Category Archives: Just Being Family

Ringing in the New Year! Welcome to 2017!

img_20161231_200213Welcoming in the new year at our homestead is a fun event. We are not really “party animals” and do normally spend New Year’s Eve with our kids at home.  We play games the entire day and eat homemade finger foods (like homemade egg rolls, meatballs, chips and dips, etc).

This year, we had new games added to our collection including Steampunk Munchkins, Timeline – American History, The Ticket to Ride expansion for 1910 and Oregon Trail. (Yes, I know! Not the standard games that everyone else had in their collections – But we are a gaming kind of family and have all of those standard Sorry and Monopolies too!)

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So for hours and hours, we spend time as a family…. What have I learned while playing games with my kids? I have learned that I don’t like playing against Griffen in Munchkin… He is RUTHLESS! Trystan still does not play well with others and cheats his way through every game that he plays. Larry remembers all of the rules to all of the games that we play…. He is filled with folders of useless knowledge too.  I know that Rowan and Elwyn are very competitive, but will help you out on teaming up on games.  I know that Shelby LOVES to just sit and play any game, anytime with anyone.  Berlyn does not always play well with others. Breckin is a good sport and will not only play games with his sisters, but will dress up for one of the princess games with them.

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Upon the ringing in of the New Year, we make it outside to bang pots and pans and yell Happy New Year…. then come in and drink “kid champagne” AKA  Sparkling Apple Cider. 

This morning, we woke up to 2 new baby goats on our homestead! Declan (one of our registered Purebred Nubians) and Ava (a Registered American Nubian) had 2 baby girls…. We are thrilled to have already added to our homestead this early in the season…. 

So, from our family to yours!

Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Mom of the year!

Check out this awesome article that the Chino Valley Review wrote about us! http://cvrnews.com/news/2016/may/04/chino-valleys-candidate-mother-year/ 

“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving”

— Gail Tsukiyama

Kris Mazy-Fullmer and her husband Larry were married 18 years ago.

“It was not in our plans to have children, but it was it God’s plan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “I was on birth control, but our first child (Shelby) was born just before our first anniversary. After Shelby came, she was so amazing, she changed our minds instantly.”

Kris Mazy-Fullmer with her family, (from left) Breckin (10), Elwyn (12), Rowan (8), Kris, Larry, Shelby (17), Griffen (14), Berlyn (10), Trystan (8). (Courtesy photo)
Kris Mazy-Fullmer with her family, (from left) Breckin (10), Elwyn (12), Rowan (8), Kris, Larry, Shelby (17), Griffen (14), Berlyn (10), Trystan (8). (Courtesy photo)

The Chino Valley couple now have five biological children, two adopted sons, and are occasionally foster parents too.

“After all our kids were born we adopted our two sons, Breckin and Trystan,” Mazy-Fullmer said. “Both brothers were severely abused both physically and mentally. I know God gave me these boys so we could be loving parents to kids in need. I didn’t realize how much love that we have to share.”

She has homeschooled most of her children, they are also in 4-H and they keep busy with the 400 animals they have on their acreage.

“The kids each have their own animals to take care of,” Mazy-Fulllmer said. “My daughter Elwyn is our ‘goat whisperer,’ she milks the goats every morning and night. Our son Griffin is my engineer, he builds and repairs all of our barns, etc.; Rowan is in charge of all the baby chicks, she feeds, waters and collects eggs; Berlyn (who is autistic) just has a way with horses and he trains with Horses with H.E.A.R.T. for the Special Olympics. Breckin is our 4-H Bunny Boy and takes care of all the rabbits. Trystan is so very intelligent and he is my snuggle monster, and Shelby is now in college and also works full time.

“We live in such an entitlement society these days, and we are teaching our children that it takes a lot of work to live. They all know how to cook, bake bread and raise animals,” she said.

Besides taking care of all her children, through the years Kris still took the time to get a college degree. The family grows all their own food, which she cans and dehydrates. All meals are made from scratch.

“I do all this because of all the allergies, and food intolerance with some of the kids. Elwyn is allergic to red dye; Trystan is gluten, sugar and lactose intolerant; Berlyn and Breckin both have to have sugar and dye free food too. Everything I do, from my photography (to give them memories), my cookbooks (she has written three) is to better their lives, and getting my degree is to help my special needs kids. Your life is what you make it. But my husband is my rock, I couldn’t do what I do without him. He is an amazing husband and dad.”

