Friday, April 29, 2011


Grandpa's here!

 The boys are having so much fun!

...with wrestling...

...and tickling...


...and bike riding lessons!

We are enjoying a very rare treat of a visit from my Dad.  It's not often we get to have family around here, so we're soaking it up! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Preparation

Sometimes I think I enjoy the preparation for a holiday almost as much as the holiday itself.  It's fun to get ready for something fun!  And I really enjoy, in the case of a church holiday, thinking of the symbolism and teachings about the day as I get ready.

We have an Easter breakfast at church, and I was asked to bring some sort of sweet bread.  Cinnamon rolls was suggested, and that would be fine, but it just didn't seem special enough.  Mom reminded me of the fancy Easter breads that my Grandma used to make (based on Ukrainian "Paska").   I got really excited to have a fancy and traditional thing to make for the breakfast.

I used my usual sourdough recipe, but I added lots of soft butter, some sugar, and eggs to the dough to make it rich and sweet (for the sweet reward that is ours to claim).  Then I kneaded in some chopped cranberries and walnuts (for Christ's blood and bitter sufferings).  Two of the loaves I braided, and two of them I shaped in round pans and decorated with swirly crosses and flowers (for... obvious symbolism).

I let them rise in the fridge overnight and baked them this morning.

They didn't quite turn out like I had envisioned, but I guess I just need to keep practicing.  It is bread, after all. I learned some things, and I think I know what I need to do differently next time to make the decorations turn out better.

The little "flowers" look a little less than flowerlike, but this is dough we're talking about here.  It's limiting.

Nathan was slightly appalled at first that I nestled colored eggs (red eggs to symbolize the new life we have through Christ's blood). in the dough before baking.  ( He was also disappointed about the lack of cinnamon rolls.  Guess I'll have to make him some, soon.) Yeah, maybe people will think it's weird, and I even thought it was weird when my Grandma did it all those years ago (she made hers round like a nest, though, a detail I'd forgotten, which makes a little more sense).  There are quite a few things that I've come to understand and embrace about what Grandma did that I used to think were weird (or gross!).  Someday, I'll be an grandma, too, and by then I"ll make beautiful Paska, and my grandchildren will think I'm a weird old lady who puts whole eggs in bread.

I had never made braided loaves before, and I was a little bummed that they lost the braided shape upon rising and baking.  But, like I said, I learned some things, and I bet it'll look better next time.  I was also disappointed that the color from the eggs bled all over the bread.  I kinda thought that might happen, and waited to put the eggs in until right before baking, figuring it would surely bleed if they sat there all night.  But they did anyway.  Oh well.  Not sure how to prevent that.

Jonah was asking all week, then nonstop all day today, when it would be time to color eggs.

Today!  Sometime, today, I promise!

It's really a fun, low-stress project with him now.  It used to be chaos, but now he's old enough to need very little direction.  We really had fun with it.  Next year, it will be chaos again with Evan helping!  Fun, fun!

For our Easter dinner, I get to make the food, but not clean my house for company!  Yay!  Best of both worlds.  I'm making most of the food (minus the meat, but including herb-roasted potatoes, balsamic-maple marinated broccoli salad, asparagus "tart", and cherry cake topped with almond strusel) and taking it to our friends' house in Indiana.  I'm looking forward to a good visit with dear friends, and a brief break from the "same ol', same ol'."  Holiday visits with them are always lots of fun.

But for now, back to the preparation!

A blessed Resurrection day to all my dear blog readers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Which There Is Organizing

I just love having places to put things away!

This house has the strangest assortment of closets (or non-closets, because there about as useful as not having any at all).  There are three, upstairs, and they're all nearly useless.  Oddly shaped, poorly designed, lacking shelves, and downright weird.

I've been really needing a place to put away the totes of kids clothes and baby stuff that I'm storing. They have been stacked in one or both of a couple of bedrooms upstairs, moved back and forth as necessary.  I'm sick of moving them.  I'm also weary of digging through the pile to get to the tote I need, which is always on the bottom, despite my best planning.  And with the sudden explosion of growth in our family, I feel like I'm going to spend a fairly disproportionate amount of time sorting through these totes.  So I pestered and cajoled and finally, my dear husband tired of my whining and built me some shelves in one of the closets (the very weirdest one.)

He copied the ingenious design of an older pastor we used to know, now long since gone to his eternal reward.  These shelves are held in place by the weight of the stuff put on them, and they're amazingly sturdy.  Those things are not going anywhere, no matter how hard they're pulled on.

He used rough 2x4's and junk wood, because I was only interested in speed and utility and not looks, in this case.  We're talking about the farthest corner of the house, here.  I don't care what they look like.  I think they're awesome.

