Week 22 – May 28 – June 3, 2012

Week 22 – May 28 – June 3, 2012

Monday, May 28th: We had friends over for a picnic today.  Robbie wrote this note and put it on the outside door for them to read when they arrived.

Tuesday, May 29th: Since Charlie has a summer birthday he celebrates his birthday at school in the spring.  Tonight he made brownies with secret ingredients (beets & carrots) from the book Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food .  We tested the brownies and they were good, Charlie liked them and still wanted to take them to school.  Our back up plan was a brownie box mix.  Nine out of the fourteen kids liked the brownies.

Wednesday, May 30th: This morning was very cold.  Henry waiting for breakfast.

Planting pepper plants.  It was cold but still warm enough for bare feet.

Thursday, May 31st: Every spring I wait patiently for my favorite flowers (lupines) to bloom.

My garlic is growing like crazy.  I planted 213 cloves last fall.  After the cultivating Robbie did to my already planted garlic patch, not much damage was done.  I counted 203 plants coming up.

Jack was traveling for work all week.  One thing that saved my sanity was taking the boys to the dead-end road for some biking.  Charlie can be such a sweet big brother, sometimes!

  Friday, June 1st:  Charlie had his kindergarten graduation.

After graduation and the PTO picnic we could take our kids home if we wanted to.  Robbie’s class had two kids left for the rest of the afternoon.  When Charlie went back to his class to get his things he saw that a lot of  his friends were staying and he wanted to stay.

I thought we could do something fun so we went to our favorite library.  Nola Mae comes from a family of many librarians, I think she is considering it.

 Our favorite librarian showed Robbie where the Star Wars section was.

Saturday, June 2nd:  Charlie’s creations have already started!  He wanted to make a shield today.  This is all his own design.


Then Robbie made his own with his own ideas.


Of course, Henry needed one too.  So we just copied Charlie’s design.  And they decorated them.


I wanted pictures and they wanted to pose.  How does a 3-year old know what to do?  He even has his own sound effects!

I had to include this one too.

Sunday, June 3rd:   I spent the weekend focusing on chickens.  I cleaned the chicken coop out completely.  It took me two days with Jack helping me with the kids and our meals.  Our little chicks that Charlie’s class and we hatched spent the day outside.  I am hoping this will help tame them a little.  I put them next to our reading blanket in the shade for a little while.

My poppies are starting to bloom!

Jack took the boys down to the woods to cut, split and stack firewood.  I joined them a little later.  I was impressed with the boys focus and hard work at stacking the firewood.

There was one minor distraction…a salamander.


 Charlie stacked over 140 pieces and Robbie stacked over 160 pieces of firewood.  All the piles you see in this photo were stacked today.

Heading home.

Week 20 – May 14 – 20, 2012

Week 20 – May 14 – 20, 2012

Monday, May 14th: My friend Kristin wanted to decorate a cake for her daughters’ preschool graduation.  She wanted to learn a few tips on cake decorating.  We spent the morning together and I walked her through all the steps to decorate her first cake. Click here to see the finished cake.

I took the boys into the pasture tonight to get some cool photos of all the dandelion seed heads.  The wind the night before blew most of them off.

Tuesday, May 15th:   We put some eggs in our incubator within a day of Charlie’s kindergarten class in hopes that both of us would get a good hatch.  My plan was for it to be worth having the brooder plugged in.  Our first chick hatched.

My Mother’s Day gift arrived…a worm factory.  We got composting worms a week ago and I had been dreading the idea of putting them in the home-made bin that I made a few years ago when we had worms.   I was afraid that my worms died because it wasn’t a great design.

Wednesday, May 16th:  Henry’s request for breakfast was boiled eggs.  He helped with a few of the steps.

Thursday, May 17th:  My sisters Kayla and Emily came to visit.

Kayla wore Nola Mae while I planted beets and peas with Henry.

Friday, May 18th:  Charlie’s kindergarten class hatched some of our eggs.  We brought the chicks home today.  Before coming home the teacher let the kids hold the chicks.  One of Charlie’s classmates was so excited to kiss one of those cute little chicks.  Her mom wrote a sweet blog post about it.  Click here to see the photo and the short story.

