Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Liam!

Liam turned 6 today. He requested a wizard cake. This child has much more faith in my artistic ability than I do and has a knack for requesting creative cakes that I have no clue how to make happen. But in the end, he was happy.
After our busy morning at the farm, he got to stay up at nap time today since he is one of the big kids now. He put in his standard request for "spaghetti with meatballs in the sauce" for dinner and cake with vanilla ice cream.
Liam enjoyed his day and we are all very proud of him.
Happy birthday, Liam.

Party at the Farm

A few weeks ago I entered a contest for a party at a local farm. I think they started as a dairy farm but now run a huge playground and corn maze type place. I won the free party and we took advantage of it today. We had perfect weather and a bunch of friends came to join us.
Gabe is driving a train.
Katie is feeding the goats. I never knew goats would eat ice cream cones but I guess they'll eat just about anything if given the chance.
More goats.
We had ice cream.
The kids panned for gemstones.
Katie is hard at work.
They had go-carts to ride.
Round and round the track.
Coming down the giant slide.
Bouncing on the jumping pillow. Everyone had a great time.

A Robert Smile

Please ignore the cluttered desk in the background. I swear if I clean it, I'll never find half of the stuff again. Just focus on the cute kid.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fields and Flowers

Strawberry Time

It's strawberry season. Which means making the yearly trip to fill the back of the van with strawberries. We ended up with 36 quarts this year and I am hopeful this will be enough to last us all year. The debate now is over how many batches of jam I should make.
Gabe spent the morning riding with Dad. This is just not fair. Last year he rode on my back in the Ergo and was quite happy to smear strawberries all over my back. This year he rides with Alan in the backpack and actually eats the berries. Just not fair I tell you. Poor Gabe fell off the slide yesterday and sprained his ankle so he has spent most of the past two days being carried around by someone.
Bryan is a big help since he has gotten past the stage of scarfing down every berry he picks or jumping up and down with excitement over each berry insisting that we all look at it because it is the biggest one ever. He's a quiet and hard worker which makes it much easier to get in and out of the fields quickly.
Katie is very proud of her full basket.
Here's one that Abby actually didn't eat.
Yes, the kitchen is covered in strawberries so I guess I'd better start getting them cleaned up and dealt with. Hopefully we'll get raspberries and cherries next week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's Harvest

I will admit that these pictures represent food that we have to do basically no work to grow. The asparagus patch was well established when we moved in and the trees were already producing. But these pictures remind my why I am grateful that I do not have to rely on my rather lacking gardening skills to feed my family all winter. Yes, we are slowly learning a few more tricks each year and learning more each year. But if we had to rely on our own skills at this moment to feed the family all winter, well, we would be mighty hungry and sick of slaughtering chickens after a while.
Hopefully later this week or early next week we will get out to an actual farm and pick some decent sized cherries. The ones on our trees are rather small and many are too high in the tree for us to safely reach.
I imagine if you grow up in an environment where your basic survival depends on your own gardening abilities, you learn rather quickly. Good thing we have grocery stores around here.

A story from Kieran

I (Alan) really enjoy getting the kids into story telling. When the new Narnia movies came out, the kids were very into that imaginary world, making up some of their own characters and stories to go in that world. So I decided to try an exercise that I had been taught, in my one of my writing courses. It was a world building exercise. In this exercise, you start with nothing and you create your own world: all the rules, the people, the lands, everything. They did a great job with it. This is a story from Kieran's invented world. You may notice a likeness to another world that you might have read about, but that is ok it was his first try.

By Kieran T.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Picture of the Day

I found this picture while looking through the recent pictures Bryan has taken. I have to say it makes me smile. That big grin on Gabe's face. You can tell he is so very proud of himself. And the cry on Robert's face. As if he is protesting loudly his lot in life. Yup, just made me smile.

