Friday, December 24, 2010

No Matter How You Say It

Glaedelig Jul --Danish (where I lived for a semester in college)

Froehliche Weihnachten --German (All of my heritage and half of Mr. GT's)

Mithag Crithagsigathmithags --Jibberish  (which my kids think they speak)

Shub Naya Varsh --Marathi  (the first language of Sunshine)

God Jul --Norwegian  (what Mr. GT says we are, now that we've lived in Southern WI for 20 years)

Puthuvalsara Aashamsakal  --Malayalam  (Banana Boy's first language and how my grandpa would have said it when he lived in India)

Feliz Navidad --Spanish (how Rose Bud will wish you)

djoyeus Noye --Walloon Belgian  (half of Mr. GT's heritage and one-fourth of the kids)

Hosa Varushada Subhasayagalu --Kannada  (the language of BB's birth place)

No matter how you say it, may you be blessed by the birth of the One who came to save the world.  He was born for You and for Me.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blast From the Past

Here is a little Christmas Greeting from Sunshine from 2008.  Wasn't he the cutest?  And, WOW, was his speech delayed!  I didn't realize how bad it was and how far he's come until I was watching old videos this morning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Want a Free Kindle???

Donate to Erin at Precious in His Sight and you could win one!

Erin has been called in a powerful way to minister to the children at Sarah's Covenant Homes!  Her first trip coincided with our trip there in January 2010 when she stayed for a month.  She went back again for 3 months this past summer and now she is planning to volunteer long-term beginning in February.

She has done some interesting things in her lifetime--she adopted foster kids, she worked in international adoption and now she's devoting her life to helping out in India.  She does some administrative stuff for Sarah, organizing the kids' files and she also does medical trips up to Hyderabad with the kids.  And she just loves on them!

She's a super nice lady--I met her personally when we were there and we've kept in touch.

And now she needs financial supporters while she lives in India.  Did you ever wonder how missionaries do what they do?  They generally are volunteers!  They don't get paid for their "work."  They have supporters at home who cover their expenses.

I can vouch that Erin lives VERY frugally while she is in India and makes very good use of the money she has.  She has a crazy passion for these kids and God is most definitely in what she is doing.

So, if you'd like your very own Kindle, or if you'd just like to help Erin out, please hop over to her blog and make a donation for her expenses.  There is a tiny yellow donate button on the right hand side (it's a Paypal button, but you can use your credit card if you don't have a Paypal account).  She explains how many entries you'll get and the deadline to donate and be entered is Dec. 15.

Monday, December 6, 2010

If Jesus Was Born Today...

a Christmas greeting from the Livesays, Haiti mission family I follow.  They have an incredible ministry and an incredible blog.  Follow them Here.

The video doesn't quite fit in my blog.  You can click on the gray bar at the top (rather than on the play triangle) and it should open up on another page.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Heading Home Today

BB looks MUCH better today. He's sitting up. The Dr. had a stern talk with him about drinking enough. He had a blueberry pancake for breakfast and some yogurt. He is reading a Boxcar Children book now. That's more action than we've had out of him in 10 days!

Can't say enough good things about the staff here. They've been kind, friendly, helpful, responsive and great with kids--a nice feature in a children's hospital!

Mr. GT and the kids are decorating the tree, so we'll have that prettiness to come home to.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Banana Boy in the Hospital

Remember our pneumonia? Well, everyone has popped back quickly after beginning the Zithromax (except me--I got crushing headaches from it so after 3 days they switched me to something else. )

And except for BB. He has remained the same all week since getting the Z-Pack on Monday. The Dr. (love her!) called to check on him Mon. night and Tues. evening. Then she left for India for a month.

She had scheduled a follow-up for us for Fri. with the other pediatrician (who IS Indian!)so I was sort of holding out for that. Wed. BB was whiny but he didn't seem to have a fever and he said nothing hurt anywhere. I just assumed he was tired of being sick and tired of coughing and just generally feeling weak. Thurs. he seemed a teeny bit better. He got up off the couch twice on his own, he was sitting up, he ate a little. But in hindsight, really not where he should have been after 4 days on the antibiotic.

