Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Night Live

Our town has music at the park in the summer and we were pretty excited when we found out that tonight's artist was going to be Willy Porter!!! J has been listening to Willy for years, and I like him too. Which is saying alot because...well....I'm rather anti-popculture as some of you may know. I definitely don't like musicians just because other people do. But Willy is awesome, and his music is especially nostalgic for me because J and I listened to him often that first year we were dating. So, we packed everyone up and headed to the park. Willy here we come!
Isn't it strange how we both have the same expression on our face?
Our neighbor's sunflowers. Classic posed smiles...or not smile. Cricket has told me he doesn't think his smile looks real in pictures so he isn't going to use it and he hopes I don't mind. :)
A boy and his dog. Yes, even Millie got to come along.
At the park. It was so crowded but we were able to be right off to the side. There were kids everywhere and I was glad that the boys seemed perfectly content to just sit and chill. They seemed to really enjoy the music. Badger asked about the sound of the electric guitar and wonders how that all works. :) Cricket and Owl danced a bit, but I was too busy soaking it in to get a decent picture. Willy sounded great!

We headed home right as the last song was starting. It was a slower one, from the new album, and I really wanted to hear it. As we walked I was hoping for some quiet reverie, but alas, the chattering started as soon as we were far enough away for a small one's voice to be heard. Mama, I need your hand. Mama, do you see the fireflies? Why do the fireflies only come out at night? Oh, mama maybe we'll see some wildlife on our walk home! Would we be in bed by now? Mama, will there be time for stories at home? Maybe we'll see a skunk...those are nocturnal aren't they mama? Or a grass snake.....and on and on it goes.

And I was starting to feel grumpy about the chatting. I just wanted a second longer. Just enough to linger over that lovely feeling of remembering J and I when we were first together. Just a little longer to look at him carrying our baby on the walk home. Just a little quieter so I could hear the music playing in the background. And just when all those feelings were about to become some serious grumpiness that still, small voice spoke to me. (phew!)

You'd like to hear the music dear one? Pay attention to this. This. Right here. This IS your music.

Oh. *sheepish grin* Yeah. Thanks.

So I quickened my step to keep up with the boys and chatted about snakes, and bugs and nocturnal creatures while I walked hand in hand with one of my small ones, all the way home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Family Organization Center

Aka the Giant Chalkboard in my dining room. :)

Oh dear. I'm afraid you can't see it very well. It's much more colorful in person. I guess that's what happens when a tired person tries to take a picture after 10pm. Is this picture any better?
See, there's a place for each boy, and one for J and for myself. I intend to also add a magnetic photo frame with a fun picture of each of us in our own "square". And a clipboard for J and myself. And I want to perhaps find a few little containers for chalk that actually sit on the shelf instead of chalk and dust being everywhere. :) I got this fun idea from this website. (go on, check it out. You know you want to!) Hers is a little neater than mine, but I'm determined not to spend any money on it, so I'll have to wait until I find or make what I need for the rest of it. My favorite part are the little clips to hang artwork or other pretty or important things. See them at the top?

My sister-in-law made those! I am going to let the boys help decide what to hang on them. Fun times. :)

How do you organize things for your family? Do you have a place to keep everyone's ideas and plans together?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Day Weekend

The past few days have been full, and during it all I'm finding myself with a heavy, pondering spirit. My heart is still hurting for my friend who lost her mom this past week.....and of course something like that makes me think about life. It's strange how time just keeps going. I'm more aware of that now than when I was young. I might be grieving, hurting, or unwell, and I still have little bodies to feed and little spirits to guide. Life just doesn't wait for hurts sometimes. Somehow though, it is more okay now to hurt and still carry on. I can't really explain it, but I think it's just that I know that God is taking care of things for me. And I trust Him to do His best even in a really hard circumstance.

