Barn Kitties, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

A Rundown of December and January

So, my last post happened before the holidays and my house has been a whirlwind of absolute chaos since then. I am currently purging the house and organizing everything, but before I get into that, I will get you all caught up on the whirlwind that was December and the beginning of January.

We had a lovely holiday with just the three of us, the kids were all supposed to come home this year, but life happens and they were all unable to come home. I would have enjoyed having everyone here together and actually being able to get a recent family picture, but I completely understand that life is harder when you are a young adult and usually living paycheck to paycheck. The kids will all be visiting this year, but it will be at different times. I did get to see my daughter in law and grandson this month so, that was amazing and stressful at the same time.

I guess I will start with the pictures I took in December and January as a little bit of brightness to this post. Fizzgig and Gizmo thoroughly enjoyed the tree.

They didn’t climb it this year, but they loved hiding out under it and sleeping on the tree skirt. Fizzgig loved the lights when I turned them to twinkle instead of constantly staying lit. He would lie under the tree and just watch them twinkling. He was definitely being quite photogenic.

We also saw snow at the beginning of January and some ice as well.

It began snowing and I honestly didn’t expect much because it didn’t look like it was going to be much more than what is on the ground in this picture. Boy was I wrong. We saw almost a foot of snow by morning.

It was absolutely beautiful and the perfect snow for snowmen and snowballs, but it was brutal cold and while we invited the neighbor’s little ones, and the other children who were visiting her, to go sledding, we didn’t play in it aside from helping the little ones go faster down the hills on the back of the property. (Our neighbor’s property is completely flat aside from the edge of her fenced backyard which sloped towards the fence dividing our property.)

The barn kitties stayed inside of the dairy building aside from a few short trips around the front of the property. I am guessing they went to see if any small critters were out and about for a quick warm meal. I warmed their wet foot and placed their wet food and water dishes on waterproof heating mats. They also have special beds in the dairy building rafters that hold warmth when they lie on them so, they are kind of like a heating pat that warms them using their body heat. They were all being used, but I couldn’t get pictures because of how the beds are set up in the rafters. I have pieces of plywood across the beams to create an attic of sorts so they can be up high and not be in danger if a predator manages to get into the building somehow. Additionally, they are out of my reach unless I climb on stuff so, they feel safer if I come into the building and don’t have to bolt out of there. The pawprint pictures are all around the dairy building. The last one is at their entrance and there were at least seven cats inside the building when I went to feed them. I am glad they were safe, warm, and had free access to plenty of food (both kibble and wet food), water, and warm beds. They do such a good job keeping the mice and snake populations in check. I just wish they would let me pet them.

These pictures are before the second round of snowfall. We had approximately six inches of snow at this point and about a 1/4 of an inch of ice formed that night on top of the snow. The pawprint photos are the only ones I got of all of the snow. We shoveled the snow away from the door and entrances to the dairy building for the barn kitties so, there wasn’t as much snow around the door thankfully. We didn’t want them trapped from snow.

I know this is a terrible photo. It was taken from inside the house the day after the snowstorm. The barn kitties walked through the raised bed outside the window. It was in the 40’s F the following day and the snow was gone by the third day after the snowstorm. I am hopeful that we get one more good snow before spring. I will get better pictures of it snows again. I wasn’t feeling well and the last thing I wanted was to be cold and wet as well as feeling icky.

Fizzgig really liked the table linens and took quite a few naps on the runner. He had just woken up from one when I snapped this picture.

At the end of December or very beginning of January, we got some new neighbors. I am not sure when they arrived, but they sure are adorable.

I had taken Miss Mia to check the fence line and once I was done doing my checks, I took her back to the house and spent a bit of time greeting these sweet babies. They were fascinated with Miss Mia and kept sniffing me because I smelled like her. I can’t wait to get a few calves of my own, but we still have a ways to go before that happens. The previous owners had 100 head of cattle on 10 acres. This is insane because the suggested number is one cow per acre. We are leaving the property alone. We mow the yard, but have only really mowed the property once or twice a year because we wanted it to grow back. It was pretty bare when we bought the property and it finally has a good layer of grass. We boarded horses so they could give the soil a bit of fertilizer without destroying everything like cattle tend to do when they are grass-fed. It’s getting there, maybe in a year or two I can finally get some calves.