Ah, hindsight. They should make it available ahead of time.

So fast forward to Fri. morning. He woke up crying. Cried everytime I tried to move him. He did eat a bowl of cereal and drank some water, but his neck looked so thin! At 11:15 we left for our 12:00 appt. and he didn't even want to walk. In fact, he cried about having to leave the house for the appt.

At the Dr 's office I was surprised to find out he still was running a fever (do you see me not winning Mother of the Year here??). She listened to his chest and ordered another chest X-ray for comparison to Monday. Two arm sticks, one blown vein and a successful blood draw later, we were back in her office and she was talking admission. The X-ray looked somewhat worse and the CBC showed a mild white count elevation.

We hung out in the exam room for two hours while she communicated with the hospital and they got a room ready for a direct admit for us. That sounds awful, but he just laid on the exam table and rested. The alternative was to wait in the ER. No thanks!

Mr. GT had come by to switch his car for my van, I talked to Daisy and Pepper at home and explained to Mr. GT about getting Rosebud and Sunshine off the bus.

At 3 we left for the hospital and checking in couldn't have been smoother. I put him in a wheelchair at the parking ramp (he's too heavy to carry all the way up, even with the elevator, even having lost 2 lbs.)

So by 3:40 we were in our room answering 5 million personal questions from the nurse to help them personalize our stay. The pharmacist came in to hear about every medication he's ever had, the nurse and the student nurse AND the nursing assistant were here. We had the plebotomist for another CBC (didn't we just have one 3 hours ago?) The Dr., The resident. The IV inserter person (she didn't give her title). It sounds annoying but, really, they were all super!

The blood draw was not a popular activity, the IV even less so. Still he was very brave. The saline solution went charging through his veins and the antibiotics were begun. By this time Mr. GT was here with the bag we'd ordered from home. BB complained that his leg itched so we suggested he scratch. 5 more minutes passed and I glanced at his IV arm. Bumpy and red. I buzzed the nurse and within minutes she was here and we discovered the itch on his leg was hives too! She was going to let the Dr know, but I convinced her to turn the antibiotic off first.

Resident came in and everyone decided BB was reacting to the antibiotic. Note to future self: BB is allergic to Cephalosporin.

He got a shot of Benadryl and within minutes was asleep. Within an hour the hives were gone. The Dr.s will reevaluate tomorrow for a new antibiotic. He got most of this one before they shut it off.

Overall, everyone here has been terrific and VERY nice. This is a lovely hospital and he's getting great care. They're suggesting we'll go home Monday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The girls and I spent the whole morning playing Life (you know, the Game).  We have a 1960's non-politically correct version that I got at a thrift store for $1.99.  There's lots of gambling, catching a whale and something about selling shrunken heads to a museum.

The girls, who have never been baby-crazy--they like them and all, but they don't sit around dreaming about being housewives (I mean, they all want kids and they're all willing to have large families if that's how they're blessed, and stay home and some would homeschool, but they still want to go to college and have careers--you know, balanced)

So the girls, who have never been baby-crazy were SCREAMING like girls every time they landed on a baby!  Rose Bud was the worst!  She was clapping her hands!  They even changed the rules so that the revenge space sent you back 20+ spaces to a baby space.

Rose Bud needed 2 cars.  I made them name their children and she had:
and then she adopted Julian and Autumn  (that's 7, in case you're having trouble counting)

Daisy had Samuel, Sarah and Seth

 Pepper had Sapphire, Lotus, and her twins Jonathon and Joseph.

Oh, and I adopted Phoebe and Caleb from SCH.

Fortunately, I made it to the Millionaire Mansion first, so they all had a place to gather for dinner once the game was over.

I made Little Cheesey Meatloaves for dinner.  50 of them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Randomness in the House of Pneumonia

Pneumonia Checklist:
Banana Boy--Check
Rose Bud--Check
Happy Thanksgiving, Daisy!