This weekend we were really busy with life. :) It was butchering weekend. Remember the chickens that we raised? They turned out really well this year. See?
Today, Owl and I made sun tea.
I also made currant blackberry jam. And strawberry jam too. (the honey sweetened freezer jam style) This year I opted for freezer jam because I am trying to spend less time on preparing food, so that I can actually be in the garden more! (and outside playing too)
And today, J had the day off, so I went to see my new friend with the goats. I'm so excited to be getting fresh, raw goat's milk!!! And even more excited to be bartering for it. Any little way that I can help provide for us so my J doesn't have to work so hard is awesome! I am exchanging fresh baked goods (from freshly milled organic flour) for milk. Her place is so beautiful and she has so many things growing there. She is also going to give me some of my own kefir grains so I can learn how to make my own kefir. Hurray!
homemade whole wheat rolls

It was so good to have J home on a weekday today. He originally took the day off because we thought we'd be busy butchering all weekend, but our friends homemade chicken plucker made the job so much easier and faster!!! They made the contraption out of a washing machine drum and other parts. It is really amazing....or perhaps I just think that because last year I was the one who plucked them. (well, we all did really) Last year one chicken took about an hour to pluck by hand. Yeah. Not fun. This year it took about 2 minutes. :) We put in another order for chicks today. There is also some talk about getting a few turkeys. Wouldn't that be fun?

Friday, July 23, 2010


Hi, friends. Just stopping by for a brief moment to ask you to pray for my dear friend J. Her mom passed away last night unexpectedly. She and her husband and her sister and brother could use your prayers. There are also 5 small grandchildren that are affected by this and countless others. If you feel led please pray for them as they deal with this tremendous loss. Thank you so much.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beloved Rain

We woke up this morning to this.....

Aah, beautiful rainy day. I love the rain. I love how it makes colors more vibrant. I love the sound of it splish, splish, splashing on the ground. I love how it gives one permission to not work in the garden, but instead spend some time with a good book. :) This morning I sent the oldest two boys outside to open up the chicken coop in the rain. (The birds love the rain too, because it means bugs. ) The boys are used to helping with the chicken chores, so I was concerned when a good ten minutes passed and they hadn't come back inside. I checked out the window and this is what I saw.
Look at that face! It's like he's saying, "I couldn't help it mom, the puddles were calling me!" I found the other boy in a puddle too. Ha. I couldn't blame them. I would've been out there too if I were free to be outside just then. (baby was napping all snug in his bed)

The pleasant rain of the day made room for some crazy storms this evening, which I admit I am not a fan of. Seriously. It seems the corn and hollyhocks have been knocked down from wind or hail. I hope they come back with a little sunshine and time. That's all for today.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bounteous Blessings

Sunday nights are cozy, but Sunday nights can also be bittersweet. I love that "settled in" feeling that comes on Sundays, usually right as we are sitting down to dinner. We eat together, we get in our jammies and we snuggle in for an episode of Nature on PBS. Since this is our "routine" on the weekends that we are home, it feels familiar and good and it is something the kids look forward to each week. After the show, they hop off to bed and fall asleep with just a story or two. Then J and I settle in with Masterpiece Mystery. (yes, we do. I especially love Poirot. Oooo and Ms. Marple. :) I read those books as a kid, and I loved them then and I love them now too!) Unfortunately, as we snuggle on the couch, that slightly stressful feeling of "Oh no tomorrow is a workday for J" creeps in. It can't really be avoided. Oh yes, we survive the work week just fine. And yes, I know it's not like he isn't here morning and evening. I do have it so easy compared to some mums that really are parenting much more alone than I. It's just that we like him so much and we want him to be here all the time! And that is what I mean by bittersweet.

Last night we enjoyed our usual routine and just as J was falling asleep a show on PBS about World War II came on. And for some reason I watched it. And I learned that during the war there were American Civilians that were captured in a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines. Now maybe you knew this, but I had no idea about it! I was shocked and horrified. The worst part about it besides being captured of course was that they were starving. Literally starving. Little children died of hunger. The whole show was really eye opening actually. (Thank you Ken Burns.) I went to bed upset, and woke up today thinking about how very blessed I was to be able to make carrot cake pancakes for my family this morning without having to go through hardly any trouble at all. We are so blessed. So very, very blessed.

