Monday, August 29, 2011

A Parental Compromise & the Kids' New Toy

Ever since Nathan came back from staying with Cousin B this summer he has been asking for a trampoline.  It didn't help the situation when we went to Gothenburg and the kids found out that counsins Kim, AJ, and Tyler had a trampoline as well.  After spending many hours on the trampoline, I could see that the kids loved it and really wanted one.  HOWEVER, Marion wasn't so sure we needed one.

This is a very typical scenario.  I am usually the one looking for things to keep the kids busy, provide them skills or exercise or even just fun.  And Marion is usually the practical one who looks at the costs and the 'need' of an item.  This is why we are so very blessed to be together.  God definitely knew what He was doing when He matched the two of us up...lol!

Anyway, going back to the kids 'need' of a trampoline, Marion and I decided to compromise with a smaller, less expensive option to test the waters.  This 'mini' trampoline will give the kids hours of entertainment and yet not break the bank.  In addition, it gets the kids familiar with such a thing before we consider (years down the road) whether we want to invest in a larger one.

I also happen to know of a few family members who have older kids who MIGHT not want to keep their trampoline all that much longer...SO maybe we can get a hand-me-down trampoline in the years to come before our kids outgrow this one...heheheheh....hint...hint...hint...:0)

Sitting and enjoying the view

jumping fun

Playing outside

the whole crew
technically the tramp said it had a weight limit of 100 lbs.
I'm sure this is more then that...but hey...they aren't really jumping here.

say cheese!

Do you guys like the new trampoline?
And yes...Ethan does go without clothing an awful lot these days.  He gets such bad heat rash if I don't keep him cool.  He also is not very fond of shoes.  I'm sure he'll get more accustom to them this winter, but right now if they aren't necessary, he takes them off!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Elderberry FUN

A few years ago, at the recommendation of some Mom's group friends, our family tried Elderberry Juice to help with prevention of flu symptoms and better overall health.  We did this regularly for some time but honestly I just got out of the habit of making it for everyone and then it set.  

However, that short introductory to Elderberries got Marion thinking that we did indeed have elderberries around here somewhere...growing wild!  Why these thoughts came to him this year, I have no idea, but he decided to do botanty research and figure it out. 

LO and BeHOLD, he found Elderberries!



This particular patch is along the side of the road going out west to Crystal Plains.  I also found another patch going south to the Boxum's place from that same road.  And Marion also said that there were some over on the Berl Seam's quarter by his folks place.   So we have lots of Elderberry plants around.  And the ones today looked like they were just beginning to ripen.  

Since Marion was so excited about his discovery, I packed the kids up and we went Elderberry picking:

sorry...the lighting was just not right...let's try this again...

better...but now I can't get them to look at the camera and smile...ugh...

Jonny...get back by the bucket and look at me!

OK...we're done!  
Anyway, we brought the Elderberries home, and per the instructions on one particular website (sorry...can't link it cuz I looked at so many I don't remember which one it was) I used a fork to comb the berries off the stems.  THEN the big debate came as to if I really had to pick out all the stems and green ones or if they really could stay in.  In the end, I did the best I could and went with it! After washing, and washing, and washing the berries, I boiled them, sieved them, strained them, and then made jelly out of them!  (I did go ahead and water bath the jelly jars - sometimes I just invert the jars - but since we definitely don't want to risk any spoilage on these we water bathed them.)

Based on our initial tasting, the Elderberry jelly tastes an aweful lot like grape jelly...with just a little twist!  But we like it...so I just might go back out there in a few days and see if the rest of the berries are ready yet!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SHIRRING...

My friend Beth has sewn several dresses that have a shirred top.  I asked her the other day how she did that and honestly - she said she bought the material that way...lol!  I've been thinking there are several things I could do with shirring (though I just recently found out that it is called shirring).

Sleeves, waist bands, decorations...etc...

photo credit to Ruffles And Stuff

Anyway, here is a great tutorial that I found on how to shir:

Shirring Tutorial


Now I just need to find some elastic thread...I'm thinking I'm taking a trip to Stuff 'n Such in Downs...real soon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Praying Mantis Pet...

UPDATE:  Well, Peterson/Failer didn't make it.  This morning he was barely moving at all and just laying on the bottom of the jar, so we set him loose to die in peace.  Oh well, at least the children got a kick out of learning more about praying mantis and catching things to feed him.


UPDATE:  Today, when we woke up, Peterson/Failer had shed his skin and now has wings (which he didn't have previously).  He still hasn't eaten anything but I also noticed that he only has one eye open after shedding his skin so we'll see what happens with him.  If he continues to live, we just might start a tab at for our latest "pet".

