Monday, January 30, 2012

Ancient Greece... again! ~ Magnesium

What's Schoolin'?

I just uploaded a file with a few Ancient Greece lapbook pages.  One page has 3 matchbooks for each of the main philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.  The other is sort of a quiz, but don't tell dds! :)  It's a lift-the-flap with the question on top and they'll have their answers underneath.

One dd is doing a traditional lapbook for the ancients and another is, I guess, notebooking it.  She's using cardstock in a binder with dividers for each civilization.

What's Cookin'?

~ We'll be doing a horticulture presentation for our 4-H club in a few weeks.  We're blatantly stealing an idea that we saw at another 4-H workshop and will present different herbs along with dips using them.  The one that surprised me with its flavor and fresh taste was simple fresh parsley chopped and mixed into sour cream.  I'm hoping I can find freshly packed herbs in this new area.  If you have a Kroger (I miss Kroger!!) you can get little packs of fresh herbs in the produce section.  They usually go on clearance before they go bad so that's what I would get.  Try some fresh herbs mixed into some sour cream; or better yet, mixed into some strained yogurt (to thicken it a bit) and get some probiotics; or even better yet, mixed into some homemade yogurt; or even better yet, mixed into some homemade yogurt made from fresh farm milk. :)

The timing is off since it's in the middle of winter and I don't have my herb garden set up yet.  Another idea is to demonstrate different plants that represent different parts of plants that we eat.

~ Flaxseed/cottage cheese combo:  This combination is suppose to help your body absorb healthy fats.  I take tons (therapeutic doses) of Fermented Cod Liver Oil w/ Butter Oil (see link below) (and extra fish oil on extra bad brain days).  Lately my neck and hands look like a 90+ year old woman's - all papery, dry, and thin.  I look dehydrated (which I may be) and just dried out like a withered raisin.  I don't think I'm absorbing all that I'm taking.  Hopefully this combo will help.  I eat cottage cheese almost daily anyway for lunch or snack because I feel good after eating it and because it has a precursor to a healthy brain chemical (I think it's dopamine).  I like to add organic cherries, blueberries, or apples to my cottage cheese.  I'm looking forward to trying this combo.  It was discovered by Dr. Budwig and they use it for cancer patients.  Basically it's 1:2 flaxseed oil to cottage cheese.  Whip it thoroughly with an immersion blender (or maybe a food processor?).  Then you add in freshly ground flaxseeds.  I don't have any so I'll start with just the oil blended in.  They recommend the Barlean's brand of flaxseed oil which happens to be the one I got at a health food store recently (yeah!).


I'm not endorsing this product (I just saw the video and hadn't heard of them before) but I found this info quite interesting and it gives another angle to the importance of magnesium.  With my leftover Lyme-induced brain issues I'm always on the alert (somewhere within the fog) for things that will benefit my brain health.

I've been taking magnesium for quite a while now but have been revisiting it lately.  When I was about 3/4 through my initial conventional Lyme treatment (almost 5 years of nearly daily antibiotics plus a ton of other meds plus a ton of supplements) and was just racked with pain I was taking the daily max + of Advil and/or Aleve.  I finally asked the naturapath that owns a local store what fibro patients take for the pain and she recommended Fibralgia   I couldn't believe how effective it was.  It got me off of the pain meds.  Since then I rarely take Advil and that's mainly just for occasional migraines or female issues (although the magnesium is always my first line of defense for cramps also and it usually works).  The other good thing about this particular product is that it doesn't mess with bowels.  A few weeks ago I tried a different kind - one recommended to me in a health food store.  I was only able to take it 2 days because of bowel intolerance.  I wish now that I had saved my money and waited until the store carrying Fibralgia was open or had ordered through Amazon.  Wasted money.  Lesson learned.

I've been ruminating over trying topical magnesium since it's highly bioavailable and there are no bowel issues.  While I was in the middle of this rumination 2 highly trusted foodie blogs posted about magnesium (Annemarie and Kelly).  I've narrowed it down to 2 trusted products:  
Ancient Minerals Ultra Pure Magnesium Oil 8 oz. and Dr. Barbara Hendel's Magnesium Oil (Swanson).

After reading about them I'm going to try the Swanson brand spray.  It comes from the same place (if I understand correctly), is reputable, and is much less expensive.

