Friday, May 26, 2017

Yay for workouts!

I just posted over in my WildchildT blog site about my latest workouts. I found a few amazing free fitness apps so go check them out! plus I went on a very cool trail run to the only working fire tower in the area. Gosh I missed having sore muscles!!


As for homesteading, things are rockin' and rollin' here as the weather is starting to cooperate and warm up a touch. I went through our hives finally as we hit a 70 degree day and wahoooo we have some honey needing to be harvested! Two hives are loaded with honey and the third has little honey but a ton of brood being born so I'm feeding them sugar water before the nectar flow kicks in. Hopefully by early fall they will have built out some nice honey frames for us to harvest. This is exciting and I can't wait to lick the spoon of our very own honey harvest. We've been lucky with no swarming, no diseases, and no infestation of mites.

The roo we butchered the other day made a very tasty soup with dumplings.  My nephew H was picked up from the airport and promptly told by Cowboy "as soon as we get home we have to butcher our rooster. Welcome to the country!" Poor H never saw it coming but he did great and helped Cowboy out. The meat was a little chewy (boo) but the broth flavor was delicious. It made even better bone broth in my Instant Pot after the bones were picked clean.

Our homestead is now up a member as we added a orange tabby tom cat to our farm as a mouser. He's a very young cat but already playing tiger in the grass, is super affectionate, and doing well alongside our chickens.  I had a momentary lapse of weakness because he is so lovable. I pleaded with Cowboy to consent to making him our indoor kitty. He said nay nay and I felt sad but then, when I was cutting out his cat door and contained him in L-bug's playhouse during all the construction noise he howled so pathetically and perched in the windowsill pawing to get out. Once the cat door was in place he paraded around the yard like a King so I knew immediately he was definitely not indoor cat material. He needed to have his wide open spaces to wander and hunt. Our crazy/awesome GSD has been advised to stay clear of the cat and so far is obeying.  We are hopefully going to be adding a female kitten this week. Maybe this will keep the tom nearby and give us kittens in the future. I missed having a cat since we had to put my dear Little Kitty asleep just before L-bug was born. I have been cat-less since and now that I have a cat I realize how much I really love cats. The lovable ones, not the pissy scratchy aloof ones. I just hope this guy is street-wise (or better yet country-wise?) towards the predators in the area. I've already had to sit L-bug down and explain the ins and outs of having outdoor pets in our area. She knows the cat may go missing, may run away or get taken by a predator. Our best hope is to provide the safest shelter close to the house and have him stick somewhat nearby so he has the best chance of survival. She's a pretty smart cookie and caught on pretty quick. When we butchered the roo she was sad for a few minutes and then lit up when we served her the soup saying, "my rooster tastes delicious!!" Ha. I am glad I am giving her a childhood where she learns the value of raising your own food.

Turkeys will be on their way by next month! Our baby chicks are now fully feathered out and will be ready for full integration in the not too distant future. Mmmm yummy eggs. I hope none are roos as they will have to be for the soup pot, but at least this time we will harvest them when they are young and less "chewy" than our previous roo.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Yes I'm horrible at this blogging production....

It is HARD to find the time to sit down at the computer without a single distraction or without being suddenly ridden with guilt about what still needs to get done around the house. I don't know how these blogging mamas do it day in and day out but I'm impressed.

Let's see....how can I catch y'all up to date here without typing a novel?

So, I realize my blog has taken a sharp turn from my trail running adventures (sigh...how I miss those adventures terribly. 'whine') into the realm of kids and homesteading. It's not really the direction I wanted to go but I guess its inevitable seeing as that is truly what my life has evolved into for the time being. I know I will be back out there again, running and sucking air as I get myself back into the groove of things and back into a much fitter "me". I have to believe this because if I don't I think I'll cry. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my life as it has become. I love my children more than anything in the world and wouldn't change single a thing about it. Becoming pregnant not once, but twice with fertility issues I have been doubly blessed and I feel down to my bones that I was meant to be a mama. However, (and a small however) I am also an athlete to the core and feel mentally restless not being out on my trails, running exotic crazy races, and working out every day. I need this like the body needs water. I also really want to be an incredible role model to my children to show them the importance of being mentally and physically strong and healthy; to do crazy (but relatively safe) things to test your body and to gain the awe and inspiration that exercise and adventures deliver. So, although I am basking in motherhood, I also know that in due time (and I'm not rushing it because I know it will happen when the time is right) I will eventually be back running my trails and returning this body to the powerhorse it used to be! Then, dear friends, you can read about fitness instead of butchering turkeys and cloth diapering.

As it is I JUST did my first trail run in a very long time and (yay!) I DIDN'T suck!!!! I ran four fantastic trail miles in a decent time with the pup (who did amazing and even did a little successful off-leash trial). I was just a tiny bit sore the next day and I felt encouraged to try to get out more. I also have been using a weighted hoola-hoop (who knew?!), push up stands, and a speed rope for extra exercise in addition to my treadmill runs.