Cost of a Chest x-ray at our clinic: $134
Multiplied by 5= $670

Rose Bud, regarding Halls Breezers Pectin Throat Drops: "They're sweet and creamy with only a little air-conditioning." (the menthol)

Most consecutive days with a fever: 7 (tie between Daisy and Banana Boy)
The counter is so nice and cool

Most consecutive days missing school: 5 (Sunshine)

Pepper conveniently spiked a fever at the Dr.'s office while along with Sunshine for his appointment.
Curled up like a cat

Rose Bud conveniently complained of chest pain ("like a brick on my chest--only wider than a regular brick") while along with Daisy for her appointment.

Happy to have ONLY viral-induced asthma:  Pepper (when will *I* get pneumonia, Mom????)

Root cause of all this sickness:  Probably influenza, but possibly para-influenza

Enjoying??? putting together his new birthday robot

Number of days SOMEONE in this house has been sick with this:  30

The REAL hero:  Mr. GT who has taken the puppy out in the evening, late at night, in the middle of the night and early in the morning in rain, wind, cold, bitter cold and generally yucky November weather

Number of nights I can sleep on Banana Boy's floor before my back gives out: 1
Smile, girls!! (We ARE smiling!)

The thing I regret taking for granted:  Our previous HMO.  Walk in, be served, be treated, be happy.  No bills.

Banana Boy:  "cough cough cough, moan."
Will she need a chest x-ray after a nebulizer treatment (she didn't)

Winner of the Never-Whines Award:  Daisy

The thing I am most grateful for:  antibiotics (and alternative antibiotics for when the first one gives me crushing headaches)

There's a boy with pneumonia in there somewhere!

Projected date of being sick-free:  Sunday, Dec. 5.  We're invited to Nonny's for Chinese and St. Nick and stockings

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Just 11 Short Months

this child will be backing over all sorts of stuff with a real car.

I put her in the van a couple of weeks ago (on her birthday, I think) and had her go forward and backward in the driveway, up and down.

She has no sense of which way to turn the wheel for backing up.  There's no intuitiveness yet.

So I ordered her onto the lawn mower, to spend an hour backing around our 8 acres.

Only the mower was hitched to the trailer and Mr. GT was using it.  And he thought he'd just put her to work for him.

I tried to explain that she couldn't even back up a plain mower, let alone a mower attached to a trailer (which behaves in an opposite way than the mower itself)

But no.

There really is no animosity here.  He's mostly making fun of her.  And she's laughing at him.

I'll hold up the trailer.  All you have to do is back up straight.

Straight!! STRAIGHT!!!!

Ok.  Straight.  I can do straight.  I think.

You want to drive the VAN?  You can't even back up a TRAILER full of weeds!

Ok.  Straight.

Today's purpose for backing up.


Forward is so easy.  (Do you see Daisy's pumpkin protesting on the top of the pile there?)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Are these DARLING, or what???  I ordered these 3 sweethearts for Christmas gifts from A Doll's Heart.

Lynda has been to SCH (Sarah's Covenant Homes), where Rose Bud and I volunteered in January, several times.  She is making these cute dolls as a home business.  She is a stay-at home mom (and I think a homeschooler).  But she is also donating $5 from the sale of each doll to SCH!!

They are really well-made and--do you see--they have a little Indian flag heart on their chests!!

There are other countries available--China, Ethiopia, Guatemala.  (not sure if the donation for those dolls goes also to SCH or to an organization related to that country).

But if you need a super-cute Christmas gift that also helps kids in need, run to A Doll's Heart and grab a couple or one.  Lynda is very responsive and I had my dolls in less than two weeks (or I would have if I had remembered to send the check right away!).  Shipping is also included, so in the end, it's a win-win for everyone involved!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This Child Still Lives at My House

He loves kindergarten!  He loves his teacher.  He loves recess and math and getting a drink from the bubbler and his teacher and riding the bus and his teacher and lunch and snack.

He is already on a behavior chart--thumbs up or down for 8-10 different sections of the day-- but the last two days have been entirely thumbs up.  He's been written up on the bus for standing on the seat, putting his arm out the window and then not staying in the seat the bus driver subsequently put him in.  I am paying the neighbor girl 25 cents a day to supervise him.  He has all the 5th grade girls completely wrapped around his little finger.  They love him (and hey, they're keeping him busy playing Rock, Paper, Scissors all the way home so he can't get into trouble)

He hasn't lost his hearing aid.

