Monday, March 31, 2008

Yeah well, I am going to look like a dipwad tonight...

All that rain we got Saturday night and Sunday, over 6 inches at our place, up to 20 in surrounding areas, caused some MEGA flooding at our favorite park. The kids and I went to turn the snake loose(see previous entry) today and discovered a mess. I had barely stepped out of the car when a news crew approached to ask me what I thought about the damage. Since I hadn't had time to look around and didn't see much from the parking area, I told the reporter it didn't look all that bad. I could not have been more wrong! It was awful!!!! I did email her to amend my position, hopefully that will make it on there too. Sheesh!!

(same net, different snake, obviously this one drowned in the flooding)

(the bridge railing over part of their "drainage system")

(the wood chips that are usually IN the play area were washed out to the middle of the park, this is about halfway out)

(lots of leaves and sticks were stuck to every structure in the park, picnic tables, play equipment, and trees)

(along with whole and/or big parts of trees)

(they had chain saw crews working on some of this as we left the park)

We walked down the trail(toward Highway 80 for those local) and saw much more damage, including a huge tree that had fallen across the trail. Parts of the trail were under water but it was mostly clear except for washes of mud. The coolest thing was that when we came to the dead snake there was a baby beaver on the creek bank. I thought it was a nutria at first and didn't snap its picture. It slid in the water and began swimming slowly downstream, slapping its tail and diving up and down. That makes skunks, mice, wild hogs, deer, coyotes, hawks, turtles, snakes, and possums that we KNOW live at this park. Oh yeah, Ryan saw a coyote on the way home, not too far from the park. I think a lot of animals got displaced because of the flooding.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A REAL Breakfast!....

We had one this morning! I made ham, scrambled eggs, and biscuits using Homesick Texan's recipe and they are wooooonderful!!! A bit of work but oh so worth it, I ate FIVE of them(they were small, I used a 2-inch cutter)! I used half whole wheat and half regular flour and made my buttermilk with our raw milk and vinegar but I don't think these changes skewed the outcome one bit! Amy proclaimed them to be delish!

We had a little storm last night, hail and 80mph winds to the northeast and southwest of us but just rain, loud thunder, and lightning here. It scuttled Mark's softball practice for this morning for sure when it started up again at 4am. It is after 9 and still raining hard. We haven't had these kind of rains in years! Our yard is a lake. Guess this is a sign that we have "inside" work to do. Like cleaning our bedroom. I also want to work on my hexagon quilt and gather fabrics for a few quilts I have planned. Sometime this week I have to get a new cutting ruler because Amy stepped on mine and broke it.

We still don't have baby piggies yet. The longer she goes means she is more likely to have 1 or 2 babies instead of a handful. This is a good thing. It has been 20 days since I felt the first movements, typically they deliver 14-21 days after that. I haven't checked her dilation yet this morning but last night she was almost 1/2 an inch so things are progressing, just verrrry slllowwwwly. Sigh.

This is a big birthday week at our house. Tomorrow Rainbow and Moonshine turn 1 year old! They are Basil and Luna's babies but we lost Luna to a birth complication a week after they were born. Ruby and Rosie, our Oklahoma kitties, will turn 4 on April 1st, then Mark on the 5th and Magic Panda on the 6th. Busy week!

(Sarah with Rainbow and Moonshine)

(Panda-in front-, Moonshine and Rainbow)

I hope everyone has a great Sunday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Learning and Guinea Piggin'....

For some reason I have a hard time writing about how my children are educated(aka unschooled). I feel the need to describe it with a label and unschooling happens to fit more than any other. Using the word "homeschooling" gives most people the impression that we sit at the kitchen table with workbooks which is totally false so I go with unschooling. But the word is negative and I also have issue because of the word "school", it is telling what we don't do rather than what we are doing. I already intensely dislike the public school system, having traveled through it with open eyes, I don't need a negative label as a constant reminder of it. Classifying learning as something separate from what we do as naturally as breathing, doesn't make sense to me. Teaching, now that is something more tangible. There are many methods of teaching, with supposedly measurable results. But, they don't mean much when it comes to what we "know". Which of these is learning? In 8th grade I was able "learn(memorize)" something for a test but I don't "know" it now. I also "learned" how to crochet a few years ago and I doubt I'll ever forget how. If all my thoughts about learning, unschooling, education, teaching and so forth came out, it would be a flood. I've got loads of stuff inside my head about it but I can't get it out in an orderly fashion. Nobody would understand any of it because I can't sort it out into rational segments. I think it has to do with my personality. I know what I know and that's enough. I don't feel the need to try and convert someone to my way of thinking(haha, ok occasionally I do) so I just go on doing what I do. What I know is that learning takes place ALWAYS, even when we sleep we dream. I learn all sorts of interesting things from my dreams. See? It is hard for me to express! It is life. 'nuff said.

