Sunday, July 30, 2006

...need a seat belt for this week!

This past week was a difficult roller coaster kind of week. Unfortunately it seems as though the ups and downs aren't quite over yet. I tend to get very wordy when I write, so I decided to go for short and sweet this time and see if I could pull it off.

 This week:
  • We started back to school, and the schedule I put together for this year seems pretty workable.
  • I'm not crazy about our new math curriculum (Making Math Meaningful) and I miss Saxon Math... but the kids like MMM better, and seem to be working pretty hard knowing that if things don't go well we're pulling the Saxon Math back out again!
  • We added "tea time" (thanks Steph... again!) to our schedule. Here's what we did...The kids worked together following a recipe for muffins (to have with our tea) and while the muffins cooked they each read the poem I picked out for the week, and illustrated it (they have different poems). While they sipped their tea, enjoyed their muffin (and practiced "company" manners) I read to them from a vintage copy of Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales. Tea time turned out to be a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.
  • We had a great time Friday when some friends from the homeschool group came over to play. M has been refusing to go to park day to play with his friends, so I decided to invite some friends here. It was good to see M enjoying spending time with a friend... (This family has a son about M's age and a daughter about R's age, in addition to two other little ones. So everybody had someone to play with!)
  • A friend from the old neighborhood came for a visit this week also, and it was fun to catch up on all the news. She and her dh bought a new car not long ago. When I saw the car I couldn't believe she would actually drive it on dirt/gravel roads to get to our house! Here's a pic of M in the driver's seat and R and her friend S in the back. (the new car is a brand new Ford Mustang. It only has 400 miles on it, and is the only one of it's kind in Colorado!)
  • M has taken another turn for the worse and had a severe psychotic episode on Thursday. This latest episode was bad enough that I'm not sure if I can avoid having him admitted. In an effort to keep him home, I've increased his haldol... something I really hate to do (because it increases the neurological side effects) but felt like I had to, to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, he hasn't calmed down yet and is still very edgy and volatile.
  • After wondering about Rosepetal's cough, I decided to find a vet who could treat goats and get some professional advice. The good news is that I found an awesome vet only about 30 minutes away, Rosepetal rode beautifully in the car (I wonder what the kids at Sonic thought when they brought us our lunch and saw a full sized goat in the back of my van?!), and she doesn't have lungworm! The bad news is that she does have a respiratory infection so twice a day for the next 14 days I have to chase her down, corner her someplace and hold her still long enough to give her a shot of penicillin.
Well, that's our week. (Hmmm...I guess maybe I can post on this blog without writing a book! :))

Caprine Mysteries


Why is it that this sweet little goat, who is sooooo incredibly picky about what she'll eat, (she turns up her nose at apples, potato peels, carrots, and her mineral block... and doesn't even especially like hay!).....


Sunday, July 23, 2006

EEEEuuuuwwww!!!!!

About a year ago I posted on my previous blog  about some things...country living things...that perplexed me.

Seeing as how I've lived in the city most of my life, there were (are) lots of things about living in the country that I'm still trying to figure out (Like why teenage boys think it's fun to drive down dirt roads knocking mailboxes off their stands with a baseball bat! Fortunately, my mailbox is still attached to it's post so I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over that one...)

 Well, after almost a year I finally have the answer to one of the questions I posed in the previously mentioned blog entry...Why DO the mice seem to run up onto my front porch each night to do their "business". (Leaving me a mess of tiny turds to clean up each morning...)

 Unfortunately, the answer isn't a good one... the mice aren't running up on my front porch to "go"...we have bats! There are at least a half dozen bats that are spending their evenings hanging upside down right above our front door (~~shudder, shudder~~) and leaving their droppings behind!

 Here is the proof..

 

 I guess the good news is I don't have an army of mice using my front porch as a latrine...the bad news is I'm afraid to use my front door after dark!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Horse Camp

Horse camp is over for another year, and R is sad... She'd be happy riding all day, every day!...but I'm ready for it to be over. I was getting tired of all the driving back and forth!

She started on a different horse this past week... After riding Grant exclusively for a year, her instructor encouraged her to try riding a different horse, and she agreed to give Cactus Jack a try.

~ Here she is starting on a trail ride on Cactus Jack...

and working on some dressage in the arena...

More dressage (at a trot this time)

I'm glad the week is over. R did well with camp, but it was much harder for her this year than last year (more OCD issues made things a bit more complicated). I'm looking forward to staying home next week and taking it easy!

quiet week

Thankyouthankyouthankyou to everyone who shared recipes, ideas for easy meals, and even cookbooks suggestions with me! I've got at least a couple of weeks worth of new ideas for dinner that I can't wait to try...


