Gangster Government

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Happy late birthday, Katie!

Sweet Kate’s birthday was Tuesday, and we had a great celebration day with The Cousins and Aunt Beka. I’m eager to tell all about the day and share pictures, but my hands are not permitting me to do that right now. Hopefully soon!

Byrd Visit

We are loving having Beka and The Cousins here to visit. They arrived Friday evening, and we get to have them with us until Wednesday morning. The Blessings and The Cousins are wearing themselves out every day having fun together.

The kids cleaned and began to fill the pool (aka stock tank) on Saturday, and had to stop midway through because we were having water issues. But the half-filled pool doesn’t bother the kids at all, and they have been thoroughly enjoying it. Meanwhile, Beka and I have been thoroughly enjoying sitting in the sun beside the pool playing lifeguard.

We all went to church this morning, and the kids were terrific! Beka and most of the children sat along one side of the chapel, and it was fun to watch them. They really did a great job of being still and paying attention.

After church, we hopped in the van and the truck and ate leftover pizza for lunch on our way to Wal-mart for some groceries. Our trip to Wal-mart, while a bit crazy, was actually a lot of fun. The kids were well-mannered and cooperative (yay for them!), and we all enjoyed the two sample stands of ice cream. And I giggled, wondering how many people wondered if Jonathan was there with his two wives and eleven children on Fathers Day.

We had a fun relaxing afternoon (even Jonathan, who mowed for a while). Then we made seafood chowder for dinner and cookies for dessert. Yummy Fathers Day meal!

Here’s a collage from Saturday’s pictures. Somehow I didn’t take a single picture today.

Happy Fathers Day!

I’m beyond thankful for the fathers in my life.

The greatest Father of all, my Heavenly Father.

The best earthly father I could have asked for, my beloved Papa.
And the wonderful father of my Blessings, my lover and best friend, Jonathan.

A Walking Tour

If you’ve been wanting a closer look at the beautiful property we’re blessed to live on right now, here’s a walking tour for you. It’s really best seen by clicking on the slideshow below and viewing the pictures in their picassa album.

Why I use Google Chrome

First of all, I’m going to admit right off that I realize that Google’s browser, Chrome, has its challenges. It has issues dealing with certain types of media, and just this week, it started doing a bizarre thing when I want to print stuff. But I just can’t make myself leave and go back to Internet Explorer. I’ll use other browsers when I have to, to get a page to work right, but I’ll put up with that hassle in order to keep my Chrome.

Here are some screenshots to illustrate two reasons why I love Chrome too much to leave.

1. I love the “New Tab” tab. When I click to open a new tab in IE, I get this uninspiring view (and that’s the improvement that comes with IE8!):

Oh, but when I click to open a new tab in Chrome, I get this:

Those lovely little boxes are links to the most often recently used websites. I’m very predictable, and 9 times out of 10, what I want is going to be right there. Love that. Note, none of your blogs are there, not because I don’t read them, but because they’re in my Reader on my homepage.

2) It’s wonderfully minimalist. Look at how much room the actual webpage gets in Chrome (on the left), compared to IE8 (on the right). I am claustrophobic, and I guess that applies to the things I see in my computer screen as well. When I need to use other browsers, I feel like I’m cramped… like I should duck or something.

The advertisement for Google is rather incidental… they just happen to be who makes the browser I like best. The shameless plug for my photo blog, Yesterday, on the other hand, is totally intentional, and I hope you decide to follow it/put it in your reader/check it every day for the rest of your internet days (or for as long as I manage to be faithful to posting on it).

And underneath…

Great post on the solid truth

And I appreciated this passage someone quoted in the comments section:

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:23-26

A week for alkalizing

I noticed on Sunday afternoon that I was starting to feel awfully acidic (heartburn, general yucky feeling, etc). I tried to ignore it, but by Monday morning, I realized that I needed to focus on moving my body toward alkaline this week. And I needed to do it fast, because my beloved sis-in-law and The Cousins are coming on Friday (woohooo!!!!), and I know I’m going to be eating all sorts of fun stuff while they’re here.

Without getting into a bunch of details, I’ll try to give a brief explanation of the acid/alkaline (ph) issue. Everything you eat has the effect of causing your body to become more acidic or more alkaline. For your health, it’s best to have a ph that is slightly alkaline (around 7.2). I believe most Americans have a very acidic body ph, something that leads to all sorts of health problems. Rule of thumb – fresh fruits and vegetables are the most alkalizing, meats and processed foods are the most acidifying. I’ve done a lot of learning and have long way to go, but that’s probably the simplest way to sum it up.

I started learning about ph in the midst of my cervical cancer concern, and in conjunction with figuring out why I could no longer tolerate coffee and had constant heartburn. When I started testing my ph, it was around 5. That’s truly dreadful. With a radical change of diet for several months, I brought it up to around 7.2, and have been able to maintain that with a way of eating that seems reasonable and workable for me. But there are times when I get off track with my eating, and I realize I need to adjust course.