After the chicks were put in their new home (our brooder in the garage) I noticed the ones that came from school were less skittish.  Our chicks haven’t had much handling or peeking at due to the dangerous grip of a three-year old.  Henry can be gentle with eggs.  He needs a little work with chicks!

Saturday, May 19th:  Nola Mae’s baby quilt has been started.  I am going to use the Tumbling Bears quilt design.  There will be 12 bears with 12 different prints of purple.

Sunday, May 20th:  Robbie has been reading Harry Potter.  It all started with his teacher reading it to the class, then Jack was reading it at bedtime, then Robbie was following along as his teacher read and now he reads it on the bus, after school and at bedtime.  He recently told me that he is done reading Junie B Jones books because, “that is all baby talk.”


Cake Decorating

Cake Decorating

I come from a family that cooks and bakes.  My mom always decorated a beautiful cake for our birthday.  I baked Jiffy box cakes with my Grandma (Nola) Fabian when I was a kid.  My hubby’s Aunt Mary always designed and decorated cakes from her kids’ request or interests at the time.  One memorable cake of Aunt Mary’s was of a pool with the swim lanes, starting blocks and flags for her daughter Jessie who was on the swim team.

Between my mom and Aunt Mary I was inspired to do the same thing for my children.  I took a Wilton Cake Decorating Class at my local craft store.  I learned a lot of different techniques and tricks using frosting.

I never have considered myself creative or artistic, since I started decorating cakes I have come to think that my frosting could be like paint.  And some day I could paint a master piece.  Until then I will make edible master pieces.

The baking part is very easy.  I am now admitting to the world that I use a box mix for most of my cakes.  I feel like I have more time to make each cake beautiful if I use a box mix.   I have made a few cakes from scratch and they aren’t as moist and yummy as the box mixes.  I recently needed to make a yellow cake from scratch and it was delicious and not too much extra work!

Once my frosting colors are decided I divide up my frosting.  And it sometimes looks like an artist’s work area.

Crumb coating is a time-saving technique and I use it with almost every cake.   Click here to see a demonstration on YouTube.


In second grade Robbie had a VIP day.  This is where the parents can come to the class to share something special about the family or talk about what they do for work.  Robbie and I decided that we would have his classmates decorate their own cupcake.  I made lots of frosting and put them in bags.

One of Robbie’s classmates loves volcanos and tornadoes.  He decorated his cupcake as if it was a volcano and it measured about 4 inches tall.

My Favorite Cakes:

I made this cake for my future sister-in-law, BJ’s, bridal shower.  My brother and BJ enjoy gardening and they had a little pond in the corner of their yard.

This was for Henry’s 2nd birthday.  He loves chickens and he loved our cow Vanilla.

I made this cake for our family reunion.

This is Henry’s 3rd birthday cake.  I spent so much time coloring and baking the insides I just couldn’t do anything special on the outside.

My Prettiest Cakes:

This cake was made in for the cake decorating class that I took.  My first time doing roses and a bow.

My Only Wedding Cake:

I decorated this cake for my brother’s wedding.  The mothers of the bride and groom baked the cake together.

Anniversary Cake:

My Ugliest Cakes:

Robbie’s request for his 6th birthday was for a chicken, chicks and a pumpkin.

This cake was made for an ice fishing weekend with Jack’s college friends.

My Baby Shower Cakes:

My Nightmare Cake:  I made this beautiful cake for a dear friend’s son and daughter-in-law’s baby shower (they knew they were having a boy).  The decorating went very well I didn’t stress too much about colors or the design.  Because this was my third time with the similar design.  The only challenge was to find time to decorate.  I worked on it after the boys went to bed and finished it during their nap time.  My plan was to deliver it the evening before the shower, approximately 10 miles away.  Here is the part that puts this cake into the “nightmare” category…as I was turning into the driveway of my friend’s house (thankfully her driveway is long and she didn’t see me pull in) the cake platter slipped off the seat and the cake tipped into the back of the seat.  Not falling on the floor (thankfully) but destroying my design and cracking the cake in half.  Believe me there was lots of tears and swearing and throwing frosting out of the car.   I went home called my friend to tell her that I was unable to deliver the cake that evening and hoped it would be okay if I took it directly to the church the next day.  I had another night of lost sleep making more frosting and redecorating the cake.   NEVER travel in a car with your decorated cake out of sight!!!  Since this cake, all the cakes I deliver ride on the front seat, I prefer to have all my cakes picked up, and I ALWAYS make sure a cake leaves my driveway in the front seat or on someone’s lap.