I am getting the spray so I can just spray it on my feet at bedtime.  I don't have any trouble at all falling asleep but many who do find that magnesium at bedtime helps them sleep.  No, I wish I could stay awake longer in my little nest of books.  Just when I get settled in for some fun quiet time with books I fall asleep!  Okay, so starting out at 10:30 may be the reason... [Notice I said bookS not book - I think my current stack is 5 that I'm actively reading right now.  Several are previews for dc; a chicken book; a crossword book to start relaxing and forget about pressing worries; and adult fiction] [I'm previewing a Tan book about St. Athanasius  since we're moving into Ancient Rome and it's a really cool point of view regarding the Council of Nicaea, the Nicene Creed, and the Arian heresy.  It's also an easy read.  While looking for the link I noticed that there is also a book with his original writings so I'll keep my eye open for that one as well. On The Incarnation (this 99 cent Kindle has an intro by CS Lewis) ]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

44% ~ 41% ~ and 54% off!!

What's Schoolin'?

We have used a globe ball in our home school for YEARS.  It's an all-time favorite.  It has finally started to deflate a little bit but after over 10 years of homeschooling I'm getting a bit wrinkly myself!  They sit on the floor and roll the ball to each other (okay, they toss it, but they are *suppose* to roll it!).  The person getting the ball calls out where their right thumb is touching.  It's simple, but brings awareness to geography in a fun way.  Right now it's on sale for 54% off.  Ours was a ball we found at Wal-Mart over 10 years ago but this one is from Learning Resources - a name I've trusted for 2 decades.

I'm passing on another sale that caught my eye.  We've used Insect Lore and just love the butterfly kit but have never bought them ourselves due to the price.  Well... now they're on sale at Amazon!  It's so cool to see the caterpillars grow, change, and fly away. It is 44% off right now.

This Ant Farm is 41% off right now:

I hope you find these sales helpful. I appreciate any shopping you do on Amazon through my blog - thanks!

What's Cookin'?

Tortilla Soup:  The other night we had tortilla soup but I didn't use a recipe.  I put a quart of chicken gelatin/fat I had saved plus another quart of filtered water.  I added about 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken (I cut it against the grain with my kitchen shears).  I also tossed in a handful of flash-frozen tomatoes from my freezer.  Then I added spices:  chili powder (home-mixed), Real Salt, dash of cayenne, and some cumin (magic ingredient!).  I crushed a handful of organic tortilla chips in each bowl and ladles the soup on top.  We were able to serve leftovers for lunch today.  Dh said he could eat tortilla soup once a week... I need to add it to my "favorite dinners" list to use in menu planning!

Chicken Stirfry concoction:  Staying with the chicken theme... Last night I dug the following out of my freezer: 1 C shredded zucchini, 1 C flash frozen green beans from market season last Spring; 1 C of bagged frozen cauliflower; 1 bag of pre-cooked frozen spaghetti noodles left over from a previous meal (I wanted rice but we're plain out for now).  I cut up another 2 Cups of pre-cooked chicken I still had in the refrigerator.  After letting it thaw (okay, the truth is that I waited too late and stuck the pan with all above ingredients minus the chicken in a 200F oven in hopes to speed up the defrosting!) I put about 4 T butter, 4 T coconut oil, and 4 T palm shortening to melt and put all of the ingredients (including chicken) except for the noodles to heat thoroughly.  Then I added about 1/2 C of sour cream plus 1-1/2 C water and mixed it well.  I added the noodles last since they were already cooked and heated everything through again.  Oh - I almost forgot the seasoning :).  I put a few slugs of Tree of Life fermented soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, Real Salt, ConcenTrace (hidden trace minerals!), and paprika.  Everyone seemed to like it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Smelling Bottles

What's Schoolin'?

If I were making smelling bottles right now I would dig around my kitchen cupboard first. You could use lemon extract, vanilla (although mine smells like rum because it's real from a local farm so that wouldn't work!), orange extract; or spices such as cloves, cinnamon, garlic powder, etc. I'm thinking that if you use spices you could still put it in the bottom of the bottle and put a cotton ball on top so it won't spill out. OR, maybe (thinking out loud, I haven't actually done it), simmer in some oil like you would to make garlic oil and put a few drops on a cotton ball.