Now for some fun stuff!
***edited to add****
Sarah has been catching lizards for a few days now. They keep biting her. The snake is doing very well. I'm still trying to decide where we'll release him. I've read that they are territorial and I wouldn't want him to get in a fight with other snakes if I put him someplace new. But, I don't want him near that icky netting crap either. He'll be free tomorrow no matter what though.

Here is Sundae running around with golf balls(babies) in her tummy. Their cage is much cleaner today, this film was from last night. It has been 18 days since I first felt them moving so it should be any day now. Sigh. I'm not good at this waiting stuff at all.

And, my current favorite guinea pig movie, besides those starring our pigs.

And for Susan.

(enjoying a snack in their clean room)

(don't ya just love pink?)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just Call Me....

The Snake Whisperer...

Amy spotted him on the creek bank at park day. Ryan figured out he was injured and trapped in erosion netting. Sarah alerted me. And, I cut him out with my trusty scissors. We have him home to doctor his wounds and then he's going back to the creek(not near the netting though). He's a pretty big Common Garter Snake, about 30 inches long, too old to make a good pet I'm afraid. I am googling how to care for him now. However, we saw no badgers and didn't even think to look for mushrooms...

No piggie babies yet. I haven't checked her dilation today either. Will update this post if she has them today though.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Goings On...

My children have become addicted to Junior Mints. Which is why I had to hide them here, on top of the china cabinet. At least I still have my dark chocolate, they all think it tastes like poison.

I've got the sneezey crud this morning so I'm going to soak in the tub and try not to do a whole lot. My plan was to get my room decluttered enough to start painting on Friday. We have park day tomorrow and that takes up most of the day so I need to do it now. At the very least I'm going to locate all my paint supplies. When I had the paint retinted they told me to pour both gallons together and mix it well since I'd used some out of one of them to do the wall swatches. I've got to hunt down a bucket that's not only big enough but clean enough!

If I end up with some free time, I want to play around with my felting stuff. Over the past several months I've seen a dozen or more cute stuffed owls that are either felt or fabric. I did a small wall hanging last fall that featured an owl and I'd love to do more so I might work on a pattern as well.

Missy Sundae hasn't had her baby(ies) yet. Last year, almost to the week, we had two pregnant sows. Our beloved Luna delivered three babies on March 31st, one was stillborn, and Shimmer(brought home from the pet shop pregnant) had a single baby on April 6th. Luna died on the 7th from a uterine infection caused from the stillbirth. We are praying for a good outcome this time around. Sundae is very young, maybe only three months old, but guinea pigs can breed from four weeks or so. Last night she was dilated about 1/3 of an inch so it won't be long, possibly today, almost surely by Saturday. I haven't checked her today so she might be more dilated by now. For those of you who are thinking that sounds a bit strange, when checking a pig for dilation we aren't talking cervical. It has to do with the space between their pelvic bones. If they are not dilated, the bones feel like the point of a very dull pencil under a layer of fleece, as the bones spread, there will be two pencil points that get farther and farther apart(up to an inch). This can be felt by feeling under their rear ends, totally external!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

more Easter stuff....

But first, a video of Gypsy diving into a drink box and being attacked by Jasper.

Next, more pictures of our Easter visit to Granny and Papaw's place. My camera was fine with the indoor shots but none of my outside things came out. I was able to make a few of them usable but none of the 56 pictures of azaleas, wisteria and other beautiful flowery goodness came out. This was all there was.