Gizmo has been regularly stealing Miss Mia’s bed from her. Miss Mia is not a young puppy. she has arthritis and she’s getting old. Gizmo has no shame. Miss Mia will NOT throw Gizmo out of her bed because she thinks the cats are her puppies. Fizzgig and Gizmo were bottle babies (bottle fed and very tiny at 2 weeks and 4 weeks old) and Miss Mia loved them, groomed them, and let them cuddle with her anytime they wanted. She would rather sleep on the floor than kick her “puppy” out of her bed. We have placed another bed right next to her bed so, she now has another bed to sleep in if Gizmo steals her bed.

Now for the pictures of my grandson’s visit.

He is 15 months old and he’s huge for his age. His momma had no idea what to feed him for snack time since I was in the shower he got a little bit of everything. He enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lunch was cooked for him. (He had a spoon when I gave him his food. It was immediately flung across the kitchen and he chose to eat with his hands.) Lunch was ham cubes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and noodles in a cheesy bechamel sauce. He ate three servings and I had to teach his mother how to make it because he tends to play with his food more than he eats it and he destroyed this meal. He did wear some of it, especially in his hair. πŸ˜‚

He fell in love with my Boston Red Sox blanket and slept with it for every nap.

Nonno stopped on the way home from the airport to buy his grandson some Batman clothes because he was wearing Captain America clothes and that was unacceptable. We chose to be called Nonna and Nonno because hubby and I are both from Italian backgrounds and these are the Italian versions of Grandma and Grandpa. I am 39, I am not old enough to be called Grandma. The wonderful thing about choosing to be called by these names is that he can say them.

He was so much easier to take pictures of when he was eating. He had French toast and sausage for breakfast and wanted cheese too. (I made omelets and French toast for everyone else)

He was laughing so hard the picture was blurry. He was laughing because his momma had hiccups.

He fell asleep holding onto her after giving her a serious leg workout.

My legs hurt just watching. He weighed 25.6 pounds (He loved the scale and stepped on it multiple times a day.)

He loves taking pictures.

He used me as a bed quite often. He sleeps like his dad.

Deconstructed taco salads were a hit too. We tried a plastic spoon because he didn’t like the toddler spoons or the baby spoons I had. He still ate mainly with his hands, but he tried really hard to eat with his spoon. I told him if he ate all of his food, I would give him an amazing dessert.

Needless to say, chocolate cake was a hit. (It was a TastyKake chocolate bell) I also gave him a bath. I wasn’t mean and I cleaned him up instead of just handing him back to momma and making her clean him up.

I also made him tiny pizza with tiny pepperoni when we had pizza and calzones for dinner. He had never had his own pizza before. He did exactly what his dad does, he picked off the pepperoni and ate those first then, he ate each slice.

It was definitely messy. (He had refused to drink from any sippy cups so, I bought some and got him drinking out of them. He still has his bottle, but this is a good start towards toddlerhood.)

I discovered that he loves snapchat so, these next few pictures are all snapchat filters. Some are a bit ridiculous, but those of you who haven’t managed to add me on other platforms will actually see my face.

We enjoyed being silly.

I am glad he came to visit. I said stressful earlier when describing his visit. He and his momma were both sick with the flu for their entire visit. Also, my house is NOT childproof. We bought a baby gate on the way home from the airport because we have stairs and stairs are dangerous for little ones. He also doesn’t sleep through the night so, I woke every time he woke, and he woke every 2 hours. Makes me glad my youngest is 18.

Fizzgig does NOT like tiny humans. He had a bad experience with our friend’s 5 yr old so he hisses, growls, and runs away from tiny humans. He does enjoy their comfy accessories though. He really liked camping out in the stroller.

