Isaac’s Interstellar Entourage

It’s the middle of July meaning we have less than 3 months left to get our team put together and everyone register for the 3rd Annual Central Arkansas Buddy Walk.  Yay!

This year we are making our team official by coming up with a name and ordering t-shirts for those who want to join us.

Introducing…

Depending on how many would like a team shirt, the cost will be $10 or less.  Will have an exact amount when I place the final order the middle of September.  Let me know as soon as possible if you are interested and what size you need!  Feel free to bring lightsabers and Star Wars masks, you name it. 🙂  I’ve got my eye on a toddler Princess Leia outfit for little H and possibly a child-sized Wookie or Yoda outfit for A.  E and I want to be Jedi. Haha!  This is going to be sooo much fun!!!

We would love for everyone to come join us and show little Iz-O all the love and support possible on this special day.  The registration deadline is September 26th.  For those of you who won’t be able to join us on the walk in person, you can still join our team and show your support financially by making a donation under our team’s name.  Click on the links to print the needed forms.

What is a Buddy Walk®?  The Buddy Walk® was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.  The Buddy Walk® has grown for 17 walks in 1995 to nearly 300 walks planned for 2014 worldwide.  In 2013, more than $12.2 million was raised nationwide to benefit local programs and services, as well as the national advocacy and public awareness initiatives of NDSS that benefit all individuals with Down syndrome.

Funds raised by the Central Arkansas Buddy Walk will go to help Arkansas Special Olympics, Miracle League, Arkansas Down Syndrome Association, the National Down Syndrome Society, and Central Arkansas Buddy Talk.

1st Annual Central Arkansas Buddy Walk (2012)

2nd Annual Central Arkansas Buddy Walk (2013)

I know there are so many other really great causes out there that deserve our attention and donations, but this is truly the most important event for our family since it not only helps encourage and build friendships with other DS families, it is an incredible opportunity to raise positive awareness.  At last year’s event, while setting up the tables at registration, we had people walk up to us and start asking questions about what it was for and other details.  Any opportunity like that to share the joys of DS is a worthy cause.  Just the other day while eating lunch with the boys at Sam’s Club, a little girl got up to leave with her family and turned around to stare more at I and said quite loudly, “That boy is weird and looks ugly!”  My first reaction was anger – at her cruelty and her parents for not correcting her, but then my broken heart overcame my anger.  Ignorance and the lack of compassion is something that we need to strive daily to overcome.  I wonder if that family had ever had the privilege of spending time with individuals with DS?  My guess is the answer is NO for if they had, their lives would have been changed for the better and the cruel words would have instead been a friendly smile and wave.

Spreading positive DS awareness helps stamp out the ignorance and negative stereo types as well as gives people the opportunity to develop compassion and understanding when spending time around those with DS and their loved ones.

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Two Mud Magnets

My last post was dedicated to E, so I thought this next one should focus on my two little cyclones – I and A.

I’m glad we took some quick snap shots to memorialize their latest escapade since I’m sure it will one day become one of those “Arrg, Moooom!” moments. Hehe!  When I’m old(er) and really wrinkled I’ll be able to pull these out and get a good laugh for the day.

While Tim and I were outside keeping an eye on the flocks of keets and chicks that we had let out of the pen in order to train, we let the boys play on the slide and swings.  Just when our attention was diverted elsewhere for a moment, they found their way over to the mud puddle and dived in – literally!

They were having such a great time, it was impossible to pull them away and end their merry mud making adventure.

This picture of I cracks me up because it looks like he sprouted the hereditary “Woosley” eyebrows.  Haha!  He just needs a dark cape and hat and he could be a classic storybook villain. 🙂

The brothers that play in the mud together, stick together – and I’m thinking that could be literal when the muck dries!

Praise the Lord for homestead living!  Instead of having to deal with the incredible muddy mess inside the house, the boys enjoyed the freedom of stripping down outside for a little “hosing off” before getting into the bath.  I enjoyed not having to spend the remainder of the evening cleaning mud off every walking surface inside the house!

Let’s just say it was a much-needed outside shower for these two!