He hasn't hurt anyone.  Well, he pinched some boy on the Seal bus, but he did tell us about it.

His teacher loves him.  His. Teacher. LOVES. Him.  Thank you, God!

He knows the names of every child in his class and every adult with whom he interacts (and there are a LOT of them!)  He can sing "Head, Thorax, Abdomen (Abdomen!)" and he's learning the days of the week.  He writes his name with all the letters from left to right and all on the same line (still in all caps, though).  He is pretending to read and to write all the time.  He writes wonderful lines of scribbles and calls them words.  He wants to know the title of every book.  He knows how to "Stop, Drop and Roll."

He was good on his first field trip (it helped that he missed rest time and slept all the way home on the bus!)

He is working SO HARD!  I can't even imagine how much work it is for this brave little guy every day to go to school and follow all those rules (that every fiber of his being wants to flaunt instead) and interact with all those adults (relationships to build with THIRTEEN different adults every week--that's a whole heap of people to learn to trust).  Plus there is all that academic stuff!

No wonder he crashes in bed at 7 every night.

Love that little man!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Interrupt This Meeting...

On the way to church Sunday morning, as we crested a hill, 4 deer dashed across the road in front of us, followed by a pheasant running as fast as his little legs could go.  Nine pigeons scattered in the other direction.

So what was going on????

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Rose Bud!

Rose Bud turned 15 today.  It was a warm day for running--80 degrees by 10 am.

I was so busy watching her run that I never got an actual picture of her running, but here she is warming up.

It was a true cross country course on a farm out in the country.  It was hilly, but a beautiful course with woods and a meadow and a creek to run along (and swim in afterwards!)

Rose Bud ran well.  Her time was longer: 17:49, but she placed higher, percentage-wise, than she usually does.  They ran one varsity race, but then they split the results into large schools and small school.  So in the overall varsity race, she was 57 out of 162 which put her in the 35th percentile -ish.  She usually runs just into the bottom half of the field.

In the large school standings, which were the ones that counted, she ended up 40th out of 95 runners and was 5th on the team (surprise).

We (including Rose Bud) were all a little concerned after the girls' JV race as they came into the finish looking really whipped and exhausted.  Rose Bud was worried she'd be really tired running, but she felt ok after the race.

It was also homecoming this weekend and Rose Bud went to the dance with her girlfriends.  15 years ago I was resting in my hospital bed looking with awe at my newborn and wondering what I had done taking on this incredible responsibility of being a parent.

This night, I dropped that same firstborn off at the high school for her first high school dance.

She has made this parenting thing a walk in the park.  She has always been a delightful companion, fun to talk to, witty with a dry sense of humor, observant and interested in the world around her.  She was and still is a family-girl and loves to be a part of whatever we are doing (because we are an awesome family, obviously!).  She works hard at whatever she does and sets high goals for herself.  She's kind and compassionate and thoughtful (and way more patient than me!).

It's a pleasure and a privilege to be your parent, Rose Bud.  Te amo!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good-bye, Piggums!

Meet Ham and Bacon
 What's going on?  What's that noise?  Where did our gate go?

Hey, apple!  Mmm.  Mmm.  Apple.  Coming! 

 Mmm.  Apple?

Uh, no.  Nevermind. 

How about some chicken feed?  No, thank you. 

Ooh!  I'll have some chicken feed!  Let me out! 

After some clever maneuvering on the part of the humans with some old doors and gates, the piggums are safely stowed in the trailer.   

Good-bye, Piggums!  See you (in a slightly different format) next week!

All Rose Bud, All the Time

It's homecoming week, so the high school has been having dress up themes every day and class spirit competitions.  One day each class had a theme in time and the Freshmen, lucky ducks, were pre-historic.

Yes, that's a bone in her hair.  She borrowed it from Sunshine's vet kit.

