Saturday, April 28

April Flora

Note the thick rows of daffodils coming up. The long one is actually longer than what's in the picture -- it goes past where I was standing. Toby and Lynae spent a little time spiffing the yard this afternoon. Everywhere we step, we're stepping on something... seems it's mostly lilies, squill, and daffodils. They truly are everywhere! This place will soon be bursting with color. I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it!

Yesterday I ordered apple trees, lilacs, ferns, crocuses, snowdrops, and tulips. I'm beginning to wonder where I'll find bare spots to plant them all. Thankfully, most of the planting will be done in the fall for next spring, and by fall I should know where I want to put stuff.

We also got 4 bookcases delivered yesterday. So now we can finally unpack and sort our books -- woo-hoo!! We're taking our time, mostly because there's so much to do outside, and it's gorgeous out this week. is down indefinitely, but y'all can still email me at my yahoo address. If you don't have it, leave a comment and I'll get it to you.

More pics soon... thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 26

Name That Plant

Some of my favorite posts have been those where I'm invited to identify stuff. I don't usually post the answer since someone else already has, but anyway...

Here are some of the plants I found today on my stroll around the house. I think I know some of them, but I could be wrong. Do you know what these are?


I've also found chives by my back door, tulips which are about to open, and another flower I will share with you later if I have time to get out my tripod.

Wednesday, April 25

Whew! I Passed!

Last night we completed the field walk and range test for our firearm safety class. It wasn't nearly as embarrassing as I thought it would be, but I did have to make a few modifications to get through it. Oh, to be young and thin and have good knees again! Toby and Lynae did very well last night as well as on the written test.

Now I'm fully prepared to accompany them when they go hunting, armed with my camera. I'm not coordinated enough to hunt waterfowl, and it's highly unlikely that I'll ever set myself up to have to field dress a deer and drag it through the woods. But if my kiddos want to, more power to 'em!

I will probably always wonder if I was kind of crazy to actually TAKE the class with the kids, rather than just stay and observe. But hey, I did it. It's done. And I've got the certificate to prove it.

Wednesday, April 18

Amused curiosity, that's all...

You're sitting near a man you used to know, occasionally making small talk during the lecture to which you are listening. He removes his wedding band and starts twirling it around on his pencil. You suppose he's:

a) making a statement.
b) bored.
c) got a weird habit, probably one his wife doesn't appreciate.

It was killing me not to ask him. LOL

Tuesday, April 17

About those birds

I must share with you this quote from a letter Toby wrote to a friend:

"We have a kestrel in *****. We saw it eat a junco who tried a stunt better than himself."
This is why I like to read all his letters before he sends them out. I'd hate to have missed such a lovely sentence!

Tax Season

Because I have nothing better to do love creating silly things on the computer, I have created tax return forms for my paycheck-receiving children. After figuring exemptions, income, adjustments, tax and credits, other taxes, and payments, they will each find that they are receiving a refund.

See, when we pay the kids, we withhold a percentage for the "family fund" which is used for trips and other fun stuff. That's their taxes.

Here are some of the highlights of this year's tax return:

They get to claim exemptions based on the expenses they're expected to cover. There are adjustments for college fund contributions and any expenses for eyeglasses, glass eyes, and prosthetic limbs. They could itemize deductions, but after wasting several minutes on Schedule D, they will find that they'd do better to simply claim the standard deduction.

They are free to donate money to their parents just for fun, which would be added to their tax. There are credits for helping old ladies cross the road, hauling wash water from a nearby aquifer, and correspondence via USPS (also hardly worth their time, since they would qualify except they can't prove it).

There is a self-hair-cutting tax, as calculated on Schedule SH. Poor Jon! There is also a tax on vehicles driven on public highways, complete with its own form. There is a bald eagle feather tax which requires one to attach the feather and form EGL.

We then figure their total payments by adding the tax withheld, price of family entertainment tickets or restaurant meals (with accompanying receipts), and a plane ticket credit if they are due one according to attached Schedule :P.

Finally, they can subtract their tax from their payments and find they are due a refund. They can even have it deposited electronically to their savings accounts.

I think this will give them a healthy dose of the fun and frustration we all experience each year.

So now you know why I haven't finished my to-do list lately!

Wednesday, April 11

Hey, I know her!

A portion of last night's gun safety class was taught by the local conservation officer. I recognized her right away, even though she was only in 3rd grade the last time I saw her. She and I were pretty good friends, which is weird for public school students four years apart. During a break, I convinced one of the kids to go ask her if she used to have a pony named King. Yup, she sure did. (I remember riding King with her, and falling off, too.) So Dusty and I had a nice little chat.

