Sunday, May 29, 2011

They're ALIVE!

I've been hesitant to announce this for fear of jinxing us, but we have 10 living bunnies! Flower waited until the last possible moment to build her nest and again had no interest in using a nest box. I let her build her nest on the wire and then moved it into the nest box after she had everyone settled and cleaned. Flower pulled a sufficient amount of fur and I witnessed her nursing her kits, which I thought was neat.

The kits are five days old and have peach fuzz type hair. They are all white and are starting to get pointy rabbit ears that I think are adorable. I am going to give Flower a bit of time to recover since she was bred shortly after losing her last litter. In the future, my plan is to breed her six weeks after she kindles (gives birth), wean to butcher the kits at eight weeks and then Flower will have another litter two weeks later.

Mothering a Maniac

When my daughter was a toddler, she would sit and play quietly with toys. We would color peacefully, build with blocks, take walks holding hands and I could trust her with things like soap and finger paints.

Then Finnegan came along. Finn was a well behaved toddler too, except that he ate everything. Everything like grubs, dirt, grass, basically anything not found at the kitchen table. Well, unless it was food that never got taken to the sink or finger paint that was left out.

Now that Oren is toddler, I realize how good I had it with the other two. I have to watch him constantly, but there are times when I must do things like cook dinner or turn around. In less than 30 minutes, Oren can climb on the dining room table without my knowledge, fall off the table, chuck his glass cup full of chocolate milk across the kitchen, pee on the floor and slip on it, pull all of the seedlings off the counter for the fiftieth time, jump off the couch, plug the bathroom sink with goldfish crackers, eat crayons and then end up naked on the dining room table coloring his penis with a pink marker.

Oren rarely plays with toys. He does like tactile things like rice and play dough, but there are no clean, simple objects that grab his attention. And sitting on the floor quietly? Never, unless it's in my closet and he's pooping on the floor.

Oren bounces off of concrete, falls down the stairs (only once and he was out of my sight for less than a minute) and trips over dog bowls because he's in too much of a hurry to watch where he's going. He just plows over it and hopes for the best.

The funny thing is that if you don't know Oren well, he looks like a very timid, stoic little boy who loves his mama. Oren is incredibly affectionate,  however he's always plotting how to create the most havoc in the shortest amount of time.

My husband and I were talking about our sweet, ornery Oren and how, unless you have one, you can never really understand what it is to have a kid like this. A good day for Oren is the equivalent to a horrible day for a toddler like my daughter. And it's not for the lack of discipline. Oren is wired differently. He must be on the go at all times because he is intensely curious and fearless.

I am thankful to have a kid like Oren because I have stopped judging people who tell me that their kid fell off the kitchen counter. Pre-Oren I would have thought "why in the world wasn't she watching her kid?" Now I think "where should I hide the stools?". Life is all about perspective.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dogs and Training

I love dogs. There are a couple of breeds I would eventually like to own, but for now I am perfectly happy with our lovable Lab.

Our Lab helps keep me centered. It probably sounds silly, but if I can calmly and assertively give directions to the dog, I am better able to handle whatever the kids throw at me. I thoroughly enjoy taking the dog for a walk after the kids are asleep. This allows me to recenter myself and let go of whatever happened during the day. I let go of the tension in the leash, walk briskly and enjoy the fresh air and the pant of my fat dog.

I have been watching a lot (any by "a lot" I mean one or two episodes every other day or so) of the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan lately. His whole thing is to project a calm, assertive energy in order to become the pack leader. He also recommends treating a dog like a dog and spaying and neutering to get rid of the added frustration of not being able to mate.

I get it. I love our dog, but there's no way in the world I'm going to allow her to jump up on people, pee all over the house or steal food off of my plate while I'm sitting at the table. Our dog is a dog and is treated at such. She is very much a member of our family, but she is in her crate at certain times throughout the day and has to work for things like food and attention.

Bridget has become a respectful dog. She checks on all of the kids while they are sleeping and does not lay on the bed until I go to sleep. Bridget always knows where the kids are and what they are doing and will get me if necessary. She obeys commands from the kids, as long as they aren't screaming, and will even wait to eat in the morning until Oren gives her permission.

So....TRAIN YOUR DOG. If you are buying a puppy, get the one that is a middle level energy. The puppy that is jumping on you or acting crazy and spunky, is not the one that is going to be easy to train. Buy the dog that is a bit more mellow, but still curious. Find a good breeder or go to your local animal shelter. We went to a breeder and I have absolutely no regrets. Bridget is a perfect example of a Labrador, in both body type and temperament.

And for the love of Pete, treat your dog like a dog. Please. None of that wishy-washy "no" or "get down". Say it and mean it. Dogs are great at sensing weakness and will walk all over you if you let them. I am especially talking to anyone who owns or is thinking about owning a small, pocket sized dog. Dogs are not people and do not need to be carried around all day or protected. This will lead to disaster. In fact, don't buy a small, pocket sized dog at all if you are even remotely thinking about putting it in a purse. A dog needs to be allowed to be a dog, but you have to provide boundaries and rules.