So, that was a fairly quick rundown of December and January. I am purging and organizing the house because I realized just how much clutter we have after having a toddler locating chokable items and having to take them away and put them out of reach. While I will not be childproofing unless a grandchild is living with us, I do need to reduce clutter and get the house more organized. I realized I have a bunch of junk that needs to go. Maybe I will take some before and after pictures while I am purging the house. I am really glad we have a dumpster and not just a trashcan. I can throw out so much stuff without having to wait a week for the rest.

Until next time….

Holidays, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Holiday Decorations Have Begun

Fizzgig was so excited to see a gift bag that he could play with.

Gizmo immediately claimed the tree skirt as her own.

She got quite comfy.

That is, until Fizzgig decided she needed to share it with him.

This is my elf. He goes on the front door. I haven’t finished decorating, but he has been hung. I don’t hang outdoor lights because we have a two story home and I don’t like heights and neither hubby, nor myself want the electric bill that comes with hanging oodles of lights. We may get some led lights that don’t use a lot of electricity in the future, but as of right now, we decorate indoors and a few things hang in windows or on the front door, but behind the storm door. No decorations on the porch because I have not figured out how to keep them from blowing away or falling over from the wind. Eventually I will figure something out.

This was before hubby came home from work and added the tree topper and before I had finished. This is important because the final version looks different.

A bit better view from the side with more lighting. (Again, not even remotely finished)

My dining room table is covered in decorations and GLITTER!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

My daughter made this in elementary school. It is made using a coat hanger and plastic sandwich bags (no zippers, just the fold ones.) Then you just add ornaments. Over the years, ornaments have fallen off or broken because they were super inexpensive plastic ones so, I added some ornaments, a stocking, and some silver glitter ribbon because glitter makes everything better.

Hubby put the tree topper on and I set up my penguin. Fizzgig ran under the tree as I was taking this and knocked over one of my stuffed penguins that I had set at the bottom of the tree. (Have you figured out my chosen theme yet? Penguins 🐧🐧🐧)

There are quite a few on the tree. I took some close up pictures of them.

I mailed this one to Iraq during one of the many deployments. He shockingly still has his tag and is in perfect condition after being mailed to Iraq every time Hubby was there in December. He made the trip 7 times.

This is our first penguin ornament. We buy at least one penguin each year. Sometimes we buy a few.

One of the kids even made a penguin foam ornament in school. There are two in this picture because they were right next to each other.

This is our disco penguin. He has a switch on the bottom and he flashes colored lights when turned on.

This one came with a pair of fuzzy penguin pajamas my fabulous mother in law sent me one year. There is a year on the back, but I didn’t think to take a picture of it.

Another penguin and a sprint car ornament. (Hubby races sprint cars on dirt so, the sprint car ornament was rather necessary. I bought it on Etsy and it is a Matchbox car.)

I told you we have a lot of penguins. And these are just the ornaments so far.

Sometimes it is EXTREMELY difficult to locate a penguin ornament. So, sometimes they are rather small ones. Other times they are large.

This one makes noise every time the cats go under the tree. (It has a jingle bell on it) I have quite a few bells too.

Not a penguin, but how many people do you know who have a batman ornament? πŸ˜‚ Batman belongs to Hubby.

This one came in a boxed set with penguin ornaments and silver glitter ornaments. They are hand painted and glass so they are up high and I have them on special hooks because Fizzgig liked to climb the tree last year. (I will find the pictures of him in the tree.)

One of the stuffed Penguins I was talking about earlier.

This is the one that was knocked over when Fizzgig ran under the tree.

One of the kids won this one in a claw game machine and gave it to me.

