Monthly Archives: August 2014

Bonfire Party

guitar

After our move Hubby and I wanted to have a house warming to thank all of our friends and family for helping us move.  With the birth of Junior and the rush of summer days, we find ourselves mid-summer with nothing but a few dinners of thanks given out.  We decided to hold a bonfire night, inviting everyone we know and a few neighbours too.  Invitations were sent, some by mail and others through social media.  We decided for a roast your own hot dog menu along with a s’more bar and baskets of chips.  We’d provide some beer for family and friends and lots of pop, water and juice for the kiddies…

Update….

Since I was swamped with prep work, I never did quite finish the blog post, so now here is the update of how it went…. it was a very busy few days, buying up all the hot dog buns in the store, ordering massive all beef dogs through Hubby’s contacts, and picking up the paper signs from the print shop.  We set up tables, dragged old couches out to the bonfire pit and set up screened tents (which was a saviour since we have no shade yet!) and filled huge glass punch dispensers with berry, orange and lemonade mixtures. I had the guys drag out a large chalk board for the kids to play with and all the grass was cut, once again with the help of my dad.  Chips went into baskets, coolers were filled with ice, and finally by about 4pm, I could breathe a little. We ended up having 30 people over, from friends and neighbours to family.  Kids ran amok, adults lounged, and everyone seemed to have a good responsible time.  We even had one of Hubby’s old friend’s show up unexpectedly and quite the crowd stayed well into the night. My favorite moments were drawing on the chalk board with a friend’s son, whom I’ve only met once before, and late into the night, my dad found his guitar and strummed us all a few tunes, reminiscent of bedtime when we were 7 years old, my sister and I curled up in our bunk beds.

 We had a few people stay over, some in tents, some in RVs and one of best friends insisted on sleeping on the couch by the fire….he probably woke up covered in dew! I served up a hearty pancake breakfast the next day and Hubby and I curled back into bed when everyone had left.  A good party.

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A Mom Update

mom and ethan outside bw

I didn’t want this blog to be all about being a mom, but of course little bits of Junior leak into every few posts. So I wanted to give everyone an update on how I’m doing on the “mom front”.  Junior, is 4 months old, he is rolling over and flailing his chubby arms and legs around trying to motor around.  He is huge, but not fat, as he still sits in the higher percentile for weight and height. Being formula fed is great so that Hubby can be involved and I know Junior is getting the nutrients he needs (not sure if I posted earlier, but I tried to breastfeed, but in the end, it just never works…or should I say the “girls” never worked).

He isn’t really a fussy baby and rarely lets out much of a screech when upset.  He gets along with the dogs, well, I guess the dogs tolerate him and seem to be very gentle in his presence.  Junior is also starting to sleep through the nights (thank the lord!!),  and has regular napping periods, which mean I can finally expect time to myself each day to get caught up on bottle washing, laundry, or bathroom cleaning.   I’ve tried cloth diapers a few times and have become very frustrated with the outcome, which is a very wet and unhappy baby.  I’ve talked with a lot of other moms in the area and they seem to say the same thing, soaking through is natural.  But really?  So, I’m saving the environment but I’m going to use twice as much water doing laundry?  Not only am I cleaning his cloth diapers, but I have to clean every soaked onesie as well, which would be up to 7 a day if we kept him on them.  I’m not sold on cloth yet. Props to the moms who can do it, but I don’t want a soggy baby.

As Junior outgrows his adorable selection of clothing, I’ve been saving our favorite onesies and sleepers to make into a memory blanket.  Even with us pulling our favorites out, we still have a tremendous pile of outfits to pass down to another mom in need.  (I found out my friend from high school who lives nearby is expecting again).  I’m planning on making the blanket for his one year birthday and I’m sure there will be a blog post about it.

Our days are “scheduled” for the most part.  I get up with Junior at approx. 6am, change him and bring him to bed to play with Daddy for a bit. Junior loves sitting on Daddy’s chest, his feet being tickled by his beard.  Junior will chatter away telling “stories” to Hubby for a good 30 minutes before falling asleep between us.  He will sleep for over an hour, allowing me to shower and clean up the room.  Between 10am and about 4pm, it’s a dance of baby vs house work.  I work where Junior is content, and if Junior isn’t content, I move on to another place, toting a happy baby around to look into mirrors, roll around on quilts in the grass, or bounce on my knee as I blog.  At 6pm Junior starts getting fussy and with a giant bottle, a few bum pats and a kiss goodnight, I can usually get him to sleep for a few hours.  It might seem that I’m very eager to get Junior to sleep and you would be correct.  There is a never ending amount of work to be done, and although bouncing my baby and staring into his endless blue eyes all day would be great, I relish the moment I can escape to pull weeds from the garden, or wipe the layer of dust off my coffee table. (Even as I type this, Junior is napping in his bouncy chair next to me, my foot is getting cramped from pushing it, his head is bobbing up and down, and he emits a soft “hmm” with each gentle bounce).

