Thursday, February 22, 2018

We have Chicks!

Yay!  We finally have chicks.  Nineteen of them, actually.  
I know that sounds excessive for a first year, but there is a formula here.

Our three middle girls, Camilla, Lucy, and Eve were getting chicks.  Since their foray into the pig market exposed them to the opportunities for making honest money (not roadside stands selling painted rocks, ahem), they wanted another way to continue to earn.  Although chicken eggs would not provide the substantial end-of-year payout that 4H pig selling reaped, this venture would provide a smaller, but hopefully, steady income.  We decided each girl could have five chicks, which, barring the possibility of roosters invading the throng, equals fifteen laying hens.  That number would allow for the eggs we would need at home as well as some to sell.

As we began studying and talking about chickens, Henry began to feel more and more left out.  At first we told him he got all of the chicks that turned out to be boys.  That worked until someone let slip in front of him that roosters would be eliminated from the flock and put in the roasting pan. He's a smart one and picked up the meaning of that right away, despite having used code language.
Alright.  Henry can have two chickens.  It would actually be a good idea to compensate for those possible roosters!

As the date grew closer, brood boxes were prepared, names were chosen, and the general excitement escalated, Eliza decided she wanted a chicken of her own.
Camilla agreed to be the primary care-giver for Eliza's chicken with Eliza choosing the breed, name, and providing the necessary cuddling.
Fine.  Eighteen.

I informed the children that I would be choosing three out of their five chickens to insure good layers and cold-tolerant birds (Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, and Amber Whites).  They had the option of choosing the other two.  We made up lists and each child had their base five with an alternate, just in case the store didn't have the selected varieties.  In the hustle and bustle of the selection process, one of the girls accidentally got their alternate in addition to their other carefully selected breeds.
Nineteen birds.

Whew.  Did you get all that?!
Now comes the task of raising these little investments!

Eve was  initially terrified of touching the chicks. 
It took her a long time, but she is now holding and caring for her chicks . . .
with socks on her hands, but still! 
So far, so good!  My laundry room is hot and smelly and full of the cutest little fluffy peeps you ever saw.  Day and night, there is always at least one child in there, quietly caring for the puffy creatures.  Exactly what I had hoped.  Let's hope their attentions last.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Transformation Tuesday

When my grandma passed away last summer, we inherited this pink lace dress. I'm pretty sure she made it to wear at my uncle's wedding in 1980.

Since lace is back, we decided to remake it!

I reused an old zipper I had sitting around and, voila! Free skirt!
From 1980 mother of the bride to 2018 fresh and fun teen skirt.
Thanks, Great Grandma. We hope you approve!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mary was His Mother

 I am reading (listening to) a biography about Michelangelo in preparation for our trip to Italy.  I read it a decade ago and am really enjoying the re-read.  It is interesting how the perspective of time changes our understanding of books and situations.  Things that meant little to nothing to me in the last reading, jump out at me this time.  I find my thoughts returning again and again to the subject at hand.  Each time a work of art is mentioned, I look it up and study images of it.  Right now in the story, he is working on the Pieta. While I’ve always thought it a lovely piece, now I can’t stop thinking about it.  

We talk so much about how Jesus is the Son of God, Firstborn, Only Begotten, etc., I think we sometimes forget or at least downplay the significance of the fact that Jesus is also the son of Mary.  Her parentage made Him mortal, which is an undeniably vital part of His earthly experience.  What a special person who sacrificed a great deal for the life of her son.  Thinking of this perspective as she holds her dead son--yes to rise again, but the moment Michelangelo captured, He is dead—and by a horrible death she had to witness.  Here she holds her baby, life of her life, love of her heart.  She, who knew better than anyone the divine nature of Jesus, who saw him always good, always kind, always noble, she had to watch as he suffered under the hand of wicked and ignorant men as he performed the Atonement for them . . . and for herself.

