"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

The Dachshund Says Hello!

Oldest snapped this picture of Chandler the other day.  It was so funny that I had to share it.

Life here has been a flurry of doctor's visits.  Youngest developed a rash on our first day of cherry picking.  Initially I just assumed it was heat rash since the temps were in the high 80's that day and the following days when we were out picking. 
But when it was still there about a week later I began to get a little suspicious. 
On Saturday the rash looked like it was getting a little bit worse.  I decided that I would take him in to the doctor on Monday to see if we could figure out what was going on.   An hour later I put him down for his nap and went to work on some of the knitting and crochet projects I have going.   Youngest slept for about an hour and then Oldest got him and brought him out.   At first I thought he had been in some sort of terrible accident.   Both of his eyes were swollen practically shut.   His rash had spread and started to form large hives all over his back, chest, belly, and shoulders and he just generally acted like he didn't feel well.  DH and I decided that he needed to see a doctor before Monday and took him to the urgent care.  

The urgent care promptly refused to see him (too young) and sent us to the ER.  So there we sat for about 3 hours.   The doctors and nurses were very nice and they even gave Youngest a brand new cow shaker toy and referred to him as "their little man".   It was really cute.   The nurses really enjoyed coming into our curtained area and playing with him.   The doctors ran a strep test on him and asked us a bunch of questions about what he had or had not been exposed to etc.   Finally we were told that the strep test was negative and were given the diagnosis of "allergic contact dermatitis".   He was given a prescription for benadryl and the baby version of prednisone and told to follow up with his pediatrician within the next couple of days.

On Sunday the rash looked even worse than it had on Saturday and by this time it had spread to his face and arms and legs.  His back and chest were completely red, they had become one giant hive.  The swelling on his eyes had gone down but he looked like a little leopard boy with all of his spots.   The medicine did seem to help some though, at least for a couple of hours.  But after the meds wore off he was back to his old spotty self.  

By Monday his back and stomach were mostly clear but his eyes were once again swollen and the spots on his face and head were much worse.   The spots on his arms and legs were also worse and he now had spots on his hands and feet.   And he was itchy.   On top of that he had developed a slight fever and his little voice sounded hoarse.

On Tuesday we went in for his doctors appointment.   By this point he looked much better.   He still had several light spots on his arms and legs but the swelling was gone and his face, back and stomach were almost completely clear.   His fever also seemed to have subsided although his voice was still a little hoarse.  The doctor claimed that it must be the result of some food allergy and sent us home with another prescription for benadryl. 

When we got home from the doctor, Gran informed me that the ER had called with Youngest's test results.   This surprised me since I thought we had gotten all of his test results when we were there.   Apparently they called almost as soon as I walked out the door for the doctor's appointment.   I called the number that they had given and talked to one of the nurses that had seen Youngest on Saturday.  Low and behold his rapid strep test had actually grown strep.  It was a positive.  The boy was not suffering from some unknown allergy after all.  He was instead having an allergic reaction to the toxins released by the strep bacteria.   They called in a prescription for amoxicillin (the very antibiotic that both of my older two children are deathly allergic too and DH is moderately allergic too. Needless to say giving this medicine to Youngest makes me a bit nervous and we watch VERY closely as a result). 

So here we sat with little mister contagious walking around getting extra hugs and planting big wet baby kisses on everyone's faces while we were blissfully unaware of the lurking bacterial baddies that were living in his throat.   
Oh well, I'm just glad that they did catch it.  I had strep throat as a child that went undiagnosed too long and I ended up with scarlet fever.  I was in bed for almost 10 days.   It was a miserable experience and one that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies let alone my own children.   Fortunately for me, once you've had scarlet fever you develop an immunity (usually) and you can't get it again. But that wouldn't have done Youngest any good if they wouldn't have caught the strep to begin with.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I did manage to finish a 12" crochet square that I am planning to use to make a tote bag that will be used to carry the older two kids' things to their swimming lessons and back. 

The pattern for this square was found on crochet pattern central in the 12" square section.  Unfortunately, for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it but it is there.  So if you are interested in making one you just have to look through the squares patterns until you find it.   There are some beautiful patterns there though, so the hunt should be pretty fun. 

Cherry Picking Time

The temperature when I woke up this morning was around 75 degrees with a steady comfortable breeze blowing.   It seemed like the perfect day to be out in the orchard picking the cherries.  

I made my peach cobbler muffins and some orange juice then got the kids up and dressed for the day.   I then went outside to feed Cocoa.   The temperature was now 80 degrees and the breeze was coming in frequent bursts.  

Gran and I packed up the kids' bikes, a few blankets, some snacks, a diaper change for the baby, and plenty of water and gatorade for Gran, myself and the kids.   Then we headed out to the orchard.   It was now almost 90 degrees and there was barely any breeze blowing at all.   The humidity was up to 80%.   From there my day went like this:

I got Gran and Youngest settled in the yard out at the barn.   I unpacked the bikes, blankets and snacks/drinks.   Middle took off like greased lightning (does anybody still say that anymore?) on his bike to see Peanut.   Oldest and I went off to the cherry trees to start picking.