And this is the final tree for this evening. (I still have ornaments to add, another tree to decorate, stockings to hang, etc. etc. )

Miss Mia in her antlers last year. She ran and hid upstairs when I pulled them out this year. πŸ˜‚

Found it. Fizzgig playing in the tree. Oh this reminded me to get candy canes. There were some amazing ones last year, hot chocolate, salted caramel, and Espresso were the assortment that I ate every single candy cane from. My son loves the ones that taste like skittles, sour patch kids, or starburst. I had different curtains and almost forgot about them. Hubby went somewhere and came home after dark and realized he could see right into the house and was not thrilled about that so the lace curtains came down and the plaid ones went up. (The plaid ones block the cold from the windows so, it’s quite toasty in the dining room now.)

A friend of mine made these for me last year. Aren’t they adorable?!

I also hung some of the cards up. In the entryway to the dining room. It isn’t a doorway because there are no doors. So, I guess it’s an entryway. My son was laughing because I used cinnamon dental floss to hang them. He said, ” Mom, why didn’t you use plain floss? Is it because it is red and you think red is more festive than white?” Nope, it’s because I couldn’t find my kitchen twine and that was the flavor I had in my purse. πŸ˜‚ It worked. I will get a close up of my tree topper tomorrow and take more pictures as I continue to decorate.

This is what my weekend looks like. Just a half a foot of snow expected. Nothing major. If we get that much, you will also get oodles of snow pictures. I love going out and looking for animal tracks. I especially enjoy the barn kitty tracks because the tracks tell me where they go when they aren’t close to the house.

Until next time….

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 4

For this segment of emergency preparedness, I will be focusing on the personal 72 hour kits, which we keep in backpacks. We each have a backpack with everything we need to be okay for 72 hours. If a tornado destroys our home, a wildlife destroys the property, or a snowstorm/ice storm knocks out the power, we are good to go for 72 hours.

I realize that 72 hours doesn’t seem like a very long time, but we have a storm kit, plenty of food in the pantry, which can be cooked on the grill, camp stove, or using the double burner hotplate, plugged into the generator. This kit is specifically for that first 72 hours before you are able to get yourself and your family situated a bit more permanently.

We have used our kits on multiple occasions for ice and snow storms. Three winters ago, we were without power for two weeks. This is a long time to be without central heating, a working stove, microwave, and oven. That first ice storm, we were not really prepared for so, having those 72 hour kits helped immensely. The kids had hot meals until we figured out how to set up the generator to keep a single room in our home warm and livable. This room just happened to be the master bedroom. We took the kids queen size mattresses and put them on our floor. We had an electric space heater, the dish receiver, and our television hooked up to the generator. Everyone was warm, comfortable, and not bored to tears. We have since purchased a kerosene heater, which has the ability to heat the entire downstairs of our house, which frees up a spot on the generator for the internet.

We have also been looking into whole house generators, which hook into the breaker boxes somehow, I am not completely certain how this works and an electrician will be the one doing that aspect. We have experienced two weeks without power so, we have been able to plan for this situation far better than before and we have experienced it twice since that first storm.

So, without boring you further these are the items in my personal 72 hour kit. (These items are not an end all list. They are a good starting point for creating your own 72 hour kit.)

I have 4 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, also known as military rations.) I purchased these in cases at the commissary on the base near us, but these can be purchased here or at military surplus stores. You can also make your own and purchase the heaters separately. You can also substitute backpacking meals, which can be found at Walmart (Mountain House is a major brand of these type of meals)

I have an entire box of granola bars and another box of single serving trail mix pouches. I tend to snack when stressed.

Chocolate (I have a bag of fun size mix chocolates)

A change of clothing (jeans, thin long sleeved shirt, 3 tank tops, hoodie, 3 pairs undies, 3 pairs socks, tennis shoes, beanie hat, gloves.)