Evan helped, too.

No, really, he did.

Anyway, now I can Put Things Away!

I am thrilled!  I love it.  That awkward space is so much more useful now. 

Now to sort through and get rid of extra stuff up there that is not useful...  It feels so good to purge clutter.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More of Evan Eating Food

Evan had his first taste of banana today.  He loved it, of course.  I know all the rules about starting foods and only giving a very small amount the first time, but, um, Evan ate the whole banana.  (Smallish banana, granted, but it was still more than a tablespoon.)

I quickly abandoned the chunk-of-banana-in-the-fist idea, though, due to imminent airway obstruction.

Then there was the frustration (for him, that is... amusement, for me)  of chasing slimy little pieces of banana all over the tray until he finally got hold of one, only to have it slip out just shy of the target area.  He did manage to get the whole thing down, anyway.

As a baby, Jonah would projectile-vomit the entire contents of his stomach only minutes after consuming banana.  Ideal baby-food it was not, for him.  Actually, Jonah pretty much couldn't eat anything at all until he was older than Evan is now.  I'm so grateful that these two are so different.  Evan is pretty much doing fine with food, and I'm very thankful for that.  My milk production is rapidly decreasing (yes, I did just talk about my own milk and the making thereof in public.  Apologies to my brothers.) and I'm very bummed about that, but at least I can give him other things.  I've known people who can nurse a baby right through pregnancy, but I don't seem to be one of those, unfortunately.  I'm also very glad that we have goats and will be able to have plenty of fresh milk for Evan. I haven't yet given him any, though Evan does eat lots of yogurt made with that milk.  I reeeeeally don't want to give him a bottle, but he's not big on cups, so we might have to go there.  We already have a thumb addiction to deal with.  Oh well.  He won't be sucking on those things when he gets married, right?

I'm very paranoid about starting solids with babies.  The experience with Jonah was... harrowing.  I'm happy to report that Jonah seems to be food allergy/intolerance-free now, but starting him out was not easy.  I have a very unconventional (but not unresearched, and quite methodical) method to starting solids.  In my book grains come last.  Evan most likely won't have any grains at all until he turns one.  For now, it's fruits, veggies, yogurt, egg yolks and yes, meat (even liver!).  He seems to be tolerating everything just fine, except that he tends to have red, chapped cheeks.  That could be from some food, but I haven't been able to track it down to anything.  It could also be from teething, which he's deep into, or from having had a cold and rubbing snot all over his face for two and a half weeks.  He also has a little spot on his thumb above where he sucks (right where his hand touches his nose), so for now, I'm going with the snot theory.  See how paranoid I am?  I look for every possible sign if intolerance.

I'm also really lazy about starting foods.  I would actually rather just not do it at all until he's big enough to mostly feed himself and not choke.  It's just such a hassle to make special food and spoon it into his mouth.  I know, lazy.  I honestly cannot imagine feeding solids to a 4, or even 6, month-old.  It's just so much easier to sit down and nurse. 

It looks as though those days are nearly gone with Evan.  I'm hoping and praying that we can continue to nurse once or twice a day, indefinitely, but I guess we'll just have to see.   For now, onward and upward!

The Newest Cuties

Here they are, our newest additions to the funny farm!   Oh wait, I take that back-- there are five new silkie chicks that hatched a few days ago.  Oh, how I love spring!

 Strawberry is a good mama, though a bit inattentive at times.  The day after her babies were born, I found them sleeping in the barn and her out in the pasture having a nap in the sun all by herself. 

Now that I think of it, she's kinda like me... "Now, you stay there, you'll be fine.  I'm gonna just go over here and sleeeeep..."

The light-colored one is the doe.  She's very sweet and small and "dairy" looking.

The  darker kid, appropriately, is the buckling.  He's quite a bit bigger than the doe and very masculine and meaty.  Boys and girls are different, I'm tellin' ya.  I absolutely adore their long, floppy ears.  Strawberry is nearly earless, so I wondered what kind of ears these kids would have...  Floppy ears just melt my heart.  Not that I necessarily want my own kids to have them... just animals.  (Trying to erase picture in my head of my baby coming out with floppy ears... aiee.)

They're as yet un-named, so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments!  I need ideas!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Evan, on Blueberries

So, how would you like to try some nice, yummy, blueberries?


Did ya get a tart bite? 

I'm going to take that as "not impressed".

Monday, April 11, 2011

Playing Catch-up

I've neglected you, yet again, and I'm sorry... But I'll make it up to you with some quick updates and unedited photos (because they're better than no photos!).  Because I love you, I'll do this for you.  See, when it comes to a contest between blogging and sleep, sleep mostly wins.  But not always.


