Friday, October 25, 2013

More changes than just the weather!

   

    Today we got up to a wonderful temp of 37 degrees.  I guess Father Time forgot to let Mother Nature know it's only OCTOBER!  LOL  I don't care, I'm loving it!!  I got to turn on my heated mattress pad and snuggle in the warm blankets.  We have had a fire for the past 3 mornings.  I made Zack and Alex hot chocolate with marshmallows and Andes candies before I got them up.  I was a nice momma and fed all the animals before they got up too.


     Well, I decided to go back to school.  It's not like I don't have enough to do, or that I get bored.  I just feel like there's more I need to know and more I need to do!  I chose to go back to Colorado Technical University Online.  I excelled in their school with their format and it is A LOT more accomadting to my life and activities than Georgia Perimeter College was.

     My classes begin Nov. 17, 2013.  Classes ALWAYS begin on Sundays. I explained to my advisor that we do NOT do work of any kind on Sundays, including school.  I will begin either on Moday or get a head start on Friday the 15th when they open classes for us to look at the syllabus and task list.  Nothing can be submitted in those first 2 days, but I can DO the tasks and then submit them on Monday morning.


     I actually grew a new part of my brain.  Our internet usage is quite high due to schoolwork, research and the fact that we do not have cable means we watch our shows through Netflix or HuluPlus.  We had AT&T's biggest residential package which was $45 a month and said it was unlimited access.  Well our second month here we exceeded our allocated bandwith.  Apparently "unlimited" to me is not unlimited to the company.  It actually was 150GB with up to 50GB available in chunks for $10 for each "chunk".  We have consistently used 2-3 chunks a month for a year.  That made my internet bill $65-75 a month instead of the advertised $45.  Well I checked into their "small business" accounts.  Guess what??  They have a small business account for $45 a month and it TOTALLY unlimited!  Plus it's a direct-dedicated line!  :)  I put in the order and set it all up.  We have had great access, no more dropped signals and NO overages!!


     On the farm side, Dwayne was here for the boys' birthday weekend.  His family raises pigs and rabbits.  He explained that my pigs are not breeding simply because they live together and my boar cannot detect the elevated hormones because he's literally side-by-side with her 24/7.  So now Zack and I are going to work on the other garden fence and then move him over.  It will give them some space and hopefully he will get a little more sensitive to her.  Plus, we are getting 2 more pigs from Dwayne's grandpa in about a week or 2!!  These will be just for the freezer ;)




Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall is HERE!!

     With a full day of rain the day before, Autumn came whispering in.  I have to say it was very welcomed!  Autumn means sweaters, boots, hot chocolate and soups!  Our highs for the next 10 days are not supposed to exceed 81 degrees.  <3  Now for a bit of perspective...a friend woke up to SNOW on her porch this morning!  (Of course she does live in Alaska...LOL)

     Last week I successfully built a PVC chicken tractor.  Cindy-Loo said I could have her hens, and I wanted something to keep them safe in.  I wanted something I could move around the goat pen by myself, if I needed too.  My original design was using 2 x 4's.  I needed it to be 100 sq ft to hold a maximum of 10 full size chickens.  The wood design would be wayyyy to heavy for me to move, so it became PVC.  Zackary and I made a couple of trips to Lowes.  Alley came along a time or two.  It actually took a few days to get it done and that frustrated me!



     Well, the chickens seem to be happy and that's all that matters!!  Happy chickens=many eggs!!  I have been able to move it several times already by myself.  We have 7 Rhode Island Red hens and 1 Silkie rooster ;)  

     I was also able to use the last piece of fencing and patch a hole in the goats' pen.  It was nice to go out there in the morning and find them still inside and griping!  LOL  I love their little bleeting sounds <3

     Today I was able to get some Fall Cleaning done.  I scrubbed my back hall walls and floor.  ANyone who has kids, dogs, and cats AND lives in red clay can see where this is going.  My walls were orange from the floor up about 3 feet.   The dogs loved when it rained and filled our little duck pond...unfortunately they did NOT like staying outside!  Tail swishes and full body rubs along the walls, plus the kids that were chasing them and mid-wall collisions!  However, God bless Magic Erasers!!  My walls and floors are sparkling white and I did NOT have to repaint!  ;)  It is a good day in Georgia <3

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ordered new SOAP stuffs!

     I'm so excited you would think it was Christmas! Thanks to my wonderful husband, I was able to place an order for more soaping supplies.  I am trying out "Essential Depot".  I have seen several soapers using this company.  When I opened it up this morning after watching another beautiful soap creation made, I was in heaven!  They are having a great sale right now!  Any orders over $100 will get a $10 discount at checkout AND their essential oils are up to 30% off until midnight TONIGHT!  (Some I ordered were closer to 50% off!!)  I was able to greatly expand my scent collection.  I was having yummy smelling ideas as I was adding them to my order!  I can't wait to share with Alley!!

See what "Essential Depot" has to offer!!

This is what I ordered this time:

Essential Depot Items
        1 2 lbs Potassium Hydroxide Flakes KOH  @ $3.49 = $3.49
        1 Zinc Oxide Powder 1 lb.  @ $10.58 = $10.58
        1 Grapefruit Essential Oil - 1 oz  @ $6.24 = $6.24
        1 Lavender Essential Oil - 4 oz  @ $10.91 = $10.91
        1 Lemon Essential Oil -  4 oz  @ $10.11 = $10.11
        1 Lime Essential Oil - 4 oz  @ $15.01 = $15.01
        1 Pine Essential Oil - 4 oz.  @ $8.36 = $8.36
        1 Pumpkin Seed Oil - 1 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Cedarwood Essential Oil - 1 oz  @ $5.14 = $5.14
        1 Cinnamon Essential Oil - 1 oz  @ $7.51 = $7.51
        1 Apple Green Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Berry Breeze Fragrance Oil - 4 oz.  @ $5.35 = $5.35
        1 Bubblegum Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $6.83 = $6.83
        1 Clean Cotton Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Floral Bouquet Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Floral Garden Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Fresh Cut Grass Fragrance Oil - 4 oz.  @ $5.35 = $5.35
        1 Fruit Fantasia Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Honey Dew Melon Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $6.54 = $6.54
        1 Jasmine Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $6.54 = $6.54
        1 Mango Madness Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $6.54 = $6.54
        1 Musk Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Sandalwood Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $7.73 = $7.73
        1 Water Melon  Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Sun & Sand Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Strawberry Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Rose Garden Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $8.32 = $8.32
        1 Grape Fragrance Oil  - 4 oz.  @ $5.94 = $5.94
        1 Stearic Acid - Triple Pressed - White Flakes -  1 lb.  @ $4.99 = $4.99
        1 Almond Sweet Oil - 1 Quart - Free 5 oz. Sodium Hydroxide (YES - ADD FREE Lye) @ $14.97 = $14.97
        1 Glycerin Vegetable KOSHER USP - 1 Gallon - Not eligible for any promotions  @ $16.47 = $16.47

The possible smell combos are almost limitless!!  Plus I was finally able to order KOH flakes...to make liquid soap, like castille!  My house is going to smell heavenly from now until Christmas!!  Hahaha  It's just a matter of deciding on scents and mixtures then the fun part...making the soap!