Nothing better than getting all messy then getting to run through the sprinkler in the buff especially when the sprinkler has warm water coming out of it from being warmed by the sun all day. 🙂

Haha!  Good memory-making evening with these two little mud magnets.  Even after being hosed off outside, the bath water still turned a murky brown. Eewww!

A Boy, Boots and a Bike

This past week has been an exciting time for E.  Two very important factors came into play and have changed his world for the better.

The first was finding a new pair of rubber boots on the clearance rack while out shopping.  Do you know how hard it is to find rubber boots in the middle of flip-flop season?!?!?!   Flip-flops and homesteading just don’t seem to mesh unless you like the feel of animal droppings and dirt squishing between your toes.  Haha!  Poor E is definitely NOT a flip-flop kind of guy and had worn out his last pair of boots that he received as a birthday present in January.  So much so that his papa had duct-taped them together just so he could continue wearing them outside.  The problem was that they leaked like crazy so any time he jumped into a mud puddle, he would have to change his socks once entering the house.  (I was washing a LOT of socks!)  Considering we’ve had about 4 inches of rain this week, there are plenty of really good puddles just screaming to be jumped into.

2014-06-27 09.35.39 The second was when E finally gained up enough courage to start riding his bike again.  Around the middle of November, I found a good used bike for free.  This new bike was the next size up from the one E had been using but would soon outgrow.  E did very well riding the new bike last year, but when I tried to get him to ride it once the weather turned nice in the spring, he would run the opposite direction.

After months of working to help him regain his confidence, he finally got on and started pedaling down the road.  Even with a couple of spills when trying to turn, E got right back on the bike. Yay!  Now, in between thunderstorms, he can be found outside riding up and down the road like he’s done it all his life.

I asked him recently what his favorite thing to do outside is, and he replied that it’s riding his bike.  I’ve tried to use all of this to help him learn a valuable lesson in trust.   Just as he is learning to trust us when we warn him about playing in the tall grass because of poisonous snakes, he is learning to trust us when we say that the reward will be worth the hard work and effort.

Oh to be a kid again and zoom around on your first “set of wheels” while enjoying the freedom of no adult responsibilities!

Beginning of Summer on the Homestead

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on our progress here on the ole’ homestead so I thought I would dedicate today’s post to giving you a glimpse into the latest projects and plans we’ve got going on here in Kinnard-ville.

May

While most schools were getting ready to let out for the summer, it seemed like we were actually just beginning.  The plan was to start E in kindergarten this fall, but since he’s been showing a great interest in learning science and reading, we decided to go ahead and start early.  We’ve been staying very relaxed with the schooling schedule and have been speeding along or slowing down as E’s interest grows or diminishes.  If he ends up finishing all the curriculum by fall, we’ll just start him in first grade.  It’s been very nice being able to actually ENJOY doing school together instead of feeling like I’m pulling teeth to get him to do anything.  A and I like to get in on the schooling action too!  Most days when I’m working with E, the two little ones will be either pouring over the iPad working on alphabet or sorting games or sitting at the table coloring or doing puzzles.  When it comes to the iPad, I is turning a little pro!  I’ve even caught him talking (actually articulating specific words – clearly!) when he thought no one was around.  What a stinker!! :-/

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With the hot weather really starting to kick in and with the entire family being outside more to work together, Tim decided to purchase a small pool for the kids to play in while we got projects done around the yard and garden.  Memorial Day was the beginning of the pool fun.

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The end of May was exciting since we received our long-anticipated poultry order.  We ended up with 15 Pearl Keets and 16 Cherry Egger Chicks.  Somehow we were given an extra chick since our order was for only 15.  Not complaining!!  More eggs – yippee! 🙂

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June

Can’t believe June is already half over, but then again it’s been so busy it feels like an entire month has passed.  One of the bigger projects for Tim was taking apart and re-assembling the swing set given to us by a family member who moved to a new house.  The people who bought her house didn’t want the play set since they were bringing their own.  Okay!  This was truly an answered prayer since we had been talking for a while about needing to find a swing set for the kids.  Being a one-vehicle family meant that this summer we wouldn’t have the freedom to go to the park whenever we wanted.  It’s been WONDERFUL having the “park” in our very own yard! 🙂  With the leftover finances for home projects, we eventually would like put a new coating of stain on the entire structure.  I would love to do it now, but there are about a million other projects that take priority over a simple cosmetic fix.

