Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring has Sprung at The Royal Ranch

Well, the kids are on Spring Break, and Tom has taken the week off of work so that we can take some day trips together and get some work done around here.  This means absolutely no work for me.  Don't get me wrong, I think you all have me figured out by now, in that my family is my world, but as you know, it is very difficult to get anything done with extra people underfoot.  At my house "extra people" goes a long ways.  Let me give you an example.
Yesterday morning started off with me getting two different groups of teenagers out the door to go skiing.  One group of sixteen year olds that went in my son Thomas' car and a set of thirteen year olds that went with my son Nathans friends' parents.  That's a lot of food, sunscreen, helmets, boots, boards, skis, hats, gloves, etc. to keep track of and organized.  Blessedly, I was able to squeeze in my blog and the morning chores before our next guests started popping in.
Tom's friend Steve came by,  and I saw him just sitting on a rock while Tom was down on the road talking to some guys; he'd been out there for quite some time so I went to talk to him.  Turns out the traffic jam was some hunters who had heard about us and Tom was out there with them for a long time looking at maps and stuff, so Steve and I caught up; I've been worried about his wife's health anyway (hope you're feeling better Terry!), and along came Dan our neighbor!  I ran inside to catch the phone-turns out my friend Viv wanted to pop by to see the lambs!
So... while Viv and her son Johnny, Bella and I were up ooohing and aaahing over Crash and Princess and Viv and I finally had a few minutes to catch up- lord do us girls love to "catch up"- Tom got rid of the new hunters and got to visit with his friends.  Vivian didn't get to stay as long as I'd like, but that's okay, because Bella and I had bread in the oven for Terry, which had cooked perfectly while we were at the barn!
While it cooled, we looked out the window and lo and behold a new visitor had stopped by!  A new neighbor; a veteran that is really having a rough time of it.  He's trying to climb Mt. Rosalie (way too early in the season, I might add), his wife left him, his kid stole from him and now his country won't take care of him-and he is way over medicated (again, I might add)!  I mean it's crazy, the stories that some people just drop on us, are almost unbelievable!  I think this place has a way of making people feel at home and we wouldn't have it any other way!
We were also excited to have our great friend Slimmy over for dinner.  Yes, I know we're getting too old for nicknames like Slimmy and that his real name is Pat, but he'll always be Slimmy to us.  He'd popped by because he'd taken his dog for a run out in the forest; yup, it's official everyone has Spring fever and is driving by The Royal Ranch to say hello.  How can you resist, with my tall skinny husband out there with his long armed wave?  So, you'll have to excuse me if my posts are a bit sporadic this week-I probably have too many bodies too wade through to find my computer-ha!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

You guessed it! It's an update on our babies, Crash and Princess, for today's Royal Ranch Royalty. As you can see by the videos, they are doing very well, and growing by leaps and bounds, literally! Princess is still a little shy like her mama, but we are working on her! Crash, well, the video speaks for itself...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can crazy=bliss, Oh yeah!!!

Wow!  Yesterday I got a comment that left me speechless, and let me tell you that is pert near impossible to do.  So, I have decided to use it as part of my post today.  It is funny, I know absolutely nothing about this person, when I showed this comment to Tom (who was floored as well) he asked me who it was, man or woman?  Do I know where he/she lives?  The answer to all of that is NO.  I looked at what I believe to be her profile and  could only gather that she may be female just from the blogs she reads.  But, you know what?  That doesn't really matter.  What matters is that this person really "gets me".  So, thank you ifhpueblo, from the bottom of my heart:
A Day In The Life Of The Mom At Royal Ranch.
The dog's on the school bus,
Bella's face is red,
while two roosters are in a fuss,
and two hungry screaming sheep could wake the dead,
chickens stacked up pyramid style,
Crash "ramming" his head for awhile,
but what makes this Royal Ranch Mom smile?
A precious lamb on my back.
In my crazy, busy life nothing strange do I lack.

I have read that poem about ten times by now and I still smile and tear up a bit each time.  Not only do I not lack any craziness in my life, but I feel blessed in general, which is why I blog.  It is important for me to share this crazy place with all of you, and the adventures we go through in life to keep these critters and kids and customers and family and... happy!  The best thing of all, is that I must be getting my point across!!!
Yesterday in my post, I had mentioned getting ready for our Spring Break guests at The Royal Roost, and had promised you all a picture.  Well, since we are talking about crazy adventures, the timing is perfect.  Our guests arrived right on time, surprisingly.  Tom had unexpectedly gotten the day off after driving the fifty miles to work because his shop had no power, and was still up plowing the road.  I knew that this was not a good sign for me.  I passed him coming down when I was on my way up and all he could do was wish me luck, again, not a good sign.
As soon as I turned the corner onto our private road I knew I was in for it!  The road looks like it is meant for a four wheeler.  And, of course we drive American made trucks, nice and wide.  Keep in mind, that my guests are behind me in their vehicle this whole time.  The day before it was funny, when I had my dog Gigi with me to laugh with, but when I have customers behind me, it's just downright nerve wracking!  So, I get pulled off  track a couple of times, back out, no biggy; but this is not the bad area.  We get to the gate, and my guests are not having a heart attack, so I give them a few instructions for the tricky part of the road, and start praying.
As I'm headed up the hill to the part of the road that Tom and I have dubbed "The Trough" I gulp down my nerves, and hit the gas!  Even after I hit a huge stump, I had to just keep on keepin' on.  Thankfully, the stump was old and exploded into a million pieces, flying over the hood of Tom's truck!  I got stuck again, backed up, and took off again; all the while hoping that I hadn't damaged Tom's beloved truck.  I was making a lot of progress, but had decided that since our guests were in an import which was much narrower, I would back down and hop in with them to take them up and check them in and just walk back down.  Well, that is when I got really stuck.  And, who do I see in my rear view mirror?  You guessed it... Tom!
I was absolutely mortified.  See, Tom brags to all of his buddies about what a "hard ass" I am when it comes to driving.  I can drive my "big rig" just about anywhere, and I can get our trucks up that cabin road just about anytime, but here he catches me stuck and just having obliterated a stump with customers behind me!  The worst part of it was, was that he was able to get the truck out and get past the place that I had been slowly making tracks through!  I told him I had just needed one more try!  Like loosening the lid on a jar for someone-ha! 
We got our guests to The Royal Roost, and thankfully they were laughing and calling it an adventure, they too, "got it"; they understand what a spectacular place this is.  They absolutely adored the cabin and were looking forward to holing up for a few days and enjoying their Spring Break.  Tom's truck was no worse for the wear, and as you can see, I got my pictures.  I did have to do quite a bit of hiking to get them though, because if you stop in "the trough", you can't even open your doors!  I've got happy guests, a happy husband, and of course I'm grinning ear to ear- the husband thinks it's his fault for getting off track in that area with the plow truck!  I'm still a bad ass!

