My empty nest

Empty nest refers to when the last child in the family leaves the home. I am feeling a little bit of those symptoms with the start of school right around the corner.

My almost 10-year-old will be going to 4th grade.

photos Robbie

My 8-year-old will be going to 2nd grade.

rain charlies

My 4-year-old will be going to 4-year-old Kindergarten, two full days/week.

henry sitting on fence post

We have been having a pretty good summer.  Better than I expected it to ever be.  The summer has gone by very quickly for me with a few bad/stressful days here and there.  (Exactly what you would expect if you lived in my house.)  This is the first summer that homeschooling has crossed my mind, for just a few minutes.

I thought of “empty nest” because everyone has been asking me, “What are you and Nola Mae going to do when Henry is in school?”   As if Henry was leaving us to go to college.   My first thought is, “I will miss him like crazy!  Thankfully, 4K is only two days a week!”

He is my shadow.  He is the most independent 4-year-old I have ever had.  He is my entertainment with his stories and ideas.  He is my helper in the kitchen and in the garden.  He is my ironing dude in my sewing room.  He is my spy/extra eyes on the older boys.  He is my biking partner and my skiing buddy.  He is Nola Mae’s best friend and her protector.  She is his shadow.  We will miss him!

 Henry on fence post

My friends that have gone through empty nest have talked about how rotten their teenagers were before they actually left.  In a way, making it a little easier to say good-bye.

Since I have been telling people I am not looking forward to the start of the school year because we have had such a good summer.  Henry has turned into a very mischievous and rotten boy.  He has got me thinking things like “I am going to be thankful for school start!” or “The chickens aren’t going to miss him, that is for sure!”  or “I hope he doesn’t say that word at school!” or “Should I warn his teacher about…?”  or “I am going to enjoy my clean house on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Lately, Henry is:

The snack sneaker – let’s just say, he stinks at hiding the evidence.

The neighborhood social butterfly – many times this summer he has gone to our neighbor’s house without me knowing.  One day, I thought he was in the wood shop with Jack.  When I went to see how that was going, he never made it to the wood shop, and I found him coming up the path in the woods.

henry blackberries

The money hoarder/thief – Jack was cleaning in the toy room and found my missing piano money and the video camera under the bed.   I am still on the look out for my zipper bag that I keep my checkbook in.  Henry found Charlie’s zipper money bag that had $15 of bills in it and some change.  I asked him to give it all to Charlie.  He did, but later took the bills out and put them in his pocket.  We didn’t know this happened until a couple of days later.  I had no clue what shorts he was wearing.  It took me about three days to find that money.

The boy who disappears – the scariest thing for me is I am wondering what kind of mess he has created or what kind of food is he eating.

Henry running

The boy who wants to always do it his way, always with the intention of being helpful –  First story:  I had Charlie’s birthday cake up high on a table that Nola Mae doesn’t usually climb on and I made that clear to everyone.  It just happened that she climbed on that table later on in the day and I freaked out because she could have knocked the cake off the table.  Later on, without me noticing, Henry carried the cake container into the toy room and put it on the bed.   When it was getting close to cake time Henry went to get the cake, bumped his hand on the door frame and dropped the cake container on its side.   Second story:  I found my 2014 license plate sticker sticking to my car door.  When I asked Henry why, his response was that he thought it needed to be moved where I could see it better.

The egg collector – After many many times of me telling him he is not allowed in the chicken coop without me, he still is going in there to collect eggs.  Sometimes I find eggs broken on the ground on the way to the chicken coop, sometimes eggs just appear in the kitchen and sometimes I notice him coming into the house with eggs.

The chicken bully – First story:   Henry’s most recent apology when we were closing the chicken coop up for the night…”Sorry chickens for being mean to you!”

Me:  Oh?  How were you doing that?

Henry:  I was hurting them with a bat.

Me:  I bet that really hurt them!

Henry:  I just wanted some meat from them.

Second story:  One day when I was looking for Henry (first places to look are the garage, garden, the chicken coop, and then the neighbor’s).  I found him in the chicken coop.  He was talking to someone.  I waited outside the door and listened.  He was saying, “You’re not smart.  You’re not smart.  You are smart.  You’re not smart.  You are smart!”  Then he tried to open the door.  The door knob sometimes sticks.  That is when I grabbed it and held it closed.  Secretly, I wanted him to get a little worried about getting trapped in the chicken coop, so he would be afraid to go in there without me.  Because me just telling him he can’t go in there without me doesn’t work!   He tried the door again and said, “I guess it’s locked.”  I heard him doing a little hard work kind of grunting, so I peaked through the window and saw that he was climbing the 3 foot rock wall to the chicken coop window – with three eggs in his shirt and hands.  He made it out the window without breaking any eggs.

