Life With Nine Kids

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer Heat, Childhood Memories, Pet Raccoons, and No Fireworks ... but super fun games planned!!!!

This year we had a record breaking mild winter and when everyone feared the summer was 'going to be a hot one' I balked at the thought. It was wishful thinking! Now that we're having the biggest drought I can remember and record high temps for June, I've settled in on the fact that this summer is indeed a scorcher. Since I grew up in the desert the hot heat doesn't bother me as much as some people, it just makes me drink a ton of water and miss my family in Las Vegas! I think it's funny that our weekly forecast weather picture online has a blazing orange-red sun and Vegas has a happy yellow regular sun. This 108 degree craziness makes me nostalgic for swimming as a young child, the smell of chlorine and sun tan lotion on my skin, and the ice cream truck. (All things my husband just said make me a former city girl) 

The dry heat reminds me of swimming and Las Vegas, and swimming reminds me of my Great Grandma Nana. When my sister Christy and I would go swimming at her and Grandma Smith's house Grandma Nana would make us the best grilled cheese sandwiches. I remember every detail of that house and backyard. Those are awesome magical childhood memories right there. They had horses and pet raccoons, too! We don't have coons in Las Vegas, but these ones were brought in from another state where we had been visiting on a road trip. Their mother had been killed by a nearby farmer and my Grandma Smith and family took them in and bottle fed them kitten milk. There had been three babies but one didn't survive. Rakell and Ricardo survived though, and they lived out long lives in a ginormous enclosure over a huge pine tree in Las Veagas that happened to be right next to the swimming pool.  We fed them oatmeal cookies for treats.

But, those fond memories doesn't mean I like it this hot, no way! People and animals get hurt in heat like this. To keep cool I highly recommend ice chips! Also make sure animals have cool water in the shade at all times. We've been checking on our chickens, guineas and geese 4-5 times a day. Our poor little chickens are panting like crazy. We get the ground wet at night and it helps the ground stay cooler during the day for them to lay on. During the day we check and make sure the chickens aren't staying boxed up in the hen house during the day (too hot). At night when they all go in we open their door and blow some night air in with a fan until the inside has cooled down. It helps cool things off and I'm sure helps them sleep easier. In the morning I let them out extra early so they can enjoy the hours before the burn.

The fan in the chicken house door
You know when weeds are dying that it is hot and dry. We got our water bill and it was over $100 just as I suspected it would be. (Boy I miss well water!  I'll try hard to never buy a house with city water again. We had well water when we moved in, but hooked onto city because of other homes in our area. They have failing septic tanks and it's a concern that the failing tanks contaminate area wells.) I've been watering the garden like crazy and keeping the animals cool. The goose pool takes extra water, but I bucket out the dirty water and water plants with it every other day. The kids also play in the water and I have little kids that totally waste bath water. I'm not going to cut down on garden watering, but we need to cut down on household usage big time! For one, I can't let the little kids fill their baths up without adult supervision anymore. Everyone needs to take shorter showers and the little kids tiny baths. I dream of gray water gardening someday!

Independence Day
With this dry heat comes extra responsibility for the the Fourth of July. Tons of firework shows have been cancelled. We are under extreme fire threat due to dry and dangerous conditions so we are not going to set off anything that goes into the air. This is also reminiscent of my childhood because we weren't allowed air born fireworks in Las Vegas. So we'll just have to wait on the bigger ones and set of the smaller ground ones on the concrete in the front yard (after watering the grass down well). Those fireworks are so much fun for kids anyway. They pick them out, line them up and like seeing them get lit close up. This year we are adding a twist to our festivities since the fireworks will be shortened and not leaving the ground. This year I am adding a bunch of games to our party. (To which my husband already said, "Outside??? Do you know how hot it is?" To which I said, "We have water games, too. Sheeesh." I'm am 100% an outdoors person. This is obvious.)