Here are some bottles that could be used for Montessori Smelling Bottles:

This is my favorite because it closes to seal in the scent but flips open easily for the child to use:

I like these because they have the porous lid under the screwtop lid. I actually use these for homegrown spices and find them for the same price locally $1/bottle is not a bad price:

What's Cookin'?

I'm determined to learn to make some cheese.  We already make cream cheese and I would like to learn to make Mozzarella from fresh milk at least.  I've checked out a million books on cheese making which are competing for my time with the chicken books that I had already checked out!

A friend told me today that you get approximately 1 pound of cheese from 1 gallon of milk.  Bummer, not a great money saver.  However, with my $5/gallon milk it STILL comes out to the same price as the Wal-Mart brand cheese plus no freaky Frankenstein additives [and certainly no "mold inhibitors" - in cheese?  They're kidding right?  Mold is what makes cheese... cheese.  Plus, if cheese (or any "food" for that matter) can't mold  due to additives then I don't want to eat it.  I'd rather cut off mold or have to throw some away now and then - which never happens around here! - than eat food that is so far removed from nature that it doesn't mold.  Getting off of my little soapbox now!].  At least I'll have lots of whey for a boost of glutathione-building.

I've learned that it wasn't such a great idea to cook the chickens immediately after processing.  They're a little tough (okay, stringy is more descriptive but it sounds much too unappetizing).  We should have just packed them raw and frozen them uncooked or let them sit in the fridge for 2 days before cooking and freezing. [Thanks to those who gave me such good advice - I only wish I has asked beforehand!]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tropical Traditions Sale (today is last day for palm shortening 42% off)

What's Cookin'?

Some of my favorite products are on sale right now so I thought I would post them (pictures with links are below). [If someone orders using any of my links, would you mind letting me know so I can see if the links are working correctly?  Thanks, I just need one person to let me know.]

Organic Palm Shortening is on sale - one gallon for $23.59 (regular price $40.75).

We *only* use TTraditions' lip balm.  I'm not kidding.  Every time I decide to try something in the regular stores or even health food stores I ALWAYS regret it.  I've found TTraditions lip balm in a few places locally so it seems to be getting a bit more mainstream.  However, we like the unflavored best and locally they only order the peppermint (and have higher prices!) or, in my old town, they may not always have it in stock.  Therefore, I usually get several at a time to keep stashed and handy.  All dc and myself use this product.  I wait for the buy one get one free... and here it is!  They have unflavored, cinnamon/peppermint, tea tree oil, orange/cinnamon, and citrus.

They also have buy 1 get one free Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil (2 - 16 oz jars for $19.95).  I am using the Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil (non-certified) and am very pleased with it.  Their sale price for 1 gallon of that is $44.00.

Special Price! - 1 Gallon Organic Palm Shortening - 112 oz.

2 Lip Moisturizers - Unscented - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

2 Lip Moisturizers - Cinnamon/Peppermint - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

2 Lip Moisturizers - Tea Tree Oil - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

2 Lip Moisturizers - Orange/Cinnamon - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

2 Lip Moisturizers - Citrus - Buy 1 Get 1 FREE!

Special Price! - 2 pints - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil 16 oz. - Buy 1 get 1 FREE!

1-gallon Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Non-Certified

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yeast-Free Soaked Pizza Crust

What's Cookin'?

This is an adjusted recipe from


2 C Flour*
1 Tbl baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Real Salt
1 Tablespoon oil**
2/3 C water
1/3 C yogurt (or kefir or whey or clabbered/soured milk)***


The night before (or that morning - it needs an 8 - 12 hour soak) mix all EXCEPT the baking powder.  The next morning, or when you are ready to bake it, mix in the baking powder and knead it just until it is fully incorporated.  Slightly oil or grease a pizza pan and flatten it out from the center to the edges.  Add pizza toppings.  Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes.

I baked mine ahead of time and froze it just because that's how the timing worked out.  I've used the original unsoaked version of this recipe and would bake it along with the desired toppings and it worked fine.  So, there's no reason why this wouldn't work out baking directly with the toppings on it as well.

* I tested it using all whole wheat and all white whole wheat.  White whole wheat turned out more to our liking.

** You can use any liquid oil that you prefer.  I used Hain's other brand "Hollywood" because it's what I could get at the time.  Melted coconut oil should work well also.

*** Only use clabbered or soured milk if you are using fresh farm milk.  Regular milk from the store will just go bad if left out to clabber or sour and isn't safe to consume.

