Monday, September 28, 2009

Mr. Boots Writes a Funny Story

Mr. Boots really enjoyed his own writing assignment today. This is his picture as I read it to the class at lunch. He was laughing so hard he was crying and snorting. The assignment was to use the words "Texas, toilet, games, knife, grenade, horses". Each member of the class contributed six words randomly, and then each student drew six of those words out of a hat and had to use them in a story. Obviously there are more boys than girls in our school based on the words.
Here is Mr. Boot's story:
Texas is a place where there are many strange characters. One character was a guy named Jim who sold toilets and card games. You might not see the connection, but they both had a 'Royal Flush'.
He had an equally strange brother. His brother was a rancher. He would ride his horse long and hard all day, rounding up cattle and any other critter that would yield more than half a pound of meat. He would then grind the meat and sell it to Walmart. One day he was riding through Maine on the way to the bunkhouse, when he saw some cattle coming down a hill. He threw a hand grenade and suddenly he had a wagon load of lean ground meat (it was lean Mr. Boots explained to me, because it was on a hill). The only problem was that it was on the ground.
John, as his name happened to be, got out his Shindiawa pocket blower and blew his lean ground beef into his saddle bags and started home. On the way home he cut the cheese which he had brought along with his S.O.G. knife and sold it as well as the lean ground beef to Trader Joe's. When John got home his wife served him meatloaf, cheese, and Reduced Guilt crackers for dinner. The next day Trader Joe's sent him a contract to have him provide all their lean ground beef. With the proceeds he stopped sending the inferior ground meat to Walmart and only sold Grade A lean ground beef. He never did tell them how he got the meat so tender, but passed it on as a family secret for generations and generations.
If you go to Trader Joe's and buy Grade A lean ground beef, remember John the meat packer and his brother who sold johns and card games.
This story was Mr. Boot's lunch ticket. The high quality student I get to work with is amazing. Pray for home school mom's everywhere. Especially the one's with teenage sons.
~Mom & Mr. Boots

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Manly Men Prepare for Winter

The old white farm house is heated by TWO hungry woodstoves. This requires us to have about six or seven full cords of wood ready to burn. It is NO fun to run out. We had that happen two years ago. Burning fresh cut wood is painful. First, it is too wet too burn and then it doesn't seem to yield much heat. This year we aim to be prepared. Mr. Boots is the project director. He has the biggest muscles and is able to move the big unsplit pieces over to the splitter that we borrowed.
Michelle put some time in on the splitter as well. We all know that wood heats you twice. The day you cut and split it and the day you burn it. It was a comfortable day for splitting. Not too hot and a little breeze. Note all the big logs in the background. We didn't just split 'girly' wood. (That's wood that is less than two feet in diameter). They split Manly logs!

Thomas also preferred the splitting to the stacking. He likes working in solitude.

Mr. Boots and T-Bob did the majority of the wood moving and stacking. The wood has to be transported to the other side of the yard. The boys delighted in seeing how full they could make it and still be able to move it. Mr. Boots is a lot stronger this year. It came close to being a 'fool's load' a couple times. ( Do you know what that is?)

This is the woodpile about 2/3 through the process of stacking. The little white play house is where we store our kindling. IT was stacked to the full height all the way to the back of the little house. It is now covered and drying. We are fortunate that we still had about two cords left from last winter. That wood is dry and ready to burn. The wood we have for this year has been cut for awhile and should be seasoned by the time we need it. Another big job done.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Keep praying for Lily

Carol - 9 hour surgery complete and doctors said it went well. We'll know if the grafts are successful in about 5 days, with the next 48 hours being the most critical. Thank you for praying for us today. Please continue to pray for healing.

Monday 2:30 PM Lily has been in surgery for 6 hours and things have gone well. THere is still about 3-6 more hours of work to be done. This will be the most sensitive. It is the skin and muscle grafts. Keep praying for the doctors and that the Tater Tot family will have peace.
From her Mom:
Lily has had another good day. Surgery is scheduled for 8 AM tomorrow and could last as long as 12 hours. The plan is for full reconstruction of her right leg, ankle and foot. Please pray that the Great Physician, who gave these surgeons their skill, will guide their hands and Lily's leg would be saved and restored to full function.
TOWFH (the old white farm house) says:
She is undergoing bone, muscle and skin grafts. Pray that the doctors find the circulation in her leg improved. Pray for the family. The hospital she is at is a long drive from their home. Pray that they have safety on the road and that they would have God's peace tomorrow. It will be a long day for them. Thank-you !

