Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Moved

I moved and I completely forgot to tell you! It was the easiest move ever. No moving boxes were involved. No paperwork. No moving truck. Confused? I moved my blog. :)

Come visit me at Ever After Cottage, my new blog home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Kind of Contest

I saw a pin that caught my eye. It was this: 

Wouldn't that catch your eye? So I clicked to see what it was. Turns out it was a prize in a contest. Now, I'll tell you, I never win contests. Ever. If you ever want to win something, ask me to enter against you. It will increase your chances of winning. But unlike most internet blog contests, I didn't have to just comment, I didn't have to like anything on Facebook, and I didn't have to Tweet anything. I simply had to write a story about a photograph. Oh, now that's my kind of contest. So I entered my hastily written story (I had to make dinner for MY once-upon-a-time-sailor after all). And I waited. And I waited. And I forgot. And then, just now, I checked. And I won!  I cannot wait to get this 231 year old document in my hands. 

And then I need to figure out how to display it safely so it last for another two hundred years or so.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Now Return to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Today was the first day back to normal. No more baking, no more Christmas preparation, no more post Christmas lazy days, no more husband home from work, no more time off school work. I'd love to be able to say that we started the day early, did chores, had a homemade breakfast before hitting schoolbooks. The reality is that I took all my morning vitamins (I'm fighting off a cold and thought I'd give my body everything I could to help fight it) on an empty stomach. Definitely not a great idea. So my morning started out with a bit of post-vitamin ick.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this, am I? You know, that feeling just after you swallow the last one that tells you that you probably should have eaten something first, or at least spaced out the 4, 5, 6 different vitamins you just swallowed in one gulp.  So homemade breakfast turned into Cheerios all around. Chores? Well, Zach and Maddie let the chickens and ducks out around 9:00. We did get some schoolwork done, but it wasn't the full day of scholarly activities that I had hoped for.  I didn't accomplish a lot. But I got some of the laundry done. Well, I got some of the laundry folded, but not quite put away. Does that count?  Not much else was done. Silas was a little fussy this afternoon and I ended up napping for about a half hour. Attempting to potty train Sophie ended up with a lot of clean up and not much success.  Zach and Maddie spent more time than I would have liked playing a video game.  Dinner was a large salad and homemade mac and cheese with some diced leftover smoked ham thrown in. (Pretty tasty, by the way.)

So I guess we really did get back to our normal. Way more items on the "To Do" list than we actually get done. But it was a good day. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Curse of Parenting

I've often said that my least favorite stages of childhood are teething and potty training. It's true, these times can be frustrating and tiring. And when you're in the middle of them, it seems like those days will never end. My husband and I have been blessed with a very unique perspective. Our seven children range in age from 4 months old up to 23 (and include a son-in-law and granddaughter). What we know, is that babies grow up quickly. Too quickly. From infant to baby to toddler to little girl or boy to child to teen to .... gone. The days go by faster than you'd ever imagine.

Our oldest lives on the other side of the country. We're lucky if we see her twice a year. Yesterday our second child left to return to school.  For some reason, saying goodbye this time was harder than when he left in August. Maybe it was because in August he left three days after we welcomed our littlest into the world and I was still on a newborn high. Maybe it's because when he left we had just ended a whirlwind few days that included hosting a party for 50 or so people, giving birth less than two hours after the last guests left, preparing for a coming hurricane, losing power (and running water) due to the hurricane, getting oldest son and husband ready to go, getting power back an hour before they left.... yes, all true and all within 3 days.... and I didn't have time to think about feeling sad.

We know that Josh will be home in April (I'll be booking his trip sometime this week), but this leaving thing is hard. I think it has become harder because this time we know. We know that he'll be gone for a while and that, while Skype is amazing (and free!), it isn't the same as being in the same house. We know that he'll grow and change and need us less, and that's the way things are supposed to be, but it's still hard to let go. We know that this is only the beginning of the leaving.  He'll leave again and again, and one of these times he'll leave for good. We know, because we've already had one child leave, never to return. Oh, she comes back, but she's no longer our child. Now she's a wife and a mother.  And we know that we'll experience the leaving five more times. And I think that it doesn't get easier, but that each leaving will be harder.

So this is the curse of parenting. We pour our hearts into our children. We give them everything we have. And if we do it right they leave. They pursue the path that God has for them and it is good. But it is hard for those of us left behind. So if you see me looking wistfully at my middles and my littles, it might be because I'm counting the time we have left. Because I know how quickly it goes by.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. I look at my life to see what's working and what's not working on a pretty frequent and regular basis and try to make changes that make sense when they're needed. I think a lot of the New Year resolution frenzy is because we let ourselves go the last couple of months of the year, so the fresh start really appeals to us. It certainly appeals to me. But if you resolve to do something positive, then slip up, don't wait until next year to try again. Each day is a new beginning. It just so happens that this day, today, begins not just a new week, but also a new year. 