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pressure Canning...Ahhhhh!! O.O

     Ok, so I have never pressure canned before.  As a matter of fact, the only canning I have done was making blackberry jam.  O.o  Well I got up today determined!  I made sausage gravy...A LOT of sausage gravy, just so I could can it.  Zackary had to get my canner down from on top of the big freezer.  He started laughing because i have had it for about 15 months and it was still in the shipping plastic.

     I opened it, had Alley was it all really well and I started reading the directions.  While they were amazingly simple, they were extremely scary and kinda confusing for a brand new novice!  I read the directions and warnings 3x before I actually touched the canner.  (In the meantime, Alley was in the kitchen helping herself to homemade bread and gravy!)  We washed and sterilized my jars in the dishwasher.  I left them in there until I was ready to use that specific one, so there was no risk of people/dog contamination.

     It wasn't too scary until I had to close it up and turn on the burner.  Everything had a warning about making sure the pressure is right so the food doesn't spoil, but you have to make sure the lids on right or it could actually blow in your kitchen!  Plus, when you take it off the burner, you have to let it cool slowly and release the pressure BEFORE you attempt to open it...or it can BLOW!

     So, as it sits now, I have about 20 mins left of the pressurizing before I remove it from the heat!  I just keep watching it.  The little weight on the top is just a rockin' and rollin' on the top...like it's supposed too!
So now I wait..and wait...and wait... (90 mins).  I took it off the heat and let it cool down and depressurize.  Nothing BLEW UP!!  :D  I consider that a MAJOR success!!

     Then I took the lid off and realized it wasn't quite the success I had hoped for.  My gravy escaped the jars.  It was down the sides and IN the water.  :(  I either filled them too full (probably) and/or didn't have the lids on tight enough (very possible).  So the canner got washed and put back together to try again on a new day.  I am very happy it wasn't catastrophic, but seriously wish I had been able to watch/help someone else.

     I keep hearing people say that their grandmother used to do it all the time!  Now it's just easier to walk into the grocery store and BUY something.  The world has gotten so busy that basics are being steamrolled under by technological advances and our instant gratification lifestyle.  I want my children to be able to say, "Oh I know how to do that!  My MOM does it all the time!"



Now: Tools of the trade :)
16 Qt Presto Pressure Canner




1 1/2 Pint Ball Jars (what I used this time) & Utensil Set (not required, but VERY helpful!)
Limited Edition Ball "Blue" jars (Beautiful! I WILL come up with something to use them with!)
This just tickled my fancy!  Mostly because it's my birthday!!  LOL  Hoping to maybe do it in 2014!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Homemade Dishwasher Powder

$$  I may not be out in the world making money, but I sure help the world and SAVE it! $$ 


    So, in a house of 8 people we use A LOT of dishes.  I hate walking into the kitchen with dirty dishes.  Yet my kids always fail to mention when we are RUNNING out of dishwasher soap...until it's GONE!  Of course in their minds they can't clean the dishes without the dishwasher...yeah, right!
     Well I have been making my own laundry soap for a year now (LOVE IT!)  Can you imagine how tickled I was to figure out I could MAKE dishwasher soap?!?  The next best part...I already have all the ingredients at home!!  Another major plus is that it's safe for septic systems.  Plus I have a big plastic container from when I bought the store brand "pods".

Dishwasher Powder

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Kosher salt
  • 1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing soda
  • 1 Cup Borax


Mix it all together!  *You can add a tsp of white rice (like in your salt shaker) to help with the clumping.

You only need 1 Tablespoon per load.

Use white distilled vinegar in your "JetDry" spot for a sparkle that's truly NON-TOXIC!

This recipe washes about 30 loads!  That's a month of dishes (washing a full load a day!)

I have Kosher salt for cooking, washing soda & Borax from making laundry soap!  I personally would make enough to use the box of each (washing soda & Borax) which means I would have ANOTHER 5 gallon bucket (like my laundry soap)!

*Kosher salt is on the baking aisle,  the washing soda and Borax are on the laundry soap aisle.

You can label your container with a printed label, a hand written label sealed under clear packing tape, or use chalkboard paint!  Your limits are only bound by your creativity!

Here's a site that has FREE downloadable printable labels! WorldLabel
                     Free printable labels & templates, label design @WorldLabel blog!
*(Feel free to hit up GOOGLE!)

Homemade Greek Yogurt...SUCCESS!!

     So Tuesday (the 6th) I found a site that showed how I could make Greek yogurt at home!  Now, I HATE yogurt, even the smell!!  *Gagging*  However, I don't mind cooking/baking with it.  Oh, and I LOVE fro-yo!!  A couple of my best friends made it for Aaron and I one night.  I was VERY leery!  O.o  He had fresh strawberries, kiwis and mandarin oranges to go on it.  I was in LOVE!!  <3  I came home and the next day I went to buy the stuff to make some at my house.  I went into sticker shock!!  Greek yogurt must think it's equatable to GOLD!!  I bought enough to make for my family of 8 and it was over $20 to make a single batch!!  Sadly I haven't made it again.  :(
     So anyways, I found this recipe and I had everything I needed except the single serving of Greek yogurt.  (I could handle paying $1 for this one!  LOL)  So here's how I did it!  (I even have pictures!)

Ingredients:
1 Gallon WHOLE milk
3 Cups Dry milk
1/2 Cup (or single serving size cup) Greek yogurt PLAIN

Equipment:
LARGE crockpot
Thermometer that reads over 180
Jars (Mason/old spaghetti jars/etc)


  1. Pour the gallon of milk into the crock pot, turn it on HIGH.  I added the powdered milk to it when it was cold and it took FOREVER to dissolve.  Next time I will wait until  the milk is warmer!  The powdered milk is simply there to add proteins and help thicken the yogurt.  Heat the milk to 180 degrees.  
  2. Then turn off the crock pot.  I actually took the pot out and sat it on the counter to help it cool down.  You want it between 95-115 degrees.
  3. Once its temperature is in that range, take some of the milk and add it to your yogurt in a separate bowl until combine.  (This helps temper it.)  Add the yogurt to the milk.
  4. Once it's been mixed in, pour the mixture into your jars.  ( I used 6 "Pint & Half" wide mouth jars)  I sat the lids on the top to prevent anything from falling in...I did NOT screw the rings on.
  5. Place in the oven with only the light on for 8-10 hours to allow the cultures to do their work.  I put mine in at 9:00 pm and they were all thick and yogurty at 6:00 am.  
  6. Tighten the lids down and chill before using.
*Should be thick enough that draining is not necessary.


                                           

                                         

     Now you can add any flavorings if you wish...like vanilla or honey.  Zackary wants me to try and make the key lime version.  I'll add some sugar to a couple of the jars with vanilla extract then the kids can make parfaits!  :)

*The Greek yogurt adds/grows all the healthy bacteria our bodies need.  By bringing the milk to 180 degrees it kills all the bacteria in the milk, which in some cases I guess is a good thing.  Fortunately the yogurt puts the good stuff back in!