UPDATE 9:30 AM Friday
Lily had a good night - much better than her parents'! A vascular surgeon has been added to her "team" and the reconstruction surgeries are still tentatively scheduled for Monday, possibly doing everything at once instead of separa...te surgeries for the bones and skin and muscle grafts. Your prayers are being answered.

They are going to do another clean out operation on her leg again today.
Keep praying!

Garden Update

LAte summer and early fall are a great time to replant and update in the garden. We cleaned out the beds and took out the things that were no longer producing. The boys tilled the soil and mixed in more topsoil. We replanted the lettuce.

We don't like radishes much, however they grow so well and so quickly. We can't resist them. They are very healthy for you and I keep hoping that I will learn to like them. So far it is not working. So our friends that do like them get to eat them. You could still plant them in September.

These are the peas we planted. Peas love cold weather. They are growing like crazy since I took this picture. They can grow an inch or two a day with enough water and sun.

We replanted them where the cucumbers were. Beans and peas are good at putting nitrogen back in the soil. As of today the peas had reached the fencing which is a good 6 inches above the soil.

I wanted to report that our tomatoes did eventually ripen and they taste delicious. The golden cherry tomato plants are about 12 feet high. This artistic tomato photo was taken by Michelle, the official blog photographer. She also took the picture on the banner of our blog.


Herb Identification Contest

This is an herb identification contest. There is a great prize. The first person that sends me all the herbs correctly identified is the winner. Ignore the weeds. Some of the herbs are starting to flower. That may be a help or a hindrance depending on your skill. Answers can be either attached as a comment or directly as an e-mail (handsandnails AT sbcglobal DOT net). The above photo is picture number 1.







Good Luck. We will note on the top when this contest is closed. Remember the old Peter, Paul and Mary song.


Manly Men and a Wee Helper

The Mangos have a very congested front yard. Between vehicles, gardens,shrubbery, and a large driveway everything has to earn it's place. The crab apple didn't make the cut this fall. It is in the way for our auxiliary parking space as well as shading the 2 smaller fruit trees we planted this spring. We only got wormy crab apples that we never used and it made a big mess. Michelle was upset to lose the beautiful flowers and the symmetry with the neighbors lawn. They also have a crab apple on the opposite of the property line in the same location. We felt her pain, but it wasn't enough to sway the judge's decision.

T-Bob and Thomas started in with the little hatchet. They were given basic instruction on tool usage as well as how to aim a tree to get it to fall where they wanted.

They worked diligently at chopping the trunk. This was a job they could get into. I think they were relating to George Washington, No Lie! They were excited to have such a manly man task.

With such a little hatchet they were able to stretch this chore out and smile while they did. The boys were taking dominion over the earth. A biblical concept.

They decided this side branch must come off before the trunk could be attacked on this side. Whoopee, more chopping required!

The boys promised me that this was a poised picture. They would never let a four year old girl swing a hatchet and cut up a tree. I was a bit relieved. We let our children do a lot, but I wasn't totally comfortable with this being an action shot.

They worked hard for at least 45 minutes until that old tree submitted.

Victory at last!

The neighbor boy came over to commend them. No one was excited about cutting the branches up and tying them for the trash man. They did have to hurry and cut it small enough so that the motor vehicles could get through. A rain storm and a desire to go somewhere in the car are good motivators. Good work Men!

Monday, September 21, 2009


See Updates at the bottom:

Last year the Mangos went to Washington DC for an extended field trip/vacation. We were invited by our friends the Tater Tots to stay at their home. This was a grand undertaking for them as they were used to having just their twins around. The twins , Joel and Lily, are the same age as T-Bob. We had a wonderful time. We even got to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July over the mall in DC. We had a mini reunion with them on our trip to Gettysburg. They came and visited us for the day. The children got to renew their friendships.