My Religious Cakes:  

My Birthday Cakes:

My Adventurous Cake:

I made this one for my cousin, Libby’s, birthday.  She is a very adventurous woman.   

My Hardest Cake:

Tricky was our first rooster.  Robbie loved him and when we would feed him worms through the fence Tricky would jump very high to get the worms and it looked like he was doing tricks for us.   I surprised Robbie for his 5th birthday with this cake.

My Easiest Cakes:

This is the picture on a t-shirt that our midwives give to each family they work with.  Some t-shirts say “born at home” and if the baby was born in the hospital, assisted by the midwives, the shirt says, “born into loving hands.”  I made this cake for an annual party our midwife has on her farm.

My Cupcakes:

I made this one for a bluebird party I had at my house.

These were for Robbie’s birthday treats at preschool and the week’s theme was “emotions”.

Week 17 – April 23 – 29, 2012

Week 17 – April 23 – 29, 2012

Monday, April 23rd:  Granny made this quilt for me.

Tuesday, April 24th:  Another playdate for Henry this week.  These other two boys are in the same school district as us and they will be in the same grade as Henry.

Wednesday, April 25th:  Charlie’s kindergarten class is hatching some of our eggs this spring.  I am hoping they get a good hatch.  I was inspired to set eggs in our incubator and wanted to be on the same schedule as Charlie’s class.  I was thinking 12 eggs was a good number and then Robbie convinced me that 24 would be better.

Jack made this box, since the color turned out more pink than red Nola Mae is now the lucky owner.

Thursday, April 26th:  I haven’t had caffeine since I got the flu.  I have been drinking decaf coffee and now that is gone.  The only coffee I had in the house needed grinding and happens to be 50/50.  I can use a little caffeine!

Friday, April 27th:  We received a lot of hand-me-down clothes for Nola Mae in the 0-3 month size.  This is one of the very cute onsie that was in the boxes.  She isn’t very happy here, maybe she is thinking of being the only sister to three wild brothers. 

Henry bumped his head a couple of days ago while walking around the house with a blanket over his face.  He can put his own band-aids on.  Thankfully he still had this band-aid on today because he bumped his head again.

Saturday, April 28th:  Jack was busy planting trees and making firewood today.  I wrapped up Nola Mae and we went for a walk to meet Jack and the boys.

I found these nasty tent caterpillars on one of my flowering crab apple trees.  This tree isn’t close to the house so they have gotten out of control.   I remove them as soon as I notice them on my other crab apple trees and apple trees in the yard.

Sunday, April 29th:  My first attempt at sewing with Nola Mae.  She wasn’t happy at first.

Then I put her in my wrap and she instantly fell asleep and slept the whole time.

Week 12 – March 19 – March 25, 2012

Week 12 – March 19 – March 25, 2012

Monday, March 19th:  My first load of laundry on the line this spring: diapers! I was so happy for them to see the sun for a couple of days.  They seem whiter and smelled good!

 First day outside for the chickens.  Henry the chicken catcher was busy harassing them.

 Tuesday, March 20th:  Brothers hiking and having a serious conversation.

 Wednesday, March 21st :  Henry wanted to ride this bike.  The big boys were helping him.  Later that night Jack put the training wheels on a bike for him.

We have had this wasted space in our upstairs bathroom since the remodeling project, six years ago.  Jack made these shelves this week.


Thursday, March 22nd:  A special birthday activity (an 8 year old’s idea of fun)…

 We went for a walk/bike on Sleepy Hollow.

 Wipe out on purpose.

Friday, March 23rd:  The first sign of my garlic.  I should have about 213 of these little green stems growing.  Remember they were planted a second time because Robbie cultivated the area up after I planted?  He didn’t know that I planted the garlic and he thought he was helping me work the ground.

Grilling his own sandwich.

Saturday, March 24th:  We went to visit our family for the weekend and to celebrate Grandma Elma’s 93rd birthday.

Sunday, March 25th:  Here are some of the items I have ready for the birth and the baby. 