The rest of the morning was spent working in the gardens, because I felt a deep need to tend to the things I've been given. Here was the bounty from today.
See the green pepper? I was excited about that delicious critter. I've never been too successful with peppers, but this year they're doing great. It looks like there'll be some sweet red peppers soon! Wahoo! There was also a giant bowl of basil that was harvested this morn, and promptly made into pesto. Yum!

Those little grey beauties are garlic. It is small I know, but I hadn't even planted any this year so I'm happy about it! It must've grown from some small bulbs that I hadn't found when digging up last year's harvest. It smells soooo good.
Have I told you about Badger's onions? He planted 100 of them. :) We haven't had to buy onions since early spring. They are getting big now and I'm looking forward to digging them up! I hope we have enough to last through the winter.
Badger helped so much in the garden this spring. He planted the onions, spinach, lettuce, corn, and kohlrabi. And the best part is he wanted to do it! I love that the boys are learning to grow things to eat. Oh, and he also planted the sunflowers and morning glories for the Sunflower House! As soon as it blooms I'll take a picture so you can see it. It's starting to be tall enough to feel like a house now. Fun times. We've so many reasons to be thankful.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

40 years!

Wow. It's been a whirlwind of a weekend....and it isn't over yet!

My mom and dad are celebrating their 40th anniversary today! Happy day you two! I love you and I'm proud of you both. :)

In celebration of the day there was a huge party yesterday! Lots of relatives and old friends that I hadn't seen for a long while were there. It was soooo great to see them and have a chance to hear their voices and see their smiles.

The day was especially nice for me because my aunts were there. I love those ladies. I admire them and respect them. They have gone before me, loving their husbands, raising their children, keeping their homes and families together. And besides that their voices are familiar. There shapes, their movements are ingrained in me, because as a little child I watched them. I watched them cook at big family meals at Grandma's house. I watched them help out with the dishes and cleaning up, working together as a team. I watched them take care of my cousins and host birthday parties and Thanksgivings and I watched them interact with my mom. She was always right there in the middle of it all. Tending to babies, getting big meals on the table, cleaning it all up.

This is how I learned what I wanted to be like when I grew up. By watching them. I had notions of becoming an Opera singer, an Archeologist, a Dancer....but they were definitely just passing fancies. Some part of me always new I really, really wanted to be a mom.

I may not parent exactly like my aunts. In fact, I'm sure I don't. But it's still the same thing. Every mom that loves their child goes through the same emotions, the same struggles. The same giving and giving and then letting go. And here these ladies are (all 5 of them!) on the other side of it. Their kids are grown, their marriages still intact, and they are still vibrant and lovely!

It was encouraging to see them. It was comforting to see and eat the food they brought, some things that I hadn't had since I was a kid. Pickled beets! You know only a farmer's wife makes those! They were delicious by the way.

Anyway....we had a good time at the party. :) I asked the boys what their favorite part was and they said.....the CAKE! So here it first attempt at a giant sheet cake.

And these little individual cheesecakes that I made. Aren't they cute?
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. We love you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Dream

I had the strangest dream last night. Several actually. One though that won't leave my mind today no matter how busy I am supposed to be. (we are getting ready to go to the big Anniversary Party at my mom and dad's this weekend) It's just such a crazy, meaningful, intense dream that I thought I'd share it with you all, in case it means anything to you too.

It starts out with a room full of people. Waiting people. Some are sitting in chairs up against the wall in this giant hallway and room. Some are sitting on the floor. Others are standing around in groups. A hushed murmur of talking can be heard. It seems like it must be a college or university. The dream goes in and out of the groups of people and you hear that what everyone is waiting for is to find out what part they are playing. Then I realized that I was actually there too. Waiting to hear what my part would be.

