Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Fotos: 12/17/2013

A random sampling: 

Middle, at last year's regional science fair.  

My offspring, in Frisco, Colorado.  We rode bikes from Breckenridge to Frisco.
They thought it was amazing.
I thought it was a landmark day in our parenting.
YIKES.  Our kids are getting bigger. 

"I see the moon."
The last complete sentence my dad said to me before he died. 

Middle and her good friend at the 2012-2013 USAG Team
Gymnastics Banquet.  I love these girls! 

Combatting the summer blahs & my response to "what should we do, mom?"
I said, "go build something from the woodpile.
And they made an outdoor perch for Jaz (and any other birds that feel like snatching a snack.) 
A random

Monday, December 16, 2013

Five Fotos

I love blogging.
But, like many other things, I'm not doing a very good job at it.  Especially lately.  I'm opting for a photographic version of blogging, along w/ a one sentence technique I'm planning to roll out in 2014. For now, so begins my installments of "five photos"

#1:  Mimi's first "REAL" kindergarten project.   A camping diorama.
It was adorable and she was super proud of it.

#2:  Big is officially 14.  

#3:  Chicken chores in the morning. 

#4:  An archive photo of MOTH and Big at last year's District Classic, where our girls took the title.
Seems like pictures of Big and MOTH are few and far between so I really treasure the ones I have. 

#5:  Look at these smiles.  I can't help but grin when I'm looking at these two clown around. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hen House Update, now with captions

The transom window was such a good idea!  Here's Mimi servicing the poop bar and litter bin.
She's the primo chicken poop cleaner because (a) she's not squeamish around even the nastiest of chicken -doo and (b) she can stand inside the house and not have to hunch over for cleaning duty. 

I opted for a hen house addition.  Think litter box.  Under the roosting bar.  Chickens do a significant about of pooping in their sleep, so this keeps the hooey out of the floor bedding and, in the long, run, saves the urban chicken farmer a ton of money in litter, bedding and time.  Hooray for the poop box. 

Nesting box.  It's still off limits, but check out the jazzy privacy curtain I made with a leftover crib skirt.  Yes, I have a leftover crib skirt.  That should scare the hell out of you. 

Big painted clouds on the interior ceiling of the hen house.  Er, um . . .
Well, even a chicken needs a nice room with a view, right? 

Lockin, Day 1.  And the kids can't help but perch on the nesting box and peek in at the girls. 

Lockin, Day 1.  A view from inside the service door. 

My ladies.  Aren't the cute? 

Holiday Cards and THAT mom.

Where do you stand?  Or rather, where do you fall?  To do a holiday card?  To not?  In a tight budget year, it seems like one of the things that could easily fall by the wayside.  I mean, let's be real.  Most people don't obsessively save, scan and file my Christmas card like I do theirs.  So, to nix it or not?

One thing is sure . . . . I'll start an all together family revolution if I take the picture with everyone in camo, MOTH with a firearm and a chicken tucked under every kids' arm.  So . . . . . I'm hunting for decent pictures of every kid.  Not me.  Not MOTH.  And I realize I've become one of those parents who doesn't photograph the fourth child.

Damn.  And I swore up one side and down the other that I wouldn't be THAT mom.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Books

Yea, I forgot again.

I read a kindle freebie
And some BDSM kindle freebie -- "Love in Handcuffs".  It sucked.
And a read an untitled book for a new author -- actually, I was proof reading it . . . .

And then there's something else I'm forgetting.  I was really busy this fall with organizing the Fall Festival @ our elementary school -- a 10K profit ;) (yea, insert clapping and cheering) . . but an uphill political battle with the crazy PTA board at school.

I'm officially out for next year and focusing on my attention on ME, and my family and work. It feels so good sometimes to walk away!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Camping with Kids

Camping.
I don't love camping.
I don't love camping AT ALL.
I have a bad back, remember, so among the many things I do like are temperpedic pillows and mattresses.  I'm a super hot-blooded lady, so the weather seldom gets to me, but I agree with you chilly-beans out there:  Being cold is miserable, and it's an especially toxic blow when you are used to being hot and sweaty all the time.

But, I do love and I very much miss what camping does for a family.  I miss getting out of town.  I miss being in the woods.  I miss cooking over a fire.  A real fire.  I miss hiking.  I miss being in an area with no bars of service and no way to BE connected.

So, I took the kids camping.  Yes, that is correct.  I took the kids camping.  MOTH was on call, so he stayed back and I went with family friends:  Momma and Daddy G, and their two kids, L and A.  They have a piece of land not too far from here, pretty far off the beaten trail, where there are really NO BARS of service.   We went for one night and it was just glorious.  It sprinkled light rain for part of the evening, but it was still quite nice.