Today was obviously red and white day.  Even the kindergarteners got involved.  Rose Bud gets to ride on a fire truck this afternoon in the Homecoming parade for Cross Country.  THAT should be exciting.  We're going to watch the parade with the kindergarteners.

I do still have 3 other children and we've been crazy busy with homeschooling.  I have tons of great pictures to put up on the other blog.  I just never seem to get around to it.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Winding Down

Only a few meets to go before conference.  Today was a beautiful day, albeit chilly!
She passed these two runners on the left just before the finish

Rose Bud ran her customary 5th on the team.  She is nothing if not consistent!  Her time was an excellent 17:15 and she was 61 out of 101 runners.  The team was 6th.

The coach is unhappy, however, with the 5th place spot.  He is justified, in the sense that because RB is coming in quite a bit behind the 4th place runner, an improvement would help the team in a big way.  He wants someone to step up and improve their 5th place performance.

RB feels awful because she really feels like she is doing her best.  She IS only a freshman.  She also has run very consistently all season.  She runs consistently in that 5th spot AND she runs consistently in about the 50th-62nd percentile of the field.  She's not all over the place, running very well one week and terribly the next.

Part of it IS probably a head game.  There is so much in running that is dependent on your mental state.  If you believe you can, often you can.  But there are the physical factors as well, and to just shave 30 seconds off your time is a HUGE change to make.  As her time has improved this season, so have the times of ALL the runners and so she remains in that same percentile, just below 50.

So each week, she tries out some strategies the coach gives her to see whether they work for her.  Some have, some haven't.

In any case, as her parents, we are incredibly proud of all she's accomplished this season!
umm...yeah!  This is art!  What a cool photo!  Actually, I swung around as she passed me and I was trying to take the picture and see her time on my ipod at the same time!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Home Meet

Stats for the home meet:

Rose Bud again ran 5th on the team.  Varsity took 2nd place, as did JV.

RB placed 27th out of 76, which was her best place, and an improvement on her percentage.  She's been finishing abouth 50% of the way through the pack, and this was about the top 3rd of the field.  She's continuing to close in on the #4 runner, and the coach said this week that the team has narrowed their time between runner #1 and runner #5 to around two minutes.  Still a ways to go, but she's just a freshman.  Her time was 18:39--this was a slow course.

The bigger news was that the JV team finished an actual 1, 3 & 4 in their race.  Rose Bud was still faster than the #1 JV runner, but only by about 20 seconds.

Here's how the times shook out:
V #1
V #2
V #3
V #4
Rose Bud
JV #1
JV #2
JV #3
V #6
V #7

The top seven run varsity next week.

That means there will be 4 freshman and 3 seniors running varsity this week!  That's pretty exciting!

RB's goal is to keep ahead of the #6 runner (who did beat her in several races last year) and to keep up with the #4 runner.

Will keep you posted!

Banana Boy: On Sports

Banana Boy:  I LOVE Track!  I love the long jump and those soccer goals.

Me:  Soccer goals?

BB:  You know--like soccer goals but they don't have nets.

Me:  ????

BB:  They run and they jump over them!


BB:  Yes!  Hurdles.  I love those.

pause for reflection and dishwasher loading.

BB:  Do they do anything else for cross country?

Me:  What do you mean, anything else?

BB:  Extra stuff.  Like... handstands.

You all go off and picture that now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recent Two Meets

Rose Bud continues to run varsity.  At Saturday's meet, her goal was to keep the team's #4 runner in sight.  In actuality, she almost BEAT her!  They were neck in neck at the finish and #4 saw her coming and put on a little burst of speed to edge Rose Bud out by .6 of a second.  RB's time was 17:34 -- a whole minute faster than last week!

Rose Bud is the red runner on the left

At the mid-week meet, it was set up for a Freshman/Sophomore race and a Jr./Sr. race rather than varsity and JV.  She still ended up as the 5th team-runner, time-wise with a time of 17:42.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Wives and Wings

Banana Boy: I hate being a boy.

Me: Why?

BB: You have to buy things for your honeymoon.

Me: Oh?