Oldest found the tree that she wanted to work from and I found my tree.   Unfortunately ALL three of our sour cherry trees are right smack in the open sunshine.   Needless to say, it was HOT.   Anytime you are out working in the heat water and gatorade or some other electrolyte drink are a necessity and will quickly become your very best friends.   I've seen way too many people forget to stay hydrated and get very very sick as a result.  

Most of the cherries looked pretty good and there were a fair amount of them on each tree, which is much better than how our sweet cherries turned out this year.

In case you are wondering, those are plastic grocery bags hanging from the cherry trees.  The sunlight reflecting from the bags and the movement created when the wind blows helps to scare the birds away from the cherry trees.

Unfortunately, it's been hot enough and wet enough that many of the cherries started to spoil almost as soon as they ripened. 

I picked a total of two full buckets worth (Oldest pooped out after a half bucket and went to ride her bike).  Then it was off to other chores around the barn.

The first on the list was feeding the cows.   This is Herman.   We usually don't name our cows but Herman is a special case since he had to be bottle fed from birth.  He was heading for a drink of water in the cow barn when I snapped this picture.

Then we checked the silos.  Two of the three are, fortunately, almost completely full which is nice since we probably won't get the corn planted this year because of the wet weather we've been having.

Then we had to work on the small tractor.   Apparently something about the transmission was off, don't ask me what...I'm not great with farm machine mechanics.  I'm simply there to hand my husband and father in law the tools that they request.

Then it was time to feed Bluebird.

Afterwards I had to coax Middle off of his bike so that we could go and look for his missing flip flops and, after about 20 minutes of searching, they were found and we were headed home.

After a long, long day at the barn it was time to set up the cherry pitter.  It's old (about 100 years old) but it does the job.  I like it much better than many of the new ones, mainly becuase it's made out of a sturdy metal instead of glorified plastic AND because it pits two cherries at one time instead of one like most of the new pitters I've come across.

I got all my pots and pans set up for the process.

The whole process of pitting the cherries took about an hour and we ended up with 9 total bags of cherries.  Each bag had 4 cups of cherries in it.

One of those bags was destined for cherry pie tonight which will be our Sunday dinner desert tomorrow and the other 8 bags went into the freezer.

After it was all said and done I was utterly exhausted and I had so much cherry juice splattered on me that I looked like I was the victim of some horrific act of violence.   A warm bath, my bed and a good book are calling my name. 

The Dreaded Talk

Well, it finally happened.   My daughter asked me where babies come from, which she has been asking for awhile.  I answered with my usual "they come from mommies tummies".   Well this time it didn't work.   She wanted more information.   And I was totally unprepared.  

I remember back when I was little and I asked my mother about the birds and the bees.  She turned red in the face and promptly went out and bought me a book.   This particular book, I can't remember the name of it for the life of me, spent a great deal of time talking about belly buttons and then it showed a picture of a half naked man and woman floating away into the sky.  For years I was sure that one of the main reasons for roofs (aside from keeping out rain and snow) was to keep people from floating into the cosmos during sex. 

Well I was bound and determined to give my kids a more realistic idea of that particular aspect of life.   Our conversation went something like this:
Oldest: "Mom, did you eat the baby before he was born?"
Me: "Huh?"
Oldest: "You said the baby was in your tummy.  Did you eat him?"
Me: *quiet chuckle* "No, I didn't eat him."
Oldest: "Well, then how did he get in there?"
Me: "Uhhh"
Oldest: "Where do babies come from, anyways."
Me: "They come from mommies tummies."  (oh please, oh please, oh please stop the humanity)
Oldest: "Yes, but how do they get in there, what do daddy's have to do with it all?"
Me: (oh dear God, is there a hole I can crawl into...)  "Well, babies come from eggs."
Oldest: "Like chicken eggs?"
Me: "Well...sort of.  Only much, much smaller and without the shell."
Oldest: "So you ate a baby egg?"
Me: "No, no these eggs are already inside of women."
Oldest: "How do they hatch?"
Me: "They don't.  I mean, not exactly."
Oldest: *staring intently waiting for more information
Me: "Well, see, these eggs sort of turn into babies."
Oldest:  "But how do they turn into babies?"
Me: (why don't houses come with escape hatches...)
Oldest: "Don't daddies have to do anything?"
Me: *turns to DH* "Help"
DH: *shaking head* "She's too young."
Me: "She's almost seven.  Plus they say that you should tell them these things when they start to ask..."
DH: *still shaking his head*  "Too young"
Oldest: "Well?"
Me: (panic, panic, panic) "Well, ok, see, daddies have something called sperm (insert embarrassed groan from DH here) and the sperm fertilize the egg and then it turns into a baby."
Oldest: *looking confused* "Fertilize it?"
Me: "Uh, well yeah.   See everybody has 46 pairs of chromosomes and the sperm contains half of those chromosomes."
Oldest: "cromnosomnes?"
Me: "Chromosomes.   Uh...chromosomes are made up of genes."
Oldest: "Like the jeans you wear?"
Me: "Well...no.   These are the genes that decide what color eyes you will have and what color hair you'll have."
Oldest: "How do they do that?"
Me: "Well genes are made up of something called DNA and...."
Oldest: "DNA?"
Me: "DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid..."  (abort, abort, abort, this ship is crashing!)

