...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, August 14, 2017

My chickens are...well...chicken

I raise chickens.

I guess raise might be a strong word for how this is has gone so far.  The story is as follows: I bought a handful of chickens, I feed them, and they didn't die yet.  Whatever word you use to describe that sequence of events, go with it.

Anyway,  we've had our chickens for nearly six months and I feel like we've gotten to know them pretty well.  They each have their own unique personality and that's fun.  We have a couple of neighbor kids who are so enamored with them that they sometimes come over to hold members of our flock rather than play with our children (it's sort of funny, actually).

Our feathered ladies always get excited when we come out to see them because they know that we often bring them treats (like mealworms...yummy!!).

Yesterday, my husband cut up a cantaloupe.  I have heard that chickens LOVE melons and will pick all the leftover fruit off the rind until all that is left is the thick skin (and apparently, some of them also peck off bits of the rind to eat...which is what our dog does -- eat the whole thing, rind and all).

So, I thought I'd bring them a treat.  I already know they like treats (well, honestly, who doesn't).

I spread the melon rinds around the floor of their coop so everyone could get some nibbles in without having to argue over the food...which happens.

And that's when I learned that my chickens are terrified of melon rinds.

Yup, all five of them high tailed it up into their second story dwelling and none of them would come down.

Daisy, most definitely the leader of the group and the one who usually explores new things, would venture onto the ramp, but even she wouldn't go near these vile, supposed "treats."

The girls stayed up in their roost for HOURS.

But I wasn't going to budge.  These ladies were going to learn that cantaloupe is not lethal (generally speaking...I'm sure there's a story somewhere of death by cantaloupe).

And eventually, they must have gotten tired of each other because they cautiously wandered downstairs (Daisy went first).  They were extremely careful to walk around the orange, fruity, invaders (and Devorah threw a squawking tantrum when her toe touched one of them -- no kidding -- diva).  They kicked around the straw on the floor to hide the rinds and then everything was back to normal.

Our dog snuck in and ate the rinds later that day when we let the chickens out to wander the yard

Oh, the adventures of a suburban chicken owner.

On a related note, one of our ladies has recently started laying eggs and I'm sure the others will follow suit very soon.  My kids are still totally enamored with the fun of looking for eggs every day...and if I'm honest, so am I.

Our first ever home grown (??) egg in the awesome egg basket Josh bought for me on our trip to Chicago this summer.  Yup, my egg basket is imported all the way from Illinois.  That's fancy!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer of Musical Theater

Four of our six children perform with a musical theater group.  They love it and I love that they are part of it.  

But, being in the group means we travel the Salt Lake Valley during show seasons (summer and again at Christmas time) to perform at fairs, community centers, and other events.

However, it also means that I get to watch my sprites develop their singing, dancing, and performance skills all summer long (and seriously, it takes a lot of work and athleticism to make this happen).  I kind of love that.

And I kind of like showing them off (I really am proud of this crew).

So, lucky you.  Here's some of the fun of summer. via a few of our musical theater performances (the last of which was yesterday afternoon).  

Be impressed (or don't, but keep that to yourself please).  These kids really are great (even if I do say so myself...and I totally do).

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Accidental Carrots

Today I was working in my yard when I noticed some frothy white blossoms growing out of the middle of a patch of Black Eyed Susans.

Now, I LOOOOOVE Black Eyed Susans.  I tried planting them at our old house and I never could get them to grow so I'm kinda thrilled that they are thriving here.

And that's why I wanted to get rid of whatever intruder was edging its way into their territory.

So I followed the stem of the invader down to the ground and used a shovel to loosen the dirt so I'd get the whole root but not dig up my happy, yellow, beauties.

And I got the whole thing.  Right down to the root.

This was the root.

Yup.  It was a carrot.  (I've never had a carrot get to flower before so I had NO idea that this is what they looked like when they do.)

Unbeknownst to me, underneath the canopy of Black Eyed Susan growth, there was a family of carrots happily thriving in the shadows.

I was clueless (um, what does that say about my gardening prowess).  I have been unwittingly caring for carrots all summer and until now I was in the dark about the whole thing (sneaky little creatures).

But, hey, that's a happy accident.  I've never had much luck growing carrots on purpose, who knew I was much more skilled at growing them by mistake.

We ended up with a good little haul of yummy orange friends and they made a delicious addition to our dinner.  Some people around here whined about the unexpected vegetable, but I told them proudly this is something we grew in our garden...even if we didn't know we were doing it at the time.

I'm sure there's an analogy in there somewhere.

Sometimes life gives you weeds, and sometimes it gives you carrots.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Nose bopping and other frustrations in marriage

My husband and I had a fight today.

Ok, maybe fight is a strong word.  But we couldn't agree and we both ended up mad and it wasn't exactly pretty.

It all happened on an aisle in Lowes.  We have been building a back yard shed (more on that another day) and we were planning to put some shelving up and we both had different ideas on how that should be done.