So, here's to no New Year's resolutions! But, if this year happens to bring along a three-baby weight loss, some personal financial goals, some decluttering and re-organizing, and maybe a way for me to be creative at home and make a little extra money on the side, well that would be very nice, indeed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Snow

We had our early snow in October, and now again, we have snow. It's the day before Thanksgiving, but it looks more like Christmas outside to me.  We're expecting another 10 inches or so.  My heart is so happy to sit inside my little cottage all snug and warm when it's snowing and blowing outside. The fire is burning in the wood stove. My coffee is steaming in my mug. Silas is chattering away on the floor beside me and the Littles and Middles are playing upstairs together and their voices flow together over the balcony to my very happy ears. The Builder is working, but left with promises of an early return. And our oldest son is sleeping soundly in his own bed upstairs. We're missing Kate, Allie and John, but this Mama is very content this snowy morning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Snow

The recent, unseasonal snowfall (10 inches!!) has been met with joy, confusion and dread of things to come in our little home. Zach and Maddie danced with glee when they heard that the expected inch or so that wouldn't stick had turned into a Winter Storm Warning. Gather the boots! Get the sleds! They gathered and waited.

And waited. And waited. Until finally they woke up early Sunday morning to see the yard covered and more snow falling.  

Last year, Emma was very much afraid of the snow. It was far too cold for her little self, so she was usually content to stay inside with her little sister while the big kids went out to play.  Of course, she'd decide to stay in only after insisting that she wanted to go out and I'd spend a full 15 minutes getting snowsuit, hat, socks, boots, mittens all fastened up just right. But not this year. This year she got all the appropriate snow attire on (with much help and after realizing that she doesn't have any boots that fit and she stubbornly declared that last year's boots were just perfect, thank you), and went out to slide down the backyard hill and play with the big kids.

Sophie watched the snow falling from the sky and had us all come to the window to see the "bubbles". We dressed her in her outside snow gear so she could go play, but she decided those bubbles falling from the sky were a bit too cold for her taste and she promptly came inside to help Mama mix up some homemade hot cocoa mix.

The Builder dreaded the snow. Not just because of the white stuff, but any time there is a weather event of any significance, it is accompanied by power outages and many work-related phone calls, alarms and emails. Once he had all that under control, he was able to enjoy plowing our driveway, starting up the tractor instead of the snow blower and getting the job done in less than a quarter of the usual time.

Personally, I enjoyed the added hush the snow brings. I honestly thought it would be completely melted by now - 2 days later. But even as I type this, the big kids are outside building snowmen, and Sophie says she wants to go outside now. "I like it", she says.
Taken after they started melting, but you can still see the antennae an the front snow"man" and the back two are in the middle of a snowball fight.

I'm off to go find the stash of post-holiday-50%-off-sale chocolate my husband brought home and hid from me. Good thing we don't have too many hiding places. This girl loves a good sale!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Months

It's pretty amazing how time works. You know, how when you're counting down the days until something exciting happens, it seems like time just drags on. You can almost count the seconds, and they drag on endlessly. But when you're looking back at something, it seems like time has flown by. And you wonder where it all went and how is it possible that it went by so fast.

Today, Silas is two months old. Two months since that whirlwind of a labor. Two months since I first saw that face that I fell oh-so-completely-in-love with. Two months since I looked into newborn eyes that held so much wisdom -is it because he still remembered being in heaven? And I wonder, where did the time go?

I'm still waiting for some down time to just sit and hold my newborn. But my newborn isn't newly born any more. I'm still waiting for the few days of slowness with my husband to just sit together and enjoy the moments of welcoming this precious life into our family. But we haven't had any moments to just sit together.

I've only had postpartum depression once in all my seven babies. I don't have it this time. I don't have time for that. But I have mourned the busy-ness of our lives this last season. So busy sending a child off to school. So busy working on our little bit of home and the land we have been blessed with. So busy enjoying a far-too-brief visit with our oldest and our granddaughter. So busy trying to get started and be diligent about school work. So busy trying to maintain a semblance of sanity in this almost insanely busy but blessed life we have. So busy that I don't know where the last two months have gone.

My little Silas. Still a baby, but so much changed from when he took his first oh-so-calm breath. I've had a few brief moments of just BEing with him. I'm hoping to find more. He has definitely carved out his place in our family. None of us can remember what life was like before he came. Happy two months to you, my little man-cub.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Supper

The family has been fighting a bit of a cold - the first of the season for us.

