Friday, June 26, 2009

And God Smiled on Me

I was brave. I showered without any help. I felt better immediately.

It was a nice end to a difficult day. After I wrote my last post, when I thought it would be smooth sailing...
I was supposed to walk out the door to meet Emma and that's when "someone" told me they had gone potty in the bedroom and poop in their underwear. Sorry to be blunt, but so it was.

I was none too happy about this developement, but it was a dilemma needing attention, and so I had to deal with it and leave the house late.
Despite this interruption in my smoothly sailing evening, we managed to collect Auntie Em and have been enjoying her ever since!

After I tucked in the children, she read some stories to them so I could shower.
And the truth is, that last nights bathing was the perfect start to this early morning-ed day.

We breakfasted, began reading Philippians, sang hymns, and I sent the crew outside. We had the pleasure of a guest today - the 9 year old son of our contractor Dave. He has come once before this week and the boys thoroughly enjoyed him. Truth be told, he fit right in with my boys even in size and hair-cut!

Emma and I joined the children outside this morning and we all worked together to clean up the scraps of wood and cardboard that have been accumulating all around the house.

The boys were a tremendous help, Zack and Davey especially, and stuck with it until the job was done.

I started a small campfire to burn the cardboard, and after lunch we had S'mores to celebrate the clean yard! Everyone was filthy and tired out, but content. I was pleased. Very pleased, and even more pleased when I noted that it was only one in the afternoon ( I thought it was at least 4:30. It felt like it!).

As soon as we finished and the contractors cleaned up their work and left, the sky opened up in a downpour. We are now cozied up in our little cabin, cleaned, resting, and playing Lego's.
Auntie Em is sound asleep on the couch. If she thinks THAT was tiring, she should try being the mom!

I am content with the days accomplishments and find that the afternoon may even hold time enough for washing dishes and baking. All before eating and going to bed early!
Tomorrow we pick up Daddy at the airport. Hooray!!!

(A glimpse of my Quilt corner. Ahh... the pleasure of pretty corners!)

Onward while the steam lasts!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A "Get-Through-It" Day

...Which we've almost "gotten through"!

Not much new to report today.
AJ is in Kentucky and we are thickening our skin even more while hoofing it alone. So far, so good. I even started the generator myself, and have kept the phone charged. I MAY even attempt a shower on my own too if I'm real brave. That entails heating a big pot of water over the stove before pouring it into the Colman shower canister.
I have to say I think I'll feel a million times better if I scour myself clean tonight, so I might just be find myself feeling brave...

I've been sorting and putting away "stuff", hanging things on the walls (the fun part!), and discovering just how much junk we've accumulated in our marriage. And that with being pretty good getter-ridder-of-ers. It's a good thing or we'd be swamped! As it is, I don't know yet where everything will fit.

We figured out early on to keep anything we cared about in Rubbermaid storage bins. After a lot of trial and error we now use only the 18 gal. Roughneck Rubbermaid bins. They hold up well, stack great, and and stack beside one another well too.
These bins have kept rodents out of our things, and also kept our books in fairly good shape for sitting in storage so long.

There are a LOT of these bins stacked around right now, and as one gets unpacked it is soon refilled with other things that I won't need immediately. It's a decent system. For now I label all containers with duct tape (easy to determine what's inside), although in earlier times I numbered the bins and kept a master list of exactly what was inside each. that worked well too, but our bins and contents have been rearranged so often in the last few years and with the chance of losing that list... I abandoned that method.

Anyway, I am covered in layers of dust and needing to fix dinner for the hungry crew.
My sister Emma is coming this evening to share a few days with us - I'm excited about that! Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the kiddos to help me clean up all the wood scraps in the yard and we can have a fire for S'mores. That sounds nice:-)

Perhaps I'll take some more pictures...
Who knows? wonderful things can happen once you've showered and feel like a human again!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A New Boy-ish Venture

Zack saw directions for a tree house in The Dangerous Book for Boys, and decided to build him a tree house.
He set right to, chose the perfect tree (even better than I would have imagined since I can see it from the kitchen and living room windows!), and got the framework up with some help from Brother. I was extremely impressed since Zachary is a perfectionist and while he has a zillion wonderful ideas, he is always looking to someone else to implement them in the name of "helping" him.
I pointed out his success to Daddy and we both recognized that the lumbar Z used wouldn't support the structure he was attempting. The next thing I knew, Daddy was helping disassemble Zack's start, and they commenced to build something a bit sturdier.

