Little Girls

Here we were getting adjusted to our new schedule (and doing rather well with it I might add) when what should rear its ugly head but the FLU.  Neve came down with it this past week and has been pretty miserable; Emily has no voice and a bad cough so I fear she may be next.  As for Oona, she took Neve’s ice cream spoon and shoved it in her mouth this morning before I could stop her, so I imagine we’ll all be pretty flu’d up by week’s end.

I am looking forward to fall getting here – though down here in the South it takes its sweet old time, unfortunately.  I spent a good amount of time out in the garden today pulling out the squash vines that were past producing and the weeds so that I can do a light tilling and prepare the spot for the fall plantings – arugula, spinach and an heirloom variety lettuce.  I may also try some peas again as well.    Most of the other plants are about done producing, though I did spy some small watermelons – we’ll see how they fare.  It was rather nice to be able to pick some of the ingredients necessary for dinner the other night:


I made a nice chili with some fresh bread.  But as nice as it is getting fresh ingredients outside my door the cooler weather is beckoning me.

I took this weekend off from maid duties so I could actually relax and maybe get some knitting done.  I am sad to say that this did not go over well for all parties involved.  However Oona and Neve were  happy with the extra snuggle time (Emily was at a sleepover) and I did get past the heel of that darn sock Ive been desperate to finish.


Still trudging along.  I even watched some Ice Road Truckers on Hulu.  I just wish they had more than 5 episodes.   It’s been a nice experiment to just let go of the need for clean, but I don’t forsee being allowed to do it again.  It was almost nice while it lasted!

The other thing I did this weekend was eat far too many cupcakes, because my little baby Oona turned 2!  Which reminded me that I needed to still mention Emily’s birthday, so I will do both now.


That’s my Emily – born 10 years ago after the world’s shortest labor (My water broke at noon; at 2:45 pm she was out.  And let me just tell you.  Short labors mean intense pain, because it’s like having one long gigantic contraction that never lets up – I screamed.  A lot).


At first she was colicky, but then she settled into an easy toddler – hood.  She didn’t hit the “terrible” stage until she was 3, and even though at the time I thought it was pretty bad, I now have the experience of 2 more babies that have been far, far worse.


I was still going to school full time when Emily was a baby – she was 3 when I graduated with my BA.    That was tough at times – it was hard to be away from her all day and then have to still study.  She came to more than 1 class with me and even rode around on my bus routes at times when Paul was game to tag along on those late night shifts.

Emily was also my “poop – painter”.  Any time she went into her crib for a nap she’d sleep nicely for awhile, then wake up, fill her diaper, and use that fragrant medium to paint the walls, her face, and the crib bars.  It was a white metal crib that never came quite clean from that at all of the joins, and I refused to use it for any baby thereafter.

08-18-09 i


She was also always our little princess and had her papa wrapped firmly around her little finger.  On one occasion she manipulated her way into getting half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s out of him before she startled giggling maniacally and we cut her off.


Emily is my most sensitive one – she’s a lot like me.  She is creative and artistic and loves animals.  She has been a huge part of the chicken experience here and has proven herself time and again to be very responsible at pet – owning.  Even if she is a total slob otherwise.  She was absolutely thrilled when little Oona came along:


And Oona, for her part, can’t get enough of Emily, either.

Oona as an infant was my easiest.  She ate like a champ (first baby that I did not once get mastitis with!), didn’t cry much and just loved to hang out and cuddle.

These days she’s a busy little booger.  Her vocabulary is expanding exponentially and each day she makes me laugh with something new she says (she still says “butthead”, much to my chagrin, and has recently added, “Oh Crap!”).

The other day she was crying because I wouldn’t give her chocolate (I know, I am so mean) and she stuffed her blubbery, snotty, wailing self into Neve’s play kitchen.


That actually made her happy.


Her Foofa doll makes her happy, too.   I’ve taken to telling myself that she will also become a great knitter one day.  Why else would she take such delight in grabbing at my knitting needles and yarn every time I try to use them?  She just can’t wait to learn, right?