Me again, after I posted this I checked my e-mail and got one from my oh so cute husband and I am pasting it here, now you know what I mean:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Made In USA

Okay folks, this is a road we have traveled down before.  I'm going to take you down it one more time.  I feel very strongly about buying products that are made in the USA whenever possible.  So, that means that when I am selling a product, it is going to be entirely made here in the USA!  Well, that is much easier said than done, now that I am working with suppliers.
As I have mentioned Naked~Nure, my llama manure "tea" bags are under going a change to make it cheaper and more accessible to all gardeners, not just the fad gardeners.  I have found that if I buy muslin bags instead of making the bags myself I can save big time.  The problem is finding the bags made in America, which I did finally accomplish.  I also have mentioned my new line of flower seeds that I have hand selected that will attract my very favorites, Hummingbirds.  Again, I had a hard time finding eco-friendly packaging that is made right here in our wonderful country.  But, with a lot of time and patience, I am the victor!
I've got to tell you one of the most disappointing things has been the sales people that I have dealt with.  Or actually I should say that I haven't dealt with.  I had one company that I could not find a phone number on their website so I e-mailed them twice; the third e-mail told them how I no longer wished to hear from them as I had spent my hard earned money elsewhere.  I informed them that I do not do business with people who do not have a readily available phone number and who does not reply to e-mails in a timely fashion.  Another company, their salesman just never called me back; even after I left the message that I was going to place an order!  But, I digress, the point is, is that I was able to find everything that I wanted, made right here in the Good Old USA!  And, it is all packaging that I will be proud of.  My products are still ones that I can proudly stand behind and I didn't put up with any bull to get them!
In case you are all wondering why I am a little late with my Spring line, you must remember that The Royal Ranch sits at 9,000 feet in elevation.  It is almost impossible for me to wrap my head around Spring right now, whether the calendar says so or not.  You also must remember that these are very new products, just recently invented by us, so we are still getting our feet wet, so to speak.   Our wonderful, environmentally friendly products are just days away, though, so don't spend all of your gardening budget just yet-ha!
I tell you all of this as I am picturing myself laughing and whooping it up yesterday busting up to The Royal Roost through two feet of snow to get it ready for our Spring Break guests that arrive today-I hope.  We got another huge storm last night, so we'll see.  I will try to take the camera with me today when I check them in, because the road is just unbelievable where Tom has plowed, there is a section of road that we have nicknamed the "trough" because that is what it looks like it is so deep with snow!  Living in Colorado is an endless adventure, but the good news is the kids don't have school so I don't have to worry about keeping the dog off of the school bus!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oddballs at The Royal Ranch? No....

So, I was just telling you about me and my oddball bunch here at The Royal Ranch, and how I need your help with my new catch phrase.  Well, they say I picture is worth a thousand words, and if I had had a camera with me this morning, the pictures would have been priceless!!!!  I had to get back on and tell you all about it.  As usual I had done my posting before everyone was up and out of bed.  I got the boys out the door without a mishap, which is something to write home about, I must say.  It is a beautiful morning here in Colorado, with a storm expected, so Isabella and I decided to walk the quarter mile to the bus stop.
That is where things went all wrong!  See, animals don't like it when you throw a wrench into their plans.  Once they see their feed mama head out the door it is feeding time, and that's that.  So, for a quarter mile, I hear two battling roosters and two screaming sheep, you know they have been starving for a full twelve hours!  Well, we haven't gotten the hang of walking to the bus, so we were a little late and had to run the last little bit, and Rosie (the dog) got really excited, and hopped right on the bus with Bella!  Like a good girl, she followed Bell to her seat and sat right down.  I had to climb onto the bus and coax her off amidst the joyous laughter of the kids and the crimson face of my poor daughter!
I then hurry home to feed the demanding animals that are bawling so loudly by this time that I figure I have animal control on the way.  The chickens are stacked pyramid style against the fence to get out of their coop to see what kind of morsels I have brought them from the kitchen and to find their secret places to lay their eggs, it cracks me up every time!  Finally I get a chance to play with my new lambs; Crash is "ramming" the water bucket, impatiently waiting for me to pet him.  Princess, on the other hand is still quite shy, so I get down on the ground to try and get her to come near... and BAM, I have a lamb on my back!  Will this place never cease to amaze me?

Don't forget to enter the contest!

A new catch phrase, and a prize to boot!

Okay people, I was just bragging about your clever, bad selves yesterday!  So here is the challenge; as you know, I am normally not at a loss for words, but for some crazy reason I find myself short on just one or two words, and it is driving me nuts!!!  So, I am offering up one of my brand new Naked~Nure T-shirts as a prize to the person who helps me out.   Friend or foe, family or stranger, I want you all to participate (and I'd love for you to spread the word) in completing my new catch phrase.
So far I have  The Royal Ranch, Celebrating "everyday" Royalty!  It is the "everyday" that I am not happy with.  Maybe I need to back up a couple of steps.  As you know if you have been following this blog, that I am in the middle of starting a new program with my book, Llucky Llama.  I am planning on working with special needs kids as well as doing visits to schools (this will be to fill in the gaps and to hopefully pay a few bills-ha!).  
I am continuing, and changing my line of gardening products with Naked~Nure because we are very committed to these products and know that they can make a huge impact on the environment and that it is a wise business choice.  I also will be keeping my B&B, The Royal Roost open to our guests because we enjoy having them so much. Because our pack llamas enjoy their jobs so much, we will continue to pack in the fall.  And, I of course, will still be committed to being "green"!  Whew, I get tired just thinking of, not really!
The point is, is that over the years, I have taken in all of these odd ball animals.  And, needless to say, I am a rather oddball gal myself, which I am rather proud of.  That is the whole point of the middle word not fitting.  I want to celebrate these kids', and these animals', and this world and environment's differences with royalty and style!  Celebrating Individualism with Royalty?  Celebrating _______ in Royalty?  I'm waiting people, give me what you got!  And, sorry to say, obviously this is a very subjective contest, no rules apply, anyone is eligible, the more entries the better, please blog about it if you want, and I'll give you until Friday at noon (mst).  Good luck and thanks for your help!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I can't blog today...

