Time to go

After an incredibly busy and fun filled week (well, for the most part), now it’s time to go on vacation. My parents are taking the girls and their dog in our van and I am driving the boys in their car. Kevin unfortunately has to stay home but he’s done planting! (Pray for rain in our neck of the woods. It’s almost a dire situation at this juncture)

We are driving to my aunt’s house in Springfield MO tomorrow, they are staying with her; the boys and I are staying at my cousin’s house. Then we are all going to Hot Springs Village, AR to meet up with our cousins/nieces/nephews  and Tia (my sister) and Uncle Tony who live in CO.

I’ve got the girls pretty much ready to go and a good start on the boys. I need to pack myself and all the miscellany besides clothes we need to take. We rented a couple of vacation homes (at only $85/night, it’s a pretty sweet deal) but we have to take our own coffee making supplies, paper products, cleaning products and what not.

I was thinking that I would continue to cloth diaper while there since we have our own washer in the house, but now I’m feeling too tired.

I cleaned out the van and vacuumed the whole thing. I am thanking God for Kevin who took the children to the library, park, to watch boats on the Mississippi and out for lunch. I was NOT making any progress while they were “helping”. I think, in fact, I was going backward.

I still have to get snacks and what not made and packed, entertainment (the girls are SO much easier as they will listen to books on CD the whole trip (and knock out their library summer reading program in one fell swoop)) and finish picking up the house.

It’s a lot of work to have fun!

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Grain free

So recently, I challenged myself to go sugar free again because it helped so much with my allergies last year when I gave up sugar for Lent. I didn’t do nearly as well this time around (as in I still ate something sweet almost every day). I did still benefit from the drastic cut back (No allergy medicine needed this month: just one of the good things) and I learned to give myself grace.

 I am still trying to keep it out of my diet.

While I was researching, I found a 30 Day Challenge that recommended taking out sugar and foods that act like sugar, as in grains. I have been looking into cutting out wheat/grains for a good long time, well over a year. But it seems so drastic! It seems so impossible! I read Paleo and Primal cookbooks and blogs. I know people who have seen AMAZING benefits from dropping grains from their diets. I completely understand why people do it, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to actually do it.

I’ve been grinding our own flour and while I have yet to do it, I’ve been meaning to soak our grains and flour.

Grains have bad stuff in them. Stuff that actually is antinutrients.  Soaking helps attenuate those bad aspects and make grain more digestible. It’s a place to start. 

One of my hangups has been that both Paleo and Primal, while good nutritionally, come at it from an evolutionary model, in that our apelike ancestors were hunters and gatherers not farmers. I come at it from a Truth perspective, wherein the second generation of people were farmers. Now, that is after the Fall, so perhaps God didn’t intend to have us eat grain primarily.

I found a really interesting article today about the Bible and going grain free at Wellness Mama. That is a perspective I hadn’t seen before.

Another one of my hangups has been the WORK. I know, I know…anything worth having is worth working for.Other families do it. I know I could do it; it’s a whole new way of thinking.

Perhaps I’d better start by being more consistent with cutting out sugar and soaking the grains we do eat first.

Anyway, I’m thinking about it…

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The weekend…


Saturday morning dawned sunshiney full of potential. After going to the bank for Kevin, dropping Brielle off to spend some time with her aunt, getting gas and coffee, we arrived at our first service project. Our church was doing scads of projects all over town, ranging from planting flowers to welcoming refugees to packing food boxes, over 500 members of our church were doing our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We opted to help with a free car wash. Luckily, we didn’t have any customers at first and they needed someone to volunteer their vehicle to get the ball rolling.

Um. ME!! We live on a gravel road and haven’t had rain for two weeks. Pretty sure my van could use a wash again by now–but it was a huge blessing to have it washed. I got to talk to some friends I don’t see often enough too. As we were leaving, Aviana said that it was the most fun she had in her whole life!