I told Toby that he can expect to see Dusty again, since he plans to do a lot of hunting and fishing around here.

Oh, and her husband, a state trooper, pulled my husband over for a speeding violation the other night. It was the friendliest warning Loren has ever received.

I still can't get over how much my world has shrunk!

Sunday, April 8

Picture time again

The view from my back door

And my front door

And Lynae's new haircut

Thursday, April 5

We "passed" the test!

As a first generation homeschooling parent, I remember how we were taught in public school. I also remember doing very well on standardized tests each year. But when it came to having my own children tested for the first time a few weeks ago, I was very nervous. There's so much we haven't covered, and so much we've only covered briefly. How would my children handle the challenge of a timed test? We haven't done timed tests at home in several years, and then it was only simple math facts.

I prepared Toby, Lynae, and Jon for the test by describing it, showing them a sample online, and going over a few handy tricks I'd learned as a kid. I also let them know that it wasn't a pass/fail type of test, and the only way they could "fail" would be to do less than their best. Toby was confident he'd do well. Lynae was nervous. Jon was hard to read. He might do his best, or he might take the opportunity to be a booger. So I just reminded him that if he did very poorly, the state would require him to receive additional testing (to determine whether he had a learning disorder).

I drove the kids 45 minutes to the test site, where they began earlier each morning than we usually roll out of bed. The first day we were there for 6 hours, and the second day was 5 hours. Then we waited to receive the results in the mail.

We received the results this week. I needn't have worried; they each did their best. Jon's scores were right where I cautiously hoped they'd be. Lynae got over her nerves and scored as well as a "typical" high schooler. And Toby's grade equivalent for nearly every section of the test was "PHS" -- post high school. So there ya go. Each child's strengths and challenges showed up accurately in the scores. Other than that, these test results don't mean a heck of a lot in the grand scheme of things, and they don't even need to be reported to the school. But testing is required by the state each year, so we did it. And by golly, we survived it. So next year, I can forego the stress. Now that is something to get excited about!


A few days ago, we found a bird I'd never seen before. My guess was that it was a sandpiper. I looked it up -- it was an American woodcock, a type of sandpiper. Go me!

Today I heard a junco hit the kitchen window. As I looked out to see if it was on the ground, another bird I'd never seen before grabbed it and flew to the back porch railing with it. I correctly identified it as a kestrel. Very cool!

Tuesday, April 3

The things we do for our children

Because Lynae is old enough and it would be good for her, we signed up for firearm safety class last night. Toby is taking it with us. Oh my gosh, was I outside of my comfort zone!

The class was held at the school I used to attend. It's been completely rebuilt, but I recognized many of the teachers' names on the classroom doors. When we walked in, I knew four of the dads and one of the instructors.

We were in the library, which was hot and stuffy. My face and ears were red and hot for most of the 2½ hours. I knew I was in over my head when they told us we'd have to memorize the 10 commandments of gun safety, and if we got them wrong on the test we'd be writing them 25 times each. Oh, my sieve-like brain! Oh, the hand cramp I'm in for! And it gets worse... the field test involves a fence and a deer stand... what was I thinking?! And that's not all -- the parents are invited to watch the field test... I'll be able to embarrass myself in front of even more people!!

I spent way too much time wondering how I could drop out without disappointing my kids.

Then we split up into groups and learned about several different guns. I was in a group with several pre-teen boys who knew pretty much everything there was to know about these guns. I tried really hard to play it cool, but then one of the dads I knew came over to watch his son and me talking about one of the rifles... I'm so thankful I didn't choke or knock over a bunch of books or something. That would've been par for the course.

I own a rifle. I know how to use it. I'm totally capable of passing this class. Maybe if I tell myself that often enough, I'll believe it. Toby does already. Isn't that sweet? He has no idea how socially impaired his mother really is.

In other news, it's snowing. Here's how it looked about an inch ago.

Sunday, April 1

This week on the homestead

It will continue raining until the rain turns to snow. What a lovely mess that will make! We're discovering the extent of our basement leakage. We found two sump pumps and a box fan down there when we moved in, with everything else up on bricks, so we knew this was coming. Hopefully the rains will significantly lessen the drought conditions.

Our chick order has been placed. I have until May 7th to draw up coop plans and submit them to the city council in order to get a building permit, then get to building the coop. I think we'll actually start the chicks in the garage, so that will buy us a little building time.

Unlike the past several years, this week we packed up some of the winter clothes and unpacked the summer clothes. Yes, we're enjoying actual spring weather rather than going from chilly to hot in one swell foop. Have you ever switched out clothes for seven people? It looks like our closets threw up. Thank goodness it's only temporary!