Showing posts with label This Old Shack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label This Old Shack. Show all posts

Saturday, December 1


The hens aren't using the nesting boxes for anything other than naps, so these were a pleasant surprise.

James came back from putting up the chickens and announced, "We have 18 chickens, and FIVE EGGS!" It took us all a second for it to sink in, but then we were excited.

Unfortunately, the roosters are all pretty into doing their jobs, and we have no clue how long those eggs have been there... so we'll have to crack them outside, in case they're bad. Still, it's exciting to have some progress.

(This was last night. Jacob found another one today. We don't know who is laying, but they're all in the same place so far, so that makes it easier. How exciting!)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, November 24

Project Blogging - Kitchen Window

It's amazing how far into a project you can get before realizing the Rubicon is three steps behind you. *whew* But that's okay. Here we are...

And we're well into new territory by now, but it's coming along beautifully. The old studs are gone, the new studs are in, the shiny, lovely new header is in (and doing its job remarkably well, I must say). Zorak's made some improvements over our initial installation that we've had on the docket for the past couple of years.

You can see it beginning to take shape in this photo, above. It's going to be wonderful! We kept as much of the old studs as we could - they're Loblolly pine, which is awesome-and-awful all at the same time. Awesome because that stuff is so strong, and is probably what kept the house from falling apart during the neglected years. Awful because that stuff is so strong that bits and blade quail in its presence. So we compromised.

On the "Will It Work" front, I am happy to report that there were NO bugs, NO snake bodies, and NO evidence of mice behind the cabinets or in the walls. We were more than a little tense and puckery as we pulled the cabinets away from the wall, fully expecting to see any number of horrors back there, so it was a complete delight to find the things we'd thought would work did work! Seven years is a good trial run, too. Foam and diatomaceous earth for. the. win!

The kids have been so helpful/accommodating/resilient. I have no idea how this is all getting filed in their heads (that's what the Therapy Jar is for), but their attitudes and responses have been better than I could ask. Or hope for. This is so much fun!

So, we've got it blocked up for the night (lows in the 20's). Tonight, it's sirloin roast, steamed broccoli, and apple cider for supper. Because when your kitchen is torn apart, it helps to eat like nothing's wrong, at all.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, November 20

A Week Without Normal

We're mostly off school this week. The boys are finishing up a few things and I'm staring at the booklist, wishing I had a significantly larger budget. I doubt any of us is making much headway. The weather has been in the low-to-mid-60's and, once again, it's a good thing we don't own a hammock or we'd be getting nothing done, at all.

Our plan to do the kitchen window (replacing the light sucking hole above the dishwasher with a larger, properly centered window, allowing people to stand at the sink at stare at something other than my steep learning curve on texture techniques) is moving forward, though not the way we'd hoped. We're going to have to order a window, and that's fine. There is a ten-day lead time on it (again, not bad, considering - think for a moment how magnificent it is that we can order a framed glass window to our own specifications, and have it delivered in under two weeks - that's mind-boggling, and wonderful). But that means we'll have to juggle the steps a little to make them fit the time we have available and the weather conditions. Much like trying to get a large pillow into a pillowcase. It can be done, but you're probably not going to want anyone watch you do it.

Also, if you come by the house and see a blue tarp hanging above the sink for more than a month, don't ask questions. Don't even make eye contact if you can help it. Just bring a chocolate orange and a Black Cherry Mike's, please.

The pickup rehabilitation project is... well, Z put in a transmission gasket this week. It's dark and cold when he gets home. He doesn't particularly *enjoy* automotive work, and we all miss him and are somewhat demanding of his time when he walks in the door. It's hard to work with children stuck to your ankles, talking non-stop. It's better this way - the truck doesn't really care when you get around to it, but the kids do.

This week, we hope to find James' math disc, make headway on some projects, get squared away and organized. I'm also eyeballing the school room. It desperately needs to be Something Else. What, though, I've no idea. What do you do with a 10x10 room that has no uninterrupted walls? (Or, more accurately, what can you do with two two-foot corners, a two-by-four corner, and a sliver of space behind a door? I'm just not that creative! And if I find money, I'm spending it on books. So.)