**I bought my milk at Aldi's for $2.49 and I already have powdered milk in my food storage.  I bought the yogurt at WalMart for $1.  By this morning I had 1 gallon of Greek yogurt for $3.50!  I seriously saved over $20!!

2nd week of August...School starts



     So the second week began with school starting!  It did NOT make me happy that 4 out of 6 of the kids went back to public school.  :(  Mackenzie, Kay, Maggie and Bug are now gone for over 8 hours a day, 5 days a week!  My mom keeps telling me how the first day of school for her was always a PARTY day!  I truly don't think she realizes how it makes me feel.  Too many people are perfectly happy being part-time parents.  I'm not!  I don't see them in public school as my only time for freedom.  I see it as a small failure on my part.  I do NOT believe that the government run school system is the best educational choice for ANY kids, especially mine!
     Everyone wants to talk about how people are individuals and each person has a different style of learning.  They agree that students need to be TAUGHT best how the LEARN best.  However, when it comes to actually applying this in school systems they are overruled based on budgets and time restraints.  So children are "programmed" in a very confined box and then tested on what they retain...not LEARNED.
     I have heard repeatedly that home schooling keeps kids from the social interaction they need.  Mackenzie went to school for the last 3/4 of the school year.  He got ALL the socialization he NEEDED and FAILED every single class but PE.  Do you know what the school did??  They PLACED him in 10th grade anyways.  So my son, who did NOT pass 9th grade has been moved into classes that are supposedly building on the information and skills from the previous year.  Even a blind person can read the writing on this wall!
     Zackary has started his home schooling.  I found all of his books on Amazon, in their Kindle store.  He has Algebra 1 for the first semester, reading "The Jungle Book" for British Lit, has Earth Science for first semester, World History and governments rounding off with creative writing and daily reading reports for composition.  Alley's classes at GCA begin on Monday.  :)
                                     
     So, I'm all sorts of depressed after I drop everyone off at their schools (a tradition they wanted me to keep).  I came home and baked for the rest of the day!  I made treats like sugar cookie bars, jello jigglers, and chocolate syrup.
                                         
                                         
  Then I made 2 more loaves of sour dough bread and even calzones for our lunch and for the kids to take to school today.  I had cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms, Alley had cheese and pepperoni on garlic butter, Zackary had just cheese and pepperoni.  I made the kids pepperoni and pineapple for school.  Just as I was getting done, I received a phone call from Mackenzie that Bug was not on the bus home!!  O.O  We called the school and they said they put him on the right bus.  (Obviously NOT!!)  I jumped in the van with Alley making all the calls so I could drive.  It's when I'm 1/2 way to the primary school that I find out Kay's not on the bus either.  Her school gave me the same sing-song!  It took an hour for me to find out that they were indeed on A bus, but not the right bus, and fortunately they were on the SAME bus!  They got home at 5:00.  :(  By this point, I was drained!  :(  We had baked BBQ chicken, rice and cucumber salad for dinner and I didn't last much longer.  ( I did get their bedtime story read though).  :)

1st week of August is history!





     It's been a crazy month...which is really not that unusual at our house.  We will start off by saying my husband gave up over-the-road driving.  The company he worked for was not really motivated to keep him rolling.  The other issue was he missed us!  He missed being here and helping with the family, spending time with us and basically just being a family.  I'm tickled he is home, but the financial aspect is still a little icky!  LOL

     Our garden has exploded and I LOVE spending time in it!  Just being out there lets me think of all the reasons it is good to have a garden.  The fresh food, with no additional cost, that tastes AMAZING and is BETTER for you are just some of them.  The pigs LOVE the weeds and grass as well as the tomatoes that the chickens get to before me!  >.<  My corn is well over 7' tall and I can feel/see the ears!!  We have 2 watermelons and have already harvested over 40 lbs of tomatoes and squash.  My pinto beans are EVERYWHERE!  LOL  I finally found about 8 thumbnail size cantaloupes too.  My sweet potatoes plants have almost taken over the center of the garden.  I keep reminding Aaron that this a learning environment.  I did not grow up on a farm.  My parents did not have a garden after I was 5 years old.


   
 So the first picture is Mackenzie checking out my ears...of corn. ;)  Then it's a close up.  I've never actually had EARS on my corn before!  The next picture is my broccoli.  Yum!  I just love looking at my watermelon...it makes me so HAPPY!  The next pictures are my beets with sweet potato and watermelon vines on the left, and cantaloupe vines with pinto beans on the right.  Last, but definitely not least are my piggies!  They are hoping I'll toss some green stuff over the fence to them!






Monday, July 8, 2013

1st week of July is gone!!

     Well, Independence Day has passed us in a week of rain.  We should be well above our annual rainfall amounts thanks to this first 1/2 of the year!  We watched fireworks after an early night of Youth activities, through a mist of rain.  It was kinda cool to see the lights glowing in the clouds.  Aaron was not too pleased about it though :(  At least we got to watch it with our friends!  Cindy, Luke and the kids were there with us. We got to sit in Aaron's big blue beast and be comfy while we waited for it to get dark.  :)

     Aaron is back on the road, until my birthday!  He's checking into having a relief driver run his truck so he can spend the week at home!  That makes me very HAPPY :)  I have plenty to do to keep me busy.

     The garden is just amazing!  I try to get out there at least once a day and pull grass and weeds.



  The pigs have figured it out and stand opposite of me in their pen waiting for me to toss the green stuff over! It's been less than a month since we got the last of it planted.  The corn is now up to my thighs :D  I picked 4 tomatoes this morning so I could have fried green tomatoes today.

  We have gotten over 3 pounds of summer squash.  I had to pull out 2 of my 3 plants and throw them over to the pigs...squash boring bugs ate my vines.  I have 6 more seedlings that have already sprouted, to plant them as replacements.  I just need to figure out what we are going to do with them once they are ready to harvest.  Kay is making a double batch of bread with the ones we already have.  <3 I'm seriously thinking about grilling some ;)

     Pulling weeds and grass is a great activity to do when your brain needs to roam.  I find myself thinking very clearly while I am bent over pulling vegetation with sweat dripping.  While tending these magnificent plants I think about how healthy they are and what good they do for our bodies.  This causes what I refer to as a "chain thought".  I think about how unhealthy our country is.  It comes to mind that in history the unhealthiest people were often the wealthiest people.  The farmers were often active and ate only what they grew.  These people did not have the "luxury" of sweets on a regular basis.  The wealthy people ate extras just for show and because it was a status symbol.

     Now we have generations of families that are unhealthy.  It is far too easy to pull through a drive-thru, than tend even a small garden.  It's too easy to pick up a "box" dinner in the grocery store than to get a recipe and ingredients.  People are of the mind set that if it takes longer than 30 mins from beginning to end to make it, well just buy a "box".  Processed foods and easy access to sugar and sodium rich foods are what will be the demise of this country.  People are more worried about what type of gun they are ALLOWED to purchase, and show no care for the type of foods they being fed.  Really will how many bullets in a single magazine of a semi-automatic be of ANY importance when you are suffering a heart attack at 39, 42, or 51??  Will it be important when you are trying to come up with the money you need to buy insulin for your type 2 diabetes at 23, 34. or 46??  Ok, enough of my ranting for this piece.  :)

     Mackenzie is over at the Fossum's helping to get some projects done on their property.  Zackary got our yard cut, while I was finally able to hang out my sheets...on my makeshift clothesline.  We tied 550 paracord to the tree and then to the back of my trailer.  It's works GREAT!!  One load less for my dryer to deal with today!