We had all tried out for a role in the opera at this prestigious university. There were hundreds of people there. Then suddenly this young, stylish, educated looking man comes into the waiting area and everyone gets really quiet. He comes right up to me, and asks me my name. I tell him and he looks for my name on this list. He finds it quickly.
"Yes. You have a part, " he says. My heart quivers with excitement. Any part is good you see. Really, really good because there are hundreds of other talented people here.

"You will be playing the Good Wife." My heart sinks, just a little, because that is far from the lead role. A little part even. And I guess I was hoping for something bigger.

He continues, "Yes, the Good Wife. Can you do that? Will you do it? Will you play the role of the Good Wife?" He says this as if he is really excited for me. Like he cares about me so much and he knows I will be perfect for the part.

"Yes. I will!" I say.

The man quickly moves on to the next person, and suddenly I become really aware that J is there too. Not with me there, but there. Somewhere. And we are not married yet, but had been dating and I was desperately in love with him. And I suddenly realize that I need to find out what part he got. So I follow the man passing out the roles. I push through the crowd trying to hear him. I can't get close enough to him to find out, but I overhear someone else speaking....and they're saying that J got the lead. He will be playing the part of Remi (where did that name come from?) who is the male lead. You know, the one all the women want to be with. the dream I remember being really excited for J, and also having this feeling of knowing the whole time that he would of course get that part. He is so talented and amazing. And there was a moment in the dream where I felt really left out, because I didn't get the female lead role. And then at that point.....I woke up.

And all morning I have been thinking and thinking about this dream. And wondering what on earth does it mean? Or does it mean anything at all?

And I think I've figured it out. A small, still voice whispered to my heart. And showed me that I was focusing on the wrong part of the dream. It wasn't about what part J got at all. That was just to remind me of how awesome I know he is. What I was supposed to realize was the part that I was supposed to play. Ah, yes.

The good wife. Can I do that? Will I?

See......things have been busy here. And we are not even busy with lots of activities. It's just the everday responsibilities of having four littles and a house and chickens and a dog. There is so much work to be done. And often my interaction with J can easily be about daily chores. That's just how it is. And this was a good reminder to me that my number one priority is being an awesome wife to my man! I do love him so much. He still takes my breath away, even though it's mostly over a cup of coffee at the table with a baby on his lap. I was his before I was a mother. And I want to honor that.
That's all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For the Love of the Game

Baseball. Oh, how these little boys love baseball.
This is what the rest of the family does during the game. There is never enough room on the blankets for all of the snuggling, lounging, and occasional wrestling that goes on during the hour we watch Brother play.
Look! Hen's standing. Doesn't that look funny? He is walking more and more on his own every day. :)
Owl can not wait until he is old enough to get out on the field. (you have to be 5) One more year dearheart.
Waiting for a turn to bat. Badger is playing coach pitch this year. He is doing so well! And having so much fun! I tried to get a picture of him batting, but he was so quick I only captured him running to first base.

Cricket's turn.
Having a chat with coach at first base.
Good game. Good game. Good game. Good game......

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Third time's a charm?

Oi! I have had all kinds of trouble getting the computer to load up pictures. But persistence won out and here they are! Pictures of our campfire from the weekend.'s still pretty light out, but we have littles and wanted to still have time for our weekly "date" of watching "Dr. Who" together after the kids are in bed. :)
We did some weaving on our chairs with oregano and mint from the ward of the mosquitos....can you see it?
J wittling down a stick for.....

marshmallows of course!
Campfire, smores, fireflies, sweet little boys, handsome hubby, it really doesn't get much better than that does it? But then.....these beautiful creatures showed up.
The fawn must be brand new....the doe we had seen before almost daily, when putting the chickens in for the night. And this night she showed up with her baby! We felt so privileged that she came to her usual feeding spots right out in the open. The little one was so sweet. We even watched her running and playing under the apple trees a bit. :)
And here is one of breakfast the morning after. J's plate of blueberries n' cream waffles. When J went to fill up his coffee cup, Hen decided to help himself. Hungry, hungry baby. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This past weekend we released Lavendar Brown. It was time. Before Cricket let her go he was able to hold her. (we hadn't handled her much, because it seemed stressful for her) He picked her up and held her in both hands so very gently. Just like a pro. I was so impressed with how able he is. How full of concentration and confidence. It makes my heart swell just thinking of it now. When he set her down in the grass he watched her a bit and then turned to me and said, "Mom, that was exhilirating!" Awesome! Awesome to see him shine like that. :)