Next we met up with some other friends to put together birth kits for moms in Papua New Guinea. 1 in 7 moms in rural Papua New Guinea dies in childbirth. Today. In 2012. Can you imagine?! A friend found out about Bloggers for Birth Kits and organized our meet up. It was another fabulous opportunity to hang with friends and  serve others.

Photo credit to a friend

Then it was time for lunch at the farmer’s market. We were all pretty wilted by this time so I only bought 4 quarts of strawberries. We talked with our hooping friend and headed home.

On the way, I realized I really wanted to implement some of the ideas my landscaper friend suggested, so I hooked into The Green Thumbers and bought some plants. They are so awesome there–the manager walked me around helping me find what I wanted, offering tips and suggestions all the while and carried them to the front for me, and then someone loaded them into my van. Jessica loves being spoiled.

When I got home, I got the baby down for his nap, started unloading the mountains of stuff that had somehow accumulated in the van since the last time I cleaned out the van (which I think may have been the day before!), and decided to try and find my phone since I had forgotten to take it with me.

I found it.
I checked my messages.
My aunt had called.
My mom was in the ER!
She was in severe respiratory distress and after having gone to urgent care, was transferred by ambulance to the hospital!

I didn’t even know which hospital and all my calls to both my dad and mom wouldn’t go through.

I called Kevin and continued to try and stay busy (and around here there is always work for willing hands. Hint, Hint). After what seemed a really long, long wait, I finally got a call from my dad telling me where they were and asking me to come down to hospital. I called my SIL asking her to bring Brielle home and if she would stay with the other kids and asked Kevin to call his mom to see if she would maybe come over after work or even get off work early to help, so he could continue to get the crop in.

My mom was in bad shape. She couldn’t get her breath at all even after being on oxygen and a breathing treatment or two. Just the exertion of moving to the edge of the bed and trying to stand would send her into spasms of coughing and panic and not being able to breathe. Then she couldn’t get control of her breathing again for an eternity.

She was admitted to the Pulmonary Unit and I stayed with my parents the whole time. I was so thankful that my children were taken care of so I could be a support to them.  My mom had even felt earlier in the day like “it’s a good thing I’m right with God because if it’s my time to go, I’m ready.” I cannot imagine losing my mom right now. She’s only 58 and I still need her. My dad left about 8 as he was exhausted from all the stress.

I stayed at the hospital until my aunt arrived after an 8 hour drive around 11. I was so tired driving home (we are about 30ish minutes away) I thought I would have to pull over and take a cat nap, but I made it.

My MIL had taken the children to her house so I got to sleep in until 8 this morning. Kevin wanted to go up to the hospital with me, so I messed around looking for a lost library book, we planted my plants and then headed up. She had had one more “episode” this morning but was doing really well. My dad went to church so we all just kept company until Aunt Barb and Kevin took off early afternoon. Kevin went back to work and Aunt Barb had a graduation to attend.  I stayed until she was discharged. She has several prescriptions including a nebulizer.

What concerns me is if she has another episode while my dad is at work and why they never really figured out WHY this was happening. Of course it’s awesome she doesn’t have to stay in the hospital and I’m thankful she is doing better. It bothers me that they ruled out the big stuff (pneumonia), but didn’t find a trigger for this episode. It’s as if they feel like, ‘well, we’ve got her on some drugs and she’s pretty much fine now, so it’s good enough.’ What about making some lifestyle changes? What about alternatives to more medications? What about things we can do to not let it get like this again? Not even a consideration, apparently.

Kevin was almost done planting corn today when he had yet another breakdown. Stupid first year with a new planter anyway. So we’re four measly acres away from being done! We still have almost all the beans to do (I use the term “we” very loosely–kind of like “we’re pregnant”) but that isn’t as critical…

I’m tired and energized at the same time. How is that even possible? I need to get my booty to bed though, another big day of loving and living and learning tomorrow!

