Friday, April 11, 2014

On the Urban Homestead...

...we have chickens!

Let me introduce you to:

L-R: Sally (Ameraucana), Emily (Rhode Island Red),
and Madeline (Buff Orpington)

The older kids each named one of them.  =)

The food and water dishes use mason jars!
Just my style!  =)

Having chickens is so exciting to me!  I have wanted to get some for a long time, and we are having lots of fun with them!  We got our chicks at about two weeks old, and they are absolutely adorable!  In just a week, they have grown a lot.  They really all do have their own personalities, which is so fun!  Sally is the bossy one, and also the most aloof, while Emily is really friendly and doesn't mind being held, unlike the other two.  They really like doing everything together.  If one of them starts eating food, the rest of them do, too.  Cleaning and refilling their water dish just takes a couple of minutes, but when I put it back, they all rush over and start drinking like they haven't had any water all day.  It's so cute!

So far the work has been very minimal.  The most time consuming job was cleaning out their water dish, which I was having to do quite a few times a day because they kept filling it up with pine shavings when they would scratch in the litter.  But then I got smart and raised the dish up a bit on a brick, and now it stays clean for most of the day.

The chickens love to sit on top of the jars.
Sometimes they fight over the spot!

We'll have to keep them inside for about five more weeks, during which time we need to build a coop and run outside.  Then, hopefully sometime this fall, we'll have eggs!  I can't wait!

He Did It!

Seth was gone for two weeks in March on his LAST school trip.  At the end, he graduated, so he now has his MFA in Creative Writing!  It's been a long AND fast 2 1/2 years, a lot of hard work, and I am a bit relieved that he's done.  But I am so proud of Seth for pursuing his dreams and for doing the hard work to make it happen.

This trip was the longest he's taken, since he did a bit of road-tripping with a couple of his school friends before the actual residency began, and it was a LONG two weeks.  We did get to join him for a day in the middle of it, which was fun, and we also joined him for graduation day.  Seth got to graduate with most of the really good friends he made in school, and I got to meet a couple of their wives, which was really fun!  It was so nice to talk to other wives of students!

We're not quite sure what's next on the agenda.  It is definitely a bit weird to think of Seth not being in school, especially when I think about the fact that's he's been in school since Ezra was born, and that's really all the kids know.  But it will be fun to see what the Lord opens up for us!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Days are Short...

People say that when you have little kids "the days are long, but the years are short".  Sometimes I agree with that, but mostly I just think the days are short, too.  Time just flies by - I can't believe we are already almost a quarter of the way into the "new" year.  Here's a peek at what we've been up to in the last month:

This little lady turned FOUR on Valentine's Day.  It is such a joy to have a little girl!

Her main gift from us was a mommy-made bathing suit.  I haven't done a whole lot of sewing with knits, so I was a bit nervous, but it turned out to be super quick and easy!  I do wish I had made it a bit bigger, but it should be fine for this summer.

And somehow this guy is now 7 months old!  

And doing big boy things like sitting up (finally! - he's later than all my others with this)... 

...and eating real food (but mostly only when he can do it himself - which is perfectly fine with my 
not-a-fan-of-baby-food-feeding self)!

I haven't had a need to do much personal sewing lately, so I was more than happy to come up with a bath caddy solution for our new bathtub!  I got the basic idea from some I saw online, but I love my personalized version!

This is my favorite way to go grocery shopping with four children.  These carts are an absolute pain to maneuver around the store, but the sanity-saving perk of having everyone immobilized more than makes up for it!  Not surprising, it makes for a much more peaceful shopping experience than, say, having three kids pushing little carts around a tiny Trader Joe's.  =)

We've had a few sunny days, and we've taken advantage of them!  I can't wait to have my laundry drying outside full time!  I am very thankful for my big Ikea drying racks, but I love how quickly everything dries outside - and I love having the extra space inside!

In bathroom news, we (they) are still plugging away at all the finishing stuff that needs doing.  One of the most exciting things to me, though, about the whole remodel, is that we now have a real, stand-alone bathroom.  Our bedroom was only accessible through the bathroom, which is not the most desirable setup.   Thankfully, the bathroom was arranged in such a way that we were able to build a new wall and move the door, so now we have a little "hallway" that both the bathroom and bedroom open from.  I am absolutely loving this!

The white doorway in the foreground was
where the bathroom door used to be.
The right door leads to our bedroom.
The new wall was built on the other side of
our bedroom door,  just moving the
bathroom door back a few feet.

 Happy Spring!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

In other news...

Life moves on, with or without a shower, and this little man turned six months yesterday!

He is such a joy - he is just the happiest baby, and so sweet!  He recently discovered how much fun a tongue can be!  =) Everyone just adores him, and he loves them, too!  He loves his toys, but he can't wait to be a bit more active - he gets bored easily these days.

Seth saved all of his Legos, and we now have lots of them at our house.  As much as I love Legos, I can only handle having a limited amount available on a regular basis (at least until the kids are better at cleaning up!), but occasionally Seth will have a "Lego Day" with the kids and they make a royal mess and have a grand time!

 We had another snow day and Toby enjoyed his first sled ride!