I hate to do it to you, you deserve so much better.  I mean come on, poems as comments, I think I must have the most clever readers around, but...I have too much on my mind today, no time for a post, just a  to do list.
1)  Find recyclable materials (newspaper, brown paper bags, boxes, etc) around the house to package stamp sets that sold yesterday on eBay, package and prepare to ship.  Take to post office.
2)  Staples:
  ~envelopes for seed mix that is finally finished!
  ~labels for Hummingbird wildflower seed mix that I just finished designing late last night!
  ~check prices on postage scale (for seeds and postage, I'm probably too cheap and will wait until the next  Goodwill trip, but I do have a good Staples coupon and my rebate $, hmmm)
3)  ISBN #'s for Llucky Llama, yes you read that right.  I am patiently waiting.
4)  Start updating websites with all new (and cheaper) Naked~Nure and Royal Ranch's Hummingbird wildflower seed mix, so that I can concentrate on:
5)  Setting up my new Author/Ranch visits.  This is a program that I am really excited about.  The book is finally coming to fruition, I have figured out the direction in which I am headed, and I am starting to make some contacts.  I am so excited to be finally pulling this all together!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

The now famous picture of a chicken that I was taking care of after a bear attack; if you look closely, you'll see Holiday has found her way to a warm spot underneath, I told you she was quite instinctual!

Good Sunday Morning!  I hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Today is Royal Ranch Royalty, and today I am doing it a little differently; I am writing this post "In Loving Memory" of our turtle Holiday.  You know that saying that you don't know how much you miss something until it is gone?  Well, to a certain extent, that is true of our Holiday.
I know, I know, you're not supposed to buy animals from a pet store, and I learned my lesson with Holiday.  But, to my defense this was almost a decade ago, and I had done a lot of research.  I went to a high priced reptile shop, made sure that she was bred in captivity, etc.  We got her for the boys for Christmas one year (Isabella was still just a baby), that is how she got the name Holiday.  Things had even started out a little on the rough side.  We took her back and they got her to eat fine.  When I got her back and she took another tune for the worse, I took her to a vet, and spent over $200, and he said she was fine; but over the years, I just could never get that darn turtle to be as healthy as I thought she should be.
One day, probably five years ago, the kids and I were all out in the yard doing our various things and we had Holiday out there with us.  Well, as kids (and Moms) tend to do, they forgot the poor turtle.  Later that evening, I asked where she was.  We all panicked, and went on the mad dash looking for her!  Well, let me tell you, turtles are not slow when they have an agenda, Holiday had made it across the driveway and down over the edge of the yard, into the rose bushes and was headed over to the creek.  We figure she had heard the running water, and was headed out to investigate!  We were blessed to have found her!
Box turtles hibernate in the winter, which was one of the hardest things for me to get used to with Holiday.  To have a pet that just didn't eat for a good portion of the year, really bothered me, but there wasn't much I could do about it.  I had tried with lights to keep her out of hibernation, but it had never worked.  We teased that Holiday was a dinosaur, she was the most instinctual animal we have ever owned, literally a throwback to the dinosaurs.  So anyway, her cage was in Nathans room, and so every night when I kissed him goodnight I would check on Holiday.  Even in hibernation, she moved around her cage and let me know that she was still okay.
It was the night that I had taken Isabella to the doctor after the big bus accident, and she was on this darn medication that had her bawling.  Why they give antidepressant as a muscle relaxant I'll never know, but that's another story!  So anyway, I go to kiss Nate and check on my reptilian girl and she has not moved.  The next day, the same story, I have a bawling daughter from medication and an unmoving turtle.  Obviously I stopped the medication and nonchalantly try to "wake-up" Holiday! No such luck.
Well, this is a real pickle!!!!  How in the hell am I going to get a dead turtle out of the house, with my clingy, beat to heck daughter, bawling all day?  I can't even get her poor brothers alone to tell them that their beloved turtle has passed.  I mean it would've have been funny if it weren't me!  Thankfully my nephew's birthday party came along, and Isabella was feeling up to going, so poor Tom got the job of getting rid of the cage and the turtle.
See, when you become a rancher, you have to face some facts.  When the ground is frozen, unless we happen to have a backhoe nearby there cannot be a proper burial here on The Royal Ranch; so I knew better than to ask about Holiday.  But it really bothered me; actually it bothered me a lot.  I know I'm supposed to be tough now, but I don't care.  So when Tom came in the other night from getting wood and announced that the entire family needed to be outside in five minutes for Holiday's funeral, I couldn't quit laugh/crying.  It appears it had been bothering my big bad biker husband as well!
Tom had found some soft ground, and we all gathered round.  We thanked Holiday for being such a wonderful part of our family for such a long time and all of the great memories; and then we buried her, here at The Royal Ranch where she belongs!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Farm Poem

Of course it is my hens,
Who have my thinking in rhymes again.
I really didn't know,
That they hate to get their feet wet, so I have to shovel snow.
They just stand under their coop,
While I slip around in the mud and the poop.
And wait 'til I shovel them a path to the sunshine,
Gee, I sure wish I was a chicken, that would be livin' FINE!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Funny how things come into our lives

Okay, today I am finally getting to the post that I have been wanting to do all week.  But, this morning I woke up and knew that the delay had happened for a reason... now follow me for a minute here people;  This is where I had started earlier in the week:
I'm not positive which of the blogs I read that hooked me up with Mom Nos, but I'm really glad they did.  I will definitely always remember the very long but very memorable post that got me hooked, it was about her son's connection with Dierks Bentley.  The blog is about the joys of being a mother of a boy with Autism.  And I say it that way on purpose.  Mom NOS makes it sound as if it is a joy, as well it should be.  All of our children are a joy to behold, and she never lets us forget it.
Its' funny, because when I first started reading her blog, I sort if felt like I was intruding.  Here I was with 3 "normal" kids, and I thought that the blog was meant more for moms of special needs kids; but the more I read, the more I learned that the lessons I learned there I apply to all parts of our lives.  Then. this morning I was reading a part of a series that she is writing and a light bulb clicked on in my head.  I have something very in common with Bud, her son.  To a fraction of a degree, I deal with the same brain issues that Bud goes through on a daily basis.  That is why I was so attracted to her posts and was drawn to them like a moth to flame!
Right, so here it is Thursday morning, and I check back in to the same series and read it with tears running down my cheeks.  The series of posts is Mom NOS talking to her son's class about how Bud's hair dryer brain fits in a toaster brained kind of world!  The way in which she explains it all, makes perfect sense to the ten year old students she is lucky to be spending lunch with.  She has really done a fabulous job getting through to these kids and answering all of their questions as to why her son is different.
So, what does all of this have to do with me?  Well, in a funny way, a lot.  I have been thinking about the similarities of brain issues a lot over the past few days.  The more I read about Bud's issues with noises, over-stimulation and struggling with medication the more I empathize.  And Bud's stories, they are all very touching, thank goodness he has so many advocates in his life.  I have also read almost all of the comments on her blog and it does not appear that is the case for all of the folks that read the blog.
Again, timing is everything.  This may sound sort of funny, but I have been looking for a group to start working with when I get my book done; which is right around the corner now (yes, I know I keep threatening that, but this time it's a go!).  Now, I don't mean a "group" like, gee I pick Autism as my "cause" to step up on my soap box.  No, I mean that I have so many kids that I would like to help with my little piece of the world that I have to start somewhere, and since I have a connection with these kids specifically, I have decided that I would like to have some of my first author/Marcel visits (especially ranch/author visits) be with autistic children.
My animals are fantastic with special needs and have plenty of first hand experience.  This is an avenue that I have wanted to explore for a long time.  I am still going to go the traditional author visit route, hopefully to put a little food on the table so to speak, but I will do the ranch visits for fun!  Thanks for the idea Mom NOS! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Small Town Politics, Big Time Turnout

