Still here!

I’ve been a bit distracted from blogging lately…

We’re on our second round of chicken pox currently. Unless Andrew ends up getting them in a third round, we will have lifetime immunity for seven out of eight Blessings. It’s been a doozey, and we were gifted with a stomach bug in the midst of it, but I think we’re going to pull through. Do please pray for Katie, though. She’s just getting started on her case, and I’m thinking there was some basis to the article I read that said that kids with eczema and other skin problems are likely to have thousands of pox as opposed to hundreds. She’s not up yet today, but from the way she looked last night, my mama-heart is very concerned for her.

I started dreaming last year of making available an Advent Wreath resource that folks could download for free, and that project is almost done! I hope to have it available in the next few days. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m a bit down to the wire. If you would like to try using an Advent Wreath as a tool for worship this year, consider going ahead and picking up the needed candles while you’re out this week. You’ll need a white candle for the center (I like to use a pillar for this), and four candles for the outer ring (I usually use tapers) – three purple or blue, and one pink or red. What a solemn and estatic joy it is to celebrate His coming!

Our dearly loved dog Juilin died last week. He ran out in the road one too many times, and he did not make it. It was an honor to have him breathe his last with his head resting on my leg. We will miss him. I enjoyed going through our family pictures and picking out some of Juilin. If you like pictures of sweet adorable dogs, you might enjoy looking at them.

Our apples are all canned. I don’t have a final count yet, but hope to post more on our appling with some numbers and pictures. We did six bushels this year and tried some new stuff. I think we all enjoyed it.

And now, I must work on finishing that Advent Wreath book!

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December This-and-That (A Poly-Pictured Post)

A conglomerate post in which I shall gather “strings” from December not covered in other (existing or future) posts:

Dad Smith’s Birthday
The day after we arrived home from Florida was Dad Smith’s birthday. We didn’t make it out of bed for church, but Dad and Mom Smith were gracious enough to join us here for supper, catching up, and ice cream/cake so that we didn’t have to haul ourselves out and about. Except Jonathan, who did a post-trip grocery run, including buying a birthday cake – what a man!
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Butchering Christmas Tom
Dad and Mom Smith also came over a few days later to help butcher Christmas Tom so he would be ready for the big day. For the sake of my more sensitive friends, I’m not including any shots that are too exciting. 🙂

Cuddling Kitties
Last winter, this was our dog Juilin’s chair. This winter, he is relegated to the little rocker while the cats hog the comfy chair. But aren’t they cute?

The Monday following Christmas, we enjoyed the snow with some friends who came over to sled and play. I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, but here’s a taste of the fun:

At two days shy of his 8 month birthday, Andrew tried his first not-Mama’s-milk food. His response was pretty varied, but I think he’s decided that sweet potatoes are okay.

Sweet Shot Tuesday

Sweet Shot Day

This and That … and lots of it!

I haven’t been very good with blogging regularly about what’s going on around here, so it’s time for a This and That post…

Last month, Jonathan and I waited for a couple of hours in my backup OB’s office, then saw him for less than 10 minutes. We only got as much of his time as we did because I kept asking him questions. I couldn’t help but think, “and this is one of many reasons why we choose midwifery care.” On the bright side, we are in “the system” and don’t need to go back again. I will update my charts with the office by fax, and if there is a need for transport (which we don’t plan on, of course, but for which we want to be prepared), I should slide into things at the hospital without a bunch of hullabaloo about “not having prenatal care.”

Speaking of prenatal care, a couple days after the aforementioned 2 hour wait/<10 minute appt, my midwife's assistant arrived at our home for a prenatal visit. We spent a lovely and mutually respectful hour+ together. We talked about what I'm eating, how I'm feeling, my diastatis, how the baby is lying, and a myriad of other things related to baby and me. We walked around the house and talked about plans for birth, advantages/disadvantages of our house layout, etc. We drank tea together as we chatted. When she left, I felt thoroughly "cared for." THAT is what I call prenatal care. And yes, there are numbers and notes on my chart … probably in more categories than the Dr's office will know what to do with when I fax it to them.

In other news…

Stephen is definitely going through a stage where he is wanting to exert his will, so he’s keeping us on our toes. At the same time, he continues to be such a delight! His imagination is going full-steam, and while he adores playing with his siblings, he also plays happily by himself, totally engrossed in a world of his own making. He particularly enjoys playing with the tub of horses.

The Blessings received five seasons of Daniel Boone on DVD for Christmas. We’ve been watching it at lunchtime a few times a week and finished Season 1 yesterday. I had never seen it before, so it’s been an adventure for all of us.

Last night, Elanor mentioned that she had lost something and had looked all over for it. Stephen pipes up helpfully, “Did you look under the green couch?” “Yes.” “Did you look under the gray couch?” “Yes, Stephen.” 🙂

I’ve been looking across the table/room/yard/etc lately and realizing that Davey, our eldest Blessing, who will turn 14 in June, is looking more like a young man and less like a “boy.” This does funny things to my heart, but mostly makes me realize how much I like this young man.

