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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Wisconsin Dells!

A lot of what we did in the Dells was not very camera friendly.  There are a slew of water parks and rides and such to experience, and it was safer to leave the camera in the van rather than risk it being dropped, broken, soaked, or lost/pilfered.  All that being said, we(Bear and I) did manage to capture a bit of nature's beauty.
( I want to warn you; there are a lot of pictures to look at, and I played with many of them in my Lightroom program.  That's why you will see a variety of lighting, shades, and colors.  Enjoy!)

First stop: Deer Park.  Yes, we have tons of them in Indiana, but these cutie-pies were so tame.  The girls loved this place.











We took a horseback ride just above this "Lost Canyon" Dell, then went down to take the horse and wagon tour. It is so much cooler in these places!



Can you see the eagle in the rock formation below?







These next few pics were taken as we rode in a DUCK, one of those land/water transport deals.  Just for the record, we went with the Original Duck rides as opposed to the Army Duck rides.





Now it's Bear's turn with the camera to capture some of the flora and fauna around our cabin.....



And at the Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac, WI








LOVED the close-up bee pic.  All I did was zoom in on it!  This one might make next year's photo board for her 4-H photography project.

Hope your Wednesday is a great one!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Answer Is: Gluten!


Oh let's see.....Where should I begin?

For the last year, Little Bear has had an ongoing battle with waking up.  More often than not, she would go to bed fine but wake up feeling terrible pains in her tummy.

I have to tell you, as a high school English teacher, I've heard about every excuse in the book as to why a student might be feeling ill, but I really disliked the dreaded "tummy" issues.  You can document a fever, there are usually very obvious signs of the flue, but tummy aches are a mystery to me, and one that I tend to be most sceptical about.

To get to the root of Bear's problems, we took her off of acidic foods, milk, bread, greasy foods, and any other food one might believe causes an allergic reaction (Not all at one time mind you).  There have also been several x rays to look for blockages, and one scope down her throat into her tummy to look for adhesions, ulcers, and anything else amiss.  We have visited her pediatrician, doctors at Riley, and doctors at Peyton Manning.  We have heard everything from "nervous stomach," to dyspepsia, regurg, and a few other ideas.  We even had her talk with a counselor to see if stress was the culprit.  NOTHING!

In the midst of all these tests, I asked for her to be checked for Celiac Disease, and that test came back negative.

Meanwhile mornings at our house were getting very stressful, as you might imagine.  Several of the doctors told us that if she didn't have a fever and she did not exhibit one or more of the basic flu signs, we should make her go to school.  I get this, and I have done this, but we were to the point that she would get extremely upset which, of course, did nothing to make her feel better.  Last year she missed over 25 days of school!  ACK!

The last doctor we saw practices at Peyton Manning, and she thought she had it nailed ; Bear was dyspeptic, and she gave us a medicine to try.  It didn't work, and school was approaching fast.  Right during our county fair, the office called to check on Bear, and I told them the medicine was not helping at all.  After consulting with the doctor, we got a call back asking us to take gluten away from Bear's diet.  Ok, We were in the middle of our fair, and we did the best we could.  She was eating meat without the bun, but then I would see her running around with her friends eating an ice cream cone!  ARG!

After the fair finished, we finally started to take all gluten from her diet, and IT WORKED!  We have had a few set backs, Who knew Quick had gluten in it?, but we are avid label readers now, "May have wheat" means don't eat!, and have started to restock our shelves with GF baking mixes, flours, pastas, and snacks.



I have started to share her situation with the outside world, and I cannot begin to tell you how touched I was when a mother of one of her classmates texted me to see what Bear could eat because she was bringing in a birthday treat the first Friday of school.  Bear said when she found out that her friend's mom had gone to the trouble of making gluten-free cupcakes, she gave her a big hug because she was so happy that she could eat with the rest of her class.  sniff sniff....

As you can imagine, I am now on a huge search for GF recipes and replacement foods.  I also have three Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks sitting here waiting for me to cook and share ..Hmmm.... I think I am going to try and start substituting rice and other flours for all purpose wheat flour to see how they hold up in taste and quality.  I also know that Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix, Gluten-Free, 16-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 3)  makes a GF version, and the pancakes are a huge hit here.


Also on the shelf is a package compliments of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, 16 Oz .  You can make a pizza crust out of this AND/OR cinnamon rolls!  Thanks Bob!


Dear readers, I know some of you out there are also gluten-free eaters.  I've passed a lot of recipes along to my friends who are gluten intolerant, but if you have any recipes or sites that are your "go to" for ideas, I would love to check them out.  I think this whole family will gradually go GF or as close as we can, just to make life a bit easier for Bear.

Thanks a bunch!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I Can and Cannot Live Without......

What a great week we had last week!  We went up to the Wisconsin Dells for some much deserved rest and relaxation, but it could have gone much differently.  It all comes back to the lovely concept of ......

PERSPECTIVE!!!