Well, once again I am putting off a post that I have started, I guess that is why they have a "drafts" area, right?  Tom and I went to the Caucus last night, and to be honest with you I am absolutely fried.  Yes, that sounds very melodramatic, but the brain is a goner.  Last night I learned more about politics than I have in the past few years combined; and I'm thinking the picture was the same no matter where your Caucus was.
First and foremost, I am proud to say that the ages of the participants in the room ranged from just newly eighteen to well over eighty, and this is a first for Park County.  Another amazing thing was that we had to literally draw names out of a hat to whittle down the number of people that wanted to become delegates to the county assembly to represent our district; usually we have a hard time filling those positions.  Thankfully I had thrown my name in as an alternate from the get go, which means I will get to go to the assembly no matter what, it will just depend on attendance whether I get to vote or not.  Actually, I am the only one who signed up as an alternate, because with this being my first year to go, I just wanted to be a fly on the wall so to speak.  But, it will be a great way for me to meet all of my candidates!
One of the things I learned was the depth of concern among my neighbors as to the direction that our country is taking.  The passion and the commitment that these "mountain hillbillies" as I lovingly call us, have for our country was truly touching.  Interestingly enough, one of the folks in my district is a man who will be running against our incumbent Sheriff, which is turning into a much more interesting "race" than I thought it would be.  It was quite interesting to see the wheels in action of a political machine at such an early stage in what could be a very pivotal election for our country whether we are voting in a new President or not.
I was hugely reminded of what a difference one person really can make.  Politics do start out in a tiny little community center in a tiny little town that is not even on a map.  People really do show up at seven o'clock on the dot to talk about what is going on in their county, state and national governments because it really matters!

Oops I told you I was tired, I forgot to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I just finished downloading the pictures from last night's dinner onto yesterday's post.  The Corned Beef and Cabbage was great and there was plenty left over for Tom to take to work today.  Although the kids love to eat it here at home, they will not take it to school, too stinky!  Hope you have a great one!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage

No, this is not the post I had planned for today either!  That's what I get for planning-ha!  I realized that tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day and that I wanted to share my recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage with you, but if you are going to have it ready for the big day, you must start it tonight; therefore, another change in plans.  I have already started my brisket in the crockpot, and I will take pics throughout the next stages and add them to this post as I go, so check back for updates if you'd like.  For those of you that get this via e-mail, I'm sorry that you won't get all of the pictures, but click on the link by St. Patrick's Day and they'll be there!
This recipe is actually my Grandma's, passed down through the generations, and it is the only way I like corned beef because it is not stringy!  It is absolutely worth the time in preparation, and your slow cooker does all of the work for you!  So, tonight before you go to bed, place your corned beef in the crockpot on low and cover with water.  In the morning you will know it is St. Patrick's Day and you will not forget to wear green and be pinched once, unless of course you want to be!
Remove your brisket and let it cool while you finish getting ready for the day.  Chop your cabbage (I add some potatoes and carrots sometimes) and put it in the liquid and add more water if necessary; leave the slow cooker on low.  Don't forget to cover your beautiful roast and place it in the fridge for later or the dog will eat it while you are gone, at least that is what would happen at my house.
Okay, now the very important part, how to cut the meat.  When you get home, all ready for that delicious Irish dinner, turn your slow cooker up to high.  Cut your roast against the grain, again, very important!  This is what keeps it from getting stringy; you will know if you are doing it right because the meat will look sort of compressed instead of pulling apart in pieces.  When your meat is cut and trimmed of the yucky fat, dump it back into the crockpot with the hot veggies while you make the mashed potatoes to put it all on!  Since the pieces of meat are not too big they will heat through in no time flat and you will have your traditional Irish dinner ready for your family in a shake of a lamb's tail.  Did somebody mention lambs?
Sometimes I just crack myself up!

PS  In case you are wondering why I am doing our St. Patrick's Day meal a day early; yes, I am doing it for this post, but also it is to have dinner all ready for the big Caucus tonight!  I love to use my slow cooker on a night when we have a lot going, and politics is big in a small town.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Blast From the Past

I'm going to do something today that I've never done before, and that is refer you to a post from the past.  I had started a post for this morning, but it is one that I really want to take my time with, I'll do it tomorrow.  So, anyway, with this darn time change (which I love) I checked out the clock and lo and behold it's time to get the kids up already!  Well, like When You Give a Mouse A Muffin (a very cute series of kids books), one thing lead to another (packing lunches, of course), and I remembered that I wanted to update you, my dedicated readers on my refrigerator.  Oddly enough when I looked up the story that I wanted to refer you to, it was about the time change too!  You can find the original post here.  And, what prompted this change in plans is that the fridge used to have this irritating leak that we would step in every morning with our socks, I realized this morning I haven't had a wet sock in a long time.  Yeah me!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

Gee, I'm having a hard time deciding on who should be Royal Ranch Royalty today, hmmm....  I know maybe it should be the babies that were being born while I was busy typing up last week's Royal Ranch Royalty!  I only missed them by minutes!!!!  Yes, I know I have mentioned them multiple times in this blog, but the lambs are so damn cute that they absolutely deserve to be Royalty!  So, without further ado,  The Royal Ranch could not be prouder to introduce our first ever offspring  Princess Snowball and Crash Veto!!!  The were born March 7, 2010 at about 8 am, exactly one week ago today. and it has been a very busy week.