I suppose this is one purpose of art; to make us think and wonder in a way we hadn't before. It can help us explore ideas and ponder meaning.  What a blessing, Michelangelo.  Thank you for helping me see Mary, an elect lady, in a new way. 
And thank you, Mary, for your offering.
Truly, "Blessed art thou among women."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Not the Best

This chapstick is a good illustration of my week: brand new and full of promise, but with a giant bite deviously snatched from under my nose.  Sometimes things just don't go the way you plan.  We are having a big winter storm which put a hamper on my outdoor running, my home school was a pitiful mess, the blog was abandoned (Here we go again, she can't help but reprimand herself), I was impatient and gossiped and over-spent and didn't read my scriptures.  I was even bothered by my missionary who didn't write the kind of letter I wanted!  Humph.

I'm hitting the reset button for this week and am determined to improve (which is mostly attributed to my attitude and fortitude).
Plus, we hope to bring home chicks tomorrow.  
That little emblem of Spring is sure to raise the spirits.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Kid Update

These precious creatures rule my days and nights and I love filling my life this way.  Here is an update on the children who keep my heart beating.

Henry, 4, has calmed down significantly from his wild and destructive second and third years of life.  He is charming and sweet . . . and keeps me guessing.  Like after I had called him several times for bed and he hadn't responded, I found him sound asleep inside a propped up couch cushion.

Wynnie is 21 months and has me stumped.  Within six months of getting teeth, she had chipped both of those beautiful, fresh teeth.  I worried she was born with brittle teeth and have been especially vigilant about giving her fluoride every day.  When I asked the dentist about it, he said, "It usually has nothing to do with the teeth.  It almost always has everything to do with the child."  I had to take a step back because Wynnie is not a wild child.  She plays and stays busy, certainly, but isn't the whirlwind some of my other children have been at this age.  Once I really thought about it and started paying attention, I had to admit that while she isn't a crazy ball of energy, she also is not coordinated.  She falls a lot, multiple times daily.  So  much, in fact, that I've started calling her Klutsy.  In addition to the first chipped teeth in the family, Wynnie has the distinction of being the first to bite clear through her lip.

Eve has been wanting to learn pottery on an actual potter's wheel for years.  She is an obsessive personality and gets stuck on passions for long periods of time.  Many things have come and gone, but the pottery thing has stayed.  For Christmas this year, she got some lessons with a real potter (one of the first Pottery Barn potters, in fact).  Here she is throwing her very first pot.  You could not see a happier child.

Sweet Lucy is smack in the middle of the Who am I and Where do I fit time of life. She is handling the uncertainty and changes with the grace and gentleness that is typical of her.  At first glance you might think she is lazy, but she is actually just efficient.  She is almost always the first one to complete a chore or assignment.  Nevertheless, it is a good thing this is her date year so we can help her navigate these new and curious waters.

At 14, Camilla is really figuring herself out.  Her moods are leveling off and her patience with everyone is increasing.  From the time she was little, she has been my comedian and constantly cracks us up with her goofy antics and weird way of seeing the world.  Plus, every single time she sees my phone sitting unused, she has to fill it with these:
Never a dull moment, man.  Haha!!

Eliza is fast becoming an adult.  She is astute and has a gift for discerning people's intentions.  When we were planning our trip to Hawaii recently, I didn't have a second thought about leaving the children in her care.  She works hard at her college classes and continues to improve her piano playing.  I love having her sassy pants in our home.  Here she is opening her first passport!

Finally, our good missionary.  I'm not sure why, but his companions keep taking pictures of him sound asleep.  I know he isn't lazy, but I also know that from the time he was a baby, he goes hard and strong, winding up like a spring until without notice, he passes out. My favorite is the top left with the drool blinging in the light.  I'm glad to see he is working so hard that he falls asleep the moment he rests his head.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Still in School

I have always tried to be a life-long learner, but right now I feel like I am in the midst of a college semester.  My studies are in-depth and varied, as I prepare for several new things.

