caption - title

The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two girls verses a rat snake. AGAIN.

Last year Tabby and I made our first joint snake kill.  Last Friday, we were faced with that nasty job.  Again.

Friday afternoon, I heard tremendous squawking from outside, where My Precious and her 11 adopted chicks were.  The boys and I rushed out.  I saw My Precious flapping her wings and squawking and then when she saw me she quickly turned and herded the chicks to another area.  I didn't see anything wrong and thought maybe a chick had strayed too far and she was calling it back.  So we turned to go back inside.

That's when I saw it.

In a corner by the door we had come out of, a huge rat snake (also known as black snake) was all curled around a fuzzy yellow chick.  The chick was limp, obviously dead.  Oooooooohhhhh noooooo!  I rushed the boys back inside and hollered for Tabby.  I ordered Hunter to take Solomon inside and play with him.  Tabby and I pulled on our high rubber boots and prepared to kill.  She kept an eye on that horrid snake as I ran for our tools of death.

Then I was back.  I slammed my hoe down onto the snake and pressed hard so he couldn't wiggle away.  (Snakes have amazingly hard bodies I was reminded.)  Tabby took the big shovel and started slamming it down on the snake's neck.  Over and over.  In spite of having a rather scrawny looking neck, it was hard to chop it off.  At one point she yelled "Why is Dad never around when this stuff happens?" as she chopped ferociously.  Finally she got most of the snake's head severed, and the thing just kept opening and closing it's mouth, flashing it's fangs at us.  Blood was all over the stone area under the snake as it lay dead.

Suddenly a thought popped in my head.  "Should I take a picture for my blog?"  I asked Tabby.  "Gross NO!" she responded, thoroughly disgusted, giving me a look like I had gone insane.  I shrugged.  That is a problem bloggers face.  We want to take pictures of everything that has blog potential!

Tabby gentley freed the cute little yellow chick, that had slipped into chick heaven.  She took it to bury it.

I scooped up the snake on my shovel and carried it into the woods to toss.  The snake's eye with that weird slit shaped pupil stared at me as I walked.  For a moment I had a flash that was almost - sort of - pity.  What must it be liked to be the most universally hated animal in the world?  Snakes certainly lead a lonely existence.  "Oh well!" I thought as I flung the snake's mangled body as far as I could.

Wanna hear another icky story?  This one involves mice.  Yes - mice and snakes.  Farm living at it's best!  ;)

But first I need to insert a cute picture just for a break.  Here is Tabby and Sherlotta.  That puppy is getting big!


The other night, Frank told me that while he was sitting at our desk, a mouse ran across his foot.  Yes - a MOUSE!  He said he debated about whether or not to tell me.  Then he said that earlier in the week, he had turned on the bathroom light one night and a mouse ran across the floor.  ICK!  That was bold.

I have all our mouse traps set in the attic, so he stopped the next day at the store and bought some more.  (I frequently find dead mice in the attic traps.  I keep a pair of rubber gloves up there because I feel "safer" wearing them to empty mouse traps and reset them.  For some reason, whenever I shake a dead mouse off the trap into the waiting bag, I picture the mouse suddenly coming to life and hurling itself towards me screaming with it's sharp teeth flashing.  Yes I've always had an over-active imagination.)

So Friday night, traps were set in several strategic places downstairs.  Yesterday morning, there was a fat (dead) brown mouse in the trap in the bathroom.  Frank kindly emptied the trap.  (There were 2 more in the attic that I found later that morning.)  I was pleased and thought that was probably that for the downstairs mice.  But I was wrong.

Tension breaker - Lilly's lily garden is growing fast!  Ahhhh ... how peaceful ...


Back to our mouse story.  Today I needed a small tablecloth for a little Easter display Hunter and I wanted to do.  I opened the drawer in my Hoosier cabinet and sighed as I saw a stash of black sunflower seeds.  These are the seeds we use in the bird feeders around our house.  Mice love them and like to stash them in things.  I figured they were from the dead mouse.  I pulled out the top tablecloths then cried "Oh no!"  Two of the vintage tablecloths I had were very very badly chewed up!  I pulled them up and then yelled "OH NO!" much louder.  I dropped the tablecloths back down.