BB: And you have to buy your wife a computer.

Me: What do you have to buy for your honeymoon?

BB: You have to find where to go. And you have to buy soda probably, for your wife. And coffee probably.


BB, getting into his car seat: I HATE having wings!

Me, glancing at him in the rearview mirror: Just think how hard it is for real bats.

BB: Yeah, but they're USED to doing everything with wings!

Me: I suppose. They've been buckling up since they were babies.

BB, sighing wistfully:

Saturday, September 4, 2010


53rd out of 112. This race was a true 4K (last meet was only a 3200m, or 2 mi.) and her time was 18:31 (last meet was 15:31).

She placed 5th on the team and looked great at the finish. She maybe has a little more in her!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Heart Tomatoes. No, Really. Really!

Oh. My. Holy. Tomato.

To say this was a bountiful season would be an understatement.  Now, granted, Mr. GT planted tomatoes in 3 of his 7 gardens (75 plants, he said), but I have been canning tomatoes for 4 weeks now.

We've made Diced With Green Chilis.

Pizza sauce



Spaghetti Sauce


I'll go down and take a picture of the shelves for you.  But here is a picture of the girls playing Tomato Hospital.

7 five-gallon pails.

I washed and triaged.  They hauled them in "ambulances" to their respective wards.  Pepper was in charge of plum tomatoes (Did you ever notice, Mom, that tomatoes are all named after fruit?  Plum tomatoes, strawberry tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes).

Daisy was in charge of all other varieties.  They each had a sick ward where tomatoes who might die soon were kept for observation.  The healthy tomatoes (they decided there had been a bombing and many tomatoes had been hurt, but even the ones without visible injury had to be kept overnight) were separated for ripening, but still needed to be checked daily.

I promised them each $2 if they delivered all healthy tomatoes when I needed them.  Any infected and oozing patients would be a 10 cent deduction.  It was up to them to remove the dead members to the compost bucket.  Daisy earned $1.80 and Pepper, $1.90.

Rose Bud learned to can tomatoes and can go from boiling vat of red lava to sealed jar of ruby tastiness on the counter all by herself. 

Here is Sunshine "grinding" tomatoes one day.

Banana Boy just stands out in the garden and singlehandedly keeps the cherry tomatoes from overtaking the world.  The boy is getting his daily of vitamin C!

So anyway, last week at work I ran into a lady with whom I had discussed gardening and canning one time about 2 years ago.  She remembered that we had talked and I mentioned how I was drowning in tomato juice.  She offered to trade honey (she keeps bees) for tomatoes and even to pick them herself. 

Hot dog!

So she came over yesterday and picked up 4 pails of tomatoes (which Mr. GT had already picked for her) and left us with

3 brand new 5-gallon pails
1 qt. of honey
1 small honey bear
1 lb. of creamed honey
1 pt. of blueberry syrup (sweetened with honey)
and a half-pint jar of honeycomb

Jackpot!!!  I really felt like we got the better end of the deal, but she said she felt like SHE had so that meant we were even.  I can live with that.

She also asked about possibly keeping hives on our property in the future!  Cool beans!  I mean Bees!  She was very excited about the restored prairie nearby.

So that's been my August.  Tomatoes.  Tomatoes.  And more tomatoes.  Come on over for spaghetti in winter!

And She's Off!

A new cross country season has begun.  Time trials were Saturday and Rose Bud made varsity for the first meet.  Whether you are on the varsity or JV team changes meet-to-meet, based on your performance at the previous meet.  So you can move up or down throughout the season.

Top seven runners (both boys and girls) make varsity.  Rose Bud finished 5th, so she easily qualified, although 3 girls with potential to make varsity were not at the time trials.

In any case, she qualified for the season's first meet.

And the results:
Both varsity girls and JV girls finished 4th in team competition.

Rose Bud moved up throughout the race from 58th near the start to 46th about 3/4 of the way to finish 39th out of 75-80 runners.  She doesn't have her official time yet, but I clocked her at about 15:30. 