Hope your week is shaping up beautifully, too.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 8

A New Plan, A Better Plan

If I only post every four weeks, I can re-tread that Hair Day post and get a lot of miles out of it, can't I? But that defeats the point of blogging, and I doubt very much the children would appreciate the digital version of their family album being a list of Mom's weird appointments.

OK. Fine.

I was busy wallowing in October. Every blessed under-80-degree-but-not-below-40 moment of it. It was spectacular. Coffee on the balcony in the mornings (until the acorns began falling - then I had to bring it back in because the welts were unseemly, and so was the swearing), windows wide open and that delicious combination of sweatshirts, shorts, and flip flops that I just can't convince myself to try any other time of year.

The boys Scout Troop finally went backpacking in October. I got to go, since Zorak isn't much on the backpacking thing. It's hard to feel like you're taking one for the team when you're as giddy over going as your spouse is over not having to go. We spent two nights in the Sipsey Wilderness, camped creekside, slept under the magnificent pine and hardwood canopy... didn't loose anybody or have to build a travois! You just can't ask for a better backpacking trip than that.

We built the stairs to the balcony in October. They are exquisite. And now, they're partially stained, to match the partially stained balcony. As soon as the treads weather up a bit, it will look like it was all intentional. (One might suggest we just stain the decking and treads, but we missed the window and there are leaves... so many leaves. We'll have three days in March where the leaves aren't falling and the pollen hasn't descended on everything yet. Maybe then.)

The Volvo died in October, and we spent most of the month with only one car. That part? Not such a great time. But it could have been worse. There was never any need to call in reinforcements for a trip to the ER. Zorak took it to the auto hobby shop, where George The Car Magician pulled a rabbit out from under the hood and *poof*, it started again. (Not an actual rabbit, but it might as well have been. We still have no idea how he fixed it.)

We felled a gigantic tree that died this year. Nature makes some impressive noises. We gave thanks, split the wood, saved a stump to use for knife throwing, and gave a target stump to Pastor's boys. I'm sure Pastor's wife was thrilled. (She's so patient with us.) The boys dug it, though.

We took the steel wool and stove black to the wood stove. If you've never cleaned up a cast iron stove using that stuff, you've got to try it. I felt like a cross between Ma Ingalls and Ron Popeil.

Then we careened wildly into November, voted, prepped for the kitchen window project, started rehabbing my old pickup, and tonight enjoyed the first fire of the year.

Not bad. Not bad, at all.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, September 23

Seriously? Again?

We were busy today! Zorak welded a traveling stand for the plow disc cooker. It has clips to hold the disc vertical, and the propane tank fits inside, so it's now ready for next weeks' Big Inaugural Outing with the boys. (Not only will it travel more easily, but it's significantly more stable than the fish fryer we jury rigged in the first place. Go, Z!)

John cleared the sloped portion of the front yard, and we brainstormed a mulching/garden plan for it that should be more aesthetically pleasing as well as making the space more productive. Zorak hammered out a plan to refurbish an old stone bench to a useful state (we lived here five years thinking it was a creepy grave stone before a neighbor told us it's a toppled bench - so really, it's rather flexible, but should be put to good use in some form or other).

James and I began work rehabbing the tiered... plant... um, spaces...(?) at the front of the house. What it really needs is a bull dozer, a load of brick, some perf pipe, and a little zen garden master. Or maybe a 1950's horticulturist with a penchant for color. It gets... us. But we have some semblance of a vision, gorgeous weather in which to work, and a willingness to wing it until it looks about right. It's amazing what you can do with that much on your side!

We got most of the wall rebuilt and reinforced before James accidentally cracked his finger between two rocks. It looks broken. Ice, anti-inflammatories, rest, water. Wee. (Although I'm a little unsettled about having to take the child in *again* for a broken bone, I am once again unbelievably glad we went with the guy who handles these things instead of trying to find a pediatrician. Childhood illnesses are not so much our bane. Gravity and friction, however, seem to be kicking our butts.)

