Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surprise, Surprise!

Guess what we found out in the pasture today??

It was hailing, so I was looking out at the pasture to see the hail, and I happened to notice something dark standing by Strawberry. I ran out and sure enough, this is what I found! I went out later and took pictures (in the 1/2 hour that the sun shone today). Bruce got mixed up and thought that Strawberry was due in July! We were totally not expecting a foal. Thankfully, Bruce thought that although she looked pregnant, her ribs were showing, so he brought her home from the neighbors' pasture and was feeding her extra hay and grain. That must have been farmer's intuition.

We determined last summer that this foal would be Mary's, so she is thinking about what she wants to name him. He is a colt, with a black mane, but a lighter shade of black on the rest of him. His sire's name is Black Dynamite, so he looks like his sire.

We now are looking for Lady, our other mare, to foal because she was bred at the same time. The suspense of it all!

These are some of our chickens.And the rooster up close.And right in the middle of a big crow.Here is Achumani, our lead llama, checking out the new colt.Peter was out in the middle of it all.And the calf has not yet perished! Wendy - I think you can safely come over and see it now, especially since we've got the colt to show off also!

And here's Buttercup.

Our chicks are doing fine.
And in between and all around all this farm excitement, here is a copy of my Google Calendar for today. (You have to double click on it to see it properly). It is a doozy. All six children and two coaches (Bruce and I) had soccer practice today from 5:00 - to 7:15. And throw in there dance for Jesse, and piano lessons later in the evening. Not to mention milking the cow!!! Craziness...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Surger - milking on a Sunday morning

Here is the "Surger" as it is called, hooked onto Buttercup.It's working great, although sometimes it takes working it around a little to get it going.
And this is why we keep straw in the barn,
and why it's wise to wear irrigation boots.

If looks could kill...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break - Part 2

Our good friends Todd and Kristie and their boys came over and helped us milk Buttercup last night.
This is the milk machine all set up and ready to go. I don't have a good shot of the machine actually on the cow. I'll get that soon, because I'm sure you're just dying to see it.Todd grew up using a milking machine to milk their family cows, so he gave us some pointers on ours, which we have put into good use. He's one of the few people we know that did farming when they were growing up, that wants to do it now as an adult with their children. But that's a subject for another discussion...
After the milking was done, it was time to feed the calf. Yes! He has not yet perished, and we're still on a roll!Each of the boys took a turn feeding Slobber-face. This is Parker. I might as well introduce him now, and note well, because Parker and Libby have known for the last four years that they are intended for each other and will without a doubt get married when they get old enough. Ask either one who they will marry, and there is no hesitation in their answer. It's quite entertaining!
Anyone that comes in from feeding Slobber-face agrees that this is a particularly apt name for this calf. After we got done with the milking, we went over to Todd and Kristie's and just spent the night talking. She was due with their 5th yesterday, so what more need be said? They are such great friends - we love them so much.

I forgot to report that on Wednesday, we took Natalie (the Jersey cow we've been milking by hand) back to Lane and Tammy's. We milked her for about six weeks, four of which were with Buttercup also. Before she left, I patted her on the back and said, "Good job sister!" It has been nice just to have Buttercup to milk!

Soccer started bright and early this morning. Bruce, Josh, Joseph and Jesse all refereed games today. Whenever they referee the younger kids' games, there are funny stories to tell. Jesse said in a U-6 game a boy and a girl were skipping down the field holding hands!

And Joseph had to call a hand ball on blue right in front of yellow's own goal. So yellow was supposed to kick the other way. When Joseph said, "Yellow kick!", nobody did anything for a minute, and then a yellow kid came barging in and kicked the ball right into his own goal! We get to laughing so hard about these games.

I needed it because Mary and I had a TOUGH game today. Sheesh. By halftime I was just wishing it would be over. Most painful for me was that a lot of what hurt us was lack of conditioning, which, as a coach, is my responsibility. It was one of those cases where going "easy" on the girls ends up hurting them more than helping. Lesson learned, I hope!

Peter had his first soccer game today and played great defense. One time as a forward, he had an open shot about five feet from the goal, and managed to do a chip shot right over the top of the goal. Ha ha. We had a good laugh (him included) about that one too.

Guess what we did today?!? We actually did it - unbelievable - we did the early spring planting for our garden today. This year Bruce is on the bandwagon, and the garden has become a joint family project, whereas in the past, the garden has been left up to me, and frankly, it just didn't happen.

That's why I'm so excited about the garden. Somebody else is doing it!!

