Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I can't believe how time long it's been since I last posted.

Mid November, my computer had swine flu or something and was down for some time. The repair guy said he'd never seen such a mess. Oh well.

Baby J turned 3 and made it all the way to 3 feet tall. Can't quite make it to 30 pounds though! She's such a little peanut!

Lao Lao and Papa scurried to Florida for the winter. She delights in sending weather reports to us....on a daily basis!

We've been busy with school and play...lots and lots of play.

Yeah, I know....shut up and show us pictures of the kids...that's why you're here! lol

So without further ado....

J was soooo excited about her crown cake:

Every Princess needs a 6-shooter:

Big Daddy and Ry waiting for the sleigh ride:

Mommy and J - what a cold and windy day:

Merry Christmas:

Monday, November 16, 2009

1, 2, 3




Friday, November 6, 2009


One month of homeschool under our belts and Ry is doing great!!
We try to work on these areas every day:
Sign Language

When Rylee is having a "good" day, we just fly through the subjects. When she's having a "less than stellar" day....well, we just pick a few and carry on.

All last year, we could NOT get this kid to try reading. I have a feeling that something went wrong at school during reading and she ended up having a sit 'n think. It totally put her "off" reading, spelling and printing. Sooooooo, I've started her right back at square one....mastering letter sounds. I also found the Dolch List and she's zipping through these sight words, twenty at a time. Soooooo very proud of her!!

Making sentences with the Dolch Flash Cards:

We started a little weekly program, called Country of the Week. She gets to choose any country
and we do a unit study on it all week. She quickly got bored with this so it has morphed into Flag of the Moment. lol She loves to locate the chosen country on the globe, draw its flag, study the facial characteristics of the people, learn a few of their words, and listen to their style of music.

Here's her flag board:

I showed her what Continents are so it's easier for her to pinpoint her chosen country:

She was good at patterns, but she just couldn't get the adding and subtracting thing down, when she was first home. She got it within a couple of we're skip-counting by 5's and 10's to 100. This week she learned how to tell time at the 1/4 hrs. Today she caught on to the 5 minute intervals....amazing!!

Sign Language:
We have a set of DVD's called Signing Time....and I love them!! She's been watching them for a couple of years now, but she still enjoys them.

We are also reading all the books from the Science of the Week list. They are terrific!! I can't believe how much I've learned already! LOL
From the Series: Let's Read and Find Out Science.

One of the experiments/activities had us roast pumpkin seeds:

So far she's mastered body parts and simple phrases. I'm trying to join French and Sign Language together right now. She "signs" a word, says it in English, then says it in French.

I'm going to need a "real" teacher for this one pretty soon.....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I'm NOT a pill person....however I have thanked God many times for aspirin and the odd Robaxacet. Come to think of it....Demerol was high on the list after a couple of surgeries too! lol

So when I waded into the whole health and well-being field, you can imagine my shock. There are shelves of vitamin pills to choose from...starting with every letter of the alphabet. Some for your skin, some for your nails, some for your libido, some for your kids.....and every brand is "the best"! Yah know?

So being the skeptical and tin foil hat wearer that I am, I went with the bare minimum.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Flax Oil and eat lots of garlic.

Both girls get 500 mg of Vitamin C. 1000 mg when cold/flu season hits. They have their own brand for now because our C was too strong and tart tasting.
They also get 500 IU of Vitamin D. I was crushing our pills and hiding it in a spoonful of yogourt until I found Vitamin D Gummies. They happily take their pills every morning.

Big Daddy and I both take 1000 IU of Vitamin D...which we will double now that cold/flu season is here. And we both take 1000 mg of Vitamin C...again we double since it's that time of the year.

I'm big on garlic...the little people can actually eat it raw now! Too funny!

And my newest trick is Flax Seed Oil. It kinda smells and tastes like rotten walnuts but I tell you since I've been taking hearing has improved and my coat is shiny! lol Just watch out for the burps....woohee.... I now have Big Daddy gulping it down with his juice in the morning and I'm sure I can properly disguise it in smoothies for the little people.