     The girls have another "Scripture Sleepover" at Cindy's tomorrow.  They are going to see Monsters University first, then work on their Youth Conference costumes while catching up on their scriptures.  I have the Sister missionaries over for dinner tomorrow night as well.  Then Wed. I have to be in Greensboro to pay for the citation I got for Alley being on a jet ski. :(  $99.50 is what that costs me.  Live and learn!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wow! Time flies!!

     I can't believe how much time has passed since my last post!!  Our lives have only gotten busier, if that is even possible!  Aaron is running across the country like a pro... :)  We miss him terribly, but are always proud of the effort and principles he lives.
     Yesterday was Bug's last game of the season.  He was amazing!  I was so tickled that my friends stayed to watch his game and cheer him on!  He was definitely a superstar!!


                   



     School is out for the summer.  I have been called as the Young Women's president in our branch.  I have to admit to REALLY freaking out when that happened!!  :o/  I was inactive at church from the time I was about 9 until 5 years ago.  I missed the entire Young Women experience as a youth, so I had no idea even where to begin leading them!  I have been told repeatedly that the Lord doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the ones he calls!  How true this statement is!  It has been hectic and busy as I learn all my responsibilities in this new calling while our branch got a new presidency.  

     One of our first activities was to make a welcome basket for the new branch president and his wife.  We made "Friendship Soup" in a jar, a small herb garden, strawberry jam, S'more cookie bars and zucchini bread.  When they were done with the baking they got rock out and dance to Disney songs on Just Dance Disney :)

     Alley went to High Adventure this past weekend.  She got to go white water rafting, sleep in a cabin then do a rope course including a rock wall and swing. 
 Kay only has 2 more years to wait before it's her turn.  ;)  Alley, Kay and I are getting ready to go to girls' camp on the 25th of June.  I'm excited but a little leery.  I have recently discovered I have an egg intolerance.  This along with being allergic to the sun  should make girls' camp interesting!
 
    Yesterday the kids all worked with me to get the rest of the garden planted.  It's amazing!  We have 7 different types of heirloom tomatoes, plus some random tomato plants that were just growing throughout the area, summer squash plants are blooming too.  We have purple lettuce, giant and little gem romaine lettuce, spinach, spaghetti squash, long cucumbers as well as pickling ones, even lemon cucumbers.  There's heirloom sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, sweet potatoes, pinto beans, beets, sweet peppers and hot peppers.  I think there's still some other stuff out there, but I can't think of them right now...LOL

     I have a hen that's gone "broody".  Everyday another hen adds to her group while she gets out to grab some food and water.  This is our first time one of our hens have gone broody and I am looking forward to how it goes.

     I think all of my does were bred, so we're thinking summer kids.  :)The pigs should be getting to business too, if they haven't.  I have been reading up on delivering piglets and their care.  I do NOT like surprises!

     I am getting ready to pick up the girls from a scripture-sleepover at Cindy-Lou's.  We are doing a 100
day Book of Mormon reading challenge.  A couple of the young women were behind...until today.  I got a note saying that everyone is all caught up!  I am soooo proud of them!

     Then it's a stop at the store for the ingredient's needed to make my laundry soap and dishwasher soap.  I'll make another post with just those recipes shortly.  I LOVE knowing exactly what is going onto my family.  People tend to overlook the chemicals that they come into contact with on a daily basis.  It's in the air when you pour it, then soaked into the fibers of your clothing.

My YW Presidency <3
        Alley and her jam :)
         Kay's jam is DONE!
   Zackary asking Annah what she's making :D
 Alley making zucchini bread...Mmmm...mmmm
Dancing together...forever!


     I don't know who's learning more...them or me!  :)


























Monday, April 8, 2013

Busy-busy-busy!

     It's been a busy-crazy month since I was last on here!  First and foremost, I got my fence working!!  It took having my husband home and standing next to me for the light bulb to go on above my head.  LOL  I knew it was grounding out.  That much everyone I asked was able to clarify for me.  The problem was how and where.  Aaron, the boys and I had walked the perimeter repeatedly and couldn't see any where it was happening.  Then in a brilliant flash I asked Aaron if I used the fence volt tester on the steel T-bars would it show if there was any charge in the bars.  Sure enough it worked!  Then my voltage tester went out before we could all around the perimeter.  :(  In the morning we went to Tractor Supply and I bought the $40 digital tester.  It was WELL worth the extra money!  It took a few hours but by the time we finished we had the fence popping out over 7000 volts!!  Goats require a minimum of 4000 volts because of how stubborn they are.  Other livestock usually only needs 2000 volts.  That explains why even when the fence was putting out 2k it wasn't even bothering the boogers!  >.<
     Now, every morning we check the fence voltage.  Because so much juice is able to flow through it, when it arcs we can actually here it "popping".  With that sound we go to the proper pole and adjust the line to make sure it's not close to the pole.  Once that is done, the voltage goes right back up and my goaties get to wander their own little pasture.  My heart simply swells when I walk out there and watch them run around and especially when they come running up to see me.

     The pigs are next on the list.  I need to run the fence line around their new pen...next door to their current one.  LOL  Once they have been moved over the kids and I will work on getting all the rocks and roots out of the garden and get it ready for my little seedlings to be transplanted.  As of today, we have 12 different veggies and 8 herbs potted in my flats and egg crates.  I have picked up several types of beans to get started as well.  I'm considering growing collards even though I absolutely do NOT eat them!  I'm thinking about growing them for the animals and giving extras away.  I was thinking about the elderly in Madison.  A lot of them eat the ol' southern style foods.  Maybe I can give them the fresh produce that they might not otherwise be able to get.  Just a thought...

     Aaron is officially on his own.  He is in his own truck for almost a week, with his own second seat.  Now, just waiting for his own "real" paychecks to get started.

     Zackary finished his 30 hours of Joshua's Law, required for him to get his driver's license. YAY!!!  When his certificate comes in the mail and I have the money in for the insurance increase, I'll be taking him to get his license.  I can't believe my baby will be driving, fully, completely, legally!!

     We have had another set of hatch-lings!   I actually ordered Silkies on ebay.  I bought 6 eggs and 4 of them plus one of my EE's hatched out on Easter!  They are LOVELY!!  I have a partridge (brown/mottled) one, a grey-vaulted one, and 2 white/cream ones.  I've already been looking at Golden Sebright eggs.  ;)  I need to build some breed specific coops and runs before I get too many other breeds.  I would be very happy to sell the eggs and even chicklets, but I need to make sure they are breed true.  I have plans!!  <3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

6588 days!!!