I never thought I'd be typing those words but here I am!

This morning, Marion came into the house exclaiming that he had something very exciting to show the kids.  He grabbed a 1/2 gallon jar out of the cupboard and disappeared outside again.  When he reappeared he had this HUGE Praying Mantis...it had to be at least 5 inches long!


The kids were COMPLETELY fascinated with it...but I have to confess that I could only watch it for a few minutes before it was too much for me!  Anyway, not 30 minutes later, Nathan came in the house with a smaller version...this one is about 2 1/2 inches long.

Through the course of the day, the larger one escaped but we still have the smaller one.  The kids have named it Peterson/Failer Schlatter.  'He' now has a nice quart jar to live in with some grass, water, and sticks.  Also throughout the day I caught a wormy thing, a cricket, and a fly to 'feed' it.  I CANNOT believe what I will do for my children's happiness...ROFL!


So...please meet Peterson/Failer:


 We'll have to see how long he stays alive...so far he hasn't eaten anything that we've provided.


Did I mention I can't believe I am a part of this????!!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our 10 Year Anniversary...

Now...before anyone hurts themselves trying to figure out how to make that math work out...let me explain!

Ten years ago on August 23rd, Marion and I had our first DATE!  Yes indeed...it has been 10 years since our first date and Marion says that honestly...the first date with me was more meaningful in some ways than any of our wedding anniversaries thus far.  When I questioned him about that, he said, "Our first date was when God brought us together and by the second date, I knew you were the one for me!"  

Isn't he so sweet!

So, for several months now, Marion has been talking about our 10 year anniversary coming up.  And even though today is NOT the 23rd, he figured since it rained he'd better jump on the chance to do something.  SO, my beloved husband made a trip to Downs and extended that trip to Osborne to make some arrangements.  Then he called me and said he'd be home for lunch in a little bit but would need me to help move a pickup around after lunch.  

After lunch, we started loading the kids in the van and he told me he'd drive so I could read my book (which I was doing while I finished making the tortillas we had for lunch).  I put the book down and hurried outside to the van thinking he was frustrated with me for reading.  When I got in the van I apologized for slowing him down getting back to work and he just smiled at me and asked if I was sure I'd shut everything off.  At that, I gave him a questioning look as we headed out of the drive way.  It was then that he said, "I'm kidnapping you!"  I made a quick mental note of what was on in the house and assured him we were in the clear to leave.  

As we got to the top of the hill I noticed our 1st year dating scrapbook at my feet.  He explained that he'd brought it along for us to reminisce, so we started looking through it.  When we got to Osborne, he pulled up in front of Harvey's Coffee & Kitchen - a great little place that has amazing coffee & food and has no equal for nearly 50 miles around! (you can actually get REAL lattes, cappuccinos, and the such)  I was very moved that Marion would go all this way to bring me to get a coffee!

As we walked in, I noticed that there was a beautiful bouquet of roses on the coffee table and thought "Oh how nice, Mr. Harvey must have bought his wife some flowers and they brought them to the store to enjoy."  We walked up to the counter and ordered getting cookies for the kids and deciding to get a smoothie for Marion and I to share since we had remembered we had smoothies on our first date (after looking at the book that is).

As I stood and waited for the order, Marion wandered off and started looking at the pictures hung around the place.  Finally he said, "Hey Melanie, come look at this."  So I turned around and he was standing in front of the roses.  I walked up beside him and noticed the card was written in HIS handwriting:



YEP...the roses were for ME!  I couldn't believe it and had to fight not crying.  Mrs. Harvey (which isn't their real names but I don't know their real names so we'll go with this) said she saw me eyeing them when we walked in as she smirked at me.  I told them that I hadn't gotten a DOZEN roses from Marion since our 1st Dating Anniversary just before we got married!  Mr. Harveys said when Marion had left after making the arrangements to have them there, he told his wife, "Men like him make me look bad."  We all had a good chuckle!

We took the kids to the park in Osborne for them to enjoy their cookies and for us to reminisce some more and then we headed home.  Once home, I took this picture of the roses sitting on the table...I think it turned out very neat:



THANK YOU HONEY FOR THE ROSES, THE MEMORIES, AND ESPECIALLY FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS!  We've had our ups and downs, but I wouldn't want to be with ANYONE but you!  I love you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Playing in the Creek

Cousin B is here visiting.

Nathan went to Grandma's for the day to play.

They played in the creek, making dams.


Look at that dam...great work!

Getting muddy

What fun...
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another day of canning...

I had my first jar explode in YEARS today!

