Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breaking Ground

We had a barter deal in place - horse manure and rototiller work for a computer, but somehow we are without the computer and without horse poop, or the use of a rototiller.  Such is the way life goes at times, I suppose.  We've chalked it up to a good deed on our part, and we'll leave them to figure the rest out.

So, when our tax return finally came we decided to use some of it to buy a used rototiller and bagged manure.  And so began the process of preparing the garden.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again; many hands make for light work.  We've got a 23x48 patch of ground tilled (multiple times), fertilized, limed, and raked, in a matter of working a few hours a day this week.  My Man thought that I would want a bigger garden, but I'm trying to be very careful about not getting that new homesteader burnout that I keep hearing about.

I love my kids, and I love their work ethic.  I honestly don't know how we could have such a big family without such helpful kids, and still be happy and sane.  As you can see from the pictures, Columbus was the hardest worker, again.  If we used chore charts around here I would stick one hundred gold stars by his name.  Though, he was happier with the $20.00 that My Man and I slipped into his hand, I'm sure.  Our kids don't get an allowance, but when there is extra money we like to reward them, or if they go above and beyond. 
The garden this morning.

The garden now.
We will add a fence to keep the chickens out.  I figure the roll of fence was about the same cost as chicken feed for the spring/summer, and since my girls only free range it equaled out in the end, though, even if I bought feed, we would still have to buy fence to keep them corralled, so I guess we may just be money ahead.  Anyway, the fence will keep out other critters too, so it's a good thing to have out here on the mountaintop.

Next, we will move the raised beds near the garden area, get them filled with dirt, fence the whole area, plant what we can, and then wait to plant the rest.  It's a little late, but I think in the meantime we will start some seeds.  I hadn't bothered before, because when it became apparent that our barter deal wasn't going to work out I wasn't sure if we would even get a garden this year.  This is turning out to be an exciting spring:)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I About Peed My Pants

My Man and I were in town today, and so we made our usual stop by Goodwill to see if there were any good deals to be had.  More often than not we leave disappointed, but that doesn't stop us from trying.

As we got Baby Man out of his car seat I informed My Man that I needed to use the little girl's room.  Once in the store I loaded Baby Man into a basket and told My Man that I would catch up with the two of them in a few minutes.  As I walked to the back of the store where the restroom is located I saw it....it shined bright in all of it's stainless steel glory and called to me like a lighthouse calls to a wayward ship coming home on a stormy night, but it was at a distance, and so my mind told me that it couldn't possibly be what I thought it was.  It must be one of those coffee dispensers that hotels and restaurants use, but I decided to ignore my bladder and make a B-line for it anyway.
 As I rounded the corner to the isle that it was one and came closer I did a quick search for some indication of what is was, and my eyes firmly landed on this beautiful sight......
It was a long hoped for and wanted Berkey water filter.  I about peed my pants.  I snatched my find off of the shelf and searched for the price all at the same time.  I had to read the price tag twice, because surely $5.99 could not be right, but upon my second inspection, I realized that for once the people in the back going mad with the pricing gun did not know what they were pricing, and so they made the price cheap.  Cheap enough for even me.  With my baby nestled under my arm I scurried off to go find My Man, beaming like a child with a new bike on her birthday, to show him my long awaited find. 

He was happy for me, but I don't think he really understood just how bad and for how long I had wanted one.  For those of you who aren't in the know on Berkey water filters, this model would run close to $300.00 new, and even in the used market they hold their value.  I've wanted one for about three years, and every time we get a little extra money I fight the urge to actually buy one.  It's just like my frugal father taught me as a child - have patience and you will find a good deal.  I suppose I should call him up and thank him for saving me a couple hundred bucks!

I've looked for some info online, but if any of you have one (this model has the four ceramic filters) - how do I know when the filters go bad, or do they?