Wouldn't it be very nice if it were also the last cold of the season?  

So, for dinner I wanted to make something warm and healthy. Restorative Roasted Garlic Soup is exactly what we needed. I used this recipe, given to me by a dear friend and wonderful cook. She made a few changes to the recipe, and I only changed the broth base from vegetable broth to chicken because that's what was in my freezer. So the modified recipe is:

3 heads of roasted garlic ( i used 2 large heads)
8 cups of broth (I used chicken, but vegetable is very good)

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice from 1 or 2 limes added at the end
and then served up with slices of avocado and toasted corn tortilla strips - because that's what I had

But just soup didn't look quite substantial enough for tonight. So I added some meatballs (I love this recipe!) that I had in the freezer to enjoy along with some Butternut Squash Fries.  My house smells very fall-ish.

And, I even had a chance to sort through the little girls' clothes and switch out warm weather wear for cool weather wear this afternoon. I'm feeling quite smug with my accomplishments for the day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Can't Have It All

I've been pondering life's direction a lot lately.
     Maybe it's because I just gave birth to my seventh child.
          Maybe it's because my second child just left our nest, maybe for a year, maybe forever.
               Maybe it's because of the uncertainty of the economy and The Builder's job.
                    Maybe it's because I spend a large part of my day nursing Silas and thinking about life.

I remember a writing assignment in a college class I took long ago. The assignment was "Your View of Life's Choices - Is There Only One Right Way". Or something like that. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember comparing life to water flowing. You see water flowing in a brook, and that water can flow along many different paths of the brook, or it might come to a "dead end" and go under ground for a while, but it will resurface. The brook might only flow as a trickle, barely visible unless you're looking for it. Or it might join with a larger stream and then a river and flow along in a fast current. No matter which path the water takes, it still all ends up in the ocean. (Work with me here.) Is the fast current on a better path than the slow trickling brook?

Is there only One Right Way? God's One Perfect Plan for our lives and anything else is second best? I don't think so. I think He teaches us what we need to know wherever we are. Oh, sure, we can definitely make choices that are plainly wrong, but if there are two or more paths to choose that appear equally right, does it really matter which one we pick? I think we can apply that to the big things (career choices) and to the little things (where to spend Saturday afternoon).  We need to realize that saying yes to one path means saying no to others. You simply can't have it all.  The important thing is to live your life with joy, faith, love, kindness, honesty, integrity, patience and humility. That's the hard part.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time Flies When You're Busy

Such a busy summer we've had. 
Trying to get some projects done around the house. 
Trying to enjoy the summer. 
Trying to enjoy the last few months before Josh left for school. 
Trying to prepare for the newest little one to join us.  

And now, here we are. At the end of summer. Fall is coming in quickly, although we did have a bit of a reprieve with a return to summer temperatures for a couple of days. And as proof of how quickly time is flying by, my brand new baby is One Month Old. I don't quite know where the days went.

Silas, the day he was born

Silas, One Month Old

 He's growing up far to fast for my taste.

Birthdays are hard work

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why We Won't Turn on the Hose Today

Yesterday was hot. Well, as hot as things get in June in our part of the world, certainly not as hot as things get in other parts, but hot as we define it here. Anyway, I thought I'd get the outside work done early, and then maybe do something fun and water-y with the kids. So we headed out to the garden to finish removing the rocks that grew over the winter. The middles brought their summer school books (Math and Reading), we packed up water and headed down to the garden. We brought the goats, too. They like to graze in the field while we work down there. The kids all hang out in the shade house while I get some gardening done.
Emma thought the goats should be allowed in the shade house, too.
So while I worked on raking and pulling weeds and throwing rocks, the goats grazed nearby.

Why do I put up a gate?
Sometimes they were a lot nearer than I wanted, but they did help with the weeding.   Emma thought she'd take them for a walk, Talking with them the whole way.

Emma, Goat Whisperer

Sophie kept a close watch on everything.

Sadly, we were only down there for about an hour and a half before the heat made me realized that the garden, which has already waited this long, could wait a couple more days. Cooler weather is on the way.  Even Abby was glad when we decided to head back to the house to take a break.

And that was our morning. So in the afternoon I thought I'd let the kids have some fun and turn on the hose and I'd take a break for the afternoon. I took Emma and Sophie out to play with Zach and Maddie in the water, and I realized that, well, since the water was on anyway, I should scrub the 5 area rugs that have been sitting outside for far too long waiting for me to stop being so lazy have time to scrub them down before storing them until next winter.

