob knows where to put those! ;) I cannot begin to tell you how much time this saves not having to sort clothes on wash day! 

This is my folding table my husband sweetly built for me one day while
I was at work.  When he was done, he placed nails on the back side from
which we can hang the bags.

When I started the system, my daughter couldn't yet read, so I had to be creative about teaching her how to put away the clothes.  As her clothes would come through the wash, I would use a permanent marker to put a "C" for  cold or a "W" for warm on the tag.  Through lots of practice, she learned which bag was cold and which was warm.  Now, my son is also learning.  He has it a little bit easier.  I actually have a way to label the bags for him.  This wasn't possible when Alissa was little.  Now he knows to look on the label to find the letter and match it to the correct bag.  I have also circled the words 'warm' and 'cold' on his labels to help him recognize the words.  It turns into a great lesson on beginning sounds and sorting!

These are the labels above my bags.  Please excuse what looks
like a mess under the table.  Those are my craft supplies.

Here, you can see the tags in his clothes.
My other systems helps me keep the small, weekly chores under control.   I don't like having to do all my cleaning in one day.  I tend to get overwhelmed and unable to do anything if I do that!  I would rather spend thirty minutes a day or less on one chore.  When all my smaller chores are under control, I find it is easy for me to tackle big chores as the need arises.  One day, I sat down and made a chart to list the chore of the day.  Somehow, having it in writing made me feel more accountable as if I couldn't ignore it, lol!  I have recently added my flower beds to the chart.  I just check and see if there are any weeds that need to be taken care of.  On Monday, the chore is bathrooms and flower bed one.  On Tuesday, the chore is windows and flower bed two.  On Wednesday, the chore is dusting and flower bed three.  On Thursday, the chores are floors, start laundry, and flower bed four.  On Friday the chores are grocery shopping and finish clothes.  If life interrupts my system, as it often does during holidays, the world doesn't end.  I just pick up on whatever day I need to and carry on.

So, why are we sitting here chatting?  We've got work to do!  It is time for me to feed the pigs and chickens, water the tomatoes and peppers, water the flowers, and get supper ready!  What systems do you use?  I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Joy Comes in the Mourning!

It happens every year.  For a week or so before Easter the sadness and anxiety comes.  For the most part, everything is normal in my day.  But when the moments are quiet, it is there, anxiously building each day until I finally cry unto God and tell him I don't understand.  Then, there is that gentle reminder of the event that forever changed Easter weekend for me.  It happened so long ago that one would think it wouldn't affect me now, but somehow it sneaks up on me every year without my knowing it.  Maybe it's because I am at a point in my beautiful life that I no longer dwell on it eventhough it will forever be a part of me.

The year was 1995.  I was a senior in high school.  My mother and I had gone to see my grandmother for a couple of days.  I loved my visits with my grandmother, and I never wanted to leave her when it was time to go home.  When I awoke that Saturday morning, however, I couldn't get home fast enough.  I didn't want to leave, but at the same time, something was strongly pulling me home.  It was more than the fact that I had a date that night with the love of my life. 

Once I got home and saw Chad, I felt so much better.  He knew I didn't have an Easter dress that year.  He had saved his money and asked his sister to take him shopping.  On that trip, he purchased the dress that he gave to me that evening when he picked me up.  I know to some of my readers that will sound very strange, but that was just the type of person he was. 

We had a wonderful date.  We just ate steak and potatoes at his home.  I loved going to his home for a date.  His family was always so much fun to be around.  There was never a dull moment.  After taking me home, I watched him get in that big, blue "tank," put on his seat belt, blow me a kiss and wave good-bye and smile over his steering wheel.  I watched him drive down our street.

I went inside and got distracted but soon remembered I had not tried on my dress.  I quickly put it on in excitement, and was admiring it in the mirror when the phone rang.  It was his mother telling me Chad had been in a bad accident.  All she knew was that he was being transported by ambulance to the hospital.  I sat in the floor crying trying to tell my mother.  She got me to change clothes and we headed to the hospital.  The ambulance was not there, so we left and began to trace Chad's route home.  We soon met the ambulance and followed it back to the hospital.  I remember the white light of the window as we followed and the occassional glimpse of an EMT.  I remember being in the waiting room and seeing the nurse come through the door and hearing her say the doctors were trying to get a pulse.  I remember my mom's arm around me and hearing her ask if I wanted to pray.  After intially saying no for some reason, I quickly changed my mind.  We knelt beside the chairs in the waiting room floor.  I don't remember what my mom prayed, but I remembered asking God not to let Chad die.  More than that, I remember that just after I told God I wanted His will to be done, the doctor came through the door.  He was a friend of Chad's family.  I watched him walk toward Chad's mother and try to speak.  Then I saw him just shake his head, unable to say the words.  All I remember then is the writhing scream of "NO!" that welled up and out of me as I still knelt on my knees.  We were moved to the chapel where I watched his only sister and sibling and his parents suffer and the hall fill with teenage friends.  Sometime later, we were allowed to see him.  I waited my turn by my mother's side.  I remember the team of doctors standing a few feet to the side of his bed.  Their white coats stood out cold against that darkened side of the room, but I couldn't look at them.  All I wanted to do was hold Chad's hand.  Strangely, I was startled when his strong hand that had always dwarfed my own didn't wrap around my hand.  I suppose that was when the shock started to wear off and the painful, sad reality started setting in.   I don't know how long we were at the hospital, but I returned to Chad's home with my mother after leaving the hospital in the wee hours of the morning.  In doing so, we passed the accident scene.  His truck from which he was pulled out from under was still there, upside down and facing the wrong way.  I don't believe I will ever forget the sight.  After being medicated that night, all I could do was cry for days.  I don't remember when I was actually able to eat again without getting incredibly sick, and it took me two weeks to reluctantly return to school.  It was the first time in my life I understood things of this world just don't matter when we think in terms of eternity.  Our highschool prom was two weeks away.  My dress hung on me and had to be quickly altered because I was determined to go in Chad's memory.  I went alone despite several sweet offers of other young men to go with me in support.