Then Little Owl started crying and crying. Weeping, in fact. It surprised me because he seemed okay with letting her go until of course it was too late. He said, "Mama, it is so sad to let a friend go." I know, honey. I held him close for awhile and although he was still upset Papa was able to get him interested in something else to divert his attention. He has talked about it a little bit since then, but also seems to understand that she needed to be free.

Then today, after Hen's nap. Hen was walking around playing and talking. He came over to me, pulled on my skirt as if to say, come down here! and then.....when I sat down, he snuggled in my lap and said, "Hi! How are you?!" I haven't giggled like that in a long time. Thank you Hen for caring about how I am. :)

There have been some other really great conversations lately. I can't recall them just now. I'm really glad though that the boys tell us things. They talk to us. It's just so good. I feel like it's a special reward for keeping our family's time and home open, free, and quiet. (all somehow wrapped up together) Knowing when to say no, when to say yes! and when to just take time to figure it out has helped us so much. And God is blessing us for it. Seek and you will find.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning to Say No

Well....there was a huge struggle this weekend. In my mind. See...we had plans to go see Grandma and Grandpa. We haven't been there in a good long while and we really wanted to go. We had plans to go. But last week was a little stressful. Like the kind of stressful where everything is fine on the outside....things seem normal....but the mama of the family starts to feel a little "off" and then suddenly one day wakes up super grumpy. Yeah. That happened Friday morning. I was grumpy. Ask J. No. On second thought, please don't.

The reason for my grumpiness?....that there were soooo many things that needed to be done. But no time. With baseball three nights a week and four boys to shepherd all day there just is not time for things like finishing painting the ceiling or disinfecting the sewer water dishes from the basement. (oh, i didn't tell you about that, but it involved the sewer backing up during the remodel and all the kitchen stuff that had been packed away in the basement getting all icky. As of last Friday there was still one box left to clean) When things get busy around here I usually can't tell what I need right away. I know I'm feeling unsettled, but I can't always see an answer to resolve the feeling. Especially, when that means making time. Especially, ESPECIALLY, when that means saying "no" to someone that I love. *sigh*

So Friday night, J and I were up way too late working on things....and not even making a dent. I mean, who can really see well enough to paint the ceiling at 11pm anyway? So when J suggested we not go to see the Grandparents I admit I felt relieved. But then I realized there was no way I could do that! Grandma would be so disappointed! But J lovingly insisted.

Saturday morning I woke up thinking maybe he would change his mind. I knew he was right, but I was really dreading having to tell my mom we weren't coming. The first thing J did when he woke up was hand me the phone. So I took a deep breath and called her. She was, of course, totally understanding. We settled in to breakfast at home and then got started with the list of things to get done. I finished the painting! We moved in the rest of the furniture! We organized the homeschool and art stuff. J mowed the lawn (which takes longer than you'd think)

Saturday night, we took the boys out for pizza to celebrate. Sunday we got even more done! And today, Monday, has been an awesome day. Very little stress. Lots of time to spend with my boys. *sigh* I'm so glad.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Outside Playtimes

Owl loves to mow the lawn. The push mower is way too big for him but he is determined.
Hen is so funny in the sandbox. His favorite thing to do is to stand with his hands on the side and dig with his feet. Ha ha.
Last year, the boys dug a "quarry" in the yard. I thought they had gotten it out of their system but I was wrong. Today they were at it again....
Sifting through the dirt and rocks to look for treasures....
Today's find included this fossil.....
And here's one they found at an earlier dig.....
What do you think that is? It seems like a backbone to me.....the boys have differing opinions on this and are determined to find more fossils to help them in their understanding. I wonder how big the hole will get this summer.