Varsity/JV placing is based on times. There were 3 varsity runners on her team who finished ahead of her and one of our JV runners (one who missed the time trials--a senior) WON the JV race with a better time than Rose Bud.

So time-wise, it LOOKS like she finished 5th within her team, which would put her on varsity again for Saturday.  We'll find out tomorrow.

In any case, she ran great, felt great afterward and was very happy with her race.  And she had fun.

All this after I dropped a dresser on her foot this morning.

We're moving bedrooms since Mr. GT and I are moving up to our now-finished attic.  Daisy & Pepper are moving into our old room.  Sunshine is moving into their room (from a shared room with Banana Boy).  Rose Bud is staying put, but got a new dresser the girls no longer needed.

All week we've been hauling and packing and shuffling and moving.  Today I was taking a dresser downstairs and it got stuck in the stairwell.  I had RB helping me juggle it around and it squashed her foot on the stairs.  Oops.

In her quest for ice for her foot, she jiggled something in the freezer so that it no longer closed properly.  I started poking around in there to fix whatever was blocking the door when a popsicle fell out onto the floor.  I bent down to pick it up and when I stood up--BAM!! I slammed my head into the corner of the freezer door.  I felt the pain on the opposite temple, actually.  Brain-jostling. 

While I was hopping around screaming "OW," RB said, "Mom, look at me."  I turned toward her and she said, calmly, "There's blood running down your head."

Payback, definitely, for smashing her foot.  She stayed far away from the furniture-moving for the rest of the day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Trouble With Cats

"First they claw you and bite you and attack you and you have to feed them.

Then they go upstairs and they claw you and attack you again until you give them wet food.  Or tuna.

Then they attack you and bite you until you snuggle them.  I like the snuggle part.

They mew and mew and mew about.

And then you have to clean their litterbox!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Just Butchered 10 Chickens!

There'll be a little bragging in this post.   I'm a little proud of myself.  And my clan.

Let me start with a story (because there's always a story).  Butchering chickens is nothing new to me.  At least seeing chickens butchered is nothing new.

We always raised chickens for eating, at least when I was very young.  Each end-of-September, as far back as I can remember, my grandparents and aunt and uncle came on a Saturday for butchering chickens.  And then, since everyone was there, we had a big dinner and celebrated our birthdays.

Yep.  We didn't hire a clown or a pony.  We killed chickens.

My sister and I (when we got older) would catch and carry the chickens, upside down by their feet to my grandpa who chopped off the heads and tossed them in an oil drum.  After 10 or so, he fished them out one by one scalded them and bounced them around on the plucking machine.

Next they went to a table made of a piece of plywood balanced on two saw horses where my dad and my grandma gutted them.

Somewhere along the line, people who couldn't bear any other part of it got them and picked out the pin feathers with a paring knife.  This included my mom, my aunt and uncle and, later, my step-mother.

My sister and I never were invited to help other than to carry the chickens (and we thought we were big stuff to do that!) I don't know why.  I don't remember being grossed out by it.  We watched.  It smelled vaguely bad.  The dog nosed around under the table for scraps. This whole enterprise went on every fall until I was maybe 14 or so.

The gizzards went to Mrs. Wardeck up the road.

There you have my whole childhood.  Now to the present.

Mr. GT butchered 3 of our roosters earlier this spring.  He too grew up seeing it done by parents and grandparents, but never helped.  So to the internet he went, figured it all out, and one week when the kids and I were gone, he did the job.

And pretty much hated it.

This time I was invited to help.  Mr. GT confided to me after we were all done, that he was terrified that no one would help and he'd be left to do the whole job alone for 8 hours.
Our setup.  Left side: our old kitchen sink, a corian countertop piece (free on Craig's list) and the hose.  Center back: the plucking station (plywood covered with plastic) and Right: the feet et al. table (another piece of free Corian)

I was squeamish about the gutting.  It wasn't so much the rawness that didn't appeal to me, but rather the fact that it would be warm.  I can do cold raw chicken any time.  The more frozen, the better.

So Mr. GT fired up the propane turkey cooker and sharpened his hatchet.  He had four hanging to bleed out by the time we all got out there.