Zack and Clay have installed the "floor" all by themselves, and then Daddy sawed off the jagged pieces sticking out.

They continue to work on it diligently, and I am more impressed than ever that Zack didn't peter out once he got some help from dad, but has kept after it!
I think it will be a place the children congregate for some time:-)


Hold it here Brother.

That's a way!

Can you check to see if the nail went through?

Looks good!

Yep. Mighty fine piece of work.

Miiiigh-ty fine.

The Visiting Turkey and Other Things

This fellow seen lurking near the outhouse during early morning hours. Do you think he was waiting in line to use it?

Here's me with my Fathers Day barbecued Chocolate Chip Cookies - another victory in the BBQ except that I chose a recipe specifically for being"thick and chewy", and they turned out specifically not. That is to say they were good, but they were "thin and crispy". O'well. I'm just glad they weren't "burned and inedible".

And this is a picture of the Amazing and Wonderful new Wolfe commercial stove delivered to our door on Father's Day. (It was a great Father's Day for me;-)) I love it love it love it!!!

It's not plumbed in yet, but my Great Guy is rip-roarin' to try it out so it will be soon!

Two silly girls having fun playing "dress-up" and dancing around in plastic bowl - ers.

My firstborn boy while still seven years old - he'll soon be eight!

He has been finding these wild Tiger Lilies and delivering them so sweetly to me. I love it! What mother has enough hand picked, personally delivered wildflower bouquets? This one was almost as tall as Zachary.

There's a lot going on even when I don't post - maybe especially then!
More to come...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a Father's Day for Grampa!

Rejoicing in my Grampa's departure from his earthly shell of a body, into his brand-spankin' new body as he walks with the Lord TODAY!

Grieved for my family and for myself for our loss of an amazing man.

Living a field away, my brother and I trekked to Grama and Grampa's farmhouse every day (sometimes several times a day!) to pester, taste-test treats, earn "the big bucks", and be generally loved upon.
We were never disappointed:-) Grama and Grampa's door was always open to us - and we always walked right in - announced or not!
Grampa was a musician. A TRUE musician. He played the organ, piano, and accordion using all ten fingers and possibly more, though I never proof of the extras. He loved hymns and gospel; big band, and polka. If it was music and tickled his fancy he could play it.
It was Grampa who funded my piano lessons. That was a gift I never appreciated fully until now - even more these past two weeks as I have a piano of my own finally up here on this otherwise silent mountain Marvel Hill. Though slightly out of tune, the music flows delighted fingers dancing over the keys.
My heart sings as well. I have thought: "After all that encouragement to practice, Grampa would be so pleased to hear..."

Perhaps he does... today.

Grama and Grampa traveled some and made friends all over the country - many musicians as he was. Just that Grampa could make friends at every corner of the earth speaks volumes of his gentle charismatic personality. Always a grin from ear to ear, like he knew a secret you had yet to discover. I hope I uncover some of those secrets; I'd like to wear Grampa's countenance so gracefully into my aged years.
Grampa's door was not open only to his grandchildren and family, and there were often extra chairs set at the holiday meal table, or a motor home parked in the driveway and an impromptu jam session which rattled the farmhouse windowpanes and echoed across the field.
We were always invited, and Charlie, Molly, and I would link arms and do-saw-do in circles in time to Grampa's tapping foot.
Those times instilled in us a love for all kinds of music; not so much as a form of entertainment, but rather a means to express the heart, and a way to draw people together in warm fellowship.
Next week my brother Charlie visits us along with some other friends of ours. I cherish hopes of sharing some "jam sessions" while together with our families, and I bet both Charlie and I will be thinking of Grampa. It won't be helped, nor would we avoid it.

