2015, have you flown by already? The older I get, I realize that a year really isn’t very long at all. Looking through all the photos the family has taken over the last year, it  does seem that we fit a lot into 2015.

January I began actual nursing classes, after two years of wading through the prerequisite science and psychology classes. The one-month interim course at my school fits a whole semester’s material into three weeks , so bitter January passed quickly. The class finished with a role playing presentation that was fun to work on and present to the class:


Through February and March, both Mom and the excitement for our newest family member grew steadily:


April brought the welcome spring, with flowering bulbs, spring sun, and crazy baby chickens in the mail:

May was filled with celebrations following one after the other. Benjamin arrived safe and sound shocking us with his head of curls.  Landon graduated from homeschool life, and several members of the family received sacraments:

Maria was confirmed:


as well as Johnathan:


and Alexander:

In June Benjamin also received his first sacrament!


In July I flew with an amazing group to Alaska on a two week mission trip through FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University students). This was my first trip away from home by myself, so it was very new and exciting experience:


The family spent August enjoying the last warm, school-free days of Summer:


And this must suffice for September, October, November, and December, as I only narrowly escaped being buried alive in homework this semester. I passed a lot of exciting nursing milestones such as first injection given, first patient cared for, and learning to understand a million different lab values.


 Now, forward on to 2016!

Garden Journal V

I have peppers planted in pots, and they are small but setting fruit:


and this cherry tomato really likes its spot in the garden, but the normal tomatoes are trying to recover from some early blight. They seem to be bouncing back, though.



Raspberries are ripening:IMG_3243

I’m very happy with the flower garden this year. We’ve added in some new plants to help fill in the bare spots, and everything is looking healthy.



Right now this daylily is one of the stars. I love the peachy color!


And I like these penstemon which I just planted. I’m a very big fan of purple leaves.


Something tells me that these hollyhocks like this spot on the side of the house. They are quite a bit taller than I am.



A new climbing rose is growing nicely, and has several blooms on it.IMG_3249

Curious chickens:





My college has an interim course that only lasts three weeks in between Christmas break and the new semester. My class is really easy, so it has been rather like an extension of the break. It is really nice before the whirlwind of classes begins again in February. I will be starting biochemistry/organic chemistry, latin, anatomy, religion, and choir.

The cold snap at the beginning of the month broke and we had some temperatures above and around freezing before getting really cold again.  I am in awe of the chickens who are able to take such cold temperatures! We did give them a heat lamp on the night that was going to be -20 to -25, but they took the rest of the frigid weather in stride and still give us around 4-5 eggs a day from eight chickens. They are really big homebodies this winter, and don’t like to go outside the coop unless the temperature is pretty warm.

I am teaching three ballet classes this year, and they are going really well. This year teaching ballet feels a lot more natural. Around this time last year I was just starting to feel the rhythm of the balance between fun, discipline, and learning, but this year it didn’t take nearly as long to get used to it.  Around this time of year we start preparations for both ballet exams and the spring recital. I really enjoy picking out the recital music, costumes, and choreographing the dances. I have a new source for new pieces of music to use for my classes-the Augustana College Symphony. I heard them playing Danse Macabre at the fall concert in October, and the string-led theme was so beautiful I knew instantly I was using it for a ballet class.

January is moving by fast, and I’m trying to resist thinking about little green seedlings. There’s still a lot of winter to go.  In the meantime, the other kids and I have been making the most of it by going ice skating at an outdoor rink nearby. This has been a lot of fun, and I hope to go several more times before it gets too warm.

Chicken Business

Marigold loves to sunbathe, and we often catch her in very funny positions.IMG_0029

Victoria has discovered that she can stand on the fence, and has flown over it a couple times. Luckily, she will soon get too fat to fly that far.




Garden Journal 2013-Volume I

It seems summer has finally decided to arrive at last. I just saw my first monarch butterfly four days ago, and three have flown by since then. There are not a whole lot of flowers to meet them though, because  all the plant life is a month behind schedule. What a zany spring we have had! Ice storms in April, snow on May 1st, and a hard frost on May thirteenth, just two days before the last frost date! But, the weather is coming along nicely now, and there’s been plenty of rain to get things growing.

I started a lot of plants from seed this year, including zinnia, peppers, eggplant, cosmos, snapdragons, foxglove, and hollyhock. This is a snapdragon:


and one of my cosmos:


I was so excited by these little cosmos flowers. This was my first year of success with starting seedlings inside, and I had always felt a little bit like a cheater buying ready-made plants from the store. I felt like someone who called themselves a baker, yet only knew how to make a cake from a boxed mix!

Then I went to the store and saw this cosmos flower. While the ones I started from seed have flowers the size of my thumbnail, this flower is the size of my palm! I wonder what kind of fertilizer they used?