We were actually trying to each grasp the other's point of view in the beginning, but we weren't seeing eye to eye and we weren't understanding completely what the other person thought and it blossomed into hurt feelings and frustration.  Josh headed off to get other items and I stalked off to the paint section to look at color samples for paint that we don't need (I mean, there's always something that needs painting, right?).

We were both steaming.

And, to be honest, sometimes that happens.

Our marriage is good.  Like really really good.

Even when I am THE MOST frustrated at Josh he is still my favorite person on the planet (I just want to bop him in the nose to help him see straight sometimes).

But that's just it, we are both people.  We both have ideas and opinions, we both make mistakes, we both get impatient and grumpy sometimes, and sometimes we are selfish and stubborn (I'm pretty sure stubborn came on my warning label at birth).  It's not something to be proud of, but it's just a fact.

Two people living together, going through the ups and downs of life, dealing with kids and houses and cars and the day to day grind of being a human are not going to get along ALL of the time.  They are going to disagree.  They are going to dislike something the other person says or does.  They are going to have to compromise.  Each one is going to get their own way sometimes, and each one is going to have to give in to the other person's way sometimes.  That's the way it is.

And once in a while, it is good for me to be reminded that my very own happily ever after is not a collage of exclusively perfect, pastel colored moments.  There are some dark strokes in there, but that is part of what gives the picture its depth if we stick with it and see it through.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying it's good to argue -- but what is good is realizing that not every moment will be perfect and that one dark corner is not worth giving up the beauty of the whole creation.

So back to Lowes, I waited for Josh at the front of the store (after briefly considering the long walk home but falling prey to the allure of air conditioning).  He eventually came up and gently suggested we try the shelving dilemma again.

We returned to the scene of the crime and then we tossed aside our two original ideas and happened on a third option that was completely different than anything we had considered before, but it turned out to be just the solution we needed.

That's generally the way it goes.

Troubles come.  Arguments happen sometimes.  But we're in it for the long haul.  That's something I know I can rely on and there is great comfort in that.

And even when I really want to bop him on the nose, I'm exceptionally grateful he got stuck with me as a partner.  Overall, we make a pretty good team.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Raspberries-R-Us (yippee!!)

Tis the season for raspberries.


And for the first time in forever (yup, I hear a lot of "Frozen" so I totally sang that line in my head while I typed) I have more raspberries than I know what to do with.

Ok, actually, not more than I know what to do with, but lots more than I'm used to having.

So hooray!

Here we are all clean and cute and so cool we're ready for the freezer.

In the past, I have had to rely on my friendly, neighborhood berry dealer to help me get my fix.

She did even donate some starter plants to my cause a couple of years ago, but they weren't producing much more than a handful by the time we moved out of that home (hopefully the new owners are happily indulging).

However, the previous owners of our new (to us) house had the foresight to realize I am a raspberry lover and so they kindly planted and nurtured raspberries.  I think that was pretty kind (I haven't met them, but they sound like they are really great people...and planting a mess of raspberries is pretty good proof if you ask me).

Our biggest berry patch all barren of red fruit.

Anyway, the point is, now I have enough berries to munch on by the handful, make jam for the year, AND to freeze berries to use in recipes for a while (not to mention all the berries that got gobbled up by my dog and my chickens...rotten creatures!).  My kids have been picking every few days and I even managed to convince the neighbor girls that picking berries is fun (don't worry, I paid them in plump fruit).

A glut of raspberries is a great problem to have.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chicago -- That Toddlin Town

Almost two years ago I came across a fantastic deal on a condo in Illinois and I dreamed up the idea of taking Josh to Chicago.

Josh served a mission for our church in and around Chicago 20 years ago and he's always wanted to go back.

Boom!  Wish granted!

I worked out all the details and planned all the bits and it really was an amazing adventure.

We decided to make this a couple's trip rather than trying to take the whole family.  Our kids had TONS going on the two weeks we were gone (like jobs, a pre-girls camp backpacking hike, scout camp, youth conference, musical theater performances, etc).

My parents courageously volunteered to manage our half dozen children in our absence and off we went (I say that like leaving them was nothing, believe me, it was rough for me to leave my babies).

We decided to make this excursion a road trip so we could stop and see things along the way.

First stop, Mount Rushmore.  

I have heard people who love this place, and other people who say it really isn't all that exciting.  I can agree that there is not a ton to do here...but I LOVED it.  I was so impressed with the love and care and focus and devotion that went into creating this work.  I loved reading about the artist and his vision and all that it took to make this project happen.  I'm really glad we stopped.

We also did a bit of exploring in the Black Hills while we were there (we don't schlep up to the area real often so good to get it in while it's convenient).  The area was beautiful.  We did almost hit a mountain goat as it came out of the bushes and we did very slowly chase a terrified marmot down the road because the rock walls kept him from being able to escape for a while, but it was a great drive.

We stopped for the night in Omaha and while we were there we went to the Winter Quarters Temple and visited some of the LDS Church History sites nearby.

Then we drove and drove and drove to Illinois and finally reached our condo in Sheridan.  Here you can see Josh's "why are you taking another freaking picture when all I want to do is go inside" face.

