31 May 2016

Welcome, Nova!

We had a quick trip back to Nebraska (more on that later) and when we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Eliker, the girls discovered a cache of kittens hiding out on the deck. They rounded them up and snuggled and pet and loved on them until the kittens gave in and decided the girls weren't so bad.
Then came the inevitable question: Can we have one? Pllllleeeeeeaaassssse???
It's really not a surprise that they'd make such a request. Hercules and Snickers were adorable kittens long before any of the kids were born, so they missed out on the feline cuteness.
I had prepared myself for the question long before it came up and had been considering how to answer their honest, earnest, persistent query. Every morning and every night, we run through the list of chores, which includes tending the animals. The girls have been incredibly diligent in feeding and watering them without complaint, that it's pretty rare that I actually have to do it myself.
Hmm...which one?
So, they asked me, who said to ask dad, who said to ask Grandma Eliker, who said to ask me. How could I say no?! We deliberated over the cats--choosing the one with the prettiest (and shortest, hopefully) coat and the most even temperament.
We spend a good majority of the long trip home tossing around names--Charcoal, Ash (that was nixed when some of the girls demonstrated their inability to say it correctly...), Stormy, Smokey, A Few Shades of Grey (thanks Jordan!) and a few other cliched grey animal names. Today, we settled on Nova.
Yes, that's another hive!
Jack teased me about not being able to go on a trip without an animal coming with us. It's probably true, but hey, he brought home another hive of bees (more on that later, too). I think we're pretty much even. Raven has been introduced and tucked her tail submissively with the first spitting his from the kitten and Hercules and Snickers will meet her sometime soon. For now, she's living the life of luxury, stuffing herself on food and being cuddled nonstop by three smitten girls.
Raven wasn't even brave enough to look at the kitten!
Welcome to the farm, Nova!

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30 May 2016

Happy Seventh!

Evelyn is now seven. It seems like only yesterday that she decided the timing was right. We'd been trying for two years to have a baby with no luck...imagine our surprise when I found out my uneasy stomach was not from vertigo while roofing the house, but in fact, morning sickness. We were so in love with her and still are. Her appearance was the start of a quick succession of children from which we've never looked back.
Evelyn's opinion of herself (except she's not six anymore!)
 Evelyn is a walking contradiction a lot of times. She can be silly and wild but shy and reserved. She's bold with her sisters but is happy to be an obedient observer around others. She's a farm girl at heart that isn't afraid of a few calluses or dirty knees, but loves to wear pretty dresses and paint her nails.
The Cowgirl.
Evelyn  has an endless list of interests, from art to sewing, jewelry making to reading. She is incredibly competitive, especially when it comes to family night kickball, and loves school, computers, camping, swimming and being outside.
Evelyn could push babies in a swing for hours.
Of the many things Evelyn is good at, one of the best is her innate mothering instinct. Ever since Claire was born and Evelyn cuddled her and fell asleep with her new baby sister on her lap, she's been an excellent sister. She can make the poutiest baby laugh, loves to play with her sisters and willingly confronts her own fears to protect them.
It's always and adventure with Evelyn!
Stoney enjoys a scratch on his nose from Evelyn.
Though Evelyn was born with a lot of good characteristics ingrained in her personality, over the last seven years, she's
Still loves her chickens.

Henry didn't care for the singing.


She requested a pink kitty cake...what else?
Happy Seventh, Evelyn!

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28 May 2016

Somebody's Sorry

It's okay, Raven.
A few days ago, my morning reverie was the sound of Kate shrieking in a pre-dawn hour that Evelyn had thrown up over the side of the bed and managed to get it on her (not a great way to start the day, I've found). So, everyone was up early, showering and pulling sheets off the bed and mopping, then falling asleep on the couch when all was said and done. I figured I'd get a jump start on the chores and went out to take care of the horses when first, I shocked myself on the fence (yep, it works!) and then the horses kept running off when I tried to put fly spray on them...they're so ungrateful. The final straw was when Dancer spooked and stomped on my ankle before running off like it was funny. At that point, I let myself be frustrated. I stomped/hobbled my way back to the house, yelling a few nasty things at that sassy mare and jerk-of-a-gelding as I left. They didn't seem to give a lick what I thought of them, but a hundred yards away, Raven heard the anger in my voice and immediately plopped down into her sorry, submissive, tummy-exposed position. She hadn't done anything, but it was obvious she was sorry that something was the matter.
Sweet Raven.
Well, at least somebody's sorry.

(Watch out, Dancer. I'm coming to train you!)

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25 May 2016

Crawdad

Hello, crawdaddy-o.
I was walking the pasture fenceline a month ago to cut back the brush and to make sure the fence was still in working order when I kept coming across funny little holes in the ground. Initially, they looked like mice or vole tunnels, but by the mud piled around the entrance, it was obvious that whoever was living in them was digging deep enough that they were getting access to water and bringing it to the surface.
With a little pondering and some research, we figured out what was down the dark little tunnels:

Crawdads.
Oh, Henry!
I have some fond memories of catching crawdads out of Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks, but I'd never seen crawdads that made their own little puddle deep in the ground to live in. Of course, Jack is never one to leave things alone, especially if it's something he can eat...for free. He took the kids out back and dug up a few of the holes. The girls excitedly watched while Henry helped by eating mud. Eww! An hour later, they came back with one very startled crawdad who found a new home in our aquaponics tank with the fish.
If an hour of digging around in the pasture wasn't fun enough, Jack decided we should go out on a late-night crawdad hunt. He raided our lunch meat drawer and we had one of our nontraditional date nights, trying to get crawdads to take the bait without any luck.
Boo!
But we did scare the horses. That's always fun.
So far, we've got a single serving of gumbo growing in the tank. The rest of the crawdads better watch out...Jack's got his eye on you!

