Things.

I know…I have been delinquent. But there are reasons. :) Three primary reasons.

1. With the work on the heater, it has been too dusty to keep the computer on it’s customary, distress-painted, black desk. And so it’s been floating about the house. And I feel disoriented. And so I haven’t blogged.

2. I have developed some bad varicose veins just behind and below my knee. This means that sitting for long moments can be painful, as bending my knee is not good for them. These veins have been my nemesis this pregnancy. I am now feeling so good! I am energetic. I am inspired! But then my 34 year old veins decide I’m too old to be pregnant (or something), and they give me problems. I never had this before…even while carrying twins. So yes, I gave in and bought some compression thigh highs. Anyone who knows me well, knows the depth of my dislike for any sort of nylon stockings. And so, needing to wear these things for 4-5 months, every day, is enough to make me crawl the walls. Crazier than normal. Unhappy, in an understatement. And yet, I love my baby…more and more…and I will wear compression stockings and smile. :) :) I did order some with open toes, so then at least I will have my toes back!

3. Our fantastic camera is dying the death. Either that, or we need new batteries. We really didn’t think it was the batteries, so we were in despair. We do not want to lose this slice of our life in photos, especially with building the Masonry Heater! And every spare and not spare cent is going into the heater, so no new camera coming up. We decided to order good batteries and just make sure that is not the problem. So pray. :) Because although this is not an iphone, and it is not a jazzy, complicated camera, it takes very good pictures. And we love it dearly. :)

So there are my main three reasons that I have been sadly lacking in blogging power. There are more…

1. I have been sewing. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not enjoy sewing. But I was having a hard time finding winter maternity wear that I liked and was in my price range. So I ordered some fabric, more was given to me, and I settled in for an entire new wardrobe. A month or two later, I have it. I am very, very happy. Comfort. Not heffalumpy. Kind of pretty. I love this wardrobe! And the cool thing is, at least the dress part I can turn into skirts for next winter. For you seamstresses out there, here is what I did.

I cut the sleeves off of t-shirts that had nice, small neck holes. Then I cut the lower half off the t-shirts. I used some of those lower halves to lengthen sleeves on short sleeved maternity blouses. The skirt part I made two different ways:

A. I started out with a normal skirt pattern. I cut it taller than for a normal skirt. I put darts in until it fit onto the t-shirt top I had ready. But at the waist, I added a half circle of stretchy fabric. This gives me a nice, large bubble of fabric that on most of the dress things, will last through the 9th month.

B. I cut a normal skirt, only more narrow because for this one, I didn’t add darts.. The back I cut taller, to come up to the t-shirt I had cut short. The front I cut to stop below my tummy. I took a large rectangle of stretchy fabric and gathered it on all four sides to fit into the tummy space of the dress.

I liked both ways. There are pros and cons for each. This, by the way, once you have your pattern down, takes very little time. The darts gave me some fits, but otherwise, very simple.

For my maternity blouses, I made several with a pattern my sister gave me. Most of them I sewed into peasant blouses. I made the sleeves long enough to keep me warm this winter. I made all but one blouse and one skirt out of warm, stretchy, comfy fabric. So there are the details for any curious seamstresses.

This all sounds simple. :) Laugh. Because it wasn’t. There was an enormous amount of trial and error. An enormous amount of groaning. And by the end…I admit…some words would escape that should not be heard around here. My very last blouse went together like a dream. :) My very last skirt didn’t. But in the end, with enough tweaking and fixing, I love this wardrobe. So that, I suppose, is what counts.

AND I AM DONE! FINISHED!!!!

This morning I got up. I felt very happy. I felt as though several tons of bricks had fallen from my aching back. I fixed some clothes for the twins. I copied a pattern, as I may be sewing a summer blouse wardrobe come spring. (Do NOT mention that to me, though!) And then, officially done, I cleaned my purple room and put it back together.

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Notice the small computer station, with even a little ledge to slightly elevate my feet. :)

2. I have been doing apples. At $10/bushel, how can one go wrong? I ordered three bushels. And now I want to say those other words at the sight of them. I am weary of doing apples every day! But at the same time, I am very grateful for them. Our favorite apple product (besides apple crisp), is apple chips, so I keep the dehydrator running. It’s small, so it takes about a dozen apples every day. I’ve also been doing applesauce to keep up with the ripening ones. I still have about a 3/4 box to go. :)

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I made the cake for the mom’s night out party with my vbac group. It is mostly made of eggs, (8 of them), almond meal, and honey. We had such a lovely evening! I took the twins with me, and they thought a pj party was awesome. We all sat around, talked about babies and birth stories, and did jamberry nails. These ladies are lovely. I am grateful for new friends!