The boy who doesn’t listen – see examples in all the above stories.

Henry really is my sweetheart and I will miss him and his teachers will love him.

Henry smile

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Charlie’s favorties, age 8

Charlie’s favorites, age 8

Happy Birthday!

BBFamily8-24-05

favorite color –  Every color, wait, it’s pink.

favorite animal – Horse and chicken.

favorite book – Stink series, Danny Champion of the world, and The Invasion

favorite movie – Star wars The Clone Wars

favorite song – Minecraft song called “mine it out” 

favorite game – Duck Duck Anything

Charlie10-9-05

favorite food – Brats

favorite breakfast – Biscuits and gravy

favorite snack – Root beer float

favorite drink – Ginger ale

favorite restaurant – Hibachi Grill

favorite toy – Oil pastels and paper

favorite friends – Gavin, Weston and Carter

favorite thing to do – Play minecraft, color with pastels, pencils, crayons and markers.

favorite thing to do outside – Hike in the woods

favorite thing about school – Art class

favorite job – unload dishwasher

Photos Charlie

favorite thing to do with Papa – play racquet ball

favorite thing to do with Mama – make a cake

favorite thing to do with Henry – playing outside minecraft

favorite thing to do with Robbie – play minecraft on the tablet together

favorite holiday – Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving

favorite place to go – Uncle Eddie’s house

favorite sister – my only sister!
charlie holding Nola Mae

Where do you want to go on vacation?  –  Uncle Eddie’s house

If you could have any super power what would it be? –  Climb walls and swing from ropes

charlie's apple

I am ready for a new blog name

I am ready for a new blog name

When I started this blog in January 2011 we had three boys, eventually I was hoping for a fourth. I struggled finding a blog name for about six months.  When “Life with three boys” came to my mind I knew it would be easy to change to “Life with four boys” when we had our next baby.

Things don’t always go as you plan. It took a little longer than I planned to conceive our fourth baby. When the fourth baby finally arrived in April 2012 I was in complete shock with the birth of our daughter, Nola Mae Margaret.  (Click here if you want to see the post I did after she was born)

Finally, sixteen months after Nola Mae’s arrival, I am ready to change the name of my blog from “Life with three boys”  to:

“life with three boys and a splash of purple”. 

Tractor kids 720

Thank you, Jack, for helping me with the photos!  And for helping me make and birth these babies of ours.

Cold Press Soaps – for sale

Cold Press Soaps – for sale

Soap bars cut

I have been making homemade soaps for about five years.  I wanted to make soap for a couple of years before that.  I didn’t do it because I was confused and intimidated by the chemistry mumble-jumble and the investment of equipment and ingredients.  Then I met my friend, Lynn, who makes very beautiful soaps.  She gave me lots of encouragement, sold me the ingredients for one batch and let me use her equipment.  I had a blast and my first batch of soap turned out wonderfully! 

My motivation to make homemade soap was to do something fun, have good homemade soap for our family, and to have extra soap to give away as gifts to family and friends.   Then a few members of my family and some friends have asked to buy my soap.  I love my soap and am flattered that others like it too. 

soap in basket

My Aunt Anita has been a good sales person for me, telling many people about my soap, selling my soap at her craft sale in her vacation home community.  My friends, Lila and Rhonda, are great customers and I love that they are sharing my soaps with others.  (This post was prompted by these women and their inquires to what I have available)

The ingredients:  Water (sometimes snow), lye, olive oil, organic coconut oil, palm oil and essential oils.  Some soaps will have exfoliants added, such as ground oatmeal or lavender flowers or cinnamon.

Cinnamon/Orange with ground cinnamon.

soap cinnamon orange

March Flakes (made in March with snow), ground lavender flowers, essential oils – lemon, lavender and rosemary. 

Sold out!

soap March flakes

Patchouli/Orange, ground oatmeal, essential oils – patchouli, orange, lemon.

soap patchouli orange

Lavender and Lemongrass

Sold Out!

soap Lavender & Lemongrass

This soap is an exception…I have cut small bars, each about 2 oz each and put them together as a set to equal 4 oz.

Top bar: March Flakes (made in March with snow), ground lavender flowers, essential oils – lemon, lavender and rosemary.

