31 May 2017

Bambi Sighting

Bambi sighting!
It's been a while since we've seen any deer close to the house but today, after returning from a morning of running errands, we saw a doe leap across the road, followed by a very wobbly-legged fawn who wasn't quite sure what to make of his mother being on the run. Once I slammed on the brakes and pointed it out to the girls, they were unbuckled like they'd been ejected from their seats and were clinging to the window, screeching how cute it was and its adorable likeness to Bambi. And then, of course, asking if we could catch it and keep it. When I said no, that his mom would miss him, they asked if we could just catch him and pet him for a couple of minutes...that was a little harder to say no to.
Stuff like this is just one of the reasons I love living in the country!

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30 May 2017

Vixen Cry

So cute, so cunning...
Like her siblings, Zoey has been a pretty great sleeper. I can't complain about only being woken up only once a night, usually in the early morning hours. It gives me a bit of alone time with my new baby and a chance to catch up on whatever book I'm currently reading. One night, though, as I tucked Zoey back in and got ready to climb back into bed, I heard an eerie but familiar sound outside:

Know what that is? It's a fox and its not well-known vixen cry (what does the fox say?). We first figured out what the mysterious, creepy sound was when our first Indiana flock of chickens was decimated in one night by some greedy fox, followed by a few nights of the fox vixen crying nearby. We've occasionally seen a red fox in the neighborhood but it wasn't until last week that I'd heard it crying at night and so close to the chicken coop. Thankfully, having Raven around and having built a veritable chicken fortress has detered the fox from eating anyone else.


But just to be safe, better go count the chickens and cats...

And, in case you're wondering what a musical fox sounds like, here you go:

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27 May 2017

Moonlight Dancer

When finishing the computer room, I happened upon Dancer's American Quarter Horse Association paperwork, something I hadn't seen for about nine years. It was so fun to look through her papers and to see her lineage (and some of their colors)...recognize anyone?
Dancer's daddy is a blue roan! And Dancer's full name is Moonlight Dancer, a nod to her mother.
Yeah, me neither.

But, on one of the papers, I found a little bit of information that was pretty exciting: her birthday!
Most notably, she's exactly a one day less than a year older than our oldest. It's almost exactly like Zoey and Stoney! My kids will like horses, whether they want to or not!
Dancer always has her nose in everything.
When we moved to Iowa, Stoney came to live in the backyard and it was pretty apparent the first night that he'd need a companion after he walked a track around the pasture, nervously looking for another horse. Saying the herd instinct is strong in him is an understatement. So, we drove to the auction down the road and looked at the horses up for sale the next day. There were some pretty dapple grays and beautiful bays that I had my eye on but when it came to it, we were too poor to outbid anyone. So, we ended up with a plain, seal brown, half-wild mare for $100.
It took all of two nanoseconds for Dancer and Stoney to bond. Having been weaned the day of the auction, she was desperate to have another horse to look up to and he'd been alone long enough to be equally desperate. Thankfully, Stoney's a pretty good guy and immediately took her under his wing. Er, hoof? They've been inseparable ever since. In nine years, the only time they've ever been apart was when we took Stoney and the girls to a show and even then, it was only for about six hours. The entire time, Stoney whinnied and pawed and looked everywhere for his pasturemate. Thankfully, they both survived the ordeal.
The inseparable pair.
Since Dancer is in the prime years of her life and it's been a good four years since she's had any serious training, and I'm not pregnant this summer, I'm looking forward to working with her. It won't be long before she's our go-to horse for toting around kids and hopefully, going to shows. And who knows? Maybe she'll have a pretty little blue roan foal someday. One can hope!

Happy (first officially celebrated) Birthday, Dancer!

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24 May 2017

Quantitative and Verbal

First day of school!
Today was the last day of school and the girls couldn't be more excited. Kate is happy to have her sisters home to play with, Evelyn has great plans to continue summer school by teaching her sisters, and Claire is ready to draw gobs and gobs of pictures. And Henry? He can keep up with his sisters like a champ.
See shy Claire there in the glasses for 50's day? She won the citizenship award for kindergarten!
Overall, the school year was quite successful. Both the girls got along well with their peers and teachers and were straight A students. In fact, both were awarded the school's citizenship awards during the year, which really doesn't surprise me. If I can catch glimpses of their kindness, obedience, and desire to help others at home, I know it's amplified at school, where they always try their best.
Evelyn was surprised with a little trophy for her citizenship award!
The year was full of all kinds of fun activities but one of my favorites was the school talent show. Since there were a limited number of slots to fill but both wanted to participate, I suggested they create a piece of artwork together. This is what they came up with:
That's better than some artwork I've seen from professional artists!
It's a tad hard to see but the owl family is a representation of our family--mom and dad in front, Claire and Evelyn up above, Henry and Kate in the nest along with the egg representing Zoey. It was really quite a clever piece that shows just how imaginative young minds are.
This would explain why Claire always starts a conversation with, "Mom? Can I tell you something?"
While I'm not a huge fan of standardized testing, it was fun to see the girls' year-end results, which are quite opposite of each other. People always ask what child looks like who but in this case, it's which child thinks like which parent. Claire, with a very high verbal score, seems to think like me...
Maybe that's why Evelyn and Jack get along so well...
...and Evelyn, with a very high quantitative score, thinks like Jack. Guess we have a math mind and a verbal mind.
They still love each other on the last day of school. Yay!
I don't know about other mothers but for the most part, I really enjoy summer break. Sure, there's more noise and more messes and more quarreling but there's also a lot more fun and relaxation. Plus, if anyone starts to get crabby, they get sent outside where nobody stays crabby for long. I'm looking to a nice long break from packing lunches and wondering what all my kids are up to during the day. Hooray for summer break--let the wild and crazy next few months begin!