Well that's it for, what do you take?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Pints of apple butter? Nope, years I've spent on earth. I wish it was the apple butter scenario. hehehe As I turn 43 today, I realize I have come to that place in my life where.....I don't care one bit what people think of me. Somewhere along the line, being a size 8, having perfectly coiffed hair and wearing the latest clothes became highly unimportant. Oh I know, some of you will think it coincides with the arrival of the kids....maybe. But I'm thinking it has more to do with not needing to impress anyone....and a real need to be happy! Afterall, when Mama ain't happy....well, nobody's happy.

It dawned on me that I didn't have to conform to anyone's standards. I don't have to live in the burbs, send my kids to the "right" activities, get my nails done, buy things on credit, be a good little drone....I DON'T HAVE TO!!! It makes me "sane" in the eyes of the regular folk to follow the rules....but it makes me UNHAPPY! When weighed, HAPPY wins out over perceived sanity.

So, I will happily embrace my inner hillbilly, canning and dehydrating food....all the while clothed in ankle-length denim dresses and packing a few extra pounds. lol I will knit and sew, homeschool, stack firewood, live, laugh and love! Ahhhh, life is good!!

43's going to be great!

Monday, November 2, 2009


I have a Nesco All-American Harvest Dehydrator....and I love it! Mine came with 4 drying trays but since I've started drying apple rings....well, we definitely need 8 more.

Okay, so here's what happened during my first attempt:
With all the apples I've been playing with, I figured it couldn't hurt to pick up one of those fancy cutter/corer/peeler thingamajigs. If you haven't seen one of these babies in action (ahem, Janice) you're missing something! lol
It peels the apple in one long ring:

It even slices the apple - NOT thick enough for me though

Uh oh, it's all in one long piece too.

My babies thought it was neat though:

So I ended breaking up that long curl into pieces. Not the best, believe me! The instruction booklet that came with my dehydrator suggests using a pre-treatment on the apples before drying so they don't oxidize....well, I'd never heard of ascorbic acid mixtures. I knew darn well I wouldn't have any of that on my pantry shelf...and I wasn't heading to the I just poured some apple juice in a bowl and soaked the apples in that. WORKED PERFECTLY! The instructions also said it would take between 4 - 10 hours to dry. I let mine go waaaay too long and they were too crisp.
Okay, so here's a shot of the end product:

For being a first attempt and too crispy, they still ended up being polished off by my crew.

My second attempt fared much better. I sliced the apples by hand - nice and thick.
Soaked them in apple juice:

Dried them for 5 hrs:

They came out nice and soft...and the batch was devoured in 2 days! Like I said...Mama needs more drying trays.
So what have you been drying?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A IS FOR APPLE all started with a sale....47 cents a pound to be exact. I bagged up over 30 pounds amidst the stares of the regular shoppers, danced through the check out, and skipped all the way to my van.

I knew I could make apple sauce with some of them...but what about the other 25 pounds? Time for a few experiments...

First up, apple butter. Oh and here's the kicker....I've never eaten apple butter. Didn't even know what it should look like, but it sure sounded good, and I could bust out the water bath canner and practice with it as well. I found a great and very easy recipe from One Acre Homestead.

Crockpot Apple Butter
Put 3 quarts of apples, sliced thin in a crock pot and cook overnight on high. Next morning add 2 tsp cinnamon, 3 cups of sugar and 1/2 tsp cloves. Cook all day on low. Tastes like old fashioned apple butter cooked in a copper kettle.

Sounds great, eh? Off to the kitchen I go....first many apples in a quart? Back to the computer. Apparently there are 4 large or 8 medium apples to a quart. Problem solved.

I cut up 25 Gala apples, which filled my crock pot to the gills, turned her up on high at 2:30 pm and six hours later....added the sugar and cinnamon (no cloves for me thanks) and set it on low for the night.

