Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

I am grateful for this time of year, Thanksgiving.  It is namely an American holiday, but it is celebrated throughout the world under differing names during the harvest season.  It is a time for reflecting on the blessings in our lives, blessings over the past few seasons.  And a time to feast. Umm, I like to eat.  A little too much so, apparently.


There have been periods of my life when it has been much harder to see the blessings I have been given.  During these dark times, I often have thought "I will be happy when...".  I know that despite any trials I will ever be asked to face, there will always be blessings, there will always be things to be grateful for. 

I often reflect back to a lesson I had in YW years ago as a Laurel.  I do not remember the lesson, but I remember our Advisor giving us each a roll of calculator paper.  She asked us to write down daily everything we are grateful for, being specific about precise things or people.  We were asked to never replicate any entries.  I found that sometimes it was easy to fill the paper roll.  Other times it was much harder.  Some days I found only one or two things to add to my list.  But over time, the list was so long that it took an eternity to wind and unwind the roll.  It helped my attitude to change and my happiness to grow exponentially.  I was better able to feel the love my Heavenly Father has for me.

If I were to make a new list, it would take a very long time to read.  But there are certain blessings in my life that bring me the greatest happiness.  These center on my God, country, religion, family, friends, and home. 

I have an unshakable testimony of God, our Heavenly Father, that he is real, tangible, and loves us all.  I also have a testimony of his son Jesus Christ as our Creator and Saviour.  Through him, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins and we have the chance for eternal happiness. I know that the Holy Ghost is real and testifies of these truths. 

I am truly blessed to have certain freedoms available to me that allow me to enjoy these gifts as I see fit.  Our forefathers sought and fought for these freedoms and we are the beneficiaries of these blessings today.

I  will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I have had to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is the true church.  I know this with all of my heart.  I have also been blessed to have gone to the temple to be sealed my husband for time and all eternity.  And have been blessed to have 5 children born under the covenant.

I absolutely LOVE my husband.  He is the best husband and father ever.  And he's a hottie.  He still makes me giggle.  I am grateful he still puts up with me.  I have been blessed to have 5 healthy and energetic children to love.  They light up ye life and make it fun.

I have amazing friends that make life enjoyable.  They lift me up when I am down.  They support me and love me.  I only hope that I bless their lives, as well.

I love my home.  With all its funky wallpaper, bugs, and animal poop.  It is such a joy to live in such a beautiful area, among nature's beauty.  I enjoy the simplicity of life here.  It is so peaceful.

I could go on and on.  But, I won't.  I encourage you all to note the blessings you have and feel happiness in your own life.  Thanks for looking!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Working On My Food Storage

We have become much more acclimated to our surroundings.  I figured it was time to learn some new skills and work harder on adding to food storage.  It's deer hunting season.  We have 15+ of our 40 acres that is forested, with ample wildlife.  Dan is excited to bring home some serious meat.  I need to learn how to can it.

I was very fortunate to have found a "treasure" in our garage, left by the Wallaces.  I found an old pressure canner of decent size and great brand.  It is a Presto No. 7, 21 qt, manufactured in 1951.  It's older than my mom, ha ha.  I was able to easily order the parts necessary to get it going again (new sealing ring, automatic air vent, and weighted pressure gauge).  It sure beats paying $80+ for a flimsy one!  I think I will be able to experiment very soon.  :)

I should also be learning how to skin and process a deer.  I know you are all jealous!  I figured I needed to learn such things.  I am willing to try.  As long as my hubby removes the entrails when I am out of sight, I will help with the rest.  I am NOT that brave!  Yuck!

I have been wanting a wheat grinder SO BADLY.  I hope that we have the finances to purchase one soon.  I will likely order an electric model and purchase a hand grinder later.  I need something that will work for wheat, beans, rice, and chia seeds.  Maybe I should get this one...

I had mentioned previously about Bro. Allan.  He and his wife are excellent resources on food storage.  He had given a fireside last month on the subject and had mentioned 2 items to include in any food storage plan.  Chia Seeds and Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE).  Ever heard of either?  I had not. 

Chia Seeds:
Americans are lacking Omega-3 in our diets.  We have a host of medical issues related to this deficiency:  Cancer, Arthritis, Obesity, Heart disease, Arteriosclerosis, and Diabetes... to name the worst.  Chia seeds are the richest plant based source of Omega-3.  Period.  A 1/4 cup of the seeds equals nearly a pound of salmon.  And it is considerably cheaper than salmon.  And easier to store.