This past weekend is the first time that I’ve had such obvious evidence that I was off track and needed to re-stabilize my ph. Since Monday, I’ve been eating more alkalizing foods and very little of foods that acidify my body, and I am feeling much better already. By the weekend, I should be ready for a few splurges. Woot!

Perhaps the reason I’m blogging about this at all is that it is a reminder to me of some of the lessons I’ve learned in the last few years.

In general, I believe that it is important to live in moderation. As I’ve learned more about health and nutrition, I’ve sought to implement that knowledge in a way that is workable for our family and not too extreme. I’ve done this with varying degrees of success, so I’m not tooting my own horn, just sharing my perspective/goals.

Alongside a growing commitment to moderation and grace has come the realization that there are times when a less moderate, dare I say – radical, approach is appropriate. When faced with the possibility of cervical cancer, I was very willing to get extreme about my way of eating! There are other times when, usually for a temporary period, it seems appropriate to “get radical” in one way or another.

The goal for me is to be able to come back to a moderate way of life. I want to be radical in my love for my Savior all the time, and I want to walk with Him steadily, in a way that demonstrates His amazing grace.

Mixed emotions on the homestead

I’m sure true homesteaders might take exception to my use of the word homestead to describe our efforts here on our rental property, but it’s all part of our effort to work toward becoming more self-sufficient and resourceful. So to us, it’s our homestead.

This afternoon, I had a terrific time in the garden. I’ll interrupt myself to acknowledge that that might sound crazy. If you had told me even last summer that those words would be typed by my fingers, I would’ve thought you were lacking in the marbles department. But I feel like I’ve discovered something wonderful. The whole process of planning, planting, weeding, tending… I love it. Some parts of the process are obviously more fun than others. But it is such a rewarding journey.

I spent some time clearing weeds around our tomato plants, staking ones that needed additional support (incidentally, in the future, the plan is to stake from the beginning and forget the cages), and trimming some of the lower branches that were sucking energy from growing tomatoes.

The corn patch is doing well, and the Blessings have it almost all weeded. I don’t believe I explained my acute arthritis flare up last week… Basically, we had hoped that the corn would outpace the weeds in the corn patch. Well, the weeds were about to take the lead, so last Monday I attacked them with a vengeance… and discovered that really tall weeds take a lot of work to pull. My hands swelled up and hurt like crazy for a couple days. So finishing the corn patch weeding is now the task of younger and sprier hands.

Miscellaneous other garden updates – Our summer squash and zucchini are looking fantastic! There are actually several itty bitty squash and zucchini growing now, and it’s exciting to see them. I’ve been working the last couple of days moving around our cardboard mulch (love that!), since the places where I placed the cardboard originally are utterly weed free now. Very cool. Still lots of places where I didn’t have enough cardboard or where cardboard wouldn’t fit well, but I’m definitely pleased with the results.

I have a long list of things I need to do in the garden, but as I sat staking and caring for tomatoes, listing to my man running the weed-eater around the yard, I was filled with joy and excitement over the learning that we’re doing and the progress that we’re making.

And then Josiah called from the chicken coop, “Mom, there are only four chicks in the pen, and one of them is limping!”

I finished the tomato plant I was working on, and called to Jonathan on my way to the chicken coop. We arrived to find that Josiah was unfortunately correct. We had gone from 7 chicks to 4.

After checking on the remaining chicks, we set about trying to figure out what had gotten the chicks, or, more importantly, how it had gotten them. The pen where the chicks have been living is attached to the chicken coop, and seemed pretty secure. Jonathan checked all along the base and found a spot where a board was pulled away and a predator could have entered. The strange thing was that there were no feathers… but Jonathan got busy clearing out around the pen and strengthening that weak area. It looks so much better now!

As he used the weed-eater on the back side of the pen (I think he figured he didn’t want to leave any hiding spots for a predator), Jonathan discovered some feathers. Apparently, something had climbed the side of the pen and gotten in a small opening in the chicken wire that covers the top. Not as secure as we had thought… at least not for chickens not yet full grown.

When all was said and done (at least for tonight), we decided to put the four remaining chicks in the duck pen. One has an injured leg, and one has lost an eye. They are just too small to be accepted by the full-grown chickens, which makes it difficult to put them in the coop at night for safety. The ducks weren’t thrilled, but I think we found a workable arrangement, with a spot for the chicks to roost out of the ducks’ way. Hopefully they’ll adjust well, and since the ducks spend most of the day up at the pond, they will all get some space.

So, I suppose it was a good reality check for us, and a reminder that we still have loads to learn. A disappointing reality check, but it’s kind of like the poem that urges us to be thankful for laundry, because we have clothes to wear; to be thankful for dirty toilets, because we have indoor plumbing; etc. I’m deeply thankful that we have the opportunity to do many new things this year – plant and tend a garden, have chickens, have ducks, take care of a 10 acre piece of property, etc. We have much to be thankful for, and I’m eager to continue the learning experience.