Nestless Chickens

Just like we thought we would have a house built by now, we thought we would have the chickens moved out of their temporary coop and into a real coop by now, too.  Such is life that we are off schedule, way off, but in the mean time the girls are laying again and getting creative in finding makeshift nests.
Chicken nesting in the woodstove.
 They are also driving us nuts getting into the mobile looking for a nice place to lay.  The chicken in this picture is in the shoe box, but they also like a basket of diapers, and a daughters box of clothes, not to mention Columbus's bed, which he isn't fond of.
Finding eggs now is something like a daily Easter egg hunt, the only saving grace being that we have lots of little kids who actually like to go hunting for eggs.

I think nesting boxes just got moved a little higher up on the list of things to do!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Double the Cake

A new year has started, and so begins another year of birthdays.  We kick off our birthday season with Sassafras and Sugar King's eleventh birthday.  I love twins, though I was never one of those people who always wanted twins (said in the most desperate and whinny of voices) before I had my own.  Now that we are well past the first few years of life, they are much easier, but it is still two of everything.  Twice the birthday shopping, twice the wrapping (which we skipped this year), twice the dinner, and best of all - twice the cake!  Actually, we don't always have cake for birthday's anymore.  With SO many birthday's in our family we get a little burnt out on cake, so we've expanded our birthday dessert to cheesecake, fried ice cream, sundae's, pie....it just depends on what the birthday person wants.  This year it was a coconut cake, and brownie sundae's with hot fudge, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry.

Sugar Kind wanted cheese burgers, and.....

fries.  There were more fries than this (way more), they just eat them hot off the plate as fast as I can fry them.

Our Dynamic Duo had been counting down the days till their birthday for a good month and a half, so when the big day finally arrived they were very ready to celebrate.  We don't usually get too fancy with birthdays around here.  They are pretty much like any other day, but you get gifts, and pick what we have for dinner and dessert.  We may or may not go out for a family day - it just depends on what there is to do, if we have the time, or the money.  This birthday we stayed home, mostly because we are new to the area and don't have any favorite places yet, and we weren't really in the mood to go exploring.
Sassafras wanted taco pizza.
Another BIG birthday treat around here is bottled soda - Root Beer for this birthday.

The Dynamic Duo had a great day and thanked us over and over - they're such sweet kids.  Sassafras painted some pretty pictures with her new acrylic paints, and Sugar King did a little target practice with his new airsoft gun.  And now next months birthday kid is counting down the days till he gets to celebrate.......

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This Weeks Progress

Some of this post has absolutely nothing to do with homesteading progress, but because this is more of a family journal than anything, just bare with me.  JoJo, who is four, has a creative side that brings such joy to us.  He found himself some chicken eggs, built a nest out of straw, collected airsoft pellets from older brothers target practice to use as food, and then got his little stuffed chicken to create this scene.  Maybe none of this will get him into an ivy league college, but it impressed me, his mom, to no end.
 He also took some colored modeling clay that I had given him and made this multimedia picture of a rainbow, complete with rain and a sun.  I was impressed with his understanding and knowledge of how a rainbow comes to be.
 And then there is JoJo's twin brother, who got out of the van on laundry day wearing this choice of foot ware.  Because it was laundry day we were a tad more scruffy looking than I would have liked, and this didn't do much to make the situation any better.  I could have sworn I had delegated an older sibling to get shoes on this child, but evidently he took matters into his own hands.  Lesson learned - check G-mans foot ware before leaving the house.
 Our new addition (LOL), but seriously, with the warmer weather the tent is nice to get some of the kids out of the tin can at night, not to mention they spent most of the first two days in it after it was first setup. 
 This is what my man calls turd polishing.  That's when a person (usually me) tries to make a piece of hopeless junk into something nice(r) knowing that no matter what you do with it, you will basically still be left with a turd.  I guess it is an innate part of my personality to polish turds, I just can't stop myself from always trying to make things the best that I can.  I'm sure that I could have found a better use of my time and our money, but I splurged and bought some flowers, anyway (I already had the pots and fountain).  It has been a few years since I planted flowers, and I love flowers, and we needed flowers.  My soul needed them, and we needed something to remind us that we are returning back to normal, the crisis is over, we can relax, and......well.....enjoy the flowers.