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A Farm Fresh Day

This post is just for me. I share it with you because sometimes the mundane is oddly interesting. Perhaps what goes on in my house may encourage you to know that you are not alone in the mess and mayhem, the scurrying and squabbles.

 I do this a couple times a year, in a notebook. It helps me see how times have changed, the children have changed, how I’m growing, what exactly I do all day when, at the end of the day, I look around and can’t find a single room that offers sanctuary from the kid clutter, even though I thought I had the kids pick up (a couple times!).

And maybe, when the kids are grown, I’ll look back at my notebooks and weep softly for the crazy chaos that I’ll never have again.

I present to you
Tuesday 17 April 2012

5:41 a.m. “Mama. Mama? Mama!”
                 Uh-oh. Denton is awake.  Debate going up to the guest room (his crib is next to our bed). Wait–feigning sleep, barely breathing. Go back to sleep (I think) or at least a close approximation thereof.
6:30–       Cadrian slams open the door to our room. Sunlight streams in. Prairie dog baby pops up. Two boys in the bed, ” ‘nuggling”. Denton liberally distributes kisses and barely pulls my hair at all.
6:45–       up and at ’em
                 Play “Where’s Cadrian? Where’s Denton?” while they hide in the closet and the cubby by the dresser while I get dressed and make the bed. Tickles, kisses, tosses on the bed. Start to put away clothes from yesterday.
7:00–        Kevin asks me something. Go to kitchen so I can hear him.  Write checks and notes for Samaritan Ministries, pray. Cadrian carefully puts stamps on them and letters I wrote yesterday and licks envelopes. Kevin gets me coffee and the boys their shakes and bananas and cereal. Peels me an egg.
7:20–         Sit at table together discussing our house addition and  Samaritan Ministries newsletter while Denton eats K’s cereal. There’s a hole into the kitchen for a heat duct, but right now it’s windy and COLD. Ask  K, “Will you bring down the heater?” Denton answers, “No!”
7:35–          Go out to “summer kitchen” with K while he gets into boots and coveralls. Discuss sinks, attic, bathroom shelves/arrangement. Cadrian asks several more times for a story.
         Brielle and Aviana appear. Hug A & B.
7:45–           read C story-help him find “airplane clothes” which must be in the laundry–reminds me to switch laundry
8:00–          A reading Mrs. Pepperpot’s Outing                
                    BCD play with Mr Potato Head with minimal bickering
                    B reads “My Bible Book” to boys
8:15–           discuss debate club and Friday’s play date—share some almond mix with D
8:20–          clean kitchen counters, table high chair—fold Kevin’s clothes–start dryer–Kids wild dancing to Geography Songs–load dishwasher–clean off chocolate “Nobody” spilled in fridge a few days ago–clean up detergent “Nobody” spilled between washer and dryer a couple of weeks ago—sweep floor—slice lemons and limes to freeze–change Denton’s stinky dipe–put B in time out for squeezing C–fix hair–talk to furnace guys about storage space in attic crawl space
9:15–            make more coffee–talk with girls about next Presentation Day–prevent D from destroying C’s train tracks–prevent D from getting into CD’s
9:30–             make cape out of tee shirt for C–he doesn’t want it; he wants green–B loves it–make mask–find green fabric! (note to self: Get to Goodwill)–sew cape for C–he doesn’t like mask–make them pick up all the laundry they dumped–face paint masks for C and B—A wants flowers, and a headscarf like Chava in Fiddler on the Roof—D finds chocolate eggs in my bag (how/when did those get there?!) Ate 2 or 3 while I was painting–send B & C outside to play—return to find A & D snuggled on the couch under a blanket reading.
10:20–            fold laundry—intermittently play with D—fix slow clock—now A has on Christmas music; at least it’s calming
10:40–             start lunch–boil potatoes–direct Super B who wants to assist making Shepherd’s Pie–finish putting away clothes in my room—put away clean laundry
10:50–             talk w/ plumber RE: bathroom arrangement (toilet, sink, shower)
11:00–             call K to make sure he agrees with what I decided
11:10–             make mashed potatoes in food processor—get Pie in oven
11:20–             change D