(Ryan making a catch)

(girls posing with Granny)

(Amy walking in the front yard)

(retrieving the frisbee)

(hefting a fallen limb off the carport roof)

(girls enjoying the view from up top)

(Granny's spring table)

(a different angle)

(and a different angle still)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

That Cowboy Quilt...

My last post had a picture of my hexagon flower garden quilt in it and Sarah(The Misadventures of Mama and Jack) spotted the treasure underneath! Its an antique quilt belonging to my dad. His mom made it for him when he was about 2 years old.
When my grandmother died in 2005, my aunt gave me her crochet and craft patterns and the original was among them. You can read in the 2nd photo date on it of 1941. Its at my mom and dad's now but I'd love to take better pictures of all the different fabrics she used in it. Maybe sometime this week I'll get it together and post pictures of my family's other antique quilts.

(this is the envelope the pattern came in)

(horse pattern)

(as you can see, the stains came out for the most part)

And I just had to throw this in for fun. I found these treasures at my in-laws home today. MIL collects the most odd things! Isn't this ceramic owl with tennies just adorable? Its a small planter. And the Tiki vase is a treat!

They also don't know it isn't the 1970s any more. This is their game room. I LOVE this color scheme, I really do! On a serious note, she's suffering from dementia and just general old age and it is harder for her to undecorate from season to season. There were lots of Christmas things still up. She's also started decorating with empty plastic fruit cups(some possibly not washed out), empty tomato sauce cans, and folded up chip bags that have been turned inside out. Yipes!!

(Mark made the coffee table out of an ammo box several years ago, his mom added the childrens chairs)

Saturday, March 22, 2008


(Sundae with a fat belly)

The girls wanted to add to their piggie herd so we rescued this bit of cuteness from a local pet store. She was in a cage with four males. This usually means that the female is pregnant. Which, of course, we found out to be true about two weeks ago. Once you feel babies moving it is just two-three weeks before they arrive so we are looking for babies possibly by next weekend. I think she's only got one in there. Typically first pregnancies are either one or two pigs. She is a chocolate, cream and white, crested satin piggie.

(Sarah helped me build a new C&C cage, C&C stands for Cubes and Coroplast- the materials used, notice who was NOT helping)

(Jasper and Gypsy were keenly interested)

(Sundae will be sharing the cage with Stella, our black peruvian, also rescued from the pet store)

(eating kale for extra calcium)

(Mucho Preggo)

Isn't she just adorable? I can't wait to see what her baby(ies) look like!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!

(Boopa, 23 months)

ITS SPRING, ITS SPRING, ITS SPRING!!!! Today is a glorious day! We have abundant sunshine, slight breezes, and mild temperatures. The daffodils are mostly gone, at least the ones in my yard anyway, but there are still plenty of things blooming everywhere. The oaks have leaves but have not yet shed their fuzzy things and the gums are just budding. Tuesday night we had a tornado/tornadoes come through our area. One hit south of Kilgore and traveled 21 miles up to north Longview, touching down on the street where one of Ryan's homeschooled friends lives. He said it was VERY loud. It uprooted some huge trees along their street and took a few roofs off. One passed over our side of town as well. At 9pm the sirens went off so the girls, Mark and I got into the bathroom closet after finding our shoes and flashlights(this took about 20 seconds). After about 10 minutes we decided the coast was clear and it was. We didn't lose power but about 10,000 in our town did. Gotta love Springtime in East Texas.

(homeschool park day-but not this day)

We had park day today too. Ryan had three friends join him so he was extra happy. They spent the whole time in the creek looking for critters. Amy saw a snake, two turtles and two frogs, two pembroke corgis, a cocker spaniel and a great dane. We had tons of homeschoolers, some we haven't seen in months! It was really nice. I got to work on my WiP victorian hexagon quilt. Its a hand-sewn English paper-pieced thing, about 90% done.

(hexagon quilt)

I've got to work on another project this weekend, besides painting. There are 14 of these hearts that will be individual wall hangings for an email group I've been in for over 8 years. I don't think any of them read my blog so I feel safe posting the picture here. Even if they do, its ok. Maybe it will motivate me to get them all completed soon!