 After I put up the donation button on this blog, I said in this post that we had decided to use the money donated to get our riding lawn mower fixed.  I stopped at a local repair shop and was quoted $40-50.00 to fix it.  My Man and Columbus took the mower into the shop on February 7th, and there it sat until just last week, when the repair man finally called to say that it was running, and that the bill was $346.00....ouch.  Nevertheless, we were able to pay the bill with donated money, and we are all, but especially Columbus and Einstein, very grateful to have our lawnmower back in running condition.  Thank you, again, to all of you that helped get our lawnmower running again, homesteading chores will be made much easier.
 My Man, Columbus, and Einstein have started filling the raised garden beds with dirt from around the property.  I can't wait to finally get some plants in the ground:)

And I think that this will be the last of my This Week's Progress posts.  Rather than one big retrospective post, I want to break them up into shorter posts as they happen.  I hope that all of you are getting and enjoying some nice spring weather:)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RainSaucers

I contacted this company a while back to ask them if they would be interested in me doing a product review of their RainSaucers, and they said YES!!  I got an email last week that my RainSaucers are on their way. 

I actually got the email on the very day that we got our well going, how ironic is that!?  I am still excited to try them out.  After living without running water for four months, I can truly say that I have a whole new appreciation for water, it's collection, and storage.  I can't wait to get mine and use them, and then share my results. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Weeks Progress

Ugh:(  I am behind again in my blog postings, among other things in life.  I'm starting to think that warm spring weather makes time pass even faster than it normally does.

Last week passed in a blink of an eye, and I am sorry to say that I didn't get any progress pictures.  The kids, and then I, all had colds, and I went with my man to his now weekly doctor appointment.  And of course there was all of the excitement of getting the well working.  My man and the older boys spent a couple of days on that.  I planted Most of my fruit trees, Columbus was kind enough to dig all of the holes for me so that all I had to do was put the trees in the ground and cover them - very sweet.  I also got my blueberries and grapes planted.  My man moved our picnic table to where the mobile is, and though that may seem like a small thing, it is not, it has been so nice for the kids to be able to spread out and have a place for their crafty projects.

We took a weekend day and went to a local flea market.  We didn't find much to buy, other than some Leland Cypress tree's that we planted along the property line that faces our new neighbors.  They are not moved in yet, but their mobile home is, so it is only a matter of time. 

Worlds Largest Tree House
While out and about we stopped at a few yard sales, and then we headed to the Worlds Largest Treehouse.  It was something to see, but I didn't go all the way to the top.  Normally, not much scares me, but for some reason this dilapidated thing did, and honestly, I just couldn't stand the thought of my children on it.  It was one of those things that I just couldn't watch them do.  Just the thought of my two four year olds up there made my chest tighten up.  I could clearly see one of them doing something to the other to make him feel wronged, and so to teach the wrong doer a lesson the victim would naturally deal out a nice hefty shove, without regard to the unnatural height they were at, or the lack of OSHA approved safety rails.  I wasn't happy until all of my little peeps were back on the ground, and I don't think I will ever go back again, once was enough for me.

The Tribe

Little boys swinging on a lawn chair hung four stories high.

Silly kids

I've made the decision, and the commitment, to taking the kids to our swimming hole as often as possible, so we've spent several afternoons down there.  It's time consuming to go, but as Columbus nears his 17th birthday in a few months, my heart aches as my mind comes to terms with the fact that once he does turn 17 I will have a mere 365 days left with him before he becomes an adult and can leave.  He's in no hurry to go anywhere, but it won't be long before the time comes that he will need to leave the mountaintop and start his own life.  I realize how quickly our time together has passed, and I want to recapture and reconnect with the kids more than ever now.  It seems that in the last few years that life became more about survival than enjoyment.  I can't go back and undo what has been done, but I can stop now and seize this golden opportunity to slow life down a little and take the time for us to smile and laugh together. 