No, just kidding. We're all doing it together. But having Bruce involved is SUCH a good thing. :)

We are using two methods.

This is a raised bed that Bruce and Peter built. They filled it all with dirt that was straight from our compost pit that has been going since we moved here 9 years ago. The dirt looks awesome!! I'm a bit concerned that it will be too "hot" because of all the manure, but I guess we'll see. I know you can buy one of those pH testers for the soil, but haven't wanted to spend the money on it. I'm also worried about the weed barrier Bruce put down underneath the raised bed. I know carrots need a deep root system, but I don't know about anything else we planted. This is a 4'x8' bed that is a foot deep. In the green bag we planted five red seed potatoes. This is supposed to be a good method for growing potatoes. There is a flap on the side of the bag that you can open and check on how the potatoes are doing.
We planted Lake Lettuce (I think that was the name), Romaine lettuce, onions, and spinach here. Are the onions supposed to be spread out, or do you plant them just in the clump like that? I bought all these as starts. Anyone know?

We had a memorable moment, Bruce & I, Jesse, Mary, Peter and Libby, sitting around this raised bed and looking at the freshly planted starts, chatting about the plants, who was going to take care of what, and different stuff. It was one of those moments of unplanned, spontaneous family time that you want to put a capsule around and just keep in a special place in your memory.
Jesse and I worked on planting this cherry tomato plant upside down. Another interesting method that I'll report on later! It's supposed to work really well because the bag keeps the soil and water warm inside and the roots grow well. We'll bring it in until the last snow goes off of the local ski resort (that is the old-timers marker for when you can plant without danger of frost.)

The other method is just the regular rows. We planted two rows of peas. Bruce and Peter added some of that good compost over the top of the rows. We had a very kind ward member, Alan, come and rototill this part of the garden for us. Thank you! It had compost on it from previous applications that got rototilled in. Peter helped Bruce so much this weekend with all these jobs.

And then here's what he did for me tonight - he made this butter all by himself!! Well, with a little help from Buttercup, of course, and the milkers yesterday, but from the time the cream was skimmed into the jar to the finished product, this was all Peter's doing. I was reading on the Internet about all kinds of churns, machines, etc. to shake up the cream, and I thought, "Why do I need those when I've got Peter?"

He begs to do it, and gets mad when anybody else wants a shake at it (literally)! And tonight he took it one step further and finished it off by pressing the buttermilk out of the butter until it was all finished. Good job Peter! And thanks for the butter we'll use tomorrow. (Does he realize he just worked himself into a new chore, I wonder?)

In the meantime cute little Miss Libby was writing in her Journal. She enjoyed hearing what we had written about her (the pitifully little we had written about her) when she was a baby and through the years. She was excited that she was old enough now to know how to write more.

And here's Bruce ready to try some straight cream on some Corn Chex.
He decided he liked just the regular milk better. Ha ha
The chicks are doing just fine! Bruce has them in an old, rusted out waterer (yes - this is a word in the farm world) in his shop. There are pine shavings on the bottom (they smell so good), and they have food, water and a heat lamp on them to keep them warm. Libby and Peter check on them just about every hour! FYI, I have been corrected on the names. The one at the top of the picture here is "Sunny", not Yellowie.
And Jesse likes to get her head in there with them. Ha ha

Saturday ended with the baptism of Erik and Sarah. Both of their families are good friends of ours, and Erik is my piano student. It was a baptism with a beautiful spirit present.

Jesse and I also enjoyed the Young Woman's broadcast. What a wonderful meeting! Sister Dalton quoted Winston Churchill, saying, "To every man (and young woman), there comes a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder, and offered a chance to do a very special thing unique to them. What a tragedy, if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour." Wow, that is so powerful to me. Her whole talk was powerful. I sensed the mantle of being the President of this organization in her talk. And Pres. Monson spoke powerfully as well. What a feast!

I am so grateful for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the way I feel when I attend these Church meetings. I feel the Spirit deeply, and feel such gratitude for it. I can't wait for General Conference!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Break - Part 1

We had so much fun at the last recital in February, that we did it again this week. Monday night we went downtown to the big Music store in the big city (ha ha), and had our Family Piano Recital. Everyone played, including Bruce, who played Sweet Hour of Prayer! Playing on the Steinway Grand Pianos was fabulous. Of course, we went to Taco Bell afterward, which is everyone's favorite. To feed a family of eight under fifteen dollars is delicious!

On Tuesday we went to see Inkheart at the dollar theater. We liked the movie - it was a good family flick, although some parts may be a bit scary for 5 and under. Libby said she wasn't scared. Taking a family of eight to the movies for eight dollars is a steal!

