April 9, 2014

Babies, babies everywhere.

Everyone is having babies. My Facebook feed is covered in new arrivals and ultrasound pictures and soon-to-be-grandparent announcements.

It's wonderful.

It's even better that it's not me.

Don't get me wrong, I've been jonesing for a little one to smell and snuggle and hold and cuddle and smell. Did I mention smelling? Yeah. I need a hit of that sweet baby smell. And washing Bitsy's nearly 7 year old hair with Johnson and Johnson's shampoo, slathering her in Baby Magic lotion, and wrapping her in Dreft washed jammies just isn't the same. Don't ask why I know that. I just do.

Luckily Rachie, Husband's cousin, is expecting. I'm really hoping she'll cash in some of that free babysitting I owe her from years past. But in reality I know I'm going to have to stand in line to get to the bundle of joy and, quite possibly wrestle him/her away from a certain hyperactive grandpa or two grabby aunts who won't want to share (Yeah, A Starry Night, I'm talking about you and your darling SIL), but I'm pretty sure I can take them. Well, the short one, anyway.

Actually, I'm just uber thrilled that our Rachie is going to have a baby. I'm so excited to see the next round of cousins having babies. I'm excited to see our family grow. With so many cousins I know it will just keep growing and growing and growing.

But mostly I want to smell a baby.

March 31, 2014

I promise you, dear readers, that I have not fallen off the face of the earth.

I promise I will, someday (soon), return to the wonderful world of blogging.

I can tell you that I felt my little corner of the world here slipping into sadness and that was not where I wanted it to go. I needed a season of mourning, but did not want it to be permanent. It has not been. I still have moments of unexpected tears, but they are fewer and farther between.

Things on the farm continue on as always. There is chaos. There are arguments. There are lessons learned. There is love.

I want you to know that I have not abandoned you nor have I given up on our little slice of cyberspace.

I will return.

I am Spartacus....wait...no....that's not right.

Nevermind.

January 5, 2014

No Sew Tablet (Book) Cover

For Christmas I got a new Kindle. While waiting for it's delivery, I spent days shopping online for the perfect case. I didn't like anything I saw in the Amazon marketplace but more than one that I loved on Etsy. But I also didn't want to shell out 1/3 the price of my device for a case. I began hunting tutorials and came across a few that I really liked (one in particular for it's wording alone) but I still wasn't satisfied with what I saw.

So....I decided to make my own.

Step #1: Pick the proper book. It needs to be similar in size to the device it will house...and it needs to have a decent title. You're going to appear to be reading this particular book for...well...possibly the rest of eternity so you might want to avoid titles like The 24 Hour Diet or The Beanie Baby Handbook. I went with Agatha Christie's Curtain. Can't go wrong with Hercule Poirot. I also picked out fabric to line the book with that compliments it's colors (I like a festive lining). Walmart has lots of beautiful fat quarters. I actually used a fat half but could have gotten away with a quarter easily.