Tonight, I finally got around to answering last weeks emails, so if you emailed me; check your inbox.  I apologize, again, for being tardy, and it is no way a reflection of your value to me.  A lot has happened since last week, and now that I am caught up on last week I can't wait to share:)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Night Bath

Running water just opens up a whole new world of luxury on the mountaintop!  Today, I went to our storage unit to hunt for summer clothes and shoes, while I was there I grabbed my big canning pots so that we could heat water on a fire for baths.
 Tonight, My Man and I are putting the kids to bed, and then we are going to take a nice, long, hot soak together in our romantic his-n-her tubs.  My dad sent us a bottle of Tanqueray, so I think a gin and tonic may be in order also:)  I don't know if it gets anymore trailer trash than this, folks. 
 No matter, we're too happy and excited to care - running water is just that awesome!  Today would have been our normal day to go get water and haul it home, but guess what!?  We didn't have to, we just turned on the hose and filled our empty containers before we went to town, imagine that!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Water Runs on the Mountaintop

 Yes, you read that right, and it means what you think it means.....we now have running water on our mountaintop!!  It's a pretty brown color from all of the iron that is in it, and it's only a spigot, but nevertheless, it is running water, and we are so happy, and very thankful for a kind and generous donation that made it possible to buy some needed parts, and for My Man to take some time off of work to complete this project.
 We are so relieved that everything worked, and that there is actually water.  Now My Man will begin the task of figuring out how to get it to the mobile.

If you're tempted to look at the pictures and then email or comment how it's hooked up wrong - stop yourself - this set-up was just for a trial run, it's not permanent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nature's Perfect Gift

It was a sunny, mid 80's day here on the mountaintop.  After a day of school work and chores, and a parade of children who each asked multiple times if we could go to the swimming hole, I finally relented.  Most of our warm weather clothes are lost in a sea of boxes in our storage unit, still.  We thought we would have a house and be unpacked by now, so I instructed the kids to find their most sorry pair of pants and I would cut the legs off to make shorts for them.
 I figured if there was fresh running water, I might as well take the shampoo and soap to clean ourselves up a little.  The water is still ice cold, but the convenience of not having to haul water to wash with was a real treat, and besides, ice cold or not, the kids were still swimming in it.
 A few years ago we were at a creek and there was a family there who washed in the creek while the rest of us played in it.  I thought it was the oddest thing in the world, and something I would never, ever do........look at me now....my how things change.

Baby Man enjoying some sun.

Small hands discover a new world.

The Little's hanging out together. 

 This natural jem is about a mile from our property.  We plan to spend a lot of hot summer afternoons cooling off here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last Weeks Progress

Last week was another busy week on our mountaintop.  Between the two of us, My Man and I spent two entire days going to the doctor and getting tests done.  This isn't a medical blog, and the details are boring, so I'll just say that each of us is alive and well, but in need of tune-ups, and that getting older is for the birds.  Since we had to go to town for the doctor appointments we ran errands, too, which always take longer than expected.  On one of our trips I bought twenty-four fruit trees to start a little orchard.  We are now the proud owners of six apple, six peach, six pear, four cherry, and two dwarf plums. 
 I had told my man I wanted to get tree's, and how many I was planning to buy, but he still acted surprised when we were at Walmart and I started telling him what I had bought and what to load.  He hemmed and hawed about getting them all to fit on the trailer, and then during the ride home he called me crazy.  All I could do was laugh at him and tell him that someday in the future he would be glad I was crazy about fruit tree's, and besides, there are a lot worse things in life than a wife who wants an orchard......I think he rolled his eyes, but I can't be sure because it was dark at that point.
Raised beds - thank you Columbus and Einstein
 Columbus and Einstein made me some raised beds.  I also bought strawberry plants, onions, potato's, and asparagus, that I plan to plant in the beds. 

Fruit trees ~ ready to be put in the ground.

Aside from the two days going to the doctor, we spent our usual day going to town to do laundry and get water.  Three days off the mountaintop in one week was too many.  I feel behind in all areas of our life, which drives me nuts. I also took a day to organize in the mobile.  In most ways a smaller space is easier to keep clean, but it also seems to be easier to lose things in it.  My theory is that we just shove and shove to make room for it all, and then before we know it we can't find anything because it's all just shoved into every nook-and-cranny.  This phenomenon became all too apparent when I went to make our usual Friday night pizzas and found that we were entirely without flour.  The night before that we had Mexican, and I grabbed what I thought was two cans a refried beans, it wasn't until after they were opened that I noticed one of them was not.  But, the kitchen shelves were a mess, with cans of this and that spread out over here and there, so it was an easy mistake to make.  After that, even though we had planting to do outside, and the weather was nice, I insisted that we take a day to organize.