When I was done with the rugs, since the water was on anyway, I thought I'd water the strawberries I recently planted.  While I was watering the strawberries, I realized that the grapes needed to be weeded. So I did that. When I was done weeding the grapes, I looked over at the blueberries and realized that they needed some weeding as well. So I did that. And the kids had fun playing in the water. And that was my afternoon break. So we won't turn on the hose today, because I'm too tired to take a break.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Turkey Ark

 I wanted to show you the shelter my amazing husband built for the turkeys.

He mostly used materials he had on hand, because we're really tired of spending more on animal housing than we do on maintaining our own, so "cheap" was the operative word. He screened the sides with 1" poultry wire, built roosts for the turkeys, put in two doors - one for the turkeys to get in and out and one for us to access their food and water. It's gorgeous! When he finished building it, we thought it looked ark-like, hence the name - the Turkey Ark.  We The Builder and the middles dragged it out to the field, came back for the turkeys and put them in their new home, safe and secure. That was Saturday.

Perhaps we should have called it the Turkey Titanic. Because sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning a weasel found our Ark. Unfortunately, the weasel also found our turkeys. When I went to check on them Tuesday morning we were down by two. So The Builder stopped by the hardware store for reinforcements. (So much for keeping it cheap!) He picked up hardware cloth to reinforce the sides and the bottom of the Ark and ended up spending the whole evening working on it with Josh's assistance. He basically ended up re-framing the whole thing, placing the hardware cloth (which is supposed to be weasel proof) over top of the poultry wire, then lifting the whole thing and covering the bottom as well. The hardware cloth wasn't large enough to reach all the way around the bottom, so he overlapped it and anchored it in place with some pretty large rocks until he can "stitch" the opening closed. 

I think the remodel was successful, because this morning all 9 turkeys were still there, alive and well. While I did some work in the garden I let them out to free-range. They were hesitant at first (do you blame them?), but they seemed to enjoy the freedom.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This Week

So much happening, it must be posted in bullets, or it will never be posted.

  • Transcript for 4 years of high school compiled for Josh to graduate.
    • This was a tough one because most of our records were online, and we've had multiple computer and printer problems this year. 
    • This required digging through boxes in the cellar to find school work from 9th and 10th grades.
    • This also required some serious crunch time on Josh's part, which resulted in serious crunch time for grading the work on my part.
    • We're done. He graduates tomorrow!
  • The Builder made a shelter for the 11 turkeys that have been living in our garage for a month. The Turkey Ark was finished today, and the turkeys were relocated to their new home.
  • The 20 21 23 22 many chickens that have been living in the garage for a month have been moved to the coop, affectionately referred to as the Taj-Ma-coop. We'll see how they do.
  • The 9 ducks that have been living in our garage for a month have been relocated to temporary quarters until permanent shelter is built found.
  • We went to our last day at the middles' homeschool co-op. Lots of fun was had by all. We ended the day with very tired middles and littles, and a Mama who is grateful for time off for the summer but is wondering what she'll do without weekly sanity checks.
  • We ALL (even Josh and The Builder) went on a field trip to Children's Day at a small living history museum. It was a wonderful way to end the official school year.
  • The garden was planted prepared for planting. We're a little behind, but it seems that rocks grew very well over the winter and they needed to be removed. We got half of it done. We're a little late for planting here, but we're still going to put everything in and see what comes up. Because you never know.
  • Zach learned how to drive the tractor and tilled half of our field for planting. He's walking much taller now, with a little man-swagger.
  • Zach and Maddie each got to back a vehicle down the driveway to clear the way to clean out the garage. They both have a little bit of man-swagger.
  • The 100 strawberry plants I planted last week are doing very well, even though some of our chickens think the new strawberry bed is a custom built dust-bath just for them. I still need to mulch them. Maybe next week.
  • Bingley the baby boy goat is a little "less" boy. We had him neutered (which is a much better alternative than the meat market). I was amazed at how fast and easy the process was. Much better than disbudding.
  • Maddie finished up all her reading books for the year and is looking for more. 
  • Maddie and Zach finished science for the year.
  • I'm looking forward to our first summer "off" in several years. Other than some reading and math (which are year-round subjects), we're done with school!
Sorry, no pictures. With all those things going on, did you really expect me to take and download pictures? Impossible!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

20 years

7,300 days
 And every new day is a blessing.

 1,040 weeks
Filled with far too much time apart, but loving the moments when we're together. 

240 months
Births and birthdays, new homes, new jobs, new states, teaching children, graduations, weddings, grandchildren, growing together.
20 years
Remembering beautiful times together, enjoying the moments we are given, planning and looking forward to many more.


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