The campfire was more aptly named a bonfire.  Daddy G has dug out a pit so large it can't be considered a campfire.  He and his brothers have been building a cabin on this piece of land for quite a while.  It's an old-style rustic cabin, so they are falling trees, de-barking, letting them shrink and putting them up as the major timbers of this massive cabin.  So, when I say cabin, don't think of a little outhouse in the woods kind of cabin.  Think of  Derek and Meridith's house on Grey's Anatomy.

Potty services were present, but camping quality.  And by that, I mean . . . a hole in the ground with a tarp strung around it for privacy.   The kids did great.  Hand sanitizer is a nice thing.

Daddy G has lots of toys including four wheelers, which I thought was a blast.  Every kid rode and had the time of their lives.  Clutching and shifting:  new skills for my offspring.

The G family has a young boy a year or so younger than Little.  Imagine these two shooting milk cartons and cereal boxes with their bow & arrows and air-soft pistols.  I could hardly tear Little away for supper, which was BBQ chicken tenders and veggie packets.  Camping makes you hungry, so it could have just as well been  BBQ cardboard and it would have been delish.

And then there's the sticks.  Part of camping, to me, is carving on a stick.  Daddy G agrees.  The kids were hunting young aspen suckers to whittle away at by the fire.  When from the forest comes the sound of a chain saw, and suddenly, Daddy G emerges riding the four wheeler and pulling an aspen.  I big one.  He had more of a totem pole than a walking stick in mind.  It was so cool.

We hiked.  One long hike and one evening stroll.  We collected driftwood and picked raspberries. The kids played team hide--n-seek in the woods.  We went to the lake and skipped rocks.  We went to a pond and tried to catch salamanders.  Six muddy kids and no salamanders later, we went back to riding four-wheelers.

We played on the swing.  Daddy G and his brothers have built a few kid-things on the property to amuse the kids whilst they work on the cabin.  Mimi loved the rope swing.  And the hammock.

You learn a lot from watching another family in action.  Daddy G and Momma G are very, very nice to each other.  Seldom a harsh word.  Daddy G is super, super positive.  Almost as annoyingly optimistic as I am.  He says, "that's a good idea" as general language and he lets kids play and play  hard.  Momma G and I know each other pretty well, as L and Middle have been on the same gymnastics team for several years.  In addition, I went to college with Daddy G, so our ties date back decades.  Suffice it to say that I came home with a new goal to be nicer to my husband, hoping that in return, he'll be nicer to me.  I'm hilarious and a sarcastic jackass most of the time, and I've come to the sudden and harsh realization that my husband doesn't really appreciate that.  He's been raised in a "yes, sir" military family and I'm sure he'd prefer that from me.  I don't think I can swing the pendulum that far over, but I will try to raise my awareness.

All in all, it was wonderful and glorious and one of the best memory making trips of our summer.  Until we got back into service and received the million angry voice messages and texts from MOTH threatening to be-head us all for failure to communicate.    Eeek.  In my defense, on night one, we had one working cell phone, so Big climbed up a the biggest hill around and sent a message that said, "all's well but none of us have any service . . home late tomorrow . . . no news is good news."  

Here's a classic example of what that message means to a woman vs. what that message means to a man.   MOTH and I may be in counseling over that message, but I'll just see if he simmers down a bit . . . . (and I'll revisit my resolution from 2 paragraphs up.  I'll have to revisit that daily for a bit.)

Again, I say, as I cling to the happy thoughts . . . camping was awesome.  A good time was had by all.

Here's us, at the end of the day . . .  we had dinner @ Denny's because the pass to get home was closed for flooding.  I decided to not drive 7 extra hours to go around a mountain and to wait it out with pancakes.  Good thing.  We got our dinner and the pass re-opened :) After dinner and 45 minutes, we were home!




The Raising of a Hen House . .

It's a tiny platform.  Why?
Raising the hen house is good for ventilation and for predators.
For this Crazy Chicken Lady, I was designing removable floor boards so
that when I have to change litter, a flat container will slide in the gap and I can scoop the
gunge down and out.  

The walls are up.  It's officially 3x5x5 and will house our 6 hens.
I'm adding a nesting box to the side so I don't lose house space
to nesting boxes. 

And, she has a roof.  
Roof and nesting box on :)
It's getting closer.
The chicken run overlooks the playground in our urban backyard.