11:30–              direct B to pick up all the shoes on the porch—send C (who is hindering her work) off to find jump ropes and put them away—direct B to shake rugs and sweep–she doesn’t need much supervision anymore and seems to really enjoy this task
                         direct A to match socks and put away some of the laundry
11:45–             finish sweeping porch, put away winter things, switch out summer bin, write in daily diary I’ve been keeping since February
11:50–             dish up food and drinks
12:02 p.m.–      BOY! It’s QUIET when they’re eating and the workers aren’t drilling/sawing. I didn’t realize how loud it’d been!
12:06–              banana dessert or cake. Oh I want some! But not as overwhelmingly as when I first drastically cut back on sugar
12:07–             Out of nowhere, B says, “Boy, I”m surprised Gigi and Opa are still alive!”
                           Me, “why?”
                           Her, ” Because you’re their kid and their kids are really old!”
                           Aviana, “People don’t usually die until their grandchildren are grown up.”
12:08–               eat a few bites of banana dessert, but stop myself from demolishing the whole thing. I guess that’s progress.
12:10–               Get cleaned up from lunch. Do dishes
12:20–                read “Who’s that Knocking on Christmas Eve?” and “Peter is Just a Baby”
12:45–               change D, sleep sack him, K puts him down for his nap–talk with K and plumber again about bathroom placement–come up with yet another plan
1:00–                  read “Peter is Just a Baby” again
1:10–                  Aviana wants to listen to a book on CD but can’t find the ear phone adapter
1:15–                    I look in stereo cabinet
1:20–                    I look in/on computer armoire
1:25–                    I look in electronics box in storage (and note that belly barely scrapes through closet door which only opens 1/3 of the way)
1:30–                    I look in Kevin’s music room
1:35–                    I give up in annoyance and give her the portable DVD player. Find charger after two attempts.
1:40–               Take homeschool/book catalogs, computer and notebook upstairs
1:45–                 Furnace guy comes wandering in looking for inlet for furnace
1:50–                Check emails
2:00–               Check Facebook–send a few birthday greetings
2:15–               Upload pics from camera
2:25–               Upload addition pics to FB; for some reason they are huge, which makes organizing album extremely frustrating
2:30–               Read article about PPD–traumatic birth experience lends itself to PPD, something I’ve always wondered about regarding B’s birth and the months afterward
2:35–               Looked up some more baby names; found one I really like!
2:40–               Leah (my sister) calls Man! So good to hear her voice. Had a really good conversation despite
2:50–              C coming in crying (bumped his head)
2:55–              B coming in crying (bumped her head)
3:00–              A coming in saying D is crying
3:05–              D coming in crying (just because he’s awake)–he calmed down quickly though (this time) so I thankfully don’t have to get off the phone
3:15                  ABC ask if they can walk through the field to the cemetery 1/2 mile away (permission granted)
3:17                   Help C with his shoes
3:30                  Get off phone–never did look at homeschool stuff/catalogs
3:35                  Phone again–talk w/ K about how to pay furnace guys
3:45                  Phone again–it’s the furnace guy
4:00                  Stop messing around online
4:05                  Find our favorite meatloaf recipe
                         Realize that I can no longer make “lil cheddar loaves” because of B’s dairy allergy; decide not to throw recipe away. Find a different meat loaf recipe
4:15                 Go back up to computer, find link through friend’s Pinterest for correct proportions for Peanut Butter Smoothies
4:20                   Cut up all the bananas in the house for the smoothies
4:25                   Call Kevin to see if he can pick up bananas on his way home from delivering bull
4:30                    Measure rest of ingredients
4:35                    Kevin shows up at door–I didn’t know he was already back. I guess no bananas for breakfast.
4:40                     Get done flirting with him
4:45                     Check bananas–not yet frozen