The biggest project on my plate has been to keep the garden alive.  Might not sound like a big deal, but for me it is next to flying a spaceship to the moon.  I have NO green thumb!  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s as black as black can be.

Tim has been the one to do all the planning and research.  Through all the planning process I watched and listened, but he was the one at the controls.  When he had to go back to working Fridays while his assistant left for maternity leave, it all of a sudden became my responsibility since Tim had no extra free time like before.  GULP!

I’ve been doing all I can to keep the plants alive and to ensure that they are watered every day, weeded (as much as possible) and animals/children kept out.  It was a very big deal when I picked the first red tomato from the vine and used fresh basil I clipped from the plants I’ve been growing in my kitchen window to use in a pot of soup.  SUCCESS!  That day I pretty much felt like I could fit right into Little House on the Prairie. 🙂  I have a long way to go, but at least the plants that did die after the first attempt at planting have been replaced with a second planting that is actually thriving.  We’ve also planted carrots, lettuce and beans and have started planting our peach, apple and pear orchard.  It is yet to be seen if anything will come to fruition with those plants, but I would love for the opportunity to say to my friends and church family, “Harvest is ready!  Bring your buckets and come pick fruit for your families.”  It will be wonderful to have enough food growing on those trees to can applesauce, apple pie filling, sliced peaches and sliced pears to last the year.  What a cost saving!

Tomatoes

Basil

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Squash (smaller plants are from 2nd planting)

Strawberries (Given to us as a small planter from a friend’s garden – they’ve exploded!)

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Watermelon

Cucumbers

Blackberries

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One of the other big projects is to get the path finished with the concrete blocks.  Tim put down black paper to help kill the grass and filled in the low spots with pea gravel so it will be more level.

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Life goes on and we learn more and more about homesteading every day.  The kids are happy and growing and learning right along side us which makes the journey worth so much more.  I still sometimes miss living in the city close to the grocery stores and library as well as friends’ homes, but I am appreciating more and more what an amazing opportunity this is that God has allowed us.  Instead of looking at other homesteads I see online and comparing ours to those well-established places, I have to remind myself that things here are NOT perfect and we don’t have the resources to pour into all the projects we know we need and would like, but we are doing the best we can totally from scratch.  I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far!  Not too shabby for two city-dwellers!  Haha!

The biggest thing is watching how I interacts with the different animals.  The fact that he wants to go pet the dog or watch the chicks and keets out in their pen is so far from where he used to be with freezing up and screeching at the top of his lungs because of sensory overload and fear.  He likes to help take care of the animals on the homestead.  In the years to come, I’m sure he will be a tremendous help when we have a flock of goats or even a horse one day.2014-06-19 10.31.06

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Chef in Training

We took a break from the books the other day and focused on getting some things done inside the kitchen.  Since I had to finish making the wheat bread for lunch, E and I decided to make some cinnamon rolls.  He is doing so well being my helper in the kitchen, and I am thrilled watching him learn how to do things on his own more and more.  If nothing else, by the time he graduates from high school, he should be very comfortable working in a kitchen and will know his way around a stove. 🙂  At least he won’t have to fear starving if he marries a girl who doesn’t know how to cook.  Haha!

 

World Down Syndrome Day (3:21)

I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few posts from all over the world as we gear up together to celebrate 3:21.  I recently saw this video shared with our Facebook group Buddy Talk and thought I would share it with all of you.  It made me cry!  I hope as you watched that you were able to maybe place yourself inside my shoes and the shoes of  moms like me out there as we’ve all had a similar thought at one time.  Maybe by watching it would help you be able to share an encouraging word with a friend or loved one who is given the diagnosis that their expected baby has Down syndrome.

World Down Syndrome Day is a way that people across the globe unite to bring positive awareness to a genetic condition that affects 1 in every 691 births world wide.  Every year 6,000 babies are born with DS in the USA alone.  Amazing to think that the US is blessed with 6,000 of the happiest people on the face of the earth!  Wow!!!

