Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm convinced that's it very healthy for little girls to have chickens.

I am, however, not so sure it's healthy for chickens to have little girls.

These chickens are loved. Tremendously.

Maybe a little too much.

How do you convince little girls that chickens are very different from puppies, and do not require constant play and attention? That chickens really aren't all that fond of being chased.

That chickens aren't meant to swing on swings and go down slides. :::sigh:::

Totally failed getting a picture of that one. I was too busy yelling at little girls and sending them indoors. :-P

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Homeschool Notes: Reloading

Homeschooling is great in that it affords kids plenty of time to focus on learning the more important lessons in life.

Like how to reload shotgun shells.

Because every girl ought to know how to load her own shotgun shells for when she's hunting game birds. Right?

I asked if she understood what she was doing. She looked at me as though I might be retarded. (Which admittedly, when it comes to anything regarding guns, I kind of am.)

"First the old primer pops out. See right there? You can see that the firing pin has hit it already. So the old one comes out, and we put in a new one."

"What's the primer do?"

"When you pull the trigger, the firing pin hits the primer and it makes the powder explode, and then the wad comes flying out."

"Mmm. Um, what's a wad?"

"That's what holds the bb's. See, you put the wad on like this... and then you drop the bb's into it like this. And then the whole thing comes out when the powder explodes, and they go into the bird you're shooting at."

Ah yes. I see. My eight year old daughter has learned more in one night of reloading with her dad than I learned in my week-long Hunter's Safety course.

*reloading: putting the gun powder, primer, and bb's into a used shotgun shell. It's like making something from scratch and recycling at the same time!

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Easter Re-cap

How was everyone's Easter? Ours was lovely, in a very low-key, relaxing sort of way.

The Western Colorado high-desert is not known for being a particularly moist climate. It doesn't rain much here. But of course, Mother Nature forgets all that on Easter. It always rains on Easter. When I The Easter Bunny was out hiding eggs at five o'clock in the morning, he said a hopeful little prayer that the rain would hold off at least long enough for the girls to find them, so that we didn't have gooey, sticky egg dye all over everything. The little prayer worked - everything was damp, but the rain held off.

We dyed the eggs on Thursday. Thirty four eggs, two dye kits, and the girls (and I) were happy for a good couple of hours.

They woke up yesterday to their Easter baskets (which, through a constantly developing series of traditions is found outside on Easter morning.) Fun things like new spring T-shirts and "hoopa-loops" were inside, along with lots of chocolate.

And then the egg hunt commenced. Why is it so exhilarating for children to run around picking hard boiled eggs up from a wet lawn? I'll never know, but it is. Lots of screaming "I found one!" and lots of racing to get there first. Cora's at that fun, magical age where this is all just so exciting.

After our egg hunt, we dressed and went to my parents' house to spend the day. My mom fed us breakfast, lunch and a delicious ham dinner. She's amazing. Some day I'll be able to do that: put a fabulous meal on the table while entertaining guests, with grandchildren running around at my feet, and make it all look effortless. Until then, I'll just continue to be amazed when she does it, 'cuz I've got no idea how.

The girls got to help with the deviled eggs. Cooking in Grammy's kitchen is even more fun that cooking in your own kitchen.

The girls hunted even more eggs...

And even got to swing at an Easter pinata. (How cool is that? With only two of them, they didn't have to push and shove the other kids out of the way to get the candy.)

Notice the piles of stuff in the foreground?
That's because after we saw how hard
she could swing a bat, we all took cover.

And then there was a lot of sitting around, some napping, and watching The Sound of Music (which might be The Longest Movie Ever Made.)

And I'm officially not ready for it to be Monday already.

Friday, April 15, 2011

God is really nice.

Friday afternoons, Chloe goes to visit her dad for the night, and I get to enjoy a 24-hour period of time alone with my Littlest One. While I always hate for Chloe to go, I've learned to appreciate this one on one time with my baby girl. I get to see a side of her that's usually overshadowed by her big sister, and for twenty four hours, I get to be her best friend (usually the role she saves for her sister, who is something of a hero in Cora's eyes, just because she's a Big Girl.)

So we were chopping veggies and peeling hard-cooked eggs at the counter together tonight, me and my Littlest One. And we were chatting, like two girls working together in the kitchen are wont to do.

"It's really nice of God to make little girls," she tells me.

"Yes, it is," I agree.

"Who makes my toys?" she wonders.

"Underprivileged children in China," I answer. She looks confused, so I clarify. "Little children in China are like slaves, forced to make your toys in terrible conditions, and they don't get paid very much money. They are very hungry and sad children." (Nothing like telling it like it is, right?)

So she says, "Those sad little children should talk to God and ask Him to make the toys for them. If He can make little girls, He can make toys. Then the children wouldn't have to be sad anymore."

