Wednesday, April 30

Wildlife seen in April

  • 17 kestrels
  • 2 grouse
  • 2 pheasants
  • 2 red-breasted mergansers
  • 2 white pelicans
  • 3 geese
  • 3 unidentified hawks
  • 5 mallards
  • 6 bald eagles
  • 6 sandhill cranes
  • 7 turkeys
  • 7+ hooded mergansers
  • 70 deer
  • a whole flock of loons
  • blue heron
  • buffleheads
  • red-tailed hawk

April's Backyard Birds
  • bluejays
  • brown-headed cowbirds
  • cardinals
  • chickadees
  • common redpolls
  • downy woodpeckers
  • goldfinches
  • hairy woodpeckers
  • juncos
  • kestrel
  • mallard ducks
  • purple finches
  • robins
  • white-throated sparrows

Life goes on

We're scheduled for more furnace repairs in the morning.

There's snow in the forecast.

I'm taking a break from starting seeds. I have no more warm, light places to put them. I'd be truly bummed by that, but it doesn't look like we'll be digging in the garden for quite some time yet.

BUT! So far this week, we've planted 4 sugar maples, 2 plum trees, and 6 raspberry bushes. We've also pruned apple and plum trees until we ached and were covered in scratches. That was totally worth it. And you should see all the junk hauled out of the woods! We should be well prepared for the upcoming Junk Days.

So, there ya go. Life goes on.

Tuesday, April 29

A post from Toby

We started gathering junk metal, and it was interesting. We found a bunch of metal parts to equipment and stuff, so we had a good time. I found a fencepost sticking out of the ground, a nice, sturdy T-post. So naturally I went to pull it out of the ground. But instead of coming out of the ground, the T-post snapped. Just broke like a toothpick. Wow, huh?

The next day we were headed out the door to see a Danish musician, and it was raining. So naturally I put on my jacket and began to zip it. But instead of zipping, the zipper broke into two pieces. Wow, huh?

So today I was digging holes in the ground to plant trees. (Last year I broke our wood handled shovel so I bought one with a fiberglass handle.) When I heard the handle of the shovel go "tttttttttsssss!!! cra..." I stopped right away. I didn't want to break that too. So next time I have to be careful with it or it'll go "ck!!!" and then it will be cracked and no good.

Monday, April 28

Thank God, it's Monday.

How was your weekend?

We got snow. Again. You know the thrill of seeing your yard again as the snow melts? Uh-huh. That thrill fades after you've seen it so many times in a season.

Our furnace has been acting up for a couple weeks. This weekend, it went on strike. I'd be content to give it a swift kick and let it go, but Loren wants it repaired. There was a time when I could've called a furnace repair guy I knew around here, but he's long gone, so I'll have to let my fingers do the walking today.

We got confirmation that another repair person we hired is not to be trusted. What a drag. Thankfully, I'm a good detective, so fixing the problem he caused was quite simple.

We found some mold in a closet, and that just about sent me over the edge. I imagined it must be the cause of my growing allergy problems and Loren's asthma. I was glad to hear that the visible problem, at least, was far less than I'd imagined. Maybe finishing the cleanup won't be a horrible nightmare.

What DID send me over the edge was something discovered at precisely the same time as the mold. Someone put several dents and gouges in our lovely dining room table. The longest is 4". It's only a table. I know. But what's so horribly frustrating is our inability to move beyond the constant, deliberate destruction. Between that and the mold, I cried on Loren's shoulder and decided to run away.

Funny, when I run away, I always take the troublemaker with me. As bad as things are when we're home together, I always imagine it would be worse to leave that child, whichever it may be on any given day, home without my (clearly inadequate, but best he's gonna get) supervision. So I tell myself that buckling them up is an entirely legal form of restraint, and then make the most of it.

While we were out, we found the most wonderful little lake! It had attracted loons, ducks, pelicans, gulls, and bald eagles. I was so glad to have plenty of time and a pair of binoculars. If it weren't so far away, I'd run away again today just to revisit that lake. As it is, we stopped there twice. (Three times, really, but that story doesn't belong on the world wide web.)