Mazy-Fullmer shared that she came from a small family so she thinks her large family is phenomenal.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child and it is true, my parents, and my sister and her husband live next door and are very active in our kids’ lives,” she said.

“I think I was put here to be a mom. I love each of my kids differently, they are each individuals, with their own special talents, and personalities, and they are all gifts.”

Amateur Radio and NATO Alphabet

ABM_1453696541Griffen has been very excited to get involved with the communications team with our local Oath Keeper’s group. He just picked up a handheld radio and was able to sit and listen to the check in for all of the local members for the Sunday night check-in. 

If you are not familiar with OathKeepers, check out their website at www.arizonaoathkeepers.org

Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders,  who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Our local group has some pretty AWESOME teams, including preparedness (which I am a part of), communication, security, engineering, etc, all in case of an emergency in our community.

So Griffen’s newest goal is to get hie Ham Radio License.  I wonder if he can get my Grandfather’s old call number… And I think that I should get mine license as well.

His first step is to learn the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.  And to start going to local meetings for Radio Operators… Our Yavapai County group is www.w7yrc.org.

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

A – Alpha
K – Kilo
U – Uniform
 0 – Zero
B – Bravo
L – Lima
V – Victor
1 – Wun (One)
C – Charlie
M – Mike
W – Whiskey
2 – Two
D – Delta
N – November
X – X-ray
3 – Tree (Three)
E – Echo
O – Oscar
Y – Yankee
4 – Fower (Four)
F – Foxtrot
P – Papa
Z – Zulu
5 – Fife (Five)
G – Golf
Q – Quebec
 
6 – Six
H – Hotel
R – Romeo
. – decimal (point)
 7 – Seven
I – India
S – Sierra
. – (full) stop
8 – Ait (Eight)
J – Juliet
T – Tango
 
9 – Niner (Nine)

Welcome to 2016!

IMG_20160105_103640Welcome to 2016! And Happy 12th day of Christmas!! 

This year on our homestead, we are working really hard to get self sustaining and be able to offer more animals, produce and eggs to our friends.  It has been a great year! We have pressed the “easy” button and made life simpler which is this busy mama’s long term hope for the family. (And by simpler, I do not mean easier, but rather slowing down the CRAZY and drinking iced tea on my porch, watching chickens peck the ground and kids playing outside.)

What are our goals for our homestead this year? We know that most of these won’t happen this year… but we are all hopeful.  

  • add tilapia to our aquaponics system (right now, we have just goldfish in there.)
  • add an additional aquaponics system
  • Add a solar system to the aquaponics system(s)
  • build another greenhouse
  • build a smoke house
  • add 5 more raised garden beds to our garden
  • build additional quail house to house at least 150 more quail
  • purchase a second cabinet incubator for all of the eggs that we have been hatching
  • publish 2 more books
  • plant and tend our garden 
  • not go to the grocery store from May until October (and we are well on out way! I just got a call that our 1/2 steer will be ready to pick up in mid February from the butcher. Our pigs will be going to butcher in March too. My freezers will be FULL!)
  • learn to make sour cream and purchase a cheese press to make cheddar
  • raise turkeys to sell (we have 80 eggs in the incubator right now.)
  • raise coturnix quail to eat weekly for our family
  • Continue to homeschool our amazing kids (minus Shelby who is in college and is being joined by Larry in college this spring to get an additional degree)
  • continue to offer our home as a foster family for kids who need us
  • BE A FAMILY! BE TOGETHER! SHARE OUR LOVE!

HAPPY 2016!! 

Happy 8th Birthday, Rowan

rowanbirthdayRowan,
I love you because you are my baby.

I love you because you are amazing, smart and funny.

I love you because you love to hold my hand every chance you get.

I love you because you took your time being born (70 hours of labor was more than the other kids combined.)

I love you because you were born backwards and upside down and you know how to make an entrance.

 love you for your smile and laughter.

I love that you will work our farm in Pjs or in high heels.

I love how you are so quiet and then when by yourself, you talk and talk and talk.

I love that you always want your toe nails polished, just like me.

I love you because you are finally reading and last night after reading a fortune from you cookie, you reminded me of that!

I love you because you are my Rowey, my Ya-Ya, my Rosie, my Roan, my Poepoe burger (I have no idea where all of those nicknames came from.)