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22 May 2017

Baby Doll

I seem to have misplaced my baby...
One of these baby dolls is not like the others.

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21 May 2017

Mythical Man

We love that guy!
Jack, our perpetual boy-at-heart, just celebrated his thirty-second birthday!

Okay. It was nearly three weeks ago but in my defense, I was still in the hospital with Zoey and then, I got busy around the house and trying to keep up with the kids, even with all the great help I had. I did my best to prepare and had ordered a few gifts for him but really, the majority of the day was teaching Henry to gently adore his baby sister:
Practicing his kisses. Not bites or headbutts, his other preferred methods of affection.
And making sure Henry didn't get into too much trouble (mostly, if he could find food or be near Zoey, he was alright):
Sneaking one of my french fries.
And when all else failed, cradling Henry so he could catch up on his sleep:
As far as birthdays go, it was pretty un-fantastic on my part but any time I lamented, Jack just laid a hand on my shoulder and thanked me for giving him one of his favorite gifts: a healthy baby. And just like that, without even trying, he made me feel like his special day was really all about me.
I wish I loved hospital beds as much as the kids do.
When we finally made a mad dash out of there, we drove the winding road home in the rain, where Jack had to make his own birthday dinner. His choice? Pizza.

Secretly, he may be the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
And, since I hadn't even had the foresight to get a cake mix, he had to make his own birthday ice cream sandwiches. Probably just as well. Jack doesn't really like cake anyway.
Reminds me of the birthday parties of yore for Evelyn and Claire...
Though Jack's actual birthday wasn't really thrilling, we were all super lucky that he was able to stay home for a week to help out. He was there to meet the girls when they got off the bus:
Kate and Henry tried to fly Jack's kite on a gusty day:
Henry learned the fine art of playing cars:
There was plenty of time spent on the swings:
And when they were done, he tossed the swings up and over to make it easier for me to mow because he's always thinking of me, the kids, and others (and yes, I mowed with a less-than-week-old baby. I like mowing, okay?):
And lucky me! A bath, which is never just a bath when Jack draws it--it's got flowers and candles and fancy salts and fresh smoothies are delivered to my hand.
Of all the things I love about Jack, one of my favorites is that he's present. He's there for the big stuff, sure, but he's there when it just means swinging in the hammock, tucking in the kids, putting away the chickens when I forget, kissing everyone hello and goodbye as he comes and goes.
Sharing his love of hammocks with the kids.
Sometimes, his goodness is so overwhelming that I feel a bit guilty, like I'm the weak link in the chain of our family but every time, Jack reassures me with such kindness that I'm his equal partner and an indispensable member. He is so humble, so sweet, so wise, so patient...the kind of man that's almost mythical these days. Jack's the kind that calls his mother every Sunday evening, willingly serves his friends and neighbors, even if it means cutting into prime relaxation time, who lets his crazy, horse-loving wife (ahem...me) keep a couple of them in the backyard and encourages me to reach for the stars and never forgets to honor my role as wife and mother and woman. He even rescues baby bunnies for crying out loud!
Jack's the kind of guy who rescues baby bunnies.
With all of those gentle qualities, he still knows how to have rough-and-tumble fun and loves trying new things, from becoming a budding cheesemaker to learning how to play the guitar. Every day is an adventure with him and we're all looking forward to many more to come!
Hang on, everyone! Daddy's at the helm!
Happy (very belated) birthday, Jack! We love you!

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18 May 2017

A Boy and His Drill

A boy and his drill.
We went out to wait for the bus to drop off the girls and Henry came out, bringing his drill for a walk.
(This sounds like a fun premise to a really cute children's book...)

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06 May 2017

DIY Coconut Milk

It irks me to no end when I start making a recipe, only to find I don't have all the ingredients that I thought I did. On the other hand, it helps me discover creative (and often very inexpensive) ways to solve that particular problem. So, if you're out of coconut milk or you'd like a cheap way to make your own, here you go!


1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 cups hot water

In a blender, combine the ingredients and mix for about two minutes. Pour through cheesecloth to remove the chunks (but if you're using it in something like a soup or curry, it's delicious left in!).

Thanks to Smart Nutrition for the recipe inspiration! 

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