Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Writing

This is me starting somewhere.  Just writing because I have this need to write and for a long while now have not had the energy or clearness of thought to be able to put anything down on the page.  Life has been a challenge lately.  The kind where you find yourself just never really getting to the bottom of anything but the one thing you do know is that you have to keep going.  You have to keep waking up every day and putting both feet to the ground and choosing to stand up and do all the things that are before you. 

This isn't to say that there have been no moments of joy.  There have been plenty.  It's just that I have had only enough to find them and notice them and give a small whisper of thanks and then move on.  And that's okay.  It's just the season we've been in.

Today, running on very little sleep I have been able to do the dishes and some laundry and help sick boys and make lunch.  I feel very accomplished.  :)

Our unborn baby is growing well.  Moving around a lot according to the ultrasounds, but I still do not feel movement.  I have a suspicion that the placenta might be in the front this time which makes it harder to feel these things. 

This morning I was really feeling like I wished it would snow.  The bright whiteness of a good snow always seems like such a fresh start to me.  I whispered a little prayer about this.  And God answered with the smallest of snows, just flurries that dusted the rooftop out my kitchen window.  Like He was saying that He wanted me to know, that even though He couldn't give me what I wanted just then, He heard me.  He always hears me and listens and cares.  Even when the answer is no or the answer is just silence.  And as cliche as it sounds the truth is He leaves me a peace that fills me up. 

So I keep putting my feet to the floor every morning.   

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Baby is 9

And so it happened...our eldest boy turned nine.

Oh, my son.  What words can I write for you that properly express all that I hope for you?  You amaze me!  You always have, since the day you were born.  We are proud of who you are and of the man you are becoming.  We love you so much, and are so thankful to be your parents.

You are our little sportman!
 A wonderful big brother!
 My sweet and helpful boy!  I love your ideas, your love for reading, your gentle teaching to your brothers, how you want to include me in your day.  I love baking with you, reading with you, playing with you, going for walks with you, working in the garden with you, making art with you.  May God continue to bless you as you grow.

And as are a few pictures of the cake.  What a good idea you had Badger for a scarecrow cake!

Friday, October 28, 2011

This Autumn at Our Home

 Fall has come and we have reveled in it.  The days have been filled with lingering and walking and playing and learning and gathering up as many outside days as we can before winter chases our favorite season away!
 The boys in the leaves on one of the warmer days. Bare feet.
 Cricket my always relaxed one.  And Badger wearing his hat and bandana that are always with him these days.  He's really into scarecrows for some reason and likes to dress up like one almost every day.
 The two littles.  Hen wasn't quite sure about being "in" the leaves and Owl was pretending to be a mummy?
 We spent a day a week or so back carving pumpkins and gathering seeds for next years crop.  We were blessed to be able to trade some of our Concords for pumpkins this year!  The boys were diligent in picking out the seeds for saving and roasting even though it was a gooey job.

This fall has been a season of change for us.  J has changed positions at the company he works for, which is a blessing to be sure, but also has kept him very busy!  I spent the most part of September and October feeling really quite lousy and after a time of the doctors not being able to figure out what was "wrong" we discovered I am expecting. 

I don't really know what to write about it.  I have written and rewritten this post trying to put my thoughts down on paper....for you...and myself.  But I find I just don't have much to say about it right now.  We feel like this is a blessing and that God has a plan for us and for this baby.  This doesn't mean that there aren't times of feeling totally overwhelmed and a whole myriad of other emotions!  But I find those emotions aren't even worthy of me taking note of them.

When I told J we were pregnant, I was nervous, and he just was so calm and said "It must be the plan for us!"   And I'm just sticking with that.  :)

And for the record I'm just 11 weeks. We had an ultrasound to confirm the dates and the baby looks great.  We got to see his little arms and legs moving around. Due date is May 21st which means l'il babe will probably arrive the first few days of June. (if he's anything like his brothers)  Here's hoping and praying that all goes well!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Visiting the Encampment

 Last weekend the historical society in our area hosted a Historical Day at one of the beautiful parks in our area.  And we got to go!  It was such a fun day.  There was a hatchet throw, which the boys got to participate in.  Here's Cricket learning how it's done.