We also went to Menard's for another dehumidifier, Krazy Glue, and a bunch of other stuff. If you ever get the Krazy Glue single use tubes, you must know ahead of time that twisting the nozzle on all the way opens the tube. I know it says this on the back of the package. But just in case you're like me, I'm telling you now. Those tubes are so little and so cute, I just had to dig in and check 'em out. Next thing I knew, I had webbed fingers. Oh no! How would I type with my fingers stuck together?! I had to laugh, and laugh I did. I was so glad to have plenty of time and acetone nail polish remover.

I ended my weekend in the most reasonable way I could muster. I sent everyone to bed, watched a movie, and ate ice cream straight out of the container.

Guess what? It's snowing.

Monday, April 21

Our ta-da list

So far today, we've:

  • gotten the sump pump and bathroom plumbing leak fixed
  • tightened the clothesline and hung laundry
  • dealt with dog poop
  • gathered trash from all around the yard
  • gotten out and set up the series of garden hoses
  • set up the grill
  • raked the side yard
And there's still more beautiful day left!

Sunday, April 20

Homemade powdered laundry soap

Powdered laundry soap uses the same ingredients, but is so easy to make, it's almost unfair.


  • 1/3 bar fels naptha, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax (again, I use more for our hard water)
Mix in a small container. Use 1 Tbsp. per wash load.

Now wasn't that easy??

Saturday, April 19

Homemade laundry soap

Tonight we're making laundry soap -- liquid and powder. It's SO easy, and it works great!


  • 2 gallons filtered water - Lynae tackles this for me. (Ear worm alert) The waiting is the hardest part.
  • 1/3 bar fels naptha - Jon is my grater guy. He can get me a bowl of knuckle-free, grated soap in no time.
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax - Actually, I use an additional 1/4 cup because our water is so hard. But if you don't have hard water, you'll want to use 1/2 cup.
Start by gently heating 6 cups of water and the grated fels naptha in a large pot on the stove, stirring occasionally until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and borax, stirring until that's all dissolved. Gently stir in the rest of the water (and fragrance oil or essential oil, if you want).

Because I have a special pot I use for soapmaking, I just leave it in the pot for 24 hours. A canning pot would work well, also. If you don't have a large pot you can spare, you can mix the soaps in a saucepan, then pour mixture in a large bucket before adding the rest of the water. Remember, this makes about 2 gallons. Either way, you want to let it set for 24 hours or so.

The laundry soap will turn to a fun, slimy gel. The gel breaks up easily with a whisk, an immersion blender, or your hand. If you want, you may use it directly from a bucket. I prefer to funnel it into gallon jugs. Before each use, I just give the jug a couple of shakes in case it's returned to a gel.

Use up to 1/2 cup per wash load.

This is a great way to save money! You can save even more if you use 1/2 cup vinegar in place of fabric softener.

Friday, April 18

April A1c

Doctors are interested in the Hemoglobin A1c levels of their diabetic patients. Simply put, this measures glucose stuck to the blood cells. Because blood cells have a life span of about 3 months, this measurement gives a pretty good idea of how well-controlled a person's blood sugar has been over the past several weeks.

The normal range for a non-diabetic would be ~5%. The ADA recommends a level at or below 7% for diabetics, which is generous, IMO.

When I was diagnosed in September, my A1c was 10.5%. After three difficult and depressing months on medication, it had dropped to 8.2%. At that time, we were still deciding which meds I needed. There was a long period of adjustment, and I just recently reached the right doses (for now).

This week, I got the results of my latest A1c test. 6.7% !!

I'm excited about this for a few reasons. First of all, it's a huge improvement since diagnosis. Second, it's far closer to my personal goal, which, at this time, is 6% or less. Third, I know I still have a lot of potential for improvement. Up to this point, I've focused on changing eating habits. I've been waiting for nice weather before really focusing on developing an exercise habit, and the time has come to start walking regularly. Also, now that my meds are at the right level, it's easier to maintain reasonable blood sugar levels.

I must give due credit to Diabetes Daily, where I've received an enormous amount of information and encouragement. I think it might well be the most supportive message board I've ever been a part of, which is really saying something, as I've been on some great boards.

Diabetes affects nearly every part of my life. I'm grateful to have learned early on how to handle that positively. I realize things will not always go as well or as smoothly as they are right now. I plan to make the most of this time when I can easily make changes to improve my health and maintain my hope!

