Saturday, September 8, 2012

First Day of First Grade (and Third Grade)

I was really dreading the first day of school this year because we have had a wonderful summer, the best ever.  I was able to work three ten hour days and be home two weekdays with the kids, and Dan was able to arrange to have most Fridays off.  The kids actually enjoyed the two days per week in their summer day care program.  I had time to take the kids to the beach, work in the garden, or teach the kids things I would never attempt during the hectic school year, like how to clean a toilet!  I know they were thrilled about that.  Dan said to me, "No wonder they want to spend more time at day care!"

Now that we have the first week of school under our belt, I think I can do it -- get back into the school schedule.  The kids were so excited to start school, they have made it easy for me so far.  I wish every week could go this well.

One thing that will be tough this year, is that the boys have memory work for school every day except Monday -- usually a Bible verse, but for Fridays, they have to memorize a verse of a hymn.  This, I can tell you, will be a challenge.

Anna is truly excited to learn to read "real" books this year.  She's already geared up for the classroom reading contest.

We will have to wait to see what else this year has in store.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Zucchini Chef

Ehren is definitely the chef of the house.

Since we have had a major overrun of regular and yellow zucchini from the garden, he's taken to picking one and sauteing it for a snack.  I the light the gas burner (they aren't allowed to turn on the stove), but really he does the rest. 

The kids don't seem to care for my Tuscan Parmesan zucchini saute, so he struck out on his own.  If you're dying for the recipe, he simply slices it up, sautes it in olive oil, and sprinkles it with creole seasoning.

After Ehren made zucchini a few times, Anna asked if she could make some too. She's good at cutting it up, but I had to supervise the rest. 

Finally Christian {always the last to come around on a new idea} asked when he "would be old enough to cook zucchini."  Totally funny way to ask since he's the same age as Ehren and older than Anna!  He turned out to be a good zucchini chef too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Undercover Chickens: Henpecked

Even non-farmer Dan is warming up to the chickens.  He likes to let them perch on his shoulder like a parrot perches on a pirate's shoulder.  

The other day he was posing for pictures with Madge.  As I was snapping away, she decided maybe she didn't like being a parrot anymore.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Slip n' Slide Fun

With the record-breaking July heat, it was time for some water sports {even if the water was from a backyard hose}.

We dug out last year's slip n' slide.   

Anna is a kamikaze water-slide pro!  It wasn't fun enough just running full speed and sliding.  She amped it up by getting out a boat floatation cushion and using it like a sled.

The boys had a friend from school over to enjoy the water fun. The play date turned into to their first friend sleepover, complete with a movie on Netflix and popcorn.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Turned My Chickens Into Cannibals

Having chickens for the first time is like having a new baby.  Everyone wants to visit them; everyone asks a lot of questions about them; and finally, everyone who has ever had chickens gives you advice.  The other day at Costco, someone in the refrigerator aisle asked me if I thought it was worth it to spend the extra money to buy the organic eggs.  I said, "I don't know. I'm waiting for my new backyard chickens to start laying eggs so I don't have to buy them anymore."  He said, "Oh, you have chickens!  I used to raise chickens.  They eat everything, you know.  You're feeding them all your food scraps, right?  Make sure to feed them your scraps."  I got this advice from several chicken-raising veterans.

Actually, I had been wondering what I could feed them besides the store-bought feed.  I give them different raw vegetable scraps, but moving the coop around every couple days provides a constant supply of yard weeds to eat, so they aren't always enthusiastic about the vegetable scraps.  The other day, I gave them some watermelon rinds, and it turns out they love watermelon as much as my kids!  In short order, they ate everything right down to the thin tough green outer rind.  I got the same result with cantaloupe rinds.

Over the Fourth of July, we had some friends staying with us.  They used to raise backyard chickens and also encouraged us to feed them more table scraps.  They had some restaurant leftovers they didn't want to take with them when they left.  They said, "Just feed it to the chickens.  They'll eat anything."  I took their advice, and sure enough they devoured everything with gusto, especially the meat.  And then I realized I had just turned my chickens into cannibals.  They were eating chicken enchiladas.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Undercover Chickens: The Chicken Wrangler

The girls are growing up.

Anna loves the chickens.  I'd like to tell you she is a chicken whisperer, charming them with gentle words and a soft voice like the picture below implies, but you're more likely to see her chasing them around trying to catch one.  She's more like a chicken wrangler than a chicken whisperer.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Undercover Chickens: Bundles of Fuzzy Goodness

We live in a suburban neighborhood that has a covenant against backyard poultry.  However, we also have one of the largest and most private backyards in our neighborhood.  Our yard backs up to a strip of wooded city property with a pond.  I felt certain that having a few quiet hens in a portable coop was not going to disturb any neighbors, so I decided to make my backyard chicken dream a reality.  On May 17, we picked up the six baby chicks we ordered from a local garden center.  They were all the fuzzy cuteness I imagined they would be.

Their first home was a newspaper-lined plastic tub in our unfinished basement.  When they weren't eating, they gathered in a tight huddle under the heat lamp (or in our case, a shop lamp with a 100-watt bulb clipped over their tub).  Over the first couple weeks, they started to acquire names.  First, Anna named the bigger Barred Rock "Cutie" because, well, she was cute and she was Anna's favorite.  

Then Ehren named one of the Rhode Island Reds "Pilot" because she was always trying to fly.  I named the smaller Rhode Island Red "Little Red."  Cousin Elsie visited and named the two Orpington Buffs "Khaki" and "KaCoach" (which we shortened to "Coach"), and the remaining Barred Rock "Madge."  Our six little bundles of fuzzy goodness were a big hit at show and tell in both Kindergarten and 2nd grade.   But after about three weeks, their growing feathers moved them right into the ugly duckling stage.

Those feathers were also a warning that Dan needed to hurry and finish building their outdoor coop.  I'm not going to lie.  Building the coop to my specifications was a lot of work for Dan.  He often reminds me that my dream of turning him into a farmer is never going to happen, but nevertheless, he finished the coop, and it was beautiful.

In mid-June, the girls moved outside.  On their first night in the outdoor coop, a big thunderstorm rumbled in.  We worried that they might not be able to climb the ramp up to their snug dry roost.  We kept looking out the window during flashes of lightning to see if they were still outside.  It was a rough initiation into outdoor living, but those resourceful girls made it to their roost.