 Step #2: Disembowel the book. This part actually a bit painful....for me and the book. You simply score along the edges of the inside cover with a pair of sharp scissors or an exacto knife (I really need a new one of those- this was more sawing than scoring). Yes, I kept the innards of this book. I plan on reading it. It's the least I could do after gutting it in such a fashion.
 Step #3: This is where I differ greatly from the tutorials I perused. I cut pieces of lightweight poster board to match the book size (the title page made a good template), then fusible quilt batting to match the poster board. I did use actual cardboard for the spine for extra stability.
 Step #4: Cut the fabric so that it will cover each piece and have plenty to wrap around. One of the faces needs to have enough fabric on one side to cover the entire front cover, spine, and a few inches onto the back cover. Fuse the quilt batting to the fabric with a hot iron.
 Step #5: None of the tutorials I saw included pockets. I love pockets. I know that the kindle itself should hold all the information I need without my packing around a bunch of paper slips, but darn it all- I wanted pockets. A bit of fusible interfacing and the finished edge of the fabric makes a lovely top seam for the pockets.
 Step #5: Glue the fabric to everything! Well, maybe not everything but it sure as heck felt like it. Basically you're wrapping the poster board like a present. A very sticky present. (Fabric glue works really well. I used clear Tacky Glue but if I were to do it again I think I'd go with something like Fabri-Tac). Remember that extra length for the front cover? Don't glue it down. We'll get to that in a minute.
 Step #5: Let everything dry. Clothes pins work great holding everything in place until it all sets up. Be careful not to glue you items to say, the table top, or a book you thought you could press them flat with, or another piece of paper, or your hands.
 Step #6: Attach elastic bands on all 4 corners of the back cover to hold your device. I laid my kindle down on the cover and decided where to place the first strap, then I used a piece of paper to make a template to be sure each corner had the same angle. This is when I added the pockets to the front cover but alas, I forgot to take a picture. You're also going to glue a piece of elastic to the inside cover to keep the case shut.
 Step #7: Glue the front cover in first laying the unfinished edge across the spine. Then add the covered spine (I added an elastic loop for a stylus incase I ever decide I want one), and the back cover.
 Step #8: Once it's all glued together I stacked The NIV Exhaustive Concordance and Miss Manners Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium to weight the entire thing down and left it over night. If you do not have the above mentioned titles, that dictionary you haven't used since the Internet became a household necessity will work just fine.
 Step #9: The next morning you can unstack the books and add the device of your choosing. (If you look very carefully at the right side of the spine you can see where I didn't leave quite enough fabric to cover the entire inside of the case. Oh well. You live, you learn....you craft, you learn even more.)
 Voila!!

December 17, 2013

If I had a million dollars.....

As of right now the Mega Millions jackpot is hovering somewhere around $636 million dollars. That would total out to around $340 million in a single lump sum cash payout. I have no idea if that includes taxes or if that's after taxes or what, but I do know that folks are going NUTS over the Lotto right now.

I honestly don't know if I've ever played lotto before. Husband has a handful of times but to little avail. In fact, I think he may be about $3 in the hole with his loosings over the course of 16 years. We're not big lottery players around here.

The higher the jack pot gets, the more speculation is going around about what people would do with their winnings. So I want to know what you, dear readers would do if you suddenly found yourself with a bigger net worth than Beyonce (seriously- it was on the news). I know, I know. You'd pay off debts. You'd give (blank) amount to charity/church. You'd buy your mother the (blank) she's always wanted. You'd quit your job. You'd start a trust for your children's retirement. Etc. Etc. Etc.

What I want to know is what you'd do with it after you've done all the rest. After the lawyers have been hired and the accountants have been vouched for. After you've done all the things you would do if you won, say, 5 million dollars.

I would build a new school for my kids.

I would give a large amount of money to our local school district (yes, the one I work for) with certain stipulations in place for a new, updated, state-of-the-art building. We'd have a gym with functioning bleachers and places for everyone to sit during basketball games. We'd have a sound system that worked the first time it was turned on. We'd have servers that could handle the load of our computer systems. The heat and air would function properly at all times. Our janitor wouldn't have to purchase her own cleaning supplies. Our teachers wouldn't have to purchase markers and construction paper for their classes. There would be more bathrooms, lockers, and an actual computer lab. There would be a music room that was designed as a music room. There would be a library to equal Belle's from Beauty and the Beast. There would be a cafeteria that never had to function as a foyer to the gym. The playground would be expansive, perfectly manicured, and beyond the wildest dreams of a bunch of country kids. And the kitchen....oh, the kitchen. It would be spectacular. With walk-in coolers, a freezer that is inside the building, and a top of the line Vulcan convection oven.

I wouldn't quit my job. I wouldn't move to Aruba. I wouldn't buy a yacht or a Bentley or put a recording studio in my house. But a small town in southern Illinois would have a school to rival any Urban private school with unlimited funding.

To dream, to dream.

November 30, 2013

Life

Art and I went to a wedding in March. I saw friends I hadn't seen or spoken to in 17 years. When I told one friend that I was now a mom to 4 kids, a lunch lady, and lived on a small farm in the country he laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair.

I don't blame him.

If you'd have known me 20 years ago (and some of you may have) you'd have never imagined I'd be where I am today. I would never have imagined it.

