cool kid murals on our (exterior!) walls

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Harry Potter on the walls

I’ve always been a fan of open ended play for our Sprouts.  Kids really are happier when left with their imaginations and a few “unformed” items (think sticks, rocks, cardboard boxes, etc.) with which to create rather than “formed” playthings created by adults. Despite the best of adult intentions, these leave less room for imaginative play for the kiddo because the formed plaything, based on an adult’s imagination, guides the child’s play instead of the child being the one driving the bus.  Does that make sense?   This is why we have never, for example, erected things like wooden play castles in our yards (we’ve moved a lot) when the Sprouts were younger.  Of course, the “formed” items gain companies millions of dollars so they are everywhere and the marketers know how to grab a child’s attention so that they think they want that latest toy or gadget.   The fun doesn’t usually last for long though.  In addition, as parents, most of us think that we want things that look Pinterest worthy.  Cardboard boxes and the like don’t necessarily make the cut.

Along those lines, sidewalk chalk is a great and inexpensive “unformed” tool for kids.  Our Sprouts are a bit older now, but my two youngest still tend to enjoy creating with chalk if we give them time and space.  They had a blast yesterday drawing on the walls of the house (stucco starts next week!) and on the deck!  Below are some of their perfectly imperfect creations.

The metal trim is going up slowly but surely.  Its a tedious process because the pieces have to be carefully cut and applied.  The great thing is that we won’t ever have to paint the trim again and the metal won’t react to our extreme variations in temperature throughout the year like wood does.  I’m really pleased with the color as its more neutralized.  The old trim was brown with a good amount of red in it, which made the house look even more dated since reds aren’t really in fashion these days.    The crew is also tackling the rotten parts of the white fiber board, hacking off the bad parts and replacing them with plywood to prep for the stucco guys next week.

chick lit

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Our ladies have grown so much since I last posted.  As you can probably relate, life has been so busy lately!  We’ve been so involved with living that its hard to stop and write about it sometimes.  In order to streamline our family life I’ve even given up on checking Facebook except for once a week.  The only exception is if there is a topic in one of my FB groups that needs immediate attention.  Making this change was more simple than I’d anticipated.  I just took the FB apps off of my iPad and phone and haven’t missed them a bit.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that life is better without obsessively checking in throughout the day!

Ah, but I digress.  This is a post about our feathered friends and not the henpecking that occurs in social media!  We are in the process of “hardening” our girls.  During the day they are in a hacked dog pen (we added more fencing to it and made it a temporary coop of sorts) and at night they remain out there along with a 250 watt heat lamp.  The only exception is when our nights get into the 30s and then they’re back in the garage with only a 75 watt bulb.  Only Emma is left in the garage.  She freaked out when the outdoor cage was being cleaned last week and got wedged between a wooden box and the fence.  She’s limping but seems fine otherwise.  So, she gets some R&R in the garage and a private food and water dish.  We are also rotating some of the other girls in there so she will have a friend to hang out with.  Oh, and speaking of “girls”, we’ve confirmed that Daisy Mae is a he and not a she.  Too bad and oh so sad because the Buff Orphingtons are some of my favorites! It was all confirmed a few days ago when a weak “cockadoodledoo” came out of her/his beak.  Thus, the boys have renamed Daisy Mae: Zazu (after the bird in The Lion King).  We will eventually have to find Zazu a new home, but for now its under wraps that we have a roo in the neighborhood!

I’ve been designing coops in hopes of hashing out just the right one for our flock.  At first, we came up with a nice large one that would sit next to the house.  However, in the end we decided to be a bit more practical since wood and wire can get expensive quickly!  We are going to convert our rabbit hutches and rabbit yard into their new abode instead.  Because, let’s face it.  Unless we raise rabbits for meat or fiber, they really aren’t doing much for us.  When you calculate the cost of food and housing for an animal, it would be nice to get something in return. Plus, the rabbit yard is in an undeveloped area of the property and so no landscaping would be disturbed.  I’m still wrapping my head around this, but I’ve found some very cool and inspiring resources along the way.  My two current favorites?  Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom and Reinventing the Chicken Coop by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe.  Great chick lit and highly recommended.

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