Farm Fresh Family Update

Brielle and Finnella looking for books on CD

I haven’t blogged for six months! I have lots of good reasons/excuses, depending on how you look at it. But I miss it and I enjoy it and I am doing it for me, so I’m back! It’s hard to let go of expectations–like how blogging has kind of turned into article writing, and I don’t always (ever) have the brain space for an actual article, so I felt like I couldn’t compete. But with whom am I competing? And why!?

I’m learning a lot about myself and being a better self.
The Farmer: He’s busy with the farm as always. He’s got more cows than ever, and more feed lot cattle too. He’s putting up a lot of forage (hay, rye) for the winter and to hopefully sell. He’s working on spraying now. He does his best to take children with him whenever he can and to be home for dinner, or at least bedtime. As any working parent knows, it’s a challenge to be pulled in a lot of different directions, and with farming, you can’t leave your woes behind at the office, it’s always there. Staring you in the face. Glaring at you.
The Farm Fresh Mama: I’ve got my hands in a lot of different pots. I’ve gotten back into serving my community as a doula and love holding space for mamas so they can see their own power. It’s a beautiful, celestial calling.

I have more than doubled the garden this year. I’m doing Square Food Gardening and trying something new, Straw Bale Gardening. I don’t think my peas are going to make it, and will have to start over with them, but everything else looks good. I’ve gotten a new hobby of “planning”, which is writing my to do list and decorating it, and writing down what we did in quick bullet points in a composition notebook. It’s a fun segue between scrapbooking and keeping track of what I need to do on the backs of kids’ drawings. Writing “water garden” in my planner helps it actually get done. Funny how that works.

Finnella on Memorial Day

I’m doing something new with the boys for school, called Easy Peasy Homeschool. The woman who put it together did a curriculum for ALL THE GRADES, of activities to do with links added. It’s amazing she did this and I am so thankful. It eliminates the problem of never being able to find the book I need. It doesn’t matter how organized I am, there is always a missing book! They like being able to play games and be on the computer. 

I love homeschooling and seeing their successes and the delight for learning gleam.
Aviana: This child is almost as tall as I am and it blows my mind. She weighed as much as a bag of sugar when I brought her home from the hospital and now she’s looking me in my eye. IN MY EYE! She earned Memory Master again this year. I am proud of how she puts her mind to something and attains it. She’s going to be a seventh grader. She plays piano and earned a spot in a special recital for students who have been given a Superior rating three years in a row at festival. She took up violin this year too and we are putting her in orchestra at the junior high. I’m feeling nervous about that, almost like sending a child off to kindergarten!
Brielle: She’s as precocious and adorable as ever. She achieved Memory Master in Classical Conversations this year, as a nine year old. That is a big deal! She plans to do it the next two years and try for National Memory Master, which would put us on a cruise (and makes her my favorite)! I love how much she can do when she puts her mind to it! 
Cadrian; My sweet boy has grown so much this year! He is reading better than ever, helps me garden, and is our chief breakfast maker. He specializes in Toad in a Hole and oatmeal. He is amazingly thoughtful and kind to me (which is why he’s my favorite), and absolutely likes to stir the pot when it involves his siblings. 
Denton: He is learning right along side Cadrian and often feels shuffled in the middle. He’s sensitive and tough at the same time, the tough being a cover up for the sensitive. I wish people could see the sweet and sensitive easier, because it’s so easy to start off going toe to toe with him. I’m so thankful I discovered what Gentle Parenting really means before he ever got spanked (because he’s my favorite). It’s hard enough to figure out how to help him reach his full potential with the respectful parenting tools I DO have in my arsenal. He’s as bright as a brass button and full of his own ideas. 
Elivette: She is talkative and adorable and loves to say “Pwetty Pwincess Pwease”. She sports dresses all the time and often a tiara. She is smart as a whip and as thoughtful as you please. She has an amazing memory and astounds me with what she comes up with. Her three year old year has been so completely different than the older girls’ (probably because she’s my favorite). I can’t help but wonder how much my parenting shift has had to do with it. She 
Finnella (my favorite) has turned one! She has been taking some steps here and there. She loves being outside and in point of fact is sitting right next to me on the couch literally screaming at me because I am not taking her outside. I stood up with her just now and she stopped screaming. I took her outside and put her in the swing and she smiled. She knows what she wants and doggedly goes after it.She likes her swing in the tree the best, but will happily crawl around where ever we are. She doesn’t like the feel of the sidewalk or grass so crawls on one knee and one foot. She waves, babbles like crazy, and lets you know her needs, but doesn’t sign anything yet. 
One more thing that I wanted to mention is how vital my mama tribe has become. I have always had friends, but in the past couple of years, I have been given the gift of people who understand my heart and my very soul in a way I haven’t experienced. It has helped me become more like the person I’ve always wanted to be.