(I should mention that Banana Boy, who is very sensitive visually, pet-minded and prone to bad dreams had been shipped off to Nonny's last night.  HE was not invited to the butchering.)
I watched Mr. GT chop the head off the fifth one (He hates it.  Maybe I'll give it a go next time.  I once had to drown a nest of baby rabbits for him that had invaded his garden. He's too soft.  However, if you need a possum whacked to death with a shovel, he's your guy.).

He dunked the first chicken and we brought it to the plucking table.  Once you start plucking, the squeamishness for that vanishes.  Plucking is fun!  They sort of "unzip" right off the chicken.  Getting all the little feathers and the broken "stems" is a pain, but really, not hard.
Dunking and Rose Bud holding the one on deck

Pluck, pluck, pluck

Next was the feet/crop/neck/oil gland table.  The feet are super easy to remove (I'm sort of intuitive with this whole butchering thing, I was pleased to discover.  That makes me a 3rd generation expert chicken-butcherer).  The joint-finding, cutting, snapping, snipping thing was very "duh."  Rose Bud quickly latched onto this task, calling all foot-removing for herself.

She also liked to pull the tendons with the pliers after the feet were off, making the toes move up and down.  She had to individually play with each one.

The crop seemed a little creepy, but that became easy after about the 3rd one.  We withheld food from them since noon yesterday, so the crops were all empty.  We loosened each one and then went in to take out the neck.
A little different than "cropping" a photo

I would have loved to send Grandma a whole bag of necks, but sorry, Grandma.  I made them all into broth.  That's her favorite part.

Rose Bud also loved to cut off the oil gland above the tail and also called that job.

By the time we'd finished about 4 chickens, Daisy and Pepper joined us.  They rather sissily helped pluck, using just their fingertips.
Pluck, pluck, pluck

The next station was the gutting station.  Squeam-O.  There's also the whole gall bladder danger you have to be careful off, but in reality, that turned out to be a non-issue, really.  It's deeply hidden and protected in the gut-mass.

So Mr. GT sliced open the first one and I watched, then tried my own slicing.  Two fingers top, two fingers bottom, open up the cavity.

OK.  I am SO a natural at this.  My dad would be so proud.

I was able to get my hand in and it really is not gross at all.  And not as warm as I'd expected.  Every Thanksgiving I loosed the skin on the turkey and stick my arm up past my elbow under the skin to rub herbs all over the meat.  This was really no different (only warmer).

I was hesitant to pull the guts OUT, worried I'd break something, so Mr. GT had to pull out the first 3 after I'd loosened them, but after that, it was all ME.

ME.  ME.  ME.


I gutted a chicken!

Actually, Rose Bud had her hand inside by the 4th one (knock me over with a feather!!)  She was able to loosen everything and stuck her hand into most of them (she liked slitting, opening and loosening) but she never did get any guts pulled out.
Rose Bud, deep inside a chicken

I taught Daisy to open and clean the gizzards.  She loved that job.

Pepper dissected everything.  Two months ago I bought frozen chicken hearts at the grocery store when we were studying the heart and the girls wouldn't even enter the room where they were.  I ended up throwing them out.

Today, Pepper couldn't get enough of identifying parts and cutting them open and touching stuff with her finger.  She loved the lungs and the kidneys best.
Pepper carrying a headless, scalded chicken to the plucking table.  Isn't she CUTE????
Daisy carried raw hearts over to the heart/neck/gizzard pot for later broth-making.

So.  That was the most amazing thing I've ever done!  Seriously, if you've ever thought about it and been too squeamish, JUST DO IT!
Sunshine was at his most useful with the hose in his hand.  He put ice in the cooler, filled the coolers, rinsed everything, and sprayed the hose any chance he got.

So the first 5 were practice.  It took us (basically Mr. GT, Rose Bud and me) 2 hours.

The second 5 took just over an hour with everyone helping.

Just for fun, go read this step-by-step tutorial on how to butcher a chicken.  It is amazing and spot-on.  Very best directions on the web.

(And, we're having beef tonight, in case you were wondering!)