Friday, February 28, 2014

Garden Story: The Planning

OK so, I know I've said it over and over again how excited we are about our garden this year but let me say it one more time. We are so excited! I'm not pregnant, I do not have a newborn, and I am extremely ready to get out of this house. I'm ready for a harvest of veggie goodness! Although there is a lot of work involved, I firmly believe that it will be totally worth it. 
The Garden
We started with a small plot on the side of our house and have used the same space for years. We've had success with tomatoes, squash, corn, and a few other things but  we've mostly focused on the tomatoes. We all love them. I've froze tomatoes and corn but never anything else from our own garden.
One year, I tried to section out a corner for small crops and make a little path of pea gravel. It worked ok. It would have worked better if I actually went outside and cared for it.

Oh well, we tilled it up and started over (Yes we had rocky soil that next year). And still have rocky soil to tell you the truth!
The Plan

 I guess when you start planning, it helps to know exactly what you want your end result to be. We know that we want to become more self reliant. We have a blurry vision of the future for our property but I wanted to really sit down and plan a clear picture. I whipped out the old Backyard Homestead and got to work.
I love this book. We've borrowed it from the library at least five times. So this year I bought it and I'm super glad I did. I love it. It's a very helpful reference to have on hand.
After a few days of dreaming and trying to envision our property, I decided that I needed a good visual of our land. I used Google Earth and printed out a satellite picture of our house and land. This was the best idea ever! I was able to see where everything currently is and imagine where it should be and what should be in its place. In the picture below, you can clearly see our property line, trees, garden plot, barn, and even the fire pit and horse shoe pits! (I blacked out the address, we don't really have a big black line in the yard :)
Next, I drew all over my printed out picture. It was so easy to see what would fit where and how everything would work. I strongly recommend you do the same if you're planning a change on your property.
I made several drafts and worked out every idea on graph paper. The greatest help may have been finding out that some of my ideas wouldn't work. We ended up moving the garden all the way to the edge of our property but still in the same corner.
 Once I had a pretty good idea what would be possible in the future with our one acre (fruit and nut trees, pigs, veggies, fruits, herbs, chickens), we were able to design the fence and purchase the supplies.
We also ordered the first round of seeds. I ordered from a new company this year, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
Next step: The hard part :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February Sewing Club

 Mary's book club has recently turned into a book and sewing club. I was a little unsure if Mary would be mature enough at 6 years old to handle a needle and thread and have the fine motor skills to sew. But I must say, I was absolutely AMAZED at the wonderful job she did. It made me feel like I may be underestimating some of her abilities. I still see her as my sweet little girl. Maybe I should have more confidence in her and what she's capable of accomplishing. I'm so glad we decided to join this awesome girls' club. I'm seeing Mary in a whole new light. I like her in this light. She is a special, unique person and I'm certain she will bring great things to this world.

This month the girls made hats out of sweaters. Mary learned the blanket stitch. She caught on so quickly. She had a blast and can't wait until the next meeting where they'll be making skirts!!
The finished product!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March Dinner Menu

I owe my family a big apology. February has not been my best month. I have slacked for sure. Really, the entire last half of the month has been a disaster. My meal plan never made it past the first week. That's right, I didn't even plan the last three weeks at all.
Every night has been it's own nightmare to end my unorganized day.
Next month will be different though. This month I'm ready. I've got my menu made early. My shopping list is started and our budget is in the works and I'm focused. Focus is the most important part. It's what keeps me prepared and motivated. I bet focus would work for my diet too..... hmmmmm. I'll have to think about that another day. One thing at a time. Menu!
Here is my dinner menu for March. Keep in mind that I've some how fallen backwards into survival mode again. I had to pick meals that were easy, cheap, and fast. I'm struggling to keep it all together but as usual, if I plan, then life will become less stressful.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Plenty Of Work!

 There has been plenty of work to do around here this week. The weather is still crazy but we have been blessed with some warm and rain free days. We're using every opportunity we get to work on our massive to do list.
First up, the garden fence. Those deer better look for a new garden to raid this summer because we're putting in a 5' tall fence around the new (and bigger) garden plot. It's a 60' x40' corner section of our property. We have very high hopes for this years harvest.
The holes are dug (thanks to N&JT for renting us their auger)!

And the first two posts are in. The weather and Curtis' job have prevented the rest from going in this week.
 Curtis and his dad were also finally able to get this big tree on the side of the garage cut down. It's been split down the middle since last year and we've had a strap keeping it from falling on the garage for that whole time. I really liked that tree. It was the biggest in the yard. But I'm glad it's no longer a danger. It was always kind of creepy listening to it creek and crack in the wind.

The most exciting thing by far is that we've selected the tile for the new kitchen floor! The floor is the next project we hope to tackle as soon as the fence is up.