On Saturday, Sept. 19th Lily got hit by a large ATV and had to be life flighted to a trauma center.
Her Mom sent out the following report on Sunday at 4:30.
4:30 PM Sunday. I firmly believe that, not only does the "fervent prayer of a righteous man avail much", but the fervent prayers of many righteous men avails even more. We are so encourage by the countless prayers going up for Lily and our family. Thank you for asking your friends and church families - people who don't even know us - to pray.It has been a good day. Lily continues to stay stable. She was wide awake this afternoon and smiled at her Dad's jokes. She is still intubated, so she can't talk, but she's communicating with us well.
We spoke to the orthopedic surgeon. The bones in her foot, ankle, and lower leg were crushed and she lost significant muscle and skin. Tomorrow (Monday) they will take her back into surgery to clean the wound again and assess what is viable. From there the will start to plan reconstruction of the foot and leg.
I'm not completely sure of all the abdominal injuries.. They had to remove a section of her bowel. There were tears in other places and a laceration on her liver which was repaired. They expect all of this to heal.

She also has some fractures in her spine. They expect these to heal without causing any problems. She will be fitted for a back brace one her abdomen heals.

So you can see we have a long, difficult road ahead of us, but there is so much to thank the Lord for. A couple of specific request are for protection from infection, viability in her leg and foot, and that they will be able to take her off the ventilator after surgery tomorrow.

Please pray especially for Joel. He's really missing Lily.

As of 5PM EST, Monday, they were just taking her to surgery. Please keep the family in your prayers.

UPDATE: 8:30 PM Monday Sept 21.

surgery went very well. No sign of infection and everthing appears viable. The surgeon gave us hope for a good long term prognosis, but it will take a miracle. We believe in miracles! The next surgery is planned for Friday to reconstruct the bones, then plastic surgery sometime next week for skin grafts. THANK YOU for your prayers.

UPDATE: 3:15 Tuesday

Lily has made good progress in the last 12 hours. She is no longer intubated and they were able to take off the neck brace. She is more comfortable and in good spirits. Please keep praying for the healing of her leg, especially as they start with the skin and muscle grafts.

UPDATE: 8:30 PM Tues

Lily has been moved out of PICU. She will be in a regular room now.

UPDATE: 7 PM THursday

Lily continues to progress well. THe latest highlight is that she ate an orange popsicle today. Today they also did an angiogram to see what kind of blood supply there is left in her leg. She did have a good visit with her brother Joel yesterday, which helped them both. Tomorrow (Friday) she will have the bone graft done and then on Monday they will try and do the muscle and skin grafts. She is feeling a bit homesick. PLease keep Lily and her family in your prayers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dallas. The BAD and the good

Dallas is such a friendly dog, he loves greeting the neighbors when they return from a short vacation.
He likes to run around the yard and play with the children. Mostly he is a good puppy. BUT, the other day when Elizabeth was home alone with Mom she went out and played with him and he followed her into the house. A real NO NO. He is NOT allowed in the house. Michelle had made a special treat to take to the church potluck that evening. It was cooling on the dining room table. Dallas thought we had made it for him.

He put his paws up on the table and started having a snack. I was down in the basement when I heard Elizabeth shrieking hysterically that Dallas was eating the cake. By the time I got up there he was hiding under the kitchen table. He knew he was in trouble. I opened the back door and gave him a swat on his rump as he hurdled by.

This is Dallas with his 'blankie'. He drags it around the yard all day long. He won't go to sleep without it. He likes to keep it in the sun. It is more comfortable to lie on than the dirt.

Below are some videos of Dallas waiting for the ball to be thrown to him and then running to fetch it. HE spends a lot of time doing this. He does wait quietly for the ball to be thrown.

The videos are backwards. I still can't always figure the correct way to upload all these things. Note Dallas nodding and shaking his head as he answers the questions correctly. :-)

Friends Visiting

Our good friends visited us on Sunday evening. They were driving from their parents home in MI to their own place in NC. They have 3 darling children. This is their baby Lily. She is 15 weeks old and is a real snuggler. We ladies really enjoyed holding her.

This is their 2 year old son Isaac. He is a real sweet energetic boy. He talks up a storm and is very friendly. Their oldest son, Reuben, 4, somehow missed the camera. I think he was moving too fast. They are really a neat family.

Jeremy is a very tall (6' 8") coast guard guy. He is an excellent Dad who spends a lot of time with his boys.

Faith and Jeremy moved to Cleveland when Jeremy was stationed here about 6 years ago. They lived here for 2 years. They left just after Reuben was born. Elizabeth and he are only a week a part. They are doing an excellent job as parents. Faith was homeschooled and plans to do the same with their children. It is neat to see the growth in their life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What can you do with Grandparents?