If you are in the area and want to help bring positive DS awareness and help support a good cause, I would love for you to join us on on Tuesday, March 18, at the Jacksonville, Arkansas, Chili’s restaurant for a fundraiser from 4-10 p.m.  Print this flyer and bring it with you to present to your server so that 10 percent of your total ticket will be donated to the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association and Central Arkansas Buddy Talk.

We are also doing a balloon release on Friday, March 21, 6:30 p.m. at the Big Dam Bridge (N. Little Rock side).  We will be selling blue and yellow helium balloons for $1/each as another small fundraiser for Central Arkansas Buddy Talk to help fund future DS events in our area.  Hoping for a GREAT turnout this year so come out and show your support if you can!

“More alike than different!”

Baked Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments/ H turns 4 months!

Wow!  Where did the time go this year?!?!  Seems like it’s only been a few weeks since we were celebrating July 4th and awaiting the birth of our baby girl.  I guess time seems to have really sped up for me with having four little ones to care for instead of three. 🙂  It’s a good busy but busy all the same.

Everyone was in the Christmas spirit since the temperatures outside dropped into the mid 20s leaving a blanket of frost covering the ground well into the late morning hours.  It looked like we had snow!  With the beautiful view outside the windows and a warm fire in the fire place, it just set the mood for some Christmas decorating.  We started our Christmas adventure in the kitchen then moved to the living room to do some decorating.

I specifically wanted to find a cinnamon ornament recipe that didn’t have to set for 3-4 days but instead could be baked.  No telling what would happen during that window of time if I had to let all the ornaments set out on the counter.  My “twins” would more than likely try eating half of them every time I would turn my back. Ugh!  This particular recipe doesn’t have glue in it so that it is actually safe to eat (albeit nasty tasting!) and quick drying.

Mix together:

  • 1 C. apple sauce
  • 1-1/4 C. cinnamon
  • 1 T. ginger or cloves

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to form a dough.  If it is too moist, add more spices.  Too dry, add more apple sauce.  Sprinkle cinnamon on a flat surface like you would with flour and roll out your dough to about 1/4″ thickness.  Cut out your shapes and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a straw or chopstick to poke holes in the tops for running a ribbon or piece of thread through for hanging.  Bake in a preheated oven of 200 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours (or until rock hard).

My three happy little helpers.  Had to keep on eye on I because he kept trying to eat the little pieces of dough left on the table.  Gross!

Don’t have a Christmas tree yet since our old one would take up about a 1/4 of the free space in the room if we set it up.  Haha!  I always envision the scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Clark Grisswald cuts the rope on the tree and branches/limbs go springing everywhere breaking the living rooms windows.  Yep, that’s what would happen if we set up the old beast.  The plan is to pull it down for the attic in the coming week and sell on Craigslist then use the money to purchase a smaller, more size-appropriate tree for the living room.  I’ve been keeping my eye on a few pre-lit “pencil” trees that would fit perfect in certain parts of the room.  Just waiting for a good sale and to sell the old tree.

While setting up the stockings and some lights around the doorways, E pulled out the Wish List catalog from Toys R Us and began showing me all the toys he wants.  I don’t mind him showing me what he likes, but it was beginning to drive me crazy with his constant, “Mama, can I have this one for Christmas?” or “Mama, I’ve GOT to get this one for Christmas!”  Instead of getting upset with him, I realized it was my responsibility and joy to explain what makes Christmas so special and it had nothing to do with GETTING brightly wrapped presents.

While the three youngest were either asleep or playing quietly on the floor with a toy, E and I sat down together and discussed why we celebrate Christmas and give gifts.  As simply as possible I tried to explain that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday when we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus was God’s gift to mankind.  He was the GREATEST gift ever, the Messiah, the Light sent into a dark world.  Because of Jesus and what he did on the cross, we have hope of eternal salvation.  We give gifts to others as a way of remembering the gift that God gave to us.  It is NOT about GETTING; it is about GIVING.

It wasn’t an immediate cure for the “gimmies” but at least E is thinking about things a little differently and has started asking more questions about “giving.”

…Before I forget… Happy 4 months H!!!!! 🙂

As you can see, she wouldn’t look at the camera because she was too distracted by her brothers standing on either side of me trying to get her to smile or talk. 🙂