Add windows.  This was my cost factor.  I added windows that I ordered from
a supplier.  The little one opens.  The transom window doesn't, but it's a perfect peekie-hole.
Also added roof and nesting boxes.  

Next project:  painting the interior.  The ladies are now 6 weeks old and fully feathered and it's my personal mission to get them in the hen house & coop, totally imprinted before winter weather hits.  I'm painting the interior first because they'll be in lock up for at least 3 days, which I can use to paint the exterior and complete the run.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The building of a chicken coop: site selection


Yes, I have chickens.  No, I don't have a coop or hen house.  Yet.  But . . . . . 

I bet zillions of chicken owners say this same thing.  The do a nonchalant stretch and sigh and think, "they're adorable right now.  So what if they are living in the kitchen.  Or the front room. They're tiny and cute.  And they're doing great in their brooder box."   And then, they begin to escape.  They begin to get adventurous and it becomes a necessity to move the ladies outside.   

See . .  pictures of escape day: 

Yea, they are way to little to go outside here.
But, this necessitated a baby gate system on top of the brooder box to prevent escapees from wandering freely about the house in our absence.   



Thus, site selection for the coop begins.  Yes, I read every book the library had on raising chickens and having a backyard flock.  Yes, I do think I'm a little bit of an expert in the house.  I've become the chicken whisperer.   Or maybe what I've become is "that crazy chicken lady."  Either way, site selection looks like this.  This flower bed used to be full of iris, then it went untended for quite some time and went to the au natural look.  Lots of hollyhock volunteered to grow there, and because it was at the end of the watering line, I let them.  In the corner, the kids and I built a fort a couple years ago, but it's been making MOTH batty for some time now.  After much consideration, I decided to sacrifice this flower bed and replace it with a chicken coop and hen house.  I tried pretty hard to buy a chicken coop and run on line.  Couldn't do it.  Too pricey.  Plus, not the right size and shape for my run-location.  The prefabbed ones are all to boxey or too tall.  And to get them to fit here would require moving earth.  And I don't want to move earth.  Well, not that much earth. 

So, I'm planing a hen house for the area with the shovel.  It's gonna be built almost entirely out of scraps from the treehouse project and it'll actually look like a miniature tree house.  I'm building in a few maintenance features that I like .. . . and I'll consider it a work in progress :)   The run will attach to the house and stretch the length of this tie-enclosed bed.  

Yes, indeed, I think I love it. 

Blue and Chip

Here's the Baby Blue Andelusian Chick . . . I'm guessing about 3 days old.  Doesn't she look like
 Mumble from the Happy Feet?  She's super sweet and so pretty!

She started out as CiCi  . .  Because she's a Sicilian Buttercup, but because she has
a racing stripe that looks like a Chipmunk, she's now called Chip.  About 3-4 days old in this picture.
She's adorable :) 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Books

Tess Gerritson ... Last to Die ..... Easy breez paperback book. I finished it a couple weeks ago and I honestly can't remember what it was about.

Gone Girl -- Gillian Flynn -- holy catfish. I liked this book ALOT!!! Read this, Homestead!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

All. By. Myself.

All of my kids are officially in school.

I feel like I have made it to some magical maternal right of passage.  It is the first time I've ever had all the kids in school. Between the four kids and two schools, I have about five hours of time during the day. I have visions of me being so productive. I'll have a little job satisfaction. I'll get so much done. I'll have time at the gym. I'll work out. I'll take a few minutes for myself every day. I'll work during the day so that I am a fabulous mother upon their return home.

Ah, what grand delusions I have this week! It's almost comical, isn't it!

And then there were 6.

When you have chickens, you need a hen house. And a chicken run. I'm planning to coop, house AND partially free range my birds, so the next part started out honestly and innocently, too.

'Twas the Saturday after our maiden chicken purchase. I was wandering through Big R with kids in tow, waiting for MOTH to make his newest firearm purchase. I was pricing and calculating square footage on pre-fabbed coop & run kits. See, innocent.  (What I learned, by the way, is that I need o build something.....they are too stinking expensive!!)

When along the center row I did spy several troughs of chickens under brooder lights. They make the most fabulous sound, you know. Then soon came a cute little cowgirl who said, "You look like you need some chicks!"

Of course I walked away.
But then I walked back.

Turns out she had a Blue Andalusian chick. Have I mentioned  that I've always wanted a Blue?  Blue Andalusians are the Weimer Reiner of chicken breeds ....  plus blue's my favorite color.  Fast forward here a minute to say that I did walk out of Big R with a Blue Andalusian and a Sicilian Buttercup.