4:46                     Start on meatloaf–get distracted by giggling with Denton. He’s hiding in cubby hole between counter and cabinets and I’m “getting him”.
5:00                       Get “meat muffs” in oven (meat loaves cooked in muffin tins, Aviana named them this when she was 2 or 3)
5:05                     Wash potatoes
5:10                     Go downstairs. Think I hear a cat mewling inexplicably. Get more potatoes.
5: 15                    Wash more potatoes, get water boiling, get them boiling
5:20                     Kiddlets are back. Let them watch Magic Schoolbus
5:25                     Back to basement for carrots. Think I hear cat again. Realize I do hear cat! B locked barn cat in cat carrier–this explains all the cat hair on her I noticed earlier–release cat and carry cat and carrots upstairs
5:30                      Get carrots boiling–go upstairs to check on kiddlets–notice D is super stinky–can’t find any wipes–realize wet flannel family cloth work wonderfully–why haven’t I been doing this all along?!–rinse diaper with shower sprayer into toilet–still rinsing when kiddlets all appear to supervise and offer ICK commentary
5:35                      Get them going on tidying house
                              Fresh diaper applied. Notify B if she doesn’t stop bellowing, she’ll  have to be in charge of dining room AND family room before she gets dinner. Know she’s just tired and hungry.
5:45                        Tell C what to pick up and put away in kitchen
                              B is doing a great job!
5:50                       Finish vacuuming edges. Instruct A to pull out all the toys that creep under the couch, and put them away.
5:55                       Direct handwashing
6:00                Kevin calls to say he needs to go spray so he’ll be late. (Right now!? Pout. I’ll take care of everything. Again. Sigh. He’s really very sweet; “I know it seems like that, but it can’t be helped…” I know…I know.)
6:05                       Fill plates, get everyone sitting–get milk/water for everyone–sing Aviana’s prayer–admonish C to cooperate and hold hands with his sisters.
6:10                       Take away D’s milk so he doesn’t put meatloaf in it–C wants to sing “Fank You Gheezus” –admonish girls to cooperate with him–resist the temptation to ignore my babies and read at the table and veg my brain, even though it has been a mightily wonderful day, my brain is full and tired and I don’t want to participate anymore
6:20                  Get girls unloading dishwasher and putting all the dishes away, not just on counter
6:25                  B wants smoothie in “fancy glasses”–I consent–girls play “cheering each other” (toasting)
                         B cries because I tell her to put “fancy glasses” away
                         Talk to her about trust–she has to trust me–If I say she has to put glasses away and I said she can have fancy glass for smoothie, she has to trust my plan. Just like God put me in authority over her and I have to trust in His plan. Just like Abraham, Moses and Jesus trusted in His plan–she has to trust my plan even though she can’t see the whole picture or understand this part in the plan (I had the smoothies already in different fancy glasses in the freezer)
6:30                 Help C eat the last few bites of meatloaf
6:35                 Finish clearing table and load dishwasher
6:40                 Get everyone sat back down–distribute smoothies (1/4 c pb, frozen banana,3/4 c almond milk, 1/4 c oatmeal (grind first in vita-mix))–Unbelievable how good they are–NO Sugar!
6:48                  Denton has done a splendid job both eating his smoothie and dispensing it all over face, spoon, hands and chair–wipe him down as well as high chair, wall and counter
6:50                 Jama time
6:55                 Start brushing teeth
7:00                 Start reading stories. 4 McDuff stories, 1 Bible story
7:15                 One by one, pray with them and send them off to bed. Little Rascal Denton is hiding behind couch. Kevin shows up. Eats, executes super fast shower.
7:25                  Cadrian has snuck upstairs. “Cadrian get down here this instant or you’ll get a spanking!”
7:25               Marriage Mentoring couple shows up. They’re getting married in January. Emotional session.
10:00             They leave–we go upstairs to show K remodel album and pics of superhero day–look at pinterest, fb, email–talk about addition, baby names, mentoring–he likes smoothie
10:30              Bed