Bottom bar: Lemon/Lavender, ground cinnamon, essential oils – lemon and lavender.

Sold Out!

soap small bars

My newest soaps…

Juniper, Lavender & Rosemary

soap Juniper lavender rosemary

Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli

soap swirl patchouli vanilla

Felted soap…

Essential Oils:  Lavender, Vanilla & Patchouli (these might be closer to 3 oz. bars)  $3

soap felted

My soaps weigh about 4 ounces/bar.  Each bar is $3.

A great gift for someone special could be soap and a small container of my Beeswax Body Balms or Healing Balms.

July 2013 – Month 7

July 2013 – Month 7

My Uncle Carl from California came to visit this month.  He was able to spend an afternoon/evening at our house.  Nola Mae warmed up to him very quickly.

uncle carl & Nola Mae

Our family went to Big Falls to play in the rapids on a really hot day.  It was the busiest I have ever seen the place.  There were about 30 other people there, usually we are the only ones.  There is a zip-line there where most of the people were.  I would love for the boys to try it some day.

big falls four kids

Just so you know, when Jack went down these rapids his butt dragged the whole time.

big falls Charlie

Nola Mae enjoyed the refreshing feel of the water.

big falls Nola Mae

Good things come in threes:

1)  Jack installed my new clothes line.

clothes line on silo

2)  Jack built a gate for us (my request).  For some reason our road is a toddler magnet.  Every one of our kids loved sprinting to the road.  Maybe it is the thrill of Mama or Papa chasing after them.

Gate for Nola Mae

We have had the W-9 since our first year living here.  It was a tractor of Jack’s dad’s.  We used it to break ground for our veggie garden and that is about it.  It is a big tractor.

Tractor W-9 & kids

We also owned a Farmall H that was useful to us for moving firewood and cleaning the barn.  We decided to sell them both.  It was sad for me to see them go.

Tractor W-9 & H loaded up

3)  I have been trying to convince Jack for at least the last five years to buy me a skid steer.

skid steer

I found some hay!  I am thinking this will be the last winter I buy hay for my horse.  She may need to die or find a new home.  I have fond memories of all the sweat and dust of baling hay on my Step-Dad’s farm.  I had a fun time with Robbie and Charlie going to get this hay.  I pulled them away from the computer to help me one evening.  We drove to the field where the hay was baled and loaded up two loads of 25 bales each.   And then they helped unload it.  In the truck on the way to get our second load Charlie said, “This is fun!”

bales boys unloading

Henry helped unload the second load in the morning.  And helped with stacking it in the basement of the barn.

 bales Henry

My friends and I ordered a total of 170 pounds of blueberries from Country Corner Sales for $2.05/lb.  Last year I paid $2.53/lb.   Not very often can you say, “The price went down this year!”   The pick-you-own blueberry farm is charging $2.50/lb ($0.25 more than what they charged last year).

Blueberry boxes 2013

Nola Mae thought she had her own box.

Blueberry Nola Mae 2013

I harvested my garlic this month and wrote about our garden.

garlic harvest 2013

I boiled eggs one day and went outside before they were ready to be taken off the heat.  I got this exploded egg.  It looks like a chicken head to me.  What do you see?

egg boiled oozing

Charlie has been wanting to bike to town (a round trip is 10 miles) all summer.  We have only done a 4.5 mile loop in our neighborhood a few times.  With complaints and many water stops most of the way.   On this day I added a 2 mile loop, totaling 6.5 miles, to test them out for a trip to town.  I hooked up the train for a bike ride.  Henry on the tag-along attached to my bike and Nola Mae in the Burley attached to the tag-along.  Robbie couldn’t find his shoes so he biked in socks.  Charlie was just plain crabby about the whole idea.

bike train

The 6.5 miles wasn’t that bad after we were done.

A few days later, we went to town on our bikes.  Charlie was pumped.  Robbie was tired before we started.  They raced almost the whole way and I had a hard time keeping up with them.  It took us 36 minutes to go the 5 miles.

bike to town picnic

We had a picnic at the park, then dropped off some of my healing balm at a friend’s house and at the pharmacy.  The pharmacist is testing it to see if they want to stock it on their shelves.   We went to the library for some books on CD for our trip to Milwaukee and then to the ice cream shop.

bike to town ice cream shop

On the way home Charlie was so tired I considered dropping his bike off at my friend’s house (3 miles from our house), putting Henry in the trailer with Nola Mae and having Charlie ride on the tag-along.   Nola Mae was sleeping and Charlie seemed better after more water.  When we were two miles from home Charlie figured out a way to hold onto the bike trailer/stroller’s handle bars with one hand and his handle bars with the other.  He peddled while holding on and there were times I could feel him pushing me and other times when I was pulling him.  He said he would let go when a car was coming and while going up and down the hills.  I could have sworn he was holding on when we were climbing that last hill to our house and I looked back and he wasn’t.   Henry is a good peddler on the tag-along.  It took us 48 minutes to get home.