With the warmer weather I have also started taking the kiddos in either the Burley or tossing R-bear into the Osprey kid backpack and having L-bug hike next to me. She has been calling herself a "runner girl like mama!" and thoroughly enjoys sprinting next to me. Unfortunately her nearly three year old attention span lasts a few short minutes before she is suddenly planted in a crouch alongside the dirt road deeply inspecting whatever grasshopper, shiny rock, flower, spider, or bauble that she comes across. So I have come to realize and accept our walks are not about mama getting exercise but my kiddos exercising their curious brains and learning to enjoy the outdoors which is still a big fat win in my book.

This summer I am planning on starting the kids out on their first ever camping experience...in our back yard. We have enough land I can pretend we are gone far out but know if things go kattywompus we can always retreat to the safety and warmth of the house. For Christmas the kiddos both got true backpacks and high quality sleeping bags. Although it will be a bit until R-bear can utilize his gifts, L-bug is ready and willing to camp with hers, provided "there are s'mores, hot cocoa, and a campfire mama".

R-bear is starting to take his first steps and is signing words up a STORM! Practically each day he learns a new word and uses it correctly! Also he is my super snuggler. Ahhhh I love this boy. He will snuggle mama 24/7 if he was able. He fits right into my shoulder and neck like it was made to form around his little body.
L-bug is also coming into her own and becoming more affectionate and nursing. Yes, there are days of struggle where she spits out "no!" or "you do it!" but there comes immediate and swift redirection and she corrects her behavior. Not as many melt downs as she used to have. She is also using really big words as well as big concepts, and many often mistake her age to be a year or two older. This may bite us in the butt:) We are starting to homeschool although I use that term loosely right now because homeschooling at her age is mostly imagination play, arts and crafts, music, dancing, and helping mama cook. She has her own chores that are expected of her such as setting the table each meal and cleaning up her own place as well as helping clean the rest of the table. She also helps empty the clean dishes from the dishwasher and collect eggs from the chicken coop. She is eager and willing most of the time and all you have to ask is "can you help me?" and she is all over it with excitement!

Also, cowboy is starting to work one day from home each week which is absolutely delightful and I am down to part time. It is nice to see each other again a little bit more as we miss each other terribly!

Life is very good on the homestead. We are expecting to harvest our first batch of honey from our bees this month and we have 20 baby chicks in the brooder coop who are now fully feathered out. The elder hens are starting to lay better with the warmer weather and we just butchered one of our roosters for tomorrows dinner. Baby turkeys will be on their way next month (a mix of heritage and commercial breeds) and we are starting to discuss the potential of pigs this summer or next. MMMMM bacon.....

Book Review: God's Easter Miracles by Lee Ann Mancini

This book is part of a series "Adventures of the Sea Kids". I heard great things about this series while I listened to Dr. Meg Meeker's podcast so I looked up the book and was given a copy via BookCrash for my honest review. I really wanted to like this book but alas I felt it really fell short with the delivery of its message and the religious guilt associated. 

Although the book's quality is fantastic (thick pages, solid hardcover, beautiful illustrations), I found the content to be a bit over the top. First of all I felt there was too many messages attempting to be delivered. There is an autistic sea kid, an injured sea kid, the message of what Easter means with Jesus, and "letting Jesus in your heart". I would expect it to be very overwhelming for a younger child to comprehend. I also felt that although it is indeed an obvious religious themed book, it had a very pushy and off-putting tone to it. 

The Sunday school children were to hunt for eggs and whomever found the few eggs with crosses on them were to get a special present. Jimmy found two but was then bluntly pressured and guilted by the teacher into giving one of his eggs to the autistic kid who threw down his basket and pouted because he wanted a special present too. The message was to treat autistic kids with extra attention and exceptions than the other children and that didn't set well with me. Jimmy should have been allowed to come to his own decision to give up his second egg and been given praise regardless of who he shares it with. This part of the book reminded me of participation trophies which is a terrible thing.
Again with the autistic kid, when he has difficulty writing his card, others offer to do it for him. Instead of helping him work through his disability he is treated as being completely incompetent.
Second, I am not a fan of the notion of "Jesus take the wheel" when it comes to praying for miracles. It's fine to pray and ask God to help when someone is ill but to discredit anything else that may have helped save the child's life (doctors, nurses, etc) is ignorant. Yes, I guess you can assume that God's grace is in the medical staff but to just say we prayed and yay it worked! seems silly and lazy.
Overall the pictures were beautiful to look at and I could see the message that the author was trying hard to get through but I felt she really flopped. The pressure seen in this book is why so many run from religion and that is discouraging. Based on other reviews I am actually wanting to read to the other books in the series as many have written this was their least favorite because of the things I have mentioned here. I initially heard of this series off of Dr. Meg Meeker's podcast.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through BookCrash in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Baby Sign Language Take Two!

