Author Archives for nicole askew

goats.

November 18th, 2017
We have lived out of the city for a grand total of 20 days.  I have battled dirt, spiders, goat-heads, flies, stubbed toes, an internet dry-spell, numerous cardboard boxes, spiders, two dogs that refused to be contained, a new furnace, and a few more spiders.  I have cried more tears that I can count (happy, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry and maybe a couple from fits of laughter) and stolen hugs from my children as often as they would let me. These 20 days have felt like an eternity, yet it is zooming past faster than a bolt of lightening.

Amidst the moving frenzy, my eldest daughter is turning 4 in a few days, and when asked what she wanted for her birthday, she promptly answered, “a goat. Mom, you know that already.” My mistake.  Of course, how could I forget about Douglas, her mountain mail goat (click here to read and watch Tyler’s goat story . ). Jokingly, I brought this up to my husband and his parents, and they said “okay.”

Wait- is this real?

Oh, Yeah.  So, for the past 2 weeks I have been researching, reading, facebooking, internetting, and boarder-line obsessing over the prospect of owning goats, and -LET ME TELL YOU- there is an entire world of information that I had no idea even existed! I could go into extreme detail with everything that I learned, and tell you all about my opinions. And you know, what, I will… but not today.
Through the wonders of facebook, I have “met” a handful of really great goaty people, and guys. I’M GONNA BE A GOAT LADY! Yeah, That’s right! for Tyler’s 4th birthday we are going to pick up 3 Nigerian Dwarf goats!  1 doe, 1 buck, and a wether (castrated male). I still haven’t told Tyler yet… She’s gonna be Over the Goaty Moon!!

November 20th, 2017

TODAY IS THE DAY! We picked up the new additions to the Askew clan! The girls were go excited, but who can blame them? I mean… GOATS!
Meet Chantilly, Vincent, Steeve

AND! Douglas…

The neighbor across the lane from our home, brought over a 4th goat JUST for Tyler! SHE is a 7mo Boer and is the goat of Tyler’s mail carrier dreams. She has already planned their delivery route and is designing the perfect goat mail bag.

Cheers! 

 

 

The Purple Tent

 259200 seconds = 4320 minutes = 72 hours = 3 days                                                       UNTIL … My birthday.

I’m not a huge birthday person, but I have to get something off my chest once and for all:

My life has been a huge disappointment. I have been let down every. single. year.  No, hear me out,  I’m not pointing fingers at any specific person, or even blaming anyone at all!

But, I have been waiting decades for A gift. Not just any gift, I mean, I get gifts every year, and I’m not being ungrateful, I promise! Maybe I should back up…

Long ago, in a  far away land called “California,” lived a tiny princess called Nicole. She was loved by many, and wanted for nothing, as her every wish was granted by all that would grace her path. Yet upon a celebration of her birth during her early childhood, a promise was made, but never came to fruition. This promise haunted her each year, and as she watched the years come and go, never was the promise kept. It was the one gift that her heart ached for. She wore this deep and true longing for the coveted item like a cloak of darkness, shadowing her from the ultimate happiness that she believed it would bring. Within this gift, she would at long last, feel complete. 

Okay, so, that might be a bit of a stretch, maybe.

This is a story that I tell people, and have told for years and years whenever anyone asks me when my birthday is.

One might approach me in idle conversation and say, “Hey Nicole! When is your birthday?”  A simple question, usually just small talk, I mean, I hardly ever expect for anyone to remember the details of my life EXCEPT for my birthday. BECAUSE of my answer: “A Purple Tent.”

Yep. That’s my birthday: A Purple Tent.

Usually, the person asking just stares at me with a blank look after my answer, and this is where I get to tell my story… the real one.

When I was younger, and I’m not even sure how old I was (3? 4? 5?), I remember Momma telling me that my birthday was coming up, and that I was going to have a party, a cake, and presents! Yay! She kept mentioning A Purple Tent though…. A Purple Tent this, and A Purple Tent that, and when A Purple Tent comes it’s party time… and so on. All I know is that this Purple Tent was filled with magical birthday goodness and I NEEDED IT!