Have I mentioned that we’ve finally figured out a laundry system that we can actually make work for us? It’s nothing fancy, just a three-bag laundry sorter in the laundry room where all the Blessings’ dirty clothes are deposited (two for darks, one for lights/whites), a white basket for light towels/sheets/blankets and a blue basket for dark towels/sheets/blankets. The four older Blessings have the responsibility of doing two loads of laundry from start to finish on “their” laundry day, picking whatever basket or bag is most in need of being done. Kate and Grace help fold and put away, and I need to start working with Kate on Fridays, working towards her having a laundry day as well. For some reason, this system seems to be one that we can make work, and the laundry room floor is no longer covered with dirty laundry 98% of the time.

Our guinea hens have started laying eggs! They actually lay them in the coop, which is wonderful for us. Hopefully as the weather warms they will continue to lay in the coop and not take to the fields as guineas are prone to do.

I finally finished getting our winter/Christmas decorations packed up and ready to go to the attic. They’ll go up and perhaps the baby tubs will come down…

The taping seems to be working well for keeping my abdominal separation from worsening. I finally started doing pilates again a couple night ago, and am thankful to be back to it. At the same time, I have to admit… it’s kickin’ my tail! But that’s a good thing.

We have our garden mostly planned out for this year and are eagerly awaiting the warming of the soil so that we can get started! We’re going to be using principles from the book Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich. No tilling, established beds/paths, and lots of mulch, for which we’ve found a good and cheap source. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it.

Speaking of the soil warming, I feel like I am blossoming as Spring moves in. I’ve enjoyed several days this week of sitting in the sunshine reading or working on a project. The warmer weather and the smell of spring is such a reminder of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness! Last night, I fell asleep to the rumble of thunder, the patter of rain on the roof, the occasional distant flash of lightening… and woke to the sound of birds chirping while the sunshine streamed in my window. Spring Bliss!

See Yesterday, my photo blog, for some recent pictures. I’ll be updating it later today.

Maggie the Fire Dog

The other night, Dad and Mom Smith were over, and after supper Jonathan was holding Maggie, their dog, at the table. He had a candle in front of him and it was so funny to watch Maggie watching the fire! She looked like she was sitting in front of a fireplace, dozing off while she watched the flames dance.

Guineas

I realized this morning that I have only imagined posting about the guineas that we’ve had since the beginning of July. This just goes to show that not all the blog posts that start in my head end up online.

I posted a picture of the guineas over the weekend on my photo blog and my mom commented, “When did you get these??” My first thought was, “Mama! I thought you read my blog…” Then I went back through both the photo and regular blogs and couldn’t find anything about guineas. Ha!

Here’s the tale of the guineas… Linda (our fabulous neighbor) got a batch of guineas in late June and we bought some from her. I think we brought our six down to the house on July 1st or 2nd. We lost one when we moved them outside to what used to be the ducks’ pen, because we didn’t get the ducks’ water tub out at first. Sad. But the other five are doing great. We now let them run around in the fenced garden all day, eating bugs. Come evening, they fly out of the garden and run around the yard until we herd them into their pen. Hopefully soon they’ll fly out of the garden and into their pen in the evening on their own.

And here they are, in case you missed them on Yesterday:

A Fowl Update

Let’s cover the bad first, so we can end on a good note, shall we?

We lost 5 chickens, including four laying hens, in one week to an unknown predator. Two of the losses happened while we were gone at camp. The other three took place all in one day last week. Sick. Disgusting. Frustrating. Infuriating. Expensive.

We have four laying hens left, along with a young hen, a young rooster, and our Big Rooster. So we’re down from 5-8 eggs each day to 2-4 eggs each day. Hopefully the young hen will start laying soon.

For now, we are keeping the chickens (along with their buddies, the ducks) in their coop/pen unless we have someone outside to watch them. Fowlherd is the newest title around our place.

The ducks are doing well. We definitely have a mallard drake, and it is fascinating to watch him develop his colors. In a couple of recent pictures of the ducks, you can see that how much he changed in just one week.

Since we lost the third duck up at the pond, they won’t go up there, and they have become yard ducks. But they love playing in this tub of water. This shot was taken on August 2nd.

And here’s the drake a couple of days ago on August 9th. Jonathan got a great shot that captures the color change in progress on his head. Looks a little rough right now, but he will be gorgeous soon, I think. His tail feathers are also starting to curl up, another drake trait.

The guineas are doing well. We let them out of their pen as often as we can, and they love walking (and occasionally flying) around the yard looking for goodies. Our garden is fenced, and I’m thinking about letting them run around in there, since that’s the biggest reason we got them. We’re just a bit uncertain of getting them out and in, so we’ll see. They have much more of a herd mentality than the chickens; they are rarely farther apart than in this picture:

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