:-) Do you ever wish we could all be so sweet and innocent when we're searching for solutions to problems?

Geocaching in the City

We spent the afternoon geocaching in town yesterday, since it had rained and we weren't so much in the mood to get muddy. We found some caches, and didn't find others. We haven't tried ones in the city before, so the experience was new.

What I loved about it was that it forced you to find little bits of nature hiding out in the dirty ol' city. Things you wouldn't expect to find unless you looked closely and paid attention to detail.

Like this mourning dove sitting on her nest inside some bushes right on Main Street:

Or this turtle taking a break from his swimming at a pond just down the street from our house.

I thought this giant hollow tree was something of a hidden gem in the city - I had no idea it was there, right behind Office Depot.

Of course there were the usual animals too: some ducks to chase

And some geese to be wary of.

It was so nice to discover these little pieces of nature.

But geocaching in the city is tough. There are people everywhere. Stealth is practically impossible. It's not like going out for a long hike with no one around, when you can search to your heart's content without having to worry about whether people are watching and wondering what the heck you're doing. It's a whole different game doing it this way.

Are there any other geocachers out there? We're new to it, but so far it's really turning out to be a blast, and a fun way to spend time together as a family!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Sunday Drive

I think over the winter, I'd forgotten just how much I love going for drives with my husband. When he got home today - he'd been gone for a week - we took off in his truck and drove up to look for turkeys and check out our family's favorite campground, to see if it will be ready for us in a couple of weeks. Happily, it's not still buried in snow, so as long as we're willing to brave the below-freezing nighttime temperatures, we'll be able to camp there.

The drive though - there's just something about it. It encompasses our entire happy little relationship. Driving in mostly quiet (until I think of something else I wanted to say) while we listen to music... and the kids laughing and squealing and occasionally fighting and bickering in the back seat. The dog drooling on our shoulders and breathing down our necks. (It's not as picturesque as it sounds, I promise.) But the smell of fresh mountain air, never affected by city smells like asphalt and pollution and too many people brings a peace I can't describe with words. Tree after tree after tree, sheer cliffs carved by centuries of wind erosion, extending to heights we can't even fathom. We slow when we spot a Bighorn Sheep grazing on the side of the road. We stop to chat with other hunters along the way, slow so that my husband can peer out the window at the ground looking for tracks. And I have the freedom to knit for a few hours uninterrupted as I gaze out the window, something that is really valuable these days.

We get out at the campground - our campground. The dog takes off immediately to explore the area and run to her heart's content. The children plop down and promptly begin digging in the soft clay dirt, their digging interspersed with short bits of racing around the meadow in circles. My husband lazily tosses a stick for the dog to fetch while I just take some deep breaths and enjoy the familiar beauty of my surroundings.

Sunday drives are at the heart of what our family is. We're the freedom to take off when we please, to explore all that nature has to offer us, to spend time comfortably in the truck together as we watch the trees and rocks and pastures pass by, chatting when we feel the need, and riding quietly and contentedly when we don't. It's family togetherness at it's finest, quality time that each of enjoys in our own way.

I'm so glad winter is over, that the dirt roads we love so much are accessible again, and that we'll have that freedom to roam. It's good for all of us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Silly Chickens

Chickens are anxious creatures by nature. If you change even the slightest thing about their surroundings, they go into a nervous panic.

Sometimes it's just fun to screw with them.

I changed their waterer tonight. I got sick of the little jar-topped waterer constantly being filled with food, newspaper bits, poop, and whatever else they could manage to fill it with, therefore rendering the water undrinkable. I've been changing their water four times a day, and tonight I finally got sick of it. I ditched the silly half-inch-high chick waterer for a plastic tupperware container with higher sides.

This change, of course, invoked immediate panic.

What is this strange contraption The Woman has placed in our cage?

Will it hurt us?

They all scurried to the far side of the cage and huddled there, staring at the Mysterious Thing, tilting their heads and watching it ever so carefully.

Hmm. It's not moving.

Grammy, being the outgoing and brave one, came in for a closer look. She sat pecking the plastic on the side of the container for a surprisingly long time before it occurred to her to see what was in the container.

Ha! It's water! And clean water, at that!

She tweeted her excitement to the rest of the scaredy-cats. Err, chickens. Goldilocks ran over and promptly climbed into the water and stood there. And continued to stand there, until the water soaked through her feathers to her skin and she realized that she was, in fact, getting wet. Egads! More panic, a frantic fluttering of wings, and tremendous chicken-squawking.

Each of the silly chickens came over, pecked repeatedly at the plastic (why?) and finally each took a drink, proving to me that they were at least smart enough to recognize water. Kind of.

