Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Camping failure and outside projects.

We had big plans this past weekend for a camping trip up to the Pocono area.  This trip had been planned since the beginning of the year and we had carefully planned everything out and were all excited to go since it had been awhile.  But, like they say, the best laid plans..........

We got there Friday night and planned to stay until Monday but when we got there we quickly discovered the the campground had the worst tick infestation they had had in years.  I had never seen so many ticks at once and we were picking them off of us left and right.  They got in the tent, they made it into the car, they were everywhere and I was constantly checking the kids' heads.  So between the ticks, two injuries, and neighbors who decided to bring their domestic problems to the campground and keep the rest of us up all hours of the night we decided that we should just throw in the towel, count our losses and go home.   

We at least were able to christen our "new" used canoe and the kids got to spend the afternoon in the lake so that made them happy.

Being home for the holiday weekend meant projects!  Christian and I both love working outside in the yard and there is always something going on.  For me that meant mowing and weeding and mulching the garden.  It's amazing how fast those pesky weeds grow when you haven't mulched.
There.  That should take care of things for a while.

For Christian it meant setting up the pool.  If we are going to get much done outside these days we need a place to cool off.
This pool has been the best.  We are going on 4 years now with this W-Mart special which is really pretty impressive.

Christian has also been working on setting up a new/used playset that he picked up for free at one of his jobs.  It's really great what he gets at jobs for free that people don't want.  The canoe was another great find.
He got to a stopping point and needs a second person to help him with the rest so in the meantime we decided to put up a privacy fence around the patio.  Since the patio is right next to the driveway and our home is also a tree business we thought it would be nice to enclose the patio area.

Before...

After......
We love it and besides the privacy it gives us a little more shade in the evening and makes it feel more cozy.  We already spend a lot of time out here but now I think we will even more so.  Now to plan landscaping for the outside of the fence.  :)
Three new kittens have made their way to our property and we are hoping they will be better mousers than the current cat who should have been named "Useless" because that is what she is.  These guys are showing good promise though and they come from good stock so we shall see.

There is more fun farm news but I will save that for later.
That's all for now!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Patrick update


I have been getting periodic updates about Patrick from his new family but was kind of hesitant to post about it here because he really was basically doing the same.  He was still having lots of behavioral challenges but they were managing it because of all the help that is in the house.  In one sense it made me feel better that he was still difficult for them and it wasn't just all our problem.  Ann was always so understanding in the way she talked to us about it and admitted that he was a major handful and she was really surprised that we lasted as long as we did.  
 However we still did want to see him improve.  That was the reason we decided on the move, because we thought he would just do better there in that situation.  

Yesterday though I got a letter from Ann that just made my day.
Here it is in her words.

just a quick update. Patrick is doing well. he is now fully-included in a regular kindergarten class full-time. he went from about 50 challenging behaviors a day at school to one per week. he is doing GREAT. he does have a 1:1 aide who knows sign language. he has lots of regular ed friends and is even getting invited to birthday parties. obviously he still has some challenging behaviors and can be very needy but he is making improvements daily. :-)  i think he is just a kid who "takes a village."

hope all is well,
ann

This is the kid who had to have 3 psychiatric hospitalizations this past summer and nobody knew what to do with him.  This is the kid who was about to be sent to a behavioral school in the cityNow here he is integrated in a regular ed kindergarten.  This makes me so happy.  This makes it feel like it was all worth it.
The great thing about Ann too is that she never made us feel like we were terrible parents and we just couldn't hack it and it was a good thing she was there to fix things.  If you were to ask her what her secret was with these kids she would just kind of shrug her shoulders and act like she didn't know.  For some reason these guys just do better there she would say.  Having all the help is a big plus.  We used to think that Patrick just needed a 1:1 person on him all day at home and school and he would probably be a lot better but we just couldn't provide that for him.  We are just so so thankful that somebody can though.
When I think about what kind of situation he would be in if he was still in Liberia it is just amazing.  So yes I am sorry that we couldn't be the ones to finish what we started but I am thankful that God is finishing what he started and it isn't all about us and what we did.  It's all about God and He gets all the glory.

If you are interested in following Patrick's progress on Ann's website you will need to look for him under the name Greyson.  She already had a Patrick so I guess she just did that to make it less confusing.  The last update on the site was in December so this here is the most recent but I did appreciate what she wrote about him and our situation on her site.

Also, if you get a chance check out the boys' new music video on the home page.  They have a professional musician helping them and when we were there in December they were so proud of their "Band of Brothers".  So cute.  :)  If you can't understand the words they are written out on the YouTube page.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Allergy woes, chicken murders and fishing fun.