Shortly after we got him squared away on the couch, I noticed the yellowjackets swarming the area we'd just been working. Never found the nest, but it's good to know they're out there. Even better to have been inside when we found out!

We finally listed the old washer/dryer unit on Craigslist, and it looks like it'll have a new home in a day or two. And, we'll get the front porch back.

Wow. If we keep this up, the place may just look like somebody actually lives here!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, June 14

Project Gear-Up

I have to confess, that title sounds more enthusiastic than I feel about it.

Tomorrow, we'll have the Volvo (for emergencies only - it doesn't have air, and tomorrow's going to be Southern Summer Hot). Zorak will take the Suburban and the trailer. He'll return with a load of sand, dump it in the lower drive, and then I'll try to keep smaller children from infesting the pile while he sets up the batting boards and directs the larger children on prepping for a cement pour. I really don't like doing the batting boards, but I'm not terribly vested in keeping the children out of the sand pile, either. (It's all going to end up in the house, anyway, why not have fun with it?) So this may not be our most stellar plan. But it's what we've got, and we'll run with it. At some unspecified point in the fairly near-ish future, we will have stairs for the balcony. The fun part is seeing how, and when, we get there.

Also, he texted me yesterday to say that Lowe's has all the window sizes we need *in stock*. I kind of thought he was flirting with me and would come home with more windows. But no. He came home with the sand plan. We need to flirt more, because we've obviously gotten bad at it.

The kids and I were late to camp this morning. I felt awful. We've done so well recently. (I've been working on timeliness for 20 years, with various setbacks every time we added a child to the entourage, so a full week on time is pretty big news around here.) But James - who'd sprouted a bloody nose out of *nowhere* two blocks from home - said, "It'th okay, Bob. Wud dime out of de week ithnt bath." Sweet boy. Currently my favorite, if he'd just clot up, already. (When I pulled away from the drop-off lane, he was on his way to the medic station for ice and some kind of whatever helpful something or other we didn't have in the car. Had that been me, I'd have been all about copping out and staying home for the day. But he was determined it would stop any minute now and he'd be fine.. I'm glad he didn't get my work ethic. Good kid.)

And now, I suppose I should get cracking on the various glamorous aspects of the day before it does get hot and we punt for a few episodes of My Little Pony in the afternoon heat. (Because we all know I'm going to say yes. The kids know it, and I know it. What little work gets done before then is probably all that gets done today. I've got to save up my strategic moves for the sand pile!)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, June 8

Technology and Labor

Our little Shack in the Woods was built in 1971. It still has the original windows, and a conglomeration of storm windows have been added at various points over the years. We started rehabbing the storm windows a few years ago, reglazing and repairing the main windows as we went. I think we got four windows done before a general malaise took over and all progress ground to a blistered, defeated halt. Since then, we've priced windows every Spring and Fall, constantly hoping that we'll be able to have someone else install new windows. But, no. Not gonna happen. If we have a spare 5 Grand lying about all-at-once, well, James needs braces, we need a new mattress, and the washing machine works about 60% of the time, with about half of the loads that do, actually, get run needing to be re-washed anyway because of some random issue that we can't agree on in order to fix. So, we wistfully price out the windows and then talk ourselves out of it for now.

A month ago, Zorak made a test run with windows by installing a new window in the master bath. Wow. OK, that was easy. It was so much easier than re-glazing and refurbishing storm windows -- and the end result is significantly better, as well. WOO-HOO!

Today, we pulled the old window and storm window from our bedroom and installed a new, beautiful, efficient window in its place. It took all of a couple of hours, which included a phone call with a friend, and lunch. We took before and after pictures, and are so excited about getting this done.

Tonight, Jase proudly showed me that he knows how to work the camera. "I took all the pictures off, Mommy! Now we can make videos and take new pictures!" So proud of himself. I couldn't be mad (five children ago, I'd have probably over-reacted terribly - they've been so good for me).

But you'll have to take my word that the window looks great. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, April 27

Back to work again!