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24 May 2016

Henry's Happy Place

Spatulas make great teething tools!
Henry is generally a happy boy, but put him in his high chair and he's immediately ecstatic. He knows what's coming...
It doesn't have to be his high chair either. Any seat near the table where he's involved in the conversation (and food) and he's pleased.
He likes to eat his watermelon from both ends.
If Peter Pan were to fly by and drop some pixie dust while in his high chair, Henry would just float away to Neverland.
The high chair: Henry's happy place.

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18 May 2016

Holiday World

My favorite section!
A few Saturdays ago, we took an impromptu trip to Holiday World, a family-friendly amusement park a couple of hours away from our house. We'd heard good things about it and the weather was supposed to be perfect (unlike the rainy weekend before), so we packed everyone up and drove south.
"Driving" the cars with the incredibly annoying horns.
We'd left a little late and didn't make up much time on the drive because of all the windy back roads we took to get there (Evelyn was complaining about being car sick before we even got on the rides--uh oh!) but, it turns out, the amusement park was in a different time zone and we ended up making it there right as the gates opened. Being tardy has its blessings!
Riding the kiddie coaster.
We parked, slathered up with free sunscreen, then guzzled a bunch of free drinks and headed for the rides! Well, after we said hello to Santa...because it's only natural that Santa's meandering around at Holiday World.
Helping Santa deliver presents.
We started off in the Christmas kiddie section, because the girls could all go on the rides and we could gauge their ability to stomach thrill rides. They helped Santa deliver gifts...
...rode wavy fish...
Neigh!!!
...and swung on some saddled seahorses.

'Cause seahorses scream Christmas.

But the girls didn't seem to care, because, you know, they were riding SEAHORSES.
Who's missing in this picture...?
Overall, the girls were over the moon to have an unending supply of rides (and they didn't even have to beg for a coin like the do at the grocery store!) until they came to the last one and Kate was a couple of inches too short to go.

Tears ensued.

But, she recovered and we moved along.
One of the few rides Henry got to go on and he was sooooo happy!
Thought Kate was left out of the occasional ride due to her petitness, Henry was only able to go to on a handful, but it didn't dampen his spirits. He looooved watching the clanking roller coasters swoop past and smiled when he heard gleeful screaming.
Watching people go down the log ride drop!
Most of the day, Jack and I passed him back and forth while we took turns with the girls, and he was as happy as could be!
Claire's in the middle, riding a kitty with a fish in its mouth.
We progressed from the milder rides, like the carousel--where Claire's life may have been completed, because she got to ride a CAT (which as we all know, is way better than a seahorse)--to the more thrilling, like the raging river ride.
You'd better believe I dropped that quarter and soaked them with the geyser!
I went with the girls on the first go 'round and made the mistake of not sitting by Katherine. I sometimes forget how tenderhearted little kids are and while there was nothing really overwhelming on the ride to me, it was to Kate. She wept quietly in the seat across from me, which made the couple who went with us really concerned. Once it ended, she jumped onto the deck and declared her love for the ride and immediately went with Jack and her sisters again.
Kate taking Jack for a drive.
Not far from the river, the girls realized they could drive their very own car and were bound and determined to stand in line until they could hop behind the wheel of a fancy looking automobile. Kate giggled and grinned as she drove Jack around the track, so proud of herself for really driving.
Evelyn taking Claire for a spin.
Evelyn teamed up with Claire and it was hilarious watching them figure out how to navigate the track. First of all, they weren't quite sure how hard to push the pedal, like they'd go careening out of control if they jammed it down too hard and secondly, they were positive they were steering. Evelyn crept and jerked around the curves while she held up the entire ride. Hey, if you're going to learn to drive, might as well do it right!
Screaming during the log ride drop!
The entire day had gone really well until that point--everyone was laughing and getting along, no one got lost, we found a table in the lunch hour rush, no one had gotten sick to their stomach...we were all having fun.
Are we having fun yet?!
Until Jack took the girls on the Mayflower, a giant, swinging boat.

Mistakenly, I thought riding a giant swing would be awesome. Nope. Once I found a spot to sit and watch with Henry and Kate, who was weeping again because of her shortness, I looked up to see Jack trying his best to comfort Evelyn, who gripped the rail like it was the only thing keeping her alive and Claire, who was red in the face and had an expression of sheer horror.

I couldn't help but feel awful. And giggle a little bit.
You're okay Claire, I promise!
Interestingly enough, after the girls walked off the ride, shaky-legged and teary-eyed, they decided that it'd be best if they showed me just how scary it was, by going on it again. And again. And again and again.
Weeeee!
Once they realized how fantastic it is to have your stomach fly up into your nose before dropping down to your feet as the ride swings enormously, they had a blast. In total, they went on the ride five times of their own free will. They were made for amusement parks!
One unusual highlight--Jack caught a feisty little skink!
After we'd roamed the entire park and ridden most of the rides at least once, we divided and conquered a bit so Jack and I could go on a few roller coasters and revisited some of our favorites. One thing that shocked me was that quiet, sometimes timid Evelyn went on a "grown-up" roller coaster...twice. At seven, she did something that I wasn't brave enough to do until I was a teenager and came out smiling. I can hardly wait until all the kids are tall enough to go!
One of our favorite rides!
At the end of the day, we were all pooped, soaked from head to toe and tired from literally running through the park the last half hour so we could squeeze in as many rides as possible (we got our money's worth!) and had a long drive home in the pouring rain, but it was so nice to have a day all to ourselves where we didn't have a care in the world, other than what ride to go on next.
Sleepy baby!
I think we're going to have to plan a trip to Holiday World over Halloween next time...

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