So much has happened in my life since that year.  Not all has been good, but the parts that have been bad have brought me into such a close relationship with God.  His loving kindness never ceases to amaze me each day.  I can't begin to tell you how often I praise Him each day for what He has done for me.  I'm not the person I once was, and I praise Him for His mercy and grace!  He could have left me the wretched person I became in the years that followed that night, but praise God, when I cried unto Him and asked him to forgive me and let me return home like the prodigal son, He ran to me with his arms stretched out wide!  Praise God, praise God, praise God!

When that anxiety and sadness sink in each year, it takes a while for me to realize what is going on.  Once I do, I allow myself a short time to mourn again.  It's hard to feel that pain all over again.  I didn't think I would get through the retelling of it for this post, but it was something I had to do.  I have accepted the sadness and let it come.  The memory and tears have come just like every year.  Maybe there will be a time in the future when they don't, but until then, I will lean on God when they do.  He is the greatest comforter there is.  In those tearful moments, He reminds me who He is and who He created me to be.  He reminds me of what He has brought me through in my life and the precious gifts He has given me.  When those thoughts come, my tears of sadness mix with tears of joy until my joy is restored anew and overflowing.  I just want to sing his praises!  Then Easter begins.

It's funny how most years, the climax of emotions happens on Good Friday, the day my Jesus died for me.  One day I will see my Jesus and be able to kneel and touch the scars in the hands that He stretched out for me.  What a day that will be.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Additions to the Farm

It has been an exciting day on the farm.  My day started at 1:00 am when I had to help my husband unload our new pigs after he got home from work.  We have had two purebred duroc female pigs for several weeks now, but we had been searching all over for a purebred male to breed with them.  We finally found one!  We also got a purebred hampshire to raise for slaughter.  Oh, I am going to have the hardest time doing it.  He is the cutest little thing!  Maybe by then his cuteness will wear off, lol!

We didn't tell the children we were getting them because we wanted it to be a surprise when they saw the pigs for themselves in the pen.  It was hard getting them up and dressed to go to the pig pen first thing this morning without spilling the beans.  Poor Alissa's hair isn't even brushed in the pictures, but I'm sure that will be the last thing we think about when we look back on these photos in the future!

Jake spotted the pigs first. 
(Yep. We had a mishap with the shears! :( )
He was trying to tell Alissa but was having a hard time getting the words out.

She finally saw them!
Too sweet!  I just had to add it.
Here they are!  Otis is the brown duroc.
We were really afraid the females were going to kill the males, especially the little one.  We stayed in the pen with them for a long time to keep the females from hurting them too badly.  Poor Otis has some battle scars.
When new animals arrive all the current residents show up for the welcome!

Our dog Abbey must have run a thousand laps around and around the pen today, slowing down only if the pigs were close enough to sniff and lick!
My sweet Marge was next to say hello.

Henry said hello from the sidelines before joining the pigs in their pen!

I guess Thelma was trying to figure out why the ladies hadn't joined the fun!  Poor Thelma!  I just can't break it to her that the ladies think they are much too sophisticated to enter a pig pen! Heehee!

As the day wore on, we became more comfortable that the girls (Yes.  The female pigs are the girls and the hens are the ladies!  We have way too much time and fun on this farm!) would accept the new additions. 

Later in the afternoon, I heard the chickens going crazy, so I went to see what was going on.  As it turns out, Fern, the outsider hen, was in the favorite nest box and Speckles was ready to lay an egg.  She was fussing causing the other ladies and gentleman to get stirred up.  They sounded more like geese honking than chickens fussing!  Speckles finally gave up on Fern getting off the first nest and settled on the second nest.

But anyway, look what I found when I looked over at the pigs!  I had to ask Alissa to run back to the house to get my camera!  Tell me it is not a sweet sight!

Otis finally let me love on him this evening.  He, so far, is so sweet and gentle.  Little No Name is still scared of me, but I guess it's just as well.  I really don't want to get too attached to him...but he's soooo cute!  ....sigh....   :)
So there you have it!  A day in our life on the farm!  Be assured; there will be many more days to share!

Until next time, be blessed!