Friday, October 18, 2013

the newest beams...

Shortly after we moved, we started thinking about having chickens.  We've always talked about putting a garden in, but didn't feel like we had quite the right space before.  The thought of fresh eggs was wonderful too, but we never even considered it at our old house.  Somehow, moving here has brought forth many more considerations of the sort.

I like to say that we've dipped our toes into the country.  We're only five or six miles from our old house, but we're now in a rural county instead of a suburban county so having chickens is more doable.  And simply having more space (almost an acre versus 1/4 of an acre) creates lots of possibilities.

So when the kids and I left for Michigan, JD and our dear friend, Bootsie, began to repurpose our play set into a chicken coop.      

We loved that playset and the kids had many years of good play on it.  But when we took it apart and moved it to our new house, the sight of it just made reassembling it feel a tad hopeless.  Granted, I'm sure we could've gotten it together again, but it was going to be a tough task.  It was a heap of wood and we didn't have the original instructions.  My wheels started spinning about rebuilding the fort section into a chicken coop and simply enclosing it.  JD wasn't so sure at first, but the kids were totally thrilled at the idea of having chickens.  They quickly chose chickens over their playset which kind of makes sense because they spend so much more time here riding their bikes and playing sports with the neighbor kids.

JD and Bootsie spent several days building (a weekend, plus a couple of evenings after JD got home from work), but then JD left to join us in Minnesota for our summer vacation.  Bootsie kept on truckin' (this man loves a project!).  And we came home to a finished coup!  

Aren't they cute?!  Including the coop!  

Time to paint!  Good thing I have lots of little helpers!

We decided to try to match it to our house a little.

This is my kind of painting with the kids -- outdoors!  Drips and drops!?  Who cares!  

Jackson concentrated on the nesting box.

Brooks lends a hand.

Little bodies sure do fit well in small places.  Thanks goodness.


After JD and I wired it on Labor Day, we headed to a farm to purchase chickens.

Gathering all our chicken supplies: feed, scratch, bedding, water cans, feeders.

Avery's got the bag of scratch (this is a treat the chickens love and get one small cup of each day)!

'Mom, put the camera down!  We're ready to pick out our chickens!'

Jackson picked out a Barred Rock and named her Layla.

Brooks picked out a Black Star and named her Goldie.

Payton picked a cross of Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Red and named her Henrietta.

I went with a Maranaucana and named her Mabel.  She'll lay olive-colored eggs!  

Avery chose an Ameraucana and named her Flossie.  She'll lay blue eggs!  

Jimmy Jam guarded the chickens still in the boxes from transport.  I don't have a photo of him with his chicken (JD took him to the car at the farm because he was being eaten up by mosquitoes!).  His chicken is a Black Star like Brooks' and he named her Jessie.

Laying the bedding in the coup.

Cozy little nesting boxes waiting for eggs -- although we chose to get young chickens so they won't start laying until closer to Thanksgiving.  When we find our first egg, our entire neighborhood will hear our squeals of delight!

Brooks brought over some compost to put in the coup for the hens.  They love to scratch in it and find bugs and worms.

My goodness they're so little!  I need to post a more current photo -- they're getting big and fat!  Not that we'll be eating them.  :)

Their first time down the ramp (they practically slid down).  But now they have the hang of it.

They're so fun to have!  Sometimes we just sit outside down by their coup and watch them while they peck at the ground and sometimes our shoes.  Chicken behavior is fascinating!  We were letting them roam our yard and they were doing a good job of staying down near the coop.  Well, apparently they've gotten a little too comfortable with their new surroundings because now they're wandering all the way up our side yard into our neighbors' bushes and almost into our front yards!  Good gracious!  We can't have that.  We've gotten one estimate from a fence company and I'm waiting for a call back from another.  We gotta fence these girls in or they'll roam the neighborhood!  And we're not sure our neighbors would appreciate that.  We may be out of the 'burbs, but we do live in a neighborhood and need to be sensitive to what our neighbors are willing to put up with.  

Not to mention that we could have a disaster when a neighborhood dog goes strolling by -- which is all the time.  

Interestingly, our Lucy doesn't mess with them.  We find her in their coop sometimes!  Doing what?  Eating chicken poop, of course.  She's more interested in eating their poop than she is in eating them!

Go figure.

Now, if only she could act like a sheep dog and help us round them up when we need to put them back in their coop.  

