Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bunnies in the Cold

As our nighttime temperatures are dipping into the teens, a lot of people ask us how the bunnies do out in the cold.  The short answer is - they love it.  Mini rex rabbits have very dense fur (if you buy rabbit fur, it is probably from Rex rabbits).  The are happy and frisky in the chilly temperatures.  They have a much harder time staying cool in the summer!

It has been fun to watch them prepare for the cold.  The girls and the boys both have burrows with lots of straw. They all snuggle in together at night.
Erin tends the rabbits tirelessly, and uses her own money to buy food and bedding for them.  We've started buying straw by the bale, and pellets in 50 lb sacks.

Here if you look carefully, you can see the boys' burrow slanting down into the straw.  Above is a close-up of the picture to the right.

 It's so neat to watch all the things they just know how to do.  Hazel knew how to keep her kits just the right temperature when they were tiny, despite widely fluctuating fall temperatures.  Now, they all obviously have things under control despite the cold.  As long as we give them shelter from the wind and lots of straw, they take it from there.  As a human mom, I envy them the automatic know-how.  Here I am always looking things up and still goofing up left and right...:)

To see all the bunny posts, follow the label! :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A slice of life - our week in review

Pardon my absence these past few days...we've been quite busy around here.

Raising bunnies: they need lots of straw to stay warm and lots of attention too.  They sure get it.  Erin made her first bunny sale to some good friends and is on cloud nine over that.  She's got one more for sale if anyone is interested.

Making pancakes.  My five year old loves heart shaped pancakes.

We all love pancakes, so I make a lot.  A few of these are still in the freezer, but not very many.

Alex loves pancakes.  He also loves to color on any available surface.  Including, apparently, pancakes.  He was quite incensed when I picked it up to take a picture.  I gave him back the pancake, but not the marker.

Isn't the syrup the best part, anyway?  Why waste time?

Leaping into cushion towers.

Oreo bark

Making two kinds of Christmas candy.  Recipes coming soon!

Peppermint bark

And, of course, eating the Christmas candy!


Easy and lovely Christmas candy

This week I made our Christmas candy.  I make this most every year.  Often I make it and give most of it away.  This year we, um, decided to eat it all ourselves.  *blush*

Both of these recipes I hand-copied out of a waiting room magazine years ago.  The only thing I had to write on was a little paper bag.  By now, you may know that I am NOT the kind of person that would keep a recipe on a paper bag for 6 or 7 years.  I, of course, rushed right home and copied the recipes, in my best calligraphy, on recipe cards.

Or not.  At least I haven't lost it.

Anyway.  Here are the recipes.  We love both of these, and they are quick enough to not stress me out too much, what with everything else there is to do in December!

Mint Chocolate Bark

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 t oil
1 t peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
  1. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.  Melt the semisweet chips, in the microwave or in a double boiler, whatever makes you happy.   When completely smooth, pour onto cookie sheet and spread to 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Melt the white chocolate chips with the oil.  When melted and smooth, add peppermint extract and the green coloring.  Stir well.  Pour over chocolate layer, and spread to edges.  Draw a knife thru the layers to swirl.  (Mine tends to swirl quite a bit on its own, but I do the knife thing anyway for effect. ;)Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minute.
  3. Remove from pan, peel off paper, and chop into bars of desired size.  Store in the refrigerator.

Oreo Cookie Bark
Usually I use the regular kind, but this year I had some of the seasonal red ones in the pantry, so I used those.  I liked the effect.
20 Oreos, broken. 
2 2/3 cup white chocolate chips or semisweet chips
1 t vanilla, if you use the semisweet chips

  1. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with waxed paper and spray with cooking spray.  (If you think cooking spray is nasty like I do, you could just rub some butter on it.)
  2. Melt your chips.  If using the semisweet, add vanilla.  Quickly fold in cookie pieces with a spatula.  Scrape into prepared pan, and spread to 1/2 inch thick.  Refrigerate until solid, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove from pan, peel off paper.  Use a good sharp knife and chop into 12 bars or 24 triangles.
We chopped ours a little smaller than the recipe says.

Linked up at 4 Moms' favorite holiday recipes!

Organizing challenge - Declawing the FBD

The cat is inspecting the newly open floor...
Well, the Frightening Bedroom of Doom is a little less scary now.  Of course, if you are accustomed to a clean bedroom, it still may appear a bit shocking.  It's all a matter of what you expect when you walk in the door.

I think I spent a little over an hour this week, in bits and pieces.  I did a lot of clear off of the dresser.  If you are new to this series and don't believe me, here are the "before" pics. 