Another of my favorite Grampa memories is the way he made every occasion a party and called it such.
I mentioned that we showed up in Grama's kitchen almost daily, and she was quick to welcome us with nibbles of her current baking. Inevitably we'd park ourselves at her table for lunch, and we could depend on Grampa pulling a candle out of a cupboard and leaning close to us conspiratorially while he lit it, and he'd say: "It's like we're having a party! Lets make it a real party;-)"
And he really said that every time I can remember. And it was. It was always a party because Grampa made sure we had a candle to celebrate being together.

The stories I could write of times spent with Grampa would fill a book. Perhaps one day it will.
Tonight my thoughts trail off, and I would rather indulge my musings without typing them on a keypad.
Simply said, I am in awe to think of my Grampa visiting with my Jesus. Right. This. Minute.

What a Father's Day it must have been for him!

I love you dearest Grampa. You will be missed... please have a candle ready for when I meet you there. I'm looking forward to a real party!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Bobsie Twins Work on the Mower

I should have thought it over more carefully before fixing both girls hair in pigtails. I couldn't tell them apart at a glance, and just wait till the third little blond-haired girl joins the ranks of the Mountain Woman Mechanics Club!

I thoroughly enjoyed watching these proceedings from my perch above them on the deck.

It appears they got it running.
It looks like they were taking it for a test... I mean joy ride!

Just because it was the brightest point in my day, I give you "The Quilt Ladder"!
AJ and Zack made this for me this morning per my request and at the expense of not doing some of the other more important things on the long, long list.
This ladder had a specific place all ready for it to fill and I will give you pictures of that later.

These top two quilts were lovingly made from my dear dear friend Deborah who hand pieced and quilted them for my first two babies.
The one on bottom was made for AJ and his bride upon his marriage, by his great grandmother shortly before she died (when he was a little boy). It too is hand pieced and quilted and has been longing to be displayed with so much love and delight these twelve years!!
I am ECSTATIC to enjoy them in my new mountain abode:-)

Thank you, you dear and wonderful women!!!
And thank you my dear and wonderful man!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Another Friday...

Whew! I got nine hours of sleep last night (went to bed at nine-ish) and woke up feeling more tired than usual! It was a very good thing I had coffee this morning because I dropped an entire mug of hot chocolate which covered the floor. If I hadn't had coffee, I might have cried. However, I simply and calmly took the necessary action.
Both my girls were quick to remind me "you need to hold it with two hands momma" and "You've got to be careful momma" and so forth. It all sounded very familiar to me and yet all I could do was raise my eyebrows and purse my lips; nod my head and say "Yep. ...Though I think the cup jumped out of momma's hand girls..." (they didn't believe me, and the commentary continued.)
After I sweated the liquid seeping under the laminate flooring (my first concern), I proceeded to replace Susanna's hot chocolate. As I did so, I couldn't believe the words coming out of my mouth!
It was like being outside of myself and looking back at me in disbelief - "Be very careful Susanna..."
there was barely time to add " momma wasn't."
Then on went the day.

From there I determined to take more pictures for you all, so I hope I get some comments that let me know who is appreciating my efforts:-)

Today was a Fried Egg Friday of sorts - a little out of the norm, and to balance out the hot chocolate, I fed my children cooked wheat berries for breakfast. With a little butter and honey they were a hit - even after Olivia telling me five times beforehand how she wasn't going to eat them since she wasn't going to like them.
She had seconds.
For the record, that breakfast is VERY filling so a little goes a long way. A good thing to note if you have growing eaters with always-growling stomachs.

For school today, the boys worked with Daddy on the house project. I believe they did some carpentry and plumbing. Here's my Zack:

The girls strung beads and made LOVELY necklaces...

fixed coffee, breakfast, coffee, snacks, hung pictures on the wall, fixed lunch, then coffee... There was a lot of coffee going on today since it was gray, overcast, and a wee bit drizzly.

That did not keep my hard-working fellows from making their own campfire!