This recipe is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday:

It is also part of the Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snap Circuits on sale 53%! ~ Gyros

What's Schoolin'?

Snap Circuits:  All dc have enjoyed this material for years.
I happened to see that the Snap Circuit 300 is on sale right now with free shipping on Amazon.

We have used the Snap Circuit 100 for several years and the children have really, really enjoyed it. After years of being out on the shelf for free choice shelf work time I just put it up a few months ago when we moved. I will bring it back out at the end of the school year to rotate it back in because they enjoy it so much. The 300 would be nice, but this one has provided enough for our needs:

On the other hand, the 300 is on sale right now at 53% off.
That sale would be hard for me to resist if I was getting one today :).

What's Cookin'?

I had an interesting experience at a local small diner (counter take-out or tables).  We're finishing up Ancient Greece and I wanted to give them some authentic Gyros.  I had seen a small sign in a strip mall in town that said Gyros and Kabobs.  So, in I went.  There was no way I could pay $7 a piece for each of us to get a lamb gyro.  Plus, germ freak that I am with my lame immune system, I was hoping to take something home where I could reheat it, etc.  All that I really needed was their distinctive pita flat bread and the meat.  Dd kept telling me to just find a recipe and we could make our own - great idea and I love that she has the enthusiasm for homemade food... but I wasn't sure I could replicate the flavor of the meat nor replicate the bread.  Not to mention finding lamb meat!  I explained my dilemma of low cash and my needs to the cashier/cook and we put together an order of "extras" that included meat, 1 pita (so they can at least taste it even though we'll make the rest ourselves), and a tiny container of tzatziki sauce.  I poured out a bunch of change, pretended not to be embarrassed as I counted it out ("It all spends the same," he said to help me feel better), and took home my treasure (which I froze as soon as I got home).

I thought it was funny when I asked him what meats they used; if they only had lamb or had goat as well.  He said something like, "It's lamb.  It's suppose to be lamb.  There may be some goat in there, I don't know (shrug).  It comes already like that.  Just tell them it's meat and you won't be lying."  I had to laugh out loud.  I said they (dc) would be fine knowing it's lamb, I just wondered if they also offered goat gyros so they could try that also.

Okay, now what?  I'll make some more tzaziki sauce since the teeny tiny little cup I bought will just be for tasting.  I have a TON of yogurt in the fridge - both homemade from fresh farm milk (I have some draining right now to thicken it up for adding into the tzaziki recipe) and some of Nancy's organic plain yogurt I got from Azure Standard yesterday.

After seeing this link (I saw the original Alton Brown recipe referred to here but it didn't inspire me as much as this one from someone who tried it) I think I just might get some chevre (read: ground goat meat) next time I'm near my old town which is near a wonderful organic farm with goats.

I'm trying this new pita recipe but will adjust it to soak the flour overnight:

I thought the info at the end of this recipe was interesting.  Let's hope our bit of meat used fats to bind it and not the gross meat glue that US food manufacturers use on meat now (withOUT labeling I might add).,1761,131188-252199,00.html

This is the whole milk yogurt I got from Azure Standard. I'm not thrilled with the "organic nonfat dry milk" but the only other ingredients are organic whole milk and cultures.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ancient Rome Part 1 (Links) ~ Chicken Sketty

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some resource links for Ancient Rome.  This is actually what I will e-mail to my 2 high schoolers so they can click on them directly.  Sending them the Greek links to their e-mail worked really well so we'll try that again.  I hope some of you may find them useful either now or later (in my case it will be now AND later when youngest dd gets there!).  This is why I would love to have a Kindle!  Any Kindle downloads that you see they read on my computer.

I will post my general plans and resource books shortly.  Right now it's a scribbled mess in a notebook :).  We'll study more of the early Christian martyrs/saints but it's not reflected in these links (more on that later).


Choose at least 5 sites from each column (kingdom; republic; empire)(can be bunny trail sites):
Hadrian's Wall Gallery:

Roman poet Ovid (published between 8 and 5 BC)
Read this one from the Ovid's Heroides:
Read this analysis of Virgil's Aeneid after reading the other Aeneid books
-The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by A. Church
-The Aeneid by Virgil (original; translated)
Roman poet Horace:  Read Satire 1 Book 1 "on discontent":
Read this intro to dactylic hexameter
Choose one Early Church Father to read original works (see small print under some of the titles)(I can help you load):
For fun:

Young Folk's History of Rome (free kindle)(looks like a good overview but I have only seen the preview - see last several chapters):
The Martyr of the Catacombs: A Tale of Ancient Rome (free kindle):
What's Cookin'?