They also benefit us because:
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli
  • 6 times more calcium than whole milk
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • The omega-3:omega-6 balance is ideal for human consumption.
  • It also contains other very useful minerals: zinc, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, copper, and boron, which aids calcium assimilation. All of these minerals are also useful for good body chemistry. 
For more information:

My experience with Chia Seeds:
I purchased some earlier this week.  I have been taking the recommended 2 T a day.  I feel better.  I have more energy, think I lost a bit of weight (I hate weighing myself...), and am very "regular".  I definitely am much more hydrated, because you must drink alot of water to take them.

I will note that soaking the seeds in water before consuming is probably healthiest, but... blech!  The seeds absorb water at a nearly 9:1 ratio.  That means they resemble fish eggs in both appearance and texture.  And they are so gelatinous that it is much like drinking jello with seeds.  That is only if you flavor it, by adding juice of a drink mix.  But the taste is fine.  It hardly tastes at all. 

I have a dear friend that was merciful and ground some seeds for me.  It is much easier to just put some on any food you would normally eat.  It looks like you just added a very generous amount of pepper.  But it does not affect taste at all.  Much easier to stomach it in this fashion, in my opinion.  Make sure to drink lots of water!
Grapefruit Seed Extract:
It is amazing as a natural antibiotic.  The Allans served a mission in West Africa.  GSE was extremely effective when used for malaria, which is rampant there.  It would sometimes fully cure or at least minimize the effects.  It would make a wonderful addition to any food storage program.  it stores well and may very well be a life saver if medicine was scarce.

To read about the Allan's experience with GSE:
More information:

My experience with GSE:
I purchased a bottle of GSE vitamins and have been taking them for nearly a week.  I have had this small infection on my foot that started from a splinter that was impossible to remove.  I still have an infection, but it is lessening each day.  I attribute it directly to the GSE.  I have also been giving some to my dog. She has an eye that is red and slightly swollen.  It looks better, but not completely.  The Allans were using a higher dosage with their experiences.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs...

I have been giving away free eggs constantly and I still cannot keep up.  I guess its time to figure out new ways to use them up and/or 'store' them.

I found a great tutorial on drying fresh eggs on another blog.

3 easy steps to drying eggs:
1. Scramble them.  Do not use any form of oil.
 2. Dry them.  She used her dehydrator, but an oven will work.  Make sure there is NO moisture left.
 3. Crumble them by hand or blend them for storing.  Supposedly they just taste like hard cooked scrambled eggs.

It is very possible to "freeze" eggs, as well.  on this same blog, she puts a pinch of salt in a dozen eggs, scrambles them, and pours them into ice cube trays.  when they are frozen solid, she pops them out and puts them in a double freezer bag for later use.  She says that one cube equals one egg.  When ready to use, put them in a bowl in the refrigerator to thaw and use as normal.  Handy.

For more detailed instructions on how to freeze eggs, visit this blog:

I will certainly try both methods, although freezing appeals to me more.  At some point, my hens will slow down on egg production.  Hopefully.  Otherwise, we may be selling some hens or even eating some!

For ideas on egg recipes:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Loving Missouri

Just in case you have not figured it out yet, I love living here.  A lot.  There are some serious benefits to living in an area with 1) seasons, 2) great people, and 3) amazing history. 

We had one week this summer that was seriously HOT.  Like Houston hot.  And of course, my BFF Tasha was here that week.  Poor girl.  The 4th of July was blazing hot.  But the rest of the summer was completely tolerable and nice.  It was great to be able to go swimming with the kids at the pool in Albany whwere they could meet up with their friends or go to the Mozingo lake. 

The kids were able to visit with Tasha and her kids, hang out with besties, and relax at home.  We really didn't go anywhere, but it was nice.

Fall began with milder weather in September and actual evidence in the leaves.  Wow!  I thought it was so funny when Emma asked me if the trees were sick.  She just didn't see much of that in Houston.  LOL. 

We are starting to see evidence of a real winter already.  I seriously cannot wait!

Great People:
Yes, we do have a nutter for a neighbor (no, freak-O has not moved and does not plan to anymore).  But there are some amazing people that we have met.  The kids all have best friends that seem to have been made for them.  Seth is especially patient and kind to Dallin.  So nice.  Even the grown-ups have wonderful friends!

