Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas yesterday and spent time enjoying their families. To me Christmas is a time to rest and spend time with my family. This post is mostly a recap of our Christmas fun.

Before Christmas

Last year we started a new tradition of looking through our toys and giving away a few that are no longer played with. Lucian and Fiona looked through their toys and put a box together to give away. This was a very hard task for our 5 and 3 year old. We had a long discussion about sharing and giving toys to kids who don’t have any. Our box only had a few toys in it to give away but its more about the concept than the amount of toys leaving the house.

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve at my sister’s house for our family’s Christmas celebration. The kids made ornaments, frosted cookies for Santa, and went sledding before we all had dinner together. The kids played one organized game before opening presents. At Thanksgiving we had each child draw a name for who they would be getting a present for at Christmas. It was our first year of drawing names and it worked quite well. My sisters and I also drew names for what Holidays we would be hosting during this next year. I managed to draw Thanksgiving again. The kids had a great time but were very tired when it was time to go. Spending Christmas Eve with my sisters, parents, grandma, and nieces and nephews is one of the best parts of Christmas for me, that and Alecia’s hot chocolate!

Christmas Day

Our day started later than usual because the kids slept in after too much fun playing with their cousins. When we were all awake we opened our stockings then took turns opening our presents. Lucian is old enough to shop for others now so he was very happy when we unwrapped presents from him. I think it is important for him to learn to

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give gifts and think of what a specific person would like. Lucian received a farm set and Fiona a stable that we set up in our playroom/attic space upstairs where Penelope can’t destroy them and try to eat the small parts. I would say that Fiona’s favorite is a new play-dough set with dough scissors that Lucian picked for her and Lucian’s is a harmonica. He wanted me to play with him so I dug our my Clarinet, which I haven’t played in about 2 years, and Fiona strummed the guitar on the floor while Penelope used it as a drum. We had our own little jam session which was really fun. The kids played with their new toys, we played with each other, everyone took a nice nap, and we had dinner with Grandma “da” so we had a great day.

On The Farm 

Even though it was a holiday chores still had to be done. The weather has been temperate at about 30 to 35 degrees so the goats have been going outside everyday to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. The chickens are even starting to venture out into the light. They don’t appreciate all the snow and while I should shovel their yard out a bit I have focused on walkways and the porch. So far we have accumulated approximately 2 feet of snow so I’m limiting where I shovel.

Our new horse, Melody, had a bit of a scare yesterday. All the snow whooshed off the lean-to roof and scared her. She went running and squealing so Jack had to run and go check on her. She was still freaked out when I fed them their grain and I had to coax her back into the lean-to. Fiona likes to feed Jack out of her hand so she kept him occupied while I convinced Melody it was safe to come inside.

Not only did we have a relaxing day at home we also worked on hauling a bit of firewood into the shed. Doing firewood is still one of Lucian’s favorite things to do so he was happy as a lark loading wood onto the trailer and watching the wood-splitter split the big logs.

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We had a great Christmas Day spending time with each other while still accomplishing a few necessary tasks and we all took a nap. I hope everyone had a day just as lovely!

Road Trip Tips

Going on a road trip can be a fun adventure but a road trip with little kids can be more challenging. Planning a successful trip (by successful I mean with the least amount of crying, complaining, and fighting) takes a bit more time than just throwing things into the car and leaving.

  1. Timing is Everything:

Knowing how long your trip is and when your kids take a nap is an essential. Sleeping through a portion of the trip will make it seem shorter to them and reduce the boredom of being confined to a small space for hours.kimg0560-1

For example, tomorrow we are leaving on the 5 hour drive to visit relatives in Minnesota. The plan is to leave around 9 because Penelope usually takes a morning nap at 10ish. We will stop for lunch around noon and Fiona naps just after lunch. In theory the girls will nap on the drive and will be well rested and in good moods by the time we get there.

2. Pack an In-Car Bag:

This is my list of essentials for in the car:

  • Books
  • Coloring Supplies
  • Small Toys
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottles

3. SING!

When the crying starts get ready to sing a few songs to distract the kids from their troubles. Remember a few:

  • The Ants Go Marching 1 By 1
  • This is the Song That Never Ends
  • ABC’s
  • John Jacob Jingle Himer Schmidt
  • Jeremiah was a Bullfrog
  • And any other song you can think of!