Here is what I saw (yes I did take a picture this time!):


Five baby mice.  (One had slid out of the picture.)  Making little squeaks.  Everyone came in and stared at them.  Honestly - they were pretty cute.  But NOT inside my house please!

Frank took them outside ... insert slasher sound like from the "Psycho" movie here ... but no he did not use a knife ... I did not ask and he did not tell.

Made me think of the snake we killed.  Snakes are supposed to eat mice.  Obviously Mr. Rat Snake had not done his job properly or we would not have had so many mice inside the house!  Ha!  Death to them all ...

OK.  Enough snakes and mice or I might dream about them tonight.  (Which I did the other night!)

I will leave you with a cute picture to clear your mind - here is Hunter giving Solomon a ride around the yard.  Both boys were delighted!



QUESTION FOR YOU!  Do you know of a good mouse deterrent to use inside?  I read they don't like peppermint but that doesn't stop the mice around here.  And neither do those plug in mouse-be-gone things that put out the high frequency noise.  If you have had success with something - I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homeschool tip: learning to tell time plus random tips

Hunter is 5 1/2 years old.  For the past 2 years he has asked to "do school" and has really loved using workbooks.  Wow - that made things easy!  No prep work necessary with a workbook - just open it up.

But a few weeks ago, Hunter suddenly stopped liking all workbooks except his lower case letter practice workbook.  I think we were both surprised at his sudden dislike.

I do NOT want to do anything to quash Hunter's love of learning, so I put the workbooks away.  Now I'm finding ways to continue teach him the same things - but without those newly shunned workbooks.

On thing is in telling time. Hunter made it up to the "minutes" part in his workbook before we put that away. He still wanted to finish learning.  So I bought a cheap clock at Walmart and handed it to Hunter to take apart.  Once he got it disassembled, I took the white clock face and a black sharpie marker, and wrote the minutes, 0-60, around the clock.  Hunter put the clock back together and we hung it low where he could easily see it.  It is working out perfectly!  He goes to the clock many times a day and announces what time it is.  A second benefit of this is that he is learning the double digit numbers that he was not sure of before.  For example, it he says "it is 11:5-3" and I can tell him it's "11:53."

3:00 means snack time!
Another idea I had was for Hunter to make some lapbooks.  You can read a summary of what a lapbook is here, but basically it is a file folder filled with information on a particular topic.  I figured I'd start with Hunter's obsession with washing machines.  I printed some related pictures from Google images, then we cut them out, glued them into the folder, and Hunter labeled the pictures.  (This was a good way to sneak in writing letters and numbers.)  I also found that as I handed Hunter pictures, he would tell me details he had learned about washing machine parts (from Repair Clinic videos on YouTube.)  For example, until he started rambling about agitators having "directional cogs" - I had never even heard of those things.  Ha!  (Best thing about being a homeschool teacher is that you get to learn so much too!  My public school education is severely lacking.)



There was room on the back of the folder for Hunter to draw his own happy washing machines, complete with detailed control panels and electrical hookups.  He spent about an hour doing this!  (C.W-H - if you're reading this you will see his tribute to soap nuts below.)


For math we are just playing around with manipulatives, using Inchimals, and working through the book Gobble Up Math.  I call Friday's "science Friday" and we do projects from his snap circuit kits, or something like this experiment with yeast:


In a container with a small opening, add 1/2 c. warm water, 1 T. sugar, and 1 T. yeast.  Stretch a balloon over the top.  The yeast will eat the sugar, creating a gas, and after awhile your balloon will look like this:


I got that experiment idea from The Big Book of Homeschooling by Debi Pearl.