Fun Fourth of July Picnic Games
sack race
water gargling contest
watermelon eating contest
apple bobbing
cheerio-butter face contest (Put butter on face and using no hands try and rub your face on a table of cheerios, the person with the most wins.) 
whipped cream cheerio face (Put whipped cream on your partners face, then throw cheerios, the couple with the most that sticks wins.)
drip drip goose (Duck Duck Goose, but you get water dumped on you when the person says GOOSE)
egg roulette (8 hardboiled, 4 uncooked eggs go around in a circle and you see how lucky you are when you take turns smashing them on each others head)
Old fashioned water balloon toss -which almost always turns into water balloon fight!

                                                                 Last Years Picture 2011

Every year we have a big family celebration/tradition on the 4th. Just our big family of nine has a big celebration. We make loads of food, pie, homemade ice cream and drinks. We always have Bomb Pops during fireworks. Our Fourth of July party is one of my favorite traditions. Sitting on the porch with the whole family for our yearly family photo and fireworks is really fun. Seeing the kids all dig through the firework box that Uncle Jason gives to them each year builds lasting memories.
Pictures From Two Years Ago! Pregnant with Everett 2010
Ricky and Charlotte painted my belly

                              Be safe this year everyone. Playing with fire is dangerous!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Garden and Zoo (and even at the zoo we are drawn to the farm animals)

A patch of mint.

I love making garden signs.
Sage wants me to make a sign for our corn that says
"Farmed and Dangerous" and I'm totally going to do it.
We are really into parodies and word play. It's kinda crazy.  We use word play everyday and I think it makes us abnormal (but awesome). For example, when I'm digging up/transplanting hostas I'm found of saying: "Hosta la vista, baby" over and over for no apparent reason. It's fun. We also make up our own parodies from lines of songs on a regular basis and right out of the blue. What's awesome is that another family member in earshot usually adds to whatever kooky thing the other is spewing. It's good fun that is out of hand. Charlotte made me very proud by simply making a parody of this in the swimming pool at a fitting moment.

Helpers watering. Everett looooves watering. Sometimes I have him water just to give him something to do.

This is the baby hen's new pen. They graduated and moved away from the goose and guinea garden. Their new pen is inside our big chicken pen. Charlotte and I put this pen up all by ourselves! I had not realized how much I have learned about fencing from my husband! I had nearly forgotten that my first attempt (alone) at a fence years ago was a fail, now I did this!!  The baby hens are separated from the big chickens so the big ones can get used to the little ones. The little hens become part of the flock slowly and won't get picked on in a couple of months when we integrate them all. We move them into a protective house at night as there is no night protection here, but the dog house provides shelter from storms. 

The last two weekends we have been: fixing garden gates, seeing that the Japanese beetles are dying (organic sprayed last week), moving baby hens to start socializing with the big hens, making baby hen pens, watering, planting more herbs, planting sunflowers,  swimming geese, making farm expansion plans for next year with Charlotte and Ricky, enjoying life so much. We also have had creek trips, park trips, a zoo trip, and homework and housework to keep up with. It's a busy life we have created for ourselves!

 Two weekends ago Sage (12) split his first log.
I'm noticing that slowly the kids enjoy outside work more and more. This wasn't even anything I needed done, he just wanted to learn.

The geese admiring themselves in mirrors. 

Zoo Pictures

GOATS! We were making tentative plans for goats next year and now seeing the kids with them...
wellllll.... that just makes it even more of an exciting thought. 

We admired the goats the most of all

Everett totally fell asleep with his pop and it was sooo cute! He kept eating it and sucking it.
I got it away from him without too much trouble after I took some cute and funny pictures.

... It's such a big wide world ....

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Out of the blue I asked Ricky if he thought I'd ever own and run a cute antique store someday. His reply, "I'm sure  if that is what you want then you will, dear." 