D, F, E, B, A and C and me on a hike at Starved Rock State Park
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My favorite

 Ten is a first born. Ten loves a schedule, solitude and creativity. Ten writes novels and stories and plays and journals and songs. Ten fills notebooks and loses them. Ten loves to play piano and sing. Ten practices regularly without being reminded. Ten needs lots of reminders when she’s on kitchen zone. Ten loves to bake and then eat. Ten begrudgingly cleans up after so she’ll be allowed to bake again. Ten loves to read and would read all day if she could. Ten loves to read with many voices and drama and accents when she reads to her littles. Ten patiently does preschool and games with them. Ten puts up with a lot of grief from youngers who pester. Ten is usually quite kind and thoughtful. Ten is helpful and can do so many things. Ten is brave and bold and unafraid of public speaking, but is reluctant to go up and introduce herself. Ten very much wants a bosom friend. Ten prefers the company of one to a crowd. Ten has great ideas. Ten folds her long legs and long arms up as small as she is able and lays her head on my shoulder and snuggles. Ten questions. Ten is quick witted. Ten is often a child but is often a young lady. Ten sprawls haphazardly and holds herself erect. Ten bursts into torrents of tears without warning or knowing exactly why. Ten is long limbed and long necked and blonde haired. Ten has sprinkles of freckles and a sometimes hesitant smile. Ten tries so hard to do her best. Ten is a perfectionist and ten is perfect and ten is my favorite.

 Eight is a commander. Eight is a challenger. Eight is passionate and wild and loud. Eight is persistent and independent. Eight follows through exactingly when she sees how she benefits. When she doesn’t, garnering cooperation is an arduous ordeal. Eight loves to read and loves to climb and loves to make houses out of anything, jump on the hay bales, swing from the rope and play games. Eight is a leader. Eight is friendly and draws people to her. Knowing what will happen is important to Eight. Reality aligning with expectations matters to Eight. Eight can express her disappointment better now. Eight swoops up small children. Eight finds delight. Eight is creative. Eight loves stick fighting in Kuk Sool Won and is tenacious. Eight is gentle and rough. Eight is thoughtful and thoughtless and thought provoking. Eight is coming into her own. Eight needs reassurance. Eight snuggles fiercely and pulls away from being over parented. Eight likes her own ideas best. Eight likes instant gratification and works several months to complete a model sailing ship which she gives away to her friend the day she finishes it. Eight is generous and impulsive. Eight is energetic and calm. Eight wonders. Eight questions. Eight pushes. Eight encourages. Eight is pink cheeks and freckles and gap toothed grins and scabs and giggles. Eight is perfect. Eight is my favorite.