While in Gothenburg this weekend, my mother gave me a box full of cucumbers, another box full of roma tomatoes, several zucchini, and an entire bag full of summer savory.  When I got home, my mother-in-law told me that the beans had done well again and we had another 5 gallon bucket of green beans too!

So after getting caught up on the laundry - which I hung most of it outside on the line.  I started processing the plethora of garden stuff that has accumulated.  So far I've gotten all the savory dehydrated and the pickles all cut up and processed.  We ended up with 5 pints and 12 quarts of pickles (minus the jar that exploded in the water bath).

It is now getting late enough and cool enough that I have to stop my processing of garden stuff to head outside to get the mowing done for this week.  I'm very thankful that Marion got the mower fixed and that I have my new iPod Nano to keep my company while I mow this evening.

I can't tell you all how thankful we are to have the blessing of so much garden stuff.  Our cellar is getting restocked again for another year and every jar canned saves us so much in grocery expense.  Not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that we have canned and saved for our winter months.


Thanks to all who have contributed to our garden produce this year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I just might be crazy but...

I LOVE my clothesline!

Several times so far this year I have thought about taking a picture of my clothes out on the line and posting it for you all but it hasn't happened as of yet!  But every time I take the clothes out there, I am reminded of how much I love hanging my clothes out!

My ex-step-mother would be beside herself to hear me say this as it was the bane of my existence when I lived with her, but now...well, I'm older, I guess, and I truly appreciate it.  There have been many times when I've tried and tried to get a stain out and it just would not come out but then I hung it outside on a sunny hot day and the sun bleached it!  Or the fresh scent of climbing into bed with sun dried sheets.  The satisfaction that comes from looking out the window to see all the clothes waving in the breeze.  Not to mention the way it saves on keeping the kitchen cooler. (The kitchen is the HOTTEST room on the main floor and we have a terrible time keeping it cool...I wouldn't mind so much except I spend the majority of my time in the kitchen.)

Today as I was hanging clothes outside, I had my iPod Nano with me and I was jamming out praising God as I hung up the clothes and realized I have never been so blessed in my life!  Truly my God is pouring out His blessings upon our family right now and I am SO very thankful.  Things may not be perfect, and we may still have our struggles, but His blessings are still amazing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Museum

I told you...Marion likes to take the kids to Museums...this one is in Holdredge, Nebraska.

We were on our way up to surprise my Mom for her birthday and Marion decided we had driven by this museum enough times without stopping...so we stopped.  










The kids really had a great time seeing things and overall it was a great time.  Ethan is a bit young for all these museums...but he still had fun running around!
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

The Largest Round Barn

Okay...so there is a huge story behind this round barn thing. 

Marion is often looking for things to do with the kids, and he often likes to do things that are historic, museum, nature kind of things.  So somehow, he came across this site talking about the Starke Round Barn Historical Site near Red Cloud, Nebraska.  And of course he wanted to go.

So one Sunday, we headed to Red Cloud to eat at Subway and afterward, Marion decided we'd go looking for this Historical Round Barn.  He didn't have directions...just a general 'about three miles east of Red Cloud' guide.  So we started driving...and driving...and driving...and guess what...we didn't find it.  It was finally time to head home and we hadn't seen any Big Round Barns.

A few weeks later, he was still determined to find that Historical Round Barn so this time, we looked it up on the map and THEN went looking.  We STILL couldn't find it.  We were driving all over the place and it was just not there!

Amazingly we decided to drive down this small lane to see what was down it...and though the lane led to a house...Marion spotted the Round Barn about a 1/2 mile away...so we anxiously headed down that way and FOUND THE BIG ROUND BARN!



There was no one around and so we didn't feel comfortable getting out and exploring, but we at least got to see the infamous illusive round barn!


Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

The 60's...

Well...my parents have now both entered the era of their 60's!  My father turned 60 last October and my mother turned 60 this past Monday.  

Because of the distance, we weren't able to make it to my Dad's for his birthday but we did try to do something very memorable for him.  He has always wanted a picture of the 5 Converse men who have served in the military.  With some artistic & computer manipulation, I was able to make the following picture for him:


Going Left to Right you have my Great-Great-Grandfather Ebber (Civil War), my Great-Grandfather PJ (WWI), my Grandfather Jack (WWII), my Great Uncle Bill (Korean), and my Dad (Vietnam). *
**Dad - if I got that wrong, please let me know and I'll fix it.***


As a surprise for my mother, we did make it up to Gothenburg for her birthday on Monday.  She had no idea we were coming and was very taken back to see us sitting in the restaurant.  It was very fun.  Here is a picture of my mom with my sister and I.  