I threw out a broken lamp and set up another one. See, I had a broken lamp plugged in and unusable since the switch broke.  I had a functional lamp sitting on the other end of the dresser with no bulb and the shade all wonky - not plugged in.  The dresser was so messy I was afraid to move either one of them...and so we were lampless.  For few days weeks months.  No more!!  Now I blog by much nicer than blogging by closet-light.

This pile is a lot smaller.  I put some things away and filled two boxes to donate.  And I will donate them tomorrow.  Occasionally I have left donate boxes sitting around for almost as long as I left the broken lamp.  Not this time!  I want my bedroom back!

There's the cat again.  She was determined to be in the thick of things this time.  She loves it when I clean - she flops down in the midst of any newly cleared spot.

So!  There we are.  Progress enough to make me happy, and it will have to see me through the rest of the month, because I won't have any more time to work on it before January. We'll resume the challenge then!

Linked up at:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birth Story #5 - Alexander - a difficult labor

When I became pregnant again after the elevator birth, I knew we had some things to think about.  Much as I enjoyed the non-intervention, I did NOT wish to have another baby in the elevator, or anywhere else that babies aren't normally born.  (Wal Mart, for example.)

I seriously considered home birth.  I've gone into that before (see here), so I won't rehash all the reasons I still chose to have a hospital birth.  They were, in this case, largely financial - my health coverage at the time covered a hospital birth 100%, and a home birth was not covered at all.

So, I went back to the same midwife I'd had for Jonathan.  We then had an unfortunate hitch, when about halfway through my pregnancy, she relocated her practice about 40 minutes away, up the canyon, instead of being practically next door.  We had to decide whether to find a new midwife at this point, or face the drive, knowing that my labors can move fast.

Trust is so important in a caregiver.  I trusted my midwife, I knew her, and I was worried to transfer care to someone who may push a more managerial approach to making sure my birth happened in the right place.  I was not willing to induce or undergo other interventions to try to time my birth.  So, we stuck with her, and made plans to zip up the canyon at the first sign of labor.  I can't tell you how many people suggested I camp out in the hospital parking lot!

Well, one evening I began to think I was in labor.  I was having mild, irregular contractions, and I felt awful.  I had made Garlic Salted Chicken, and I pulled it out of the oven and left it on the counter for the kids to help themselves while I laid down.  I still found my labor signs confusing - as I've said before, I feel laborish for the whole last month, so labor is often hard to identify when it does come on.

In the end that night we decided we had better head up to the hospital and see what was up.  We left around 6 pm.  We made it to the hospital, past the elevators, and into the room...and it turns out, I was indeed in active labor.  Given my history, they scrambled around getting everything ready.  We all thought we'd see the baby in an hour or two...but hour after hour ticked by, and not much was happening.

I would have some strong contractions, and then they would just disappear.  I slept a good portion of the night, and in the morning, nothing had really changed.  The weird on-again, off-again contractions continued.  The baby was completely descended, with all the discomfort that brings.  I was terribly nauseated, and in the bathroom almost constantly.

And here, we made what I consider to easily be the biggest birthing mistake we have ever made.  We allowed the midwife to break my water, around 11am.  She thought it would stimulate a more effective labor, and probably end in a quick delivery.

It did not.

I learned later that I had many symptoms of posterior labor (back labor), but no one recognized them, probably because I did not have the characteristic back pain.  I did have the very slow labor, the irregular ineffective contractions.  Baby was backwards and also positioned poorly, with his head tilted back a bit.  Breaking my water, in this case, was a very bad choice that could have had serious results.

Anyway, it had no effect at all on my contractions.  I walked the hospital for hours, painfully aware of the fact that with my membranes ruptured, we were now "on the clock."  Later that afternoon, I sat on the bed and cried after refusing Pitocin.  I was told that if I didn't get the Pitocin soon, I was risking a C-section when the time ran out.  I bitterly regretted allowing my water to be broken.  I realized that we had put Alex and myself at some risk, for no good reason.

So, I walked.  I pumped. And finally, in a very merciful answer to prayer, I began to have stronger contractions that didn't fizzle out.  After that, it was a couple more hours till Alex was born.

Let me just say - posterior birth is hard.  It's really hard.  One would think that by the time you are on your fifth natural birth, you would pretty much know what it feels like...but a poorly positioned, posterior birth is a whole different ball game.  It felt like something was wrong; it hurt a lot more.  It took a long time, too.  When little Alex finally made his appearance, it was a full 24 hours after labor began.  His poor little face was all bruised from his awkward passage; I was battered and exhausted.  It took me much longer to recover from that birth than from any other, too.