He amazes me every day. What love and happiness he has in his heart for me.... and he shares love and happiness with me everyday. I get to live with it in my heart and I return it to him everyday as well. I truly believe we get what we put into the world; I had so much love in my heart and soul and so then he became mine. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not Being Pregnant This Year

  I've been in a thought process of writing about not being pregnant for months now. Usually I'm pregnant by now. Since 2004 I've had a baby every even numbered year. This year we broke that pattern as there is no 2012 baby on the way. The reason I want to write about it is because it's significant and my thoughts on this will be interesting to both me and my children in the future. The reason I haven't written about it is because I'm not sure what to say. I also probably haven't written because we keep our fertility a private topic anyway. It's not really the business of anyone. If people act like it's good I'm not pregnant I get offended, if people act over curious about us getting pregnant I feel they don't understand how expensive having a big family is. In general I'm happier if people act supportive of us just having as many as we want and make no assumptions. I've never written very much about us having kids or not having kids before. Sure, I announce pregnancies and I have obvious joy when writing about our family -that's mostly just it though. Not having a baby this year is still a significant milestone for our family though and I do in fact notice that this summer I am not sporting a round happy baby belly. I'm neither very sad or glad about it. I'm just a busy in love woman and mama who loves her husband, her home, babies, kids, hobby farming, and dreaming up big ideas. For that I'm grateful.

  We mostly talk like we aren't having anymore kids. The entire household of kids wants us to have more kids, which is really cute. But, we feel like adding another baby right now would be way too many little kids; back to back little ones is A LOT of work. We honestly welcome the "break." I also enjoy knowing that *if* I were to get pregnant we'd be happy as could be about it. That's probably why I don't tell people things like "we're done" or "we don't want any more kids." We both agree that we'd have more kids if the food budget was more manageable (and a couple other things were different). Saving for retirement has been put on our top priority list (next to just simply raising the 7 kids we do have). I don't feel like we stopped having kids because we are "done." This became more apparent to me when my loving husband said to me one day, "Shauna, I don't think we'd ever be done."

I Love that. I can live with that thought. We aren't ever done. We just have enough for now, and maybe for always. (And absolutely we think about adoption and fostering )

Big life changes are hard sometimes, and this one is. However, seeing the older kids grow into wonderful, kind people is getting more rewarding each day. And day dreaming about peace and quiet and travel with my best friend and love makes me swoon. One day we'll be cozy-ed up alone in our own vintage travel trailer and life will be still be so good. We'll still hold hands when we fall asleep. We'll still have seven great kids and they will be off living seven great lives....and grandchildren will fill us with joy.

  I still sometimes want twins though. Layla says we'll have twins. Grandma Wanda has dreams that I have twin girls. I probably won't have any more kids let alone twins, but I'll probably never have half things I day dream about. And that's okay.
We trust that our life will grow in the direction it needs and which is best for our marriage and family. Going with the flow, faith and *believing* in us has never failed us. I'll tell you though, my husband is a smart, smart man. He'd never tell me I couldn't have another baby. He'll always entertain the idea of having another baby even if it's just occasionally, and even if he's not seriously considering it. For he knows deep inside of me a fire burns for creating life and love, and he'd never crush that. For that I thank him. Telling me I can't do something only makes me want it more. Telling me 'yes we could have another' but with reservations makes me come to my senses very quickly. We work together really well like that; we always have and always will.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Father's Day Tribute

My Dad
I love my dad. The other day I called my Dad to tell him something that was clearly important to me. My cell phone kept discontenting during our conversation. (Even though it was fully charged and I had great service it kept dropping the call every 30 seconds to a  minute! -it's just an old flip phone and needs replaced.) As we talked and got cut off I had to call him back five times before the phone call stuck. Each time I called him back he picked up the conversation where it had left off. He didn't once tell me to call him later or act like it was an inconvenience to him. When I would dial him back he just said his next words to me, not even a hello was needed. Today when I called him to wish him a Happy Father's Day I told him that I had been thinking about that phone call from the other day. I told him that that phone call was an example of what kind of Dad he's always been; always there no matter what, good or bad, easy or hard, he takes the time. He makes time for me, even halfway across the United States, even when he's busy, even during a work day, even when the situation isn't ideal. He's always there. He's always been a part of his kids' lives, admits his mistakes and loves unconditionally. He's a lot of fun, too. Those things make a great dad. 