Zoo Time

I had been intending to take the crew to the zoo last week but we got rained out. So we headed there this morning. Since we are dealing with a thunder storm as I type, I think I timed things rather well.
They have a train at the zoo this summer. Bryan agreed to ride along to be Gabe's buddy since Gabe is now officially big enough to let me know that he has no intent of sitting quietly in the stroller while the bigger kids get to ride the train.
Abby insisted that Bryan take her picture with the polar bears.
The water area is the kids favorite spot when it is warm.
Here's Gabe right before he finally got up enough courage to get in the water with the big kids where he promptly slipped and hit his head on a rock. He was having so much fun that he just barely allowed me to wipe the first round of blood off his head before getting back into the pond with the rest of the kids.
Liam decided that 3 inches of water is more than enough to totally soak yourself. He was dunking his head in the water until I pulled him aside to point out all the tykes running around in diapers and suggested that maybe he stop doing that.
While I was sitting on the side with Robert, I heard one mom trying to encourage her son to go and find a boy his age to talk to and play with. Then she said well, not the ones who are splashing. Find a calm one. I looked up and thought to myself well, I guess he won't be talking to my boys because, well, they weren't exactly being calm today. We arrived home soaked and happy and the younger ones are sleeping now. Aside from the thunder storm that is keeping me from hanging up my laundry outside, life could not be better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Healthcare Debate

Quote for the Day

"[T]his threat is with us, and at the moment, more imminent. One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine… most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it."

So said Ronald Reagan in 1961. Can you guess what my opinion is on Obama's view of nationalized health care? Needless to say I am not a fan. I know how hard it is already for me to fight for my right to be treated as I see fit. I can only see it getting worse if national health care becomes a reality. Right now I have the option to find a new doctor for my children when my concerns are ignored. Right now I can shop for a medical provider when I am pregnant who does not simply look at my history of having a previous c-section (one that should have been avoided but that is another issue altogether) coupled with being a grand multipara and say your only choice is a c-section. Right now our views on being highly selective and delayed regarding vaccines are tolerable (ok, we've been kicked out of several practices for them already and have learned that in NY state insurance companies pay doctors more if they have a higher vaccine compliance rate in their practice, hm, politics anyone). Right now I can still play the "it goes against my religious beliefs " card and at least be protected some and have found a doctor who agrees with us that our children have an increased risk of suffering a vaccine injury based on family history. But I see that changing if national health care becomes a reality. The bottom line is that every one deserves the right to decide what health care options are right for them. Yes, I think the health care industry in this country needs work but it does not need to be turned into socialized medicine. We all deserve the right to make our own decisions and not have a group of strangers make them for us.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blood, Tears and Hopefully Boredom

Not too much going on around here. We are just hoping to take a few days to lay low and recover from a few too many weeks of constant business. Personally, I could use a nap or two. The littlest dude has caught some sort of bug from his older brother. He's laying in the sling right now whimpering somewhat pathetically. I hate when the babies get sick like this. The other kids are old enough to just sleep it off but when they are babies, they tend to take it harder for some reason.

Another child decided life was too boring today. While running in the yard, a rock jumped up and tripped her. I am always amazed by how much blood can be produced by a simple small head wound. By the time she made it to the house she was covered in blood to her knees. With that sight and all the freaking out by the siblings, I was expecting to find a major injury when I cleaned her up. Thankfully the kids have all learned to quiet down when you tell them to stop crying so I can see what's wrong. A few towels, one new set of clothes, a glass of lemonade and everyone was back to running outside. Again, I think I need a nap.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Robert's Baptism

Robert was baptized today. He was a wonderful sport for the entire thing. No fussing until after church when we were trying to take pictures.
We made sure to celebrate his day with many family and friends. Nothing beats the sugar rush provided by tons of cake, soda and a great pot luck.
I'm thinking we just may have to do this again some time soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Watch where you sit.

This picture illustrates why it is always very important to look before you sit down in our house. This inconspicuous bundle has some rather precious cargo.

