20 May 2018

Pond Life

Wishin' she was fishin'.
The first time we looked at the home we're now living in, the first thing I thought was, "Gee. That pond is awfully close to the house." It has since grown on me. I have yet to have my foot slip on the gas and drive our car down into the water (knock on wood!), I love being able to watch the water while cooking or doing dishes, and it has been a fun source of family bonding time.

Of course, there is the downside that it is entirely too convenient for the kids to wade into. I'll say it's time to go, they say, "Okay!" and run outside and by the time I get out the door, they're sloshing around, trying to catch minnows or collecting shells.
The girls usually are pretty good about keeping dry but every time Henry dips his toes in the water, it's a guarantee he's going to end up sopping wet.
Now that it's finally warmed up (seriously...it feels like the pond was still frozen just last week), we get out the swimsuits at least a few times a week. Zoey sometimes splashes around at the shoreline but often, prefers to keep watch from her tower.
Even if we're not going to swim, we still enjoy hanging out pondside. It's so serene just sitting by the water, watching the fish splash, maybe case a line or two, and watching the barn swallows dip in for a drink.
Also, one of the side effects of being at the pond is that the kids are constantly exploring. They aren't grossed out by the ecosystem or creatures in and around the water, and it's really enjoyable for me to watch them quietly observe the world around them.
Pond Life
Speaking of pond creatures, there are a lot of things that call our pond home, from fathead minnows, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, and very quick, slippery frogs...
...the occasional (non-venomous...phew!) snake...
...lots of fat (and Jack is sure tasty) crawdads...
...and one very adorable painted turtle the kids named...wait for it...Turtle.
Evelyn found him swimming against some choppy water one day before it had really warmed up so he got to come inside and live in a nice cushy aquarium until the below-freezing nighttime temperatures had passed. Now, he's living the life of luxury around the lily pads and bald cypress tree. Assuming a fish or bird hasn't eaten him. That's the circle of life in a pond.
Though I naively thought ponds were kind of self-contained, easy-to-keep farm amenities, there is a surprising amount of work that goes into them. If it's not chasing off the geese and ducks, it's keeping weeds under control, checking fish populations, and a never-ending battle with algae.
But, a little hard work never scared us off and as far as we're concerned, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
We could really get used to pond life!




19 May 2018

Easy Coleslaw


To go along with some delicious, marinaded, grilled chicken, we made this easy coleslaw. Nothing fancy and no bizarre ingredients. Just a delicious side made with very little preparation--the perfect dish for those hot days when turning on the stove doesn't sound like a good idea.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bags (14 oz) shredded coleslaw mix or shred your own cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients except for coleslaw mix. When well-combined, pour over shredded coleslaw and toss until coated. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Enjoy!

17 May 2018

The Best Chicken Marinade

 Ever since getting Jack a grill for his birthday, we've been grilling like crazy. One of our staples is cooking up a bunch of chicken breast to eat and use in other recipes. Often, I just marinade it in Italian dressing but I wanted a bit more flavor. This was the answer!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 Tablespoon mustard (regular, Dijon, Spicy Brown...whatever you like)
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
6 chicken breasts or about 3.5 pounds of chicken

Whisk together all ingredients, except for chicken. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade for basting later, if desired. Place chicken in a leakproof container and pour marinade over the top. Marinade for 4 to 24 hours and grill. Baste with reserved sauce, if desired. Serve hot.
 Enjoy!

16 May 2018

Queen of the Wild

We just took these photos and they're already out of date!
Happy belated Mother's Day! It was a whirlwind weekend at our house. Despite all the frigid winter weather and lots more snow than normal, the older girls had a couple of makeup snow days left over. So, they had a four day weekend, the weather was fantastic which means...
Our mansion tent. I'll never camp any other way with children.
CAMPING!
Admittedly, I was a tad crabby when we got there. I was hungry (let's call it what it was...I was hangry), there were LOTS of other people who had the same idea (the introvert in me wanted to run home and crawl under the covers), the beach was so flooded it was nowhere to be seen (C'mon! It was so hot that swimming was about the only thing that sounded fun), and the campsite we chose was actually taken by another camping group, who couldn't tell the difference between 301 and 302. Gah!
Raven had a hard time eating with so many people watching. She's a closet eater.
Thankfully, it didn't last forever. We got our massive tent set up, a fire going, and had s'mores before the sun went down.
And, of course, Jack fished, Henry dug in the dirt, Zoey ate the dirt, and the older girls collected lots of beautiful geode pieces.
We played at the park, walked around a bit, and even Raven enjoyed some extra attention from a group of children that looked like they basically lived on the campground.
When we're camping, I don't even bother to try and get the kids to sleep before the sun goes down. There's just no way unless perhaps I invest in sleep masks for everyone...thankfully, everyone eventually fell asleep.
Except Zoey.