Unbelievable... dh and the olders processed our 17 broilers Saturday.  I just served beans and rice for dinner!  Sunday was another vegetarian meal (and chocolate chip cookies) before I could actually serve the chicken.  He smoked 12 and I baked 4 and one is ready to cook in the freezer.  All of the cooked ones except 2 are also in the freezer.  This is soooooooo out of my comfort zone!!  There is no way I could've been out there with them, much less helped.  I simply can't comprehend how they could but dh was grateful to have their help or he couldn't have finished.  How's that for Montessori Practical Life??  Truthfully, that's real life.  

I'm really looking forward to getting layers, though.  THEN I'll let myself bond with them and I think the dc will really enjoy them also.  Who knows, maybe one of them (the dc!) will want to enter some showmanship 4-H chicken contests if they exist around here.  I have checked out one million library books on chickens!  Two favorites are due back this Thursday and have holds on them:

Chicken Spaghetti:  This is our first meal with our homegrown chickens.  Does this mean that we're now officially homesteaders?  I used only 1 breast from a baked chicken and it made 3 Cups of shredded chicken.     I used the recipe below with the following changes:  less butter, 1/2-1 cup frozen shredded zucchini, 1 diced carrot, and 3 garlic cloves.  Instead of 2 C broth I used 1 C drippings from the original chicken baking that I saved (it was beautiful gelatin with just a tad of fat).  For the cheese I used about 1/2 C cubed Swiss and about 1/2 shredded cheddar (both from the freezer) because the Swiss has such a strong taste that I mainly use it for cooking but wanted a bit of cheddar flavor also.  I sprinkled a bit of cheddar on top also instead of Parmesan.

One last difference:  I divided my noodles and sauce into 2 pans (9 x 12 and 8 x 8).  I froze the smaller pan by lining it with parchment paper, then covering it with plastic wrap.  After it's frozen I'll take it out of the glass pan that I use so much and probably bag it.,1639,147176-234194,00.html

I chose that recipe because it didn't use Velveeta (!), used real ingredients, and used ingredients that I had (no grocery shopping for a while for me so that's really important right now).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Antarctica ~ World Geography for High School

What's Cookin'?

~ This is oldest dd's recipe for the local fair's food contest.  I made it recently with some organic bulk cherries that we had gotten in the summer and she loved it.  I use a very simple pie crust.  Poor thing even put cherry pie on her Christmas wish list.  I guess she figures that she had better make one if she's going to get another any time soon! [Update:  Bummer - we couldn't get cherries so she chose blueberries and made a gorgeous blueberry pie but we forgot to get the foil pie plate when we were out :(.  This is the first time I really felt it living out of town.  Then she made a cranberry pumpkin bread but it didn't work well (but was delicious); then tried a pumpkin raisin bread and it collapsed (probably because of my bright idea to use the new mixer).  So... she made 3 foods and entered none.  At least her art entries won some ribbons (bragging here!) and we enjoyed a delicious pie and hearty pumpkin craisin bread.]

~ Middle dd wanted to do a bundt cake for the food contest.  She chose this recipe.  We have everything except the orange juice and we needed more eggs anyway.  It's wonderful to have what you need on-hand for from-scratch cooking! [Update: This cake came out just like it was suppose to :).  I tasted a crumb and it was too sweet for me, but then I'd much rather eat potato chips... Relieved to say it got a ribbon since it was her only entry aside from cockrels (another brag!)]