By 7:30 am, it was looking dark, thick and rich and smelled like heaven. I firmly believe that heaven smells like cinnamon...know what I'm saying? Mmmmmm
Re-read my canning instructions for apple products and dove right in.
I turned out 8 - 1 cup jars of this super delicious treat!
I will definitely do up another couple batches of disappears fast!
Next up....dehydrated apple rings.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Well that has a nice ring to it, don't you think?! Actually, the original name we came up with was: Hallland Academy - School for Young Ladies Doing Everything in Their Power to Drive Their Mother to Drink. But we opted for the shortened version. lol
Okay, so let's see if I can make this long story, short.

Before we ever met our first baby, we knew we'd homeschool. It just felt right to us. Ry came along and was the perfect student. She was one smart little cookie and eager to learn. This was gonna be great!!! Sometime right before she turned 3, her bahaviour changed. She would have these wild fits and was doing harm to herself. She was still smart as a whip, but this "change" in her was upsetting for all of us. At 4, she was officially diagnosed with Moderate Autism. Wham! Well that changes everything!! Right?! And this is where I should have stayed the course, but I gave her up to the system because well....we're talking about people who know all about Autism, right? They've dealt with this hundreds of times, right? They have all those fancy letters behind their name, right? They assured me that if I would send her to "regular school", she would do much better. She would get the chance to see what other kids do and would follow along. They assured me that they knew what they were talking about. They assured me that they were prepared for her. They assured me that she would be safe.

Okay, so I sent her off to Senior Kindergarten and during the year, she totally forgot everything we had worked on. She got into trouble....a lot!! She had "zero" desire to learn anything. The meeting I had with all the bigwigs at her school at the end of the year was an eye-opener. They essentially told me that she was a smart girl and would pick things up along the way...but their focus was socializing her. Unbelievable! Oh but here's the kicker...I sent her back for Grade 1. Oh I mother-of-the-year award for that move!

So Grade 1 started off pretty well...first week whipped by and everyone was happy! Whew, maybe this wasn't such a bad idea afterall....
The next two weeks didn't go so well. One morning while I waited for her in the school yard, before class started, I watched a group of older girls poke fun at her...egging her on to act silly. 3 days later, one of the kids made fun of her Chinese eyes. She was getting into massive trouble and I was summoned to the school 3 times to come and get her. The third time I was called, they had to physically restrain her. ENOUGH!!!!

So I did a mad scramble to find some appropriate curriculum to use, sent our letter of intent to homeschool to the Board, and on October 5 2009, with Big Daddy's full support, we officially opened our homeschool.
In just 2 weeks, she's made huge strides!! She's happier, more relaxed and eager to learn once again. I am so very proud of her!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


With my one year of gardening experience, I've come up with this no-fail method. I'm serious...if you want to grow the tastiest taters then you must follow my the letter! Okay, ready?

First, you start with a plot of land that hasn't grown anything but weeds and small trees for 90 years.

It's important that you plant during full bug season....wearing the latest in gardening couture.

Have it snow as soon as everything is in the ground.
Now don't skip this step....don't, whatever you do, finish putting up the fence. You need the local bears, deer and moose to tromp all over your freshly planted garden. Very important!

Check on your garden at least 3 times over the growing season.
Complain about the bloody weeds and small trees invading the garden.
Swear you'll NEVER attempt to garden again.
Don't fertilize.
Water it twice. This is crucial.
Wait 3 1/2 months.
And voila....dig up 35 pounds of the little beggars....all the while dreaming about next year's crop.
Proclaim to your husband, that you are the greatest farmer ever!!!
Add some olive oil, kosher salt and garlic - bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

Serve with a side of peameal bacon. Yes, the taters are the main component to the meal when they smell and taste this good!!!!!!!!

If you follow my too can be a farmer! hahahaha

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Our brand new Bulk Foods store opened on the weekend...oh me oh my! I was like a kid in a candy store...well I guess I really was! In my glory as I walked all the freshly scrubbed aisles. Barrels of chocolate, nuts and grains....ohhh where do I start?! Focus...time to check the list....I was on a mission...ingredients for dark rye bread.

This was a fabulously easy recipe and we will definitely give it another go.