(Hip Thinking Moms wall quilts)

I still need to go to the grocery store and decide what to cook for dinner. I'm leaning toward something vegetable-ish. Hmmmm, maybe something out of my vegetarian cookbook.

We've completed the guinea pig cage so now Stella and Sundae have a big space to run around in. Sundae's baby(ies) will be here in the next few weeks, hopefully sooner rather than later. We'll keep them if they are female, sell them if they are boys.

If I don't post tomorrow, I hope everyone has a fantastic and blessed Easter weekend! We have no plans yet, probably just a regular weekend for us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Filling in the pool...

(I love this picture)
Because of the expense involved with maintaining a pool, and the fact that the liner needs replaced(again), we're thinking of filling in the swimming pool. My parents had it put in the summer I was 14 and it has served us well over the past quarter of a century. The summer that Mark and I got married(1990), dad built two beautiful decks off the deep end of the pool. There was still plenty of yard available and the flow of the yard wasn't disturbed. When Ryan was a baby, dad put up a lattice fence to keep him safe. It didn't go around the decks, just the pool and a small amount of the original concrete decking. This definitely limited the usefulness of the nice decks since they were cut off from the pool area. A few summers ago, after Hurricane Rita tore down part of the fence, Mark and I reworked the lattices to include the decks inside the pool area so we could enjoy them as a family. This cut into a good chunk of yard though and now that we've got 2 more large dogs it definitely feels cramped out there.

(this shows the fence just around the pool with the decks on the outside. This was our first limb disaster when it fell on the house and bounced off, barely missing the trampoline. The limb measured 27 feet long, yes we measured it, and was as big around as a basketball at the wide part)

(after the hurricane winds)

(moving the fence)

(more work)

(these pics kind of show how much yard is taken up by the pool area)

One of the benefits from this would be the gain of 3/4ths of our yard back for the dogs and kids to enjoy. Right now they are in a pretty small space with about half being a cement porch about 20x14ft and a 14x14ft trampoline. We have to keep the pool area, decks, and extra yard inside a fence for safety reasons. The dogs would be in the pool if it wasn't fenced and the kids wouldn't be able to use the yard without close supervision. Right now the fence needs replaced anyway. A few summers ago a large limb fell from our oak tree and crushed part of the fence. We patched it but the spot is very weak and looks terrible. By removing the fence, we'd save the expense of a new one($$$).

(limb damage, I sat in that chair crocheting while the kids swam, just the day before, listening to a whacky creaking in the tree. See how it bent the back leg when it landed on the chair? It actually flipped the chair up onto the glass table, I thought it was a car crash when I heard it. Yikes!)

(girls and B-cup in the small yard)

Everyone's concerns about this are different. Mark is worried about the time and labor that will be involved. His job takes up much of his time, even when he is home so it isn't likely that he'd be able to work as it would require. He thinks we'll have to hire someone to run the jackhammers. He doesn't swim but maybe 3-4 times a summer but really enjoys the challenge of keeping the water crystal clear($$$). Ryan's main issue is that the pool is a status symbol for him with his peers. He rarely swam last year, even when his friends came over he would get out MUCH sooner than they wanted to. It bored him. He likes the idea of having huge pool parties and he got to have one last summer complete with us ordering pizza for about 20 teenagers($$$). That obviously couldn't be a routine thing!

(pool party for Ryan's church youth group)
He'd be in hog heaven, however, if we did THIS with it, and stocked it with catfish! But it wouldn't be safe without a fence either and the dogs would wreak havoc on it, not to mention those $$$$. Amy enjoys the pool but like Ryan, she gets out way before the rest of us are ready to go in. She's a homebody, doesn't like to leave the house, and thinks going to the health club to swim is going to not be "as fun" as walking out the door to our pool. Sarah is mainly concerned with the loss of "fun" too. I admit, they do have a lot of it when they get out there. But, they also have loads of fun playing in the hose or "training" the dogs, or filming each other doing tricks on the trampoline.

I'm hoping that they'll all come to terms with this soon and end up seeing the positive side to it. Obviously it will be different this summer than the previous
ones but I don't think it will be worse in any way.