I guess I’m still a cake mix gardener at heart, because the cosmos and these (already blooming) snapdragons came home with me. : )


More store-bought flowers:



This is a bindweed seedling. My mortal enemy. Do not let their dainty, white, morning glory-like flowers fool you. They spread like mad, have a taproot that resists pulling more than any other weed I know, and climb other plants and strangle them to death. Last year I waged a terrible war against them, turning my back on thistles and crabgrass in order to pull every single seedling and dig up every last taproot. I was successful, for there are no adult bindweeds in my garden this year. I have to remain vigilant, though, and pull at least twenty of these seedlings every day!


The columbine are in full bloom. I have a new one this year, also, as a volunteer made it all the way to blooming. I think it is a cross between my pink and blue plant, for it’s pink with tiny purple veins throughout. It also has a unique creamy yellow trumpet, while both of the other plants have a white trumpet:


The blue parent plant:



The pink parent plant:

More store-bought flowers:IMG_4015

This is one of the pepper plants I started from seed. I have jalapeno, bell, and banana, but I won’t know which is which until they start setting fruit because I mixed them all out of order when I potted them.

The raspberries promise a bumper crop this year. I lost all my 2012 summer raspberries to last year’s zany spring. It was so warm that they flowered in March, and then an April frost came and nipped them.

Beets are my experiment this year. We tried baking some from the store in the winter, and despite the strong, earthy flavor, everybody liked them, even Johnathan! I’m really looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

IMG_3968Sugar snap peas:


Tomatoes from the store:


The chickens would love to come gobble up my entire garden, so Landon built a pen for them:IMG_3983


Our Eggs Before and After the Rain

We have had a lot of rain in the last few weeks, and our grass, which was completely brown and dead, to grow like crazy. The chickens like eating the grass, and this deepened the color of the egg yolks dramatically:


Deeper colored yolks mean a more nutritious egg, so these must be really healthy!

New Chickens!


The baby chickens sure are getting a lot of attention around here! They are so cute though, so who could resist picking them up and petting their silky soft down.  There are four of them, and they’ll be beauties when they grow up! Chickens8





This is what they’ll look like when they are big:

A barred rock:


A speckled sussex:


A gold laced wyandotte:

A columbian wyandotte:


We’re working on naming them, since so far only the gold laced has been named (Victoria). Chickens have ended up being a really fun and rewarding project, so everyone is excited about the new additions.

Major Winter Storm

Right now, we just emerged from the end of a major winter storm. It began with rain Monday night, which froze into a very thick layer through the night. It turned into sleet on Tuesday, and didn’t let up the whole day. The high pitched sound of ice pellets hitting icy windows was painfully annoying, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. In addition, ice had given our windows an opaque glaze treatment, and I never realized how much I depend on looking outside through the day. Not being able to see out drove me batty!  This, coupled with the unceasing ice pellets was psychological torture! The day seemed to last forever.

I woke up yesterday morning to see the havoc the ice had wreaked on the trees. It seems like a hurricane blew through and then suddenly froze. Top branches of large trees are leaning to touch the ground. Strong limbs hang from trunks like limp noodles. Every tree has branches on the ground, and splintered boughs are everywhere. I saw a few that look like they went through a paper shredder! I doubt the city will look the same for quite a few summers.

Here are some examples of the type of damage around:

What Damage Does Insurance Cover?


On top of the ice came six inches of snow, weighing things down even more and causing us to lose power for about three hours this morning. Our formerly beautiful trees now look like this:



Our neighbors bushes:


On a brighter note, our spring chickens have arrived! We chose this week of all weeks for them to come when we ordered them in November. I lost two nights of sleep worrying that the plane bringing them from Connecticut wouldn’t make it to the airport through the storm, and they would be trapped halfway here in their box. Fortunately they made it here safe, alive and peeping. Pictures coming soon!



Ever since the day we found that first egg, the chickens have given us a steady supply of 2-5 eggs a day. Most of them are pretty small, since young hens lay petite eggs. One day, however, we found a GIGANTIC egg waiting for us. As I cracked it open, I wondered if it had a double yolk, since young chickens are know to do that more frequently than old chickens. Sure enough, it was!


First Eggs!

Landon found the little one in the coop this morning. Immediately all the boys wanted to go on an egg hunt. “You won’t find any more,” Landon said. Joseph proved him wrong.



Now the question is: “Who dunnit?”

Chicken Combs

The first flush of red is showing in Marigold’s comb, a sign she is maturing. Chickens are supposed to lay their eggs when they are around 5 months old, which will be at the end of February for our hens.



Beatrix’s comb is still pretty pale:


I absolutely love to watch them wander around the yard, scratching around in the grass. All together, their colors are stunning!IMG_2687





Chickens in the Snow

After a few days of being extremely suspicious of the snow, the chickens have finally adjusted to it’s presence. Now they walk right through it, taking an inquisitive nibble from time to time. 

They leave the cutest tracks!