Junk Food with a Healthy Twist

In our house, junk food seems to be around a lot more than necessary. We try to limit it, but somehow things always manage to creep in. The kids routinely come home from Awana’s with awards such as chocolate or soda and enjoy grandma’s cookies far too often. And, of course, I will refrain from mentioning the biggest culprit because I want to avoid throwing Handsome under the bus…

On Monday, Handsome returned home after running an errand in town. He was sporting a nice round plastic barrel of cheese balls. The kids went nuts, of course. I exercised my sheer will power for about 10 minutes longer than they did.

It’s always a battle over junk. We talk about health all of the time around here. We drink electrolyzed reduced water at a nice alkaline pH. We eat farm fresh eggs from our free range chickens. We buy organic and we avoid GMO’s as much as possible. And then we eat cheese balls… I can’t help but shake my head.

We awoke a little later than normal this morning so our normal routine was replaced with the free-flowing-whatever-routine. Consequently, breakfast options were last minute. The Boy opened the pantry and hugged the barrel of the fluffy orange chemicals with a sly inquiring expression. I chuckled and initially denied his request, “uhmmm… No. Not for breakfast… unless you want a cheese ball omelet!” I laughed at the silly notion, until he interrupted me with an affirmative nod. cheese ball omelet

Wanting to retreat from the offer, I decided to just go with it and a handful of cheese balls were placed on top of the eggs just as they began to set.

There were crazy squeals of delight this morning at the breakfast table. The Boy was sure to tell me that it was the best omelet ever while Sweetness devoured hers with a smile. It was comical to say the least.

I justified it all by telling myself that eggs and cheese are great sources of protein and what’s a bit of fun to go along with healthy?

 

A Kite in the Wind: A Journey of Surprises

mountain sunset
Our prairie sunset view
elvis and chicks
Elvis meets chicks

We love our little house on the Colorado prairie. I have dreamed of having a small spread like this most of my life. The desire to feel dirt between my toes as I plant and live off of the land is a yearning that I simply can not explain. I have known many people in my life that could not begin to understand those desires… but there are equally as many that get it.

first eggs
Dos Huevos!

One of my desires has been to have farm animals. It all started with our nice little flock of chickens that we brought home for the kids on Easter 2015. We enjoyed our chicken entertainment far more than we could have imagined! We watched them all summer long, impatiently awaiting that first egg. It was fun to find not one, but two that very first time!

As summer progressed, our awareness of rattlesnakes quickly heightened! Although our awesome cat had been a great mouser, sometimes it just seemed like she could use some help. We didn’t feel that we had a set-up yet that would be conducive to barn cats so we decided that we would add a Rat Terrier to our farm to help with rodent control. After months of searching, we found Pepper. She was eight months old and although a high-strung puppy, she proved herself rodent worthy very quickly.

Samson and Pepper
Samson and Pepper after a long day’s work

With our long-term animal plan, we knew we would need predator protection. So, I drove all of the way to Illinois to Red Gate Farm, LLC to pick up our precious Colorado Mountain Dog. After many puppy behavior setbacks, Samson is becoming a reliable and trustworthy LGD-Livestock Guardian Dog.

LGD's
All of these puppies came to Colorado. Samson is front and center!

Handsome was enjoying the new activity bustling around the property but reminded me often that he really wanted to pace ourselves with the growing a farm. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to obtain more and more. Yes, he is the boy flying the kite (keeping my grounded) and I am the kite riding the wind…

boy-flying-kite
A picture of Handsome and I
Goats
Here comes Sunflower and Joseph!

Things were quiet on our little prairie for the following few months. Unfortunately, Samson was having some difficulty adjusting to the new property and needed animals to bond with and to “guard”. We needed to be mindful of our investment in a guardian dog. The earlier he could be working with animals to guard, the better in the long run.  So, we began searching. It wasn’t long after that we had an opportunity to obtain a couple of Dwarf Nigerian goats. We were blessed with Sunflower and Joseph, a doe and a whether. I could already taste the sweet milk that wouldn’t come until at least next fall. Again, Handsome gently tugged on those kite strings. I understood.

rooster
Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!

And then Sunday came. A gal at church informed me that she had two roosters and needed to get rid of one. Ooooh, I always wanted to hear the rooster crow! I would also like to try and hatch eggs some day… Handsome was OK with it… what’s one more chicken, right?

chicks
New babies!

But then the baby chicks began to arrive at the feed store! This time it was Handsome that reminded me that we needed to start earlier with the chicks this year so that we would get more eggs in late spring instead of early fall. Yes, baby chicks. Oh yes! So, I drove on down to the feed store (45 miles away) only to find that they were already gone. It was a sad moment until they told me of the chicks that would come in the following weeks. We had so much fun looking at all of the varieties of chicks that would be arriving and placed our orders. The four chicks quickly became a dozen which quickly turned into two-dozen! I had to cancel a few orders after Handsome reminded me that we had limited coop space and he really didn’t intend on building another coop this summer.

Reese
Come meet your girlfriend!