So, birthday day comes, and I’m buzzing! We get ready, and head to this place nearby where, I assume, the Purple Tent is. We lived in California at the time, and the location of the party was somewhere in the redwoods. We had lots of picnics and gatherings out there, and I didn’t think much about it being a strange place to find A Purple Tent, because it WAS a campsite. There were always tents scattered about. As I’m looking around for my party, I realize that there is NO PURPLE TENT in sight (site? haha). And this, my friends, is where my heart breaks.

Without A Purple Tent there is no party. No party is no birthday. No birthday mean no cake, no friends, no presents, and worst of all. I CANNOT GET ANY OLDER.

This was my promise. I know (now) that is was simply miscommunication, but every year, I have high hopes of seeing a dome shaped dwelling in a vibrant purple shade resting on my lawn. AHHH One of these days…  my birthday, will be in tents (intense, see what I did there?).
Oh yeah, My birthday?

                    It’s April Tenth 😉

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I just found out that there is an organization CALLED  Purple Tent.  How cool is that??? You can rent a campsite on private property! I might have to become a Host just to get this sweet tent!!

Kids These Days: why is life so hard?

tl;dr: my kids don’t eat veggies, and it’s all my fault because they each have an ipad.

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I’m gonna start off on a nostalgic foot here, so strap on
your Doc Marten sandals, chunky, bright-white soled Sketchers, Nike-Airs, Keds, Jellies or  Converse All-Stars (or whatever off brand the discount shoe store had on sale that month), and take a walk down Memory Lane with me, don’t worry, we will only circle the block once- twice if we ride our bikes (bonus points if your bike has cards inthe spokes, you can do it no-hands, or you have a rope rigged to the handlebars like a horse).

When I was a child, life was fun. My days were filled with fun, friends, and freedom. I had a few key things that I HAD to do:

  1. Chores
  2. Go To School
  3. Stay Out of the Way
  4. Eat My Vegetables: all of them.

That was it. Literally, IT. And sometimes, I think that the most important of those was #3, seriously. Getting out of my parent’s hair was the easiest because that meant I could go play. I don’t remember pestering my parents with 429 question, or begging them to watch them play a video game. Why? Because our parents didn’t allow it, and I had several friends that lived nearby, and as long as I did my chores (dishes, laundry, feed the animals, clean my room… simple things that my children have zero concept of), and I was home for dinner at 6, I could do and go just about anywhere, and there weren’t cellphones to track me through GPS. I’m not even gonna get started on cellphones, but, yeah, that’s trust, or is is neglect? No. Because I had food, water, shelter, and clothing… which brings me to my next point…

Food. 

Why in the blazes do kids these days NOT FLIPPING EAT? I mean they DO eat, but only if someone else has prepared it for them, or it comes in a colorful, crinkly, package. What happened to PB&J on hamburger buns? microwave eggs? or a banana? Everything has to be either 110% sugar, OR gluten-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, organic, and made in the USA–which means it’s expensive, really, there’s nothing free about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I try to feed my children healthy things, but I don’t lose sleep over the fact that they might get an extra cookie over at Magaw and Papa’s, or that my 3 year old in munching on fries that she found in her carseat from our trip to the drive-thru last week (or was it the week before last?).

What I do lose sleep over is that those monsters won’t eat their vegetables without a bribe. When I was young there were 2 options for eating veggies: Eat them, or Go to Bed. And with dinner at 6, there was no way I was gonna sacrifice those last 3 hours of my night, what if I missed T.G.I.F?! Carrots and Peas would NOT be the reason that I missed seeing what kind of trouble Corey and Shawn got into that week. But not my kids. I am offering screentime, sweet treats, or a  if they would “PLEASE just eat 2 bites of anything green!”