Today we had on the calendar to go to a park and play volleyball, but it was in the 40's, rainy with a cold wind, so we passed on that activity. Instead, I went to the local farm and ranch store with Peter and Libby, and came away with these:From left to right are Popcorn, Yellowie, Brownie, and Oreo (named by Peter and Libby).
Who can resist?

Besides, Peter brought his own wallet, and plunked down his own money for his own chick (.69 cents). I'm glad these are his chicks right now. In 8 years he'll be plunking down his own money for other chicks.

Tonight I made this tasty recipe. I modified one I found on the Internet.

Bacon and Egg Casserole
9 red potatoes, chopped
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
6 eggs, beaten
1 lb. bacon, cooked and diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/2 to 1 cup of cheddar cheese
bread crumbs
Cook bacon and dice it up.
While your cooking the bacon, add a little water to the potatoes and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes. Stir and cook for another two minutes.
Make a white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Stir in the flour and salt until all the lumps are gone. Add milk and stir until it starts to boil. Boil for one minute and then add a handful of Cheddar cheese. Stir until mixed in and melted.
Pour a small amount of bacon grease into a 9x13 glass pan. Spread the potatoes across the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with Lawry's Seasoning Salt. Pour beaten eggs over the top, and make sure the potatoes are mixed in well with the eggs. Sprinkle the bacon bits on top of the potato and egg mixture, and then pour the white sauce over it. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the whole mixture.
Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Serve immediately with chilled, fresh, raw cow's milk! :) ha ha

I loved it. Bruce thought it was OK. This highlights the difference in our palates.

This is what the kids are doing while I'm doing this blog.
Joseph is reading the Wishsong of Shannara; Jesse is reading Inkdeath; Mary is reading The Dragon Slippers.
Bruce is reading Ranger's Apprentice Book 6, The Siege of Marindaw. In case you follow this series, we borrowed this book from our friend who ordered it from Australia. It doesn't release in the US until August. Thank you kind friends!

This is the fort that the kids made last week and Jesse, Mary, Peter and Libby have slept on it every night of the break. (Double-click on this picture to find Peter and Libby).I loved doing this as a kid. I remember in our Oakdale house making a bed with chairs and pillows, and calling it our waterbed. No doubt my brother Cedric will remember the colors of the blankets that we put on it.

A benefit of the milking has come to light, and that is, that since the milk machine parts have to be washed twice a day, the sink must be clean enough to wash them. And since a sink with hot, soapy dishwater is available twice a day, we have been keeping the dishes washed! We used to run the dishwasher once a day, regularly, but it seemed like there was always pots and pans left over that didn't fit and miscellaneous stuff left around. No longer! Those get washed with the milk machine parts, and all is well.

Tuesday morning I woke up at five in the morning, and for some reason I couldn't get back to sleep, as all these organizing, cleaning, chore ideas were coming to my mind. One of those was that the logical consequence of not doing you kitchen job is that you are not contributing to the upkeep of the place where you eat. Hence - you don't clean, you don't eat. I introduced the idea to the childern later that morning. Before you eat, your kitchen job has to be done. (This is also in an attempt to teach them to KEEP something clean, instead of cleaning up a big mess once in awhile, which is what they are doing now.) So, our kitchen has been clean for two days straight. YEAH!!
I will post soon a some detailed pictures on the milking process, and also the butter-making process. We have been making butter every day - it's so cool!! I crossed milk, butter, buttermilk and yogurt off my grocery list today. Wow!

I ordered a yogurt-maker today, so I'll soon be trying that out at home. I remember when we were first married, Bruce told me that his Mom used to make yogurt when he was growing up. I remember thinking, "Wow - I can't imagine doing something like that. Why not just BUY it?" Ha ha. And here I am now, all gung-ho to try something else with our milk at home. Another reason to be indepentant from the grocery store. What a great feeling!

I can't believe how much my attitudes and outlook have changed. Much of that is due to knowledge - actually knowing how to do something, and also the right tools. But it's not just that. It's a different mindset, which I have now, and I didn't before.

By the way, Mom, a kind friend from our ward offered to rototill our garden, which he did last Saturday. We are getting ready to plant peas, lettuce, spinach and radishes.

This is also a complete turn-around from last year, in which we did no garden whatsoever, and the year before that, in which we planted two or three rows and neglected it for the rest of the summer. We have not been successful gardeners; no, we have been dismal gardeners, if you can even call it that. So, we'll see how it goes!!