As nice as it was to be home, we didn't have time to be still. We had this beauty waiting to greet us in the foyer:

It's a range hood for the kitchen! We got it up that week, and I took pictures, but seven years of cooking without a vent did a number on the ceiling (peat moss fire ring a bell? Ew!), which looks even worse with the sparkly shiny new hood in place. So that's going to have to be repaired before I'm willing to share photos.

And this fun pile in the drive!

We've used some of it to finish the drainage work that's been looming. The rest will go toward pouring a pad for the balcony stairs, and prepping the lower drive for the next project. (Of course there's a next project! *pfft*)

And, of course, we had a Day of Birth to celebrate.
How is my Baby Boy *four*? Wow. He is so glad to be four. According to him, he can have gum, and learn to read, and do whatever he wants to, now. Heh. Set his sights a little high there, but we're not going to knock him down. (Maybe that last one. We'll see.)

And it was nice that we made it back before the tulips that James and Em had planted were finished blooming. They weren't in their full glory, but the kids beamed to know they'd done the job well.

 It can't be all work and no play, of course. That's when people start setting things on fire or running away. And so, we've turned a little work into play, as well, at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.
We hit the Whooping Crane Lottery this year, and got to see juvenile whooping cranes at the Refuge before they migrated north for the summer. I wish I'd been able to get a better shot, but with my phone, this was the best I could do. Still, it was amazing!
 Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 10

Back to School Week

We started back to school this week, which has gone nicely. Mostly. The days have been long (seriously. long.) I'm going to give it a couple of weeks before deciding if I've given them too much. It could be that, or the weather. It could just be inertia that's kicking our butts. It could be a little of each. Time is an excellent sorter, though, so we're going to muscle onward and wait it out.
The boys also start back to music lessons this week. They've not had them in three months, and although they didn't touch their instruments for two and a half months, they've both picked up practice again willingly and enthusiastically. They were ready. So was I. It's nice to have music in the house, but it's not spontaneous for us. We need to be intentional about it. The bedroom with only one child inherited the instruments and practice space.
We're settling in nicely with the new arrangement. We all love that we have more room in the bedrooms, but there's still an entire toy shelf loitering in the hallway. I'm, um, I have nowhere to put it. We've simply outgrown this house. I've culled and culled and, for having five children, there truly aren't a lot of toys. It's just a lot of toys for a house this size. We need to repaint and add a little decorating in some rooms, but for now, I'm happy with the progress. The Littles feel like their space is downright palatial, too.  :-)

 The boys like having a safe spot for the Legos and other creations, and with the Littles in the bigger of the bedrooms, a full-scale invasion is less likely. I like roaming up and down the hall, glancing in to see fairly tidy rooms. (They don't notice the lack of artwork or curtains, but I've got to fix that soon.)
 And that's pretty well taken up all our days lately. Music. School. Tripping over things in the hall. Zorak has sketches all over the place for stairs from the balcony. I guess that's the next big project. Blessedly, he's designing it to use as little concrete as possible (but still be wholly over-engineered). I love that about him. Meanwhile, we're hanging out on the couch, fighting that inertia...

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 7

Decorator Tired

If it's not a theme, it should be.

We're making some adjustments to the Forever Home. People keep growing, spreading, changing their interests. What worked five years ago isn't quite cutting it now. (Imagine, huh?) Today, we got some wild hairs waving in the wind that whipped through the TN Valley and figured if we can't work outside, we can work in. So we began. We emptied the playroom of every last Lego and so very many random bits of string, moved the toy shelves into the hallway, vacuumed, wiped, swiped, and touch-up painted all over the place, dismantled the boys' bunk bed and reassembled the erstwhile top bunk as a stand-alone twin in the playroom.

It's... been a while since I've had to move like that.

And I now remember why. ;-)

However, already we are seeing the benefits of the plan, and it's very exciting! Visually, bringing it all down a level is going to be huge. People will have the space they need to do their thing without us having to build on an entire extra house. (Building the Den would still be awesome, but there are so many other projects that need doing. We had to act now.) This is good stuff, here. Pics to follow.