Now that is fun (read: not fun at all).  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

i promise...

...this is my last post from the summer in October!

I really do have many other things I want to post about, but every time I go into my photos to choose them I keep stumbling upon some that I missed that I so want on this little Beam Team blog, so here goes...

We had the immense pleasure of visiting old friends on our way home from our Michigan/Minnesota trip.  They're friends we met in Richmond who moved to Ohio over seven years ago and they're 'those kinds of friends.'  You know the kind -- the ones who you can not talk to for months and not see for years, but when you get together it's like no time has passed.  That's a gift!  

They're just super fun.  And our kids kinda match up age-wise.  And it's a really cool story of how we met.

One evening, probably pushing ten years ago, I went to participate in a focus group.  If you don't know what that is, look it up.  They're pretty cool.  This particular focus group was on...wait for it...disposable underwear.  Oh yes it was.  The ten or twelve women in the room had to discuss their 'undergarment habits' and if they could see the need for disposable underwear (think throwing a pair of panties away after a workout).  Yes, this is really what this evening was about.  

One woman in the group and I seemed to align on many things.  We couldn't get into the panties with pictures on the front, neon colors, etc.  We were poppin' out kids and weren't really feeling very, a-hem, adventurous so a lot of the scenarios presented made little sense to us.  We shared glances across the room and shared a chuckle or two a few times and then it was over and we walked out with our 75 bucks and waved good-bye with mutual nice-to-meet-you's! 

Then I walked into church a few days later and there she was!  I said, 'Hey, weren't you at that focus group this week?'  

And, as they say, the rest is history.  For years, we got together at least once a week with our toddlers and babies for play dates, we threw baby showers for each other, our husbands hit it off, we did family gatherings, dinners together, cook outs, and...we share a special commonality...we both had two toddlers and then twins.  That's one unusual club, so this sweet friend of mine and I became kindred spirits.  

Then the news came that her husband had a great opportunity in Ohio, their home state.  They had to take it.  I was pregnant with our boys and, man, I was sad to see her go, but very happy for them to be headed home.

We've seen each other a couple of times over the last seven years and it's always wonderful!

It was a great couple days together this August.  And, although, it'd been four years since we last saw each other, our kids hit it off!  

And it didn't hurt that they'd just installed a pool.  :)

Their oldest (sitting next to James) was so sweet with him.  They all were, but there always seems to be a child in the group that takes a special liking to him.  So sweet. 

Super fun.

This little cutie had us seriously considering adding a member of the canine variety to the Beam Team. 

Otis stole our hearts with his sweet smile and spunky personality.

An ice cream outing with nine kids is fun.  

All the kids.

Two sets of twins.

The girls.

The boys.

After baths.

And of course we had to introduce them to Dutch Blitz before we said good-bye.  

Wonderful friends are a true blessing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

mackinac island

I realized I left out documenting our trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan!  This was a highlight of our summer vacation because JD and I talked about going there since we were in college.  And then the kids and I had the opportunity to go a couple of years ago, but no JD.  :(  So this time, we decided we had to make it happen.  

Getting ready to hop on the ferry to head over the island.

Sunny smiles.

The Mackinac Bridge.  We had just driven across it before we got on the ferry.  That puppy's five miles long.  It's a tad creepy, I will admit.  My grandmother told me that the week before we came, a tractor trailer had blown over on it's side on the bridge due to high winds.  Sometimes they have to close the bridge due to high winds.  Talk about sweaty palms on the steering wheel.

In the winter, it gets so cold up there that the lake freezes.  Yes, I know.  Unbelievable for us Southerners.  It freezes so well that folks go across the lake on snow mobiles!  5 miles!  Can you believe it!?  My uncle's done it.  No, thank you!  

In fact, residents of Mackinac Island (because you can only access the island by boat) go over to the mainland by snow mobile or plane in the winter.  There have been incidences of folks getting lost on the frozen lake because it's so vast and, if it's snowing, visibility is low.  You can figure out the outcome of many of those poor lost souls.  Now, they drill holes in the ice and line a path of Christmas trees so people don't lose their way.  

When we see something Jack Daniel's (all the way from Tennessee) we gotta get a picture of it in honor of Pappy.  (I'm referring to the barrel, of course).

This is one of the most beautiful sites on the horse-drawn carriage tour.  Truly breathtaking.

The clouds were starting to roll in, but it was still a beautiful view.