Often I find Nola Mae walking around with a pen ( or whatever writing utensil she can find) and paper.  Maybe she will be a writer.  She sat with Java for a long time as if she was interviewing her.

Nola Mae & Java

My friend, Lynn, gave me this cute dress for Nola Mae.  I have been wanting to take a cute picture of her in the dress for Lynn.  Nola Mae has been getting the dress dirty before I could get a photo taken.  This is an example of how quick I can be with the camera.  I was in the kitchen, my camera is usually there, I turned around and saw Nola Mae doing this…

Nola Mae on chair

I was admiring how well Nola Mae was playing with this car,

Nola Mae drives tractor

and the next thing she did was take a drink out of this little puddle on the deck.

Nola Mae thirsty

Nola Mae comes out the chicken coop with me often, she is usually on my back, this time she was walking with me.  I feed them and then collect the eggs, so I am not tripping over them or getting pecked when I am stealing eggs.  Nola Mae decided to eat with the chickens.

Nola Mae eating w chickens

Henry is teaching her how to climb ladders.

Nola Mae ladder

I have a friend who got married the same weekend as the Liver Walk.  Earlier this year she asked me if I was interested in making her wedding cake.   I seriously considered it.  I knew she was having a small wedding and she would be the kind of bride I could work with.  My only concern was having the time to make the cake.   During the week of her wedding I was sad to not be making her wedding cake.  I started making a triple layered 9 inch round cake for my nephew’s graduation party.  I needed Nola Mae to be busy for a little while so I could mix the cake by letting her play with the water on a chair AT the sink.  NOT in the sink!

  Nola Mae in sink

Henry was doing a great job reading to Nola Mae.  I was impressed with how well he knew the right sounds and words to Mr. Brown can MOO, can you?

Henry reading

Nola Mae wanted to hold the book and Henry didn’t like that idea.  They both were happier once Nola Mae had her own book to hold.

Henry reading 2

Jack made this beautiful box for Nola Mae.

box Nola Mae

We went to the Liver Walk and had a graduation party for my nephew afterwards. 

Liver walk 2013

I made snake bubbles and they were a hit with all the little kids and even the big kids. 

Liver Walk 2013 bubbles K

Liver Walk 2013 bubbles Ali

Liver Walk 2013 bubbles Kayla & Ali

How to make snake bubbles: 

  • Cut off the bottom of a plastic bottle (soda or water bottle).
  • Cut an old sock just before the heel, so you are using the toe and foot part of the sock to cover the bottom of your bottle.
  • Secure the sock on the bottle with a rubber band.  Since I was traveling and making these a head of time, I also put duct tape over the rubber band.
  • Soap mixture was 1 parts Dawn dish soap and 2 parts water.
  • Dip the bottom of the bottle in the soap mixture and blow.

Note:  Smaller kids may suck in while blowing and swallow or breath in bubbles.  Henry will tell you that is YUCKY!

For colored snake bubbles click here.

Since the skid steer has arrived a lot of projects have been getting done around our yard.

Rock wall 1

Rock Wall 2

Rock wall Nola Mae

skid steer Nola Mae

I have gotten braver with my soaps.  I purchased more essential oils this spring and made this soap in early June.  It turned out beautiful, this has cinnamon and orange essential oils with ground cinnamon.  If you like cinnamon smelling things you would love this!

soap cinnamon orange

Sewing projects this month:

Tooth pillows for a sister and brother.

tooth pillow maddie  tooth pillow alek

A TNT pillow case inspired by Minecraft for one of Robbie’s friends.

pillow case TNT Landon

I made a Mei Tai for a friend’s sister.

Mei Tai kid size

Three beautiful ring slings.

ring sling brown w green steph  ring sling green w br steph  ring sling plum Pam

I bought this fabric at a rummage sale.  It is the perfect weave for a wrap.  I serged the edges and used it for weeks until I finally hemmed it.