Sorry for the lack of blogging.  You would think that it was due to the beautiful weather but alas no.  My allergies have been killing me this spring and I have been miserable, not wanting to do much more than sit on the couch with a box of tissues.  Itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing at night, runny nose.  Allergy meds hardly touch it.  They had gotten so bad on Saturday that Christian took me to the emergency room because I just felt like I could not breath.  It was like I had asthma.  So they prescribed an inhaler which, although it helped wonderfully is not something that I want to be taking regularly.  So out came all my herbal books and I started researching what I could do that was more natural.  I upped my vitamin C and D intake, started taking fenugreek, thyme and turmeric and drinking copious amounts of Rooibos tea.  They seem to have helped because yesterday I was able to be outside all afternoon and finish planting the veggie garden when a few days before I couldn't be outside for even 5 minutes.  Praying it keeps up.  It kills me to be inside when the weather is so nice and I am dying to work in the garden.

So here is the latest.
I was very happy to get the rest of the garden planted yesterday.  Christian had planted beans, beets, lettuce, zucchini and cucumber last week as well as mulching the paths with old goat bedding which makes nice fertilizer.  Yesterday I planted marigolds around the border (to help deter rabbits) and tomatoes and peppers and basil.  You will notice that we don't have a fence and also live close to the woods but we have not had a problem with deer or rabbits since I started using Liquid Fence.  The deer and rabbits are still there but the Liquid Fence really seems to work and it's organic.
 In sad news, these are all the chickens we have left as a fox killed a total of 13 full grown chickens and all 18 baby chicks.  
Christian went out to lock up the chickens as he always does around 9pm one night and a huge fox was in the process of carrying off dead chickens one by one while 6 very scared (but alive) hens were huddled in a corner.  We made sure the chickens were locked up earlier after that and checked to make sure that the fox could not get at the baby chicks in their pen but the next week I woke up at 7am to look out the window and see the same huge fox jumping at the baby chicks cage.  I quickly told Christian who ran and got his gun and took a shot at it.  He was very close to the house so Christian actually got it although we aren't sure if it died or not because it did get back up and run off.  It doesn't really matter though because all the chicks were dead.    We aren't exactly sure how he got them but he did.  It was very sad because those chicks were our babies and we had worked so hard to get them to that point.  In all our years of having chickens we have only had a handful of run-ins with a fox and then he would only take one or two.  This was totally insane.

Somehow 6 chickens are still giving us enough eggs and I haven't had to buy any yet so we are thinking that the Lord knew we were making more work for ourselves than we needed and just was helping us to downsize.  I know that we won't be getting anymore chicks anytime soon anyway.

Last week we were puppy sitting for my sister who raises Yorkshire Terriers and was on vacation.  These puppies barely touched the ground the whole week they were here.  I had to keep reminding the kids that the puppies did need to nurse and be with their mom sometimes.
C-U-T-E!
 Other than that it's normal spring stuff like fishing.  We hadn't really been able to take the kids much the past few years so we are making up for it this year by going quite a few times.
You gotta love taking the kids when they are happy with 8 inch sunnies.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Longwood Gardens

Thursday we had a great opportunity to visit Longwood Gardens with our field trip group for the kids to take part in one of Longwood's educational programs about mapping and orienteering.  Because it was an educational program we all we able to get in and then spend the rest of the day there for less than $5 each!  That saved us about $50!!  I'm sorry but saving money always makes me excited.  And because it was so cheap Christian decided to take a vacation day and go with us too which was wonderful.

The last time we were there was during Christmas three years ago (when we got in for free because we had a friend who worked there!)  so I was pretty excited to be able to go in the spring and see all the tulips.
There are over 200,000 tulips planted there and they did not disappoint.
I was a little concerned about the weather because it just started raining when we go there but thankfully it cleared up in the afternoon and we were able to spend the rest of the day outside.

Not that being in the conservatory is too painful in the least.  We easily could have spent much more time in there.  If you are going to be stuck inside on a rainy day, that's the place to be.
And we took plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.
And of course you can't miss the orchid room.

But there were things outside that we didn't want to miss while we were there so we were glad that the sun decided to show itself and push the clouds away so we could enjoy the fountains.
 Something that is new this year are the three treehouses.  These treehouses were absolutely gorgeous and made mostly from reclaimed lumber and natural materials.
House #1 

House #2
House #3 was really a cathedral.  This one was my favorite but I didn't get any good inside pictures.

Besides all that we also enjoyed seeing a slab from a 2000 year old giant sequoia stump.

Exploring the DuPont house.
Playing hide and seek in the topiaries.

Seeing a piano made from wood from Walden pond.  Look but don't touch, unless you are Elton John.

Feeding the sunnies in the pond their sandwhich crusts and getting the fish to take it right out of their hands.


The kids were running around the place all day long and we still had to drag them away.  I wasn't sure if they could put up with all the walking but they all did great.  I'm thinking that having friends there helped but they certainly enjoyed the beauty of the place as well.  Aiden said, "I wish our backyard looked like this".  Well I'm sure if we had 500 employees and 700 volunteers it would!  But in the meantime start weeding Aiden and maybe it can!

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