In a very big bowl add:
3 cups of flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 pkg yeast
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp salt

In a medium sized pot, warm the following:
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
2 cups water

Add the warmed mixture to the dry ingredients.
Beat on low for 2 minutes.
Beat on high for 3 minutes.
Add 3 1/2 cups of rye flour by hand.
Knead, shape into loaf, cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Punch down.
Divide and shape into 2 round loaves.
Place on greased sheet.
Brush with oil.
Slash the tops.
Cover and let rise for an hour.
Bake at 400 for 25 - 30 minutes.

For a first try - it was great! I'm sure we'll get to tweaking it over time, but it was still deliciously hearty with a big bowl of soup!
So let me slice you some while we dream about our next adventure to the Bulk Foods Store! Pass the butter....

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Honestly, I don't know if we should be concerned/worried/paranoid about the whole swine flu deal. There was only 1 reported case in our area. But if it was mild, maybe lots of others had it and didn't recognize or report it?! You know?? But now it has mutated and we're coming into the regular flu season...tons of kids heading back to school along with our big girl...

So we made a family plan.

First and foremost....if there's even one whiff of it, our big girl will be pulled from school faster than you can say this little piggy went to market! All extra curricular activities - terminated!

Secondly, I put together one of these and stashed it front and center in the panic, I mean, pantry room:

So here's what I've stashed in there:
Vitamin C
Tooth brushes
N95 masks
Werthers candies
Vicks Inhaler
Halls cough candies
Liquid soap
Benylin all-in-one
Little noses saline spray
Decongestant nasal spray
Children's tylenol cough and cold
Children's liquid tylenol
Disposable gloves
Hot lemon drink
Lysol spray
Lysol wipes
Paper towels
Face cloths
Garbage bags
Old pillow cases (8)
Baby monitor
Copies of our health cards, immunizations records
Phone number for Telehealth
We stocked enough soups, jello, frozen juices, frozen berries and even frozen bananas (for smoothies) to last for weeks. We even stocked some new pillows so I can throw ours out after a bout with this flu.
I guess my fear is that I'll get violently ill and won't be mobile for awhile. Having everything bought and in one spot ensures that Big Daddy won't be running around trying to find stuff that we need or have to go out with 2 kids at some weird hour of the night to get medicine or supplies.
See, I'm not so weird afterall...
Guess I better not tell you about our "quarantine plan" then...hehehehe

Monday, August 10, 2009


As promised, Big Daddy and Uncle Bill set up a little shooting area down by the garden so I could practice with my 12 Gauge. Waaaay too much fun! lol
The fellas talking it over:

Big Daddy in action:

Yeah, that's right - holding my ears! The noise from a shotgun blast just rattles your body!:

Weapons down please:

Checking the target:

After a few rounds, they had me load 2 shells in and fire - I guess I didn't have it back to the right position when I took that second shot....oh yeah, that left a mark on my arm! LMAO It was really heavy too.
Reach for the sky - you dirty horse thief! lol:

Now let's try the rifle - much easier with a scope. The kick made me take 2 steps backward.:

Anyone can hit a target, but it takes a real pro to hit the post holding the target hehehe! The fellas hit 2 each, closest to the bullseye. I hit the bottom ring and see that white flowery weed. I put the stem through the post as my marker:

I'm pretty sure you could slot gun people into 4 categories. There's Cautious, Comfortable, Cocky, and Crazy.
I'm definitely in the Cautious category....we are very particular to do everything on the checklist. The whole time we are holding a gun, we are thinking, "holy crap I'm holding a gun!" lol The hair on the back of our necks is standing up and we're very aware of the power and danger that's in our hands.
Big Daddy and Uncle Bill are in the Comfortable category....they grew up around guns. They still understand that it's dangerous but they aren't bristled by it.
The Cocky gun owner is the one that doesn't give a crap about what category other gun people are in, while in their presence. They are a little reckless. I've met a few hunters in our area that fit this category. They don't seem to have a healthy fear of what's in their hands.
Then there's Crazy. I can't even imagine the mindset it would take to shoot someone on purpose!!! But that bear that's terrorizing my gas cans better watch his step! lol