Wrap DIY shorty Ruck Under Bum (RUB)  wrap DIY woven naptime

It is shorter than my other wraps and there is only enough room for me to do a Rucksack carry tied under the bum (A.K.A. RUB).  I have learned that I love it for very fast ups and downs and escaping out from the fabric when laying down Nola Mae.

Wrap DIY shorty I escaped

I have another picture of her sweetness in my light rainbow wrap.

wrap light rainbow naptime

I am in a babywearing group on facebook.  Each week they do a “carry of the week”.   A great way to learn a new carry or in this case a new tie off.  This is a double hammock carry with a salt water tie with my Zara Velvet wrap.

Wrap Zara Velevet Salt Water double hammock

My favorite pictures of the month:

baby wearing sibling Ergo Charlie

baby wearing sibling Ergo Charlie woods

Robbie fancy moves

Nola Mae wheel

Nola Mae fence

How does your garden grow?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

How does your garden grow?

If we compared our garden to last year’s garden (with a new baby in our family) this year’s garden is awesome!  Last year’s garden I had no expectations, whatever got planted, harvested and eaten was a bonus.

This year I expected a huge garlic crop, lots of sweet corn, lots of broccoli and a small amount of tomatoes. Our planting was a little late due to the long cold spring we had.  I had great helpers this year, mainly Henry.  We were rushed at times and had many interruptions because of Nola Mae needing a nap or taking a nap or her wandering around in the garden going under or over the roped off rows and pulling out what we planted.

First the not so awesome stuff…

Two 10 foot rows of sweet corn, with tassels when it is as tall as Henry.  I had 3 1/2 other rows of corn planted and those seeds didn’t grow.

Corn 2013

Behind Henry are pumpkin plants gone wild!  I didn’t want pumpkins, we didn’t really have room for them and I didn’t want to weed them.  Henry added a few seeds to a little rotting manure pile that I had in the garden that I was slowly tilling in.

pumpkin plants 2013

Too many huge tomato plants.  I only wanted four plants.  Jack wanted one plant at work, but needed to buy a 4 pack.  I went to a green house and they had some discounted plants so I bought another 4 pack.

Tomatoes plants 2013

We have a pine snake in my flower beds under the apple trees.   That means I am not weeding!   My flower beds aren’t so awesome!  I know there is one in there, maybe even multiple snakes.   The weeds are horrible!  Snakes are yucky!  Snake story:  Last week when we were playing kickball, Robbie kicked the ball right in the flowers/weeds.  I took a deep breath and said to myself, “What are the chances that darn snake is right where the ball landed?  Just pick it up!”  I put one foot on the edge of the weeds and the other foot on a big rock.  As I was reaching down to grab the ball, then a snake slithered out from underneath the ball!  That is when I decided I am mowing the weeds and flowers down when it is time to pick apples.

Front garden weeds under apples 2013

The awesome stuff…

The first sunflower to bloom is a volunteer seed from last year’s sunflowers.

Sunflower 1st bloom 2013

Awesome broccoli!

I have 12 plants!  The chickens got out a few times in the early spring and ate the leaves off two of them.  Those plants are making a come back.

broccoli 2013

Our apple trees are loaded!

apple trees 2013

Our raspberry patch is awesome!  I am hoping for a very late frost so that we can get the second batch of raspberries this fall.

Raspberry patch 2013

Our blueberry patch is awesome!

blueberry patch 2013

My phlox free garden is doing well.  I have my own comfrey plant, so I can dry my own leaves for my healing balm.

Front garden 2013

My friend, Kat, introduced me to mullein when I was pregnant with Henry.  My midwives reminded me of mullein when I was pregnant with Nola Mae.  I decided this year we were going to get serious about drying some mullein.  My sweet husband has been mowing around my mullein all around our property this summer.  Thanks to Henry riding on the tractor with Papa, pointing out all of “Mama’s Mullein” and insisting on Papa mowing around it.  This week we picked leaves from three plants.  They are drying nicely in my living room!

Mullein drying

July is the month for harvesting garlic.  This year was great for growing garlic.  I haven’t found my notes from last year to know how many cloves I actually planted.  I have about 260 bulbs of garlic.  I am almost done harvesting with about 60 more to dig up.

Nola Mae woke up from her nap and Charlie brought her out to the garden to me.  It was time to stop digging!  I don’t need her kind of help this year.

garlic harvest 2013

My second digging.

Garlic harvest 2013 2nd time

Most of the garlic is drying in the garage, this is 191 bulbs so far.

Garlic harvest drying

How is your garden this year?  What is your favorite thing to grow?