*sigh* Okay, back to the list…kids7

Going to school was a no-brainer, we  and it wasFUN. Heck, even walking a mile to school every morning was fun. Where I lived, we had this chain of kids that walked together, and we relied on one another to get to school on time. The kid who lived the furthest away started the chain, he would walk to the nearest house that had kids, knock on their door, and wait for them to finish their morning stuff,  and then would proceed to the next, and so on…  I had this one friend who’s parents went to work super early some mornings, and I would find him sitting at our kitchen table eating cereal and watching TMNT (7am, on FOX) when I woke up. There wasn’t any arrangement with our parents weeks ahead of time, it just was what happened, no one seemed to care. Anyway, by the time we got to the school yard, we would be walking with what looked like the entire 5th grade class, and it was fun.  If one kids was sick, it would throw off the whole routine, so if that wasn’t an incentive to NOT get sick, I don’t know what is.

 Depending on the day, sometimes I would take a shortcut through this church yard that bordered a house that owned horses, and being kids, we thought it was our responsibility to stop and greet the horse each morning. At one point, someone had a brilliant idea that we fill buckets with weeds, grass, flowers, and other yard trimmings, and bring it to the horse each morning, so, for awhile, we lugged buckets around with us each morning. I remember getting into trouble for raiding the crisper for carrots, celery, and lettuce, but darn it all, that horse was worth being grounded! 

Speaking of being grounded… When did that stop being a thing? I was grounded from everything at least once:

  • Television: my mother would unplug the tv and leave the cord in a very specific swirl and location so she would know if I plugged it in while she was at work
  • Playing After School: This was torture, because walking home with everyone was like saying my final farewells to a loved one. This also included not being able to call the neighbor kid as soon as I got home (you know,  on the phone that was attached to the kitchen wall?). I5f 6 *still* remember most of those phone numbers!
  • Music: no tapes, no cd’s, no MTV, or VH1, and ABSOLUTELY NO Radio–Which was hardest on the weekends, because not being able to call the  radio station and request songs was the worst. 
  • Weekend Activities: Self Explanatory, and it hurt the most when a slumber party or birthday at the roller rink was on the calendar. UGH. 
  • Grounded To My Room: This one I got the most, and didn’t affect me as much. I liked my room, except when I had to clean it (something that I WISH my kids would do)
                                  …and so on.

I spent weeks playing by myself, reading The BabySitters Club, The BoxCar Children, or GooseBumps, and “reflecting over my bad decisions” while being grounded for doing something stupid.  And honestly, I did some stupid things, usually involving a friend or six, like inviting them over to climb onto the roof and see if they could jump off and stick a landing (I’m not sure if I got caught for that one), stashing unfolded laundry in my closet because I didn’t want to fold it, or sneaking a jar of peanut butter from the pantry for a midnight snack and then leaving it under my bed, all the while denying that it was ME who did it… I was an only child, so… yeah, stupid things.   I know it sounds silly, but I WISH my kids would do some of those stupid things.

So, why the crap can’t these kids cope? Have I ruined them? are they so plugged-in that they can’t see the world around them bursting with opportunity?

Kids THEN and kids NOW aren’t on the same playing field– I mean, kids NOW don’t know what it means to “play” on a “field,”  PERIOD.  And who’s fault is that? ours.  We, as the adults (I use this term loosely, because, I’m not where near the level of adult that my mother was when I was my kids’ age) need to take back the reigns of authority, learn to say NO! and not negotiate with the miniature terrorists that we call children, and GO OUTSIDE! because as scary as the out might be, it’s full of adventures, and , FIGURE IT OUT!,  and for the Love-Of-Parental-Sanity we need to learn to UNPLUG THE DANG TV! 

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The Great Pig Chase

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN A PIG?!” I shouted at my husband as he shoved his foot into his running shoe, tore off across the lawn and hurdled himself over the barbed wire fence and into the empty pasture that separated our home from the busy interstate.  I grabbed my phone and flicked on the video as I hobbled after him in my flip flops.

…Let me back up…

This past Sunday, as my kids were choking down the special “sausage-butterfly” lunch that my culinary genius of a husband fixed them (please, don’t ask), our dogs started to go absolutely berserk in their kennel. They have done this a few times, and I have never been able to see what the heck they are barking at. They just begin wildly barking, jumping, and staring out into the huge EMPTY pasture adjacent to out house.  This time, my husband was home, so I hollered at him to go see what they were going off about. I knew that it HAD to be an animal. Well, I prayed that it WAS an animal, cause if it was a person, they would have some explaining to do!