Oldest: *looks at me like I just took the short bus from Mars*
Me: "Ok, you know what we're going to have to continue this conversation later.  I have to run out to the store, there's this book that I have to pick up."

So that was a disaster.  I went from babies in mommies tummies to trying to explain chromosomes and deoxyribonucleic acids to a six year old.   I did manage to find a decent book that was accurate without being waaay too graphic or over her head at the library and it didn't show anyone floating off on clouds into outerspace surrounded by glitter.   For the next two, I'm just going to skip the middle man and head straight to the library. 

Well Hello There.

Meet Mr. Cicada...

Or...at least what's left of him.   I haven't heard the incessant buzzing sound of an impending cicada infestation this year so you can imagine my surprise when I walked outside to see this juvenile cicada exoskeleton on my back deck.   Later that afternoon I inadvertantly squashed a teneral (ie. teenaged) cicada on my floor.  That unfortunate fellow could very well have been the same one that left it's skin outside my door and scared the bejeebus out of my kids (the looks on their faces when they saw this were priceless.)
The last outbreak of cicadas here was in 2007 and I had these exoskeletons all over every tree in my yard, every tree in the orchard, and several on my house, barn and shed.   It doesn't seem as though we should be due for another outbreak like that for awhile, methinks these guys will be out in very limited numbers this time around.

Now, for a Thrifty Thursday (yes, I know it's actually Wednesday but I try not to get bogged down by technicalities) update.
If you have hard floors anywhere in your house then you probably own a Swiffer or some kind of Swiffer equivalent.   If you don't, you should, they are handy little things to have around.   Of course, if you have one of these then you probably also realize that buying the replacement pads can start to get a bit expensive.  I bought a 12 pack for $4 on sale yesterday and while that sounds like a lot they don't last as long as I would like.   The answer:  Make your own Swiffer cover!  
I made this one for my Swiffer Wetjet and it works for dry dusting and wet mopping.  

It's made out of a small amount of 100% cotton yarn ($1.97 on sale).  One small skein will give you about three replaceable covers. 

I crocheted this in half double crochet (hdc), back loop only to produce nice dust catching ridges.   You can check out the pattern here.

The little straps hold the pad onto the mop and are stretchy enough to allow for easy removal.

So when you are done and your cover is dirty, instead of throwing it and your moeny away, you pop it into the laundry and then reuse it.

It's Been a Slow Couple of Days

It's done nothing but rain here for the last week or better so we haven't been out doing much of anything.  I haven't had much going on in the way of projects either.  The kids have mostly been sitting around reading, playing, watching television...
It's been BORING.   Hopefully we'll remedy that soon as we get into the swing of summer.
We have found some incentive to make paper pirate hats which the kids enjoyed for about 4 hours.

"Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That's all, folks! ...

Toy Train

I bought Middle a Creativity For Kids Make Your Own Train kit earlier this week.
We spent this morning building it. 
This sort of thing is right up his alley since he likes loves anything with wheels and he loves building/working with his hands.  

The train before Middle glued on the wheels.

Middle is a fairly rambunctious little squirt but when it comes to projects like this one, he can actually sit still, concentrate and work quietly for a quite a long time.
Which means a nice break for Momma ;)

Painting his masterpiece.

This is the finished product.   The paint job is completely custom xD
I helped him spell out his name and then he picked out the number 4 sticker (for his age) and the heart. 

It has now been run into every wall in our house at high speed and it's still holding together.  I'm fairly impressed, I think it was definately worth the $3. 


New Dining Room Floor

It's finally finished.  We have all the trim done around the floor and the transition from the kitchen to the dining room complete.   It only took a good 3 days to get it done (mostly because DH and I both were really busy with other things and couldn't give the floors our full attention) and now all it needs is cleaned.
Up next, the living, hall, and office area.

I was also going to post a few pictures of the munchkin's garden and the orchard BUT DH had taken my camera, a fact I was unaware of until after he had gone to work, and didn't tell me where he put it when he was finished with it so I was without my camera all day.   I didn't realize how attached I was to that little pink piece of technology until I tore the entire house to bits looking for it today.   Craziness.