I don't know what it is with that girl but she has some weird aversion to sleeping in tents and cabins. Sure, she'll fall asleep but within an hour or two, she's awake and screaming at the top of her lungs until I pick her up and rock her back to sleep. It probably didn't help that there were about 50 Canadian geese honking ALL NIGHT, serenaded every once in a while by a yacht full of drunk people, singing pirate songs in the wee hours of the morning. So, she got to cuddle with me while I basically was on watch all night. What kind of mom thinks she's ever going to get sleep anyway?
Imagine that, she woke up cranky.
Must have been upset about her bedhead hair.
Nothing that some cast iron sausage, eggs, and toast won't make right.
Thankfully, Jack is very much a hammock snob and always brings it with him. Once everyone was fed and cleaned up, I took a few minutes to myself to sit in the hammock, overlooking the water. Mornings are surprisingly quiet at Lake Monroe when all the party animals are finally asleep and the Canadian geese can see well enough to know that no, not everything is out to kill you.
Lack of sleep doesn't usually catch up to us until later in the day, so while everyone else was still snoozing, we went to the park again.
Jack loves to swing the girls as fast as he can get them to go on the tire swing...
...and Zoey still isn't 100% sure about slides and whether or not they're fun.
Claire, though, could live happily on a house made of slides.
'70's hair, thanks to static electricity.
Since swimming was out and the only thing Jack got to chase his lure was a little water moccasin snake, we took to the trails to hunt for mushrooms. Instead, we found lots of poison ivy and a couple Eastern box turtles.
And toads.
And fossils.
We left the trail, hot and sweaty, practically starving, crawling with baby deer ticks (they really liked trying to hide among Claire's robust mole population), with a couple poison ivy rashes (I told them to stay on the trail!), and ready to go home.
Feeding the friendly koi.
Part of my Mother's Day gift was to stop by our favorite pond store and feed the koi, then pick out some pretty water plants that we were going to plant at the end of our pond where the water is shallow.
Of course, we didn't account for our car being full of camping supplies, kids, and a dog before we decided to buy a bald cypress but we try to roll with our predicaments.
All planted! Now just waiting for growth and flowers. And to get around to weeding.
Since the beach was closed at the lake, we promised the kids that they could go swimming in the pond.
Zoey happily played lifeguard from her tower.

Luckily, no one was in need of her services because she can't actually swim.
The actual morning of Mother's Day, I woke up to these big, brown eyes:
Wait a minute...that's not Jack.
We went to church, listened to the girls sing a nice mother's day song, and enjoyed lots of chocolate, cookies, and treats.

Too bad I'm on a sugar free spree at the moment. At least the kids enjoyed them, haha!
This about sums up my girls' personalities.
A nap, a nice dinner, and by the evening, we were spreading wildflower seeds, visiting the animals (STILL no calf from Dolly...c'mon!!), and checking the garden.
Grow, flowers! Grow!
Though I know all sorts of women have all sorts of feelings when it comes to Mother's Day, I'm of the opinion that Mother's Day is really celebrating the essence of women and our innate desire to nurture, teach, lead, inspire, build, protect, care for, and love others. That encompasses all kinds of roles, from aunt to teacher, coach, neighbor, and babysitter, to the kind lady at the grocery store who makes my baby smile to the role of actual mother. In short, women are the queens of their own wild.
A mini mother.
Being a mother is an interesting combination of knowing when to give selflessly, and when to reserve for my own fuel tank so I don't burn out. There's a constant challenge of bearing others' burdens, sharing myself completely to help another grow, and picking myself up after failing so miserably. Horribly miserably. Though there are undeniable challenges for every woman--every mother--I for one, am so grateful for my children's unfailing forgiveness of my shortcomings, their willingness to learn, their ability to find fun in just about anything, their amazement at the world around them, their love for each other, their ability to live so carefree and unconcerned with any difficulties, and the pure joy they so often exude.

Plus, if they grow up and think I'm a horrible mom, I'll just shrug and tell them they got to grow up on a farm, which pretty much every kid dreams of doing so I couldn't have been that bad.

(And a hearty nod to Jack who provides so well for us and spoils me rotten when it comes to the animals. He makes it a lot easier to be at least a decent mom).
I am the Queen of the Wild.
So, a happy Mother's Day to my mom, mother-in-law, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, friends, and all the women my family loves and adores. We hope your day was special, celebrating the divine in each woman!

Happy (belated) Mother's Day from
The Rehomesteaders! 

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