We've had a pretty quiet week around here... R is at horse camp each day this week, so M and I are on our own for most of the day. M was supposed to go to horse camp too (and I would also stay to act as his one-on-one aide). But he only made it through the first hour of the first day... He started getting edgy, unpredictable, and disruptive... so it was time to go. Luckily he left without a fuss, and later he decided maybe he'd just skip horse camp this year.  

I feel sad that this is one more thing his schizophrenia has taken away from him...but thankfully he doesn't seem to mind staying with me (and R doesn't seem to mind being there without us!).

I picked up the new math curriculum that we'll be using this year, and the activity book for our "Story of the World" history curriculum was also in at the same time. As I've looked through all our new books, I've been getting so excited about getting going with school again. We've hardly done any school the past month or six weeks, and I think we're all ready to get moving again.

I'm going to try and take a lesson from the very organized homeschool moms I know and do a little more planning before beginning the new year. We'll be using Making Math Meaningful for math, and Learning Language Arts Through Literature for language arts, and Story of the World for history. I'd like to start incorporating an art/poetry time each week. (When M was little he used to love his poetry notebook... Each week I'd type out a short poem and M would illustrate the poem. When he was done he put it in his poetry notebook. I think I'm going to start doing this again with both kids.) And we'll keep taking nature walks (and nature journaling). We'll also be continuing with our read-alouds...

This plan doesn't sound like much on paper... but it will be a challenge to keep the kids attending long enough to get the work done.

I'd also like to work more on "daily living skills" with M. He'll be 14 in less than a month, and I know the next few years will pass quickly and before I know it he'll be an adult. I've been trying to think of skills he will need to be able to function, as well as possible, in the community. Things like not touching people inappropriately (he is way too huggy right now) and being able to pay for something and check to make sure he's been given the right change. I'm going to have to teach him a system or something for having his own money as well. As it is now, as soon as he has any money (even a quarter) he spends it the first opportunity he gets, or gives it away. It somehow unsettles him to have money... it's like he tries to get rid of it as quickly as possible. I think I'm going to make a list of some basic skills he will need as an adult (he'll never live independently, but it would be nice if he could live in a group home type of setting with other young people), and just tackle them one or two at a time, and see how things go.

We've been taking classes all summer at the Plains Conservation Center. We've taken a birdwatching class, and a class on owls, and another on edible plants. Next month we'll take a class on cheese and butter making, and we're also signed up for one of their "full moon" walks. We'll get there at dusk on the night of the full moon, and explore the prairie (with a naturalist guide) by the light of the moon. That class (Heat Moon) will focus on the way the Cheyenne lived on the prairie during the 19th century. After our walk (and talk) we'll learn about the resources they needed to survive, play traditional Cheyenne games, sample traditional foods and listen to stories. I think it will be a fun evening for all of us...

Our "girls" (the goats) are doing fine. Rosepetal is slowly getting more used to us and letting us touch her. I really wish I had a better idea when her baby(ies?) are coming though... She seems to be getting bigger by the day, but I'm hoping we have at least another month or so. Betty is so sweet... she answers to her name (with a soft little bleat) and will happily follow us on a lead (or without a lead, she still seems to prefer people to goats!). She shows us how excited she is to see us by running and jumping towards us, then stopping and standing right in front of us and laying her head against our legs. She's too smart for her own good though... She found a way into my garden yesterday (through the deer fence!) and ate the tops off most of my corn plants. Sigh... at least she left the pumpkins and zucchini alone!

Speaking of gardens, the lettuce and tomatoes are finally starting to be ready to harvest so we've been having some really wonderful straight-from-the-garden salads the past couple of nights. Mmmm....

Monday, July 17, 2006

What's for dinner?

It's been really hot here lately (yesterday... 102!) and I don't feel like cooking. In fact, I don't feel much like eating, either. Unfortunately, regardless of the weather, my family still comes in the house at dinnertime expecting to find something on the table for them to eat. Lately I find myself trying to think of something for dinner that's easy, and doesn't heat up the kitchen. It's getting hard though... We've been grilling a lot, but even the kids are getting tired of grilled burgers, chicken, etc.

 So... I thought it was time for me to get some new ideas. What do you fix when it's just too hot to cook? (Or the baby has been sick all day, or you've been running to appointments all day and just don't have time to cook?!)