Once you have a campfire, you must have a marshmellow to roast on it - its like giving a mouse a cookie;-)

What amazing backdrops the front yard scenery makes (or ANY yard, for that matter!).
Oh! Here's a story I thought you'd enjoy: That moose calf that hangs out in the front yard all day every day is lounging where last year we saw a salt lick.
I told AJ "you know, I'm not really keen on drawing the wild life INTO the yard. Perhaps a salt lick isn't so smart" (let the record show that WE did not put said salt lick there in the first place).
He concurred and went up to remove it, only to find no lick.
The moose is coming to lick the stump which the salt lick sat upon (must be a tasty stump!).
Today AJ asked our friends Robert and Dave (our contractors) if there was a chance of ridding ourselves of a moose, and explained the tasty stump.
I think the answer went something like:
"Uhhh.... hahahaha!!! Moose have been known to dig a stump two feet deep to finish of the salt left there!" And then there was more "hahaha!!!"
I do not find all this so humorous., but it IS good to know before trying to dig out the stump.

the best I've heard yet comes from our Montana friend Jon, saying to get a good Bow and some arrows that have a rubber ball sort of tip on the end, and which additionally, whistle when you shoot them at the moose.
They merely thump them enough to startle them and then eventually all you have to do to scare them away is whistle at them and they bolt.
That's the theory anyway. I hope he wasn't trying to pull a fast one on the newbies! Perhaps we'll give it a try!

That's it for tonight. I was rather long winded, but that's some of the nice effects of a second cup of coffee:-)
I think I earned it:-P

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There's No Place Like...

If you click your heels together the red ruby slippers will take you to... not Kansas exactly, but surely somewhere nice - California maybe?
And perhaps the sparkly silver ones could transport you to Colorado (and that's only because we're already in Idaho)
If they'd have had Carolina's size we might have been able to get to the moon.
Come to think of it... I didn't see any in MY size either. I want to go to Tasmania! Or Manitoba!!
Whaaaaaaa!!! Why didn't they have MY size?!!

These "slippers" are my solution to Dad's request that the children wear something on their feet when they come in the house. Well. Not the boys - I didn't get them anything sparkly - just went for plain ol' slip-on shoes for them.
I hunted and hunted for the perfect slipper.
Too sloppy and I knew they wouldn't keep them on their feet.
The sock kind with non-slip soles - would take too much effort to put on in a hurry.
Both versions of what I was looking for were upwards of twenty dollars. I just can't pay twenty dollars for a pair of socks! Sorry.

Ultimately the point is to keep dirt and oil from their grubby little feet off the floor and new carpets. You can imagine how often we will take pleasure in starting up the generator and hauling in an extension cord JUST to vacuum upstairs. Hm-hm.

Anyway, I determined that sparkles would be highly motivating for little girls - especially if only allowed to be worn while indoors (oooh, ahhh). I have yet to see the full fruition of my theories, but if you look closely at the picture above...
You will see the tiny fingers of one who wishes the sparkles came in HER size. In fact when the big kids are outside playing and the house gets a little quiet for having an-almost-two-year-old in it, I often find Carolina patiently pulling the vacant shoes onto her own feet.
The luxuriousness of sparkly slippers!

Two Favorite Recipe's and a Redneck Tutorial on Using a Barbecue in Place of an Oven

Baking Brownies on the Barbecue is a breeze, but first you have to have the perfect brownie recipe.
Mine is "Cousin Melissa's" because it came from... cousin Melissa. AND everyone knows that you don't don't try to get healthy with your brownie recipe unless you are banned from certain foods and are desperate. If that is the case all bets are off. Do what you must.

Cousin Melissa's Brownies

1/2 cup butter melted

1 cup cocoa powder

2 cups sugar
(and don't feel bad - dying from eating these brownies would be a good way to go!)
4 eggs stirred in one at a time

1 cup flour
(I don't mess around with chocolate. Use white flour.)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

pour into greased or buttered pan. (9x13 is a little large, but that's what I have and I don't spread the batter to the end of the pan)
For the oven I use glass; for the barbecue, aluminum.
In your oven, bake at 350 for 25-30 min until tooth pick comes out clean.