I am getting to know some people that own properties here and are here part of the year.  They bring serious knowledge of the gospel.  It has been such a blessing to have some firesides about some of their knowledge about church history or preparedness.  Very intersesting!  If you are curious about some of these things, check out this website from Brother Allan  Check out his links on the left bar for : "religious writings" and "health".

Amazing History:
We live in an area that is rich in church history from 3 eras:  Anciently (Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Garden of Eden), Book of Mormon era (Zarahemla), and Latter-Day (Far West, Independence, Liberty).  I have been able to visit most of these areas and learn so much more. 

I went to Carthage Jail and Nauvoo this summer with the YW.  It was so amazing!  I could feel the spirit so strong at Carthage upon our arrival.  I struggled to keep the tears back!  I loved sharing that with the girls.  We also went to Nauvoo and saw the Pageant that night.  Interstingly enough:  the prophet Joseph Smith had recived revelation that Zarahelma was to be built (or re-built?) across the river in Iowa.  Hmm! Coincidence?

Here's a pic of the girls and I in Carthage.

At the Visitors Center in Nauvoo.

Some of the girls with some cute pageant boys in Nauvoo.

I had previously visited Independence, where the Garden of Eden was once located and where the New Jerusalem will be built.  There is a really cool visitors center there.  The kids loved it!

In August, we visited Far West with the Youth.  There was a thriving LDS community there for a short spell.  they built some houses and dedicated a temple lot, but were forced to leave before doing anything more than placing cornerstones for the temple.  Something I learned that day:  The temple site is the exact location where Cain killed Abel.  Wow!  I suppose that is why it is sacred.

In September, the youngest 3 kids and I went to Adam-Ondi-Ahman (AoA).  We were curious to see what it was like.  I am grateful to have had this experience with them!  I explained what was significant about this site and asked the kids if they would like to go.  They were so excited!  As we got out, Cole said to me, "Mom, let's be very quiet and reverent, so we will feel the Holy Ghost".  It was very important to him to be there.  He told me later that he thought he would see Adam and Jesus there one day.  Special boy!

Zoe, Emma, and Cole in front of the Valley of Adam-Ondi-Ahman

Not only is AoA the place where adam dwelt and blessed his posterity before he passed, but it has significance to other times, as well.  Apparently the Nephites knew about this place.  There is an old alter dating back to their times on Tower Hill (on AoA property).  And it has future significance, as well. It will be the site of a future grand council where Jesus Christ will meet with His stewards of all dispensations and receive back the keys of the kingdom in preparation for His Second Coming. Wow!

I am so excited to learn more and see more sites!  I love it here!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn Around Us...

I haven't posted in months and I have been chastised for it.  Repeatedly.  I have been busy, but also just very lazy.  The kids started school in mid-August.  How nice is it to have ALL the kids in school all day 4 days a week?! (We don't have school on Mondays here...)  So nice that I have become lazy and spoiled.  My only 'job' is maintaining the house and caring for our animals.  And still I am surprisingly behind on laundry.  ugh!

This is the kids' first day of school.  Dallin would not cooperate.  Emma is in K, cole in 2nd, Zoe in 4th, Aubree in 6th (Jr.High), and Dallin is in 8th grade.  They ride the bus together to and from school.  It is so nice.

I cannot believe my baby is in school!

Our animals are doing well. 

Our 23 hens are producing eggs too well.  We have been gathering 18+ eggs a day for months.  We simply cannot give them away fast enough.  I have been offering hens to friends to alleviate the massive amounts of eggs.  Fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs... Just the look of eggs make me feel queasy...

Check out this monster sized egg we found one day.  It is next to a medium sized egg.

On a good note... one of our hens hatched some chicks!  2 survived.  "HennyPenny" is currently raising her babies and they are in the "homely" stage.  One may be a rooster.

We lost one of our goats, Sprinkles a few months back.  We had tied her out and she strangled herself.  We were really sad. :(

Our surviving goat, Cheese, is healthy, but highly annoying.  What was once "cute" is now a nuisance.  She thinks it is precious to sit on our laps.  When an animal is 100+ lbs with horns... so NOT precious!  I have started tethering her in the yard, because otherwise she can get out of her enclosure in 1 second.  Allowing her to wander freely means tons of poop on the front steps and the possibility of a goat running in the house.  Both are uncool.  Trying to get a goat out of the drivers seat is always fun, as is trying to unload groceries.  I have to fight her for the bread and veggies every time.  And the most awesome thing: imagine welcoming guests to your door, with goat droppings everywhere.  "You know you're a red-neck when..."