I won't take your time today and tell you the original story of the day of their birth since I have already done so here.  But, I will tell you that this has been an absolutely wondrous week for me.  I also won't insult all of the Grandparents that read this blog and say it is like being a Grandma, but I sure feel like one, all of the joys of getting to watch these babies, without having to actually raise them!  Last night we went to a birthday party for my nephew and I was almost fit to be tied that I was going to miss out on my evening chores; Tom was not able to go to the party because I made sure to leave him with very explicit instructions on how to take care of Esther and her twins!
I have been shocked at the progress these two have made.  I think that farm animals is where the saying growing in leaps and bounds came from.  Within twelve hours of the twins being born they were chewing at straw and hay, and within about five days they were chewing on the hay!  They were born with their teeth, and thank goodness for mama they are ruminants which means that they only have bottom teeth.  By Friday the little dickens thought it was so funny to go under the temporary fencing that we had them in that they were giving their poor mom a heart attack, so we got that fixed yesterday!
Lambs do not run, they either jump or run sideways.  Even the big bad biker husband of mine can't wipe the grin off of his face when he is up at the barn, they are just hysterical to watch.  Crash is living up to his name. and has no fear, and because we have had so much snow since they were born everything is so slippery that he just slides right into things and then hops up like "I meant to do that"!  His much daintier sister is still quite active and mischievous, but not quite as aggressive as her brother.
Rightfully so, we have had visitors all week; we even had people stopping by to take pictures when we were not home.  Isabella was a little disappointed when she called her friend to invite her down to see the lambs, and her friend said, yeah, she had already heard about the babies at church that morning.  That was the same morning they were born!  I told you good news travels fast in small town Bailey!  So, if you live anywhere near by, and have been too shy to ask, come on by, we are glad to show them off!  By the way, this video and these pictures were taken this morning so you would have a fresh perspective.  The lambs were quite calm, I'm wondering if it is the impending storm we have coming in.  I will get another video of them playing soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bring on the Bubbles...

Boy do I have a line of books that I would love to share with you all.  The main character's name is Bubbles Yablonski, and she is downright hysterical!  I may be aging myself here, but she reminds me of the character The Nanny, except there is no irritating voice!  Bubbles is a hairdresser from steel town who is trying to make it as a crime reporter.  Some of the situations that she finds herself in, even the dangerous ones, are so funny that I found myself laughing out loud a number of times.  
My local librarian recommended this series of books to me when I mentioned that I had really enjoyed Janet Evanovich's series.  I think this series is just as funny, if not more so.  I also like the fact that there is a close and very funny family angle in these books.  Bubbles of course has a crazy Mom (who else would name their kid Bubbles?), a daughter that she is raising with an ex-husband she can't totally trust, etc.  The other characters are just as colorful and the leading man, well he sounds like he would be worth a leading role!  I have already read Bubbles Unbound and Bubbles in Trouble, and they are both great; I can't wait to get back to the library and get the next two!
The books are written by Sarah Strohmeyer, and she has a great website, and a great sense of humor!  I'll pass the word on about someone this funny and this caliber of great books anytime!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Realistically Speaking, Part 2

Realistically speaking, if there were no such thing as CSAP my daughter's bus would not have been on the way to school when the roads were way too slick and been hit by a high school driver.  And realistically speaking our school district would know better to call school on that day than to risk the injuries to the students that we have suffered.  But, then realistically speaking, I would have nothing to post about (twice) either, I guess.  I am a little concerned that I didn't clarify a few points in yesterday's post, and I wanted to give you a quick follow-up as well, so here goes.
I didn't ask my friend Tiffany for permission to change her comment on yesterday's post to a portion of today's post, but I don't think she'll mind, she brings up some interesting points that I'd like to share.  Tiffany is the seventh grade science teacher at the middle school in the school district that my kids go to.  She is also on all of the committees that I am on, plus some.  One of the interesting things that I would like to point out is that Tiffany has chosen to stay with our district for much less pay than she could make in her very own neighborhood and not have to commute an hour each way.  Anyway, on to her comment from yesterday:
I am glad Bella was okay! And I didn't realize the kids were hurt so badly. They told us the kids were transported "just to be safe." I agree totally that we should have had a snow day! Yikes!

But I also have to add this... In our defense, I have to point out that the testing is not optional. We have to do it. The snacks and recesses are to make it more tolerable. It is absolutely unbearable to sit in utter silence for that long. It may feel like a day off to your bright boys, but for most kids, it's really draining. The kids (and I) are exhausted. And we don't give them candy "rewards". We give them a peppermint candy during each session, because brain research indicates that peppermint stimulates brain activity, and helps maintain focus and attention. Most of us hate the whole thing too, but we are trying to do what we can to make the best of it. Just had to throw that in. You know I love you! (-:
Her comment goes to show how hard these teachers are working to get the kids and themselves through these tests.  And, how hard they are having to work to get the kids to do well on the tests.  I was dropping Isabella off at school the other day, and the teachers were all madly running around with butcher paper (what a waste of paper) trying to cover up the walls of resource information that is normally available to the kids, I mean these teachers work their butts off for these tests!  And (I'm sorry I can't stop myself here) the kid are not learning anything new!
When the Doctor asked us about the day of the accident, and I mentioned CSAP, she literally rolled her eyes, without prompting from me, no kidding.  She had assumed that the school district had immediately released all of the kids to their parents, but was not surprised to hear that they had tried to keep things normal due to the testing schedules.  She had even called me clever for thinking to check on Bella at lunch time! 
Which brings me to my next point.  I must say, that I was a bit of a doubting Tom, right along with my husband, the Always Doubting Tom, when it comes to the medical field on concussions and whiplash.  I thought that this was a pretty gray area and that they would just say of course she had this or that and send us on our way.  Well, I was wrong.  There are definitive tests (neurological and x-rays) for each, that can tell how severe the case is and how much further testing (cat scan or MRI) is needed for each.  I felt much better after leaving the doctors office and am very glad I went, because not only my mind was eased, but so was Isabella's and that was the most important thing I could have done in this entire situation!
So, as I had mentioned, I have started my complaints in the chain of command that we even had school that day, which now will be taken a bit more seriously since they will be paying some of our medical bills.  That in itself is a bummer.  Maybe some good will come out of all of this, who knows?  Maybe my friend Tiffany will have a leftover Peppermint stick for me-ha!!!!  Just kidding, gotta keep our sense of humor, though in all seriousness, I really do love the people that teach and transport and care for my children!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Realistically Speaking...