 Feel free to leave your summertime dinner ideas in my comments... in fact, you can even leave whole recipes in my comments. (Then check back later and see what good dinner ideas other people have left there! )

 I finally thought of something to make for our dinner tonight (just in case you're also looking for dinner ideas..) We've having homemade "Made-rite" burgers (or as my kids say, make-em-right burgers). Which is basically just a sloppy joe without the tomato sauce. (You slow cook about 1.5 pounds of very lean hamburger in one 14 oz can of chicken broth. Add a couple of tablespoons of mustard and a teaspoon or so of horseradish for flavor. You can also throw some finely chopped onion in if you want. Let the meat steam, not boil, for as long as possible...you want it very tender... break it up with a fork until it's very fine. Dish it up with a slotted spoon and serve on hamburger buns.) I'm cooking the make-em-rights in one crockpot, and in the other crockpot I'm making an easy peach cobbler (recipe below) I'll throw together a green salad at dinnertime and call it dinner!

 I'd love some new ideas for dinner...anybody have a minute to share their ideas or recipes with me? ************************************************************ Quick Yummy Peaches (From the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook) Mix 1/3 cup buttermilk baking mix, 2/3 cup dry quick oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in greased crock pot. Stir in 4 cups sliced peaches (canned or fresh) and 1/2 cup peach juice or water. Cook on low for 5 hours (If you'd like a drier cobbler, remove lid for last 15-30 minutes of cooking)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summer

The days seem to just be flying by lately...I'm not sure why though. We've been sticking pretty close to home as much as possible and not doing much besides just enjoying these lazy summer days.

 After lots of thought, I decided to trade Rosie the goat back to the man we got her from. I was just too worried about the possibility of someone getting hurt by her horns (accidentally of course, she was very gentle). So we took Rosie back and traded her (and a little cash) for "Rosepetal". (R named both of them and seems to have a fondness for Rose kind of names!) Rosepetal is a little older (probably close to 2 years old) and is expecting! We aren't sure when the baby (babies?) are due, but I think we probably have at least another month or so. I think it's going to be so fun for M and R to have these baby goats to play with and help raise. Surprisingly. both kids handled getting rid of Rosie very well... and it helped that Al (the man we are getting the goats from) got a nasty cut (caused by another goat's horns) on his arm while catching Rosepetal for us. It was a very good example for the kids of why we need goats without horns! Here's Rosepetal...

 

And both our girls "cutting" the grass in the little pasture for me this morning...

 

 So.... we've been having fun trying to win Rosepetal over (she's even wilder than Rosie was!) and playing with Betty. Betty almost seems like she's more dog than goat most of the time, and she's pretty sure R is her mother (and if R isn't around, I'll do.. Rosepetal will do only if R or I aren't around!) When she sees R come out the front door, she starts crying for her, and will follow her endlessly around the little pasture. When she gets frightened she gets very close to R, even leaning on her legs or trying to squeeze between her legs for "protection" (usually from our long suffering golden retriever Emma, who has been called into duty as a reluctant, incredibly inept sheepdog).

 We've been doing other things besides playing with goats though... We go to the stable twice a week for R's riding lessons, and last weekend the kids and I spent a whole day in town... we went out for lunch, did some shopping and stopped at the library, and ended our "day out" by going to see the movie "Cars". (Which we all loved!) Last week we also spent a wonderful afternoon wading in a little creek a few miles from our house.

The kids started out just wading...as in, feet wet, clothes dry. Here they are looking for tadpoles (notice how M carefully rolled up his pants to keep them dry!)

 

 But then they got into a little deeper water...



and discovered the fun of the little waterfalls...

 

 By the time we left they were totally soaked! (but happy!!)

 

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Picture Post

I keep meaning to sit down and write a little about our homeschooling... Unfortunately my intentions about getting back to the homeschool schedule we had before dh came home from the hospital aren't translating well into action. In other words, I can't write about homeschooling because we still haven't gotten back in a routine (even a light, summer routine for school) since dh was hospitalized. So this will be a picture post. ~

We had a nice low key day today, and spent most of it just puttering around here at home. We did make run to Sam's this morning for (hopefully!) a month's worth of groceries. While we were there I got M an early birthday present. He's wanted a black leather coat since forever (or more precisely, since my youngest sibling let M try on his black leather jacket, and M fell in love with it!) The coat was on very good clearance and it looked good on M, so I bought it. M really loves his new coat (and wore it all day!)...he here is modeling his birthday gift. Pretty handsome guy, isn't he?