4. Take a Break

If the weather is nice stop for a bit and walk around. Being cramped in a car for a long time is really hard on little kids so getting out and taking a short walk will help.

5. Extra Snacks

The simple truth with children is that snacks make everything better so be sure to pack enough.

Our trip starts in the morning and while I’m not looking forward to the drive I am looking forward to having a nice visit with family.

 

 

 

Into the Deep Freeze

The weather outside is frightful! Moving closer to Christmas we have our first wave of below zero weather. The high is -10 and tomorrow looks to be about the same. Even though it has been getting steadily colder the temperature took a major dive last night.

I know complaining about the weather is the oldest complaint there is but on a farm chores become a little more difficult when it is this cold.kimg0155

A Few Changes While its Colder Outside Than it is in My Freezer:

  1.  The kids stay inside. Penelope is 9 months old now and loves to be bundled into her snow suit and pulled in the sled but I’d rather she not get frostbite on her face.
  2. Water – Watering the animals is now the longest part of completing my chores because I now have to clear ice out of all the buckets and dishes before I can give fresh water. I also managed to spill a little water on my leg this morning and my pant leg froze solid within about 2 minutes.
  3. Feeding – The animals eat a little more when it is this cold so I try to give them a little extra grain to offset the calories they burn to stay warm.
  4. Staying Inside – The goats have been camped out in the barn while it is this cold. We do not have heat in our barn but staying inside will keep them out of the wind which combined with the extra cold temperature is dangerous.

The other main hurdle to temperatures this cold is that Everything Breaks! Keeping cars, trucks, and water pumps running while it is this cold is a chore itself.

Helpful Cold Weather Hint:

While perusing Pinterest I discovered a hobby farming hack that has been useful. Placing a gallon jug filled with 1/4 to 1/2 cup salt and about a cup of water in a water tank will help keep the ice out of the tank. I have noticed that when it is this cold there is no stopping the ice but it will reduce the amount. Also one jug works for smaller tanks but a larger tank would need two or more to reduce the exposed surface area of the water. I’m going put the salt/water mix in a water bottle to try to keep ice out of the small buckets I use for the goats in the barn. I hope it works because soon it will be consistently this cold (Hello January 😦 and 5 gallon buckets break when they are too full of ice.

While the below zero weather lasts remember to bundle up and stay safe!

Christmas Baskets

Christmas is just under three weeks away! How did that happen?

A few years ago I stepped away from purchasing gifts for my family and started making homemade Christmas baskets. I love finding thoughtful gifts for my sisters and parents but now that we are adults we each have families. As our families have grown it became financially harder to buy gifts for everyone. Now instead of buying gifts for my sisters and their family I make each family a Christmas basket and fill it with goodies I have made over the year.

Homestead products I have made this year:

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I would need awfully big baskets if I were to put a sampling of everything I made this year into each basket. I pick and choose what items to put into each basket depending on whom will receive it.

What to Put Into a Basket:

  • Focus on the Family- For example, I know my older sister doesn’t use very much jelly or jam so she may receive applesauce instead of strawberry/rhubarb jam.
  • Mix Useful With Pretty- Each year I try to find something new that will be both useful and pretty. Knitted washcloths are nice because they are both functional and pretty. There are a variety of patterns and yarn types I can choose from which help to create a piece that is aesthetically pleasing.
  • Dress it Up- Mason jars look great with a square of cloth over the top and tied with a ribbon or a few strands of raffia tied around the top.
  • IOU’s are Great Too- A pretty note telling your sister or grandma that you owe her babysitting or a lunch date is also a great gift. You are giving the best gift: Your Time!
  • Baked Goods- I’m a sucker for muffins and hot chocolate so if I’m drawing a blank on what to put in a basket pumpkin/chocolate chip muffins are my go to.

Filling baskets with homemade goodies is a great way to give gifts that are both useful and thoughtful.kimg0578

Extras

I enjoy working at our local bookstore in town and I also love the extra perks that go with working there. What are my perks? Books, of course. I am able to pick though a variety of slightly damaged books or magazines which make great additions to my Christmas baskets.

A Basket Full

Making Christmas baskets takes more time than buying a simple present and wrapping it but I believe the time I put into them makes the gift better. I enjoy receiving gifts I will use rather than items that are lovely but essentially useless, so I make gifts that will be used. I have always enjoyed making anything from bread to scarves so I put my skills to good use and share with my family what our little hobby farm has produced through the year.