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3. The Masonry Heater Saga Continues.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had moments of temptation to hate the guts of the heater. But I just can’t. :) We are so excited about it! It’s one of our dreams to build our own heater, and it’s coming true! The down sides? It takes nearly every minute of Craig’s time. He comes home from work, eats, and hits the heater. Saturdays are big heater days. I am not used to this! My husband spends time with his wife and children! He sits down, and we talk…we go on walks…he helps me with dishes…he helps me train the kids in the evenings…he plays ball with Bomani. But all that is up to me right now. And I’m squeaking under it. But lest I overstate my case, he does still help me with some of that! :) The other thing is, it’s taking money to build it. A fraction of the cost of buying one. But still–money. So we scrimp and we save, and I buy bits of food at the supermarket.

:)

Ahhh. Sometimes it just feels good to complain. :)

But! Let me catch you up in pictures on the heater saga!

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So, not only did the mud floor crack, but the twins had a heyday on it one evening while I was sewing and Craig was occupied outside. They danced around on the still damp mud, and scratched gleefully with their little fingers. :) But Craig repaired it, and it’s now a super, solid floor.

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Here he was working on sizing and counting to know how many firebrick to buy.

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Firebrick! These high quality bricks you need to use for the firebox and oven part of the heater. This was a pre-run outside.

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And now the real building begins!!!

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The exact precision that is necessary for this part of the heater blows my mind. If Craig were not such a super careful, expert builder… But he is!

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The above picture is going to be the floor of our oven, where we will bake. :) The groove is made for a metal air intake pipe, which Craig is welding and creating out of scraps. Have I mentioned that he is amazing?

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And that is the…okay. I forget the name for it. :) But this is opposite the fire box door, where air will circulate out into the rest of the heater.

If anyone has burning curiosity, call Craig. He knows what he’s doing. I’m learning as he goes. :)

And yes…I still have kids.

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She is playing basketball. :)

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They are fishing.

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Peace.

Worship.

I Chronicles 16…

David appointed some of the Levites to be ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate the Lord God of Israel, and to give thanks and praise to Him.

He appointed some to play harps, lyres, cymbals, and others trumpets. Every day. He decreed that thanks be given to the Lord by a certain group of people.

For His faithful love endures forever.

I am thoughtful. Every day…God was lifted up, thanked, and blessed by this group of people.

What does this mean for me today…?

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven.

Your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains;

Your judgements like the deepest sea.

God, Your faithful love is so valuable

That people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

They are filled from the abundance of Your house;

You let them drink from Your refreshing stream,

For with You is life’s fountain.

In Your light we will see light.

More of the Masonry Batch Heater

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Yum! :) So, Craig made four bricks out of different ratios of clay (dug out in our field), sand, and perlite. Something makes me wonder if I spelled that right. :) Then he baked them slowly in the oven to dry them out. After that, he and the kids tested them by whacking them apart! The kids thought it was awesome. Then he knew which ratio he wanted to use. I believe he used about equal amounts of the three.

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Craig works until 6:00, which means that a lot of his work on the heater needs to be done after dark. Keeps it interesting!

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He finally got in there with his feet (in boots!) to mix it. :) Time tested method!

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Although it may seem strange that we bring mud into our house to build our heater, really, cob is a fantastic material! We think we’re too rich to use it, but it works and it’s good. Concrete, of course, would just powder under high temps.

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It looked great when it was done! And even with a fan blowing over it, it is taking a really long time to dry. Unfortunately, it’s also cracking. Craig wonders if he should have incorporated straw as well.

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The next step? Building! This, my friends is fun.

:)

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God…

She is such a beautiful friend. Aunt. Sister. I so miss her gentle influence on my soul…

I miss her sudden laughter…

I miss her turning her nose up at a naughty brother…

I miss her delight every time I walk in the door…

I miss hanging out with her.

I love using her ceramic pie pan. I love having her lavender accents in my extra room.

But I don’t want those things. I want her back.

“We would never wish her back”???