 Give me a try already!  He did great, and after a few tries actually got the hatchet to stick into the wood slab.  Can you see the small white rectangle on the target?  That's a playing card.  The goal in the competition is to hit the card, or better yet slice a chunk off it!
 Badger's turn.

 He nailed it after just a few tries.
 And of course the big boys had to try to.  Here's papa measuring out the paces to know where to stand.  (7 paces away from the target)  J actually hit the card, but that was after breaking off part of the woodslab's stand with a wayward hatchet.  The trick apparently is not to throw it hard, but to take advantage of the natural spin of the hatchet. 
 There was also a blacksmith demonstration.  The boys have been interested in smithing for awhile now, and were anxious to see it up close.  We had the chance to talk with the blacksmith for quite awhile and the boys even got to hold the metal as it was being cooled in the water.

 There was also a large tee pee.  With a fire inside, and all different kinds of animal furs and hides.  The boys loved going inside and talking with the man about it.
 And games.  Here's J and Badger practicing the three legged race.
 My dad and Cricket joined them.  Such fun!
 And of course a potato sack race. :)
Such an awesome morning. :)  Followed by a very nice afternoon, where J and I actually got to get away for a little while and just walk our small town by ourselves. (thanks mom and dad)  We have so much fun when it's just the two of us, not that we don't have fun with the whole clan, and it's so refreshing to be away.  We both greeted our week this week with a little more peace and gentleness of spirit than usual.  And it seems we need it.  Two boys are sick, J and I are both recovering from long colds, and we still have so much work to finish on the house and garden before winter arrives.  I will just trust that God will continue to take care of us, and go about my days, my moments, with a quiet trust in my heart.  And I'll remember these fun days that get put in there with all the rest.  Life is really beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peaches, Flooring, and Happenings...

 Nope.  Not apples.  Peaches.  Because that's how ambitious I am!  On top of all the harvesting here, I decided to buy a box of Michigan peaches to put up for the winter.  They were beautiful....I couldn't resist!
 I blanched them, and the boys peeled them.  All 68 of them or something like that.  Then I sliced them and froze them for peach crisp, and peach pie, and fresh peaches on our granola. Yum!
 Six giant bags of peaches are in my freezer. :) And 26 jars of homemade salsa are in my cupboard!  Thanks to my mom who brought tomatoes from a friend and worked hard hard hard with me all last Saturday.  And well, actually there are only 13 jars in the cupboard she has half of them.  

Also, recently...the men put in the laminate floor in the orange room.  Our eldest son worked all day with papa on measuring and cutting boards and laying them down.  It was a joy to see them work together, and to witness how capable our boy is.  How hardworking and interested and helpful.

We've also just been getting into the swing of school.  Our days go so well when I actually get my stuff together ahead of time and have lots of projects and ideas for them.  No, I don't actually always "do" the stuff with them, but I am the idea maker alot of the time!  Having more structure in our school day really seems to suit us.  It's definitely NOT like school structure at all.  More like...have lots of things lined up to do that are interesting, hands on, and pertinent and then go with the flow.  But we do make sure we get to Math, Bible, and Handwriting everyday, while the other subjects kind of shift around depending on how we are doing, what harvesting needs to get done, and what field trips we are taking!  It's been a good fall so far.  I hope it continues so!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

The boys had so much fun with the drawing!  (I did too!)

And the winner of the Etsy Giveaway is.....Wildflower!

Congratulations!  I'll contact you to get your mailing address very soon.

