Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hop! Hop!

The toads are back in force. Just go out in my backyard at dusk and you'll see them hopping about. They are definitely one of my favorite things about living in Oklahoma.


In our homeschool we've just started doing the "Story of the World" volume 1 with the activities. We've had the book on audio CD for a couple of years now and the kids have listened to it several times, but I decided it was time we actually went through and did the accompanying activities etc. We just started, so this week's lesson was on the early nomads and the assignment was to go out into your yard and build a shelter from whatever materials are available. I had other stuff I had to do, so I opened the door and said "y'all just go for it." I wasn't sure what to expect, but we did have some pretty nifty stuff lying around and pretty soon I got called outside to see this:

WOW!!!! I was very impressed.

And of course, the early nomad women gathered wildflowers to decorate their primitive shelters.

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Gardeny Things

Right now when I look at my garden I think "this is really great... so far..." but I know from my experience last year that disaster could strike at any moment. Bugs. Diseases. Fungus. Hail. Wind. Heat. If it survives all that, then the Rabbit will pull it up and feed it to the goats.

Here is my herb and flower bed. Many things are doing incredibly well. Several of the uber-gorgeous flowers I bought at the local greenhouse turned out to be a little too babied to deal with real live Oklahoma. The lemon balm died completely.

This one looked like it was dead but now it's starting to come back:

But this is the one that's killing me: it really caught my fancy at the greenhouse and now it is about dead, though I think I might see some signs that it's turning around. Oh, I hope! I hope! It's actually an ornamental form of tobacco but it is truly lovely (and it was a little pricey.)

While we're on the subject of flowers, I had a bunch of volunteer marigolds spring up in my potato bed and surrounding lawn. You never know what the wind is going to blow your way around here. I've been transplanting them in amongst the tomato plants. I'm getting about a 50% success rate with transplant survival as you see here, but hey, they're free plants so I can't complain.

And that's a picture of Bean's garden, so that why there's some weeds. :)

Here's my spring crops.

Loving the lettuce and the chard. I've never grown iceberg lettuce before and I'm definitely sold on it. I never buy iceberg in the store because it seems so nutritionally worthless, but it's very different if you grow it yourself.

In the big empty space between the lettuce and the chard there are supposed to be carrots, but this is the kind of germination success I'm getting with carrots this year:

Not sure what it is. I even bought that fun seed tape that's supposed to be so foolproof. I think they don't like the wind. Or maybe the cats sit on them.

My broccoli and cauliflower plants are big and luscious but they still haven't set any heads. Seems to me there ought to be something there by now.

The bean tower is working great. The tendrils have latched on and are climbing. The white dust you see on the plants is diatomaceous earth, which has been helpful in dealing with some garden pests.

And then there's my potatoes. Some of them have been hit by what I believe is Early Blight, but most of them are still doing okay. I bought an organic fungicide-- I hope it works. I've caught a handful of potato beetles in there too, but so far handpicking has seemed effective.

The weather has been about as cooperative as Oklahoma gets so far, but I know the heat is right around the corner. And the squash bugs. I'm sure they'll show up any day now. I've got some organic pesticides I'm going to try.

Then I will just have to figure out how to keep my Rabbit out of the garden and I'll be set!

Fish Flies

Fish loves for me to take pictures of him "flying" on the trampoline. He and Bean would jump on the trampoline all day every day if I'd let them. It never gets old.

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A Furry Pillow

The Rabbit loves loves loves our animals and it's amazing how well they tolerate her. This snuggle with Peter Cat went on for a long time and he seemed to enjoy it.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Organic Weedeaters

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Feeding a Multitude

So, our friends from Kansas came to visit and they have six kids. That's eleven kids and four adults in my house. I baked two batches of bread throughout the day and made an enormous pot of chicken noodle soup. The Badger dished it up (cleverly finding some disposable bowls!) and I just thought it looked so funny to have all those blue bowls of soup all over my table.

When you have a big family and a lot of your friends have big families too you have to learn to cook for a crowd! I wasn't very good at that at first but I'm getting better.