One other thing is to read a lot together.  We've been having fun reading through the Frog and Toad stories again - Hunter and I both take turns reading pages to each other.  But also lots of non-fiction books.  Books on animals and of course anything about electricity is popular.

Finally, he spends a lot of time on his own making his own inventions and taking things apart and putting them back together (usually).  I think this learning stage is crucial for him.  Here is one fun thing he did for me - he was listening to a cd in the living room that I wanted to hear too, but I was in the kitchen.  (The walls of our old farmhouse are so solid that sound doesn't carry too well across the house.)  So he set up his baby monitor set (yes he bought his own set to play with) and put part by his cd player and brought me the receiver.  Now I could enjoy the music too while working in the kitchen.  (We're currently obsessed with Brother Down's cd "Old Paths New Feet" which is the psalms set to music (guitar, drums, violin).  We sing all these psalms on the cd at church, so the songs are familiar.)

yummy deviled eggs from our chickens!
One things I've learned from homeschooling is that it's important to be open to changing things.  Seems I'm always tweaking things.  I admit this is not always easy for me.

Tabby has her homeschool work, plus lots of self-imposed chicken learning and work.  Yesterday the boys and I watched her Silkie Bantum chicks for her while she cleaned out their home.






The puppies wanted to help gather up the chicks too!


Soon the chicks were back in their cozy temporary home in Tabby's room:


Notice the mirror - Tabby got the idea from the Fresh Eggs Daily blogpost "Brooder Box Boredom Busters."  The ideas cracked us up, but her chicks really are loving the mirror!


"This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Book List - January, February, March

In a recent post, I mentioned that I started keeping a "books I've read" list last year.  Several people were curious about what I was reading and asked me to share.  So I thought I would share most of my "book list" once a month.  Since it's already April, I'll post the first three months of this year all in this post to "catch up."

"I like when Mama reads books about dump trucks to me!"

 JANUARY:
My Son: "Behold the Lamb of God" by Jim Baumgardner - A historical fictional book about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I liked that this book got me thinking more deeply about Mary than I ever have (well other than when I watch the wonderful movie "The Nativity"), though I didn't really care for the author's writing style.

Alone Yet Not Alone: Their Faith Became Their Freedom by Tracy Leininger Craven -  Set in Pennsylvania in the autumn of 1755, this historical fiction book tells of the Penn Creek Massacre which happened in the French and Indian War.  Two sisters are kidnapped by Indians and hold fast to their faith in God during this terrifying time.  I really enjoyed this book!  It was actually assigned to Tabby for her Veritas Press history course (online) but I always read all the books assigned to her too.


Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood by Rachel Jankovic - I think the subtitle describes this book well.  I enjoyed the short chapters - some of which really hit home with me - just as I enjoyed Rachel's first book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

The Vision by Debi Pearl - Set in east Tennessee, this book pitted Islamic Terrorists and White-Supremacists against a group of Bible Believers.  It was not like any book I've read before but I got hooked into the story and am curious about the next book in the series.  Though the story was fictional, there was a lot of factual information both in the story and footnoted on the pages.

Thankfully no race or religious wars with our chickens!
FEBRUARY:
Guardians of Purity: A Parent's Guide to Winning the War Against Media, Peer Pressure, and Eroding Sexual Values by Julie Hiramine - This is another sub-title that describes this book well.  I did learn some useful things.

Orange Blossoms Everywhere: The Story of Maud & Delos Lovelace in California by the Betsy-Tacy Society - Tabby and I really enjoyed reading through Maud Hart Lovelace's "Betsy-Tacy" series a number of years ago.  We actually both have our own set of the books since we enjoyed them so much!  This particular book, is a factual account of Maud and her husband's semi-retirement in California. 

The Big Book of Homeschooling by Debi Pearl - This book is chock full of lots of great homeschool ideas.  I have several pages of lists I made from it of activities to do with each of my kids.  I love reading about the homeschooling ideas of others - both successes and failures.