 Six is loud covered in dirt. Six loves rockets and volcanoes and airplanes and dinosaurs. Six does things big. Six moves fast. Six does all the puzzles all at once until in the middle of kitchen. Six fights with swords of sticks, of wood, of Styrofoam, of pegs. Six is a pirate, a knight, an army guy. Six is action. Six is the exact middle. Six is the little brother. Six is the “big bruvver”. Six taught himself to write and can draw pictures, especially of monsters. Six is sensitive and self-critical. Six is unafraid to climb to the top of the windmill but doesn’t like to talk with grown ups he doesn’t know. Six will tantrum when tired or misunderstood, but usually has it under control. Six kisses fiercely and hugs thoroughly. Six is learning how to do the work well. Sitting is a chair is just not that fun for Six. Six will follow and also leads. Six loves people and to be alone. Six is tidy and trails a swath of mess.  Six eats as much as a grown man. Six is energetic and tiring. Six is growing into his sense of humor. Six generally follows the rules and has a strong sense of justice. Six is helpful. Six is learning to read. Six spoils his baby sister. Six helps his mama. Six follows directions. Six is tender. Six needs his story, his song and his prayers before bed. Six can wash his own feet but not the muddy tub. Six tries. Six is perfect. Six is my favorite.

 Four is fast and funny and friendly and furious. Four makes mad faces and hits and kicks mostly the air when he’s frustrated. Four outgrew naps, but sometime he needs one. Four hides when he’s mad or doesn’t want his hair washed. Four is snuggly. Four is hungry. Four is thoughtful and sweet and gentle. Four needs to be told to not hit the cat with the broom. Four gets a bite of ice cream when he complies with a request the first time. Fours is giggles with gusto. Four apologizes for screaming. Four loves rough housing. Four’s favorite is “sody pop and ‘tato tips”. Four loves Jeeps and fish and lions and flipping upside down. Four remembers. Four needs reassurance. Four notices. Four asks questions. All day long. “Dada, what would happen if the ‘wuk tuwrned into a boat and ran wan into a volcano?” Four sits in on Six’s reading lessons and answers the questions. Four is tender with his sister. Four catches Two and then falls down. Four does preschool. Four learns new things every day. Four is independent and needs to hold hands. Four wants to do it himself and needs reminders. Four loves to be read to and loves to race and loves to be silly. Four loves to make me laugh. Four is earnest and genuine. Four is sticky and sweaty and pudgy and solid. Four is bronzed and blonde and baby growing into boy. Four is quick and curious and contrary and certain. Four is dimples and dirt and dynamite. Four is perfect. Four is my favorite.

Two is adorable. Two is hilarious. Two is big eyes and curls and serious mouth. Two is grins and giggles. Two is mischievous. Two talks. Two is “ung-ee”. Two prefers bread and bananas to broccoli. Two nurses when she wakes up. Two runs herself to the potty when her bummie is bare. When she has on bundies, she forgets. Every time. Two sleeps alone in a queen sized bed. Two likes to be where the action is. Two loves to play with water, to play with sand and to carry purses and dollies. Two kisses and hugs ferociously. Two is a fat little belly and dimpled knuckles and legs slimming. Two is thought filled and watchful. Two teases and jokes. Two loves attention and to make me laugh. Two opens, two gets out, two dumps, two strews. Two is curious and quick. Two is intuitive. Two eschews her high chair and sits at the table with the rest of us. Two is clever. Two helps put away the dishes and takes her plate to the dishwasher. Two climbs everything. Two is a problem solver. Two gets her shoes and wants to go. Two doesn’t like to be left behind. Two wants to run with the bigglets but can’t yet keep pace. Two tries. Two loves books and to be in the wrap and for Mama to be a monster and to grab. Two loves the kitties squishingly and the puppy only when Mama is there. Two dashes, Two cackles, Two babbles. Two is tiny and pure and innocent. Two is perfection. Two is my favorite.
photos by the genius Sweekit Photography
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 Elivette has been spending meals in her chair, instead of someone’s lap. Ok, to be perfectly honest, she has been starting the meal in her chair, and ends up in someone’s lap. She doesn’t like it when she accidentally gets food in her mouth, but she sure has fun smooshing it around.

 Cadrian has become quite the little builder. It’s amazing to watch his brain work. He doesn’t write or draw much, but he can figure out puzzles and architecture like a pro. Denton is his little mimic. He does and says everything Cadrian does. It’s adorable and sometimes troublesome.