For other pictures regarding her birthday, please visit my sister's Facebook page here.  (On a funny side note, I had Facebook for quite awhile and begged my sister and mom to join, but they declined.  Now, I'm NOT on Facebook and they are...LOL)

Marion and I feel so very blessed that our children still have all their grandparents alive and well.  Even though they are all over 60 now, we look forward to several more years of memories!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Smith County History Day

The Smith County History Museum is not open all the time...and this week, they decided to open it up and have a History Day...so we attended.

Kids, Marion and Grandma & Grandpa Schlatter looking at farm equipment.

Abi by the antique dresses.

Nathan checking out the case displays.

An old cast iron stove!

Nathan with an antique solar system.

The kids sitting in the old school desks!

Ethan at the 'playground'

More old stuff...a sled and wagon...
This was the first time we got to see the Smith County Museum and its buildings.  I think the kids enjoyed themselves.

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

Monday, August 08, 2011

Marion's Preference:

This is what I got accomplished on Saturday!  And Marion is LOVING it!  This is how he'd like to see the ENTIRE house...but I haven't figured out how to get it too look so 'empty'...hehehehe!


Actually, I've been doing this new cleaning cycle where each day has a task and area. I think it is helping alot - not only in getting to each part of the house but also providing me some time to do things I like to do (like baking and sewing).  At least I get to one room in the house a week and if it doesn't get done one week I know I'll get a chance the next.  It has been keeping things in check anyway.

I've been thinking we needed to move in order to rid ourselves of some of the put away clutter.  I know we have talked about this before but I found that as I went through the house the last time I would get to a cupboard, glance through it and say "Oh, there isn't anything in there I need to go through".  HAHA...I'm sure that is why we still have a lot of clutter!  LOL.

I have REALLY been needing to get to some sewing projects but it seems that Saturday's always seem to get filled with something else to do.  I'm hoping now that the porch has been cleaned (which hadn't been completely done since June) I can keep up with that and provide me more time for Sewing on Saturdays.  I'm also almost caught up on bills/banking stuff and I might actually be able to start catching up on blogging on Fridays (which is my computer day).

Well, Grandma Schlatter just brought me some more garden stuff and I need to get the kids lunch.  We had a great morning session in school and the laundry is under way.  I've got a little more kitchen cleaning to do and then I'll be ready to start working up some of this produce.

(It's so peaceful right now as the kids are outside playing and enjoying their time out there. I almost don't want it to end...but it won't be long before they are in here wanting lunch and then we'll have nap time and afternoon school with Abi. Before I know it we'll be headed to bed and another day over, so I guess I better get back at it.)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Very Creative

Don't you just love it when your kids use their imaginations for something positive!

Today, the boys were outside playing and they came running in inside telling me something about their horse and wagon and how I NEEDED to come see it.  So, I stopped what I was doing and headed outside.  

This is what I found:

Horse and Wagon

Sure enough...they had fixed up a harness to the 'dinosaur-horse' and tied the wagon to him.  Then they put buckets in the back for seats and cargo!

Harnessed 'Horse'
When I asked them how they made the 'horse' go...this is what they did:


Yep...still manually powered, but GREAT fun...

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

A cool picture...


After church the kids were all out sitting on the swings.  Seriously...this was not staged!  I simply walked out of church and saw this and thought...I've got to have that picture.  Fortunately, I had my camera with me - which is a rarity.

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

Update on the Cold Brew Coffee Post

Back in June I posted about my Cold Brew Coffee Experiment.  I have thoroughly been enjoying having the cold brew around.  We even took a full thermos of cold brew on the camping trip with us.  We had it cold but could also heat it up for the early chilled mornings.  It worked great and was far less messy than having to deal with coffee grounds and the like during camping.

Anyway, I'm not really big into having coffee grounds in the bottom of my cup when I'm done, so I filter the coffee out pretty good before drinking it.  Usually I just leave the grounds in the pitcher and then filter out what I want when I need it.  But I found that I was going through LOTS of filters.  And I'm not really patient enough to sit there and filter the whole pitcher at one time (ya know...cuz you can only put so much in and then you have to wait for it to drain down and then put more in and wait for it to filter down...takes FOREVER).

So, I've been working on a way to get my cold brewed coffee without all the hassle of filtering...AND I THINK I GOT IT!

This last time, I took and ground up my coffee, then divided it out between 3 coffee filters.  I tied the top shut and placed them into the pitcher full of water.  By morning, I had my cold brewed coffee with no coffee grounds!  YAYA!

(Now, I am thinking there is probably a better way to seep the coffee grounds out but until I find the magical device that will keep all my grounds inside I can at least do this!  I was thinking about one of those tea things that people use to make their own teas but I'm not sure if it is fine enough to not let grounds out.  I'll keep an eye open.  I want to be able to grind my own coffee but let it seep.)