The DaVinci Road: Observation and the Art of Learning by Rebekah Joy Anast - I learned about this book in The Big Book of Homeschooling.  Rebekah shares glimpses into their homeschooling days of how they teach by using the five senses and observation.  This book gave me some interesting ideas to ponder.

Holy Cow by Rebekah Joy Anast - I bought this book at the same time I bought The DaVinci Road.  It is written for teens and is about a Navajo farm girl and her family set in New Mexico.  In many ways it is an autobiographical book for the author and her current life.  I learned a lot about raising animals, herbs, agriculture, and genetic modification and really enjoyed the story.  Caution: if you are thinking about giving this book to your child, know that there are a few strong curse words in the book. 

From Ruby Ridge to Freedom: The Sara Weaver Story by Sara Weaver - Do you remember the terrible tragedy - known as "Ruby Ridge" - that happened in Idaho in 1992?  Sara was a teenager at that time and her brother and mother were both killed by government agents.  (Her brother's dog was also killed and her dad and a family friend were shot.)  This book is about Sara's story and about the healing she finally found in Jesus Christ.  Note: If everything you know about Ruby Ridge is from what you saw on T.V. - then let me say you don't really know what happened.  The Weaver family should not have been the ones demonized.

"No one better mess with Exhaust Pipe or me!"
MARCH:
Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler - I read this book out loud to Tabby and Hunter.  It is a true story of a 12-year-old boy that was lost on a mountain for almost two weeks.  The courage and perseverance of this boy, along with his faith in God, was remarkable.  Note: if you get a copy of this book, get an older copy.  I read that the Christian content was deleted out of the later versions by the publisher.

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark by Gail Langer Karwoski - This was another historical fiction book from Tabby's Veritas Press history course.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Before it I hardly knew a thing about Lewis and Clark.  Now I am fascinated with them and their Corps of Discovery.  We have one little chick that likes to stand on top of My Precious the hen.  We've named him "Meriwether" after Meriwether Lewis.  :)

Sacagawea by Judith St. George - This book was about the Indian woman that traveled with Lewis and Clark.  I read it because I wanted to know more about her.  Interesting book!

Jumping Ship: What To Do So Your Children Don't Jump Ship to the World When They Get Older by Michael Pearl - This book is full of wisdom in ways to keep you close to your children and keep their hearts turned towards home and God.

Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes - Frank actually read this book to us as a family, after supper at night.  But it was such an enjoyable book, I am including it here.  It is the story of an immigrant Norwegian family living in San Francisco in the early 1900s.  The author based it on her family (think Little House on the Prairie books).  Mama was such an inspiring, resourceful woman.  There was also an older movie made from this book called "I Remember Mama" which we saw and enjoyed. 

Once on This Island by Gloria Whelan - Veritas Press history course!  When the war of 1812 broke out, the British took over Michigan's remote Mackinac Island.  Some of the American's left, including the O'Shea children's father, to join the American army.  The three O'Shea children were left to run the family farm in their father's absence.  (The children were not that little - I think 12 years and up.)  It amazes me that children used to be able to successfully take on this type of responsibility.  (People just seem to stay "children" so much longer these days.)

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris - This book builds off my last sentence above!  This book is to inspire teens to put down the video games and iPhones and get busy doing things that really make a difference and will help them later in life.  The book has lots of amazing examples.  (And if you didn't already know this, the world did not have "teenagers" until the 1900s.)  I gave this book to Tabby to read and she whizzed through it in 2 days.

Tabby's new chicken coop.  For her Silkie Bantams - not her brothers!
Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time by Donna Otto - This book was recommended to me by my friend C. from Haven Enterprises.  Since I love any book about organization and how to try and save time and accomplish more, I devoured the book.  Got some good ideas to add to my arsenal.  :)  Included in those ideas are ways to better my Home Management Notebook.  (Anyone have one of these?  Perhaps I should blog about it sometime - it's helped me so much.  C. has a recent blogpost about hers - which she calls "My Brain" - on The Haven's blog here.) 