Just like that I became a chicken hoarder!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chickens


Well, you can take the girl away from the farm, as the saying goes, but you CAIN'T (I say with thick accent) take the farm out of the girl. 

It started innocently enough.  We were looking at these adorable little chicks at the area Farmer's Market on Thursday.   

We were full of 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and 'they make the cutest noises!" 

Which was followed by my usual,  "Back when I was a kid . .  " schpeel.   

Then MOTH called from the car with lunch, (as we had planned) and put the kabosh on everything.  We left.  And got lunch from the car.  And one of the kids said, "dad, can we get chickens?"  

You all know what his answer would be.  'Cause y'all know him as well as I do.  He bellers a big, resounding 'NO' to everything.  And that was before nicotine withdrawal and generalized grumpiness.  "No." is his standard answer.  

So jump back and fall down when he said, "sure."

It feels like this is a good place to insert my feelings on chickens.  I love chicks.  I love chickens.  I love the eggs.  I love the garden aspect.  I have, indeed, wanted chickens for quite a while.  

So, with me actually wanting chickens and dad saying "sure, here's what we brought home on Thursday: 

Meet Popcorn, Dobby, Penny and Missy, respectively . . . our new backyard flock.  I'd say that they  have stripper names, but that would be stolen from a chicken blog I read.  Anyhoo.  






Well, it dawns on me that I listed them in big-to-small child birth order, not photographic order . . . . so that would be be:   Dobby (is Little's), Missy (belongs to Big), Penny (goes with Middle) and Popcorn (is paired with Mimi).  Mimi, by the way says, "PO-korn", like there is no second 'p'.  

We love them.  I love them. 

We've already read four books on chickens and urban chicken-keeping.  They are adorable and I absolutely, positively love them.  Not to mention the kids.  They are in LOVE with the new backyard flock!  


Hoarder.

It is quite possible, indeed, that I am a chicken hoarder.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Adventures in Scuba

Big did an incredible job @ scuba.  She's kind-of a water natural and she had a really good time. 

Middle started out like gangbusters, but experienced first-hand the moment of underwater, "I'm going to die" panic.  Weighted down and panicking, she quickly determined that scuba is simply not her cup of tea. 

This was Little's second time in the scuba pool.   He really loves it.  He's really looking forward to Hawaii next year and diving with the turtles.  I haven't told him yet that it's not SCUBA, just snorkeling . .. . but I think I'll wait and keep his interest up. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Moose

Moose is awesome.  He's just the coolest dog EVER!!

A man and his dog . . . 

I was behind the camera, but this is how we feel. 

That's JAZ, who thinks that Moose's single mission is to carry him around.

He has the "oh crap dad" look on his face . . . but really, he's fine.  Don't anyone panic.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hilarious.

I think being Asian gives me license to not only forward this but laugh heartily about it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Great Butterfly Release




We had a really good time with butterflies this spring.  Yea, I'm just getting around to posting pictures.  It was fun.  It was science.  It was learning.  It was stinkin' awesome!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

At long last . . . new lights!


I've been searching for  . . . . well, forever.  I know I posted about our porch lights last summer when the birds kept getting stuck in them.   I finally found the perfect lights.  I love the automatic on-off stuff! 

NEW ONES!

OLD ONES! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Magic of Veterinary Medicine. Subtitle: My checkbook says "ouch"

Sweet Tana .  . before picture.  Hurtin' in a bad way.  She had been previously "loosely" diagnosed with doggie lupus . . . but was not medicated because her symptoms were not bad enough.  Well, until this summer.  This summer, instead of just her nose looking terrible, her eye-lids also ulcerated.  In a matter of 48 hours, she developed massive eye and skin infections and we bit the bullet and dove into nose biopsies and surgery to get the official diagnosis and a definite treatment plan.  The things you do for your pets! 
Sweet Tana:  After surgery.  Gorked out big time. 

Sweet Tana wanted outside so badly that she would ONLY lay down and be still if she had someone on the couch with her and was in contact with somebody.  We put Mimi on that.  Mimi and a little Curious George and Tana settled right in for a long summer's post-op nap. 

Sweet Tana's diagnosis is two things.  Doggie Lupus and Adult Onset Juvenile Pyoderma. She has been taking a cocktail of four different medications with the most complicated dosing and administration known to man.  BUT, look at these results!  Sweet Tana is looking better and better!  Five cheers for the magic of veterinary medicine!!   On a sidenote, I try, TRY (try), **TRY** really hard to not bitch about the cost of pets.  I chose them and chose to keep them well, but holy SHIZNIT!  We've but 2K into this dog this summer.  Geez-louise!!