Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Birthdays: Evelyn Turns Seven

A little tribute to our favorite little girl in the whole world. Our Evelyn, smart, sweet, spunky, and adventurous.

She's got a style all her own. Born into a world of boy, she has paved her own path that has blended a world of knights and swords, and dragons and mud with the world of rainbows, and princess, and fairy, and glitter galore.

The fairytale story dynamic didn't change that much, she just added a whole new dimension to the story.

She still lives very much in the world of play hard and get dirty, just in beautiful dresses and the world of pink and purple. She is lively and loving, tough and tender.

Always ready for the next adventure and to explore.

She can run and dance and twirl with a ribbon and play with her babies and in one instant is ready for the world of swords and everything boy in the next.

She is the perfect mix of princess and tomboy. She might seem girly, but she will not be out done by the boys and will always fight to come out on top.

There is never a dull moment with our little girl. Full of adventure and mischief, a twinkle in her eye, and a smile that can melt your heart. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Farm and Garden: Bees

Bees bearding on the outside of the hive
The bees are doing great so far. We clearly have one really strong hive with an amazing queen. The other hive is growing although it is a whole lot slower than the other.
The stronger hive has grown so quickly. It has already filled out 9 frames on the bottom box and is quickly working on the final frame so I have added a new box of frames to the hive. I am really enjoying this hive so far. It is a very calm and gentle hive, after moving the hive around, I took off my veil so that I could see the frames better because I have a really difficult time seeing. I was able to lift the frames and look at how they were doing without them getting too upset. I was a little nervous, so I didn't play around for too long but they were making some beautiful frames of honey and capped brood. Right before we got the new box on, a bee got caught in my hair so I stepped away and had Matt look for it unfortunately it is difficult to find a bee when your hair is about the same color. Being tangled in my hair must of angered it because it climbed up and stung me in the head. It didn't bother me that much, but I have to say that when you hear a bee buzzing near your ear but can't see it and know what the inevitable out come will be; it is a little unnerving. I took a minute to calm down and finished closing the box and gently put the covers back on top.

The hive was growing so fast they created their own frame
on the side of a feeder box
I have to say I should not have tempted fate...the other hive was not nearly as gentle or forgiving. When I opened the smaller hive. I did not have the same experience. These guys seemed to be agitated already and did not like me messing with their frames. I pulled a couple just to see what was going on with them and although slow, they are building out comb and filling it with honey. So I checked the older frames and there was a decent amount of capped brood on the center of the frame so I figured that that was enough checking because they were beginning to crawl on my clothes and not just fly around curiously. I backed away to put the veil on in order to push the frames back together and realized that there was another one stuck in my hair. I was really hoping to get this one out without another sting, but with several crawling on my shirt and towards my head I didn't think it would end well. Matt searched for the stuck bee and tried to brush the other bees away and one got him too. At some point I took my gloves and protective shirt off so that I didn't mash one accidently. Luckily I did not get stung by the bees on my shirt or the one in my hair...I missed the one on my leg though. So as I am wrestling with the last few bees that are telling me to back off, Matt gets the frames back in order and I suited back up to help get to top and cover back on.

Two things came to mind this evening while looking in on the bees. "I think the bees s-u-s-p-e-c-t something...followed by an internal moment of panic that was screaming "THESE ARE THE WRONG SORTS OF BEES". Then I realized I was channeling my inner Pooh Bear.

In the end every thing turned out okay and the bees look great there were only two hive beetles that I could see, and between the two of us only four stings happened. I call that a good ending when you consider that there are several thousand bees in each box.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our Travels: Nashville

This week we went to Nashville to play because Matt had to go to a conference. I've never been to Nashville, and always thought it would be a great place to go. I have to say that I really enjoyed the trip, but without being knowledgeable of the area and things to do, it was difficult to find things to do and places to go that fit all of our likes especially in such a short time. We were there for about two days.

Our first stop was at the Parthenon and Centennial Park. It had a few interesting art exhibits of oil paintings and photography, and I found the history of the building and restoration of the Parthenon to be fascinating. I've know it was there for many years, but I had no idea that it had so much history behind it. We toured the building and walked around the grounds for a while watched the fish and turtles and birds in the landscape and found a historic train engine and plane.

We headed out to find something for lunch and ended up at a great place called The Pharmacy(odd name, but the food was excellent). Although we didn't order any there was also an impressive list of Bier(beer) and there was also an old-school soda fountain. The food was great and, the service was too even though it was extremely busy. The kids had burgers and fries, and Matt and I split a Biergarten Platter; it was a sampling of Wurstchen. We had Jaugerwurst, Currywurst, and Kielbasa. It was served on a bed of sauerkraut, with a couple of mustards and we chose German Potato salad to go with it.

At this point we had to bring Matt to his first meeting and try to find something to do. We tried to find something and decided that driving aimlessly in that town was a little stressful. I did stop a couple of times to take a picture here and there, but we decided to check into the hotel and figure out what options there were.