Project 365 Week 49

Project 365 Week 49

Project 365: Take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way.

12/5/11(Monday) – I did a test pattern on my embroidery machine of a poppy. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go or even how long it would take. My machine told me that this pattern was for 64,000 stitches and failed to mention that it would take almost five hours. Thankfully, I don’t have to sit there for all of those five hours. My only requirement once the machine is set up and started is to change the color of thread at the designated times.

The threads for the poppy design.

My machine in action.

The flower turned out much prettier than I expected so I decided to make a bag with it.

I also made a small zipper bag with an awesome rooster embroidered on it.  I don’t have a photo because I lost the bag!

I finally cut my last batch of soap.  I hope it will be dry for Christmas gifts.

12/6/11 (Tuesday) –   A friend wanted aprons for her daughters and daughter-in-law.  The daugther aprons match the granddaughter aprons I made in July.


This week I had my bible study on Monday night and came home to this on the table.   (This is an Origami Christmas Tree design.  Robbie used that design to make a sign for me to notice the note that he left me.)

Tuesday night I had a board meeting at the ski hill and came home to find this note.

12/7/11 (Wednesday) –  A friend asked me to make tooth pillows for her two girls.


12/8/11 (Thursday) –  While walking out to the barn to take care of the chickens, collect eggs and insulate the chicken coop window Henry said, “Wind in my face!  Is winter time?”

 You can see that huge gap where the snow blows in, what you can’t see is all the little holes all around the window.

Before insulation.

  While fixing the chicken coop window Henry told me, “My face needs gloves!”

I stuffed straw in the window and covered it with plastic.  I was almost done and we were both freezing and Henry was crying, “ME DONE!”

He was happier once we got into the house and needed to put the eggs away.

12/9/11 (Friday) –  Jack’s early Christmas present arrived today.  It is a TV with a built in DVD player for his exercise area.  He was using an old laptop for his exercise videos.  We have always used our computers to watch movies since we don’t have a TV in our house, until now, I think we will refer to it as a DVD player.

12/10/11 (Saturday) – Robbie and Charlie had their piano recital today.  Henry thought he should be able to go up on the stage to play piano too.

We took a family photo since everyone was in nice clothes this afternoon.

12/11/11 (Sunday) –  We cut down our Christmas tree from behind the garage.  These were some of the first spruce trees I planted during our first couple years here.  It is amazing how fast they have grown.  This one was slightly bent/damaged from the heavy snow we had in November.

Each boy got a turn to trim the trunk for easy sawing.

This is our smallest Christmas tree. I think it is my favorite mainly because I love Colorado blue spruce trees!

Project 365 Week 46

Project 365 Week 46

Project 365: Take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way.

11/14/11 (Monday) – My feet were sticking to the floor in many places that is one of my cues to get the mop out.  The second one is when company is coming.  All our boys love to mop, this is Henry’s first time helping.  One might think with the help I have I should have a clean floor more often.

Henry figured out how to use the brush on the other side of the mop.  Sometimes I think a window scraper that we use on our icy car windows would work better.

11/15/11 (Tuesday) – My fridge full of eggs.  This is the most eggs we have ever had in our fridge.  I have begun to panic now.  I use to get worried when we had seven extra dozen in the fridge until I talked to Jessie, Jack’s cousin.  Her panic number is something like twenty-two dozen.  I delivered some this week and have been able to add a few more egg customers.

11/16/11 (Wednesday) –  Henry collecting eggs with his new basket that he found at Donna’s rummage sale.  Five eggs fit perfectly in his basket, now “five” is his favorite number.

I can’t afford to lose seven eggs if he trips on the way to the house, so we talked about five being a good fit for his basket.  (Thanks Donna!  He loves his new basket!)

11/17/11 (Thursday) – Granny spent two days with us this week.  Today she made dinner rolls with Henry.  The two of them read a lot of books.  I think Henry’s favorite time with Granny was when she was pretending to sleep and he would put a stuffed chicken by her head and she would wake up and try to eat the chicken out of his hands.

11/18/11 (Friday) – When the house is quiet I have learned to go searching for boys.  I am not always sure what I will find; naughtiness or sweetness.   Tonight it was sweetness!