Life on the Colorado prairie was such a joy as we watched the cold winter days warm into spring. While making plans for moving our pen area I realized that Sunflower was quite possibly in heat. Oh my… I knew we had to move quickly as their window of opportunity is very short! I contacted a gal that I had made previous arrangements with about doing a driveway service (I still giggle at that term) and she asked me if I was interested in a buck that was of age. Hmmm, I knew I was going to be in trouble! I was there in less than an hour and brought him home to meet his new girl. Handsome ended up being OK with the new addition because it meant that it would lead to kidding and then milk. I don’t know if they have done the deed yet, but with him here full time, I am sure he will take care of her when the chance comes.

elvis and bunny
Bunny time!

Things then began to settle again… until the day that I got a welcomed notification from a friend that someone was needing to find someone to take their breeding rabbit buck and doe. Hmmm, I just knew I was the someone that she was looking for. Rabbits were high on my farm endeavor list, but not on Handsome’s list at all. I had also made a promise to Handsome. I decided, for once, that I would let him know the details and make the decision instead of jumping into it on my own. I know, it’s taken me eight years to figure that out. He took the details, thought about them and gave me the green light.

I’m ready to slow down. I need to prepare for the upcoming goat kids this fall and the rabbit kits. We bred the rabbits and made plans to provide her with a nesting box the first week of April. However, last week I noticed a dead kit in her hutch. It was definitely full-term, this was not a miscarriage! I quickly made a box for her and she went to work making her nest. The next morning there were six healthy kits in her box. Apparently she was pregnant when we got her! This was quite a surprise, but one that we are truly enjoying.

bunnies
An Easter surprise!

Our little animal farm has grown from one dog and one cat a year ago to one cat, three dogs, 26 hens, 1 rooster, 3 goats and now 8 rabbits! Yes, there are a lot of mouths to feed. However, they all have a job and are earning their keep! Eggs are a huge part of our diet. Milk will be a welcome addition. Two animals keep the rodent population down (less rodents = less snakes). Two dogs offer protection to us and our animals, and do quite well. The rabbits will provide awesome meat. Beyond all of the work that each performs, there is joy in just being around animals. There is something so very fulfilling being around life.

Yes, this is our prairie farm E-I-E-I-OOOOOO!

Pearly Whites: A Long-Term Focus

I am a busy mom of six children. Three are grown and gone and three are 10 or under. One of the biggest struggles I have had all of these years is enforcing the routine habits of oral hygiene. Don’t get me wrong, I have made them do it… twice a day. Unfortunately, looking back, I realize that it is one of those things that I took care of myself for a couple of years and then when they appeared capable, I passed the torch – or toothbrush – did a quick explanation and from then on out I simply gave out reminders as needed. This has hardly been a proactive approach of the care of teeth that will stay with them for 40, 50, 60 – or more years.

I see my wrong doing. I see the evidence of it every day. I see the sometimes clean teeth and the other times not-so-clean teeth.

Recently, while taking care of my own teeth, I got to thinking about the age of the teeth that grace my smile. Reflecting on my youth, I was unable to recall anyone taking the time to actually teach me how to properly care for them… I had to learn on my own through the years, sometimes as a result of cavities and root canals.

It was time to do something about this. Things needed to change in our house. The adult teeth in our children’s mouths still have a long journey ahead of them. Teaching, on purpose, proper oral care to an audience that was capable of learning proper habits was long overdue. After making an announcement, all three little people joined me in the bathroom and lined up in front of the mirror. I went over a fun and lighthearted overview of proper oral care with a solid focus on brushing techniques:

  1. 20160112_203259
    Two full minutes!

    Inspect your toothbrush for cleanliness – you never know what may have been around in the last 12 hours.

  2. Enough is enough – too much toothpaste is too much (and used for advertising photos) and too little is too little, you just need a pea-sized portion.
  3. Brush for a FULL TWO MINUTES and maybe even a bit longer – I’m thankful for our Sonicare toothbrushes with built-in two-minute timers.
  4. Rinse – your mouth AND your toothbrush.

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    Don’t forget the sink!
  5. On to flossing – this is probably the most important habit to develop that I want my children to develop.
  6. Mouthwash/Rinse – we don’t purchase commercial mouthwash as we aim to be a fluoride-free house – however, we do use 2.5 pH acidic water. Don’t worry folks… it’s just water that has been taken through an electrolysis process to generate it’s highly effective sanitizing properties.
  7. For the final step we had a talk about cleaning out the sink – to leave it clean for the next person to visit the bathroom -this could very well have been one of the most important conversations of the evening!

I wish I had done this sooner! It has been so easy to overlook, yet such a valuable discussion with long-term benefits or effects. We can’t undo cavities. It’s also much harder to change habits after habits have been developed. I recognize that the habits that they have developed have been appropriate for a three year old, but not for a 5, 7 or 10 year old!

It’s only been a week since the infamous visit to the bathroom mirror. I have to say that I have noticed cleaner teeth over these last several days, as well as a cleaner sink. Interestingly though, my greatest satisfaction has come from their daily use of floss. I not sure know why, but it brings me great joy to know that they know HOW to use them and that they ACTUALLY do.20160112_203648

I sat in on their brushing routine last night to casually monitor. All three of them progressed through the steps without hesitance… I don’t think they were doing it just for my benefit. It left me feeling a bit proud. I am hoping that they will be able to enjoy those beautiful pearly whites for decades to come!

As parents, we all have something that we want to be certain to teach our children… what have you taken the time to focus on with yours?