Thank you to everyone who supported me with comments on the blog, emails, and convos at my Etsy Shop.  I truly love hearing from each of you.  It's been really exciting to learn what your tastes are and it's helping me make my shop a more creative spot!  So thanks!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Makin' Grape Juice

The autumn days have settled in here and along with the cool crisp days comes the ripening of the orchard.  The apples are ready on the Cortland tree and the Concord grapes are starting to ripen.  It is such a blessing to have all of these good things growing right in our own little spot of earth.  But it can also mean a lot of work! 

This year, the boys are a bit older, and so we've decided to have a Harvest Week instead of the more structured book type learning of "regular" homeschool days.  They were excited to get started so I set them to work right away!

The two eldest boys washed the grapes, plucked them from their stems, smashed them up and put them into a pot.  The smashing was by far the most exciting part.  They are so juicy!

 Here they are all smashed up and ready to cook.  Did you know that concords are green on the inside even when ripe?  It's the skin that gives the juice that dark color. 
 They cook over medium heat just until they boil for a few minutes to release the juice.  Then it all gets put into a cheesecloth to be strained.
 The color is so beautiful to me and the whole process smells soooo good.  I let it sit in the cheesecloth for a day or overnight and then carefully pour it into a big glass jar for the fridge or freezer.  And Yes! We drink it straight!  It's sooooo tart!  We put it over ice-cubes and it's a fun time.  I also use it to make grape jelly.  Homemade grape jelly tastes so much better than the store bought kind and it's a treat to have a jar in the pantry come winter.

So right about now you might be wondering how I manage to get this done with little Hen always getting into things!  He is definitely into things!  (i love it!)  Well...the two older boys were so helpful that while they were making the grape juice I made a batch of chocolate zucchini bread, which kept Hen busy.

*Don't miss out on the opportunity to win something from my Etsy shop!  You still have two days to sign up.  I hope to hear from you about which one you like as it's an important part of the learning process in this whole adventure!  Thanks!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Etsy Shop! And a Giveaway!

I'm am so happy to share with you about my Etsy ShopTree Shadow Designs is now up and running!
The shop is a place for me to share with you, friends, the fiber art that I have been happily working on for the past several months.  I just love yarn, and love the whole process of creating with it.  I love how it feels in my hands, the motion of the needle being wrapped up.  I love how you can make something three dimensional from a single strand of wool.  The items in the shop are a mix of crochet and embroidery, although I also love to knit and felt.  Perhaps there will be some of that in the future!

So....I'd love it if you'd go over and take a peek!  And because all of this has really happened because of the good things that I've been given...I want to give something to you!  A Giveaway!

Here's how it works.  One of you will win a free item from the shop of your choice.  To enter, just leave me a comment here on the blog telling me which one you would like, if you are chosen.   To receive another entry in the drawing, like Tree Shadow Designs on facebook, and tell me about it in your comment.  And get yet another entry if you sign up as a follower of this blog.  The drawing will take place next Thursday and I will announce the winner on the blog.

And lastly, but maybe most importantly, Thank You!  So many of you have supported me though this journey.  Sent me a note of encouragement or given me ideas....Thank You!  Your friendship means alot to me and just might be the best part of this whole endeavor.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cereal Box Knight Helmuts

 The first day of school, earlier this week, we did this!  Well at least for a part of the day anyway. :)
The boys have ideas you see.  And I am trying to follow through on my end more.  You when they say "But we want to build helmuts".....and you say "We can do that later"....because there is math to do and it's almost supper time and you'd like to actually be able to see the dining room table when the man walks in the door at the end of his day.

So....this time...when they said..."let's"....I said "Yes!"
Made out of cereal boxes, packaging tape, ribbon, and metallic spray paint.  They got to spray it themselves and thought that was especially cool.  They did all of it themselves, except I ripped the tape.  As a mom I felt it my duty to save them from the jaws of that nasty tape dispenser. (ahem)
 My favorite part....the shinguards...from soccer....
 Little Hen watches these big guys so closely, taking it all in.  We didn't paint the inside, because I didn't want the paint to close to their skin.  So if you look closely it's also an advertisement for Cinnamon Harvest.  Yum.
 Cricket's is really large, but that's how he wanted it.  Notice in this picture the cereal box gauntlet?  That was an earlier creation. Yes, we are very creative with our recylcing bin.   The gauntlet is falling apart now, and I notice as I type this that it's being held together by one of my hair bands.  I seriously can not keep track of those things as they are always being used to fix engineering "problems" in this house!  I think I might need a secret hiding place for them, but my homeschooling mama brain would probably forget where I put them.  So, I'll just continue to look in the boys things when I need one.  :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Elephant