Happy Spring Break!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Concerts Galore

The Spring Equinox has passed. YEA!!! We made it, we survived the winter. Bring on Spring and Summer!

Jesse had a Choir Concert last week and accompanied her friend Bailey in a solo. What fun to see her up there on stage on the Grand Piano, and she did a great job. The 8th grade girls sounded awesome; the boys' singing had something to be desired! Joseph kept saying, "I'm so glad I'm not in 8th grade...", which is humorous coming from a 9th grader. He's so mature now, you know.

Speaking of Joseph, he found a book that I bought years ago called Puzzles for Pleasure, and he has been immersed in solving these logic puzzles. He's getting good at them, and I've had fun joining him in solving a few. I guess that is pretty mature, isn't it (on Joseph's part, I mean).

Mary's Band Concert was fun because the Director had the High School bands come down and play with the middle schoolers for this concert. They sounded great! :) I thought it was a neat idea, to have them experience what it's like to play with a large band that has a good sound! Mary plays the saxophone, just like Joseph did.

Peter's 3rd grade Music Program was all about the USA, and they sang folk songs from different cultures in the USA.

I'm sure in 5 years I'll be able to use this video as bribery for anything I want. Ha haIn the meantime, I love the enthusiasm and innocence of 3rd graders!

After 3 tries, I finally made some butter that tasted good! I was glad, because I was getting worried. There's a lot of cream that comes off of this milk.

This week we started Spring Break. Friday afternoon I took the kids to the bookstore and everyone got to pick out a paperback. If this is not the most fun, I don't know what is. The ride home was QUIET, except for Libby announcing to everyone that she was done with another chapter of her Junie B. Jones book.

(NOTE:I don't care for those books myself, but that's what her teacher - whom I highly respect- is reading at school, so she likes them. I just don't get how you teach first graders correct grammar and spelling from reading a book that has very little of it from the main character? Do tell, if you have another opinion.)

The High School Parent Teacher Conferences were this week, and those are my big PAY DAYS. Not that I can take any credit for how great my boys are, but still, it makes a Mom feel happy to hear every teacher say, "Oh, he's great to have in class", etc.

Joseph's track coach said that when she first saw him run, she knew she had found a natural runner, one that makes it look effortless. He hasn't started competing yet, so it will be exciting to see how he does. He'll probably do the 1600 meter, and either the 3200 meter or the 800 meter. Joseph would prefer the 3200, because he can pace himself and get faster the longer he goes.

Crazy - that's just crazy. But the 800 is awful too. I don't have fond memories of running that!

Josh and I played a duet in Church today of "Praise to the Man". We could have used some more practice, but it turned out all right.

Our community's "Unplugged" month has been going well. I have to tell you what my four-year Primary class member, Benson, told his Mom about this. He said, "It's not (our town) unplugged, it's YOU unplugged. You're the one that unplugged the TV!" He was mad about not being able to watch movies. I thought that was so funny.

We did catch Josh, Joseph and Jesse on different occasions watching movies, saying that they were watching it "as a family" with only two of them. Ha ha So Bruce went and CUT the cord to the TV, literally! HA HA I laughed so hard when he told me. The kids couldn't believe it. Personally, I think he just wanted to do that at some point in his career as a Dad to say he had done it, and this was as good of a chance as any! :)

But it got the point across. Nobody has asked to watch any movies again. They could watch on the computer, but they haven't. It has been extremely pleasant in the evenings to have most, if not all of the family gathered around in the living room or family room reading books by the fire.

Wow, I have to pinch myself sometimes. We just milked a cow, made our own butter, and now we're sitting around the fire reading books in the evening? What century are we in??

This century, I guess, 'cause here I am letting people on every continent know about it over this "Internet" thing, and we did flip a switch to get the gas fire going!

Speaking of the Internet, have I said before that I love those guys at Google? They added a feature on Gmail that enables you to keep a simple Task list on the corner of the window while you're reading your email. You can add tasks to the list directly from email messages. Before I would just leave messages that had unfinished business marked as unread, and it made for a messy Inbox. This Task window is simple, and yet fits most of the needs I have. I love it!

Political issue of the week: Can I just say that it find it absolutely laughable and ridiculous, all this hullabaloo about the AIG bonuses. Not that the bonuses should have been given - that was a serious error on AIG's part - but the surprise on the public and the government's part that this should happen is so ridiculous and childlike in it's scope. It's just like elderly parents giving their married child money, and then being surprised and offended when they go and spend it on something that they don't approve of. Is not this really a classic problem with giving money away, that mature people should understand?! It's all such a joke! C'mon people!