We had purchased another lamb as a sister for Bella to hang out with.  They love being with the goat, too.  The sheep (Bella & Meadow) are healthy, large, and so sweet.  Compared to our goat, anyway.  They are very attached to Cheese, so sometimes they get loose and get in trouble also.  But they are followers that are much easier to handle.  Fun stuff.

It is nearly time to breed the goat and sheep.  I cannot wait for them to be mothers. Meadow will be a wonderful mother.  She loves to "mother" the cats.  She even beat up my mom's pup when he pestered the cats.  LOL.

At least Cheese will earn her keep with some milk!  Mmmm!  Chevre...

My children have been enjoying school (mostly) and the wonderful Fall weather.  Of course it is hot some days and cold the next, but that is fun to us.  This morning we awoke to frost and ice everywhere! Emma had a blast "skating" across a mud puddle.

We had a Fall Festival with a Hay ride at the Branch on a nice cool day.  We had a blast.  Halloween was fun.  But as usual I did not take pictures.  We are looking forward to having Thanksgiving with the Branch at the church.  We love it here!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Days

I have survived my week of Girls' Camp and am now enjoying the easy summer days at home.  The kids and I have been going to the pool in Albany a lot.  They enjoy seeing friends from church and school there.  And I enjoy being able to sit back and observe without being in the water (its cold!!!) the whole time. 

Our animals are growing steadily and thriving.  Bella is still scrawny next to her new sister, Meadow.  But she is growing and seems happy enough.  Bella has been shedding, and now that much of her longer hair has shed, she looks much better. 

The twins are happy as ever.  They were recently weaned, and did  NOT like missing babas.  But they are doing fine without them.  They enjoy all things mischievous, including climbing into our vehicles and on the lawn mower, escaping their pen, and head-butting cats.  That is so funny to watch!  Thank heavens they have yet to attack our garden... knock on wood!

The chickens look like adults already!  I know I need to begin looking for eggs soon.  Wow!  Our roosters are starting to "crow", although it sounds kinda pathetic.  They are NOT quite fully developed yet.  Almost!

Our fruits are growing, although it has rained seldom and they need a good rain.  We have squash that can be eaten any day now and have our first cucumber.  Yeah!  We need to get the knack of gardening here.  The soil is rich and absorbs water, but we have little vermin to deal with (moles, field mice, rabbits, raccoons...).  We are still learning!

Tomorrow is Cole's 7th Birthday!  He is so excited!  We need to make it fun!  ;)

Next week:  My best friend Tasha is coming with her kids to visit!  I am SO EXCITED!  I miss her and the kids SO BADLY!  And Cole and Emma miss their best friends Scott and Brooklyn.  Aubree cannot wait to see her sweet baby, Tayven (neither can I)!  Happy dance, happy dance!

I'm A Survivor!

I have survived Girls' Camp!  Woohoo!  I was sick all week with a head cold, so I was not fully functioning.  But it is DONE and ALL the girls had a blast! Such a relief!

We had 3 girls at the main campsite (one a YCL and gone half the time and the others with me as their Leader), and 2 went on the 4th Year Canoe Trip (with Sis. Smith).  I was super worried that the girls would not have fun with only 2 to with me all day. missed them an AMAZING time.  I think it worked!  from the smiles and comments I received, it seems to have their best year yet!  Thank heavens for the energy I did have and my "silly" personality!

The girls made new friends, Sariah won the "Miss Sunshine" award for camp one day, and we generally bonded very well!  Such a blessing!  I LOVE these girls SO MUCH!  They are so sweet and have a spiritual strength that amazes me.  YW rock!

Memorable moments:
The girls on the 4th Year Trip, Zane and Ellen... seeing them come over and down the hill to Camp after their 4th Year Adventure was complete! It was awesome to run to them for some serious hugs and exchange fun stories!

My favorite moment with Sarah... after having listened to her amazing testimony, seeing her with her newest REAL friendship with Kendall! I was secretly crying behind her for joy!  She had been a bit sad all week without her best friend (could not come due to a recent surgery).  She had put herself out there, despite her discomfort and made a friend that loved her equally as much as she loved her.