Oh, come on, now!

It seems a bit unfair to have snow and ticks in the yard on the same day.

Monday, April 14

All happenings large and small.........

Okay, so all this stuff is happening to my room and it's about time someone asked my opinion dontcha' think? And my opinion is............. I LOVE IT! It is beautiful, calm, and completely my style.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same of the weather. It's April and we just got another blizzard. Frankly, I would rather have to mow every day for the rest of Spring than shovel more snow.

Finally, after quite a bit of effort, I have finished 'Kenilworth' by Sir Walter Scott. If you have read any of his works, then you know how difficult it can be. Surprisingly, this is his second work I have finished. I read 'Ivanhoe' for school last year and enjoyed it as much as 'Kenilworth' (although they each have their boring spots).

The plot of the book is that the Earl of Leicester and Amy Rosbart fall in love and marry but must keep their marriage secret so the Earl can gain a higher place in the Court. In the end, Amy is murdered by Varney (the villain), and eventually the Earl gets invited back to Court after mourning the loss of his pretty wife.

Well that's all for now.

Sunday, April 13

Mission Almost Accomplished

Here are some before and after pictures of the girls' room. We have some cool wall stickers to put up, but we think they're in my truck, which is still in the shop.
We also have a small table and two chairs for this corner. FedEx should have it here within the week.
As you may have gathered, the girls are very happy with their upgrade!

Friday, April 11


Our blizzard rolled in last night, and is due to stick around all day. The wind and drifts are a sight to behold! It's a good day to stay put, make cocoa and soup, and watch my seedlings sprout.

Monday, April 7

So what's been going on lately

I helped paint the girl's room. It doesn't look like Mom wrote about this yet, so I will. Yes sir, I painted the corners mostly but also used the roller. It is a pretty dark blue.

Yesterday... yesterday was a great big adventure. See, on Saturday we went shopping, and when we got home, we got stuck in a muddy part of the driveway and couldn't get out. So yesterday Dad and I went to church in the Insight while everyone else stayed home. We had to get help from a neighbor from church. They have an Excursion too, but it has 4 wheel drive, so they pulled our Excursion out without much trouble. Then, Dad and I put up some shades that were a real hassle to put up. And finally, Mom and Dad took the truck to the safety of the body shop while the rest of us Jesus Freaks listened to "Portable Sounds."

I've also been working on taxidermy projects lately. I mounted a cottontail and a red squirrel, and both turned out pretty nice. However, the squirrel was very difficult due to its small size, and so naturally I am looking forward to mounting a grouse next. Did I tell you guys about the grouse? My overweight dog surprised the whole town when she caught a grouse and brought it to me without harming the plumage at all.

Butchered a chicken this week. Yes sir, I found a rooster eating our eggs and in my fury I butchered him. And now there is no doubt in my mind; I like butchering rabbits much better, which is exactly why I am going to raise rabbits when I get a farm.

We had to take our tests again this year, only I'm a big kid now so I took the ITED test instead of ITBS. But I had to sit next to the same girl and across from the same guy who I had to sit next to and across from last year, which was kinda interesting. Anyway, I finally got my test scores in, and man, I felt smart last year but this year I feel really smart. All my grades were Post High School, and my lowest score was 91th percentile, which is pretty good.

Sunday, April 6

That Sinking Feeling

Once the beds were in, there was still more shopping to do. Internet to the rescue! I placed a JC Penney order online, and found me a coupon code for an additional 20% off. Woo-hoo!

Some things are still better bought at a brick and mortar store. So we picked Loren up after work and spent the evening out and about. Duluth in spring, at dusk, with snow on the ski slopes and a thunderstorm rolling in, is absolutely gorgeous! I wanted to get a few groceries before heading home, since my truck will be in the shop most of this coming week. Loren and Jon drove home in his car while the rest of us were at Walmart.

By the time we got home, it was well after dark. Knowing better than to park in the muddy part of the driveway, I turned to pull in front of the house. Can you tell where this is going? Uh-huh. I didn't quite clear the frost boil. Once again, I had that sinking feeling, this time in more than one sense of the word.

(Insert imagined drama here. Be sure to include near-freezing temps, the threat of rain, and 600 lbs of bagged manure.)