These chickens really are entertaining little things. Eh, well, not so little anymore. Poor things are going through their "awkward stage". There's absolutely nothing cute about a half-feathered-out chicken. But there's plenty that is humorous, so at least they're good for something!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Disneyland: The Timid Child and Rollercoasters

There's something ironic about taking an adventurous three year old and a timid eight year old to a theme park. The older one is tall enough to try every 'big' ride for the first time, but she's not sure she wants to. The smaller one is sad because she's not big enough yet.

My eight year old is the most timid child I've ever encountered. She's afraid of the dark, she's afraid of heights, and she's afraid of strangers. This doesn't bode well when it comes to taking her to places like Disneyland, where nearly all the rides are in the dark, the rides that aren't dark go up high in the air, and strangers abound... sometimes even dressed in creepy furry costumes, and those ones come up and touch you!

So I decided to take her on Space Mountain. My logic: if I held her hand in the dark, she wouldn't be so scared, and with it being pitch-black, you can't see how high up you're getting, therefore negating her fear of heights. All went well. We got on the ride, we traveled along up to the very tip top of the ride, right before you start flying, we got to the countdown without any real significant fear.... 10...9...8...7...6...5....4...3..2..1.................. And all the lights in the ride came on. And we stopped. And we didn't move again.. An announcement came over our speakers letting us know we should sit tight and not move while we waited for a Cast Member to come rescue us from the very tip top of Space Mountain. Which gave my Small Child plenty of time to gaze down below us, all the way to the bottom. Here eyes were as big as saucers. She was imagining climbing down the scaffolding, Spider-Man style. I pointed out the stairs, which did help a little.

Sitting there for twenty minutes gave me plenty of time to snap several awful pictures with my camera phone, thus running the battery down completely.

Ever wonder what Space Mountain looks like in the light? The most memorable part was the inch-thick layer of dust that covers literally everything. It was really kind of gross. Don't they ever clean the place?

And then we were escorted safely from our space coasters (by a fantastic Cast Member by the name of Anthony, who had a fabulous sense of humor) and trudged down something like twenty five flights of stairs before making it safely back to Earth. In case you were wondering, it's never a good idea to tell an eight year old who is afraid of heights that she needs to walk down twenty five flights of stairs. Happily, though, she did survive, and even went on to enjoy some other coasters. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was her favorite ride. Apparently open-air roller coasters are a better option. I'll have to remember that for next time.

On the up-side, we got a ticket good for our whole family to enter through the exit on any ride we chose. We skipped the longest and slowest moving ride at the park - the Nemo Submarines - and walked right on. Totally worth it. :-)

Disneyland: The Potty Installment

If you are touring Disneyland with a Very Small Person who has just recently toilet trained, there are some things you should expect:

Your child will have to go potty as soon as you're deep enough into a line that you can't easily get out of it, after you've been waiting for twenty minutes to go on the ride. Whatever you do, don't tell her to 'hold it'. The results won't be pleasant.

Every over-priced meal you eat will be interrupted as you trek across the park looking for the nearest bathroom, which is never anywhere near where you are eating.

Your small child will inevitably have more accidents on this trip than she's ever had in her short life all put together. Pack extra underwear. And then pack more.

The ladies' room will always have a long line when your child is the most desperate to go. And since everyone else in the line is also standing there with a little girl doing the potty dance, you can't use the "please, she's just potty trained and can't hold it long, can we please go in front of you?" trick that works at most other ladies' room lines. The best solution we found? Have Daddy take her in the men's restroom. There's never a line there.

Rule of thumb when driving fourteen hours each way: if one person needs a bathroom break, everyone gets out and has a bathroom break because if they don't, the one who didn't go when everyone else did will need to stop fifteen minutes later.

A guarantee: someone will request a bathroom just as you pass the last rest area for 200 miles. Or they'll need to potty when the only place to stop nearby is a dirty, run-down dingy convenience store that doesn't appear to have been cleaned any time in the past two years... and little girls have short legs: they can't hover.

Tip: if you have a toddler potty seat, take it with you. I'd rather dump and rinse the bowl of a potty seat than think about what wretched germs my daughter picked up using the nastiest bathroom in the state of California. The potty seat would also be useful when the need arises when you're halfway across the Mojave Desert and the only place to stop is the side of the freeway.

Another tip (that I failed to abide by, and regretted it): take along a stack of sticky notes. Every toilet at Disneyland flushes automatically, the kind of flushing that terrifies all children. Send your bigger kiddos into the stall armed with a sticky note to place over the electronic sensor, and they no longer need to be worried that they might be sucked into oblivion by the over-powerful Disney toilets.

Should I be ashamed that I just managed to write an entire blog post about pottying and Disneyland? Probably. But there you have it.