My favorite moment with Sariah... seeing her joy when she won the Sunshine Award at Camp!!!  She had set out to win it on day one and her commitment to friendliness paid off.  Yeah!

A special moment with our YCL, Jenna... being her "arms" during our AWESOME skit! Despite our small numbers, I think we had a memorable skit.  It was funny and the girls were proud!

My favorite with Sis. Pam Smith... staying up till who knows when talking about our love for these AMAZING GIRLS! We had a blast!

There are SO MANY more to mention, but I cannot do them justice with my limited writing skills.  Just know I had a wonderful time and CANNOT wait till next year!

By the way, I have an awesome video of my dancing skills on Facebook.  I just cannot get it to upload to my computer.  So here's a link to my timeline...!/amie.haddock

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

YW Camp On My Mind

I have a few days left to prepare.  Next week is all about YW Camp!  I am excited!  Is that because I have never gone as a leader...LOL.  It will be fun.  I will MAKE it fun.  Oh yes, I will!

The Camp theme this year is "Hold On" D&C 121:7-9.  We were asked to make flags for each Branch/Ward.  We went with an owl theme.  So cute!  The owls were my idea.  I was thinking... Branch... branch... Albany... "Owl"bany... owl on a branch... Okay.  I am a nerd.  But the flag is adorable!  There is a tree with lots of branches and a uniquely made (and colorful) owl for each YW and leader.  The flag will say "Albany Branch YW" and "Hold On to WHOOO You Are". 

Here's the shirt I made.  We all made our own (even those not going to camp).  Each owl (on the flag and shirts) has the same shape, just differing colors/patterns.  They are unique!  EEK!  So cute!

I need to start packing.  I need to make sure I get everything together before Sunday.  Monday morning I will be going down with our only YCL(Youth Camp Leader) a day earlier than most.  I need to make sure I have all the necessities and fun stuff we will need.

My worries:

I am worried about getting exhausted.  I swear that I am tired half of the time anymore.  I will just need to drag myself around a bit and stay positive.  Right?!

I am also a little worried about only having 2 girls with me the entire week.  We only have 5 girls attending.  One is a YCL, 2 are going on the 4th Year Trip (we will not see them until Thurs), and then there are the 2 stuck with me.  I hope these 2 ladies have fun.  My goal is to make it fun and memorable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summertime Begins!

The kids have been out of school for more than a week.  I must admit that last week we did a whole lot of nothing.  No house work, no fun stuff, no nothing. I allowed the kids to "chill" the way they wanted to and they ended up engrossed in one form of media or another.  Why can't they just play outside on their 40 acres?

Yesterday we started our week by swimming at the pool in Albany for Memorial Day.  It was great having daddy off for the day.  We went ahead and bought a season pass to the pool, so we will be swimming also.  I think we will be visiting the library a ton, as well. 

Today we are officially starting our summer routine:  daily chores (house and farm), homework assignments (reading, etc.), restricted media time (TV, computer, video games), and mandatory outside time.  Apparently if we do not plan out their time, they will do nothing but play video games, play on the computer, or watch TV all day.  I feel a bit like a dictator.  But I want to teach them that we have to get something accomplished each day.

My mom will be getting back home in 2 days, so we have a lot of housework to do before then.  All I need is to overwhelm her BEFORE she even spends one full day with us again.  We have been working all morning, are currently taking a break, and will continue to clean this afternoon.  Cursed housework!!!

Neighbor From Hades Update:  We have had very little to do with him for weeks and weeks.  He continues to lock his gate whether or not he is home.  I suppose we might get a wild hair and decide to go up for a visit or take something.  Yeah, right!  Every time we drive past or are outside, he childishly and blatantly turns his head so he will not have to see us.  Not that we are hurt or anything. Its nice to have him avoiding us as much as we wish to avoid him.  I feel safer this way.

Yesterday morning he drives up our driveway to "talk" to my husband.  Apparently he believes we have not returned a wrench and some Jurassic Park DVDs he forced us to borrow (which we returned via his mailbox).  And he was upset that we didn't respond to a letter he wrote to us.  Which we did not get.  He called us thieves and cursed at us.  Dan asked him to leave and he cursed and screamed that we should never step foot on his property.  Which we never had and never will. 