I do find it VERY scary that the Congress is passing legislation to tax specific people at 90%. Yikes, who are they going to come up with next? I guess they do that a lot in a many areas, but I've never seen it quite this narrow. I wish Steve Forbes would have been supported more in his flat tax ideas. We need a FLAT TAX.

Good news from my side of the family! My brother Craig, and his wife Jaclyn, are moving back to Utah so Craig can get a Masters Degree in Environmental History. Awesome! They will fit right in with all the "younger set" that are down on the Wasatch Front going to school. Maybe they can even be invited to the "Cousin Parties" and supervise! :)

I want to thank all of you who read this blog, and also to those who comment! I love your comments.

I laugh with my friend Wendy about people who ask how everything is going. Inwardly we think, "You'd know if you read my blog....!" Ha ha

When I asked my brother Craig if he still read it, considering the length of the content at times, he replied that it was like War and Peace, or Les Miserables, that the content was so good that it was worth the saga. YOU ARE VERY NICE, CRAIG!

P.S. As Joseph said tonight, "The calf has not yet perished. We're on a roll!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Joseph's Puzzle

I am re-posting Joseph's puzzle. There was a mistake in it, so here is the corrected version. Sorry to anyone who did it before, especially Craig!

Here is a puzzle that Joseph made up:

This exercise is designed to test your ability to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. In the end, this should turn a brand of Dictionary into a famous author. Write this on a sideways sheet of notebook paper, using the blue lines as a guide. Write out each step.

  1. Print WEBSTERSDICTIONARY – Record your starting time
  2. Remove the first letter
  3. Change all the vowels except for the letter E into Ts (Y is not a vowel)
  4. Switch in position the second letter and the sixteenth letter
  5. Change the third letter into an O
  6. If any of the same letters are in succession with each other, remove them all
  7. Change the thirteenth letter into an E
  8. Insert a J before each E
  9. Move the letters in the fifteenth and sixteenth position, keeping them in order, to the seventh and eighth position
  10. Remove any of the same letters that are in succession, and from left to right replace the first set of letters with one L, and the second set of letters with one K
  11. Switch the letters in position 10 and position 13
  12. Change the first C into a T
  13. Remove the first D
  14. Change the letter in position 9 into an I
  15. Remove any of the same letters that are in succession with each other
  16. Switch the letters in positions eight and nine
  17. Remove the last letter
  18. Switch the second vowel with the third consonant
  19. Switch the first vowel with the second R
  20. Print the name of the Author – record your time

Post your answer in the Comments section!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blender Wheat Pancakes

I found a good recipe that I want to share. Bruce doesn't usually like pancakes, and he approved of these.

Blend on high, 4 or 5 minutes:

1 cup milk
1 cup uncooked whole wheat (not whole wheat flour - it's the actual kernels)

(Hint: I blended it for 3 minutes on high with my VitaMix and that was enough.)

Add and blend on low:

2 eggs
2 T honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil

Pour 1/4 cup at a time on griddle set at 325 degrees.

Yield: About 15 pancakes

These are so light and delicious. You may find small sizes are easier to turn. I don't recommend doubling the recipe, as it's too hard on the blender.

Serve with homemade Maple Syrup:

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Schill vainilla de Mexico (or other brand of vanilla extract)
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup (optional)

Bring the water and sugar to a boil and let it boil for 2 minutes. Take off the burner and add the maple flavoring, vanilla and corn syrup. The corn syrup helps keep it from crystallizing. Store in an airtight container. I store it in a glass quart jar with a lid on it.

I don't use this myself, because I've made a pact with myself to stay off white sugar, but I make it for the kids. I use pure maple syrup myself. I'd give that to the children also, but it's very expensive, so that's prohibitive.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Easier with the doing of it

I firmly believe that many a hard thing becomes easier with the doing of it.

And so it has been with the milking this week. Little by little we have figured out the milking machine and it seems to go better every day. We have got it down now so can finish with everything in less than an hour with either Bruce or I and two of the kids working. We have all the days assigned out so everybody has four turns of milking a week. We only use the machine with our cow Buttercup. We still milk Natalie by hand.