Considering we only had a couple of days to work last week, I am happy with our progress.  I feel like it took a lot of time just to figure out where to plant everything while trying to visualize what the property will be like years from now.  It is overwhelming to attempt the task of seeing where the chicken coop will go, along with a house, and other buildings or areas, when there is nothing but a bunch of trees and brush there now.  I finally had to accept that what I wanted was to get things in the ground in the best areas that I thought they would be, and then the rest would figure itself out later.  I suppose, I was in conflict with the massive part of myself that wants everything to be perfectly planned in life.

I've also spent the last couple of weeks really pushing the kids in their school work.  The middle of the year move did nothing to help us stay on schedule, and as the end of the school year approaches I feel the pressure to see them all hurry up and complete their current grades.  Getting seven kids to stay on task isn't always easy, it in fact can feel very much like a job in and of itself, especially when I factor in three little kids running around. 

We've been on the mountaintop for almost four months now.  Overall, we are happy, not just happier, but honestly happy.  I look around at our mostly still raw four acres and the tin can, and I think back to the big house, pool, shop, and two acres of grass that we left behind, and it doesn't seem quite right that we should be happier, but we are.  There is just something about being out here, even with all the frustrations, of things not going as planned, being harder than expected, taking longer than expected, and being more limited financially than we thought we would, that brings us peace.  I'm sure that it helps that Spring is making her entrance and we can see more progress, and with that progress comes hope for our future, but it's not just that.  I think that there is something special about starting from the ground up and building a new life that is completely different than the one we had before.  The projects that we work so hard on are for us, for now and for tomorrow, and the idea of a better tomorrow makes us all feel that there is purpose in today's hardships.  The idea of that last sentence is the ideal, it is what drives a person to homestead, but it's just that; an ideal.  As I'm learning, it's a long process of three steps forward, two steps back, to get there, and I hope, someday, to stay there.  We have yet to feel any regrets about moving to our mountaintop, but it also seems that we still spend many conversations reminding ourselves of why we came out here, and reminding each other to stay the course.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Cost to Become Trailer Trash

Before we escaped to our mountaintop to homestead, I spent countless hours online looking for information on how to do it, or more importantly; how much might it cost us.  Most of the information that I found were stories that seemed to pick-up right where the person was; established homesteaders.  It was a though they had magically arrived on some land with a house, water, power (grid or solar), gardens, a barn, and animals already in place.  The sites that I found talked about what they planted, or planned to plant, how much yeild they got, and what methods they used.  They milked goats like pros, and they tinkered with projects.  They never told me what I wanted to know most - how did they get there?

And so, this post is decicated to those souls out there dreaming and wondering: can I do it, too?  How much will it cost me?

We bought our four acres in the middle of a foreclosure.  We didn't have one of those hanky-panky loans, and we didn't buy more house than we could afford.  We got blindsided by life, more than once, over the course of several years.  I would have been less surprised if one of use would have got cancer, or been hit by a car, than what actually happened, but as I've learned, life can be like that. 

So, we were broke and we knew we needed a place to live; we found zero down, 100% owner financing property, and we bought it not knowing what we would do with it, but just having the property made us feel like we were taking steps in the right direction.  I found a free barn - you take apart and haul type deal, so My Man and the boys got that for walls and a roof if worse came to worse, but even that cost money.  It was a lot of time off from work, and we had to rent a truck to haul the wood and roof to our property. 

The thing about losing your house to foreclosure is this; you have absolutely no control over the situation, and your mortage company will tell you nothing about what is coming down the pike.  You sit, and you wait, and you wonder.  You wonder when you will get the final notice, how much time you will have to get out of your house once you get that notice, what can you take with you, what can't you take with you.  You wonder if you mortage comany will come after you and sue you, garnish your wages, or put you in debtor's jail.  Even though there is no longer a debtor's jail, you still wonder if you will end up in one.  You are not completly rational, you are scared - this is all normal, I suppose.