Science Museum

We made a trip to the science museum today. Our local science museum always throws me off a bit because I just don't expect to see history exhibits taking up half the space in a science museum. Just not what I think of when I think science.
Here Kieran learns what an earthquake would feel like.
Our budding paleontologists hard at work searching for bones.
You've got to love those glasses. This brings back many a chemistry memory for me.
We found a room full of giant tinker toys and the children built these houses.
We're hoping to get back sometime soon to take in a planetarium show.

Friday, June 19, 2009


We have cherries coming in. Yes, they are a tad small since we don't fertilize the trees at all, just spray for bugs. Here's hoping that the birds don't eat them all and we don't experience "sudden, unexpected crop failure" like last year when the cherries all shriveled up on the trees overnight.

Lost in the Grass

There is some sort of special joy that comes from playing in the tall grass back behind the house. This grass is as tall as I am in certain spots and incredibly soft. Definitely tall enough to loose a small child in if you aren't watching so Gabe is not allowed back this far alone. This is an experience that every child should have while they are still young enough to truly enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Are We Thankful Enough?

While out running errands last week, this thought stuck me. Are we truly thankful enough for what we have? Ok, the thought was put in my head by something I saw. There is a homeless gentleman who stands on the corner by the highway almost every day holding the standard "Homeless, Please Help" sign. I must admit that it has never honestly occurred to me to stop and give him anything. Maybe a few passing thoughts were spent on his plight on the drive home but that would be it. But last week I saw something that made me change my thinking. Someone had gone inside a fast food joint and purchased a meal for this man. They stopped their car and handed the food out the window. First the homeless gentleman makes sure to thank the person handing him the food. But then he moved back from the road, put the food down and knelt down to pray before eating. If he can be that thankful for what little he has, how much more thankful should we be for everything we have? My problems today are small compared to his. The paycheck was a bit short, gas prices keep going up, the playroom is once again trashed, the van needs new tires, the piles of laundry are threatening to reach the ceiling, the children are fighting over their toys. My complaints are mostly small things. We may be short this month but know it will even out next month. The laundry is a mess but that means we have clothes (lots of them). They playroom is a mess because the children are lucky enough to have plenty of toys. If gas prices keep going up we have the option of staying home more. If the kids keep fighting, I have the option of taking the toys away. We all have so much that we have learned to take for granted. When was the last time you stopped to thank God for a fast food meal and really mean it? I'm starting to think maybe we have it way too good around here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hiding in the Trees

Here's the Culprit

Here's the egg stealer running away after finding a lack of eggs in the barn. So now how do we get rid of the critter?

CSA Adventures

We decided to join a CSA farm this year (yup, being a bit lazy ourselves about putting in a vegetable garden) and have been getting some wonderful produce already. This venture has led us to discover some new recipes and ways to use vegetables that I would likely not purchase on my own. Turns out I like spinach. Guess I just don't like spinach balls since that is just about the only way I recall seeing spinach growing up. We made a spinach and pasta dish last week and last night we made a chicken dish with spinach. Absolutely delicious. This week we will have a chance to start experimenting with zucchini. Not sure what to do with it yet but I am hoping to avoid making bread. I have tons of pumpkin I need to turn into bread and somehow that seems like cheating to me with the zucchini. But I am baffled by what to do with an endless supply of radishes. I know you can toss them into various kinds of salads but I think we still have more than we can use that way and are getting more this week. So what else do you do with radishes? I either need to get creative or feed them to the chickens.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Look! Peaches!

Ok, I admit. I am a bit excited still over seeing actual food growing on our own property. It looks like this year we can expect another large crop of peaches if things continue this way. The pears and apples are also looking great and I've been getting a decent amount of asparagus every couple days. The grapes are looking good (let's just hope the birds don't discover them). The jury is out on the walnuts, raspberries, strawberries and cherries and we need to find a way to keep the darn skunk from stealing chicken eggs. We're still getting about 6 to 8 a day but that is down a bit from a few weeks ago. I still feel we are running low when we are down to only 4 dozen eggs in the fridge. Maybe in a couple years we'll actually get good at this growing/raising your own food thing.