Tonight, though, I plan to sleep the sleep of Those Who Move Heavy Things For A Living. (Or, more accurately, the sleep of Those Who Don't Move Heavy Things Very Often At All But Suddenly DID. Yes, that's more descriptive.) The kids are already there.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 25

Sweet Babies and Projects!

We got to kiss a baby today. All day! His Mama was off having a little sister, so he stayed with us today and tonight. Oh, so sweet. Oh my goodness so sweet. Also, I am old. I am old and slow. But he is so very sweet! And the picture of his baby sister? Oh, she's PRECIOUS! I can't wait to love on her in person, too!

John got to Scouts tonight, ready once again to sit his board of review. Third (fourth? fifth?) time's a charm, right? Well, not so much. The boys in the Troop have become very active lately, which is wonderful and awesome and all kinds of great. Unfortunately, that's put a bit of a pinch in the schedule for Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review. He's been "first on the list next time" every week since they got back from camp, the first week of June. For the most part, I limit my role in Boy Scouts to making sure they are there on time, have access to what they need to accomplish their goals, and general reminders to grab book/kerchief/shoes on the way out the door. The rest is up to them. Tonight, though, when it happened again, I had to point out that he keeps getting punted on this, and considering they've scheduled a Court of Honor for next Monday, I trust they'll make a point of arriving early so he can have his board *then* and not miss out on the Court of Honor due to no fault of his own. (Yes, he could/should/oughta say something on his own. He's young, and he's a little bit shy, and he's way too polite to tell an adult, "Really? You're doing this to me AGAIN?" Particularly when he knows it's not intentional. He'll get the hang of it, but tonight, he was just small. And disappointed. And I don't have those hangups. So, there you go.) We do have great guys leading the Troop, and one of them, whose son is sitting for his Eagle board tomorrow, volunteered to stay a bit longer so that they'd have enough adults and John could finally get this done. He's earned his Tenderfoot rank! He came out of that review absolutely beaming from head to toe, too.

The mailbox has been replaced. The boys helped with the design and the welding, and it's awesome! The mail lady also brought the mail with her today, so it's a good thing we got it up. I'll go in tomorrow and take the official hold off our mail.

James' bed is fixed and happy and he remembered to pull it out far enough that we don't have to stand on it to kiss Jacob goodnight in his bed.

Still doing the wash on the front porch, but I don't mind, as we've got thinset curing in the laundry closet! It'll have a tiled basin with a nice combing and a drain to address any future leaks and protect the floor. That's quite exciting, and completely worth a little Adventurous Laundry here and there.

Oh, and Zorak fixed the blades on the mower, so we mowed the front yard and upper meadow. We're feeling downright genteel at the moment. (Well, except for the porch thing, but like I said, that's not permanent. Please don't let it be permanent...)

In all, it's been a great weekend!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 22

Well, there you have it...

Sometime Monday, folks got bored in the boonies and set out to play a little mailbox baseball. It was about time, truthfully. We've had this box for nearly two whole years, now. @@ Zorak won't let me rig the new one with paint capsules that coat the perpetrators in hot pink shame upon impact, though. James and I thought that would be kind of worth having to put up with replacing the box.

Meanwhile, we can't get our mail because our fruit loop of a mail lady keeps taking our mail on her route. She's not about to do anything ridiculous, like bring it to the door (she won't even do that when we have packages). The manager has told her to leave it because we'll be picking it up while we are hammering out the plan for the new box. They've had meetings about leaving it. Still, she takes it. No one can figure out why.

We broke a blade on the lawn mower. This isn't a big deal - you can only hammer those things straight so many times before they break - but the mower is parked in the un-mowed front yard at the moment. This comes into play here in a bit.

The boys' bunk bed broke on the trundle. Again. That trundle takes a lot more abuse than it was designed to take. We still love it, but we're getting adept at repairing it.

The drawer front on the bread box of the Hoosier came off. Just plumb came off! :blink:

Then the parts for the dryer came in this morning. WooHoo! It was the work of ten minutes to replace the broken bits and vacuum the insides thoroughly. We got the unit back into place, hooked it up, and started a load -- only to find the washer is leaking! There's no room to maneuver in the hallway, so we moved the whole thing out onto the front porch for troubleshooting. But then we had to head out. James needed to go into town to finish a project. I had made plans to meet friends with the rest of the crew. So the washer sat there...