It was Libby's 7th birthday this week! The night before her birthday she went to bed at 6:30 pm, on her own, so she could be ready for the next day. On her Google Calendar, she had scheduled the following on her birthday:

2:00-3:00 am - Wake up
3:00-4:00 am - Pretend to sleep
6:00- the rest of the day - Have fun

At 6:30 am we went in and woke her up (Jesse, Mary and Dad had already done the milking) and sang Las MaƱanitas. We brought her into the Entertainment room, where Jesse and Mary had set up her birthday present.It was Libby's Hot Chocolate "Restaurant", complete with a Menu board, cups and saucers, pink hot pads, measuring cups and sponges, an apron that said "Libby - I love Hot Chocolate" and some hot chocolate mix and white store-bought bread (the real treat)! She served us all hot chocolate that morning. The prelude to this is that for Christmas Bruce and Joseph gave me a hot chocolate maker, which mixes the hot chocolate and keeps it warm, and has a pour spout with it. Libby has been making hot chocolate for everyone constantly since Christmas, so we just added to her "Restaurant". Every day since she gets home from school and goes upstairs and pretty soon we hear over the intercom, "I'm ready to serve hot chocolate if you want to come to my restaurant!" She has been serving anyone that comes over, including Josh's friends and the home teachers.

On Wednesday we got a new calf, a Holstein bull. (Yes - we're brave enough to try it again!) He is SO CUTE, as you can see here. Holstein calves are bigger and hardier, and so far this one is doing well. We are bottle feeding him with the milk we get from the Jerseys.We have yet to come up with a name for him. Peter wants to name him Frederico, which just bothers Mary to no end because she doesn't think Peter should be able to name him, and Bruce is determined that his name should be Slobber-Face, since that is what he does after you feed him. FYI - the calves that we lost were not Joseph's. His cow and calf are in a different herd and are just fine. He did not loose his investment!

One day last week they had "Crazy Hair Day" at the Middle School. This is what Jesse did to Mary's hair! There was a secret to it, but we'll never tell. :)Thursday night there was a High School Choir Concert, and Josh sang in several numbers. His first one was "Try to Remember", accompanied by me. His friend Vinnie sang the same number at festival, so they sang it together for the Concert. They put actions to it, and had the audience smiling. Their voices sounded incredible together. Josh also sang with the Madrigals, and then the last number was his barbershop quartet group. They sang this song in the video, Still of the Night, and Breakfast at Tiffany's also.

It was SO FUN to hear them sing!! For the first time they had microphones, so Josh's bass part really came out. Everyone came up to me afterward and said what a great bass part it was. Josh LOVES singing with these guys. They really have fun together.

We had a fun, but short visit from Lorna and Kaylee, who stayed overnight with us. We hardly recognized Lorna! Ask her if you talk to her... :) Happy Birthday this week to Kaylee and Lauren!!

On Saturday morning, Jesse played her soccer game against a really tough team. They lost 4-1, but they played really well. When the whistle blew, she grabbed her bag and ran to the car, and we took off down the road to another city in Idaho for her clogging competition. We made it at the exact MINUTE that we needed to be there. If that was not a blessing, I don't know what is. We were blessed.

She did really well, getting a first in one dance, and two seconds in the others. She loves to clog, and loves to be up there on the stage. Here is a clip of one of her dances:

As soon as we left there, we got to drive 45 minutes and see my parents, who just got back from Atlanta, where they have been healing at my brother Curtis' house. We didn't tell them we were coming, so when my Mom opened the door, she said, "Well... ", and looked first at Jesse and didn't recognize her at all. Then she turned her head to me, her face went all serious, and then she started to cry when she recognized me. It was so funny! I wish I had a video of her face.

How fun to be with Mom and Dad!! To be home, even though I've never lived there. Wherever they are is home. We brought some pizza and added it to their hamburger and carrots. In a cooler we also brought a gallon of milk from our cows, a dozen fresh eggs from our chickens, a pound of ground elk meat, and a loaf of whole wheat bread. That was fun and Mom just ooed and aahed over that, which is just what I wanted her to do. (True confession - ha ha). The bread was overboard - I mostly brought it so she could tell what was wrong with it and what I could do better! Ha ha

When Angie came in later on, she started to jump up and down and yell when she saw us! Of course that just makes one feel good all over. :) She came over to convince Mom and Dad to go to the Gold and Green Ball that her stake was having. So we got dressed up and went. It was a live band, and Mom and Dad loved it. It was worth the whole trip to see their faces when the Tennessee Waltz came on. The look that passed between them was priceless. Not recognizing the song, I had to ask, "What's wrong?" They answered quickly that it was the Tennessee Waltz and in a moment they were arm in arm off dancing. Unforgettable moment for me! (This is the song that was playing on the Music Player when the blog first came up.)