Elizabeth is a veteran game player and really enjoyed playing card games with Grandma and Grandpa. She loved the attention.
She also really likes doing puzzles. Grandma helped her with this one, which is tougher than it looks. Many of the pieces have the exact same shape. Very challenging!
If you can get both grandparents playing Go Fish with you at the same time, that's even better. Michelle and T-Bob were also involved in this game.

T-Bob, Michelle and Elizabeth had great fun stacking these trolls as Grandpa supervised.

Michelle served yet another "Anna-mated" dessert. Grandpa has lost his sense of smell, but he can still taste sweetness. Yummy. Grandma had taken her to the store to buy all the ingredients. Grandma has a sweet tooth also.

The children all enjoyed hearing Grandma and Grandpa's stories from their life in Arizona as well as from their younger days.

JoAn spent quite a bit of time playing hymns which we all enjoyed. She is really coming along well with her piano skills. She would also spend time almost every day reciting to Grandma her memory work. She went through the book of Romans and several other books. It was an encouragement to both of them.
It was a challenge keeping the children quieter than usual, minimizing the boy's rowdiness, and trying to keep all background noise to a dull roar. Grandma's hearing aids pick up all that noise and they are no longer used to the high energy of a houseful of active children. It was worth it. We are so blessed to have parents/grandparents living and with sharp minds who love us and encourage us in the Lord. God is good, All the time.
PS Congratulations to our nephew Andy on his recent engagement!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Busiest Saturday of the Year

This Saturday was our big Food Production Saturday. I had wanted to get food put away for winter earlier in the summer, but all our busyness and a couple unmentioned circumstances prevented it. I was really feeling discouraged about that. Friday night, after a busy day in Amish country, I stopped at the Amish produce auction on the way home. The children and I spent about 3 hours there and we were able to get a lot of the things I wanted to put away at a really good price. It was my first experience at bidding at a live auction. I had fun. I overpaid on one batch of tomatoes, but did great on everything else.
JoAn is our kitchen organizer on these big cooking days. She is a champ!
Saturday morning found us looking at 10 bags of 5 dozen ears of corn. That's more than we usually do, but that was the size of the lot I bought. ($4/bag).

The children all helped with the husking. We opted to do it in the kitchen rather than outside because the yellow jackets come so quickly and start annoying us. Elizabeth took the husked corn and put it in coolers and boxes for us.

T-Bob helped with our inside and outside work. The corn was beautiful and not starchy.

Michelle was our inside and outside helper girl.

My friend Kathy M. came over and helped me cut it off the cob. This is a huge job, especially when you have 600 ears to do! JoAn blanched and iced the corn before we started cutting. It took 3.5 hours to get it all cut off. I even had to ask The Boss for help on the last 50 or so, my hands and arms were just too tired.

While the inside crew was putting food away for the winter, the rest were busy stacking firewood. This is the pile after more than half had been stacked. Mr. Boots and T-Bob had stayed home on Friday to split it all. We still have about the same amount of wood needing to be split and stacked. We need about 7 full cords to last through the winter with our two wood stoves going almost constantly.

Mr. Boots was the chief stacker. Others brought the wood over in the wheel barrow. T-Bob and Michelle did help a little with the stacking. If you look close at the picture you can figure out where 'Mr. Boots' got his nickname. This is his normal outfit.

It was good to see the brothers working together.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen the three+ bushels of tomatoes were cut up and cooked along with onions, garlic, celery and bay leaves. Mom did the cutting and JoAn kept the process moving along. We run the cooked up mixture through our Champion Juicer. The broth we can and use as soup stock.

The sauce is cooked down in my Mom's electric roaster. Then we can that as well. That is Baba Ghannoush sitting beside the roaster. Michelle mixed that up for our supper.

At the auction we got 5 bushel of broccoli. It was only $1.50 a bushel. I gave one to my friend Kathy and the rest we washed, cut up, blanched, chilled and froze. Mr. Boots did a lot of the cutting for us. By the time we started doing up the broccoli, it was dark outside. We had the outside helpers come back in the kitchen and help. We needed the help with the broccoli and the clean-up.
After it was blanched and chilled, Michelle and Thomas bagged it up.
I didn't get done in the kitchen until after 11. The boss came in and did the big push on clean-up. The rest of us were too tired to finish it up. It was a 14 hour day and very exhausting. It feels so good to have it all done. We still have some zucchini and eggplant to get done. I also need to get a couple bushel of beets in the freezer.
It was a family project and a job well done. A big thank-you to all my children and my dear hubby for helping so willingly.