I didn't really care so much about losing our house as I did about what came next?  Where did we go?  What did we do?  And how?  I lost sleep.  I felt sick to my stomach.  For awhile I felt reducedReduced to this status in life.  Reduced to a place of shame.  Reduced to a frantic frezy of fear.  And then I realized that in all of our loss what we had gained.  Yes, I said gained.  It was when I thought we lost it all, all that we had ever worked for and wanted, that I saw that what really mattered was us - our marriage, and these little people that we had brought into the world.  Suddenly, they were all that mattered.  I'm not saying it was easy, or that it still is, to keep it all in perspective, but it helps to know deep, deep, down, what we are here for, and it's not the damn house.

After that it was easy to look at losing the house as another task that needed to be completed.  But, it was never easy to sit and wait.  I know a girl who hasn't made a house payment in almost three years, she's still never heard from her mortage company.  I had another friend assure me, because she heard it on the radio, that on average people were in their house's for a full two years before they got the big boot, so we had plenty of time, and I shouldn't worry so much.  We ended up getting a year, to the month.  Not much time when I think about the blindsidding that went on in that year, having a baby who ended up in the NICU, and just surviving it all, but none of that matters now.  I'm just saying that all mortage companies are different, waiting is not easy, and the unknown is scary.  In that fear you reach deep into your mind, and internet, trying to come up with solutions.  It's on the internet, and in the back of your mind - buy cheap property and live off the land! 

So, here's the scoop, but I have to mention, again, that we unexpectedly came into some money.  The money made it easier, and I don't know what our story would be without having recieved it, but I'm pretty sure we would still be up here on the mountaintop, someway or another.

We got our little pinkslip sooner than expected, our mortage company would tell us nothing, and we had just had our tenth baby - we freaked, in the calmest of possible ways.  It had become very apparent that building even a small four wall and roof dwelling to live in was not going to be remotely possible in the amount of time that we had left, so we looked on Craigs List for a mobile.

Mobile home buying 101:  We found ourselves a cheap, but liviabe, 1970's 12'x50' mobile home for $1,500.00.  We found a mover who quoted us $500.00 to move it.  We figured we could drag the mobile onto our property, hook up the power, crap in a bucket, dig a well, and be happy as pigs in mud while we built our house.  We found out it doesn't really work like that.  We had to have tree's cut down for the mobile, to the tune of $500.00.  Once the mobile was on our property the mover informed us that the power company wouldn't hook up the power if the mobile wasn't professionally installed, or strapped down.  It just so happened that our kind mover could do that for us, for another $1,000.00.  Okay, that made some sense, and seemed prudent anyway considering the storms here in Tennessee.  We paid the money.  The same kind mover then informed us that some of the wiring was not to code and wouldn't pass inspection for power.  What choice did we have if we wanted power?  We found an electrician.  I don't remember what he quoted us, but there were some miscommunications and multiple trips that ended in invoices that totalled roughly another $1,500.00.  So, our cheap $1,500.00 mobile had now cost us $5,000.00. 

Everything else is estimated on the conservative side: Power to the mobile, and we were within range of an exsisting power pole - $2,500.00.  Phone and internet - $250.00.   Well - quote was for $3,000.00, we spent $4,000.00 and we still don't have water.  To crap in a bucket - buckets, toilet seat, lumber for "toilet", and a compost bin - $50.00, but we already had some of the supplies that we needed.  And then there was gas money for the countless three and a half hour one way trips from our house to the property to get all of these things taken care of over the course of a few months.  We spent money above and beyond what is listed here.  We had pad's bulldozed for the house and office that are not built, the existing office project that is going on now was orignally going to be a chicken coop.  We also bought a second car that is 4x4 so that we would not be stranded on the mountaintop during winter or if our van broke down.  We bought a trailer to haul building materials and work supplies with.  We painted part of the mobile, fixed floors, and it still needs work that we were not able to finish before we moved into it. 

The list goes on and on, and as you can see; the cost of becoming trailer trash is not cheap. 