This is the start of a quilt that I am making out of Grandma Hamm’s fabric.  She had strips sewn together and I am not sure what her plan was.  My mom helped me come up with this design by cutting Grandma’s squares of strips into four blocks and sewing them into these new blocks.  My mom is brilliant!

11/19/11 (Saturday) –  We were making plans to go to Big Falls this morning to check to see if there was any ice in the waterfalls.  Henry disappeared upstairs and came down with his swimming clothes on.  He told me he wanted to go swimming at Big Falls.

We only found ice in the puddles on the big rock.

The boys had popcorn and watched a movie while I did some sewing.  I lost track of time, like I usually do, in the sewing room.  I came upstairs and found them sleeping.

11/20/11(Sunday) –  Today Charlie had a playdate with his friend, Mollie.  They went to a movie and to her house for cake (this should have been a clue to me).  He came home with a bag of candy and a party hat.  I said, “Was it a birthday party? We didn’t have a gift for her!”  His response was, “That is okay, Mom, we didn’t know!”

While Charlie was at the movie theatre in Waupaca.  Robbie and I were brainstorming fun things to do.  One of Robbie’s ideas was to go to Northern Lights in Iola to watch the Green Bay Packer game.   So that is what we did.  He sat at the bar with his mug of root beer watching the game.


Henry and I sat away from the eight other people at the bar so we wouldn’t disturb them.  Henry colored and played with the balls on the pool table.


These photos are missing because I took my camera but forgot to put the card in the camera after downloading photos this morning.

I decided that I wasn’t being a bad mother for taking my kids to a bar to watch the Packer game.  Because it wasn’t for my enjoyment, there isn’t smoking allowed in the bars anymore and it is our choice that we don’t have a TV in our house.

This weekend I started a project for myself, a bag to haul my quilting project or books around.  I stayed up way too late last night for a 41-year-old mama who is growing a baby in her belly and has to keep up with these precious boys!

(one of my favorite photos taken in August 2010)

The start of my bag…

Robbie helped with some of the ironing.  He asked,  “Why are you starting another project when you have that one and that one started and none are finished?”  How do I explain my love for sewing, making things for others, my desire to finally make something for myself and my urgent rush to get as much sewing done before this baby arrives?

Project 365 Week 44

Project 365 Week 44

Project 365: Take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way.

10/31/11 (Monday) – Charlie put these pants on in North Dakota and the waist was too big for him.  He was disappointed that I didn’t pack his belt.   I didn’t know those pants were too big for him!   About five minutes later he solved the problem..  Who would have thought that masking tape makes a perfect belt for a six-year-old boy?  (Nose injury is a rug burn from wrestling with his cousins in North Dakota).

11/1/11 (Tuesday) –  Charlie loves Lego’s.  This morning he wanted to be woken up early so he would have time to play with Lego’s before school.  This has been wonderful for us because we talk at night about trying to fall asleep right away so that he isn’t so sleepy in the morning.  And when morning arrives he is almost jumping out of bed and rarely tells me he doesn’t want to go to school.  I don’t think he will start telling me he doesn’t want to go to school because he wants to stay home to play with Lego’s.  Thankfully, his teacher has a huge box of Lego’s in her classroom.

Henry loves Charlie and loves everything Charlie loves… especially Lego’s!  Henry built this and asked me to take a picture so we can show Granny and Hanna (Grandma Helen).  He is telling me about the bridge that the grandmas are suppose to notice.

This creation is important because it has wheels.  It can fly and drive!  Check out his cute hair!  He gets his hair combed only on days that he is awake when I am getting the other boys ready for school.

11/2/11 (Wednesday) –  My chicks that I bought in May have started laying eggs.  We have had an explosion of eggs this week.  I collected 30 eggs today!  I think I need a few more egg customers!

11/3/11 (Thursday) –  I posted this photo of Henry sleeping in Week 39.  I was afraid that someone would think Jack wasn’t paying attention to him when he was getting sleepy.   Now I know how this can happen!

On a night I was home and Henry wasn’t interested in cuddling to sleep with me. He fell asleep on the love seat.  And then later went into this position right in front of my eyes.