I looked in the direction that the husband was jogging out towards, and sure enough, I see a little piggy trying her darnedest to ram the fence that was the last barrier between her and 80MPH semi-trucks. WHAT IN THE WORLD!?? Luckily, he was able to flush her towards me, and we then spent the next 15-20 minutes chasing her around our property and our neighbors. My 10 year-old son, husband, and I were able to corner her, and then I took a chance and leapt!  The husband took over, and once she calmed down, scooped her up and trotted her down to our barn, where we set up a temporary pen next to our goats. Who, I might add, did NOT find any humor in sharing their barn. Well, mostly the grain that I gave the pig- the goats are kinda possessive over their grains.

I jumped into the van and started going door-to-door looking for the owners of this cold, scared, and hungry little girl. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able, at the time, to locate anyone, but about an hour later we found them! She had been missing all morning, and they had been searching high and low, but never anticipated she would have traveled so far. This little piggy went WAY past the market when she should have just stayed home!

The lesson we learned this day is a simple one… Don’t wear flip flops when you chase pigs.
Wanna see it all unravel??

Homest(br)ead?

Who doesn’t love walking into a house that smells like fresh bread just came out of the oven? No body. Every one loves it. It’s a scientific fact. Google it.  It’s also said that the smell can make people nicer.

2018 is the year of bread for me. Yeah, I’ll probably gain the weight that I’m supposed to be losing this year, but who really keeps track of that nonsense? AMIRIGHT? I’m sure my family is going to get tired of the flour all over the kitchen, and I’ll be replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors (or removing them…) more often than normal. BUT WE WILL HAVE BREAD!
The brand of bread that we have been buying for the past 5 years has 28 ingredients, half of which I cannot pronounce correctly on my first attempt, and most of which I have zero knowledge even existed before I read the plastic package. My first loaf of bread had 7: water, flour, sugar, egg, honey, oil, yeast, and salt (I used this recipe). I’m sure I can get fancier, but baby steps. mmmkay?

Today, I ventured a little further out of my comfortable baking box, and decided to bravely begin a sourdough starter… it’s a 5 day process, so I still have plenty of time to blow it.  Don’t worry,  I’ll let you know! 

 

Douglas, The Mail Delivery Goat

I love kids.  I really do. I’m slightly partial to my own children, but others are kinda fun too.  Currently, I have a 10 year old. an almost 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 4 month old bitty baby. The 10 year old and the baby are super self involved and kinda boring at the moment, but my two middles are crazy funny.

As you know, we are in the process of moving out of the city, and into the great wide open where we are going to be growing all the food and raising all the animals… I’m determined to get the husband to allow me to have a zebra, but that’s a story for another day.  So far, we have agreed to raise chickens, goats, pigs, a horse or two, and possibly turkeys, but of these, our first adventures will be with chickens and goats.

The other night over dinner, the husband and I were discussing goats. I desperately want to raise milking goats. I’m probably insane, but it sounds fun to me. The benefits of having goats milk are exciting, and we also hope to someday be able to make and sell goats milk soaps and lotions… #dreamgoals.

Anyway,  we talked about how we will want more female goats than male goats to begin with, and then our conversation shifted to something boring. The next morning, over breakfast, our big middle, Tyler, started talking about how she was excited to have her own goat. Obviously, she had been listening to us talk the night before, but as we carried on our morning conversation, it became clear that something got lost in translation…
Luckily for you, I got it ALL on video, Watch it here: Tyler talks about Douglas.

I love kids.

Deciding to Homeschool…

6:30am- ALARM! *snooze*

6:45am-**AALLAARRMM** Ugh. FINE. The floor is cold. I can’t find my pants anywhere, why do I have to ALWAYS wear pants? Leg prisons. Stupid morning.

6:50am- Coffee.