 Brielle is ingenious.  She wanted to scrub the floor like Pippi Longstocking and figured out how to make it work. She has so much energy and creativity. I forget sometimes she is only 6.

Aviana is the most reserved of the small fry. She likes to do indoor, seat work  type of things much more than anything else. Lately she has been spending a lot of time writing our family newspaper and already has a subscriber. Today’s edition even included a cross word. You can hear her clacking away at the typewriter at all hours of the day. (Yes, I said typewriter.)
Denton gets cold really quickly and I usually have to take care of the baby, so he often gets to spend more time with me. Today though, we got to go outside and help with twin bull calves. The girls named them David and Goliath.

 The girls are still in ballet. They both like it a lot, and it’s like my therapy. The boys go over to my mother-in-law’s and I get a chance to talk with my friends for a couple of hours. They have spring break this week though so I don’t what I’ll do!

 Cadrian and I built a snowman. Or a snow monster. I’m not sure if Denton thought it was funny or disturbing that it was ‘eating him’. It really bothered him when it melted and his outgrown shoes and pants were left bereft.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring and we’re supposed to get another storm…Kevin is already worried about this being a late year for planting. We have plans, pretty much immutable plans, to go to Colorado the first week of June, so that deadline is hanging over his head.

Spring is a catch 22 for me. I love that I finally see the sun and we can be outdoors more. I hate not getting to see my husband and the stress he’s under.

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There are so many reasons why I adore Eight. A newly minted Eight for four days Eight. Eight is thoughtful and sweet. Eight is snuggly and precious. Eight is loud sometimes, but usually mellow. Eight is silly and has an awesome fake laugh and an endearing real laugh. Eight giggles.

Eight loves to run ahead and yet remembers to stop and wait for those behind. Eight loves to help. She takes care of her youngest brother as much as he will let her. Eight can’t wait to hold and snuggle and wear the new baby because she/he won’t wriggle away from her.

Eight is creative. Eight loves projects like knitting a hat, making a dessert, divining a treasure hunt, writing a play. Eight is extraordinarily independent. I’ve learned to comment, “Let me know if you want help” because even though I think something might be too frustrating of a challenge, as it turns out, Eight wants to master it on her own.

Eight loves to read. In fact, if sometimes you can’t find Eight, look under the pile of books. Eight’s absolute favorite thing to do is read. We sometimes have to tell Eight not to read anymore and go play.

Eight has a hard time falling asleep. Eight tries to be obedient and stay in bed, but almost always thinks of a good excuse to come back downstairs even if it is just a little lavender on the temples or another prayer. Eight also tries hard to live peaceably with others, but has been known to yell at her siblings.

Eight is self directed. She decided she wanted to finish her second grade curriculum by herself and sat down and did it. Eight loves to learn new things. Most recently she shared with me the story of Reverend Thomas Vincent who lived during the Great Plague in 1665. He lived out Psalm 91 where it says,

“9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.”
“6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.”

Even though 70,000 people died in London that year and Reverend Vincent visited many of them, sharing the salvation of God, he was never even sick an hour. I love to see Eight’s heart.

Eight is beautiful, inside and out. I am so very, incredibly thankful God chose me to be her mama, that He trusted me with the privilege of guiding her to adulthood. Eight is new. Eight is mine.

And I could not be more pleased.
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Farm Food

Today was Aviana’s psuedo birthday. We let the kids choose something special to do and what we eat on their birthdays. Aviana wanted to have some cousins over but they weren’t available on Saturday for her actual birthday, hence the psuedo birthday. it worked out for the best anyway since the grandmas have to work on Saturday and it’s the day after Cadrian’s birthday. Two birthdays in a row is a lot harder than I bargained for when Cadrian decided to come a week early.

I still want each child to feel special without killing myself in the process.

For breakfast, we had French toast made with storebought, white French bread and all the cinnamon sugar and syrup a small child could want.