Realistically speaking, if it was not CSAP week, the kids probably would not have had school yesterday due to the roads being so bad; that would have avoided the serious bus accident that Isabella was in.  And in a realistic world I wouldn't know that if I went to the school board to complain about seat belts in the buses that they would just pull the bus routes and it would make the commutes much more dangerous for us all.  Sometimes I hate speaking realistically.
Isabella is okay, thankfully, I may have to take her to the doctor, as usual I am writing this very early in the morning.  The accident was just yesterday morning on the elementary route on the way to school.  Due to the testing schedules, the high school had a late start and one of them slid into the back of the stopped elementary kids and threw them pretty good.  Five kids were removed on stretchers and three of them taken down the mountain in ambulances, we are not sure if the other two just went with their parents or what.  By the time I went to have lunch with Bella, one of the girls was back at school with a neck collar, and we have heard from her brother that one of the girls has broken ribs and a concussion.
Okay, so my point is this, we have had snow days for much less snow than this, and I strongly suspect that this darn testing is behind it.  I don't like the standardized testing anyway.  I think the free snacks the kids get during testing should go to the less fortunate kids year round and the candy rewards are over the top!  The extra recesses are nice, but come on!  My kids think these CSAP testing days are like days off of school!  Again, being on committees at school I see the benefits of our schools getting ratings of excellence on these tests, I know in the "real" world  we have to play the game, but I feel it goes too far when we are busing our kids to school on unsafe roads.
As far as seat belts go, I did a little research on school bus safety statistics because even the kids have asked me many times why buses are not required to have seat belts; and as a matter of fact many of ours do, but only in the front couple of seats for the very little kids.  I found an interesting article at WebMD that had this to say about how bus seats are built:
A key safety concept in full-sized school buses is called "compartmentalization." The thickly padded bench seats are spaced close together and have high backs, creating a compartment that protects passengers in a collision.
It's big, it's yellow, and it's covered in flashing lights; it even comes equipped with it's very own stop sign. School buses are as safe as they come, and on another website, Kaboose, the statistics speak for themselves:
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "school buses are the safest motor vehicles on the highways." Children are nearly eight times safer riding a school bus than with their own parents or peers, and school buses have a fatality rate of 0.2 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, compared with 1.5 for cars.
And not only that, I can't imagine the costs that would be involved in putting seat belts into our rather old bus fleet.  As I mentioned,  I worry that the costs would just be too much for a school district that is facing monumental cuts as it is.  I would be worried that our district would just choose to cut transportation all together and have us all transport our kids ourselves (which I also understand many of our very low income families could not, or would not do), and as the statistics show, that puts us in no better shape.  So, realistically speaking, as a parent, I will call my district and complain about the fact that they are having school again today after another night of snow, I guess they didn't learn their lesson after the bus accident yesterday and the testing is still all important!  And, realistically speaking, as a committee member I understand the costs and benefits of some of these things and will tell myself them over and over as I sit at the doctors office with my daughter today now that she is up and I know for sure that is where we are headed.  Realistically speaking, of course.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ode to being Green from the "Bottom Up!"

There was a "green" girl named Judy,
And she felt it was her duty,
Because she was called so "green" ,
To keep the world, nice and clean.
She had an idea, since she grew up with Shepherd's,
Why not save the world, with a bunch of..well,
You know...Turds?

By the way my maiden name is Shepherd, I was just lucky enough to marry into my double name!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Greenin' and Cleanin' on Ebay

In between visits to and from the barn to visit the beautiful new twins (you didn't think I was going to miss an opportunity to mention my new lambs did you?) I have been listing some items for sale on eBay and having a blast!  The best thing about it is that I am killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.  The timing couldn't have been any better;  Mom had mentioned that she was selling some of her retired stamp sets to save up for a vacation and I have been wanting to try my selling skills to clean out a few things around the ranch, and then I got the article in my Good Housekeeping magazine about what an environmentally friendly choice eBay is.  Again, this is a win, win situation here, I now have one empty drawer and a little bit bigger PayPal account, hopefully soon there will be some very happy new stampers, and there will be a smaller carbon footprint for my hard work!
According to the folks at eBay's Green Team Challenge, buying second hand can make a huge impact environmentally.  Here is a small portion of an article you can find when you pop over there:
"For example, did you realize that buying a previously-worn pair of leather shoes on eBay versus new in a store saves more energy than an average household uses in a day, when you think about all the energy and resources that goes into making a new pair? It’s an astonishing statistic, and we were able to find similar numbers for lots of the other products you typically see on!"Another great thing, is that between now and Earth Day, April 22, 2010, you can sign up to take the eBay Green Team Challenge and save an acre of rain forest and automatically be entered to win $10,000!  Don't let the word "challenge" turn you off, because it only means that you are making a commitment to think about buying second hand, which when you think about it is really quite simple; especially when you add up all the dough you could be saving!
It is also very simple to sell things on eBay, I have found.  I, too have decided to start out with selling retired Stampin' Up stuff so most of it is pretty repetitive, I just tweak the form a bit for each stamp set and "voila!", a new listing!  Luckily, my Mom has helped me with pricing, but I do feel that research on where to start your auction is very important on the success of your sales, so do your homework.  When you sign up to become a seller on eBay, they send you a lot of resources to check out, use them and you should have lots of success cleaning out your closets, filling up your bank account and saving the planet all at the same time!  Even if you have nothing to sell, which I have a hard time believing, keep it in mind next time you need a new pair of leather shoes or set of rubber stamps, or...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Big news in small town Bailey!  The lambs have arrived!!!  Leave it to The Royal Ranch to have a day like yesterday.  The night before I had started to get very nervous about the new arrivals, and to the complaints of my family I spent the evening raking out the barn and laying down a fresh layer of straw that we had just that day pilfered from our friends.  Thanks Tina and Kevin, obviously you saved our butts!  Esther was still ravenously eating so I thought we still had plenty of time, but I woke up early very antsy to finish getting the corral panels in place that my back could not handle.
We were expecting company yesterday, my sister and her family from the city, and my parents.  I was so in hopes that my nieces would get to see the babies on one hand, but not quite ready for the babies to be here on the other hand.  So anyway, Bella and I head up to do the chores on foot and Tom is headed up in his truck to get the extra corral panels and the other necessary supplies to finish up the "birthing" area when I look up in the barn and I see a tiny little body struggling to get up off of the ground!  Out of the corner of my eye I see Rosie happily running behind Tom's truck towards the barn and I just started screaming at the top of my lungs!  "Husband!  There's a lamb!  Get Rosie!  There's a lamb!"  Well, of course over the roar of his very loud truck he couldn't hear me, but the rest of the neighborhood could!  Which is how the phone started ringing a few hours later I'm assuming....
Like a good girl, Rosie came running right back (I just didn't want the dogs to scare Esther) and ran back inside when she saw how upset I was, and Isabella and I took off for the barn at a run that I have not managed since field day 1980!  Tom finally heard my screaming and said "What do you want me to bring?"  It only took me a millisecond to think-the camera!!!
Although we are a tad bit disappointed to have missed the births by mere minutes, and I do mean minutes, our lambs are the most beautiful lambs ever born on the face of the planet!  We were blessed to have one of each, a  ram and a ewe.  Since Isabella has been my sidekick in this sheep thing, Esther is not at all afraid of her and she has been able to help me the entire time, which earned her the right to name the ewe.  She chose to name her Snowball; when I mentioned that I liked Princess and that she sure acts like one Bella informed me that her name is Princess Snowball.  As for the ram, I told the boys that they would have to battle it out and Nathan and I like "Crash" and then Thomas said he might veto that one and I said fine, "Veto" it is.  So, my guess is that Tom will end up deciding between Crash and Veto.  What do you all think?
As you can imagine the morning was a little crazy with the unexpected, but expected arrivals.  While Isabella and I kept the sheep calm, Tom finished building the pen around us so that the llamas would give Esther and the babies some much needed space.  Poor Paco, the father, got on the outside with the llamas, but I figure that is just as well.  We finally headed back to the house after making sure everyone had something to eat and drink and hit the showers to prepare for our company. 
The great thing about living on a ranch is that no one really cares if your house is a mess, because you always have something to distract them from the house itself.  We had tons of good food, great company and of course the babies to show off, so I don't think anyone noticed that my hair was still soaking wet or that my house was a mess.  And, as you can see, my nieces from the city got to experience something that they will probably never forget; they got to pet a lamb that was only five hours old!  That was right before it peed all over their Mom-oops!  Sorry sis!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty

 Rusty, Lucy and Rosie
Good Sunday morning all!  I hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Well, it is time to introduce you all to one (or two) of my critters in my weekly series Royal Ranch Royalty.  In honor of one of my most dedicated readers, Daisy over at Compost Happens who mentioned me again on one of her recommended readings list, I am proud to introduce Lucy and Rusty Rabbit!  I know that Daisy also has rabbits, as a matter of fact she has one that is practically a twin to my Lucy (the black and white)!
Rusty and Lucy are considered house rabbits, meaning that they live almost entirely indoors.  Until they chewed on my beloved Grandma's china hutch they had full run of the house, but after that their exercise space has been more confined.  In the warm summer months we do move them outside into an outdoor run that has a lid on it, which they absolutely adore!  I have to say that rabbits have been some of the most interesting pets that we have ever owned, and that I will never look at a rodent in the same way again.
These are some very intelligent animals.  They can hear that veggie crisper drawer open from no matter where they are in the house and you can hear them start stirring in their crate.  They know their carrots and salad are on their way!  They also know our routines very well; during the winter months, when they spend more time in their large dog crate, sort of hibernating, they know that they are fed on the same schedule as the rest of the "herd", and get all wound up when they hear me getting my boots and coat on to do chores.  Sometimes I wonder if those two little rabbits are going to knock that big crate over in excitement to get to their breakfast!
I guess I should explain myself when I say "little" rabbits.  Rusty is part Flemish Giant so he is very large for a rabbit, close to twenty pounds.  Lucy is no shrinking violet, tipping the scales at around 12 pounds, she is part Rex, one of the most intelligent rabbit breeds.
 Lucy (the first) and Spike
The story of how I ended up with these two rabbits is a good one.  We had tragically lost our first house rabbit Lucy on Christmas Day.  My first Lucy was like a dog, never chewed on anything she was not supposed to and followed me around, just a fantastic rabbit.  So anyway, I was not planning on getting another when of course I got a call from a friend working rescue who had another Lucy who needed a home because classroom rabbits had been outlawed.  As you have come to find out from reading this blog, I don't turn down many animals in need of a home, so Lucy 2 was ensconced in her new home within the week.  I was worried she was lonely since she had to be in her crate more than the first Lucy had been since she had more "destructive rabbit' behavior that we had to be careful of than her namesake.  I knew that there was a rabbit rescue outside of Denver so I contacted them.
I was informed that rabbits are quite picky about their mates, and are even quite violent if they do not like a rabbit and that I would have to bring Lucy down to the rescue and let her chose her new best friend.  Yes, this sounds like quite a bit of trouble to go to for a set of rabbits, and it was, but you should see how much the two of them love each other!  So anyway, I took Lucy the hour and a half down the mountain to this shelter and the kids and I picked our three favorite rabbits and the volunteers started introducing Lucy to them.  Rusty had been our first choice, and before we even left Lucy and Rusty were fast friends.  The shelter insisted that we leave the new friends there for a week while they keep an eye on them to make sure that Lucy was not going to beat up her new boyfriend!  After their week was over the new couple was delivered home where the entire family was required to be here to sign papers and have an interview to see if we were acceptable people to have one of their rabbits.  I almost laughed at the situation, but was glad to follow procedure, knowing that they needed to be that strict to make sure that their rabbits ended up in good homes and not out in the forests, because they are difficult pets to keep.
 Rosie and Lucy
Which brings me to my next point.  Rabbits are wonderful house pets, period.  But, they stink and they have A LOT of hair that sort of floats into your environment.  So I would highly recommend them to a certain kind of pet owner; first and foremost, I can't imagine they would be good for anyone with allergies, and secondly I think they would be good if you have time to keep their crate very clean.  They can be very lovey or they can be very distant, but all of them are fun to watch, and have a very playful side.  It is hysterical to watch their antics and to see a rabbit go ripping across your living room and then jump as if he is clicking his heels together and then dive under the couch!  One of my favorite things about our rabbits has been the inter-species  relationships I have seen between them and the other animals.  The top picture shows how Rosie is patiently waiting for her turn to get some greens from Rusty and Lucy and the next picture is of my first Lucy with one of our kittens Spike that was a little mixed up when he lost his Mama too soon, and finally Rosie and Lucy having some playtime!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Metaphysical Madness