20 years ago (which, incidentally is when I graduated from high school) I would have told you with some degree of certainty that I would be working either in the theater or as a therapist. I would have been married for 10 years or so and would have 2 children at the most. I would live in city of at least 300,000 people or more. I would be well traveled. I would frequent the theater, ballet, symphony, and museums. I would live in an apartment or townhouse with my white collar husband who shared my love of literature and our private school/home schooled children. We would be urban and edgy and I would never, ever wear pink. I had big dreams. I had some fairly certain ideas about what my life should be like.

I was dead wrong.

And I couldn't be happier.

I've not been to the theater in almost 20 years. I don't remember the last museum I went to that was not part of a field trip. My 4 children have never seen a ballet, eaten quinoa, or ridden the subway. They've never had a swim class, an art class, a music class, or been to a Shakespeare play. 90% of their wardrobes come from Walmart, the thrift store, or are hand-me-downs. My husband works a blue collar job. He hates to read. He would live outside if he could and not in an L.L. Bean catalogue way but in a Duck Dynasty way. He makes me laugh every day. And the closest I get to therapy is listening to my Junior High kitchen workers tell me about their love lives.

It occurred to me today that my life is so much richer than I'd ever imagined. I spent an hour this morning reading about the Russian ballet. We had carry out pizza from a gas station for lunch and it was really good. I ate a slices of pecan pie I made for Thanksgiving. We drove 6 miles down the road with a miniature donkey in the back of our van. Then we drove the same 6 miles with a miniature horse in the back of the van.

My life may not be full of the things I thought would make me happy, but it is full of things that do make me happy. And it is so much more interesting that I could have ever imagined it would be.


October 14, 2013

The Best Birthday Ever by B.B. (with the help of Mrs.B, his 3rd grade teacher)

Once there was a boy named B.B., but his teacher always called him #1 Son. B.B. was really excited about his birthday, and he was sure it would be the best one ever! He was even more sure when his parents told him he got to go to Holiday World.

However, when his family got to Holiday World they heard people yelling, "There are Sasquatches!" so they left for Dollywood as quickly as possible. Dollywood was great! They rode 3 roller coasters, then B.B's sister BabyGirl, brother #1 Son, sister Bitsy, and mom FarmWife all barfed. B.B.'s dad, FarmBoy, continued to ride with B.B. on the rides until they had ridden every ride at least once. Everyone rode the River Rider and squirted each other. #1 Son squirted BabyGirl, Bitsy squirted #1 Son, and B.B. squirted Bitsy.

The family decided to go to Holiday World. There they found out there really had never been Sasquatches at all, so they bought tickets. FarmBoy and B.B. rode the Mammoth and the Raven. Everyone went to the water park, and splashed each other.  In the Lazy River Bitsy lost her floatie and they had to get it back.

Later they went to the Christmas section where they talked to Santa and got a stuffed animal. In the Thanksgiving section, they played "Shoot the Turkey" and went to Bumper Cars. B.B. bumped everyone out of bounds.

Next, they went to the food section where they ate french fries, chicken, bacon, ice cream, and drank slushies. We got a stomach ache and decided to leave and stop at French Lick.

At French Lick they rode a bunch of rides then left for Gatti Town in E'ville. At Gatti Town they ate S'mores pizza. While they ate they watched Nickelodeon on TV. Before they left, they played on the Frog Hop.

They made two more stops before going home, the Children's Science Museum and Wal-Mart. The Children's Science Museum was interesting and fun, but they were about out of time, so they didn't stay long. At Wal-Mart they got the DVD Star Wars 2, action figures, Legos, Mission Impossible 4, Transformers 1,2 and 4, Wii games, a toy sword, and Iron Man suit, and a toy from the bank. B.B. was right: It was the best birthday ever!


B.B.'s mother here, you know, the one who barfed after riding 3 roller coasters. I would just like to point out that while I am thrilled that my adventurous third born child has an imagination that boggles the mind, I'm not entirely sure we could manage to pull off "The Best Birthday Ever" without the assistance of a teleportation device or some other contraption to manipulate the Time/Space Continuum.  I plugged all of the destinations he listed into Google Maps and discovered that in order to go everywhere in the order he's listed we'd drive 1,344 miles in one day. That's approximately 21 hours and 25 minutes worth of drive time leaving us a measly 2 hours, 35 minutes to ride all of these amazing rides and eat all of this wonderful food and purchase all of these awesome gifts. 