I have some bottles of water, but I also have a filter bottle and a life straw. I wouldn’t be able to physically carry 72 hours worth of water. We have a ton of bottled water in the house, a few gallons I each vehicle, and we fill empty plastic kitty litter buckets with water for flushing toilets (we have a well, which needs electrical to run)

I have a small hygiene kit, which includes bath wipes (these are intended for invalids and are much larger than a baby wipe) baby wipes, a small kit for my contacts, 3 days worth of all of my medications (I asked my doctor for this and I swap out the medication each month) a folding brush, a toothbrush, flosspicks, toothpaste, chapstick, dry shampoo, a travel size roll of toilet paper, and a travel size deodorant. (I also have a small feminine hygiene pouch with supplies)

I have 4 garbage bags and one heavy duty contractor bag. The garbage bags can be used to keep the contents of my backpack dry and to keep soiled items away from clean items. The contractor bag can be used as a makeshift shelter, a poncho, etc. I also have ziplocks for holding water, holding garbage, holding small items, etc.

I have a small first aid kit, we have larger ones in the house, in every vehicle, and in the storm kit.

A cell phone charger, earbuds, and a power brick

Flashlight and headlamp

Hand warmers (these are single use items, which warm up when opened and exposed to air.)

I have a thumb drive with important documents and another with photos.

Cash. I keep $100.00 in small bills because power outages and emergencies affect businesses as well as homes.

A Gerber multi-tool (I have several of these and it is my favorite tool because it has almost everything I usually need all in a single tool.)

My knife, which clips to my belt and I usually have it on my belt because I use it constantly for opening boxes, cutting things outside, etc. This does not stay in my bag.

A spare set of everyone’s keys. House keys, car keys, safe keys, tool box keys, trailer hitch keys, trailer keys, etc.

550 cord (parachute cord) I have this woven around the straps and handle so, it doesn’t take up any room.

Duct tape. I have approximately 10 feet wrapped around the 3 Bic lighters, which are in different pockets.

Waterproof matches and a magnesium fire starter. (I have multiple ways to start fires simply because heat is essential and being able to boil water or heat food is really nice.)

Sterno. Sterno is heat in a can/ cube. I have both forms. (I do not recommend using the cubes indoors. They smell awful.) These are great for Heating water for tea or heating soup because they are easy to light and heat quickly.

An aluminum cup (I can boil water or cook in this.) A set of camp utensils (it’s a fork and spoon, which fold up and fit inside a small zippered pouch. I found these here. (I bought these for backcountry camping trips years ago and found a small zippered pouch for them to fit in perfectly. These are NOT necessary, but some form of eating utensils are needed if you don’t use MREs with the accessory kits.)

Sunblock and Bugables Mosquito Bands

Finally, I have my backpacking tent, and sleeping bag tied to my backpack. These are very lightweight items and rather costly if you are on a budget. If you have a tent great, if it’s huge, keep it near an exit so you can grab it and go. Keeping blankets in your trunk omits the need for sleeping bags (unless its below zero, then have them close to an exit or easily accessible.) Hubby keeps pillows and blankets in his truck so he can nap during his lunch hour. My youngest enjoys fishing and camping so these things usually go with him, when he leaves the house for a fishing trip so they are easily accessible for him if needed. I am the only one in the house who has a tent and sleeping bag because mine are lightweight enough for me to be able to easily carry them. Each of these items weighs less than 2 lbs.

I have another bag, which is for the whole family, which I grab along with my backpack if anything happens. This bag contains comfort items, more food, medications for every situation (basically a sampling of the household medicine cabinet.) A larger first aid kit, and extras of some of the items listed above.

This is my personal 72 hour kit. I have a few other items, which I am not listing because they are personal items. I have comfort items, which I strongly recommend for anyone. For little ones, pack a diaper bag with 3 days worth of supplies and keep an extra can of formula on hand if possible (even if you breastfeed, having formula may be a good idea in case you get separated for any reason. In natural disaster situations, it is possible that you may be separated.)

I also recommend writing your cell number, name and address on your child’s arm and then, paint over it with liquid bandage to make it waterproof. You can also have custom made temporary tattoos made or wristbands (the kind made from a waterproof material, which stick to themselves.) This company makes both wristbands and temporary tattoos. These are also great for trips to theme parks, the zoo, or anywhere your little one may wander off. It can get them back to you safely much faster.

Pack what works for you and your family. The main things are food, water, first aid, heat, and shelter. Until next time…