Jesse got a fever while we were there. Hopefully it wasn't contagious; I think she had just overdone it. On Sunday morning after Mom and Dad had gone to Church (we didn't go because of Jesse's fever), Jesse took a Tylenol and started to feel better. When I woke up from a nap, I was laying on the couch and she went to the piano and started playing piece after piece. It was heavenly to lie on the couch and listen to her play!

I went over to Rodney and Angie's and got to see these cute kids! Carson put his hands up to me for a hug. He has really grown up, walking all over the place.Angie - so sorry I missed you. I guess Mom and Dad's clock was wrong, because I thought I was there in time. I hope your song went well! Rodney showed me all around the house. It's so great! I can't believe all the room you have downstairs to expand. What a great find!

Back at home, Bruce was busy coaching Joseph's soccer team. They lost again. They are playing club teams that pay thousands of dollars to play, and have professional coaches, so it's tough. It's good experience for them, though.

Mary's team lost also, although it wasn't so bad as the first game. Thanks to those who coached for me on Saturday! Josh played almost his whole game this week, and they WON 2-0! He also performed again on Saturday night for the Booster Club, altough he said that performance wasn't nearly as good as Thursday night.

We had Zach and Sarah with us this weekend, while Gary and Heidi went to Colorado to get the Van from Grandma and Grandpa. What a great thing that will be for them. Well, I shouldn't say they were with "us" since I was gone for two days. Peter and Libby had fun playing with them.

Here is a puzzle that Joseph made up:

This exercise is designed to test your ability to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. In the end, this should turn a brand of Dictionary into a famous author. Write this on a sideways sheet of notebook paper, using the blue lines as a guide. Write out each step.

  1. Print WEBSTERSDICTIONARY – Record your starting time
  2. Remove the first letter
  3. Change all the vowels except for the letter E into Ts (Y is not a vowel)
  4. Switch in position the second letter and the sixteenth letter
  5. Change the third letter into an O
  6. If any of the same letters are in succession with each other, remove them all
  7. Change the thirteenth letter into an E
  8. Insert a J before each E
  9. Move the letters in the fifteenth and sixteenth position, keeping them in order, to the seventh and eighth position
  10. Remove any of the same letters that are in succession, and from left to right replace the first set of letters with one L, and the second set of letters with one K
  11. Switch the letters in position 10 and position 13
  12. Change the first C into a T
  13. Remove the first D
  14. Change the letter in position 9 into an I
  15. Remove any of the same letters that are in succession with each other
  16. Switch the letters in positions eight and nine
  17. Remove the last letter
  18. Switch the second vowel with the third consonant
  19. Switch the first vowel with the second R
  20. Print the name of the Author – record your time

Post your answer in the Comments section!
(sorry to anyone who has already done it -- it was wrong but has been fixed!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lost Generation

(Hint: Turn off the Music Player before watching the video.)

I got an email today from my friend Corie that said the following:

"This is amazing - as you listen intently follow along with the words forward and backward......Make sure you read as well as listen. This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20 year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50", by the AARP This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it."

I'm posting it because it was so powerful. Pay attention to how you feel! It's a stunning example of how the spoken word truly carries energy with it - good or bad.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Got milk?

Do you need milk? We sold 7 gallons yesterday, and we still have 10 gallons in the fridge today. $2 a gallon. Come and get it! Please?! :)

The alternate Title on this weeks blog was "Survival Mode". That's what I've been in this week. Here's why:

1) We are milking two cows. This takes on average 1 1/2 hours, just to do the milking. Then you have to come in and process all the milk, which entails filtering, pasteurizing, labeling. Another hour at least. When you do this twice a day, it's been like adding a full time job onto my regular schedule.

2) Bruce is on a critical path at work until a release next week. He is supposed to work his regular schedule, nights, and weekends until then.

3) Jesse was really sick this week. She finally got better on Tuesday morning after taking Activated Charcoal three times and throwing it up all three times. After that, she slept (during the day) for 6 hours almost without moving. I was almost to wake her up and make her drink something when she woke up on her own. She has been fine ever since.

4) Bruce and Joseph have both been sick with the same thing, a bad bacteria of some sort that really wiped them out for days. They felt terrible, nauseated, achy, headache, fever, coughing - you name it. They both started to feel better today. I hope they will be in full swing tomorrow.

5) I worked three days this week substitute teaching. I am very grateful because of the money, but it sure throws a dent into all other areas of my life!

6) We had to have the drainage field on our septic system replaced this week. That meant that for two days, we could not use any water beyond flushing the toilet and washing hands. No dishwasher, laundry, showers, etc. I went over to our kind neighbors to use their shower one night.

7) Soccer is in full swing with, practices and games starting this week.

