Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Bryan

We officially have a wonderful teenager in the house.  Yup, I said wonderful.  It's my personal theory that the teen years are often made much harder by the attitude of the adults in the teen's life.  I'm looking forward to these next few years as we watch Bryan find his way.
Bryan requested a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.  May I say yum? 

The boys went to the movies last night and everyone headed to the science museum today.  Everyone had a blast.  Happy birthday Bryan.  I hope you enjoyed yourself.

The Release of the Butterflies

The butterflies hung around for a few days and then we decided it was time to set them free.  It's easier that way than waiting too long and ending up with a never ending cycle of butterflies to raise. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Butterflies

We currently have 7 butterflies.  No pictures at the moment but I'll try to fix that tomorrow. They seem to be much more docile than the ones we've had in the past. I almost never see them flying around.  Kind of wondering why that is but they are very beautiful to look at.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hey, hey!

We were given several bags of hand-me-downs today and inside I found a pair of dress pants that fit Sean perfectly.  Yes.  No more "Where is your belt, those things are falling off of you" every single Sunday morning.  This small simple thing makes me very happy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Sean!

Sean turned eleven today.  Somehow that seems rather old.  Thankfully he is a rather laid back kid since none of his presents arrived in time for his birthday.  Ok, one did but as usual it is a joint gift to share with Bryan so we are keeping it until next week.  And Mom and Dad will be taking both older boys to the drive-in next weekend when we have babysitters for their present.  Yes, we like to encourage experiences rather than presents for their birthdays, especially as they get older.  Memories typically last longer than gadgets, especially around here it seems.
Sean requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles and chocolate ice cream.  You've got to love simple and easy.  And pure chocolate overload.  Even without presents, Sean said he had a great day.
And here is just an extra picture of chocolate cuteness of a child who said "yup" when asked if the cake was good.  And at one point managed to shove half a piece of cake into his mouth.  He's learning early to eat the good stuff quickly before it disappears.

Testing the Mead

And when I go too long without taking the pictures off the camera, I discover things I forgot about.  Today I found the pictures from the kids tasting the mead.  They helped make mead so they could learn about the different brewing processes when they made root beer.  So, yes, it's in a beer cup but it's all in the name of science and they all decided it was gross I do believe.

The First Butterfly

The first butterfly appeared today.  It is still just hanging out waiting for it's wings to dry so we haven't seen much action yet but I'm hoping to see a few more butterflies this weekend.  Admittedly, we aren't exactly sure how the butterflies are going to do since they received somewhat rough treatment from the younger kids who were too excited to keep their hands off the caterpillar cups.  Something tells me if they can survive in the wild that they will be ok anyway but you never know.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chrysalis Stage

The caterpillars are now in the chrysalis stage so we are eagerly waiting for the butterflies to show up now.  Hopefully it will be soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quiet Ramblings

Yup, I've been quiet as of late.  I have a houseful of sick people and when I say a houseful that is what I mean. At one point 9 people were down sick.  Seems to be taking a while for everyone to get better.  And I've had a lot on my mind lately that I am trying to sort of which makes it hard to find something to mention.  Seeing one of my children basically start to have panic attacks when a certain person visits because they are convinced said person will not like them unless they do nothing but clean the entire time that person is here breaks my heart.  Just not sure how to handle this anymore.  And sick kids are usually crabby kids.  Sick kids with headaches are even worse when they are too young to understand what a headache is and why they hurt.  Hopefully in a few more days folks will get better and stay better.  And I will be able to continue to avoid getting sick.  Yup, that would be nice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Caterpillar update

A few of the caterpillars are starting to form their chrysalis.  Which is rather neat to watch.  This means in about a week and a half we should be able to expect butterflies.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crazy Weather

It has been snowing this weekend. Yup, snowing. We had plans to rent a tiller and put the garden in this weekend but that is not happening.  Granted, we also have a house full of sick people so I suppose it may be a good thing.  The very last bag of pellets is in the stove heating the house and we are saying it is a good thing that I hadn't finished packing the winter clothes away yet.  I think I need to go make some hot chocolate and hide under a blanket.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Pantry Goal