Ricky's Dad
I love my Father-in-law. He's a kind hardworking man that values family. Ricky comes from parents of extreme love and devotion and it's no accident that he models that in his family life. I have so much admiration and respect for both my husband and his family. What I enjoy especially is that as my husband has gotten older I notice he makes sweet facial expressions that I recognize that are from his dad; it can be a look, a smile, a laugh, or a nod of agreement. It warms my heart. My Father-in-law smiles at his grand-kids with his eyes, face and soul...It's the same way my husband looks at his kids and at me. Thank you Dad-in-law for being such a wonderful person, good husband to your wife, good role model, loving dad and grandpa. My father-in-law should know how much his son has learned from him and models after him. 

My Husband
I love my husband. He works hard if he's at work or if he's at home. He has 9 people expecting 100% from him; 7 kids, 1 wife, and 1 job. He doesn't let any of us down. He juggles life beautifully and solidly. He loves deeply and contently. I never feel second best. Every marriage vow he made he has fulfilled with perfection. When I met him I told him two main things to try and scare him off. One was that I like a lot of attention. (I told him I'm an Aries, I like to be loved and cared for deeply and I like someone to keep up with my fast paced ideas and adventures.) Two: I want a lot of kids. He said he'd like to sign up for both of those things; he said it sounded fun. :)
One of the hardest things to do is to grow with someone instead of away from them. This is something that makes our marriage great. We have grown together and complement each other nicely. We bring out the best in each other. By bringing out the best in each other we bring out the best in our kids and in our parenting. We have such kid focused lives but we never lose sight of each other. We would have never had so many kids or be this happy if we hadn't believed in each other from the start. Thanks my love, for being an awesome dad to our kids! 

Happy Father's Day to these three
 important men in my life!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Home Gardens Under Attack: Support Home Gardens

Today I heard reports of two different households being told they cannot grow food in their front yard, even though no ordinance is referenced against it. 

This comes just one day after I told Charlotte hypothetically, "We'd move if something happened and we couldn't have chickens here, like if our area suddenly had an ordinance against them." I carried on, "I love having birds, and if we couldn't have them we'd put the house up for sale immediately while we worked towards saving more money to move, then within two years we'd be gone. We won't live somewhere where we can't grow and raise our own food; it's un-American"

To live in America and be told you can't grow food on your own property is incomprehensible. Time for me to wake up, because it's the reality some people are living with. We once lived in a country that tried, even advertised, to get people to grow their own food. Being self sufficient was encouraged as was: canning, storing, growing and keeping chickens. Today people and our government are so accustomed to shopping at supermarkets, importing food, paying taxes, regulations and restrictions that people don't do much for themselves anymore in the way of food production. Providing for yourself is a great skill to have, but it's becoming a lost art. Growing your own food not only helps people eat healthier, it's also better for our environment (for one there is no transporting of goods to stores). Growing-your-own teaches many skills and fosters hard work and perseverance which is great for self esteem and motivation. This leads to a feeling of high self worth. People who garden have less stress, tend to be happier and live longer. People who garden get exercise and soak up vitamin D from the sun while they work in their gardens. In 2009, a study reported that three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults were deficient in vitamin D.

When I see people who have gardens visible from the street it makes me happy, I actually look for people's gardens each year. I admire the gardens of complete strangers as we commute to and from home. I show them to my kids. I talk about them. One down this way has a metal pan hanging from a clothesline to deter birds and a lawn chair an older man sits in. I love that he watches his garden grow from his chair. One the other way has a plot so big and rich and full that I'm green with envy every year. At the end of the growing season it's tilled up before we even buy Halloween pumpkins. They keep it in wonderful shape. In the spring, before I can even think about tilling, their garden is tilled up again and waiting for seeds. Yet another garden is near the elementary school; they cover it in black plastic each off season with about eight cinder blocks on sides and corners. I watch for gardens and applaud them as I see them. When I slow down as I pass these gardens my family hears, "Look at that garden! It's a good one!" In fact, I totally just did it today on the way home from swimming.