     Well today was another momentous occasion.  Aaron I have been married for 17 years!  (Sorta...our wedding date is actually 2/29/96).  We did not get to spend it together, but my heart is with him no matter he is.  I can't believe I have loved him every day for over 18 years!!  That's 6588 days!!!
     I started today off by getting up early and taking Oreo to get spayed.  According to my iPad AND my iPhone I went to the correct location, well the humane society was NOT there.  Finally found it over by the stake center.  :p  Maggie cried so hard when we dropped her kitty off.  It was very sad to watch her.  We stopped and I got the girls a donut from Dunkin' Donuts.  We filled up with gas and headed home.
     I got the rest of the kids out and we headed out to work on the fence.  We actually made a good dent in it.  Alley chose to work in the house after she felt how cold it was outside.  It really wasn't cold unless the wind was blowing, which it pretty much did non-stop. We got a good size section of the wire put up for the fence.  I'm hoping to have it done in the next couple of days.  We can work on it tomorrow, but Saturday I have to take the kids to help my mom move.  Saturday evening is adult session of stake conference, with regular session from 10-12 on Sunday morning.
     Zane came over for a visit.  While he was over Luke texted me to see if he could come over and get some wood since the temp is dropping tonight.  I sent Zack out to the woods with a chainsaw, with Zane for support.  When they finished cutting they headed to Zane's to pick up his 4 hens and a rooster.  His family said no more chickens.  :(
     While they were gone Kay, Maggie, Bug and I worked on flipping my chicken coop.  The way I have it set now it has much more room for the birds.  Our temps are supposed to get down to 33 degrees tonight.  Kay gave fresh hay to the pigs and goats to snuggle down in.  While we were outside getting the animals taken care of, Alley put the spaghetti on to cook.  I had homemade marinara sauce cooking in the crock pot for several hours.
     Aaron called before he was going to sleep to talk to me.  I love him so much!  Sometimes it still feels just like it did when it was brand new.  Those times when you are realizing you DO love him and your heart wants to burst with happiness.  I still get that!  I don't know what would happen if I looked at him, or thought about him and didn't get that heart tickle.
     I've been reading a very interesting book on my iPad.  It's The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers.  It makes me think about what life was like back then; how people got married and STAYED married.  Commitment was not a phobia it was a way of life.  You were committed to your wife, family, home, and job.  During those times relationships mattered, your word was your bond!
     I see people everyday that have no desire to commit to anything.  Life has become as disposable as a SOLO cup.  Friends, family, work, houses are all so easily shed and it has become the norm.  My children were the odd kids out in elementary school.  They came home and asked when were they going to get a new mom and/or dad?  All their friends had step-parents, why didn't they?  How sad is it that they were picked on because their parents were STILL together??
     I'm not saying my marriage was all roses and rainbows.  There were several times in it that even I thought it was over.  The difference is that Aaron and I truly love each other.  With love you can work through the growing pains.  The end result was me trying to imagine waking up every morning without him.  I couldn't face that.  He made the choice that I was that important to him.  What our families thought, what our friends said became irrelevant.  It would have been EASY to just call it quits and be one more statistical American family; to be normal.  I've been called a lot of things in my life and "normal" is NOT one of them!  ;)  So I am now looking forward to the next 6500+ days and on into eternity with the love of my life!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Telling Tuesday...

     Well I took my midterms yesterday.  I felt pretty good about my psyc test, but not so great about my Spanish.  I know I would have done better if I had spent the last week studying instead of spending every waking moment with the love of my life.  I don't regret a single second!  If I died tomorrow I would NOT say, "I wish I had studied for that test!"  Instead I will say, "I'm so glad we had that time together!"
     I got home and Mack really wanted me to run him to Hobby Lobby to get para-cord.  I do NOT like to drive in the dark, but I did it for him.  Alley made hash brown nests for dinner, she got them off Pinterest. :)  Right after dinner I got horribly sick to my stomach.  I hurried and jumped into the bath tub.  In my family, the tub cures EVERYTHING!!  I stayed in for over an hour and still felt horrible.  I ended up being up until about 2:30 am feeling almost seasick.  (The one good thing about it was I read an entire Jude Devereaux book, cover to cover!)  I was finally able to relax and go to sleep after I moved to the foot of the bed.  I had Alley and Bug in Aaron's spot, and I felt almost claustrophobic!
     I got up and needed to run to TSC for goat feed, and grab some milk (can't WAIT for my cow!!), OJ and Ginger-Ale.  It was one of my quickest trips in Wal-mart.  LOL  I needed to get home and write my midterm essay for World Lit and have it submitted by 5:00 pm today.  Of course while I'm writing it the kids need 9,000+ things from me.  I did get it done before 4:30.  I do not like to wait that long to do it, and I had planned on doing it last night...but the universe had other plans for me.
     Tomorrow I have my psyc class.  We will go over the test. YAY!!!  Then it's the start of Spring Break for me!!  ;)  You would think I was packed and ready to head to Daytona, but no...it's just no mandatory assignments in a hover pattern above my head.  My plans are to finish the fence, clean and organize the house and finally get my cow!!
     Oh my gosh!!  Speaking of the farm animals, I watched a horrifying hidden video report today on the start of a battery chicken's life.  I knew they sexed chicks in hatcheries   What I did NOT know is what happens to the males on their hatch day, when the company sells females to commercial egg farms.  MercyForAnimals.org had hidden cameras in this business for 2 wks.  The worst part is this stuff is acceptable across the board for these hatcheries.  I have NO intention of becoming a vegetarian let alone a vegan as the end of this video suggests, but I am paying more attention to where our food comes from and how it is created AND processed.  The video states 150,000 males chickies are KILLED a day in their facility!!  Their only crime...hatching as a male!  There is no value in chickens that can't lay eggs, or so they say!
     I thought the hens had it rough in the conditions they live in at the egg farms, then these little tiny, fuzzy-butts don't make it past a few hours!  I do not buy commercial eggs anymore.  I may not be able to STOP these massive companies and their practices, but I will not condone them or HELP them buy purchasing their products.  I have 6 hens in my backyard, and 6 more in the brooder.  I feed them, love them and take care of them.  My reward is an egg a day, and I am GRATEFUL!!  This is the way it is supposed to be.  We love them, care for them and in return they provide for us, not mass producing and squeezing every last drop out of them.