My plan as of right now is to have the pantry stocked with 3 months worth of food by the end of August.  This may be a bit of a challenge since I will also be working with a slightly reduced grocery budget so that I can also get some more of the extra debt paid off by then.  So my question for you is what would you consider must haves if you were attempting to have a 3 month food supply on hand?  I will admit that I will not be trying to store 3 months worth of drinks or fresh produce.  That would just be silly.  In a true emergency, everyone can drink water and fresh produce just won't store that long.  About that time of year I do plan to buy 50 lbs of potatoes and onions and our fruit trees should be in various stages of production.  Give me your best ideas so I don't miss anything.  Yes, the stockpile will include chocolate in various forms because no home is properly stocked without chocolate.  We still have a ton of beef from our earlier purchase, 3 turkeys, 1 ham and a decent amount of chicken.  I know to keep extra oil on hand because if you are cooking from scratch, you need more of that.  And extra vinegar since it is a super cheap replacement for just about all of your basic cleaning needs.  Not to mention it is gentle on our septic system so please don't try to use chemical based cleaners around here to "help" me since our septic system was not designed for a family of 10 and must be treated gently if we don't want it to fail.  You don't want to see the bill from those kind of repairs.  So yes, there is a reason why our house does not smell like chemical cleaners after we clean.  My only obstacle right now is that all 4 of our freezers are pretty much packed to the gills right now so I am looking for shelf stable ideas.  Yes, I said 4 freezers.  So on with the suggestions please.  I don't want to beg but I will if necessary.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Resident Bunny

Bryan was finally able to snap a picture of one of the many rabbits that live in our yard.  It was taken through a window so it's not a clear as it could be but we finally got a picture.

Art Exhibition

The older 5 children have been taking an art class at the local college this semester.  The classes are taught by art education majors and the kids are able to work with an amazing array of materials.  Much more than we can manage at home.  Since the classes are taught by students, they are very affordable which makes it possible for us to easily afford to enroll 5 kids at once.  After 12 weeks of classes, today was the big exhibition to give the kids a chance to show off their work.    Everyone did a great job.

Why You Can't Miss Even One Day

This is what happens when you skip just one day of checking on the asparagus. 
The stuff gets tall rather quickly.  Once it is more than a foot tall, it is really too tough and woody to eat.  This piece is almost 2 feet tall.  By the time it gets this big even the chickens don't really like to eat it.  This is why I really need to force myself to check every single day.  Thankfully this was the only piece that was this big.  And I also saw a few pieces from brand new plants.  Not that you want to harvest those either but it means that next year there will be more for us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Caterpillars

We got these little creatures in the mail yesterday.  Now there is much excitement already as we wait for them to do their magic and turn into butterflies.

Monday, May 3, 2010

An Early Harvest

Asparagus season always sneaks up on me.  I never seem to know when to expect the asparagus to start growing.  Then one day a child will come running into the house to tell me that we have asparagus growing.  Good thing the kids notice these things.  When left unharvested, asparagus can grow 5 to 6 feet tall.  Seriously.  Of course, by that time it is much to hard and woody to eat so it's just a waste. 
Asparagus tends to grow very quickly.  You have to harvest it pretty much every day.  When it rains, it grows even faster.  It rained a bit last night and this morning.  Today I found at least twice as much asparagus ready than I find on a normal day.  A few of them were damaged from too much rain or had gotten too tall and were starting to get woody.  So the chickens got a few today.  I am so grateful to the previous owners for planting the asparagus since we never would have put it in ourselves. It takes 2 to 3 years before you can harvest from the plants.  But every year after that you tend to find a larger harvest because asparagus is self propagating and tends to spread easily.  Which means we haven't had to buy any asparagus since we discovered the plants.  That is something that makes me very happy.

Kids' Thinking

Alan's car has a dead battery so it is sitting in the garage unmovable at the moment. He took the van to work this morning.  And yet I have still had children ask me if we are going anywhere today.  Ah, to be young and slightly clueless again.  I suppose we could get down the bikes and attach the bike trailer and strap Gabe in the baby seat and cram 3 kids into the trailer and just hope the Liam could follow the rules of the road on his bike but something tells me that just is not going to happen today.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Pictures

After living in Florida for five years, the beauty of spring in this area is a stark contrast to the unchanging Florida scenery.  And since we live somewhat in the country rather than in a neighborhood, we truly get to experience the beauty in the changing seasons.  Something I've noticed is not quite as obvious when you live in a cookie cutter neighborhood with nice groomed lawns.  Spring motivates me to get outside and get pictures of the kids and the yard.  And, well, there are always kids saying Mom, take a picture of me please.  So I just thought I would share a few of the recent ones.

Kieran's First Communion

Kieran received his First Communion today.  We had a wonderful day.  Kieran was dressed in his brand new suit and looked rather spiffy.  After Mass we came home to share some food and fun with friends.  Just thought I would share a few pictures.