If baking in the barbecue...
Preheat BBQ with both burners on full.
When ready to bake, turn off one side, and the other down to it's lowest setting.
Place aluminum pan of brownies on an air bake cookie sheet on the highest rack - preferable over the burner that is turned off.
Close lid, and check a little early while you're learning. Trial and error is necessary (unfortunately a lot of error is inevitable at times. I hope this is not the case for you!)

I usually cover the top of the brownies with a liberal (very liberal) sprinkling of chocolate chips part way through the baking. If you do this, you may find that pulling the pan out of the oven, sprinkling the chocolate chips and then quickly pressing them into the brownies using the palms of your hands seems to work well. I do this about five or ten minutes before the baking time is complete.
Throw on some butterscotch pieces and you have something REALLY scrumptious!!!

Now for the bread:

I have Auntie Hannah to thank for this one. I'd like to make larger batches and so will continue to try other recipes, however I am kneading by hand (not by Bosch or breadmaker) and have discovered that a small portion is better requiring less kneading and so less flour making the bread lighter and less dense.
Because of this I am currently making two batches for two loaves of bread.

Auntie Hannah's Excellent, Tasty, and Simple Bread recipe (that "simple" part is the best!)
2 cups of water.
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. salt
3 and 1/2 tsp. yeast
sprinkled on top, then dissolved.

Mill 4 cups wheat berries (makes about five cups flour).
Add flour and stir until stiff. knead in flour till firm (but still a bit sticky).
Make into ball, rise in oiled bowl or on oiled counter top till double.
Make into two small 4 and 1/2" x 8 and 1/2" loaves or one large one (my preference).
Score top of loaf three times, paint top with egg white if you please, and rise again until peeking over sides of pan.
Bake at 350 for 30 min.

If using a barbecue: (redneck variation)
Preheat barbecue with both burners on full heat.
Turn down one side to low heat;turn off other side.
Place loaf of bread on air bake cookie sheet on highest rack and over the burner that is turned off.
Bread may take closer to an hour to bake.
Set your timer! Watch with care, and ask the Lord for mercy;-P

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snippets. In Full Color!

The days have been so extremely full that I have blog posts running through my head all the time, and every picture I take deserves it's own story; unfortunately, by evening I am bushed and ready for bed.
Ahhh, yes. Bed! Our own bed which has been missing us for a year and a half (and we missed it too!) now resides in our very first "own" bedroom and has a southern exposure facing our new "own" walk-out upstairs porch!
The porch isn't quite done, but it will be soon. I get a little queezy watching the contractors walk around on the scaffoldong and roof like it's closer to the ground than three stories.

"No thanks" for me, and" thank you LORD" that AJ hired someone else to do the job!
What fun it will be to sip coffee or tea out there in the mornings with my Great Guy:-)

These are wild Roses that Zachary brought me today. I had to take a picture of them because they are so lovely, AND because it is unusual for Z to think of doing that.

He said "Mom! Look what I found! And I had to pick some for you because I know how much you like them."
What a guy:-)


Clearly a snake. The boys called it "a big one" but I think that's because it't the first they were brave enough to corner without Dad cheering them on.
They had two girls though...

who could want more than a couple girls to appreciate such exploits!

For my own part, I was relieved it was a little snake, for when I heard them hootin' and hollerin' outside that they'd caught something, the first thing I thought was "now SURELY they aren't talking about that moose calf that's been hanging around all day!"
And it wasn't.

Outdoor showers will soon be a thing of the past, so we'd better remember them with the camera for posterity sake!

Lina wasn't thrilled about the shower part, but Daddy's idea of using the Rubber maid bin made up for the insult of the first half of the bath.

I didn't have the heart to permanantly record and publicly post the other four little bare dariers. I'm just that kind of mom;-)

These pictures are for you Grams. I don't know when I'll get some printed off for your frame, so I thought if you got ambitious you could try these. Love you!

And that about does me in for the night! Some little snippets so you can see in full color what things are looking like around here.
We just keep exclaiming over and over how much we LOVE it, and are so amazed and thankful to be here!
Thanks for enjoying with us:-)