Sundays are not always "normal"

     Well it's Sunday morning and on any normal Sunday I would be sitting in Sunday school class.  This is not your normal Sunday.  I went to bed last night about 11:30.  Alley made our first batch of crock pot soap.  It's lavender/oatmeal/cream.  It smells just lovely.  I think we let it get a little too cool before putting it into the mold, it didn't settle well.  So it's back in the crock this morning after we cut it up into pieces.  :0)  Back to my Sunday...I watched some more soaping videos last night and went to sleep close to 1:00am.  Bug and Maggie were in my bed, and it was ok.  When I woke up this morning, Bug got up right behind me.  He said his tummy was hurting.  His face was very flushed, and when I touched his cheeks he was burning up.  I got the thermometer and his temp was 101.  Not a good way to start off any day!
     Bug just laid on the floor in my bedroom doorway until all the kids were ready to go to church.  I carried him out and buckled him in hid car seat. I dropped all the other kids off at church with 5 minutes to spare. :0D  Bug fell asleep in the car on our way home.  I put him on the couch and started cooking some navy beans and ham.  I don't know if we are going to have it for dinner or if I want to try to can it.  I told the girls last night that we could have breakfast for dinner tonight, so we'll see what everyone else wants.
     I also plan on cooking up a pot of spaghetti sauce.  I have it down for dinner tomorrow, but I might try to can that too or instead.  LOL  I still have 2 psychology quizzes that need to get done and studying for my Spanish midterm tomorrow.
     Slight change of plans.  I just checked on Bug.  His fever went up to 103.6!  So I got him some acetaminophen and cold Kool-aid.  Then I put on Spongebob Squarepants for him.  It's so sad because last night he was so excited to NOT be sick, and get to go to church!  Then this morning he's sick and can't go.
:(
     I just took his temp again and we are 101.  Yay!!  Anything over 102 makes me very nervous.  Now he's comfy watching "Kung Fu Panda".  I am continuing my research into soap.  Right now I'm looking into the all natural versions of transparent/glycerin soap.  I keep finding recipes and they contain my arch nemesis, propylene glycol.  I have finally found a page or two that describes how to make it with alcohol and sugar instead of the chemicalized propylene glycol.  :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Heart, mind and soul

     It's been a few days since my last post.  My wonderful other half has been home since Sunday.  My heart has missed him so much.  I know people talk about soul mates and how silly, childish and even corny it sounds.  To me, it's just what he is.  Aaron is my other half; the other half of my heart, my mind and even my soul.
     When I get angry, and boy can I get angry, I tell him that I don't need him.  I tell him he's only here because I want him to be here.  It's so far from the truth it's scary.  I don't know what I would do if he weren't to be in days and nights.
     Maybe it's because our anniversary is this month, that my heart feels the need of him so much.  I don't know, maybe it's because he's been gone for so long this time.  I'm used to him being gone for hours, maybe a day or two thanks to work, but a whole month, is almost unbearable.  I say "almost" because I have survived it.  Surviving is what it feels like.  I can't say "lived" because I get through one day with only the knowledge that tomorrow is a fresh new day.  New days are full of hope and promises yet to be fulfilled.
     Having him home is bittersweet.  I am so very happy to look over and see his face, to touch his hair, or smell his skin.  It's almost been like a honeymoon, again.  That's the sweet of it.  The bitter is knowing he'll be leaving again.  Leaving for who knows how long.  My heart is just hovering, waiting for the call.  I know it's what needs to be, and logically it makes all the sense it needs too.
     People thought we would never make it as long as we have.  I was one of them.  Of course when my mother asked me if I could see myself waking up next to him for the rest of my life, I answered yes.  Simply said, "Yes".  I looked forward in my vivid imagination and imagined us in bed, rolling over over to look at each other with wrinkles and grey hair, and I could really see it.  Now looking back at the last 17 years of marriage and the single year we were together first, makes it seem like it has already been the "rest of my life".  It almost feels like I have gotten more than I should have hoped for, and more than most.  I still have hope for my love for my husband and a hope filled destiny.
     In our world, today, love and especially marriage is completely disposable.  It's become a rarity for marriages to last a few years, several years and especially a lifetime.  Life long marriages are definitely part of our endangered lifestyle.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hearts & Chickies

     February 15, 2013

     So I decided today was going to be a busy day...AT HOME!  I wasn't going to go anywhere, run errands or buy anything.  I always seem to be on the road.  I know I have things to do at home, but I'm also the only one who can run the errands or pick up and drop off kids.  The going is exhausting.  :(
     I actually got up and got out of bed at 7:00 am without my alarm.  I watered our new little peeps in my bathroom.  I threw my farmer's uniform (Aaron's jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and my waterproof boots) on and took out the dogs.  Then I fed the goats, the pigs, the chickens and the ducks.  I brought the dogs in and Kay made their food.  I cleaned up the kitchen, swept and Swiffered the floors.  I vacuumed the classroom, dining room and living room.  Finally I made a list of all the things I wanted to get done today.
     I tried on Wednesday to make mozzarella and it didn't seem right.  Well after today, I know it was right on!  Hamlet got to reap the benefits and that makes it all worth it.  He was kinda sick or just cold and wouldn't eat or stand up or anything.  So we brought him into my bathroom and put him in the tub.  After about 30 mins he was standing and eating pelleted feed and looking more like himself.  We gave him the curds and whey and he just slopped it up!!  I let him stay inside overnight, in my tub.  Yesterday morning, he was all his usual self.  I carried him out and reunited him with his Ophelia.  <3

February 16, 2013

     I didn't get to finish my previous post because I started watching the girls' show with them.  Alley wanted to watch a couple of episodes of "Teen Mom" and Kay wanted to get caught up on "Grey's Anatomy".  SO we had a girlie tv night.  Zack played "Borderlands" with Brandi and Dean while Mack went to the movies with Zane and Zach Fossum to see "Warm Bodies".
     So on Thursday Kay and I headed to Tractor Supply for hay.  All I needed was hay.  I told her that before we got there and as we were walking in.  Well an elderly gentleman came out of the store and stopped.  On his buggy was 6 boxes of chicks.  I totally freaked out and ran into the store.  Sure enough "Chick Days" had started like 2 weeks early!!  Kay and I went around and checked them all out.  I was only going to get 10 Cornish Rock crosses or what we call "Dinner Chicks".  Kay decided we needed 2 more mallards too.  I ended up getting the 2 mallards, 2 black pullets, 2 red pullets, a black giant pullet and 5 Cornish Rocks.  
     We came home and had to move the dog food into a smaller bucket so we could use the larger one as a brooder.  I finally got it all set up with about 10 minutes to spare before taking Alley and heading to pick up my mom for our Valentine movie date.  We went to a matinee and saw "Safe Haven".  I then dropped my Mom off and then Alley at her boyfriend's house.  His parents invited her for dinner.  I picked up Mackenzie from ROTC Raider practice and we headed home for dinner.  His girlfriend Brittany was over.
     Brittany and the girls made a sugar cookie heart cake for dessert.  It was quite yummy!  Her mom came to pick her up at 9:00 and that's when I left to get Alley.  It took a few extra minutes because on the drive I found a spider crawling on the INSIDE of my windshield!  I managed to get off the road and park the car BEFORE jumping out this time.  Maggie had to climb up front with her shoe and squish it!!  *shivers*
     That's pretty much how my Valentine's day went.  LOL

     Well yesterday afternoon I called TSC to see if the assorted bantams came in, and they had.  I took Kay and we went to see if any of them were her precious Silkies.  Sure enough we found one!!  It was a buff.  Well they have a minimum you have to purchase and it's 6, so I had to pick out 5 more chicks just to get the one she wanted.  We picked out 4 more bantams and I got another black giant.  We brought them home and got them acquainted with the other chicks.  
     After having them last year, I was pretty confident in taking care of them this year.  Well, confidence bit my butter beans!  Last night, just a few hours after we brought them home, the one they named Turtle died in my hands.  :(  Bug was quite upset.  He kept checking to see if it was breathing.  When it did die, he tried to give it his gift card so it could come back to life!
     Well this morning, my little white died, then this afternoon Kay's Silkie died while I was holding it.  I had gotten them "Sav-a-Chick" Electrolytes and fed it to them with a syringe.  So far I have 2 of the original 5 left, Bug's and Maggie's.  I have another round of waterings to do with them before I go to bed.  I sure hope they are still ok in the morning.  The girl at TSC said to let them know how everything goes because they seem to be having trouble with all of their bantams.  I sure will!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Counting my eggs AND chicks ;)