R-bear said his first "word" today!! Very proud mama moment for sure. We've been signing with him over the last few weeks as we noticed he is starting to really take notice of our hand gestures, looking from hands to our face as we sign and say the word. I kept thinking: is this too early? Is he getting any of this? He seemed to really take notice of us and study things intently lately so I kept signing and having L-bug sign when we would remember to. She's been having a blast re-learning her signs and teaching her little brother.
Today Cowboy was holding him and said, "Milk R-bear? Milk?" R-bear looked right at me and pumped his hand in the sign of milk!!! Holy S**** I exclaimed! I know L-bug's little absorbent ears were right behind me and we hardly ever cuss in our house anyways but I couldn't contain my excitement. I was afraid the signing was a fluke so for the rest of the day I would ask R-bear "milk?" sometimes without signing and sure as day he signed 'milk' every time. Saying I'm so excited is totally an understatement. By the way, he is now in 18 month clothes....chubby babies is how we roll here.

I know it's been awhile so I'll attempt to backtrack a little bit. Turkey butchering went better than expected. We had our neighborhood teenage homeschooled boys who's father was an outfitter come assist us and educate us with the butchering. They were amazing and knew their stuff like no other. If they were my boys I'd be one helluva proud mama right there. By the second turkey, Cowboy was doing the butchering from start to finish with just an occasional verbal guidance from the boys. It was great.

We contemplated for quite a long time how to handle this with little L-bug but it turns out she helped us handle it! We prepared her several days in advance what was going to happen to the turkeys and how they were going to feed our family. We also mentioned that next year we were going to be getting more turkeys and some of those might stay on as pets to help breed new turkeys. The day of the butchering (I've noticed a lot of people try to soften this by calling it 'dispatching' but seriously....I'm not calling someone to deliver a message, I'm culling an animal for food. I'm butchering it and there's nothing violent or angry or evil about butchering your food humanely. Did I mention how we as a society are creating an overly sensitive population where people feel entitled to not be offended? No? well, I guess that's a rant for another day along with feminizing our men and creating horrific gender identity issues with this whole "what gender do you identify with today" nonsense). I digress....turkeys. Yes butchering turkeys.

My folks were down and really were opposed to L-bug being involved in the slightest with the process. Cowboy and I were on the fence and felt this should be treated as a normal part of living on the homestead and raising your own meat. At her age I didn't feel she was marred yet with the Disney-fied talking emotion-filled animals that we grew up with and were inundated from a young age with. I wanted her to be very animal loving, gentle and caring to nature and all God's creatures, but I also wanted her to be realistic and not a bleeding heart when it came to living in the country.

After we killed one turkey, beheaded and plucked it, I carried it into the kitchen to finish fine-plucking and rinsing it out before putting it in the ice chest to chill. L-bugs eyes got real wide as I passed by her and she followed me into the kitchen. She was quiet for a few moments and I made a point not to make a big deal out of the situation and just go about my business while she watched. After a few minutes I hear her drag her tower closer to the counter by me and climb up to my level. She tugged on my sleeve and said, "mama, can I help?" Absolutely! We talked a little bit about it and the next thing I know she's asking me to see a turkey with it's head still intact. Well, uh, ok I replied shooting glances at my mom. My mom looked at me slightly concerned but we held L-bugs hand as we went outside after the second turkey was killed and drained. It's head hung limp off the butchering table, the boys in the process of plucking. L-bug watched from a distance then started inching her way closer to the turkey until she was finally touching it and looking at its head. She was emotionally rock solid and I was impressed. She soon after asked to watch one being killed to which I drew the line at and Cowboy agreed. Not yet, and not with these turkeys that she hand-raised and was very attached to. We agreed that when it came time to butcher our neighbor's hens we would help and she could watch and participate with those. She had no emotional connection like she did with these turkeys. I also felt it was just too much to mentally process in one day. I found out the hard way that just because she appears to be unfazed by something doesn't really mean she is truly unfazed. Sometimes the too-big emotions erupt a few hours to a few days later. We had no way of telling how she was internalizing what she was witnessing. As it turned out she was fine and even talks to this day of her turkeys being "dead" and how yummy they were!

R-bear has started to army crawl around and is a much bigger explorer (read: gets into everything and puts everything into his mouth) than his sister ever was so this now brings a whole new level of excitement to our house.  Not only do we have to make sure we close all the gates/doors and be careful of what is put in areas that R-bear can access but now we have to be responsible for keeping a very close eye on L-bug and what she leaves around the house. Unfortunately many toys that she previously was allowed the luxury of playing with have needed to be locked away until R-bear is older due to small parts and choking hazards to her little brother since she is a typical toddler and creates little tornados of mayhem as she runs through the house.

Finally, L-bug is starting to take art and crafting seriously! At 2.5yrs old she is learning to sew, play (i.e. plunk) the piano (we have a piano!), and her drawing is really evolving drastically. The other day as she sat waiting patiently for her pediatrician to finish with her little brother she drew a picture of him with arms, legs, and even his Yamika on his head! He was impressed.