~ I'm hoping youngest dd will make Laura's truffles again.  Mmmm. [Update:  no truffles, but brownies instead so how can I complain? (last brag - another ribbon.  All entries should get ribbons for the perseverance and the effort to enter so I was glad to see that all foods got some type of ribbon)]

~ Weekly plan (sort of):  I have a long list of cooking to-dos for this week, but mainly I'll be making peanut butter, soaked beans, soaked rice, soaked biscuits, soaked muffins, soaked tortillas, and soaked pita bread to be ready for meals.  Meals will be:  beans/rice with chicken sausage from Fran's Fryers; spaghetti; tacos; onion/apple sausage stir fry. That's 4 meals for a family of 5 with just 1 lb of ground chicken and 1 package of sausage. Yesterday we had bean/cheese quesadillas with "instant" refried beans from my gottatries list for lunch (beans didn't work so great but the Amish cheese made up for it!), and the spicy garlic prawns also from my gottatries list (which were excellent but peeling raw shrimp was an act of love for this germ freak, let me tell you! And then I forgot to save the peels to make stock, ugh).  Basically, it's chicken, chicken, chicken because we've gone through all of our stashed beef and set aside pastured pork (which is a rare treat anyway), and won't have any more beef for this week at least.  When I haven't had good beef for a while I start to seriously crave it so I took some soup bones out of the freezer and will make some beef broth for our rice cooking this week.

What's Schoolin'?

We're not doing Antarctica right now, but it's always a good time to add to our continent boxes.  Here are some awesome free penguin 3-part cards from jojoebi.  Thanks for sharing!  Browse through the other available 3-part cards on the next link (and printing directions).  We were planning out the rest of the school year Sunday with dc (long story for another post...) and while discussing how they like to learn Geography middle dd said that she has realized that she likes to learn Geography through books more than shelf work -gasp! - (we have Trail Guide To World Geography that she'll use) and oldest dd really likes the shelf work and she said that she particularly likes 3-part cards.  See?  Even high schoolers can still benefit from 3-part cards!  BTW, youngest (10) especially likes the world felt map :).

Regarding the olders' World Geography (needed for their high school transcripts)... As mentioned above, middle dd will use the book Trail Guide To World Geography while older dd will use the shelf work.  However, after studying the continent of her choice thoroughly, oldest dd will then skim through the book just to make sure she didn't miss anything. We will also check out library books and scour the internet to supplement the cultural aspects of the continents.  I never could get Continent Folders put together... I tried a few times but books are more our style!

Here is the book we'll be using.  I know it just looks like another teacher book, but... isn't "following the child" actually listening to them and trying to implement their learning style?  This is a great curriculum with 3 different "trails" for each day for different levels of ability.  Quite an awesome book.  I also have the Trail Guide to Bible Geography and am sad to say that it's just sat on the Geography shelf for years.  I think it's amazing and there's still hope that we'll do it!  Years ago I use to give the an annual pre- and post-test of Geography by having them simply draw a world map in as much detail as possible at the beginning and at the end of the year.  It was very cool to see their growth.  I think it's time for another one!

Antarctica Books (some I've used and recommend; others looked good and I thought would be worth looking at further):

Free Kindle Book:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Broilers (What???)


When dh first mentioned it, I have to admit, I burst out into guffaws and (nearly hysterical) uncontrollable laughter just imagining that someone would do that.  Then I realized... he was serious.  Okay, that still didn't keep me from laughing.  Apparently we are taking the broilers for a little trip - 400+ miles each way!! - to join us for our Christmas holidays with my in-laws (and stopping overnight at my mom's on the way).  These will probably be the most travelled broilers at the 4-H show this year!

What is the rationale for taking chickens with you on a family road trip?  Just in case you too are wondering that, I'll explain.  We have 17 broilers that are 4 weeks old.  We don't have an ideal setup with huge feeders, waterers, etc.  We have 2 small feeders and 2 waterers.  We have to refill their food *3X* a day now and their water twice.  That's way too much to ask of anyone for several days in a row.  Even if we paid a fellow homeschooler's children to care for them or asked a neighbor, that's still a lot of work.  Plus, the weather is erratic and we check on their temperature also (the door to the shed is cracked right now but I'll go out in a bit to see if they're huddled under the lamp).

Thus, the building of the "Traveling Holiday Chicken Coop" that can be used for any occasion:  Christmas, Easter, Spring Break, you name it.  This is not to be confused with the "M. Family Traveling Circus."

Of course, there was the time that we showed up at my in-laws with 1 dog, 2 guinea pigs, and 3 beta fish!

[Update:  Phew!  We just made it back home... with all of the chickens intact.  The chickens had a 7 day road trip and did really well.  I'll post photos in another post.  We arrived just after dark at my in-laws (day 2 of the trip) so we stopped a block away and put Christmas lights around the coop.  I had to laugh out loud again when I saw that dh had brought lights just for that reason.  They were able to see us arrive with lights blazing.]