7:00am- Wake the Kids Up

7:05am- Wake the Kids up AGAIN

7:10am- Cook a classic breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fresh squeezed OJ  Put a PopTart in the toaster

7:15am- More coffee

7:30am- Get the kids dressed

7:35am- Convince the kids that shorts and rain boots aren’t the best choice for today’s weather forecast

7:36am- Give up the battle, maybe they will learn natural consequences?

7:40am- Brush the teeth

7:45am- Make the kids brush again, because tooth brushes aren’t swords

7:46am- They aren’t paint brushes either…

7:47am- JUST BRUSH YOUR TEETH!

7:50am- Do the Girl’s Hair, Brush the biggest tangles out and call it good

7:55am- Frantically search for backpacks, matching socks, shoes that fit, and yell at them to stop fighting over who gets to hold the Elsa microphone while you tie their shoes.

7:57am- Make a mental not to teach them to tie their shoes, or buy more rainboots

8:00am- Wrestle children into the van, buckle carseats, and beg them to NOT eat that chicken nugget that is probably 2 weeks old.

8:01am- Remind yourself that they had a PopTart for breakfast, and then search the floor for more chicken nuggets for the other kids.

8:05am- Swerve through traffic and pray that I don’t hit every red light

8:15am- Kiss them and remind them to make good choices as they hop out of the van and run to the playground

8:16am- Wonder why the schoolyard is so empty

8:17am- Look at the calendar and realize that it’s Saturday. Crap.

8:18am- Drive to Starbucks and order a Grande, No Water, No Foam, Vanilla, Soy Chai Latte before heading back to pick them up…

–OR–

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Homeschool. 

They wake up when they have had enough sleep, usually around 8am, and stumble adorably into my room and climb into bed with me. Here, they poke my nose, complain over my dragon breath, and bicker over who gets to share my pillow. This is a moment I look forward to every morning, though my husband isn’t a fan. Good thing he’s already gone to work, right? After they tickle me to an upright position, we make our way to the kitchen for pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fresh squeezed OJ, because we don’t have any PopTarts anywhere in the house, and THAT is a beautiful statement.

Here’s the thing: I am so far from a morning person that I actually prefer to call them “super early afternoons.” The “M-Word” will get you a fast-pass to diaper duty if you say it before I’ve had coffee.  Our mornings set us up for the rest of the day, and when you have an affinity for m-words such as mine, you’d prefer to take the rush out of them, any way you can.

Is this the REASON that we are choosing to homeschool our children? No. But it’s a HUGE  bonus! The husband and I did not take the decision to keep our kids out of mainstream education lightly. It was a process involving research, hard conversations, and loads of prayer. My eldest child is currently attending a public school, and will remain there as it was agreed upon in our custody agreement, but finding the right school for him was a heart-wrenching and difficult task. He experienced things at a public school that convinced us to transfer him to a different one, and solidified our reasons to homeschool our 3 younger children.

We want them to learn through doing, and to have the freedom to use their creativity and natural abilities without time constraints and the pressure of learning at the pace of the other students. With my eldest, we noticed that he was not being challenged and allowed to learn at the correct level because there were too many children and too few resources available, which resulted in less focus and more distraction in the classroom. The children who needed the push were being held back when other students needed more attention and assistance. I fully appreciate that the teachers are doing their best, and I commend their efforts and willingness to step into those rooms each day. It’s not always easy. Not every day is filled with rainbows, gold stars, and shiny apples lining their desks. Teaching is HARD.

We also agreed to give our children a faith based education. Yeah. We love us some Jesus in our home. Unfortunately, this is a subject that isn’t taught at the public school level, and we aren’t financially able to put our kids into a private  Christian school, even with scholarships. We have 4 kids. It’s spendy! Don’t get me wrong, we believe in science, and it’s not like we are teaching our kids to whack people with a KJV Thumping Bible… not yet anyway…

They will be socialized, we aren’t hermits!  And they will be tested, they will learn that if they don’t do the work, they won’t pass the test.  And they will be able to do it all in their PJ’s, though brushing their teeth is still mandatory. Is this choice and option for everyone? NO WAY! But it is for us.

Though they may never use their toothbrush correctly or find actual matching socks… ever. I’m not holding my breath.