So I walked away with a couple of lessons:
  • Never let anyone break my water again.  I'm not saying everyone should follow this rule, but it is my rule, now, and it will take a lot of convincing to change it.
  • I'm never having another posterior baby.  Never.  And my saying so will make it happen. ;-)
Xander-zoodle.  Worth every minute of a hard labor!

All the birth stories...
Birth Story #6 - Abigail
Birth Story #5 - Alex
Birth Story #4 - Jonathan
Birth Story #3 - Rebecca
Birth Story #2 - Anna
Birth Story #1: Erin

Monday, December 5, 2011

Organizing Challenge: Baby Steps

Yes, Flylady said it first...and she is so right about that one.  I used to be a huge Flylady fan - she really helped me get my act together and change some important habits, back a good 7 or 8 years ago now.  I don't find her system to work well for me now, with 6 kids and homeschooling, but some important principles remain.  From those days, these are some principles that have stuck with me:
  • 15 minutes at a time.  For anyone with a very full, possibly unpredictable schedule - like a homeschooling mama with a pile o' little ones - this is really, really helpful indispensable.  For example, the mess in our master bedroom is large.  It's shocking.  It's embarrassing, and so overwhelming.  I know it will take hours to take care of.  But guess what?  Hours are made of minutes.  I can't spend hours...but I have a few minutes, now and then, and they do add up.
  • You can't organize clutter.  It's true.  You just can't, and it's a waste of time to try.  Toss it and feel your space lighten up.  If it is usable, donate it and let it bless someone who may really need it.
  • Baby steps.  Big changes come gradually.  A little steady progress is the best kind!'s been a very long time since I've been over to Flylady's website, so I don't know if much has changed, but that is what I remember.  For the record...I was never willing to wear shoes.   Maybe I'm just a hick, but bare feet tell my brain, "I'm home, happy, and ready to roll!" ;-)

Anyway, that being said, I'm reporting in to share my "baby steps" on the Frightening Bedroom of Doom.  The FBD hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as I hoped it would, what with Thanksgiving and a baby who has suddenly decided that sleep is a nighttime-only activity.  (She has almost entirely stopped napping.  She is not quite 6 months old.  I think she may be teething, and if you would like to pray that she will get over this phase quickly I'd be much obliged!).  Hence you may notice that I have altered the title of the series from a "weekly" challenge to a less demanding "organizing" challenge.  Aaaahhh...that much less stress in my life.

Ok, so here is the desk BEFORE I spent about half an hour on it.  I don't have a severe piling habit screaming to be broken, by the way.  In case you were wondering.

Now, here it is, after.  This really only took me about 30 minutes.  Mark is so delighted that he can reach Turretin without causing seismic activity.  Obviously, it's not done.  Baby steps, right?

Now, if you read the end of the girls' room series, you will recognize this:

Today I was able to spend about 20 minutes (didn't time it, but I promise I didn't have much time.  Didn't even have time to time it...).  Here is how far I got:

I finally found a home for the white drawer thingy which I moved out of the kids' room last month.  Behind it was a largish pile of baby clothes, mostly outgrown or off season, that I sorted out.  So, yep, it's still a mess.  But it's a SMALLER mess, and that is an encouraging thought. 

Is the whole room still overwhelming?  Yes.  Yes it is.  It's still the FBD.  I hope to make a lot of progress this week, since after this week I'll be quite busy with Christmas prep.  I guess we'll see how that goes. 

Do you have a room that is so overwhelming you can hardly face it?  Go spend 5 minutes on it.  Just 5.  You'll be surprised how it adds up - and who knows?  You may find a long lost treasure that some short person lost a month ago, and that will make you the hero of the day.  I love it when that happens!

Linked up with:

Baby rabbits - 6 weeks and ready to wean

Well, today Erin moved the two buck rabbits into a separate hutch.  Old enough to wean - and old enough to need to be separated from the girls before we have more bunnies than we know what to do with!  She tells me that this is a delicate time for them as they adjust to being away from their mother.   Here they are checking out the new accommodations.

Here is mom and her daughters still in the other hutch.  Two of the girls will be sold in January.  The black one is to stay a year or so to have a few litters. She's to live with Hazel until it's time to find her a new home.   (Incidentally, the black one - who has a charming name I can't quite remember this late at night after a ridiculously busy Saturday - is my favorite.  I think she's gorgeous.)  Hazel is not ever to be sold - as the matriarch and, more importantly, cherished pet.

The two hutches.  The right hand one acquired a new base today, so it is up off the ground now. 

I am so glad Erin and Anna get to do this.  It's sort of funny to see Erin spending her own money on bulk pellets and bales of straw and hay.  She absolutely dotes on all the rabbits, too.  She handles them to keep them tame, ready to be pets or ready to be show animals.

Plus, I get tons of free fertilizer.  How can I argue with that?