 At Circus World Museum
 The elephant's name is Tiny.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Keeping a House

I know, I know.  Writing about this makes it I am just a boring housewife, who only thinks of her children and homemaking things.  But.  It's not true.  And I really have something to say about this.  So. 

Why is it that no one really talks about homemaking in a tangible way?  It seems to me anyway, that you either hear about the Marthas who talk as if they have it all together and their houses never are in disarray.  Or you hear about the women who talk about housework only if it is to complain.  Or you hear about taking care of one's home, in a decorating about how to pick out the exact right color or have the cleverest idea for storing your shoes.  And it should be noted that this last one of the three usually involves spending money on some elaborate system or overpriced product.

What I would like to how to keep a home that is clean and tidy and beautiful, without spending money or contacting an interior designer.  I would like there to be a magazine that is about housekeeping when you have a brood of children and making a room artisitic when you only have ten dollars!

I would like to read something that reminds me that taking care of my old bookshelf that has no paint and is not quite big enough, is better than spending money that I do not have on one that is fashionable and more useful.  I really would.  Because then I wouldn't have to spend so much time convincing myself that these truths really are true.  I wouldn't have to work so hard at stopping the comparing that happens in my mind every time I see a picture of someone else's living room.  I would look at what I have and see what a gift it is, instead of wishing it were something else.

I read once that "Comparison is the thief of joy."  And I really believe that.  The tricksy thing about it is, that I can stop comparing and feel fine and joyful and content, but then a friend comes over and I worry that they are comparing!  I worry, that although I am fine with what I have or don't have, that they will feel bad for me!  Oh to be truly content with the things that matter.  To be deeply rooted in them so that the little things are just that...little things.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Plant Zoo

Today we journeyed to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for a little adventure.  The rain let up just for us, and we arrived there with the sunny sky above.  As we pulled into the parking lot, eldest boy read the sign, "Olbrich Botanical Gardens."  

Second boy said, "Botanical what? Aww, man, what is this place?" (yes, he's been here before many times, but it has never seemed more than a nice place to walk and he has never been atune enough to remember its name)

Eldest says, "It's a plant museum.  Don't worry it'll be fun.  We'll walk around and see all the plants, like a museum, only for plants."

At this point Owl (boy #3) pipes up, "No, it's like a zoo.  It's a plant zoo."  We all laugh and agree wholeheartedly and it's good to start our adventure with a smile. 
 So many watery many little spots of beauty....

 It was the perfect day to walk in the garden with my love...
 The littlest man walked almost the whole way, and we walked for almost an hour.  Of course he has to "hold hands, mama!" and his little hat kept coming off every time he turned his head it seemed, to which he'd say "my hat is blowing away!"  which of course made me want to laugh.  But such tender little worries need to be handled with care, and I admit that even unaware old me is finally starting to get this, so you can imagine me dutifully rescuing his hat from the imaginary gust and putting it back on his head twenty times.

 This bromeliad flower was amazing.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  Notice the butterfly hiding out?
 My favorite spot.  I could spend a day here...with a book or a paint brush....

My little men.

Oh, and let me end by telling you that J took us all out for lunch at a place called "Daisy's cafe and cupcakery".  Yeah.  It was awesome.  I enjoyed the most amazing sandwich ever which involved breaded eggplant and edamame hummus followed by a mocha cupcake that was amazing.  I shared with little hen and he just kept saying, "hmmm, mama this is delicious!"  It really was.  The whole day.  Delicious.