1.  I can live with a cottage smaller than what we were expecting.
2.  I can live with being "unplugged" for a week (Well I did have my cell, but the computer stayed off, and the iPad, after the power cord tore, stayed off too!)
3.  I cannot live without a vacation that takes us away from the farm for a week.  Ok, I could, but this was the best vacay in a while.  We came back rested, and we didn't have to drive all day to get there.
4.  I can live without seeing the ocean for a year......but I missed it.
5.  I cannot live without playing cards!  We had some great Skip-Bo, Phase 10, and Golf games of an evening.
6.  I can live with going out in public wearing a bathing suit because I cannot miss going on all the water park slides with Bear.
7.  I can live without documenting every moment with a picture.  Sometimes, we just need to take a picture with our eyes and minds.  I was really glad I left my big camera in the van when we went horseback riding!
8.  I cannot live without hearing the laughter of my family.
9.  I can live with staying close to the crazy, not in the middle of it. (Have you been to The Dells lately?)
10. I cannot live without seeing our family make good, long cherished memories.

We start up with school on Wednesday, and it will be Tink's last year at our wonderful little school.  Bear is headed to 4th grade; our girls are growing up!  It's now time to start balancing practice schedules with meetings and games.  I'm sure I will blink, and it will be time to head back into the combine for harvest.  

Have a great week!  I'm going to go through what pictures I did take, and the ones Bear took, and we will share them soon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Laid Plans......

I've talked about this before, but I have to go there again:  All plans in a farmwife's life are subject to change at any given moment!

Way back in early June, I had a feeling that the girls and I would be ready for a bit of pampering after completing our projects and competing in the Cattle Show, so I booked them manis, me a pedi, and both the girls a hair trim for yesterday, Wednesday, July 30, 2014........All was going well until I took a little stroll across the road to check on the sweet corn....

See, we have been checking it for the last two weeks. We thought it would be ready about the time we had to go to the fair, but Mother Nature, in true form from the weather we have seen all year, threw us a curve and cooled the temps down around here.  That slowed the corn's ability to fill out its ears with that precious sweet golden corn.

It was ready Wednesday.

Go figure!

I didn't even think about checking in until about 9:30 a.m.. When I saw that the ears were perfect, I made a quick call to Mom and Dad, and started the "All Hands on Deck Scramble" to start the corn freezing process.  Tall Guy headed to the store to buy some ice, the girls started cleaning up the house (and I helped with the kitchen), then I went out to start picking ears.

Corn is a bit like peas.....you have to pick a lot to get what you want.  About the time I finished picking, with a bit of help from the girls, and Tall Guy came back with ice and an extra table, Mom and Dad pulled in, and we commenced to shucking.


While we all were shucking, TG was back in the garage heating up two pans on two outdoor burners, much like what you would use to deep fry a turkey, and create an ice cold water bath in one of our coolers.  We do it 8 minutes in the hot, boiling water, then plop! they go in the ice bath.  (BTW, There are about a million different ways to freeze corn.)


We also cut off the corn from the cob in the garage.  It cuts down on all the sticky corn on my floors and walls. Yes, it can go everywhere!  These naughty kitties were holding down the fort between shifts.


We all scattered at 2:30 to get to our respective appointments:

Two manis and a pedi.....


and two trims that turned into a lesson in how to French braid hair.

Tink's "waterfall" braid,


and Bear's ballerina look.


Because we are country girls, and this is how we roll, we rushed back to the second round of corn freezing




and then we had to rush Tink to her first soccer practice!

The bagging team...

Mom is sitting down because she is still getting her knees back into shape after double knee replacement surgery earlier this spring.  She was hoping to gain a bit of height, but she is still my mom who stands a proud 4'9 1/2".  NEVER forget that half!

Fresh off the cob!

In the end, it was all worth the time and trouble because we will have sweet corn that tastes like it's right off the cob all the way to next July!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whew! We Survived the Benton County 4-H Fair!

Hello!

I think I may have to finally stop throwing away my AARP card applications and acknowledge the fact that I am not 27 any more!  Whew! So glad to have the fair behind me!

In all honesty, we had great weather for our fair, and the girls did a great job with all their projects, but I was very happy to see the Battle of the Barns, signifying that the fair was over.


Tall Guy and I really enjoyed hanging out in the Beef Barn when we weren't wearing our Indiana Farm Bureau shirts and making popcorn plus ice cream.  Our fair is a county fair in its true meaning.  There aren't big flashy rides, but you get to sit down with an old classmate or friend and catch up on all the news.  Our girls roam at will; there is no worry about where they are or who they are with.  It's like the bar at Cheers; everyone knows your name.








Don't look for any pictures of the girls actually showing their cows; I have to get them from someone else.  I found that I was way too nervous to focus the camera on them while they were out there!

The last activity of our fair is the Livestock Auction.  This year we did a neat thing for a great 4-H family in our community.  The mother of three 10 year members and two more who will finish in the next three years has terminal cancer.  Our 4-H members put up a steer and a lamb for auction. All of the proceeds from the steer (bids) and the entire amount for the lamb( lamb + bids) were given to this family to help with medical expenses.  So far, our little county of 8500 has raised over $9000.00 for this family!  LOVE our 4-H and rural community!  It was an opportunity for everyone in the community to show their love and support for this family.  It still brings tears to my eyes.


And so now, our fair is over.  The heifers went back to their owner to start breeding calves, and one steer came back to grow and fatten up a bit more.  The other steer, well he went on to fulfill his destiny as a feeder steer. Tall Guy tucked all the show tools, tack, and "stuff" up in the loft to get out of our way when harvest starts.  The girls will file their work and ribbons and get ready to hit the books when school starts.  It has been a great 4-H experience.  In some places we excelled, and in others we need to grow and learn.  That's what it is all about!

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