Sorry. I wish her back.

I wish her back, God…

Be with us, God…

The Beginning of the Masonry Heater and Other Pieces of Life

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I really should have Craig post these Masonry Heater pieces! But I am getting an education… :)

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So many helpers!

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So, because our house is built on a pier and beam foundation, Craig had to cut a hold in the floor and build a solid base for the Heater.

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There’s more than one reason we own an Xb! This is our truck…

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He poured a slab.

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Then built a block wall, with a wall through the middle.

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He is amazing. Amen.

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Ain’t that cool?

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Insulation.

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Meanwhile, I have a project of my own going on. Sewing!! I got inspired to make some warm, comfy, winter clothes. So since God provided the fabric pieces, I set to work! After a lot of sewing and cutting and tearing out, I came up with a maternity outfit that is fantastic in comfort and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like a heffalump while pregnant! I still have a huge stack of fabric to sew…

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I got them new crayons and color books.

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Hazel loves to color!

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Guests. My kids say, “I LIKE when childrens come!” :)

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She helped me wrap Craig’s birthday gift, in the green bag. Then she wanted to pose with it. :)

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Now that pool time is over, the sandbox has revived!

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So fun to have our guineas walking around eating bugs all day.

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Bomani can be exceedingly neat. :)

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Crock pot meat loaf. Four pounds of it!

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I’ve been on a serious pumpkin pie kick. Like, I made one on Saturday, for Sunday lunch. Then I made one on Monday, which we ate. So I made one on Wednesday, which we ate. :)

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Since pie crust is my anti-nemesis, and since we try to eat low to no carb and sugar, I make it without a crust! I pop into the blender, a can of pumpkin, a package of cream cheese, a cup of heavy cream, and half a dozen eggs. Some honey and stevia and spices, and we’re off!

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I combed their hair. Then I watched them face each other. Hazel said, “You’re beautiful!” Daisy said, “You too!” :) I laughed…

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“Like mommy,” she says.

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Bomani will slide on anything. He constantly talks about snowboarding and sliding…

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Happy Birthday to my Awesome Husband!!

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I got him that mug for his bulletproof breakfast every morning. I searched Etsy for hours and hours…and finally ended up having him choose out of half a dozen or so, which mug he wanted. :)

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We celebrated with hot apple pie. This was the first time I ever did a lattice top pie. And yes, I made pie crust. I love him. Can you tell? It was a sort of healthy pie, as in partially stevia sweetened. But I said, if I”m going to make pie crust, I’m doing it with white flour. And I did. We ate nearly the entire pie for lunch. Craig and I took turns sneaking off to finish it that evening. :)

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Somewhere under there, is a burger.

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Cheers!

Three

I look back.

I will never forget.

We had three babies. At once. A one year old. Two newborns.

That was easily the most intense time of our lives, and I’m sort of guessing we’ll never quite match that.

Our first date after the twins were born?

We sank into the armchairs at the coffee shop. Sighed deeply. Looked at each other. And did nothing at all. A whole hour or two without…three babies and their needs. Wow.

I will never forget. Trust me.

:)

Now I sit down in my armchair. I watch them play. I watch them make games up together. And I know that I am home free. They are practically the same age. They love the same things. They entertain each other. They are best friends. All three.

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(They are all having a two hour nap right now. Know how cool that is?)

What else excites me?

I’m going to start them in school together. I’m going to teach them.

Three in one grade.

Does it get any easier than that?!

I’m at the easy point in my current pregnancy, and…sort of wishing for twins.

Aaa! Did I say that? Yes. Cuz seriously, it’s so…practical.

:)

School. Preschool. Letters. Sounds. Numbers. Colors. Animals.

I taught first grade. It’s so much fun. Don’t get me excited. Oh. Too late.

I think the chilly morning today is bringing on a winter nesting instinct!

But about school, and preschool…

See, Craig and I are both of the belief, for our children, that we don’t want to start them terribly young. Give them a childhood! Let ‘em live! They have their whole life to learn and study! We decided long ago that we won’t be teaching them to read by 4 years of age. We know they are smart. Not necessarily brilliant beyond belief, but we’re fine with that. They’ve got brains. They’re kids only once…

So, I don’t mind if you disagree with our philosophy; I respect yours! That’s just ours.

So what to do with this ________ itch to sharpen pencils and paint an entire wall with chalkboard paint??!!