I love you because you are my little girl and God blessed me with you. I would not have it any other way!

I love you because you are so individual and you are YOU!

Happy 8th birthday to my Rowan Marie Aidyn Fullmer!

Welcome to October on our homestead!

IMG_20151011_130452195 It is a beautiful October day up here in northern Arizona. A lot has happened in the last month. We have (as a whole family, including my parents and sister and her family) picked up a steer. TBone will fill up our freezer in about 8 months or so. He is a bit thin, so we are “fattening” him up. 

 

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Berlyn is continuing to be homeschooled with the other kids. Autism will not stop this handsome guy!IMG_20151019_140630719
Meet Fern! She is a KuneKune sow to breed with our Wilbur.  3 of the kids joined 4H this season for swine market, swine breeding, rabbits, goats and poultry. 

We officially got back the first of the goat’s registrations back from ADGA (American Dairy Goat Assoc.) 4 more to go this season!

How to Make a Ginger Bug

ABM_1440890894You use a ginger bug to make home made fermented (naturally carbonated) sodas like ginger ale. My kids go GA-GA over the sodas that you can make with this. A ginger bug is like a sour dough starter. It needs time to “sit” and “cook”.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger roots, finely diced or grated
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (do not use stevia or honey!!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Quart size mason jar

Yes, you can double this recipe! We do because we make a larger batch of ginger ale each time.

Directions:

  1. Finely dice a piece of ginger root enough to fill a 1/4 cup measuring up. I do not peel it first however do wash really well.
  2. Place the ginger in a quart size mason jar and add 1/2 cup sugar.
  3. Add 2 cups of water to the mason jar.
  4. Stir and cover lightly. I use a piece of white cheese cloth tied on with a ribbon… but a coffee filter and rubber band works just as well.  The “bug” needs to be able to breathe and the cover makes sure that fruit flies and dust do not get into it. You will need to leave this on your counter in room temperature to create a “bug”.
  5. Once a day for the next 5 days, stir the “bug” and add 1 tablespoon of diced or grated ginger and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  6. After the sixth day, you will be able to see if your bug culture is active and ready to use if there are bubbles on the top. It will begin fizzing like a carbonated soda when you stir as well. If it is not bubbling, continue for 2 more  days adding sugar and additional ginger. After 9 days if your mixture is not bubbling, then toss and start again.

Once the “bug’ is ready, your can add it to other mixtures to create homemade sodas.

Keep the culture away from other cultures like sauerkraut and kombucha or it can cross culture.
Tips:
  • To keep the bug alive and continue growing it, you will need to feed it daily.
  • You can also “rest” it in the refrigerator and add your 1 tablespoon of sugar and ginger weekly
  • To reactivate it, remove, let it reach room temperature and begin feeding the bug again daily.

Budgeting for food for your family

IABM_1437409961 am asked all of the time… “How much do you spend on groceries a month?”

$600 (ok, pick your jaw up off of the ground) Yes, for our family of 10, I only spend $600 a month. Do you know why? Because that is all that is in the budget anyhow! So I make do!!!

My kids do not go without EVER! They just don’t get filled up with processed foods.

Every month, I take $600 cash out of my account. I DO NOT use my debit card for groceries EVER! I would tend to spend as much as I want if I do not budget out cash. I always take a calculator with me to the store or use my cell phone in order to budget better. And I know exactly what I am buying before I walk in the door. A list truly helps.  In this budget, we do buy gluten free bread and occasionally GF pasta. Although, Zucchini makes REALLY YUMMY pasta noodles.

Let’s do a breakdown. 