It was so wonderful to see our friends. I wish I had a picture of all the kids together, but there was just so much going on (really??) The kids all played together without skipping a beat, even though they hadn't seen each other for 18 months. And us grownups never ran out of things to talk about. That to me is the sign of a really good friendship.
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What's More Trouble than the Rabbit?

The Rabbit with a friend, of course!

Some friends of ours from Kansas came down to visit us on Friday. Their youngest is the same age as our Rabbit. And by the end of the day those two little girls were very dirty and mussed up and very happy!
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Did You Know there are Alligators in Oklahoma?

There actually are real alligators living in the wild down in the very very southeast tip of Oklahoma. But after our last rain storm I caught sight of the very very rare Red Alligator in a mudhole in my very own backyard! Looked pretty fierce-- I didn't get too close.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All's Well That Ends Well

The storms have come and gone and everything and everyone at Toad Hall is just fine. We had an exciting evening yesterday in our neighbors' storm shelter listening to the sirens and the reports of tornado touchdowns. It was the most dramatic tornado warning experience I have ever had, even considering my childhood in Minnesota. Maybe because in Minnesota (and Kansas) people have basements so they don't have to go running across the lawn to a small concrete bunker-like thingie. That certainly adds to the drama. I don't think my kids are going to forget it, that's for sure.

Listening to the live radio reports of tornadoes on the ground in places I knew and had been made the whole tornado thing seem so much more real to me though. My heart goes out to all those who lost homes, property, and especially family in recent storms. You are in my prayers.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ring Around the Rosy

I was doing school with the boys this morning when I noticed something delightful happening outside:

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

So, I just had a birthday. The Badger, bless his heart, honestly thought I was turning 28, but I actually turned 32.

I never imagined that on my 32nd birthday I would be living in Oklahoma. I did imagine the husband and five kids and I hoped for the acreage and animals, but Oklahoma was a surprise. A nice surprise, for the most part.

Twenty years ago was my long-awaited 12th birthday. That meant graduation from Primary at church into the Young Women's organization, which was one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened to me at that point in my life. Girl's Camp was shortly after my birthday and what a marvelous time I had there!

Ten years ago, turning 22, I was relishing the idea that big adventures were just beginning in my life. The Badger and I had just relocated to Idaho's glorious Treasure Valley, so we were on our own away from our family for the first time. We also were expecting Bean, and I was so, so, so excited about being a mom.

Five years ago we had recently bought a house in Idaho that I wanted to live in for the rest of my life and I was busy settling in and feathering my perfect nest. I've lived in four houses since then.

I wonder where I will be five years from now, when I turn 37. My life is unstable enough that I have a hard time thinking about making long-term plans. It's probable that we won't be in Oklahoma, given the nature of the Badger's employment. It's probable that we will have one or two more children. Other than that, I can't even imagine where I'll be and what I'll be doing. I just hope I will be wiser, smarter, stronger, healthier and more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Ten years from now Bean could be on a mission for our church and Fish will be driving and dating and finishing high school (in some form or another.) Little Peanut will be older than Bean is now.

And twenty years from now... I'm sure I'll be a grandmother by then. Life will be very different-- probably harder in some ways, but richer.

I think I have a lot to look forward to.

The Show So Far

Several members of my family contacted me yesterday wondering if we were okay, if there was any severe weather in our area. Luckily, we didn't even have any rain or thunder where we were (though we did see dark clouds.)

Today, however, our TORCON index is 8, which is the highest number on the scale. There is a high probability of tornadoes across Oklahoma today. It could be an exciting day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What a Pair!

Last Valentine's Day I went through all my photos and pulled every single one that had both me and the Badger in it. I made them into a slideshow and added a romantic song and it ended up being a HUGE hit with the entire family. But I realized something when I did that: in the last few years there are very few pictures of the Badger and I together. So I'm trying to remedy that. Here is a picture of us on my recent birthday:

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Playing With Knit

The girls were a little short of summer pajamas, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to practice sewing with knit fabric. I haven't done a lot of work with knits and they can be tricky, but they are also much more fun when you have a serger. Which I now do.