She also must really want to learn to sew, because while I was trying to finish up her birthday dress she kept coming up and stomping on the pedal.  That’s always great when you’re trying to thread the needle.  Trust me.


Happy 10 and 2 to my girls – stop growing up so fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More of the Same….

You know you’ve crossed that line into “farmer-hood” (is there such a thing?) when you are out in the still -wet grass at 6 in the morning in your jammies before daylight has even fully broke chasing around an errant rooster.

That was Emily and I this morning.  P-Roo made a break for it, heading under the back deck and refusing to be moved.  I would have just let him be since I don’t think he’ll wander too far from his hen harem but as we were expecting rain and thunderstorms all day I did not feel like trudging back out later to get him.

Earlier this morning (before the wild – haired, flimsy pj’s flapping in the breeze, shoes slick with dew and causing a few near – spills in chicken poop and wet grass episode) I had discovered Neve to be sick with some brand of illness, running a fever and coughing.  I therefore kept her home today.

I was a bit worried about keeping her home – usually she ends up being far less sick than initially suspected and  runs circles around Oona and I all day.  I needn’t have worried (well, at first anyway).  She was mellow all day, lounging in front of the tv until Oona fell asleep around 3 and Neve crawled into bed beside her.  Her fever was up rather high at that time so I gave her some childrens’ ibuprofen, and she’s been driving me crazy ever since.

At one point she marched down the stairs wrapped in a colorful snowman blanket said , “Mama, who am I?” and posed imperiously for me to guess who she was pretending to be.  I couldn’t think of anything other than “A princess?”, to which she shook her head, rolled her eyes dramatically and very condescendingly informed me she was in fact “the Grim Reaper”.  Duh.  Barring a return of the fever I think she’ll be going back to school tomorrow.


I love the flowery dress with the Chuck Taylor sneakers.  That’s my girl!

Back to the Grind

School started Monday and we are slowly adjusting back to the realities of a scheduled existence.  Next week Girl Scouts will start up again for the older girls as well, and if I can swing it I’ll be signing Emily and Neve up for ballet as well.  We’re about to head into the thick of it, just as the summer heat is turning to “extra crispy” and my pool – owning friends don’t even venture outside during the daylight hours.

The first day went well for everyone (except my sister, who says that high school “sucks ass”), despite the early morning rise that we have yet to acclimate to.


Neve insists on doing her own hair now, which is still better than Emily who resents having to put a brish anywhere near hers.


For comparison, here’s last year’s first day of school:

1st day

Emily’s wearing the same sweater.  Nevermind it’s 800 degrees with  2,000% humidity.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the bus has no A/C.  They have quite a hot and sweaty afternoon ride.  Every day they get home red and lethargic, or – like today – the 10 year old has “two words for you mama” as they come careening away from the bus stop and into the group of other moms I have gathered with and she yells “It’s friggin’ hot”!!!

Combine that with the fact that little Oona says “butt-head” now and I am surely in the running for mom of the year.

Fortunately bacl to school means a little bit of back to sanity (if not back to exhausted).  Emily gets an allowance for chicken care and has been out at 6 every morning taking them out of the coop and getting them into the tractor.  Then she’s out again at 9 pm to put them back for the night.  They seem to be happier to be on a regualr schedule as well.


Since we’re on a spending diet now we have forgone buying cereals and frozen waffles and what have you and I have been making a real breakfast every morning; this has made for happy kids.  Every day is different and every day they are excited to see if it’s eggs, pancakes, french toast, etc.  This is good for me, because I never ate breakfast before unless you count 18 cups of coffee and the occasional donut.

It’s also quieter around here during the day with just me and Oona.  She’s back to napping again as well – the 6 am wake up call means she’s tired enough to go out after lunch.  I even managed to get a dress made.


It’s the Trapeze Dress from Weekend Sewing.  I think this is my third one; it’s also my favorite so far.