We did eventually make it inside and the condo was really comfortable (and surprisingly easier to keep tidy without our crew of youngsters).

On Sunday we attended one of the LDS branches were Josh had served as a missionary.  They had a building of their own (something new since he was last there) and there were a few people still in the ward who he knew from his mission.  It was really fun to hear them talk about old times and remember the work they did together.

Then I made us stop at this awesome, abandoned, haunted prison in nearby Joliet.  It would have been really fun to sneak through the fence and explore, but the signs said not to and Josh said I had to behave.

Our next stop was Starved Rock State Park which was one of my favorite places.  I love to hike and while there really aren't any mountains in Illinois (or even really hills...or large mounds), we "hiked" the trails into the "canyons" and this place was amazing.   

Plus, the trees were incredible.

Fabulous live tree.

Fabulous dead tree.
 Anyway, Monday morning we drove into Chicago for the first time.  

Driving to Chicago looked like this pretty much every time.

It was miserable (I may or may not have whined about it incessantly).

But once we got into the city and paid the $22 parking fee (gulp...and I thought Utah parking fees were bad) we had a lot of fun.  

First stop, the aquarium.  We found when we arrived that it just so happened to be free day for residents...which meant the place was packed!  It was crazy crowded, but it was still fun to see all the creatures.

We spent half the day at the aquarium and the other half at the Field Museum.  I do love a good museum.

Day 2 in Chicago we went to the Art Institute.  This was by far my favorite place that we saw in the city.  It was really great to explore all the cultures and time periods and just plain creative ideas of the artists.

Ye olde medieval hymn book

Armor for all ages (not sure who needs a tin suit for their three-year-old...but ok).

 This museum also features MANY works by my favorite artist, Claude Monet.

And there were plenty of other things to keep us...er...entertained.

Yes, this is an actual piece of art on display in the museum.

Chicago day three took us to the Museum of Science and Industry.

This is where I missed my children terribly.  They would have loved to touch all the things and try all the experiments.  In fact, it was sort of not at all exciting there without them.  

Science Museums -- not really very good without your children.

Josh plays tic-tac-toe with a robot (he didn't lose)

Captures WWII German U-Boat -- yeah, that was pretty cool.
 On the way back to Sheridan that afternoon (after our obligatory stint in traffic) we stopped at a restaurant Josh has been bragging about to me since I met him.  He always tells me Giordano's is the best pizza on the planet and 20 years later he got to indulge in it again.

Eat at Giordano's was item #1 on Josh's "things to do in Chicago" list.

Item #2 on the list (and also the last item on his list) was buy a Cubs hat while in Illinois.  Done and done.

But, as we drove home that evening, Illinois had a surprise for us in the form of a pelting rainstorm that made it so we could barely see the road which was also quickly littered with leaves and branches.  The windshield wipers couldn't keep up so we slowly limped back to the condo.  

Our last day trip in Illinois was to the Chicago Temple (not exactly in Chicago, but still included the traffic to help us feel at home).

We also made a quick stop at the nearby Bahai Temple which was a beautiful building as well. (Favorite quote of the many engraved on the building, "O rich ones on the Earth, the poor among you are my trust, guard ye my trust.")

And then it was time to start for home.  We took a brief detour to Nauvoo to go to the temple there and explore the historical village.  That was a really cool place and we really enjoyed seeing it.  I can't explain the peaceful spirit there, but we learned a lot as we got to see for ourselves places we've read about in church history for many years.   Josh and I each have ancestors who were part of the company that settled and then fled from this area and that added a measure of care to the day as well.

That night we just barely made it to our hotel (thanks for giving out on us GPS) which was across the Mississippi River in Iowa.  By the way, Mississippi River -- yeah, we don't have stuff like that in Utah.  Impressive.

Our...um...sketchy hotel gave us this already battered and well-used paper folder with our key inside and we hoped the door would hold and that the stains on the floor weren't from anything too horrible.  It was not my favorite hotel we've ever stayed in.

Sunday morning we attended the local branch in Fort Madison in which the primary had as many children as we do, but they sang their little hearts out for Father's Day and it was super sweet.

We then trekked back across the river to visit Carthage and see the jail where the prophet, Joseph Smith, was held and eventually murdered.

I expected this to be a somber place, but it wasn't.  To me, it was peaceful and warm.  It was an inviting place.  I am really really glad we were able to stop.

And then it was time to hit the road for real and head for home.

We made it home in one piece and the kids were in one piece and the house was in one piece and my parents still liked us so all in all, it seems like the trip was a success.

Actually, it was a giant success.  I got to spend two weeks with my favorite person in the world doing one of my favorite things (traveling and seeing new places).  We met great people (and a couple of crazies...remind me to tell you about the guy who told us about the city under Salt Lake City and then the city under the city under Salt Lake City).  We spent time in the temple (another favorite place) and just got to enjoy life together without all the everyday distractions.

I loved it. 
(But let's take the kids next time).

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