Whew!!!  I thought I was losing my mojo, and actually I was just losing my mind!  For those of you that are not at all into my metaphysical posts, I warn you now this is a weird one and I'd love to see you back tomorrow.  For those of you who have encouraged me with these posts, thank you for reading on.  As many of you know, I have said time and again, that my brain problems and my sixth sense are intermingled.  That has been the case over the past couple of days which is what has kept me away from my computer; blessedly not the loss of my "blogging-mojo" ha!!
It always takes me a couple of days even to figure out what the heck is going on, and thanks to my Mom, I was finally able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  I guess I will start at the beginning for all of you.  A little over a week ago I got concerned over what I would call my Iowa connection.  Those are my relatives in Iowa that we just visited for Thanksgiving;  I wasn't sure who to be concerned about, or if I should even be overly concerned.  So, I e-mailed my cousin Joe, you know just checking in, etc.  Then, lo and behold I had two other cousins from Iowa find me on the internet two days in a row.  One is coming to visit us soon and the other was just playing around on the computer and googled us.  So, my sixth sense told me that this was no longer just all coincidence.
As crazy as it sounds, I then started losing what I call my brain power.  Loss of concentration, ability to find the proper words, it happens to all of us; but since I started having seizures and these off days, it is very bad for me sometimes (even bad enough to keep me from blogging and driving as much as possible), so anyway I knew something was up.  It was not at all surprising when I got the call that Uncle Frank had died.  He was one of my Grandma's favorite brothers.  Grandma has had a tendency to drain my brain since the day she died, if she has something she needs to tell me.  Don't get me wrong, I feel absolutely blessed to have any communication, but I sure wish it wasn't so draining!
Anyway, when Frank and Grandma were both alive, my Grandma was rather hard on his wife because she was kind of a spoiled gal, didn't work, spent too much, etc, in my Grandma's mind.  All of which is the exact opposite of my very hard working, penny pinching Grandma.  I also know that there were hard feelings over the wife's decision to put Frank in a nursing home, which of course there always are in such a difficult situation.  Frank had Alzheimer's disease and his wife had passed away some months ago now, maybe even a year.
So, anyway, I have not been to a funeral since my Grandma's and am not big on funeral's anyway, so you can imagine the surprised look on my Mom's face when I asked about Frank's services.  Mom and Dad had come to Nathan's band concert (which was great by the way!), and I needed to know what was bothering me so much about this whole situation.  Well, come to find out, that although the family had chosen to not tell Frank about his wife's death, his condition had deteriorated rapidly from the day she had died.  He had not eaten well from that day on and his will to live had just vanished.  Mom was not sure of the dates, but at about the same time as I got concerned the week before about my Iowa connection he had taken a turn for the worse, and that was the end.
I still had the strong sense that I needed to go to the funeral, which again, in itself is quite unlike me.  As I said, with a chug, chug, chugging brain it has come to me that my Grandma is wanting me to represent her at the funeral, and that she is sorry.  I have to laugh as I type that, because that is definitely not the word that she would normally use.  But, she does understand now, that Frank had exactly what he wanted in a wife, no matter what anybody else thought, and that is all any sister could hope for their brother, right?
Well, thank goodness I finally figured that out overnight and got it off my chest here on my blog.  I woke up fresh and clear, with my brain power back, which is what always happens when I process whatever it is that is mucking up my sixth sense.
PS  As I'm getting ready to hit the "Publish" button, but who do I get an e-mail from?  My missing cousin Joe, from Iowa, of course!  Lord, do I love how this universe works!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Ripple Effect

I chose a happy color for this post, because I want to be clear that I am not complaining, simply stating some facts and some patterns.  This has been a very hard time here at The Royal Ranch and it seems to me as if it has been a hard time for a lot of people we know, and I am sort of curious about it.  I got to thinking about the ripple effect that my back injury has had on my family and on this ranch and it has been astounding!
As you know, it took a long time for the "injury" to take place, so it really took a toll on my family.  This has been the worst school year for injuries and illnesses that we have had for as long as I can remember.  Which of course comes at a terrible time for me for many reasons, my patience are at their very shortest to deal with sick children, I was not physically up to helping kids that needed help with everything, and most of the time at least one of the kids seemed ill or injured so I was not able to ask him or her for help that I really needed,  Now, let me be the first to say, that all of these injuries were real, just very bad timing.  But, again, it has gotten me to thinking, can I, as the Mom, somehow change or affect the entire vibe or affect the health of the ranch with just one injury?  I'm thinking so.
I know that sounds really egotistical, and I really don't mean it like that.  Actually it kind of freaks me out a little bit, makes me think I better get a little bit (or a lot bit-ha!) better control of myself!  I mean, it could just be that I wasn't cleaning the bathrooms as well as I normally do and we got a lot more germs than usual.  But, that doesn't explain the major concussion or the two sprained wrists on two different kids, or the myriad of other bugs and wounds.  I'm not playing the blame game (on myself), I just refuse to go there.  I  also know that kids get scared by things that they see, and two trips to the ER in two days could do the trick.  The odd thing is, is that we had started down this path before we had even gone to the ER in the first place, those visits seem to be just another stepping stone in our very long path of "weirdness" this year.
I suppose it could be cosmic, I sure have heard of a lot of people going through tough times; maybe it's just stress.  As I send my little warriors off to school today one with a cough and very sore throat, one with an ace bandage and one who is too tough to wear an ace bandage but should be (he, too, has the cough), it really makes me wonder.  The lessons in life are a hard one to teach, I'm afraid my kids might be learning this one the hard way!  I guess that is what I'm wondering, is it a lesson, or is it just one of those crazy years?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Schnitzel; Royal Ranch Style

Once again, I forgot to take pictures while I was making dinner (Ha! thank goodness for clipart), but my family enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd share my recipe with you all real quick.  Plus, I know I have been a bad girl about my blog over the weekend, so this may make up for it.  Actually if you try this, it will more than make up for it!
Schnitzel has quite a history, and when I went to do a little research for this post I was shocked at how worldly it is!  Wikipedia has an entire page dedicated to schnitzel and it's various origins and ways to be made.  I was actually quite relieved to read that many heritages have a claim to fame on this great food source, and that hopefully I will not be corrected by my German exchange sister on this one (just kidding, Irina).  We of course, are closer related to the German one, because that is what Tom was raised with and loves.
What I have learned is that you can "schnitzelize" (my spell check is having a heck of a time with this word, so it must be a Judy original!) just about anything, which is partially why I love it so much.  The fantastic part is that you can take an inexpensive cut (like cube steak) of meat, tenderize it and turn it into a wonderful meal for your family.  It is also great to take boneless skinless breasts and fillet them (cut them in half sideways to double the amount of breasts you have) and then tenderize them and you have twice the amount of food for the same amount of money.  Last night I used this recipe on elk steak, so it is even good on game meat!

To prepare the meat I lay it out on a cutting board (no plastic or wood to hold in meat bacteria remember!) and let the kids go to town with the meat hammer, they absolutely love this job!  If it gets too messy you can cover it with plastic wrap, which I never do because I prefer to clean up the mess than use plastic, but it is a good tip for those of you who can't handle the juices.  Turn the meat over and do the same to the other side and clean all surfaces of your children, cutting board, counters and kitchen with an antibacterial cleaner of some kind, preferably eco-friendly!
Mix bread crumbs, flour, seasoned salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and pepper in a shallow dish.  Amounts are a little tricky on this one as it depends on how much you are making and your tastes.  I am guessing that for 6-8 pieces (I always make a much bigger batch and never measure, so I am guessing here) you will need a total of 1 cup dry ingredients with about 1tsp. each of the spices.  Then you can adjust to your own tastes from there.  In another shallow dish scramble two eggs and add a dash of milk and really mix well.  Dredge meat pieces in egg/milk mixture and then in crumb mixture, place in a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil in the bottom on medium high heat.  I use olive oil because it is much healthier.  Leave the burner pretty hot until the pieces are browned on the first side and ready to turn over.  After turning, turn down the heat, and let the meat cook through and the second side continue browning.

As I mentioned, this is a very versatile main course, it can be served with just about any side dish.  You can also mix Parmesan cheese and Italian spices into the dry ingredients and you have "Parmigiana" to serve over pasta with sauce.  Get creative, and if you do, don't forget to come back here and tell us all about it!