All in all it has been rather great this week.  The only bump was yet another escape attempt by Sherbert the Hamster, henceforth to be known as “Luckiest-ass-hamster-in-the-world”.   Emily got this crazy fuzzy thing for CHristmas, and it escaped that very day.  Right out of the cage, out of Emily’s room.  I found it later that night, downstairs, under the couch. A few minor scratches seemed to be her only trauma.

She’s escaped several times since then and usually turns up in Emily’s closet, Sushi staring her down, daring her to make a wrong move.  This morning, however, was different.  Emily came to me in a panic that she’s gotten out again and so I told her to sit with Oona on my bed while I foraged around for her.  I had just begum looking when Emily screamed “Sherbert”!  She’d walked by her bathroom on the way to my bedroom and there was the hamster, sitting on the bath mat, being watched very closely by a certain little Jasper cat.  And once again, she was completely unscathed.  Like I said, with 3 cats in the house (who happen to be top-notch mousers, btw) that is one LUCKY hamster.


I need that kind of luck.

And then there’s Oona, who is up to her usual tricks, getting into every darn thing she can and giving me no peace.  But she does make me laugh.


She likes to wear Neve’s glasses.  These are the glasses Neve wears when she “becomes” Mr. Smitty Harold, her middle – aged, male alter – ego.  She keeps me on my toes, but it’s worth the aggravation.

I pulled more pumpkins from the garden and there are at least a dozen birdhouse gourds growing.  I also have some weird large white squash that was supposed to be zucchini but is most definitely NOT.  As the weather gets cooler we have a lot of land to clear out and weeds to pull (always).  I’d like to get some blueberry bushes in teh ground for next year as well as some apple and peach trees.  Lots of work, yes.  First we need to get used to these early mornings, though.


Another One of “Those” Days

I shouldn’t have bothered getting out of bed this morning.  It’s barely past noon and I have already been firmly smacked by the Universe in its never – ending quest to be sure I know my place around here.     If I didn’t have sole responsibility for several children right now I’d be drinking.  Probably.  More likely scenario is that if I had any cash I’d be shopping.  That’s my stress escape hatch when I can’t get to my knitting (in other words, when Oona makes it her mission to grab at my needles and pull at my yarn and sit on my work in progress so that trying to knit becomes more of a stress than it was intended to help with).

Alas, not today. No new yarn, fabric, books  or other fun stuff.   The only items I’ll be acquiring are a second waterer and a bag of Aspen wood shavings for the chickens.

The first thing was the headache I woke up with.  These are the worst, because with my headaches I have to catch them early or be stuck with it all day.  If I wake up with one already in progress, well then it’s too late for the ibuprofen to really work.  I’ll have a low grade nagging pain in my head all day now.

Then came the chickens.  Well, not entirely.  The heat is really the culprit.  I went to take care of getting the chickens situated and fed and whatnot and it took a little longer than usual (they’re still fighting with the new chickens – more stress for me, yay!).  In itself that wouldn’t bug me too much, since I enjoy interacting with my birds.  But the heat and humidity about killed me, and it made for a stinky, muddy mess around the coop.  I’m sure by the time I got back into the house my blood pressure must have been sky – high.  I was drenched with sweat; had to strip and lie down for a bit.

I managed to get dressed and write out my list for the day.  I make a list every day of all the things I hope to get done.  It’s to keep from forgetting; it’s also an exercise in futility.  I have lists from 2 months ago that haven’t yet been completed.  Chief on the list today is to change the cat litter before it starts attacking.

Then I got a call that the garbage (which was taken out to the curb last night to await pick – up) was torn into and all over the front lawn.  Hooray.  Guess what I had to do in the in the blinding heat of noon!  I made the mistake of opening the door in the kitchen to go out into the garage for some gloves and was greeted by the thickest, foulest smell of nasty old gasoline (one of Paul’s projects.  It’s been that way for a few weeks now) which did wonders for my headache, I assure you (note to self – next house we buy will have a separate garage).  And now the whole of the downstairs reeks of gasoline.