First, as I mentioned before, we are going to start raising chickens.  Although we raised pigs for the last two years, eight pigs in total, chickens are a whole new game.  There was a mighty learning curve for the pigs and I wish I could have talked the girls into doing it one more year so we could really get the hang of things; a great many things take plain old practice to succeed.  I lost. So here we are learning how to raise chickens.

Second, we are beginning with honey bees this year.  I've wanted to start our own hives since we moved here, but it had to wait its turn.  Now that I have a good field of clover and wildflowers established, they should be happy in their new home . . . as soon as I learn how to set it up!  For this particular venture, I am taking an actual class at the local extension office, in addition to the books and articles I've been pouring over.

Third, I teach a Sunday School class with about 50 adult students of varying levels of gospel knowledge from the fresh faced 18 year olds to the seasoned and educated grandparents.  It is intimidating to say the least!  We are learning about the Old Testament this year and each week I spend from 6-10 hours preparing a lesson.  As everyone knows, the teacher learns much more than the student, in part because the teacher needs to know their topic well enough to teach it, but there is an even more challenging role in this particular class.  Because I learn best when I am asked a question that makes me think and wonder, I try to lead a discussion rather than stand at the pulpit and lecture.  That is risky because it means I never really know the direction the lesson will take and I have to be ready for anything.  Even then, some comments still catch me off guard and I find I am not prepared!  It can be frustrating, but it does give me an opportunity to research the topic for which I had not thought to prepare the week before.  It is exhilarating and I enjoy it, but it is intensive and hard work.

Finally, my daughter and I are planning a trip to Italy in 59 days.  It is the trip of a lifetime, partly because it is Italy, but mostly because it is with my daughter who is nearly out of my nest.  (bawl) While I am very excited about seeing some of this country, I am also terribly intimidated.  Every once in a while, I get a little teary thinking about it, not from joy, but from fear.  What do I do to combat that fear?  Study, study, study.  In addition to reading articles and forums online and talking to some travel-experienced friends, I am re-reading The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone.  I read it about a decade ago and loved it.  In fact, despite my passion for history, I had no desire to visit Italy until I read that book.

I see now another reason that it was so important for me to give up social media.  My time is uber packed. (I didn't even get into my responsibilities as camp director for Young Women's Camp or my continued commitment to be ready for my first 5k in a month or the ever-present students under my care or the house that needs constant tending.  You can bet that I'm failing at something and I think it's pretty obvious what has slipped!)
"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me."
Three hours later and I have recaptured control of the house, fed the family, and finished this blog post.  Back to the books!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Preparing for the Girls

 Having had pigs for the last two years, our freezers are full of pork and the family is sick of tending to pigs for awhile.  Since I was seeing very good character development in our daughters through the care of the pigs, I wanted more animals that would continue to deepen those characteristics.  We've decided on two: chickens and honey bees.

For the past couple of days, the girls have been working on 4-H style reports (sadly, we aren't participating in 4-H for these projects).  They were supposed to give presentations on the first chicken phase, namely choosing and raising chicks:  What do they eat, where do they live, what kind of care do they need, etc.  My job was to learn enough about chicks so that I could direct their questions.
From Lucy's Power Point

They had fun researching, especially since I mandated that part of their research had to include a conversation with an "expert," ie: a friend who has chickens.  (It was cute to listen to those conversations!)  They were each assigned the identical topic, but their presentations ended up covering very different parts of the topic.  That gave us, as a family, a wide and, hopefully, comprehensive education about the raising of chicks.

I told the girls that Dad and I would provide a chicken coop when the birds were ready to go outside.  As they were preparing their presentations, I was doing my research.  At one point, I started explaining what I'd learned to one of the children, only to be interrupted by another who didn't hear the first part of my explanation.  I decided to create a power point of my own!

Last night, we gave our presentations.  We all learned so much about chickens and their domesticated habitats.  We won't get the chicks until next month, but we figured we would need the extra time to prepare for their arrival.  
 In the meantime, we have all discovered new favorite websites (You know you are onto something good when the students keep studying the topic even after the assignment has been completed!) and are excited to begin this new hobby.