The girls are also busy working! Besides helping us with the babies and with our projects, they're working on their own projects. I think we all were ready for a break from text books and since we just happen to have our annual talent show/project fair, we thought it would be nice to work on our projects.
 Mary is studying the Plains Indians and Taylor is studying World War II.
Mary's diorama is coming along nicely! I had originally planned on her studying the Navajo or Pueblo Indians. We went to the local library and loaded up on books. After reading them together, Mary showed a much greater interest in the Indians of the Plains. She loved the teepees, villages, and buffalo hunting. That's one great thing about homeschool, if her interest is in a specific area, then we can just go with it.

It's hard work but we're loving it!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Valentine's Day

I try to make every holiday a special memory for my girls. We don't have a large holiday budget so I try to be creative and do what I can with what I have. A little extra thought and time can make all the difference. There are so many ideas online and in magazines!!
A special surprise Valentine's Day breakfast is always very exciting!
We made cute valentine boxes out of a cereal box, a donut box, a chip can, and a trash bag box for our Valentine's Day party with our homeschool group. I let the girls pick what they wanted but I did most of the work. Now that the babies are getting a little bigger, every now and then we're finding more time for being creative and crafting.
Our party was at Circus World! They bowled, bungee jumped, played laser tag, ate pizza, and exchanged valentines :)


 Happy Late Valentine's Day!!



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Looking Ahead

When you're young and you have small children, it seems like everyone is always reminding you to savor each precious moment with your little ones. They tell you stories about their babies and how quickly they grew up. They miss their little ones and long for the good old days. Maybe they're lonely now that their house is quiet or maybe they feel regrets for not treasuring them as much as they should have or maybe they just enjoyed that time in their life so much that they wish it would have lasted longer.
I'm sure one day I'll be sharing the same words of wisdom with the young mothers I meet. But today I look ahead with joy. I feel like I DO enjoy every moment I can with my littles. I love them, treasure them, and give them my all everyday of my life. I love it. I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't rush forward until they were grown. I love them little. But I do look forward to the next seasons in my life. I hope to enjoy each stage that this life has to offer. The stage of being trapped at home with babies. The stage of running around town with littles and bigs. The stage of weddings and grand babies. And most of all the stage of me and my Love being together without constant distraction. A time to nurture each other. It's so hard to find time for us when we're swarmed with so many needs from the littles. Babies are needy and we have two of them. They suck the life right out of me and repeat it the next day. I feel almost broken sometimes. Like it's not possible to get enough sleep, nutrition, or exercise to fix myself. The days are long, the house is trashed, the kids are wild, the husband is neglected.
So today I gain my strength from looking ahead to the lazy quiet days of a different season and I find comfort in knowing that God planned it to be this way. He created man and the seasons of man.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nashville Zoo Day

Have you ever looked at your kids and said to yourself "we've got to get out of the house"? If you have kids, then you probably have.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (NT) invited us to the zoo. I've never really done a field trip that far away (not really that far) with all four kids and without the help of my husband. But when I looked at my kids that day, I said it! "We've got to get out of here", so we did. And I'm so glad we did! It was fun. The kids were happy. I was happy. It was a good day.

Victoria loved the flamingos!

Mary loved the friends and mapping out every minute of our trip.

We had so much fun, we'll be watching Groupon for a discount membership :)

This Week... No Make That Last Week

Monday was a long boring but still exhausting day. We had plenty of things to get done but we were all lacking the motivation to do them. It's been so unusually cold and gloomy around her lately. The kids are WILD and the house is trashed. School is getting done but it just seems to be adding to the stress. The babies have most definitely increased their crying and fit throwing times to at least double. We all desperately need to get out. But when you start your day by hanging up yours and your husbands pool towels that you had to use after your showers, you know it's a stay home and do laundry kind of day.
When I say it's been cold, I mean it! The trees were covered in beautiful ice when I went to let the chickens out. And right before I took these pictures I almost broke my neck slipping on that beautiful ice.
I still love winter! Even though I'm losing my mind :)

Saturday we got 4 new little hens. This will be there first laying season so we're excited to have some dependable layers around. I'm hoping maybe they'll encourage the older ladies to lay more.
Unfortunately the old ladies were not very kind to the new little girls :(
So we locked the new girls in the coop to eat and drink and avoid getting pecked by the mean old ladies. As you can see, they are not happy about being locked out. Haha.


Tuesday was no better. It was cold, long, and boring. We started plans for science & social studies projects. I worked on some lists and made some bread and granola bars (it was kitchen day).
By evening, I was done! Done with kids and cleaning. Done with school and crying. When I say done, I don't mean that I had completed anything. I mean the kind of done when you can't take it anymore. I couldn't wait to get into bed and just be still. When the time came, it was lovely. Peace.