11/4/11 (Friday) –  This morning we woke up to a very heavy frost on the ground.  It just happened to be a morning we were going to the ski hill to do some work.  Henry looked out the window and told me “SNOW!”  When we went out there he started skiing in the grass and seemed very happy.  This Mama and little boy are going to be very happy once we get our skis on snow this winter!

After skiing in the frost we headed to Iola Winter Sports Club to do an inventory of ski boots for the youth program.  Then we went to the Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point where they were having an amazing sale on their “old” rental ski boots.   The didn’t look one bit “old” or “used” to me!  Iola Winter Sports Club purchased 13 pairs of kids cross-country ski boots for $265!

 I bought a pair for me, Robbie and Charlie and for my sister, Danna!  (my friend picked up Danna’s boots so they aren’t in this photo)

11/5/11 (Saturday) –  My Dad has a hunting cabin about 45 minutes away from my house.  Waupaca is about half way between our place and his cabin.  This weekend we met Grandpa Bob and my oldest nephew, Devin, for lunch.  I have such wonderful boys in my life and I love them with all my heart!

11/6/11 (Sunday) –  My weekend project of rebuilding my cloth diapers is turning into a great success.   Click here to read the post I wrote “Rebuilding My Cloth Diapers”.

Project 365 Week 37

Project 365 Week 37 

Project 365: Take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way.

9/12/11 (Monday) – This morning was especially hard on my emotions.  It took me a year to finally make the decision that Vanilla needed to go.  I loved her like a family pet, which she was for all of her years with us.  She provided us with many calves which turned into beef or money for us.  She was gentle and very friendly.  And I hope her hamburger will be yummy.

9/13/11 (Tuesday) –  I love to grow Milo (A.K.A Broom corn).  I found a floral shop that will buy it from me, Dawn’s Bouquet  click here to go to her website.  She has a beautiful store full of many gifts, fresh flowers and she offers many services.

9/14/11 (Wednesday) –  Henry and I went to the library for story hour this morning, a field trip to the fire station.  I thought it was very nice for the kids to be able to climb on the trucks, get into the ambulance and see the firefighters’ safety gear.  The inside of the ambulance could be a little scary if you haven’t been in one before.

One of my dear friends took this photo, unfortunately I wasn’t able to crop myself out of it.

9/15/11 (Thursday) – Henry is up early enough to see the boys off on the school bus at 6:50 AM.  I don’t have time to get him dress and many times both of us are out there waiting for the bus in our PJs.  I am not able to bundle up and be as cute as Henry.

I have mentioned this before…Henry loves our chickens, may be even more than my “chicken boy” Robbie.  Many times a day he wants to catch one and hold them and hug them and play with them.  He can do it all by himself.

9/16/11 (Friday) – Today was my 41st birthday.  I thought my 30s were good and all through my 30s I felt like I was just 30 years old.  When I turned 40, I felt pretty good and think my 40s will be even better.  I still feel 40 and hope to feel this way until I find out what 50 feels like.

I spent the day with my dear friend, Kat and our two little boys.

Kat’s son loves to take pictures.  This is one of his best shots…the beautiful smile that makes me smile every time I see her!

9/17/11 (Saturday) – Jack Frost is about to arrive any day and freeze all my tomato plants.  I decided to pick them all and patiently wait for them to ripen.  Henry was a huge help because it didn’t matter if they were red, orange or green.

He even got some practice with some math skills – sorting.

This is the largest tomato plant that I have ever grown.  I have only gotten two ripe tomatoes off it so far.


9/18/11 (Sunday) –  Henry seems to enjoy playing with Legos as much as Charlie.  This is Henry’s own creation.

Worms are to chickens like chocolate is to me

One of my favorite things I do for entertainment on our farm is watch the chickens when they are outside.  I LOVE to watch them eat the worms we dig for them.

We sit in the chicken pasture with our hands full of worms.  And lure them in by holding one worm out at a time.  And say, “Here, chicky-chicky-chicky!”

The bravest hen slowly walks up to the dangling worm,

and snatches it out of our hand and runs away.

If another hen is close by and sees this she will chase after that chicken and try to steal the worm away from her.  Or she will come running back to us looking for her own worm.


Every time we do this I imagine that if there was a giant standing over me and my sisters dangling a piece of chocolate; I would act the same way our hens do when we feed them worms.