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Farm Life

Planting.  Fixing. Hay making. Gardening. Mulching. Growing. Fixing. Long days. Working. Always the fixing. Exhaustion. Busy from sunup to way past sundown.

Kevin has been working his marathon days in the field this week. I’m glad. I truly am. After all, I would like to eat and buy stuff next year. The crops must get in. The work must be done.

He got a new planter this year and has basically rebuilt the whole thing. I, honestly, can’t tell any difference when I look at it and don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time. But I stand there supportively when the guys who DO know what all he’s invested in it are giving him kudos. I know how talented he is and am so very proud of him!

We’ve had rain delays too–the hay mower almost got stuck in the field the other day, but he pulled out in the nick of time.

Iowa is about 70% planted which only serves to add to the pressure of “getting it done”. It’s frustrating when you try to tell someone you’re proud and excited that it was the first day planting and they respond with “I see fields with corn coming up all over the place. First day? What!?”

Yeah, I know. 70% of fields are done. I just said that. It’s frustrating how few people understand what farming is all about and how much is out of our control. How much faith a farmer has to have in God to take care of the rest. How much faith a farmer’s wife must have in her farmer.

He’s had break downs every day but he just keeps on fixing. The piles of seed corn in our garage are dwindling. He’s working at breakneck pace. He still makes me coffee for the morning. He’s exhausted. He doesn’t have enough time to stop to eat.

Yet, when we take him pizza out to the field he takes time to listen to the tales of the day (which in some of our children’s cases, take a v.e.r.y. long time to tell). He puts all the children up on a hay bale just to make them laugh. He nuzzles the baby. He kisses his daughters and tells them they are beautiful. He tosses his son up in the air and chases him round and round.

Sometimes, I am jealous and irritated and think mean thoughts to myself like “Oh, yeah, well even if he’s trying to do the work of three men and a small boy all at once, at least he doesn’t have someone following right behind him undoing the work he just did. At least he’s lean and strong and can still bend over properly.  He should have more energy than me, he’s not growing a human.”

He’s working so hard. He’s doing his best.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. We’re going to just do the same thing we’ve been doing the past few weeks. I’m going to mother our precious gifts from God. He’s going to provide for us. We honor one another by taking care of “our” area. We honor one another by respecting the talents and giftings God has given us.

Soon there will be time to sit down together and just be. Not now. But that is one wonderful thing about life on the farm. There are seasons and it changes. Soon it will be different. But for now, it is like this.

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24 weeks along

We’ve had a busy week…lots of fun stuff including hanging out with my parents for a day, spreading the raw milk wealth, a MOMS group meeting, hiring a mother’s helper for the summer, ballet class, a visit to my midwife combined with a daydate with my friend, signing on to photograph a birth (so very thrilled about this!) the girls’ book club, an exhausting bout of “potato staking”(as she calls it) which isn’t going to end any time soon, a birth conference, meeting lots of new people.
Here’s my sweet “belly shotter” (as she calls it) being the model so I can check the settings.

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Aviana’s lists

Today in a drawer I found a list. I asked Aviana what it was.

 “Oh,” she replied nonchalantly,”that’s just a list I tore out of my notebook. It’s a list of what I’m thankful for. You can throw it away.”

I couldn’t bear to until I had recorded it for posterity.

1. Painting
2. reading under the willow tree
3. the begining of a storm
4. a hazy sunset
5. the wind ruseling through the trees
6. pillow fights
7. feather beds
8. skys that look like a painting
9. daisy chains
10. buttercups
11. sun peeping through the clouds
12. my sister brielle
13. books.
14. silly cadrian
15. funny denton

On the back she had written what she wants for her eighth birthday in July.

two lambs. two mice. one moltese. one camra.

Oh how I love that girl of mine, the one who made me a mama, my sweet baby A.

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