With the mower.

And the mailbox post.

Amidst the tall, unkempt grass.

And that's when we remembered the rep from Window World was due out today! Ahhhhh. Naturally. Heh.

On the upside, we can do the wash on the porch, Buddy didn't get out again, and the inside of the house was picked up (gah, thankfully!)

Kind of anxious about what tomorrow's going to look like, though...

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 15

Taking it Outside

I love our balcony. If I'd known how much we would use it and love it, I might have foregone finishing the bedrooms or some other project in lieu of building the balcony our first year here. It's like having an entire extra room for the house. There's room to play, room to read, room to sprawl out and relax. It's high enough off the ground that mosquitoes aren't much of a problem (although James has a citronella plant in a pot that he hauls to wherever we'll be eating, just in case). The view is gorgeous, and thanks to the zealous over-engineering of my awesome crew, this thing could hold up a three-ring circus without fear of giving out. Or, you know, a family. (It's a fine line...)

As soon as the evenings or mornings lose their bitter winter bite, we start meandering out there for meals. For some reason, it's as much fun as a picnic, without the traditional picnic drawbacks. Plenty of fun.

On a side-note, we're on day 24 of the Whole 30, a 30-day food challenge. It's been fun. It's been fantastic, actually. I can write more about it, if anyone is interested (although there are far better, more diligent bloggers out there who have documented every single day of it - we had a week without power, and a Mother's Day campout thrown in there during our project, both of which shot the blogging to pieces.) And I can attest that we've experienced definite improvement in many areas because of it. But anyway, this is an example of how we've been eating, and it's. been. delightful.

Kiss those babies!
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Tuesday, February 15

I have ten minutes

I've got ten minutes while the Creamy Citrus Ginger dressing mellows, then I'll have to go round up the children and turn a hose on 'em so they can eat. Ah, it's gorgeous out. AND, I have a child who asks to mix up something called Creamy Citrus Ginger Dressing. Seriously? When I was 12, I failed a Home Ec assignment because my lab partner and I were convinced that if we doubled the brown sugar and the chocolate chips, we'd create the BEST COOKIE BARS EVAH. For obvious reasons, Mrs. Baker (kid you not, real name) disagreed. We could not choke down the cookie bars to save our grades. But here, I have been blessed with a child who makes this, and not even for a grade! Ah. Sometimes, when life is not fair, it's totally not fair in-a-good-way. Mrs. Baker would be proud. Or shocked. But I'm going with proud.

Zorak, turns out, broke. his. arm. on our ski trip. Yeah, I know. I have no clue what can be done a month later, but he goes in tomorrow to see a specialist about how to deal with it. He asked me last night to go with, so I've spent the morning leaving messages with everyone I know who either lives between us and the doctor, or isn't afraid to watch five kids at a Chick-Fil-A playground for an hour. On a day's notice. Wee! (You can imagine how terrifyingly short that list is. *sigh*) I very briefly considered giving Jase a heavy dose of Nyquil and just taking them all with us, but that was only for fun. Nobody really does that. Anymore. Ah, yes. So, I'm hoping somebody will call me back and say, "Sure! I love those fries!"

We spent the weekend thinking about getting some work done on the land. Got the driveway graded, so that was huge. Plus, we got to visit with friends when that was done, so that was cool. You can't hear the Volvo cry out in pain when Zorak leaves each morning, now. It's very comforting. Now, to get gravel on it before it rains. That will be the challenge.

And, I do believe that was ten minutes! Time for lunch! Yum!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 8

Yeah, it's that cold.

We don't have any cool striped ones with matching jammies, but folks, it's getting down to *5* degrees tonight, so the boys decided maybe sleeping in a stocking cap isn't such a bad idea.

(If they knew who Patrick Dempsey is, I might have mentioned that he did it on screen, but I haven't seen this movie, so I don't know if that would have helped.) Instead I had to make up numbers about heat loss through the head. I know it gets out, and I know it's a significant percentage, but I couldn't remember the exact rate. So I did what any good mother does when she's right, but just doesn't have the documentation on her - I punted. Now they can live long enough, and comfortably enough, to forgive me later.