     So I got up and started looking at fertile eggs from hatcheries.  Oh my gosh!!  They actually cost MORE than ordering live chicks!  I went to MyPetChicken.com and put 7 eggs in my cart.  The cost of those eggs were $42.  I worked on it and thought, yeah, I could do this for the breeds I really wanted.  Then the shipping and handling came up and it was $39!!  There is NO way I'm paying $12 an egg for eggs that are NOT guaranteed in way!  Craigslist here I come!  I found Black Copper Maran eggs, 19 miles from my house for $2 an egg!  Oh yeah!!  Maggie, Kay and Bug loaded up in the van and we headed out.
     I got back and THEN started reading the incubator instructions.  LOL  I was sad that it had to run for several hours to stabilize before I could put my eggs in.  :(  Well I set it up and plugged it in.  I was going to the Atlanta temple for Branch Temple Night.  This was a fabulous way to distract me from the time going by until I could put in the eggs.  <3  I spent the evening with Cindy, Luke and Mandi.
     When I got home at 11:00 I didn't even take my shoes off!!  I checked the incubator and it was running just fine.  I put in the 6 Black Copper Maran eggs and my one Easter Egger egg.  It was amazing to look at it and know that in just 3 weeks little chicks should be pipping out!
     Then it was time to get settled down.  I was on the phone with my dad.  He wanted to know if I would be interested in admin'ing his facebook page for his mystery business.  I told him I would probably be able to do THAT!  LOL  Now I had to get Bug and Maggie to settle down and go to sleep, so I could do the same!  It was a blessed day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eggs and Soap :)

     Today started out with me being VERY tired.  Zackary came in late last nigh and told me that he knocked my side mirror by hitting a tree.  Bug had a rough night.  I was tired!
     It was pouring when I got up.  It's supposed to rain for the next 2 days!  I was tired.  I didn't see anything spectacular coming out of this day.  I left school early after a successful psyc class.  The kids texted to let me know that UPS dropped off not 1, not 2, but 3 packages for me!  I knew my incubator was scheduled to come in today, but the others were a surprise.  I had been shopping on Amazon.com this weekend, but I did NOT expect anything yet.  It was like a mini birthday party!!
     This is my first and BEST present of the day, week, month even the year!  (Ok, so we are only 5+ weeks into the year, and it leaves lots of room for improvement...but YAY!!!)  I tried to win one on the companies webpage in January, but that was a no go.  Then I knew it was on sale for $20 off the regular price, but I figured I would just wait because that was still a chunk of money!  Then, on Thursday, I was checking facebook and a post from their company popped up in front of me.  They were selling their demo models.  None of them had actually been used, just had pictures taken with them AND they were $60 off the regular price!!  I knew another deal like this was NOT going to happen any time soon, so I wrote them back immediately!!  They only had 2 and it was first come, first serve.  There was plenty of people that commented on the post that they had written them an email or message to buy it, but no reply from the company.  :(  Finally, while I was at Hobby Lobby on Friday morning I got a message that said I could call and place the order AND I was the FIRST one to respond!  LOL  I immediately called and ordered it and they shipped it out that day!!  Ta-da!!!
     Now I can order fertile eggs of different breeds that I wanted and it is MUCH cheaper to hatch the eggs than to buy the chickens; even one-3 day olds.  I want Silkies and Cochins and Black Copper Marans and Golden Sebrights!!  Thanks to this wonderful, fabulous machine and it's amazing company I can do this!  You just set the info in the top with the egg type and it sets the countdown to hatch day and automatically turns the eggs over at preset intervals.  It is AMAZING!!
     The other 2 packages were molds for my soap making.  They were the 3D jewels and music notes.  I wanted them to use them as inserts for bars of soap.  I got what I think is the last of soap making supplies today.  Well of the reusable stuff anyways.  I will need more Essential Oils (EO's), especially a different assortment of scents!  I do have more "gadgets coming, but at least I have the basics to practice with.
     I'm trying to be organized.  I really want to be able to do this and do it right.  For me there is a lot weighing on this.  My aunt has a condition that requires her to limit her contact with chemicals to bare necessities.  No one stops to think about the amount of chemicals they come in contact with on a daily basis. She has to be conscious of soap, shampoo, cleansers, air fresheners, deodorants and perfumes.  So I really want to make sweet smelling, yummy things she can use with little worry or fear.  Our family is very big on taking a bath.  We take one for a headache, stomach issues, muscle pain, or just to relieve stress.  The only thing better than a nice hot bath is a yummy/sweet/fun smelling bath!  I now know this can be achieved using no harsh chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin and has to be processed by the liver.  I don't want my kids to have to get to the point where the dr's are checking your bloodwork and levels to make them HAVE to pay attention to what is in the world around them.  I want them to KNOW now and make the best informed decision they can!  I don't want them to be an ostrich, nowadays the sand can be toxic!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 41 of 2013

     Today has been interesting.  I dropped off the four bigger kids at church.  Baby and Maggie stayed home sick.  I cleaned up the kitchen and started beans for dinner while working on my Spanish homework.  Soon enough it was time to go pick them up.  I got all the details about church.  Zackary gave his talk.  Mackenzie wanted his girl to come over after church, but due to a miscommunication that didn't happen.  Zane did come over and played Halo Risk with the boys.
     On the way home I shared a thought I had.  I told the kids that I would be willing to pay the winner of a race to see who could clean their room the fastest.  They didn't have to start at the same time, but I would keep track of the amount of time.  The room that fished fastest would split $20, the second place room would split $10 and the third place room would each get $1.  It was GREAT!  No fighting, no arguing, no postponing.  All three room were done before bedtime!  I can see the carpet AND furniture in each room!  :-D  Maggie and Bug won with a time of 53 mins.  Mackenzie and Zane came in second by 4 minutes.  Alley and Kay took 1 hr and 47 mins.
     I let Zackary drive Zane and Mackenzie to Zane's house to sleep because it is pouring rain.  When he returned he had to tell me that he knocked off the side mirror on my van.  He said that my van just slid down their muddy driveway.  I have to admit I totally freaked out!!  He felt really bad.  I finally explained that I wasn't actually angry, I was just in shock.  I'll check it out in the morning, before school...
     So, I finished my homework for the night with Alley laying by me.  I love my kids and I can only pray that I say it often enough that they KNOW it.
     I got to talk to Aaron twice today.  I miss him and he misses us.  It's hard for him.  He's lonely.  I hoped that his visit home would make things easier for him, but I just don't know.  I know that there are other families doing this and are ok with it.  Aaron and I have always been at our best when we are together.  Most couples want one or both to work, just so they have a break.  Aaron and I are good 24/7.  This month we will be together for 18 years!!  Married for 17!!  Holy Cow!!  He still makes my heart flutter <3