In case you were wondering, yes, Strawberry did have her kids!  A buck and a doe (boy and girl, one of each!) around 3:00 in the morning.  Yeah, that was a long night.  Between goat kids and human kids, I didn't see much of my pillow.  I haven't made it out to the barn with my camera yet, but I hope to do that tomorrow, and will share pictures of the adorable new little cuties!

In other news, and speaking of adorable little cuties, we had our first spring day yesterday and we WENT OUTSIDE.

It was marvelous!

That. felt. good.

Much dirt was consumed.

We soaked it up, and it's a good thing because today it's been rainy.  That's also okay, it only takes one day of rain for the grass to suddenly green up, as I noticed (with great satisfaction) on my way home from town today.

I used the rainy day to drive to the nearest small city and take care of some errands.  There was a time when I would have enjoyed that, but not now.  A crabby baby who hangs on my pants and howls while we're in the fitting room (the whole store knew right where we were!) and then falls asleep on my shoulder in the fabric store (necessitating that I carry him around while pushing my cart and shopping for fabric...) just makes shopping less fun than it used to be.

Putting away groceries, however, is a lot MORE fun.  Why would I ever want to do it myself, again? 

At the fabric store, I scored some fabric for curtains for the office, which we just reorganized.  I don't have curtains in my house because fabric is just waywayway too expensive, and, well, priorities.  But I was determined to find something, Lord willing, and I pretty much based my choice on "the most fabric I can get for the least amount of money."  I ended up with some nice Waverly material, of suitable color, but far from what I had in mind.  I had wanted something a little less... stodgy... but for 15 bucks, it'll do.  I could easily have spent 60 (or, um, 100, "easy" being relative), and have liked the results better, but oh well. 

Hey, that's another thing I've been meaning to share... photos of our office project.  Hope you're on the edge of your seat, 'cause they're coming soon!  It was epic, people, epic.   For now, I'm off to bed.  Sleep is winning.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Our barn is currently a in a flurry of baby-making.  Okay, that's sounds a little odd, now that I re-read it.  No, the barn is not making little barns.  Rather, the animals who live in the barn are making little animals.

It's not feeling all that spring-like to me just yet (still too stinkin' cold for my taste) but the animals all seem to know.  Somehow, they all just know.

We currently have a mama cat with three new kittens.  Then there are two mama ducks sitting on large nests, hopefully to be hatching in early to mid May.  The other duck is laying up a nice clutch, too, it seems.  Sadly, our best mama duck had a mishap in the road, so her nest is, well... a black bantam silkie hen (as in, chicken) has adopted those eggs, which are about four times the size of the silkie mama's own eggs.  We'll see what comes of that.  There's another black silkie sitting on a clutch of her own eggs, and one more who's sitting on... nothing.  I maybe should see about finding her something to hatch, poor dear.  Yet another silkie has been confined to a cage to "get over it" because she has it in her little bird brain that one of the duck nests is hers and is causing all sorts of havoc.  The duck mamas don't care to share (silkies don't mind, obviously) and eggs tend to get broken in the scuffle.  To add to all that, we're expecting layer chicks by mail in mid-May.

So, Lord willing, next month we'll have a whole mess of chickies out there.  Fun and chaos. I love spring (the warm part, that is).

And you would think that with all this laying going on, that I'd actually be getting some eggs to eat.  Not so.  My six layers sit on the feathery duffs all day, eating bon-bons and watching soaps, as far as I know.  I might get two, or at most three, eggs from them each day.  Boo.  Guess who's heading for the canning jars?

But the biggest thing is that right now, I'm trying hard to keep my eyelids from rebelling so I can stay up and keep checking on a Strawberry, the goat, who should be producing some kids any minute (or hour) now!

Back out to the barn...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jonah's Thoughts on Birth

I just had an interesting little exchange with Jonah.  Out of the blue, he said to me, "Mom, I'm so glad you stayed home when Evan was born.  You didn't go to the hospital, and that's just so good.  And you'll stay home this time, too.  I'm so glad."

I asked him why he felt this way.  "Just... because.  It's good."  was all he could express.

So I thought about it while I finished loading the dishwasher.  The only thing he knows of doctors and hospitals is that I went to one and had surgery when I had appendicitis.  He was four and, while he was well taken care of, it was traumatic for him to be gone from me for nearly three days, knowing that I was sick and at this mysterious "hospital" place.  So it makes sense that he is afraid of having me go to a hospital.

It occurred to me that this is a very logical conclusion, even for an almost-6-year-old.  He knows that people go to hospitals when they're very sick or hurt and the situations are dangerous.  He's heard that some people go to hospitals to have babies, and to him, the two situations just don't mesh.