  1. For starters, I don’t buy eggs, I have chickens, ducks, geese and quail. They give me sufficient eggs and then I sell what I have left for money to go to chicken and quail food. We eat eggs about 4 times a week. And I sell enough eggs to cover their feed.
  2. In the summer, I grow my own veggies, including lettuce that I eat at every meal. We have a 1/4 acre garden and an aquaponics system. We plant lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss chard for salad greens as well as tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, tomatillos, zucchini, onions, etc. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can plant spinach and lettuce in big pots on your back porch and grow the base of your salad.
  3. I buy in bulk every chance that I get. I buy bulk meat. I buy bulk fruit. Heck, I buy bulk rice too!
  4. We do not buy hamburger helper or rice-a-roni. I used to, but then I realized how bad those foods are for me. So, we make our own. It may be cheap… but… Try mixing cheese in with hot quinoa. Or some ranch dip mix(we make our own dip mix too) in with pasta and a little milk.
  5. I don’t clip coupons anymore because the foods on the coupons tend to be the processed foods that are full of artificial EVERYTHING that I don’t want my kids eating anyway. I do however watch the sale flyers for my local Sprouts and Safeway stores for meat and veggie deals.
  6. I make a menu for the week. I do not always stick to it, but I do make it so I know what we “plan” on eating and what we have in our cabinets.
  7. Figure out your staples in your household. We eat refried beans and ranch beans several times a week for a side. I make my own by buying dried beans in BULK!!!  We cook in a pressure cooker to get the beans going. We also cook chickpeas in the pressure cooker (that I also buy in bulk) to make hummus as a snack. We buy rice in 50 pound bags, and beans in 20 pound bags. I buy several pounds of quinoa when it is on sale and I fill up 1/2 gallon jars for storage.
  8. If I am buying chicken, I only buy boneless chicken breasts on sale ($1.77/pound or cheaper) and I buy a lot of them and fill up my freezer. I do NOT buy ground chicken even though we use that often for tacos and burritos.  Ground chicken costs $3.99/pound so instead I invested in a meat grinder to attach to my kitchen aid and grind my own.
  9. My kids LOVE dehydrated fruit! I have 2 of the big Excalibur dehydrators, that I have running all of the time. If I find a great sale on strawberries, then I buy a lot of strawberries.  They go great in homemade instant oatmeal, granola snacks and even fresh yogurt. We get our fair share of strange looks from people when I purchase 25 watermelons – you should try dehydrating watermelons… they are SO YUMMY!
  10. Costco and Sam’s Clubs are great… But know that your will not get out of there without spending several hundred dollars or more. Every month, I stock up on certain items that I know that I will use like canned goods as a go-to meal add in like corn or green beans or even green chilies. Again make a list.
  11. If you are worried about budgeting, try pre-making freezer meals for later use. 10 meals can be put together in a single afternoon with no problem. Meat and veggies go a long way in a stew. Honey mustard chicken and pineapple chicken can be prepared ahead of time and then put in a crockpot in the morning to cook all day. If you premake the meals, it is as simple as defrosting and pouring in. (All of the veggies are already cut for you.) My secret is to put on a movie and work while that movie is on. It keeps my mind going and then I have set my limit, so I need to work.
  12. Use what you have in your pantry. You bought it at one time for something! Rotate!
  13. Making bread from scratch only takes a few minutes of prep time. We make dough just once a week and I put that in the oven after dinner or when I am getting kids up and going in the morning. We even buy bulk wheat seeds and grind my own wheat for the kids who can eat gluten. Pitas and tortillas are simple to make too.
  14. Water can and should replace kids drinks like koolaid. We drink water and iced tea rather than Koolaid and soda in our house. Tea bags are inexpensive. Juice is a rare thing here, because of juice rotting teeth and we do not buy soda. For tea sweetener, try liquid stevia. A jar lasts forever. Or slice up fruit and add to pitchers of water.
  15. Try buying a pig from a local farm to send to the butcher. Better meat! Try you local 4H or FFA groups, they will often have animals ready to go. This actually helps local and allows you to use all different cuts of meat. Or, you can raise your own. (Not for everyone!)
  16. Find a fruit and veggie co-op. Bountiful baskets offers awesome produce weekly.
  17. I do not buy laundry detergent… I make my own. Fabric softener… Yep, make that too… When my kids were little, heck, we even used cloth diapers. I buy theives cleaner in concentrate and mix my own.

Here is an average day of meals for us.  (Remember too that we homeschool so kids are not getting a school lunches either) The kids ages are 3, 7, 7, 9, 9, 11, 13, and 17.

Breakfast: Eggs and sausage with a slice of fruit or a stir-fry of veggies.  Or an egg bake of eggs, spinach and feta cheese. Homemade oatmeal and dried fruit and milk. Or Rice with butter and brown sugar.

Lunch: PB and honey sandwich with yogurt and carrot sticks. Chicken salad lettuce wrap with coleslaw, or quesadillas with sour cream and salsa with apples and peanut butter.