Dan thought he would give him another wrench the same size, despite the fact he remembers returning the borrowed one.  We found that same wrench in our mailbox last night.  UGGH!  The man is completely mental!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Break On the Farm

I haven't posted in awhile.  Whoops!  I have been busy with end of the school year stuff and the first week of summer vacation.  And my husband is officially living here, so I have been enjoying that immensely!  I kinda like having him around for some reason... ;)

Farm News:  We now have 2 little ewes (female sheep), Bella and her new "sister" Meadow.  Meadow has been here for nearly 2 weeks and is adjusting fine.  At first she was a bit freaky.  Not only is she HUGE next to Bella (momma milk, I suppose), but she had been out to pasture all her life and was NOT tame.  At all!  She would go barreling through, ramming her head against fences, to get away from us, etc.  Thank heavens for Bella!  Meadow has been used to being a part of the flock and follwing all they did.  Bella is very tame and lovey, so Meadow has learned to tolerate me and follow me into her pens.  I still am not allowed to touch her, but she doesn't freak out when I am nearby.

Bella and Meadow
Meadow being shy

All of the other animals are doing well.  They are growing quickly!  Our chickens look like adults.  The roosters (there are 3, oh heavens!) are starting to crow a bit, fight a bit, and one is even "acting his part".  Blech!  We will keep one, maybe two.

Our chickens are growing up nicely

Capt'n Dudley Haddock (Cole named him) is watching over his ladies

The twins are so cute and fun!  They are into everything and are little Houdinis!  We have to make sure their enclosures are VERY secure!  They love playing around, climbing on everything, and head-butting anything.  Emma made the mistake of playing "head-butt" with the twins one afternoon.  She ended up regretting it (sore bum and forehead)!

Cheese & Sprinkles are growing quickly and loving life

The twins love torturing the cats (head butting them), and Ruby is ever vigilant

Fun stuff:  We got are garden going with tomatoes, swiss chard, green beans, yellow squash, zuchini, cucumbers, and watermelons.  Yum!  It was HARD WORK (especially when the ground hasn't been worked in a few years)!  We had to till several times, hoe into into rows, plant, and mulch it (straw).  But it looks nice.  We cannot wait to get some veggies!

We now officially have baby grapes!  We have 3-4 old Concord grape vines going strong.  How awesome will it be to have fresh juice and jam?!

A nice close up, the bunch is about 2 1/2 inches long

Glorious, glorious grapes!

The coolest thing...

We have a PEAR TREE that is producing highly!  We didn't even know we had a pear tree!

AND we have TWO.... drum roll, please... APPLE TREES!  Woohoo!  I am just a bit excited.  Can't you tell?

Okay, okay.  The fuits are only about 1 inch long right now.  But how cool is that?!

I should probably say something about my kids... they love summer!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

This Week...

Dan is nearly done with all his traveling.  WOOHOO!  He has been here so little since we've moved that he feels like a visitor.  But when he gets back from Venezuela (Thursday), he will be officially working from home.  He has all his equipment here.  We will just need to set up his office and he's good to go.  Now, where do we put his office...
He has been doing phenomenal at work!  He has impressed his bosses at his local company, which is owned by Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. (they own a ton of smaller chemical companies).  He had a meeting with the "big wigs" of Tessenderlo Kerley last month and blew them away.  He gave a presentation that was dubbed "the best presentation" they had ever seen.  He's a smarty-pants!  They basically had low expectations for his first year.  I think they are seeing that he is very good at what he does.  I think he is pretty awesome.  That's just me.
The kids are doing well and nearly out of school.  Their last day is this FRIDAY!  Lucky me!  They are excited to be doing a whole lot of nothing, that's what they think anyway.  They will be doing lots of farm labor..... Mwah-ha-ha (that's my evil laugh)!   It should be SO much fun getting them to work hard... Yeah, right!
I am focused on 1.  decorating of the front porch and 2.  all things Girl's Camp.  I am such a nerd.  Seriously.  So here's what I did so far for the front porch...
Mom and I painted an old horse trough that is otherwise useless (holes in bottom) the same color as our front door.  We plan to fill it with soil (duh) and climbing roses, hence the trellis.
A plant stand next to the door made from and old ladder.  I want to add more white distressing.
This will be a hanger for a potted plant.  I found all these rusty pieces in the barn.  It is essentially a large pulley wheel with metal bracket and a smaller double pulley.  Notice the cool hooky thing on the rope?!
Close up of the double pulley.  I love it!

Purchased for a quarter, and full of possibilities...  We have several old windows now to work with!