Being a mom is great.  Is it what I expected?  No.  I thought I’d be super mom.  The house would be spotless, the gardens would be done and I would shed the baby weight with my daily morning walks (as you might expect, none of this happened).

But I do pride myself on the small steps.  I’ve learned how to bake bread, the house is not a “mess”, I’ve made some great meals and have learned to garden with one ear listening for cries from the window above.  I’ve met the neighbours and have planned outings with friends and family.  My son is great and awesome and happy.

In the place of actually getting much done around the house, I plan… I dream.  This can all be done at the same time as bouncing Junior.  I dream about gardens, future play structures, fun family outings and different flavours of bread to bake.  I think about visiting family, hosting Christmas dinners and planning for Juniors first birthday party.  Having dreams and planning things is how I get up each day, it’s all about having ambition…I’m glad we don’t have cable here, otherwise, I think I would quickly find myself plunked in front of the tv each day. Now, I have to get up and figure out what I can do… what room in the house will Junior be happy in and what can I do in there.  There will be an endless amount of work to be done, and projects to be finished and bread to be baked, but the only one who is judging me… is me…. Well, wait, and maybe Junior… and Hubby, oh and probably my mother in law… sigh… okay… it’s a good thing I’m not a couch potato.

One part of my new life where I see that I have slipped, is on my relationship with Hubby.  And I know it takes two to tango, but after Junior was born, I didn’t feel very good about myself, and with a crying baby at 2am, Hubby wasn’t getting enough sleep.  Even now, our world circles around Junior and his endless cycles of feedings, changing and bouncing. And not to mention the house, which eats up so much of our energy as lawns need to be mowed, walls need to be painted and gardens need to be weeded.  Hubby and I need to start setting time aside for the two of us.  Perhaps with Junior sleeping in the evening, we can escape for a glass of wine by the bonfire, just Hubby and myself. We wouldn’t trade what we have for anything, and each day we both wake up thankful for our dream home and our sweet baby boy, but we seriously need to schedule a date night!

I think a fear of new dads is that the wives will give the newborn all the attention, as it certainly seems an endless and exhausting task caring for a baby, but every time I look at Junior, I see my Hubby.  Every time Junior smiles, or gurgles or babbles, I want to call Hubby over to see. I love the way Hubby plays with Junior, feeds him and is ever the doting dad.  I could never be the mom I am without my Hubby to help me. Junior is a perfect combination of both of us, and even though our baby takes up so much time and energy, he is a constant reminder of my wonderful marriage to Hubby.

ps. Yes that is a picture of Junior and I, taken on a sunny day while we played on a quilt on the front lawn.  You won’t see too many pictures of actual people on this blog, but it’s a sweet picture, and Junior said it was okay to post. 

Chicky Chicky Chickens

chickens

Now that the chain link is in and the ball is rolling on at least the plans for my vegetable garden, I can also start dreaming of a small backyard chicken coop.  I’m thinking this might become a reality in 2 years, but I like to plan ahead, and dream and I find no harm in doing it now so at least I know what I’m up against.

The great thing about mixing social media and country life is the outpouring of support. From baby advice, to vegetable exchanges, everything can be organized with a click of a button.  You might recall I met a very good friend of mine through a carpooling site when we first moved out here, and discovered another great neighbour on a facebook group before we had met in person.  I’ve connected with old high school friends who also moved out here, and have bought, sold, and received so many freebies from the social media groups around me.

I posted a request on one such site asking for a tour of a backyard chicken coop and within the day I had many offers. This is where friendly country folk are eager to share their knowledge and experience. I’ve decided to drag my above mentioned carpooling site friend along with me.  She loves to meet new people and we share the same sense of adventure. These people hosting the tour have asked for nothing in exchange, but true to country form, I might bake some bread for them as a thank you. Everything is done differently here in the country and true appreciation is a great sign of respect.

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I have completed my tour! True to the above mentioned country payment, I baked a very large cheddar herb loaf as payment.  Our host was a mom of 5 kids who ran a home day care and took care of a slew of barn yard animals in her back yard.  She had hatching chicks in her kitchen, day olds in her living room, week olds on her front lawn in a makeshift chicken tractor (a moveable cage), and she had her full grown and egg layers in a pen beside her garage with a ramp to her garage window, which allowed the hens to have a cozy inside shelter and laying box.  She had several different breeds, silkies, chantecler, barred rock, and we went over the pros and cons of each.  She also had 3 big white pekin ducks, which Hubby would have loved, and after seeing them waddle about, I’m very tempted to add them to my list of critters I wouldn’t mind having.  The ducks required very minimal shelter, didn’t fly (so no wing clipping) and grow very fast, which means we could process them several times a year, or since they have a better winter coat, we could winter them and have egg layers.

My only issue, with both ducks and chickens is the fact that the coop or hutch would be near the garden, thus over 200 feet from the house. Wintering feathered creatures is difficult.  Its not necessary, but without a heat source you would need to head out each day to chip away at the water bucket and retrieve eggs before they froze.  Not sure Hubby or myself want to tackle that quite yet.

So much to think about, but luckily we have all the time in the world.