Dinner: BBQ-ed chicken with BBQed Zucchini,  enchiladas and rice, tacos and beans, or spaghetti and french bread. We offer salads at every meal for the kids. Another favorite in our house is shepherd’s pie. Every meal is cooked from scratch because I want to know what my kids are eating.

Snack: Carrots or Hummus and pita chips, or homemade granola bars, apple or pears, or string cheese (the only thing that I buy that is individually wrapped.)  I always have carrots available for snacks as well as apples, bananas or oranges. I buy all of those in bulk too. Carrots come in 25 pound bags from my local grocery store for only $7. It lasts us about 2 weeks unless the bunnies or goats get it first.(and by that I mean that the kiddoes are feeding them!)

This season, we began raising our own meat in rabbits (we have our first litters to butcher in about a month)  and chickens (we have 23 meat birds that will bulk up in about 6 weeks for my freezer). We also have 4 goats that next season will start giving us goats’ milk for drinking and making cheese. Our budget will go down even more next season with meat and milk. Yea! We have a neighbor that gives us 2 gallons of goats milk a week from her goats and we exchange some veggies and yard work for her. Look into purchasing bulk meat from Zaycon or even from Sam’s Club.  Here is my Zaycon link for bulk meats: http://www.zayconfresh.com/refer/zf52795

Know that you too can budget down you grocery bill if you just follow those simple

Sad news… sad, sad news

Steve, Larry and Earl, September 13, 1997
Steve, Larry and Earl, September 13, 1997

It is often hard to decide what to share on my blog. We try to keep it upbeat and with things that we are working on here. This is one of those times where I am not certain how to put in words what I need to say.

Monday, my husband received two back to back calls from his dad and brother, Steven. Larry had taken a day off to just “be” family. Little did we know that he was going to need this day off anyhow. Larry came out of the bedroom after listening to the messages and told me that we needed to talk. OH MY! I knew that something was up. That is never a good sign.

Earl, the oldest of the 3 brothers had passed away… Officials had just notified my father-in-law. It took them a week to find next of kin. WHAT?!? How can I respond? Larry and I sat for several hours trying to figure out what to say to our children. We sat holding hands, crying and praying. We are in disbelief. HOW could this happen?

Berlyn especially has such a strong bond with Earl. This has hit him really hard. Many times on Tuesday, he would just sit and wail, uncontrollable sobbing.

Earl’s passing comes with a bit of surprise, although Larry and I had talked about it before, years ago. Earl had struggled in the past. He had gotten help. He was on an up and up or so we thought. He unfortunately hid a lot from us and the rest of the family. Addictions can come in all different forms, whether legal drugs, alcohol, illegal drugs, etc. For our Beloved Uncle Earl, it was legal ones. Ones that were prescribed to him for a back injury that he received many years ago while in the army. He had done everything that he could to tame the pain, to live a normal life. This was the only thing that he had control of… and he knew that.  We would like to think that his passing was peaceful, it was in a place that he love with a view of a lake out in the wilderness. All day yesterday and today, I have asked the “why” and I know that that answer left with him. The tears have not stopped and that is OK. This is not anyone’s fault and I hope that no one in the family blame themselves for this. This is just something that happened. And nothing could have changed it.

What have I learned from this? I have learned that we never know the demons that our loved ones suffer. I have learned that our veteran’s need more… more attention… more love and more medical / psych.

Hug your loved ones. Check regularly on them. Make sure that you get them help if you notice anything. Tell them that you love them and that you will always be there for them. Be honest!

I will always remember him taking me to a movie on an evening that Larry had to work while were all living in Ely, NV. I will remember his goofy “voices” that he would make at the kids, how he would torment my cats, how he and Larry would have 2+ hour phone conversations about NOTHING!  I remember him holding and loving each of my children for the very first time. I remember how much he teased Larry about dating a “younger girl” in high school when he was home on leave and the incredible hug that he gave me on my wedding day to his brother telling me how much he loved Larry and I. I will always remember the phone call that we got from him to tell us that he was going to be a dad. And all of that Mountain Dew he used to drink.

I can’t get over how he will never see his grandchildren or mine, how we all won’t grow old together and how he will never again log into the online game that he and Larry would play for hours because even living far away, they could still have brother time. I will never hear that voice again.

I have stories, Oh, do I have stories and I will pass them onto my children and to his daughter. I will make sure that his grandchildren know who he is!

Godspeed my brother,

Earl M Fullmer

August 31, 1973 – June 22, 2015