 

 The day was so beautiful that we couldn't resist spending the afternoon outside. R swam while M read and I worked in the garden...



 R doing a handstand in our little pool on the prairie...

  

 Here's one of my gardens. (My nice rows of corn got trampled by both horses and deer before I got the fence up, so they are kind of bare here and there...) I also have a little garden off the back porch planted with peppers, tomatoes and sunflowers...

 

 Betty and Rosie have discovered our play structure...

 

 Yes, Rosie did go down the slide... but Betty never did figure out the merry-go-round.

 

 I guess this is why they call them kids!

 

Saturday, July 8, 2006

our girls

Since my last post, we've added to the barnyard with a friend for Betty (our kid). Goats are herd animals, and don't do well alone so as soon as Betty was settled in I started looking for a friend for her.

 And I found Rosie...

 

 Rosie is a four month old nubian/alpine cross (Betty is a pure-bred nubian) that I got from a man who lives just a few miles north of us. She is a little wilder than Betty, and still has horns (which I really didn't want!). She's too old to easily get rid of the horns, and I'm not sure I have the stomach to do what would have to be done to get rid of them now... So she may be a temporary addition to the family.

 She's doing well though, and is settling down nicely. She was a little wild at first but she's letting us touch her now, and seems to have a sweet personality (with a large streak of feistiness!).

 

 R is having fun with the "girls" and now has two little ones following her around, and crying when she leaves! R doesn't seem to mind a bit....although she has commented several times over the past few days that "being a mom is hard, isn't it?"

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Livestock... or the hidden dangers of homeschool group field trips

When we moved to the country a little over a year ago, I wasn't really planning on getting any livestock... Well, maybe a horse for R, but nothing else. Since we've been here though, I've changed my mind and decided that having a few animals to care for would be good for the kids and probably a lot of fun too.

 First, I decided to just get a few chickens. I figured they should be fairly easy to care for, and I would love to have fresh eggs. But dh nixed the chicken idea... Apparently he absolutely hates chickens and will have none of the foul (fowl?) creatures on his land (although in his freezer or on his plate is just fine... just don't ask him to listen to them squawking around!)

 Then we went on this very cool field trip with our homeschool group. We toured a goat dairy and I was sold.... I decided that we needed to get a couple of goats. The plan is to use them right now for weed control, and breed at least one of them later for the milk and cheese. Here is our first little goat:



 Her name is Betty Starlight (the kids named her) and she is just the sweetest little thing. She is a nubian goat and is about 3 months old. She has decided that R is her mother and will follow her anywhere, and bleats piteously when R leaves her. (R keeps trying to talk me into letting her sleep in the barn with Betty... but so far I've said no.) ~

 I had no idea that goats were such friendly, social animals... The kids just love her, and are having a lot of fun with her (and she's already started eating the stickery weeds growing all over our little pasture!). I'm still looking for a second goat (another doe) to keep little Betty
company.

.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Oh deer!

Sometimes I wonder who really owns our land... us or the deer.

Yes, we pay the mortgage on it, and it's in our names... but the deer have been here for a lot longer, and I often get the feeling that they see us as "squatters" on their territory.

 Here are some examples... A few weeks ago I bought a gorgeous (potted) gerbena daisy plant for the front of the house. It was just beautiful with tons of yellow/orange/red blossoms. It looked so fresh and inviting on the front porch... But it only lasted two days before the deer ate every bloom...and most of the leaves. (yep, right off my front porch!)

 ~ So lesson learned... deer like to eat gerbena daisies. Hmmm... better not get any more of those. I decided I still wanted a splash of color out front though, and thought just plain geraniums would be perfect. My neighbor has geraniums, so I thought the deer must not like them as much as daisies. My geraniums lasted about a week. Here's how they look after being turned into deer salad... (check here to see what they looked like before being nibbled, that's them in the first picture...

  

 I guess they like geraniums too...

 We put up the swimming pool the other day. Before it was even filled, the deer found it... and helped themselves to a little drink.

 

 And finally... the fawns are big enough now to be following their mama's around, and we found this pair out in our pasture. Mama looks a little put out at our interruption, doesn't she?

 

 But look at the fawn... he/she is hardly stressed at all. I love it when the wild babies are still young enough to not have a lot of fear... Really, I'm not complaining though... I love the deer, don't mind "sharing" with them, and never get tired of watching them (and the geraniums will hopefully grow back before the end of the summer!).