I let Roo pick out the fabric and then I experimented with two different decoration styles for the front. That way I'll also be able to tell the nightgowns apart easily! They ended up being quite big on them so they'll probably be wearing them for the next two years.

For the most part things went well on this project. I didn't have any tears of frustration or major disasters. But I also didn't do things picture perfect everywhere. The neckline on the Rabbit's nightie leaves a bit to be desired and I've never been extremely good at applique (though I love to do it.)

But for pajamas, they're wonderful, and I'm loving the happy feeling I get when I have created something that's both cute and useful.
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Badger Tales

The other night we had a real humdinger of a thunderstorm. It started with a cloudy sky that started flickering with more and more lightning as the evening progressed. When it got to the point where it looked almost like a strobe light was going off outside I went and sat on the porch to watch. The kids followed me out there and we enjoyed the booming thunder as they romped on the grass.

The Badger soon joined us and after he had taken a comfortable seat he called the children over for story time. Now, the Badger has an absolutely magical storytelling ability. He has the engaging voice and the imagination to make it up on the spot and the children just hang on his every word. So we sat there on the porch and listened to his tale of the young badger who left the family den one evening because he had a hankering for fresh forest mushrooms fried in lots of butter while the sky grew ever darker and more menacing.

Shortly after the Badger concluded his tale, the main part of the storm hit. The rain began in a deluge and the thunder was shaking the house. We scuttled inside and enjoyed watching it from the windows.

I really hope that some of our kids will have a cherished childhood memory of listening to their dad tell stories outside in the lightning and thunder.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Duck Disaster

Did you know that large dogs can rip through chicken wire?

Well, they can.

Our ducks lived a short but happy life. Same with six of our chicks.

We knew there would be disasters and learning experiences as we got into this farm thing. I'm just glad our sweet goats are still okay so far. I'm getting extremely fond of them.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sweet Sleeper

(Note: I just barely made that Boppy pillow cover-- the Boppy had been coming apart for a long time and it finally dawned on me that I had a pattern for a cover. It was SO easy to sew-- the whole thing took me less than an hour with cutting time and everything. I used fabric on hand that was given to me so it was practically free. It feels so good to be creative and frugal! Next project: a new pad for my high chair. That one's going to take a little longer, but I find in my life that no matter how ridiculously busy I am I HAVE to create or I go insane. Hence this blog.)
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Another One of those Fish Mysteries

Fish drew me a stick figure cartoon for Mother's Day. It's about a man taking a trip to the dentist. In the first panel you see, the man is shaking hands with the dentist. In the second panel, he is in the dentist chair and the dentist is working on his teeth. All that is pretty obvious.

But why the dentist has a ten-foot snake coming out of his head remains a mystery to me. Fish didn't give me a good explaination. It's just one of those Fish things that only he understands. Oh, my goodness, how I love this boy...
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One Thing I Didn't Need to Worry About

When we got our order of chicks in the mail, I was a bit concerned about one thing. Of our 30-something lil' fuzzballs, ten were going to grow up to be pure white laying hens and ten were pure white fryers (designed to be eaten.) But they were all mixed up in the box! How was I going to tell which pure white chickens to dispatch when the time came?

I needn't have worried. It was very quickly obvious.

I had no idea the difference in size would be so great. The fryers are twice the size of the others!
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My Girls

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's Happening!

I'm starting to talk like a native Okie.

I've caught myself sticking my head out the back door in the mornings and hollering "Y'all come in for school now!" to the kids. And saying things like "If y'all clean your rooms I'll read to you."

We've been here just about a year now. I wonder how long it will take before I get the accent.

Dinner Conversation

This evening as I was eating dinner with the kids I asked them the classic question: "What did you learn in Church today?" Here are their responses:

Rabbit: "I learned a lesson. About Jesus Christ" (said with eyes wide and head nodding emphatically.)

Roo: "I learned about the golden plates."

Bean: "I learned about the Book of Mormon."

Fish: "I learned that if you pick your nose in class you will have to stand with your nose on the door for ten minutes."

(I doubt that's actually the true punishment, but it's a totally classic Fish thing to say!)