Stepping off of my soapbox....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chore Charts

My kids love sticker charts. These are the charts they start today. The kids have three daily chores and earn five minutes of computer time for every chore they complete. I taped a file folder on the wall for sticker control.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carrots and Chard

It was brought to my attention today that I cook things that sound weird. My family was over for lunch and I said that I was going to make carrots and chard to go with some leftover ham. My cousin asked if chard was a kind of cheese. No, Swiss chard is a green, leafy vegetable that I add to everything when it's in season.

Anyway, here's my weird sounding recipe:

Roasted Carrots and Chard

lots of peeled and sliced carrots (you don't have to peel them, but I don't like the skins)
chopped chard or kale
butter (I use two tablespoons or so)

Mix everything together and bake at 400 for at least 30 min. I like to bake the carrots until they are browned and fully roasted.

My Zoo

These tadpoles are some of the newest members of our crew. They are eating a piece of boiled lettuce. I am looking forward to watching them grow.
This is our Flemish Giant, Fiona. She weighs about 20 lbs. She lives on our enclosed front porch and is litter box trained.
These are our Red Sex Link chicks. Well, not exactly chicks, but they aren't quite old enough to lay eggs. From left to right: Feathery, Chickeny and Drumstick. I like the chickens.

Flower is our very pregnant and due in two days, Californian doe.  She enjoys pooping and peeing in the only spot that doesn't have a wire floor. She also likes to wait until the very last moment to build a nest and pull fur.
Bowling Pin is mad at me in this picture. You see, he spent a great deal of time chewing through the wooden cage divider and I ruined his escape. He and Flower often lay together on the opposite sides of the walls.
You can't see him, but inside the cave is Maeve's new toad, Toady. Toady is tortured, and by tortured I mean "loved" in only a way a six year old can love a toad, on a regular basis. I would rather have Toady in my garden.
These are the fire belly toads. Santa brought them and I'm not sure what he was thinking.
This is Bridget, our four year old black lab. She is finally a nice, good dog and I no longer want to find her a new home on a daily basis.
Rainbow is a Harlequin and is Maeve's speical rabbit. Rainbow is about four years old and is the tamest of all the rabbits.

Monday, May 16, 2011


My favorite thing to do besides clean the house constantly (haha) is re-purpose clothes. My husband and I have a closet full of clothes that we've outgrown in one way or another. I save everything so that I can turn it into something else.

My husband received a very nice, blue linen shirt for Christmas. Unfortunately, the shirt was the wrong size, so I used it to make the best pair of spring/summer pants for my four year old son. I also turned an old pair of my khakis into pants for my four year old. I found the perfect pattern here (I added about 1/4 in all the way around the pattern and added a 1/2 in for length for growing room):

I am trying to use up some of the huge pile of clothes I've been saving for sewing. I also have a large pile of fabric I received at Christmas that I am tired of shuffling around. I post pictures of all of my projects soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kitchen Re-do

I like to change things up every so often and thought the kitchen would be a good place to start. I love orange and wanted a funky, pop of color. It looks great in the picture, but was sort of neon orange. I hated it.

So I went with a less neon color and I like it a lot better. I found fabric that ties in all of the colors in the kitchen and living room and I turned a garage sale skirt into a cafe curtain.

I am pleased with the outcome and like that the color can fade into the background like the other color on the walls. I might paint a couple more walls blue, but I've already started painting the boys' room so I need to finish that first.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homeschool Stuff

We took off most of the month of April because the kids were sick for three weeks. Three very long weeks.

Maeve said she wanted to learn about dogs so we've been working on a dog lapbook. The kids have also been working on math and phonics this week. Both kids seem to really like Singapore Math and liked it even more this week when I let them use Unifix cubes. It was almost better than candy.

Finnegan is funny because his math skills far exceed his writing skills. He is much better at just telling me the answers than writing them. It takes a great deal of focus for him to write letters in his Explode the Code workbook, but he does a great job.

Maeve has been working through quite a few pages in her Explode the Code books. For some reason, she has it in her head that she can't read or write in lower case. She completes everything exceptionally well if I pretend one of the boys needs something and walk away. She can read, but I think is afraid of getting it wrong. I also think she's lazy and just doesn't want to put forth the effort it takes to read to me. A few weeks ago I caught her reading Hop on Pop to Finnegan. It was cute.

Oren has been able to keep busy while I help the other two with their work. I've been giving him a dry erase board and markers and he loves writing and erasing. I think he also likes having his own work space. He's not interested in many fine motor skill type things, but does like to sort, fill and dump.

I have a good idea of how I want things to function for next school year, although I do plan to school throughout the summer. I think we'll probably do school for three weeks and take a week off, as that seems to be the limit for all of us. We will also take off the entire month of August so I can clean out the office and make things new and exciting again.