After almost three months, we finally have a shower again!  I can't even say how happy that makes us! Seth and his dad have been working hard, putting in long days, and they finally were able to get the shower going last night!  Yay!  I'd say we were almost done with the bathroom, but I know better than that now!  We still have a fair amount of work to do, but it seems a lot more manageable now, with a working toilet and shower.  No more hair washing in the sink, no more filling and emptying gallons of water to flush the toilet; thank goodness!  I had no idea going in to this what a big deal it (and every little detail) would be!  We've been "almost there" with the shower for a month, and every little thing just takes so much longer than it seems like it should.  Nothing seems to work the way it is supposed to; everything needs adjusting to work right, and if I had a dollar for every trip to the hardware store... =)  It will be worth it in the end, though, it's starting to look so cute!  I love the gray, especially with the white fixtures!  The bathroom has kind of been our life for the past few months, but hopefully having these major things done will help things start to feel a little more normal now!

Finished with the wallboard...

Fresh paint...looking more like a real room!

Flooring!  And a real toilet again!

How it looks right now - the sink isn't hooked
up all the way, but everything else works!  And
I've been able to move some things back in - out
of our bedroom!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Things that worked for me in 2013

We know that small changes can make a big difference, but sometimes it's hard to figure out what those small things are.  I was able to make a few such changes this year, and they really have made life easier.

1.  Run the dishwasher every night.  I have always been a "run the dishwasher when it's full" sort of person, so that often had me waiting until the next day after breakfast to run the dishwasher.  But that often threw my day off - I wouldn't have the clean dishes I needed, and I'd have to unload the dishwasher later in the day, which for some reason was making me grumpy.  I decided to start running it every night before bed, even if it wasn't quite full, so I could do dishes first thing in the morning, when I was in the kitchen anyway, making breakfast.  I've never looked back - this has worked so well for me!  These days, my dishwasher usually is full in the evening anyway, but even if it isn't, it's worth it to me to run it anyway, because it somehow makes my whole day run smoother.

2. Invest in a kid's clock.  I think we actually bought this last fall (2012), but I thought a lot about it this summer, because there was such a difference between this year and last.  I thought about purchasing this for a long time before I actually did, because they're pricey and it seemed a bit frivolous.  But  while my kids have always been early risers, it got a bit ridiculous in the summer because they were up with the sun (5 am!!).  Because it was light, I couldn't just tell them "It's sleeping time - it's still dark!" like I could the rest of the year, so I was kind of at a loss at how to keep them in bed until a reasonable time.  This color-changing clock seemed like something that would help them know when it was time to get up, but it was hard for me to think of forking out $50 on a clock.  I finally decided to do it when I realized I could buy a "gently used" one on the company's website.  Saving $15 was the incentive I needed to give it a try.  I am not kidding when I say this has been one of my best purchases (and it is worth the price)!  It took a couple of weeks of learning time, but it wasn't long until they not only stayed in their bed until wake-up time, but they also started sleeping longer, too.

3. Go outside in the afternoon.  For some reason, I've always just thought that we should be going outside every morning.  And it just never happened.  I'd be busy with things I needed to get done, and then all of a sudden it would be lunch time and we never made it outside.  Finally instead of always feeling guilty for not going outside in the morning, I made the decision that we would just go outside every afternoon.  And it actually happened.  I was able to get done what I needed to do in the morning, and then we had the time to go outside in the afternoon.  This seems so silly, and it was really just a mental change for me, but it really made a big difference.  We fell out of our outside time habit this fall as the weather turned and I didn't have garden work to do outside, but I'm trying to get back into the habit now, and the afternoon is still what works for us.

I know there are more, but these are a few of the big (small) things that helped this year!  =)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Simple, (mostly) Homemade Christmas Gifts

Everyone got mama-made pajamas for Christmas Eve, including Daddy!

I got Toby's stocking done in the nick of time (Christmas Eve), so his joined the line-up on the couch (maybe someday we'll have a place to hang them up!).

We like to leave one fun item sticking out of the stocking, unwrapped.  All the kids received two fun gifts, two more practical gifts, and then two treats.

I made Joanna a tutu and a ribbon ring for her fun gifts.

I made Ezra a knight's helmet (from this tutorial) and a tool belt.

Toby received a teething necklace (okay, so that's sort of for me, too!), a teething toy, booties, and Mum Mums.  (My favorite baby snack - I can't believe he's almost ready for them!)  I made all of his gifts but the Mum Mums.

I couldn't think of any fun things to make for Benjamin that he would really enjoy, but he really wanted a toy dragon, so we found a Playmobil one for him.  He got a fun dragon book for his second fun gift.

For their practical gifts all the kids got a fleece pillowcase and a kid's kitchen knife.  I'm hoping to have them all help me a bit more in the kitchen this year, so these should be fun.

Along with their stockings, we like to do one gift under the tree - so far we've always done one large joint gift for the kids, although that will probably change as they grow older and like different things!

 This year, Seth made them this awesome seesaw, from this tutorial.  This will be fun to have in the yard!  The boys are a bit too nervous to use it, but Joanna loved it!

We had a fun time opening all our gifts!  Homemade, simple, and fun - everyone was happy!