Finally - this has nothing to do with books - but I wanted to share some photos of my Lilly-colored garden.  (This is different than her memorial garden which is on the other side of the house and full of lily flowers starting to grow.)  I planted bulbs last fall and now everything is red-white-and blue!  (The fencing is to keep the chickens out!  We can probably take it down now.  I was leaving it until the flowers were well established.)




What about you?  Do you have some favorite books you'd like to share or good books you've read recently?  If so - please leave a comment!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Quick chick update

The poor little chick I mentioned in my last post, didn't make it through the night.  Tabby buried Sunni (the name we gave it) by her famous prideful rooster, Chanticleer.  She blogged about the little chick, and her new Silkie Bantum chicks, in her post yesterday.

My Precious got to take her adopted biddies outside yesterday.  She was a very proud, watchful mama.  It was so cute seeing the little chicks scratching the grass alongside her and following her everywhere.



I feel like we're getting a crash course in baby chicks with problems.  (In a way it was like the crash medical course we got with learning to take care of Lilly and her special needs.)  After Sunni's death, we decided to pull out the remaining eggs under My Precious because they were over a week too old we didn't think anything would happen.  But as I started to get rid of the eggs, I heard a very distinct "peep! peep!" coming from an egg.  Oh my - I certainly couldn't toss those eggs then. 

So I set them up in a box, under a heat lamp.  One was already starting to hatch.  (see middle egg below)  Hunter and I excitedly watched it off and on throughout the morning.  The chick seemed energetic as it slowly pecked it's way out of it's shell.  And it was "peeping" like crazy!  So of course we named it Peeps.  However, about noon, it suddenly stopped.  We were hoping it was just napping.  But hours later we had to admit it was dead.  :(


There was a live chick in the egg with the big crack (left side in photo) but it too was dead by afternoon.  I "egg-topsied" the remaining eggs and found they were half formed chicks that had stopped forming at some point  So sad.

Well, we'll focus on all the healthy animals around here now.  And we're looking forward to baby goats being born next month!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Peep! 2014

I mentioned recently that we had a dozen fertilized chicken eggs and put them under our broody hen, a Buff named My Precious.  She is a good mama and immediately adopted them. 

We waited.  And waited.  And waited. 

The eggs should have hatched at day 21.  Or, occasionally if the weather is very cold, they could hatch at day 25.  This past Monday marked day 27.  We figured there was no hope so we headed up to our local feed store where I proceeded to pick out 11 chicks.  (A mix of Chantecler's, Brown Leghorns, Barred Rock, and Brahmas.)


Tabby is hoping to go into the Silkie Bantum breeding business and she bought herself 8 Silkies:

 
When we got home, Tabby set up her Silkie's in a big bin in her bedroom.  They're so cute!


Then we took my box out to the coop and Tabby carefully slipped the chicks under the hen.  She quietly watched to see if the hen would accept them.


The chicks popped in and out for awhile, then all snuggled under her to sleep.

During this process, Tabby found the strangest thing.  An egg was hatching!


Soon a little dark colored chick finally cracked it's way out of the egg.  What?!  At day 27?  The next day we "candled" the rest of the eggs to see if we might expect more super late hatching chicks.  (We took the eggs into a dark room and shined a flashlight into them.)  We found a couple bad eggs, and several that had furry looking creatures in them.  Not sure if they are alive or not so we stuck them back under the hen.  We'll leave them there several more days to see what happens.


We all keep going out to peek in on the hen and chicks.  It is remarkable how big the hen can spread her wings out to snuggle 12 chicks and a bunch of eggs under her.  She looks so proud and protective.  Seeing things like this really help make more Bible verses come alive for me.  Like this one:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." - Matthew 23:37

I mean before seeing our hen and chicks, I certainly could imagine this verse.  But seeing it in person is different.  Much more meaningful.  I feel so blessed for our little farm and the chance to be surrounded by all these animals and nature.  I am able to feel God more, if that makes sense.