How did we do it?  How do you do it?  You dig deep, and then you hang on for the ride. 

I tell people who are considering their third child to make sure that they really, really want another baby.  Having number three isn't like having number two.  With number three you suddenly have more kids than you do free hands, and life resembles a three ring circus......you will either love it, or you will hate it, so make sure you are ready for it.  I'd say the same thing about homesteading - make sure you really, really, want it before you dive into it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This Weeks Progress

It's been a busy week here on the mountaintop.  My Man and the boys made some progress on the office.  I went to the doctor.  I made the appointment weeks ago when my arm was still hurting me from all of the yard work we had done, and even though the pain was gone I kept the appointment to become an established patient and get in quicker the next time I needed a doctor.  I expected a quick in-and-out appointment, but instead I waited for over an hour, and then when the doctor finally showed up she asked health questions spanning all the way to great relatives, and now I'm going back for some tests.  I'm still not sure that they are needed tests, but....I don't now, we'll see how it goes.  She may just be a test happy doctor, it's too soon to tell.

 Last week I wrote about receiving a donation and day dreaming about going to a hotel for showers with some of the money. My Man wasn't sold on the idea, and so we didn't go, but then our generous donater sent more money just for a trip to the hotel for showers.  We were all beyond shocked and so, so happy.  We waited with much anticipation until the next day of rain to go.  Once in town, we ran some errands, including stopping by WalMart for some lunch meat and bread to make sandwiches for dinner in the hotel.  While we were there a tornado warning came over the speakers and we were all instructed to go the middle of the store.  We were all starving, so we may have opened a bag, or two, or three, of potato chips to snack on while we waited.
 And we may have left a couple of chip crumbs where we were standing.
 Once the warning was lifted we checked out and headed for the hotel.  Baby Man is seven months old now, and he got his first real bath.  I was worried that the large tub, and running water would scare him, but they did not, even he thoroughly enjoyed his hot running water.  I underestimated the amount of time that would be needed for all of us to bathe, and this become apparent when the first person who showered hogged up the shower for a full thirty minutes.  We were in our room for about six hours, and the shower ran the entire time we were there.  We lost count of how many times the smoke detector went off because of all the hot steam we made.  I almost feel guilty when I think that we managed to use as much water in six hours as we normally use in weeks, but I said almost, we enjoyed ourselves far too much for me to actually allow any real guilt to enter the picture.  Mr. Donater, thank you, again, from all of us.  It was a wonderful six hours that left us all feeling like we had been on a vacation:)


 Columbus made his first ever online sale this week.  He listed, emailed, and made all the phone calls needed to make the deal and meet the buyer for a gun he wanted to sell.  I was so proud of him, and again, amazed at how grown up he is becoming.  We meet near Knoxville, so his sale took most of an entire day, but Columbus also had a Christmas gift that he needed to exchange in the same town we meet in, and our favorite grocery store just opened there, so it was a productive trip.

On Friday we made our weekly trip to town for water and to do laundry.  It was a stormy day with severe weather in the forecast, but we were down to about three gallons of drinking water, so a few of the older kids and I raced down the mountaintop to get our errands done and get back home before the really bad storms came. 

On our way home we had to stop and clear the road of these tree parts.
 And then I had to call My Man to come with his chainsaw to clear this tree out of our way.  Thankfully, we only live about one mile from where this tree fell down.
 Later Friday night the storms got bad, so bad that we almost left the trailer to go find a safer place to stay, but as we were deciding what exactly to do it became apparent that the storm was going to just miss us.  Our last house was built in 1914 and the fact that it was still standing always brought me a lot of comfort during storms, but being in this little mobile home scares me to death.
I have a lot of really sweet comments from last week that I still have not responded to, and for that I am sorry.  I love your comments, and I love writing back to all of you.  Last week I was gone so much of the time, My Man uses the same computer for work as I do to blog from, and I just couldn't get it all done.  Even now I feel rushed and spread thin, but I really wanted to get my This Weeks Progress post up on time this week.  Please, don't mistake my lack of communication as rudeness, or lack of care, because I do care, very much:)