We ended up waiting for Matt to get back from his tour/meeting and went out to the Chinese Lantern Festival that just happened to be there. I was really excited to see this. It was a really beautiful display of delicate frame structures covered in silk and lit from the inside making an amazing collection of lantern figures.

The next day, we started out and went to McKay's Book Store. This place was huge...we could have probably spent the rest of our time there and still not seen everything. But we had to get Matt to his next place and figure out our day. So we left with our stash of books and dropped Matt off at his trade show.

Then we went to Fort Negley and walked the grounds and got a nice view of the Nashville Skyline from the top of the fort. We learned a little about the Civil War and the fortification of Nashville when it was taken over by the Union soldiers.

The kids got tired and hungry and we left to go on our next place but we couldn't decide where so I picked the Opry Land Hotel. It was huge and unbelievably amazing. It ended up taking up a lot of our day. It has some of the most beautiful indoor gardens that I have ever seen.

There were 4 huge gardens with trails, canals, waterfalls, fountains, beautiful tropical plants, trees, and palms. It was a beautiful walk, and we only saw part of it we didn't make it through all of the gardens.

Overall, it was a fun little stay, I just wish we were better prepared with a plan and an idea of how to navigate the town...maybe on a return trip. It was only a 4 hour drive.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Low Carb Life: Progress Update

Low Carb Update:

To be honest, I am not positive what my actual weight change is as of yet. I do not and will not own a scale. I measure the progress I have been making by the clothes that I'm wearing. So here is a breakdown before I forget to document it.

End of March:
Told I had Diabetes began changing diet wearing a size 18 pants

End of April:
Appointment with an internal medicine doctor. Discussed options and he gave me 3 months to start diet and turn things around to keep off of medication. At this point I had lost about 5 lbs. size 18 was getting looser.

 Diet is still going well. By mid May size 18 is officially gone. End of May size 16 was replaced with size 14.

 Size 14 is getting loose. Yesterday June 6th I comfortably put on a pair of size 12 jeans.
So as of right now my end of June goal is to be near a size 10 pants.

This has been accomplished so far with minimal exercise because of time conflicts. I am really hoping to add consistent weekly exercise over the next couple of weeks to boost weight loss and build muscle.

August 10th: My ending goal is to be as near to the goal that the doctor see for me which was 30 lbs, lowering my A1c to a normal range which is under 5 and lower my cholesterol to a normal range(it was edging up to an unhealthy number).

Even though I do not know actual number progress I am very happy with what has been accomplished so far.

One of my favorite parts of the process is that hopefully we are instilling better habits for our kids because they have genetic history of diabetes from both my side and Matt's side.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Farm and Garden: Rabbits

We have rabbits added to our list of animals that we keep. We are hoping to eventually have them as a meat option in the future when we have the raising and taking care part figured out. We are trying to figure out the best option for keeping them. We do not like the idea of keeping them caged up, so we are trying to figure out how to create a space for them that will give them the opportunity to be on the ground without allowing them to tunnel out of the enclosure.

My hope is that it is a space that allows for rotation between enclosure spaces that have "green spaces" with fresh forage to eat. We have two "nursery pens" (small chicken coops that are for the pregnant does and babies, and would like to create grow-out pens for the weaned bunnies until they reach harvest age or selling age. Our journey began with two white(albino) New Zealand does and a male New Zealand that was white with cinnamon spots.
Our first litter was a surprise and literally scattered around the "rabbit yard". I went in and collected them warmed them put them into a large Rubbermaid type container and brought the babies and the mom inside. It was a mess. she didn't know to make a nest and she didn't know how to nurse so for the first couple of days we had to teach her; thankfully she got the idea and had a start in the right direction. She had a litter of 4 and only one survived. It was Sue(our present buck)who is now known as A Boy Named Sue...or Sue for short. He's white with black spots. Through the year we had a couple more litters, but the Winter showed us that we were not prepared and we lost many of the babies.
We now have three current litters and are now at a point where we have some at butchering age. The kids have decided that they want to keep and tan the skins. I am actually proud of them for wanting to do this because I really like the idea of respecting the animal and making use of as much of it as possible and honoring the animal and being a good steward.

It has been really fun to see what color rabbits come out of each litter. The genetics of rabbits is interesting and we plan to look into it because we have been getting some very interesting color patterns from these bunnies. We started out with two albino bunnies and one red and white bunny and now we have a beautiful mixture of albinos, greys, blacks, browns and variations of spotted.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Farm and Garden: Kittens

We added kittens to our home this week. One unfortunate side affect of living in the woods, having animals and several different kinds of feed means that there will be mice hanging about. Personally, I think they are kind of cute when I come across them in their natural nature...not within my living spaces. All of my kids have a soft spot for creatures big and small and I am very happy and supportive of that, but some boundaries have to be set. I am hoping that these guys will help keep the mouse population under control and out of our living space.
We are still working on names, but so far the cream one is Lily and the grey tabby is Storm.  We have introduced them to each of the animals and thankfully, they have been very good with the rabbits so far, hopefully we can keep a peaceful existence between them and they don't view them as future food and stick with mice.  We have really been enjoying them. Some of the kids enjoy them so much that they don't get much time on the ground.