Pinterest Fail or Just a Fumble?

solar

I love making things that I find on Pinterest, and one project that caught my eye was a tiki torch but with a solar light inside.  I ran off to my local Dollarama and purchased the supplies….. really, all you need is a tiki torch and a solar light.  I came home so happy with my prize, as summer supplies are being torn from the shelves and Halloween décor is making its way into its place (seriously? It’s August!!). I pulled out the fuel cartridge, clipped off a few ties and inserted the solar light inside. I didn’t even need to attach it as it sits nicely, but one could add some rope or glue gun it in place.  This is a GREAT project.  Safe for around kids and pets.  Imagine these around the bonfire, or in the front garden to welcome guests.  One downfall though… don’t expect any solar light to work if purchased from the dollar store. Sigh.  Looks nice, but doesn’t work.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled on Kijiji looking for someone selling or giving away their solar lights, but by that time, all the tiki torches will be replaced with witch hats.  Oh well, worth a shot.

Recycled Firepit

fire pit garden

I love finding new uses for old items.  This of course drives Hubby nuts as my half-finished projects can be found all over the house.  In my defense though, I have a baby; Junior takes up a lot of my time and if I had the time and the tools, all of my projects would of course get done.  A while ago I sent Hubby out to pick up a treasure I had found, a local lady was giving away a perfectly good rusty old fire pit.  I’m sure he grumbled all the way there and all the way back.

What could I do with a bunch of rusty metal? What couldn’t I do!! Bird feeder?  Repair it and have it as a more intimate fireplace?  Maybe a flower pot?  Or water feature?  In the end (after about three months of it taking up space in the garage), I simply ripped off the old grate sides, gave it a new coat of black paint and plopped it in our front garden where hostas grows up through the middle.  I think it looks nice and ties in nicely with the dark accents on the front porch.

Goodbye Frankenstein, Hello Hulk

deere

Frankenstein has been a thorn in our side since his arrival.  Hubby and I truly wanted him to work as his vintage tractor body was surely a sight to be seen powering through our grass.  But almost each time Hubby has started him up (or tried to), he has belched, farted, refused to mow, or stalled (the ride-on mower, not Hubby). My father, ever the handy mechanic, has dutifully trekked out to save us, has tried numerous repairs, and even my Grandfather, the past owner of Frankenstein, has sent parts up to my father in hopes of getting our machine running again. Each time that Frankenstein returns to us we celebrate, and then when we try to mow, one thing or another fails, leaving Hubby swearing up a storm, as he’s not mechanically inclined (and neither am I).

We’ve been making due with another of my father’s hand me downs.  An older model self-propelled push mower.  Which at least is better than hauling a regular mower around but the task of cutting our grass now takes 6 hours, usually broken up into several mornings.  And this endless task seems to be on going, since you finish the last section of the yard and then you need to start over again as a week has nearly passed since you started the first section.

Frankenstein died again, the smell of burning plastic has sent Hubby riding back into the garage before a single blade of grass could be cut.  We know that second hand is a saving grace when one is broke (which we are!), but when the task of cutting the grass takes 3x as long, and is now 4x as stressful than it should be, we need to start looking at getting our own mower. 

Hubby’s dad, who works in real estate, received an offer from one of his seller’s to purchase a ride on mower which the guy won’t need anymore.  As we are still catching up on land taxes and still paying off the fence, oh and don’t forget about replacing our brand new dishwasher, we are considered very broke and any purchase right now seems insane, but if the price is right and the payment plan works, then we have to sadly send Frankenstein back to my Grandfather.

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Hulk, as our new mower has been named, has arrived, and Frankenstein has returned to where he came from. Our big green John Deere mower is smooth sailing…well, almost, one of the blades is lower than the other, leaving quite the pattern in our grass. But nothing is easy for us, and Hubby will need to take a look at it.  Hulk is a John Deere D130 series and came with a sweeper. As long as we don’t have to drive my truck around to give him a boost, he should fit right in.  Here’s to happy mowing!

Rain Barrels

barrels

Projects around the yard are starting to get done.  One such project are my rain barrels.  I bought one used on Kijiji and the other I got for free since it has a dent in the bottom.  Since these rain barrels are pretty useless if they are put directly on the ground (the taps are right at the bottom so getting a hose or a bucket under it is hopeless), I raised them up.  My dad had suggested a tire rim and from a previous post you’d know that my grandfather had found me the rims to complete this project.  I leveled the ground, or tried to, since I kept having to chase away our little dog since he smelled the manure in the top soil and decided to roll in my project.  I then layered some left over bricks to create a base, then a few large patio stones (thanks to our neighbours).  Popped the rims on top and placed the barrels on those.  I’ve connected the overflow from one to the other, so with the first rain, both barrels are now full.  

I’m not entirely happy with it, but it will do for now.  When we get the garden going and a shed, the barrels will be moved there to provide a water source to the vegetables and I think I would like to raise them far off the ground, maybe using an old wooden work shop table and combine it into a potting table as well.  But, it works for now!