Category Archives: Kids

Love ’em or hate ’em, we’re stuck with ’em.

Syd’s Recital

Sydney got a new piano teacher recently.  For several years, she’s been tolerating lessons from Liz, but wasn’t making much progress.  About six months ago we decided to try farming her out to an outside teacher to see if taking Mom out of the mix would help.  Two teachers and several months later… boy did it ever!IMG_8245

Syd has found her soul-mate in the music world, and is enjoying learning and playing.  We almost can’t get her to stop practising.  Her teacher is working with her on creative stuff like improvisation and arranging pieces herself, which has really touched off her imagination and interest.  She has progressed so much in the last few months that it’s incredible.  I’m very proud!

Making Mozzarella & Butter

Nippa, the milk machine, generally produces almost exactly the amount of milk we tend to drink every day as a family.  However, when one or more of us aren’t here, the milk can begin to pile up in the fridge.  Recently I spent several days out of town for work, and Sydney had spent a week at summer church camp.  That translated into a couple gallons that were threatening to go bad if we didn’t do something useful with them. To add to the problem, Liz had bought a half-gallon of cream from the dairy down the street, but had only used about half of it making Ice Cream and Creamy Tomato Soup.

Liz has been meaning to try making cheese for quite a while, and had even bought the rennet to do it with.  However, circumstances never aligned until this last Monday.  We decided to make cheese and butter for “Family Night.”   The kids each got a mason jar half-full of cream to shake while I used the opportunity to teach the science of cheese making (yes science… I’m quite the geek).  In the end, we ended up with a delicious ball of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and braunkase (reduced carmelized whey).  All of it tasty and none of it from the store.  Nothing went to waste.

Just as luck would have it, we had run out of butter that day, and the butter we made got us through until the next in-town shopping trip where we could re-stock on grass-fed organic butter (man… that makes me sound like an uppity food snob, but there are good reasons for it).


A Doghouse for Mr Thornton

Liz has never really liked the idea of an “inside dog,” coyotes were wreaking havoc on our chickens, and we were planning on going on a family vacation for two weeks and leaving the Dog outside to “protect” the other animals and to make it much easier on the family who was going to be feeding and watering the animals.  The dog would need somewhere to get out of the weather.  Because the barn is behind the back pasture fence and I don’t like the idea of the dog hanging out in the chicken coop I decided the best option would be to knock together a doghouse out of scrap lumber in the (vain) hope that he would use it.

As far as the dog goes, it was a wasted effort.  According to our friend who was feeding and watering him, Mr Thornton spent his time hiding in the shade under my truck, and I can’t see any evidence that he has been in there.  Since we got home, he’s insisted that he belongs inside with us, and I think we’ve given up on trying to convince him he lives outside.  On the up-side, the boys had fun painting it to match the barn and coop, and the one turkey the coyotes didn’t get while we were out of town has decided it makes a decent roost, and he  spends the night on top of if after the chickens he’s adopted as his flock go in for the night.

As for Thornton protecting the other animals, ALL of the chickens survived the coyote raids.  Only the turkeys (who were in the back pasture where Thornton couldn’t go) were picked off.  Apparently a coyote had managed to get through the electric fence, grabbed a turkey to take back to the den, then dropped it on the wires when he got shocked by the fence.  The dead turkey shorted out the fence and opened up a hole that made it easier for the coyotes to get in and out over the next few days to pick off most of the rest of the birds.  You could see where Thornton had been scratching and digging at the fence and gate to get to the back pasture.  I suspect he was trying to go after the coyotes, because he doesn’t bother any of our animals.

In the end, I don’t mind the lost turkeys.  I’m tired of scraping and spraying poop off the porch and listening to the constant noise.  The one bird that’s left is noisier than our rooster and leaves more messes on the porch than all 15 of the chickens combined.  Now that he’s the only one he spends his time with the chickens, and without a flock to keep him company I can’t keep him in the back field where I wouldn’t mind the mess and noise.  If this one makes it to Thanksgiving I’ll be surprised.

Hiking With the Boys

Since we took a rather long break posting updates, I’ve decided to go back over old pictures and pull a few out to share.  A little over a year ago, I took the two boys and went hiking in a large natural area not far from where we were living at the time.  Michael, being two at the time, wasn’t much of a hiker, but had fun when we stopped and he could get down and play around.  DSCF0173 DSCF0183 DSCF0189 DSCF0184

Sydney’s Go-Kart Fun

Dad, Isaac, & Michael 

Good things come in threes, so I’ve been told.  So when we had spent a few days dealing with Michael getting hives and being up all night itching and Isaac cutting his finger bad enough that I had to glue him back together with Derma-Bond, Liz and I were holding our breath for something else.  It didn’t take long.