I think last night brought it on as well. I was sitting in bed with the kids before their bedtime. They were scribbling on paper, as they love to do. I looked over. Bomani had written B, D, and H by himself. Quite nicely. Hazel had put an H on her paper. Aaa! This is fun!

So now I’m thinking about winter. And I think I might do more than provide color books and crayons. I might invest in a few preschool books and such…

:)

And keep my eyes open for a child size, wooden picnic table. That would work perfectly as a place for them to do school. And I could paint it white and it would blend in…

What are your favorite preschool books? Activities? Those of you who have researched or are experienced…I’d love to hear!

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Dear God, thank You for three at the same time…

I’m happy.

:)

Bits of News and Life

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For Bomani, creamy, lemongrass chai is love in a mug. He feels quite special. :)

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Combing baby. :)

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Guineas! Hopefully they are eating chiggers.

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They were on the roof.

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We are, as of Saturday, raising Yorkies! Kathy, a friend from our church, is turning her business over to us. The kids are ecstatic. Sunday morning Daisy came stumbling out of her room, and wanted to out to see “her dog” while she could barely open her eyes…

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Bomani came inside later on Saturday, (after skipping his nap), sighing deeply and said, “Mom, I carried big boards!” He puffed out and looked very important. “I’m a BIG boy!” I grinned. “Are you tired?” “No…” :)

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Sunday night treat. :) Peaches, with a generous dollop of sweetened cream cheese/heavy cream whipped to perfection, topped with a spoonful of toasted pecan meal/butter. Yum! (Except that I burned the pecans.)

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Off to a ladies night!

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Helping me chop apples. Bomani did a fantastic job, and felt very happy!

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Peace!

Autumn and Good Girl Moonshine

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Ahhh…how I am soaking in this lovely autumn weather! Yesterday morning was as glorious as it gets. This morning was even cooler, and almost more glorious. Yeah!!! After a lovely, not too hot summer, autumn comes. And so I pull out the beans and create my one and only, precious piece of fall decor. :) I love it. I must admit that for a short time, I cherished the idea of racing out to Hobby Lobby in Burleson and indulging in delicious, fall decor with my carefully saved money. But then…would I prefer a new diaper bag for our little guy? :)

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And that, my friends, is what happens at night just before bedtime. Melt my very soul…

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Helping me make an oatmeal cake. :)

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Not every chocolate chip made it into the pan…

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And then…with autumn, come the bugs. The flues, the colds…the sniffies. This winter, I will be using three, amazing things for my kids! Vitamin D, chewable–they treat it like candy; a shot of elderberry, which I use in concentrated form, and shoot it straight into their mouths with a dropper, to minimize the purple juice risks; AND Good Girl Moonshine. In sippy cups, above. :)

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See, Good Girl Moonshine, a carry-over from my THM days, makes a visible difference in my own immune system. Drench your insides in this stuff, and it chases those bugs away! They can’t survive! I got tired of it last year, and quit drinking it for a long time. But now with flue season approaching, I have revived it, and am loving it!

This is how I make it. I throw three, dried chillies, 4-5 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, and 3 or 4 sticks of cinnamon into a quart of water. I simmer that until it has reduced down to about a cup or cup and a half. By that time, the house smells amazing!

After that is cooled and strained, I pour it into a quart jar and add a cup of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, and a cup of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Add 1/4 t. stevia and 1/4 t. salt, and you have a fantastic drink that, poured over ice, is actually delicious. Okay, my husband takes about a sip a year, and then gives me that look that says, you have skills…

:)

That recipe is concentrate, about a fourth cup to a tall glass of water and ice. I often put a bit of raw honey into the kids’ cups to sweeten it further for them. Bomani told me it’s a bit like pop! (Can you tell they are not experts on soda pop?)

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Concentrate, below. Seriously, the kids had colds/light fevers this week. And as soon as I gave them GGMS to sip on through the day, they started getting well. Ever optomistic, (and many times unrealistic), I have hope for a healthy winter!

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“Let me help you!”

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We like cream!

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Hazel is doing perfectly well. The doctor found nothing wrong with her. We have a tentative neurologist appointment in November. So we will pray for wisdom and stay in contact with our pediatrician. With only one isolated seizure, they don’t get real worried. We are so grateful she is okay.

Blessings on your week!