Thankfully, Loren was able to get someone from church (with a more powerful Excursion than ours) to pull us out this afternoon. Then we drove my truck over to the shop where it will get a fancy makeover. Hopefully, I'll have a dry place to park it when it comes home!

Cleverness and Determination

Finally, the day had come for our youngest to graduate from her toddler mattress to a Big Girl Bed. To conserve space and body heat, we decided the girls would share a full bed. We shopped around and found such a good deal, we decided to get a bed for the guest room, as well.

The night before delivery, the girls cleared their room. They had a slumber party in the living room. They were very tired, so it wasn't much of a party.

In the morning, the delivery guys came bright and early. They hauled two box springs and two mattresses into the house. They tried twice to get a box spring up the stairs. It didn't work.

They must've had other places to be. I asked them to try one more time, but they refused. They didn't even take the mattresses upstairs. I was told I could void the warranty and cut up the box springs, or I could leave them in the plastic and exchange them. They left, and I sat and thought.

Then I Googled my problem, which surely wasn't unique. Not surprisingly, I found help! Keeping in mind the recent adventures and attitude of a fellow blogger, I decided that frustration and worry weren't worth the hassle. It was so much easier to move forward without that burden!

I set Toby to work removing the staples holding the dust cover on the bottom of the first box spring. I thought that would be a great alternative to cutting it, since I had the manpower handy.

When we got a look at the inside, it seemed a shame to have to cut and fold when there was so much open space there. And the fit up the stairs was so close!

Hmm... Lynae and I thought maybe we could use the space to our advantage, and try again to get it upstairs without the cutting and folding. It certainly seemed worth a try!

My biggest concern at this point, having resigned myself to the possibility of a less-than-perfect box spring, was damaged woodwork on the house. Judicious use of towels and nylon cord protected the wood.

They got to the tricky part, and it was still tricky. But it was so close, we weren't ready to give up.

Toby thought he knew just what the problem was and how to overcome it. Lynae wasn't so sure.

So they traded places. Lynae slid right down on her butt.

After conceding that things looked much better from the bottom, Toby resorted to brute strength. Lynae was so thankful that he did!

She and Grace made up the bed with their new linens, and I think this picture says it all.

We had a good meal and plenty of rest before repeating the process with the second box spring.

Friday, April 4

Sweet Victory!

What happens when children with a dream are stuck between a wall and a hard place? Cleverness and determination save the day! Details at 11...

Thursday, April 3

We got out!

With much patience and determination and warm sunshine, we got the truck out of the driveway. Hurrah~! We proceeded to get groceries, peat pots, and seeds. I also spent a dollar on an empty envelope which was supposed to contain peppermint seeds, but has a little tear in the bottom.

We (and by "we" I mean "I") had great fun with the new radio. I have about 18 stations preset so far, and kept changing the station (and driving Toby nuts, I think).

Shortly after returning home, I had a Scary Hive Episode. I guess I haven't blogged about those before. This was the 4th time I've broken out in horribly itchy hives from head to toe for no known reason. The first time, I was driving Loren home from the ER. The second time, we were at the fair. The third time, I was sitting at home, minding my own business. And then there was last night. It's generally 5 minutes from first itch to full-blown hives and itchy, tingly mouth. I took enough Benadryl to not want to say how much I took, and it worked. Thank God! I had time to notice that the itching was gone before telling the kids, "I'm getting very sleee.... (snore)."

Wednesday, April 2

Change of plans

Having diabetes means having my blood drawn every three months. I hate having my blood drawn. Not that I suppose anyone really likes it. So I had an appointment this morning, and it had to be done before breakfast.

I had to reschedule. Our most recent snowfall was very wet, and our driveway wasn't plowed. I guess I packed it down pretty well pulling in last night, and couldn't get any traction to get back out. Unfortunately, I just knew last night that I was in trouble. But rather than stop and fix it then, I left it. And I paid for it this morning. Hopefully I will be able to get out later today, so I can get groceries. Or at least by the time the I get the call that the parts are in for my Truck Repair Wish List. Or at the very least, by the end of mud season.

When I do get back on the road, I can enjoy my new XM radio! Thanks, Adam, for the heads up and all your help! (You need a blog, dude!)