This will be the first hard freeze since we re-wrapped the water line, last year. It's already been colder than the freeze that broke the line. (Yay us!) Fingers crossed and body parts puckered that it holds tonight. Fixing a busted pipe across a stream in sub-freezing weather is the kind of project one can do *once*, check it off the Bucket List (if one were to gundeck the Bucket List with things she's already done - granted, it makes for a weird list, but it can be quite impressive, since everything on there is checked off! See?) and be quite content to NEVER DO AGAIN.

We've actually managed to replace most of the weatherstripping around the doors, and rehabbed the two storm doors that are on the place, so that's handy. Never did finish rehabbing the storm windows. So, for the rest of it, it's all blankets, all the way. Someday, I'll put insulated window coverings on the Bucket List. Right now, though, there are other things to aim for. Besides, we have blankets aplenty! And wood. And stocking caps. So yeah, we're set.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, October 23

Autumn Trails

With the boys away at Cub Haunted, the Littles and I are enjoying a slower pace than usual. We watched Thumbelina and Barney with no mocking commentary from the Peanut Gallery. We even ate in the living room, and napped on the bean bags. Yeah, we're acting like we're two years old. At least one of us is, right? Well, they've got some very good points, those two year olds...

Then, we opted for an afternoon hike on the trail. The camera, as you can see, is still in full-on Nessie/Bigfoot mode. I took 75 pictures, and these were the best of the best.
The trail forks and meanders. There are straight paths and curvy loops. It's nice. This shot is looking down at the kids as they double back past a fork in the trail.

We took the Logging Road, this afternoon. Those stumps are the remains of fallen trees that Zorak and the boys made useful before they rotted. The stumps will be placed at various spots along the way. We'll enjoy them until they woods reclaim them. The rest is stacked on the woodpile, ready to enjoy this winter!
And we found more hickory trees! Actually, we found the nuts, and figured if there's not an old adage that says, "Where there are nuts, there's a nut tree," well, then there ought to be. The nuts that weren't already chewed on or burrowed through, we brought home. And somehow, there always seem to be some extra hulls in the pockets...

Always good for boats! This was the last shot I got before we had to go search for flowers to float in the boats. I'd forgotten how nice the pace of the littles can be. This was a truly delightful afternoon. And now, a bath, and supper, and then, an early bedtime (because I can get away with it tonight!)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 27


The boys found a little nest a while back. It had two little babies in it - we honestly had no idea what they were. But they were so ugly they were cute. We checked on them every day or so, until...
They got hair! And suddenly, they were Significantly more recognizable!

The ultimate pet - Free-Range Bunnies. Cute, fun, cheap (although we've got to fence in the garden...), and educational!
They've left the burrow, now, but have stayed in the area, enjoying the remains of the garden, and the goodies in the yard. It'll be nice to be able to mow, again (we put a moratorium on mowing near the burrow - it's a jungle at this point!), and now we know what to look for, next year!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, May 29

Don't Wait for Perfect

We have a tendency to put off doing something until we can do it "just so". That may work for some, but for us, it only means we'll keep putting it off indefinitely. Whether it's a lack of money, or of time, or even knowledge that gets in the way, it's always something. So, put it off until... blah, blah, blah.

Last year, we decided we'd put an intentional end to that, in our gardening areas. And wow, what a difference! Not that we have *any* idea what we're doing. But it's starting to look like we do!

Today, the kids and I harvested lemon thyme, lemon balm, pineapple sage and Greek oregano. It's all cleaned off, drying in little bundles in the kitchen window, now. Some of it will be used for tea, and some for cooking. Some of it, we want to experiment with.

The garlic and horseradish the boys put in earlier this spring are both doing well, and the kids can hardly wait for those plants to mature for harvest.

That whole end of the yard is starting to look (and smell) unbelievably good. And while I'm tempted to lament just how awesome it would have been if we'd done it the first spring we were here, (but then, we'd have a bountiful harvest, and still no place to put it - which is why the house came first. Still, one wonders...) In the end, we're getting to it, and it's really happening.