Lunch was super delicious pulled pork made by Grandma and Super sloppy joes made by me. I follow this recipe:  We had fresh fruit and veggie trays.

I made a Red White and Blue Poke cake  and Tutti Fruiti Ice Cream( add three each oranges, lemons and bananas–puree together– to a basic vanilla recipe)

For dinner we had friend grown kale with toasted cashews: (only I used almonds) and friend grown sweet corn.

Eight years ago today, I had no idea we’d be meeting our sweet baby A six weeks early in a few short days. I couldn’t have imagined how much she’d change my life.

For so much the better.

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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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Fan mail

One day Aviana was reading Hymns for a Kid’s Heart and came to tell me how much she enjoyed reading the section titled “From My Heart to Yours” by Joni (pronounced Johnny) Eareckson Tada. She asked me about Joni and if she was still alive. I told her she was. We looked her up and watched a few videos of her singing and about her ministries. I told Aviana she could even write Joni a letter to tell her how much she appreciated what Joni had written, and how it impacted her.

So she did. I wish now I would have made a copy of her sweet note and drawing, but…hindsight is 20/20. I went to Joni’s website and found the address.The site mentioned that requests for autographed photos take many months to process, so I assumed, since we weren’t asking for anything, we wouldn’t hear anything from Joni.

I have been known to be wrong.

Today Aviana got a parcel in the mail! She was elated. She got a personal, signed letter from Joni, responding to some of what Aviana had written in her original letter, a mini Bible with at least a verse from each book, a gospel sharing bracelet, several brochures on Joni’s amazing ministries, stickers, a photo of Joni and her husband, a bookmark featuring a beautiful drawing Joni did, and a book of many of Joni’s tear inducing-because-they-are-so-breathtaking-or-possibly-that’s-just-because-I’m-pregnant drawings and paintings.

We were overwhelmed with her thoughtfulness and kindness. If you aren’t familiar with Joni Eareckson Tada and her story and accomplishments, I suggest you get to know her. She is a blessing.

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Girls and tools

We’re all about doing it ourselves here at the Farm Fresh Family.

Aviana (7)has had her eye on the Young Builder’s Tool Kit in one of our favorite catalogs, but it was $55!

I found a fishing tackle box the right size at Goodwill for $.88 and Kevin filled it with tools he had spares of (which thanks to his dad’s habit of ‘losing’ tools and therefore buying new ones was not much of a challenge). Ta-Da! A DIY Young Builder’s Tool kit.

Then he put together a project that she would be able to easily do. He prepped part of it by cutting two of the side lengths for her. She had to hammer them on to the base, measure and cut the other other sides, and hammer them on.

This is an abacus. She’d already made one from a shoebox, yarn and beads, following the directions from our vintage Childcraft Mathemagic book completely independently.

It turned out really cool and useful (especially as neither Kevin nor I even knew how to use an abacus until Aviana got interested in it!), but unfortunately, it wasn’t, ahem, Denton proof.

Then she had to measure where to put the holes, mark them and drill them. And then clean up afterwords, natch.

She’s got the frame painted (never mind the blue paint water spilled on my cream carpet, ahem, DENTON!), and then plans to paint the wooden beads that are going to be strung on wire through the holes she drilled.

I’m pretty impressed with her building skills (her follow through remains to be seen.)

On another educational note, Happy Leap Day! Here is a pretty fun though fast talking video. You may want to pause and re-explain if you’re watching with wee ones.

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Farm Fresh Birthday # 2

Kid #1 turned six today!

Even though she already got to open presents from Grandma and Aunt Connie yesterday
She had to open her presents before breakfast
Then right after breakfast she had to work her loom
And during quiet time she had to paint her birdhouse
The crafts she got may last the month…
After quiet time we went for a short swim complete with water slides and sprinklers, then out for pizza.
Aviana got serenaded with a squeaky horn and the highlight was the clown sundae!
The littles couldn’t be left out either!

I love you Sweet Baby A! I hope this year is your best one yet!

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