8) I had to miss exercising all this week to milk the cow. I hate missing that!! Being with the WWW (Wise Walking Women) is such a balm and an uplift to my soul, that I hate missing it!

This has been a tough week! I just put one foot in front of the other and tried to get through it, which I did!

On Wednesday morning, I sent the kids off to school and realized that Bruce was in bed sound asleep after having had a high fever during the night, and it was up to me to milk both cows! Well, I reasoned to myself, I'm not the first person in history to have had to milk two cows by themselves, so I set about doing it. I was milking Natalie, and just starting to feel a tinge of loneliness and feeling sorry for myself, when the thought (and impression) occurred to me, "You're not alone, Grandma Reta is with you!" This is my grandma on my Mom's side who passed away many years ago, and she loved to milk her cow. I really felt that she was with me. It was a sweet experience. I finished milking Natalie, and as I was cleaning up Buttercup to get her started, Bruce came walking in and said, "You're out here by yourself milking. That's just wrong." So he helped me finish with the rest of it.

Some happy memories of the week:

Josh did a fantastic job in the High School vocal Festival this week! His ensemble, he and four other guys, sang "In the Still of the Night" acapella. Once during the song the tenor and the bass had a run together. The tenor went flat on the top note, and the judge said she thought there would be a train wreck there, but the bass (Josh) held his note and kept the whole group together. Josh also sang "Try to Remember", with me accompanying him, as a solo. He sounded great! (I put this song on the Music Player in this blog). The judge said he had really clear vowels and a good performance. He got 34/35 on his solo, as well as on the ensemble.

On Monday night we had a fun Family Home Evening with our friends that have the dairy cow. They came over to help us milk Mon night, and we had fun evening together.

On Tuesday night, we ended up putting this puzzle together.
When you turned off the lights, it glowed in the dark! This was a puzzle that we got from Grandma & Grandpa (Bruce's side) for Christmas. Thank you! We sure had fun putting in together.

Jesse also sang this week at New Beginnings. She sang "Firm in the Faith" with Brighton and Kimi. It was beautiful! It was amazing to see Mary go up and get a rose as one of the girls that will be going into Young Women's this year (in May). Wow! How did those 12 years go by so fast? It was a beautiful program, which I needed badly by the middle of the week!

A small miracle occurred that day (besides the one with Grandma Reta!) and that was that it was terribly cold, stormy and windy Wednesday afternoon, so I cancelled soccer practice. That gave me the extra hour and a half I needed to get dinner on and the milking done in time to go to New Beginnings. I don't know what I would have done otherwise!

We ordered the milking machine a week ago Friday, and we tracked it every day, thanks to the UPS website. It was in Jacksonville , St. Louis, Colorado, Salt Lake, and finally made it here on Friday! We got out there Friday night with the machine, and Bruce not feeling very well at all, and it was a disappointment! Ha ha It was one of those things that you look forward to solving all your problems, and you shouldn't!

I'm happy to say that two days later, we have gotten through some of the learning curve, and are getting much better results, but that first night we hardly got anything! Tonight it only took us 1 hour to do both cows, working with Bruce, Joseph and I. It's getting better!

Another thing that has helped a lot is that we have stopped pasteurizing the milk from Buttercup. At first we were pasteurizing it because we didn't know if her milk had something bad in it that made the calves get sick. I drank the raw milk, because we figure I have an iron stomach from growing up in Mexico City and living in Bolivia for a year and a half. I have been fine - no problems (even accounting for incubation period), so we are not pasteurizing anymore. That saves a lot of time!

My U-12 team, which Mary's on, had their first game on Saturday. We got creamed! I didn't even keep track of he score, but we had one goal to their eight, probably. But the good news is that we did much better in the second half after we got our wits about us. I have so much to learn to be a better coach and give more to this U12 team. I just don't have the time to devote to it. But we'll see what we can work in, and do our best. The girls still had fun playing, and they weren't down on themselves, so we will learn from it. Josh also played his first game, and they won 4-1. Josh only played about 3 minutes though before his right hip started hurting him, so that is of concern.

On Saturday night we had 13 of Libby's friends over for her birthday party. She was so excited about this party, and had been planning it for MONTHS. We made homemade pizza, played soccer and "Murder in the Dark", had a Treasure Hunt (made up by Jesse and Mary), and ate cake. We didn't have to worry about not having enough milk to go around! I kept offering it to everyone. Ha haOne last note. Buttercup stepped on my toe this morning when we were milking. It's all black and blue, and it hurts to walk! :) I'll probably survive... :)