Anyway, the garbage has been cleaned up.  It didn’t help my mood, nor my feelings of frustration to do it.  And the weeds that are taking over the whole place?  Down right infuriating.  In fact, here is a picture I took last night from the front garden:


See all the grass and weeds sprouting up in the pea gravel around the raised boxes?  It’s even worse in the herb garden on the other side.  I just can’t keep up with it.  The hanging baskets are all crunchy and dead as well, despite a good watering every day.

And to top it all off Oona just ripped 7 keys off the new keyboard Paul installed on one of the laptop computers.

I think I need to buy a big farm with a big barn for the animals, plenty of roaming space, a detached garage (no more icky headache – inducing smells coming in to the kitchen!!) and no neighbors with dogs that rip open your garbage every damn week.

Or maybe I just need a vacation.

PS: Did I mention our A/C broke this weekend in the house and the handle came off the door to the washing machine?  I’m just sayin’s all.

Throw – Down in the Hen House

So Penelope the rooster has been taken back to the farm from whence he came.  We dropped him off and came home with a black Jersey Giant/Cochin mix hen, a Blue Orpington hen, a sweet Americauna hen, and 2 lavender Guinea keets (female baby fowl).  Um……yeah.  Couldn’t resist.  If I could’ve, I’d have brought home about 30 more.

We were advised not to place them with the chickens at home until dark so they wouldn’t be all fighty right off the bat.  We did as told, and aside from a little bit of squawking at first (along the lines of, hey!  That’s MY nesting spot!) all seemed well.  P-Roo even made friends with the new hens (and why not?  They are his harem, after all).  Today out in the tractor however, it was a different story.





Our resident hens were all kinds of bullying.  Pulling feathers, pecking, pushing, sitting on, chasing, clucking noisily.  Poor little Benny the Americauna (that’s her all mottled – colored above).  She has one eye that got injured when she was just a chick so she is sort of a disabled hen (I loved her instantly); the others picked up on this immediately and pick on her hard.  They also pick on the guinea babies.   The guineas are not chickens.  They are a fowl that actually make excellent guards, keeping away predators (particularly rodents and snakes) and eating ticks.  They rather resemble female turkeys when full grown.


It’ll take a little while but eventually they’ll all get along.  And little Benny (named after the mom on George Lopez – the other 2 hens are Muriel and Truffles, and the guineas are Itchy and Scratchy) will eventually lay blue eggs.  So now we have quite a large compliment of birds.  Next we need a goat or two.  I’m not kidding.

I got yet more cucumbers out of the garden and a few more yellow squash, plus a ton of tomatoes.  Last night I cooked up some angel hair pasta and sauteed some of that squash in olive oil with garlic and a few of the tomatoes and threw it on the pasta with some fresh parmesan cheese.  Yummy!  I also used up a large amount of the ‘maters making up a big batch of pico de gallo.  For dessert I made a buttery deep chocolate bundt cake and topped it with berry sauce and fresh whipped cream:


Hungry yet?  It goes great with fresh pressed coffee.  There’s a hint of cinnamon and espresso in the chocolate.

Today the garden yielded this:


I can’t believe how early this ripened.  I have another larger one almost ready and a few more still growing.  Next year the peas and beans will be planted earlier; the pumpkins a little later. It’s barely August and here I have this Halloween – ready pumpkin.  I haven’t decided what I am going to do with it yet.  I am pretty sure I have some white Lumina pumpkins coming in as well.  Maybe I’ll boil and mash up this guy and freeze for use in a pie later.  Depends on what else is going on this last week before school starts.  The girls are sad to say goodbye to summer before summer is over, and I am sad that my days of sleeping in are over (I’ve been luxuriating in bed until 8 or 9! Next week, it’s 6).  Backpacks and lunchboxes are ready and stuffed with supplies.



My Emily turned 10 this past week – I’ll have a birthday post up for her soon (laziness, procrastination, scanner issues have prevented it being on time).  Instead I’ll leave you with the promise that I am trying to get some knitting done and a picture of my therapist, the highly regarded Dr. Jasper Katzenburg.  Purr treatments are all the rage, you know.