People getting out in nature and doing what's good for their families and themselves should be encouraged on every level.

Old ad's from the past:
This poster was part of the publicity for a brilliantly mounted campaign to encourage the use of homegrown foods. Because commercially canned goods were rationed, the Victory Garden became an indispensable source of food for the home front. The Victory Garden was a household activity during the war and one of the most well received of all home front chores. At its peak, it is estimated that nearly 20,000,000 gardens were grown and about 40 percent of all vegetables produced in the U.S. came from Victory Gardens. By the end of the war the Department of Agriculture estimated total home front production of over one million tons of vegetables valued at 85 million dollars. Source

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vintage Obsessions (and some picture fun!)

After I finally found my antique bed (after waiting patiently for at least three years) 


I immediately jumped into another obsession: Hoosier cabinets.  
I really, really, really love them. I adore the feel of a kitchen with shelving and "furniture" instead of built-in cabinetry. If I ever re-do my kitchen I'm tearing out the cupboards and bad counter tops. I'm going with shelves and free standing cabinets, and a huge oversize farm house sink just like this. We have plenty of other things to worry about and do braces for kids, actual home repairs, and buying food (lol).  (Also something called student loans.) But it's fun to dream.

At any rate, I did not have to wait long for my third really special big antique -the second one to be acquired this season!!!! I'm so thrilled and only feel a tiny bit guilty that I just bought myself a Father's Day present. Heh. Seriously though I'm spoiled and I'm going to rot. I am not allowed on Craigslist. I'm banned until next year, because there are too may good vintage goodies on there. 

This is mine now!

Probably three reasons that Ricky made this happen for me (even though we have to stick to our dang budget, and we didn't!) 1. He likes to see me smile and jump up and down in excitement. 2. This was a good deal -under $100- and he knows he'd shell out more for one further down the road (average price around here is $300). 3. We actually DO need more cabinet and counter space in the kitchen. It will be really super helpful!  

Other pictures and farm things going on at our house:

Penelope picked raspberries for breakfast Saturday morning. It was this moment that made me inspired to get back in the garden and plant some seeds. Charlotte graciously offered to till two more small areas and I was able to plant some more tomato starts. (Starts from February I had not found places for yet most the others were in the ground  long ago.) Charlotte planted honeydew seeds, too. I had some extra potatoes that now had room too. Really excited about growing potatoes this year! The other ones I planted are coming up nicely! I've never done potatoes.

Two years ago I bought 6 thorny raspberries and 6 thorn-less raspberries. The thorned variety thrived and I want more! The thorn-less all died out. (they may have needed more water.) My experince with thorn-less blackberries is much better. The top picture above and below includes one of our blackberry areas.

Gosling flapping wings after a nice swim under the blackberry garden.   

The guineas and geese are getting acquainted. The geese are sassy and confident and have no problem making it known that just because the guineas were here first doesn't mean the ganders aren't grander. 

Swimming and bathing geese

Chicks resting in the iris leaves

This is the goose house, the baby hens are guests until they are big 
enough to go to the big chicken house and pen.

Found this old dresser for super-super cheap -it was an awesome find.
Lil' Everett
Roses I planted 2 years ago 
My Kitchen
If I ever get the time/money/courage... this stove and lower cabinet is gone! They will be removed and the vintage stove I bought four years ago will go in. I need to have it professionally inspected and installed. I'm not sure if' it's safe for use yet, but it should be ok. It's really cool though regardless!

Too many aprons? Not if wear 'em and love 'em!

Chicken house area, newly planted 

Chicken house, just cause I like it. I've posted pictures of it before.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Sister!

I'm the oldest of five. My baby sister turned 21 years old yesterday. I wish I could have been in Las Vegas with her (our home town) but instead of being bummed about missing such a huge birthday milestone the kids and I had our own super silly fun party in honor of her. Charlotte, 15, did the editing. She did a great job cutting a 12 min video into 4 minutes. We had so much fun. Love and miss you baby sister!!!