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bittersweet day :/

     Well today started off pretty bad for me.  I got up this morning to find that my second son had not done his one and only chore, cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  Now, he's 16 years old.  I completely understand that this is NOT on his list of "likes", but it is his responsibility.  Each child has one chore a day and it rotates.  Zack has the "classroom"; which means he cleans up and vacuums as needed.  Mack has the kitchen, but since he's in school all day he just has it after dinner.  Alley had dining room, which means she clears the table and vacuums.  Kay has the living room, so she makes sure the DVD's and games do not overrun the room, folds any laundry done, and vacuums.  Yes, I am somewhat OCD about the floors.  Maggie just keeps their bathroom cleaned up and stocked on toilet paper.  Bug, he's a pinch hitter.  He kicks in and helps with any little thing I find.  Now at the end of the week, on Saturday, it's PAYDAY!!  They 4 oldest get $25 a week, Maggie gets $5 and Bug gets 4 quarters for his bank!  This is if all chores were done by the time I go to bed.  If, upon my waking the day's previous chores were NOT accomplished, that day's money is forfeit.
     Soooo, Mack decided to load everything into the sink, a mile high...and then go to bed!  I had great plans for today and they did NOT include starting it off cleaning up the kitchen.  The Sister missionaries were coming to help with the electrical fence and  my posts came in at Lowes, so I could actually finish setting them. As it was, I cleaned the kitchen with the other kids' help, did a load of laundry, swept and Swiffered the laundry room and hall, all before the Sisters arrived.
     I took them out to meet our furry family members, and explain how the fence was supposed to go.  They put on the insulators while Zack and I got the wire out and ready.  After a while we had lunch!  Yummy homemade subs :D  Then we went back out and cleaned up the rest of the yard, rearranged pallets and crates, overall making a huge difference in the appearance of our yard.
     However, just before they got here, my husband called.  he was trying out his new BlueTooth headset.  In the US, commercial drivers cannot talk on the phone unless it is wireless, and 10 out of the 50 states do NOT allow phone usage at all while operating a commercial vehicle.  This greatly limited the times and duration of our phone calls.  Well he called to let me know his trainer had reworked their driving route and he could come home for a couple of hours tonight!!  I managed to keep it a surprise for the kids, but I was over the moon!!  It changed my mood and attitude instantly!  This WAS a great day!
     So I managed to help all the kids get their chores done, run to the store for dinner and get back.  Then I had to hurry back to town and pick him up!  His trainer held him for ransom...lol...he wanted a sackful of Krystal burgers or he wasn't going to let him get out!  I happily obliged and got my husband!!
     The kids were so happy and surprised!!  Squeals and giggles filled the air!  While dinner cooked in the oven, we grabbed a shower and had some quality time.  Then it was a full table for dinner and everyone talking and laughing and sharing things they seen, heard and done.  Kay made a German Chocolate for dessert.  Aaron and I went in our room and climbed in the bed.  It was time to just cuddle and chat.  He dozed off quickly, poor guy.  All clean, at home, his own comfy bed with a heated mattress pad, snuggled up next to me...it was destined to happen!  Hahaha!  I just laid there, enjoying his presence and listening to him breathe.
     All to soon it was time for him to get his stuff ready and head back to the truck stop.  The kids all came out for hugs and good-byes.  Some had very sad faces, and even a tear or two.  We chatted on our way to town.  I had a few last minute questions, and basically I just wanted to hear his voice.  Now, I'm home.  I'm in our bed, and Bug just came in.  He told me that when he grows up, he's getting married, having kids so I can be the grandma and he can be the mommy, just like me!  So my night ends on a giggle and heart full of love!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Propylene Glycol is EVERYWHERE!!

     I have been obsessed with soap making lately.  It was a fascinating interest over the last several years.  However, my usually stable, guiding force (my husband) is not around to distract me!  (I love you, honey!!)  It started as another creative experience I have yet to try and recently became more about what's IN the soap we all you use regularly.
     I have to admit that the girly-girly side of me LOVES all things that smell pretty!!  Sometimes, my greatest dilemma is WHICH smell to use!  LOL  I can get frustrated when I realize I can't mix them, or wear them ALL and STILL smell good!  I love the smell of my shampoo, but then there's the yummy body wash.  Don't forget the amazing smell of the deodorant, the funky-busy smell of hair products, finished off with perfume or body mist!  I'm amazed our noses haven't gone ADHD themselves, maybe twitching, sneezing, or even "running" off our faces!
     Then there's the news.  The never pleasant, always negative flood of information on topics we did NOT ask to hear about.  If you're like me and do NOT watch TV for the news or anything else, there's the Internet and more specifically, Facebook.  This is where kindhearted/sadistic people share the horror stories over and over and over and over again.  You literally cannot hide from information.  This is where I first heard of "Propylene Glycol" as anything other than anti-freeze.
     I typed "Propylene Glycol" into my best friend/worst enemy, GOOGLE and this is what it told me...
 So I clicked on the link that had a .gov ending since attending college taught me they are one of the few reliable sites for information.  This is what our government has to say about this common ingredient...



     Instead of trying to rephrase it or interpret it for you, I cut the entire page out and shared it; including their contact information. This is the link to the actual webpage (Here) This gets scary here.  It's used as a deicing solution (anti-freeze) which are we are warned regularly NOT to ingest, yet at the same time the Food & Drug Admin (FDA) has classified it as "generally recognized as safe" for use in food!  So which is it???
     It is used as a solvent in food, paint and plastics.  Now there's a set of groups I never thought I would see sharing ingredients!  You see from the top of the page the body systems negatively affected by this compound.  Let's look at a list of FOOD items that contain propylene glycol.  There are 15,339 products that we have access to that contain this compound.  I'll copy and paste the list and then add the link so you can actually click on each category to see if you personally recognize any of the products.  I'll warn you, the list is LONG.......




                     
Here's the link for your own investigation (Here).
     Now I have seen a lot of the products listed on here, but I have not personally checked every one out.  I know my cake mixes, ice cream, and salad dressings have it.  I check labels like no tomorrow, now.  My kids do too.  
     I can understand how the government says it's "safe" in small amounts.  The companies generally use small amounts.  What is slipping right past everyone is the compilation of products we use in a day that has this compound.  As women, look at your regular day.  It's in your soap, shampoo, moisturizer, foundation, blush, sunscreen and lotion.  Then it's off to breakfast; muffins and even milk can contain it.  After you eat, it's in your toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and lip balm.  You haven't even left the house yet, and look how much your body has to process!!
     I'm not saying for us all to go psycho and ban/banish propylene glycol from the planet.  I'm just saying that we as consumers, not just customers that purchase it, but as people who CONSUME it, need to be aware.  Try to limit it.  Our livers and kidney are fantastic filters for foreign compounds that can harm us, but how much, over how long, can they do this??  Your car needs a new oil filter every 3000 miles or 3 months!! Your vehicle cost anywhere from $500-$150,000 and you make sure you don't put things into the engine that can harm it...your life is PRICELESS, isn't it worth even the minimal amount of consideration we give our cars??