We were invited over to a friend’s 150 acre homestead for an easter-egg hunt, BBQ and bonfire.  The combination of food, fun, and fellowship is hard to resist, so I took the kids and off we went.  It was great fun with 2-seat go-kart rides, a hard-core egg-hunt, hot-dogs, hamburgers, and the best of friends.  As we were making our way to the clearing for the bonfire, one of our friend’s kids walked out of the woods bleeding from a cut on her nose and explaining that the others were much worse off.

Syd and her friends

I knew Syd had been hanging around this particular friend all night, and my fears were almost instantly confirmed that Syd was in the Kart and had suffered the worst of the injuries.  Apparently, the friend was driving for the first time and locked-up negotiating a curve, pegging the accelerator instead of the brake and running them head-long into a tree at top speed.  When I got there, Syd was on the ground with her leg elevated, holding pressure on a wounded shin.

The younger brother of the driver, a boy scout and object of Syd’s first and current crush, had found them and was already rendering first aid.  More on this in a bit…

All three who had been riding in the Kart needed help.  The driver had a cut on her nose and a fat lip, her little brother (who had been wedged in the middle) lacerated his knee all the way across but not particularly deeply and had a deep puncture wound in his calf, and Sydney was on the ground with who knows how bad of a cut on her shin.  In the end, the other two were stitched up on-site by the owner (a dentist with lots of practice stitching up faces and appendages on scouts).

You would think that in a group of scouts, scout masters, and generally well prepared people, we’d have a pair of scissors or a pocket knife.  However, you’d be wrong.  This was one of the VERY few times that I had nothing on me to cut with so I could cut away her pants and get a good look at the injury.  I feel so ashamed…  In the end though, it didn’t make much difference.  I could see bone and muscle through the hole in the pants, and that was enough to tell me we weren’t going to fix her up there.

We ended up in the emergency room, at night, on a holiday weekend, in the biggest trauma hospital in a large city.  If you ever believed the fast-paced world of the TV drama “ER,” you’ve obviously never been in a real hospital.  Nothing happens quickly, and unless you are dying, you get bumped further back in the queue every time a helicopter drops off another unlucky drunk driver or unresponsive bar-fight looser.  To complicate matters, as a teaching hospital, every interaction is repeated at least three times as the junior nursing student or resident does their thing, the senior nursing student or resident does theirs, and the attending physician or head nurse comes in to check the work of the others.  In our case, each level of review resulted in things being ratcheted up.

At first, the triage nurse (student) thought Syd would be sewn up in a matter of minutes and sent home.  That gradually progressed over the course of ten hours to admitting her for surgery, a course of antibiotics (because of the exposed bone), and 24 hours of post-surgery observation after the on-call orthopedic surgeon overruled the attending physician and orthopedic residents.

I should have known we were in trouble when every nurse and doctor in the ER had to come in and look at the injury to believe what they had been told.  Given that this is THE trauma center for over 100 miles in any direction, that says a lot.

Now…  back to the boy scout rescuer.  The funny thing about coming out of general anesthesia and being under the influence of narcotics is that people (and Syd in particular) are willing to tell you almost anything, and will likely volunteer things you never expected to hear.  We’ve known Syd has had a crush on this fine young man for quite a while (she admits it to us at least), so I didn’t see any point in pressing the matter while she was waking up.  However, she felt the need to share.

She was explaining to me how the young man found her and helped her elevate her leg and put direct pressure on it to control the bleeding.  All of which was quite pedestrian.  Then she offered up this tidbit between exclamations about how good the ice chips were:  As she was laying on the ground waiting for help and hoping she wouldn’t black out, she saw him come up to her and thought that this was going to be just like in the movies where the knight in shining armor comes to your rescue, you stay awake just long enough to see their face, then black out until waking up in the hospital after it’s all over.  Too bad it doesn’t work like in the movies.  Besides, even if it did, they’re both too young to follow the movies all the way to that celebrated kiss after the crisis is over.

Syd survived surgery where they fixed a torn tendon, torn muscle, cleaned up the wound, and closed it up.  Liz came to the hospital Sunday evening to spell me off after a marathon 4 days with a total of less than 6 hours of sleep (another long story), and I went home to get some sleep.  Unfortunately, sleep came too late for me.  My immune system must have been compromised, because I picked up a raging case of Montezuma’s revenge in the ER that has been haunting me for over 5 days now.

At this point, Syd’s home and learning to function in a knee immobilizer, Liz is back to her normal routine, and I’m still dealing with fallout from my time in the ER.

The fun never stops… does it?

For those of you who don’t mind gore,  here’s a link to a picture of the wound:  It ain’t pretty, so if you don’t want to see it, stop now.

Syd’s Leg