Bless you, B.B., but it just ain't happenin'. 

October 13, 2013

Down on the Farm

It's been a while since I've posted anything here (nearly a month) and even longer since I've posted something that didn't have to do with grief. Yesterday I was tromping back in from the cow lot (which actually houses a cow again) and thought, 'I wonder when I last did a critter count?' And, 'When did I last post farm pictures?' So here it is. A new post. Not about grief. Complete with pictures (and incomplete sentences.....I'm a cook, not an English teacher).

This is Daisy. She's our new holstein bottle calf. She's about 3 weeks old and sweet as sugar. She likes to follow Husband around the pen and does not like to be cooped up in her stall when she knows we're outside. Eventually she will be bread and once she's calved Husband plans on milking her for household use. I'm left with the quandary of how to change the 4 FarmHands over from the 6 gallons of pasteurized 2% milk they now drink to 6 gallons of whole raw milk they will be drinking in 2 more years.

Two weeks ago or so Husband and I made a quick grocery store run after I got off work. We had plenty of time to make it back to the house before the FarmHands were to get off the bus....until we picked up a cotter pin in our tire. Yup. That was so far into our rear, driver side tire that all you could see was a bit of curved metal going into the tire in 2 places. We assumed it was a fencing staple. Husband was shocked when the tire guy brought this out to show him. Amazingly enough they patched the tire and it's doing fine (thank God because we'd just bought new tires a few months back). Welcome to country roads. They're not nearly as romantic as John Denver makes them out to be.

Miss Sadie has a crazy strong stick drive (that's what I'm calling it, anyway). If she sees a stick she will have it. She will knock you down trying to get it. She will suffer no fools to stand between her and the stick. I make her sit before I'll throw any sticks for her to chase down (I don't say fetch because they rarely come back to me willingly). She doesn't like sitting but will do it if she knows she'll get the stick in a moment.
This day her stick was, in fact, a small tree. The FarmHands had knocked it down after it died and Sadie packed it around all day expecting me to throw it across the field.

I love my job. I get to make giant amounts of food all day, every day. Sometimes the food comes already giant. Like our carrots. Yup, they were the size of my forearm. You could club someone to death with one of those things. I live for orders that have baby carrots instead.

This summer we lost our last old farm cat. Husband said no more cats because the dogs always play too rough with the kittens and we have to deal with the aftermath. Well, the dogs have to be penned up for the time being because of Daisy and our goats so he changed his mind. One of the teachers at school had farm cats that needed to live elsewhere. Our house is often elsewhere.

The principal also had cats that needed to live elsewhere. This is Camo II. Camo I came home under the hood of my car a few years ago but once he became a Big Boy Cat, he went in search of a wife and never returned. We're hoping Camo II doesn't follow in his footsteps, but we're not holding our breath. Camo II was actually supposed to be a girl but the principals son grabbed the wrong cat. Oh well. He's still pretty and can still help out with rodent control.

How can you look at those eyelashes and not melt?

When we first moved to the country, Husband and I spent summers collecting large rocks to make a fire ring for the yard. After 10 years down by the pond, they got moved up to the back yard (a much more convenient location). I guess some serious settling had occured in the last 10 years because when I saw this yesterday I couldn't figure out where all the rocks came from. Husband assured me there were all there to begin with.

This was my birthday present from QM and Daddy last spring. It took a while for Husband and I to decide where to hang it. I think the shed was the perfect place.

And now for the official current critter count:
  • 5 dogs (2 huskies, 1 mastiff, 1 morkie, and 1 wire haired fox terrier)
  • 3 parakeets
  • 6 cats
  • 5 rabbits (I think- the number is rather fluid what with the freezer filling up and breeding and all)
  • 6 chickens
  • 2 boer goats
  • 2 rams
  • 1 bottle calf
We're creeping back up there. Husband would like to add a horse and a hog to the mix. We'll see.