The rocking of the carriage coupled with the warmth of his daddy's lap, put this little man out.

In this picture, it looks like the carriage's going 100 mph.  Ha!  It wasn't.  :)

Coming down the hill back to 'downtown.'  Not allowing motor vehicles on the Island sure does make it peaceful.  Just horses and bikes.  That's all you see.

Then the rain came and it got cold.  We bought the kids sweatshirts and headed into a restaurant for dinner.  We ordered soup, hot chocolate and coffee!  And apparently everyone's ready for a nap.  :)

So glad we made the extra effort to go to the Island.  We love it!  

And I'm glad I finally have it documented here.  Now, back to fall!

Monday, October 14, 2013

seven years

On Thursday, we celebrated seven years.

Seven years with our Brooks and Jackson.

Sometimes I just can't believe it.

It feels like yesterday, they were like this:

And now, they're this:

Their 7 year check-up

I decided to invite the neighborhood kids over on the afternoon of their birthday for cupcakes and a silly string battle.  I bought 20 cans of silly string and made these cupcakes.  This birthday's 'theme' was all about the University of Tennessee Vols.  Their birthday gift is to go to their first game on November 9th.  JD and I are taking them.  We are probably more excited than they are!

Easy breezy.  These days, it's all about simple.  No more fussing over decorating a cake myself for hours.  The things I did to myself as a new mom.  I loved every minute of it, but there's no time to fuss like that now.

Here they are ready to open their gifts: one from Payton and Avery and two from us, but we got them more practical tennis shoes for Brooks and new rambler boots for Jackson.

Payton and Avery used their own hard-earned money (each chipping in $20) to buy them a Lego set.  Brooks and Jackson were so excited they had to study the box.  Our kids love Legos.  And we love it.  It's good, wholesome fun.  

A little while later, the kids and moms arrived. 

Brooks was rather embarrassed as we sang.

We've had rain for a week straight, but we got just enough of a break to do the silly string...

Then they put together an impromptu game of tug-o-war.  So funny!  The boy on the left is ten...somehow it ended up little kids against big kid.  He learned fast to just let go of the rope and they all fell to the ground.

Here's a quick video of it:

We're counting the days until we head to Knoxville...just us and our 'big' boys.  A first.  

When they were really little, we just couldn't manage taking our them along while we did various things so we often made arrangements for them and just took our girls.  Frankly, it was just too much to throw two little boys in the mix when we were doing things such as taking the girls to a play or taking Payton or Avery and her friends out to the Japanese steak house for her birthday.  But now?  They're just not little anymore.  In some ways, it makes me sad, but in other ways it's pretty darn awesome.  Albeit, they're often hitting, tickling or wrestling each other -- they cannot seem to keep their hands to themselves these days -- but they're still fun.  

In fact, we made the decision to homeschool them this year with Payton and Avery.  Homeschooling them felt more right than sending them to school did (if that makes sense).  And it's gone well so far.  I had definitely 'hit my stride' with the girls so there's a bit of a transition happening -- mostly in regard to keeping them in their seats and on task...

'No you can't have a snack...'

'No, you can't take a break, you've only been working for 10 minutes...!'

'Will you please sit back down in your seat and finish that sentence you've been working on for 10 minutes!?'

That's definitely new, but it's so nice when they sound out a word, after several attempts, and I cheer for them and I get to see the expression of success wave across their face or we head off on a field trip and I get to experience their wonder and excitement.  Those are the moments that make the other moments worth it.  Not to mention that having everyone at home is really nice.  

Brooks and Jackson also started playing sports this fall.  We held out for a couple of years, but it was time.

This is after his first practice.  He was one sweaty dude.  But he loves it!  Yay!  I got one soccer lover out of the bunch!  :)

Brooks' first baseball game.  It's machine pitch -- and he never played t-ball.  We were nervous, but he's doing well!  And really likes it, so that's what's important.

The coach is asking him where the plays at and Brooks is pointing to home base.  

Then he makes his very first run home.  

Life's definitely full.  We had fullness and busyness before, but it was a different kind of busy -- it was feeding mouths, changing diapers and giving baths.  Now, we're all over town, all the time -- just like everyone else.

But I know this is a season and before I know it, they'll have hairy legs and toes and deep voices and they won't need me to drive them a darn place.  

And I'll be sad.  

So, I'll try to embrace this and enjoy it as much as I possibly can.


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