It felt so good, kneeling in the dirt with the kids, as they clipped and gathered the herbs. Walking slowly around the tea garden, with shears and bundles in my hands, listening to each of the children identify their plants.

Granted, we're on our third planting of tomatoes this spring (we cannot get them to germinate!), but as soon as we figure that out, we'll have the herbs to season them with!

Don't pass it all up waiting for "just so". Because "wonderful" and "your best" is absolutely delicious, in so many way! But "never got around to it" just doesn't season memories so well.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 10

Post-Mother's Day Recap

Did you have a nice Mother's Day (if you observe it, that is)? We do, sort of. As much as we tend to observe any holiday we might be able to get out of. It's hit or miss, with us. Really, I think there's a sick humor in Mother's Day being observed on a Sunday. What mother's ideal Mother's Day really includes the Sunday Morning Chaos that accompanies, well, Sunday Mornings? Not mine! And I know, it's not like we have an excuse -- church starts at 11:00, we're only half an hour away, and we have everybody showered and clothes lined up the night before. Yet, there you have it. We've become almost entirely nocturnal, and mostly sloth-like before, say ten AM. But, I have yet to convince anybody else we should observe it on Saturdays.

Oh, wait, it's baseball season. I guess Sunday looks pretty good, now, doesn't it? Yeah, love those perspective checks, now and then.

So this year's Mother's Day was nice. Zorak taught the boys how to make French toast, then turned them loose to show off their mad skills. I'm really glad we went with the wider stove. It'll come in handy when they tackle omelets and decide they want to flip them using the pan! Breakfast was delicious, there were no serious injuries, and we didn't even miss the opening prayer!

Then we came home and worked on the property, hauling downed limbs, trimming limbs that refused to down on their own (?), and mowing, mowing, mowing. We got a lot done, until the boys remembered we'd picked up steaks on sale. That's when they began to mutiny. It was a small, absolutely adorable mutiny, as those things go, though. We scuttled back inside to suck down lemonade by the gallon and cook up a nice supper. (Jacob helped with the supper, since he didn't get to help with breakfast. That boy can season a steak just perfectly!)

And so, we ate and laughed, and relaxed for the evening. The boys considered ways to build a "Mom Chair" for the dining table - one that's wider than usual to accommodate an extra child in Mom's lap while she eats. I think they finally decided maybe just putting a back on the bench would be the way to go. Jason encouraged their efforts with his primate-like agility and determination. It was nice. You know, like Life.

And I realized, while going through photos for this post, that this is the closest thing I've got to a recent picture of the whole family... So, at least we have a good idea what to shoot for, for Father's Day, right?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 12

Back to Basics

A few changes in the works, here. First, I'm abandoning Photoshop. It may be a fantastic program, but it requires time, patience, and an uninterruptedness that I simply haven't got at the moment. My feelings on this are along the same lines as on curriculum choices - The best program in the world won't matter if it sits on the shelf. So, back to Picasa, which has pretty much everything I need. (And what I need is to get pics available to Granny more often, for one thing! And to blog more often, for another.) So, here we are...
The weather is gorgeous, and it looks like we might actually make a little headway on the land, this year! So far, we've put in a blueberry stick (bush, eventually, but right now, shyeah, it's a stick), two raspberries, a blackberry (all sticks), and two cherry trees (actual trees - they make the sticks look even more pathetic). There are two fig sticks awaiting transplant, and Zorak did a little tilling in the garden, too!

EmBaby is still in charge of major defoliation projects, but she's agreed to stick to things that won't bear fruit, eventually. And, the apple and pear trees seem to be up and running for this year. We're hoping to avoid the June drop with proper thinning on the pears, and really just tossing Hail Marys at the apples. Not much else we can do, with them.

Some other changes we're making around the the Old Shack are educational - back to basics; nutritional - again, back to basics; philosophical - back to... hey, do you see a pattern here?

And so far, we're enjoying the changes!
Kiss those babies!
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