This evening I found one little chick is doing terribly.  I immediately called Tabby, our resident chicken whisperer.  She flew into action, telling me about all the things she read and what might be wrong and what we should try.

First she gave the chick some water.  Then she noticed it had "pasty butt."  (OK - I know several of you are laughing at that - they really call it that.  Their messy bottoms get hardened up and clogs them up and they have to be cleaned off.)  Tabby cleaned up the chick.  Then we fed it some more water and some scrambled egg.  Then put it under the mama hen to rest. 



Oh that pitiful little chicken just pulled at my heart.  It's so sweet and floppy. Tabby said a foot seemed crippled.  We're afraid it will be dead by tomorrow.  I think we are much too tenderhearted for all this animal business.  Yet at the same time - it sure makes life a lot more interesting!

By the way, Tabby's favorite chicken book is Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele.  She pours over it and takes notes from it and tells me all about the information.  (She's even giving her Silkie chicks apple cider vinegar in their water and has plans for all sorts of healthy additives like garlic.)  I need to read the book myself.  We both read the author's blog, Fresh Eggs Daily at:  http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com  The author cracks us up - she loves her chickens so much she even makes curtains for their nesting boxes!  She has tons of great information though - both for chickens, ducks, and herbal stuff for humans.  :)

I guess we'll see what tomorrow holds for us, in the furry, peeping world of chicks!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A beautiful Lilly collage

Lilly collage by C.T.
I had a special treat in my inbox today - the above beautiful collage by one of Tabby's online friends, C.T.   I think she did such a wonderful job!  Thank you C.!

I mentioned in my last post that my dear friend, my camera!, had broken.  A camera shop in Raleigh was highly recommended to us by a number of people so Frank took my camera there for me.  Well apparently I own a pretty ancient camera!  They wanted to know how old it was and then said they couldn't fix it.  (It is a Kodak EasyShare Z980.  I bought it - refurbished - in June 2011.)  So I found an out-of-state camera shop that said they could fix it.  But they wanted $120 to do so!  I could buy the same camera - refurbished - for less than that.  So I'm not sure what to do.  In the meantime, Tabby kindly loaned me her old camera, which I'm thankful for.

Today Bongle found a new home.  Tabby and I were delighted with his new owner.  She is a young woman who said she and her mother have been looking for a puppy.  When she saw my ad and pictures about Bongle on CraigsList, she felt a connection with him.  She even had a present for him waiting for him the car - a big fuzzy pink pillow, which he promptly snuggled up on.  Seeing how happy she was with him made it easier to let him go.

Bongle

Today I heard from the family that took Watsonia.  They asked for an extension of a few days of the trial period they wanted to give her.  I said yes.  But at this point, since they are still questioning her fit with their family, I feel like maybe they should just bring her back.  (I guess I want to  know her owners instantly loved her.)  If they do bring her back, Tabby and I decided we will keep her, and find a home for Sherlotta instead.  That would be too traumatic for Watsonia to be hopping homes.  (OK - maybe that's too traumatic for us!)

Watsonia and Sherlotta
I had to spend a lot of time in the kitchen yesterday and Solomon was there to "help."  I finally decided it was easiest to give him his own bowl and spoon to play with.  So I gave him a few scoops of baking soda and some water to pour in.  He had fun and I got to accomplish my tasks quicker.




Solomon was also thrilled to be able to join his big brother and sister last week for one of our character study stories.  He wants to do everything the "big kids" are doing:


Hunter likes using our couch to create all kinds of things.  Last week he made part into a washing machine.  He used a whiteboard for the washer's control board.  (Our current dryer plays a song - Shubert's The Trout Quintett - which is why there is a song reference on Hunter's "control panel.")  Hunter asked me to put the pictures on this blog - LOL he thought the readers would be very interested (especially C. W-H. - our soap nuts lady):

control panel
inside the washing machine - the blankets and pillows are around the "agitator"
Have a blessed week!