If anyone has one of these amazing devices that you'd like to share with me, please let me know where I can find them.   Thanks!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Strawberry

Yep...we still have our old horse Strawberry.

He mostly hangs out in the pasture but once in awhile we get a chance to saddle him up and ride him.  Today we took pictures with the kids.




Ethan is still a little too young for that...so he just stayed with Mommy!

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved MMFarmlife - Melanie Schlatter

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Crazy Hazy Days of School

Yes, we have begun the 2011-2012 School Year and let me tell you....it's been CRAZY!

First, we were supposed to start on Tuesday, August 2nd.  Why, you may be asking?  Because the kids are bored and it is HOT!  They can't play outside all that much because of the heat/humidity (and I know we are blessed NOT to have the 105 degree weather they are having down south but still too yucky outside for the kids). I can't tell you how many times a day I was hearing "Mom, I'm bored, what can I do?"  So, I decided to start school so that when the weather actually becomes nicer they can have a fall break and enjoy the outside weather.  Plus, if we start school earlier, we can take more breaks each month and hopefully the kids won't get so burnt out on school - like so many kids do.  AND, Lord forbid, if we have any unexpected issues come up, we still have lots of time to get caught up and not be dragging school into the summer months.

(On a side note, I have actually been thinking of a more year-round approach so that we more utilize the hot days of summer and the cold days of winter when everyone wants to be inside and are free for those more mild days when everyone wants to be outside...this is my attempt to start working us towards that.)

Anyway, SO...for our last bash before school started (and to help take Cousin E back home from the farm trip he had for his birthday), we had planned to head to Salina and go to the waterpark with Cousins B and E.   Unfortunately, our E started running a fever on Saturday and we called it off.  Little did we know that this 100.8 fever would be a FOUR DAY ordeal!  YEP!  On Sunday, E spiked a 104.0 temperature and stayed above 102 until Tuesday morning where we were thrilled when he woke up with a 101.6!  (I told Marion I thought it was a bit demented that we were so excited about a 101.6 but we still were.)  After calling the doctor and reporting Tuesday morning (we had gone in on Monday and they didn't really know what was going on so we did a wait, see, and report kind of thing) they called back and said they wanted to do more blood work and a chest x-ray.  So for the second morning in a row (and majorly disrupting the school plans which seemed utterly unimportant at the time) we headed into to Smith Center.  This time E was showing more signs of sickness (a gunky eye, higher blood cell count, diarrhea, and slight fluid on his lungs).  So they gave us an antibiotic and said to keep watching and see what happened.  PRAISE GOD E woke up this morning with a normal temp after sleeping all night long for the first time since Friday.  He still had a gunky eye but he was my normal, rambunctious, running 16 month old and you could tell he felt way better!

One would think then that we would have a normal day today, but other unfortunate circumstances led us to attend a funeral today so that we were gone most of the morning.  The death was very sudden and totally unexpected and the woman was a wonderful, loving, and very faithful woman of God whom will be greatly missed not only by her family but by many in our community and church.  I don't usually attend funerals for the simple reason that kids and funerals don't usually mix well and most of the time I'd rather stay home so that the rest of the family can go, but this time, Grandma and Grandpa went to the visitation service last night so that Marion and I could go this morning.  We are very appreciative for that.

All that to say that this afternoon we tried VERY hard to get some type of normalcy in our routine and to get started on some of our school stuff.  Nathan is very excited this year to be starting Kindergarten and very anxious to start reading...he wants to do it NOW!  Jonathan wants to be like the other big kids so he begs for school too and though I am doing a very informal and simple introductory pre-school with him, he is almost always wanting to do more!  Abi fortunately can do many of the subjects via independent study and then when I am done with Nathan I review them and go over anything that needs corrected or discussed.  There are two subjects that are more interaction for us and those two we will be waiting for the afternoon session when the boys are resting.  Though we didn't have a normal routine today, Nathan and Jonny are caught up and where they would have been had we had a normal start to the school year.  Abi is one lesson behind on the two afternoon courses, but those will quickly be made up by the end of the week (one of them we only have four days a week...so it won't be too hard).

Overall, the kids are thoroughly excited.  They loved going to the store and picking out 'special' stuff for school.  They each got to pick out their school folder which this year has puppies and kittens on them.  And they were ALL excited about the new crayons/markers that they got to put into their OWN pencil boxes!

I'll try to keep you posted and share any special events that we do throughout the year.  (I know we are supposed to be going to the Smith County History Day next week, so that should be fun.)