img_9519

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Centerpiece

Who loves Christmas as much as I do?

YOU!? Great. We can be friends then.

Cheap and easy diy Christmas centerpiece

I love all the seasons and holidays to be honest.

Decorating my mantel and house for every occasion (when I feel like it and have the energy) is my favorite. I go all out for autumn and Christmas which I love especially . Autumn fall table centerpiece

My log candle holder for fall-this is simply a fall garland wrapped around it.

I usually start decorating full on for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, but I have an autumn/winter mix going on for most of November. Hey, just like Iowa weather!

I wanted to share with you my super simple and cheap dining table decor.

I bought a piece of buffalo plaid flannel at Joann’s when it was 50% off so this cost me $6. I didn’t hem it or anything. I just folded it in half. When a kid bumped into my coffee (This is also our homeschool table. There are always kids and ALWAYS coffee!), I just flipped it over to the other side, and folded the selvedge edge under.

Yep. That’s how I do it.

My handsome husband drilled divets into an actual small log so I could put tealights into them when I was getting all hygge last winter. I can make this log work for all the seasons, but I love it most in the fall and winter!Buffalo plaid table runner Christmas centerpiece log candleholder diy

Dollar Tree decorative picks and a homemade log candleholder make for an inexpensive, lovely Christmas centerpiece.

The Dollar Tree has their Christmas decorations out now, which, even though I feel like Thanksgiving should have its day to shine, I’m not mad about, honestly.  I bought 6 decorative picks and bent them and bumped them until I was satisfied.Dollar tree Christmas decorative pick floral pine cone evergreen

This is what the Dollar Tree picks look like on their own.

I did have to take the flannel off and wipe under it and shake out all the crumbs, before replacing it. Don’t ask me how that happens.

There ya go. Minimal effort and minimal cost, which in my mind, equals perfect!

Christmas centerpiece decoration log pinecones Yule candleholder huge
My cozy Christmas centerpiece
Please follow and like us:
img_8619

How to NOT Pack Light

How to (NOT) Pack Light

My Handsome Husband and I recently went to Washington DC without kids! We hadn’t had a trip with just the two of us since 2009, when we came home pregnant with Denton (baby #4). Don’t worry, we didn’t bring home any special surprises this time!

Kevin was representing Scott County in a Farm Bureau of Iowa in a lobbying trip, and was allowed to bring a guest. I’m so glad he chose me! Farm Bureau paid for his expenses and some of mine, so that made the trip even better. Even though they would have been paying for one checked bag, I swore to myself that I would be able to pack for the six day trip with only our carry-ons and one personal item each.

I couldn’t do it.

The morning of Packing Day, Kevin took the middlest (and the most in-the-way) of the kids with him on an outing, so I could concentrate on packing. I had a list. I had been watching “How to Pack for a Week in a Carry On” YouTube videos all week. I knew which outfits I was packing for him to wear to the Capitol, for his talks with our senators and representatives and with officials from the EPA and the Canadian Embassy. I had ordered packing cubes. I had checked out a fully loaded Kindle from the library so I didn’t have to pack any heavy books. I was ready.

The first 10 minutes went well, until I realized half of the Handsome Husband’s shirts had a serious ring around the collar issue and I had to do laundry. After that, I couldn’t settle down and get to work. I couldn’t figure out where to begin again. I felt like I was spinning in circles. I was Marco Poloing with a dear friend and told her jokingly that I needed her to come over and help me. Miracle of Miracles, she did! What a blessing to have a tribe who supports you in tangible ways.

She helped me stay on task, and get completely finished packing. This was key, because I almost always leave something to the last minute, but we were leaving at 4 am the morning of the beginning of daylight savings time, so I couldn’t do that this time!

Thanks to her steadfastness, I finally got packed, but it wasn’t light. I went awry, and if you want to NOT pack lightly too, here’s what to do.

Pack for the Gym

I packed gym shoes and clothes. I didn’t realize I would be walking an average of six miles a day, and not only wouldn’t NEED to work out, but wouldn’t want to work out.

Pack Extra Shoes

I decided I needed to bring my slippers. I didn’t. I also thought I wanted cute boots for the plane ride. I not only didn’t need cute boots, I mistakenly kept them on our first day of touring, which amounted to almost eight miles of walking and multiple blisters. Never choose cute over comfort.

Bring Work Along

I thought I would tour around DC the mornings that Kevin had his meetings, and then head back to the hotel and write, possibly read. That didn’t happen. Not only did I not open my computer or decorate my planner one time, I couldn’t restrain myself from over stimulation of all the wonderful history and museums which DC has to offer. I basically flew my laptop from Iowa to DC and back again, just so it could get out of the house.

Miscount

I packed a different shirt and tie for every day Kevin had meetings, and then some. I accidentally counted to four wrong, and packed too many shirts. Additionally, I realized too late, since he was meeting with different people every day, he could have worn the same outfit (or only had one alternate button down) every day with a different undershirt and been just fine.

Pack Too Many Toiletries

Since I was going to be attending a few of the meetings and going out to dinner, and I had read online that DC was a dressy city, I thought I would need all of my make up (well, a lot of it). My curling wand. Different jewelry.

I did change jewelry, and I did curl my hair, and I did look fabulous, but it would have been fine if I hadn’t.

It’s true. I’m extra. I have a hard time packing light.

We’re going to Seattle in a few weeks for four days. Maybe I’ll be able to go pack for that trip with only a carry-on. But even if I don’t, it will be ok.

Please follow and like us:
img_8295

A Different Kind of October Bucket List

I know you’ve seen the October Bucket Lists floating around Pinterest, rife with bonfires and bobbing for apples, corn mazes and hayrides. Of course you want to do those traditional fall activities!

This post isn’t about that though.

We have an amazing calendar for celebrating every ordinary day that we have had so much fun with this year, and I just had to share it with you! Our one is similar to these.


I thought it would be interesting, but I didn’t realize the kids would just be obsessed with knowing what “day” it is all the time. It’s been a huge hit!

For this year, here are some ideas you can do in October to throw some easy celebratory fun into your life:

October 3-Butterfly and Hummingbird Day.    If you’re local to the Quad Cities, both the Family Museum and the Quad City Botanical Gardens have butterfly areas you can check out on the third.

October 4- Taco Day.   Seriously. Do you need directions for this one?

October 5-World Smile Day. Besides just smiling at all the people you meet today, and pretending you’re happy, you could take it one step further and take balloons to a retirement center, or a puppy to a playground, or buy some gift cards at the grocery store and then hand them to the people in line behind you.

October 8- World Octopus Day.  If you can’t get your hands on a live octopus, you could go to a Chinese buffet and admire the tiny edible ones. Watch some incredible sea videos. Did you know that octopus suction cups on their tentacles can stick to everything except octopus skin? Isn’t God incredible to have thought of even not letting the octopus get tangled up and stuck on itself?istock photo octopus Autumn bucket list fun days october

October 12–Old Farmer’s Day. I have been getting a lot of mileage out of this one by telling my Handsome Husband this day is all for him.

October 13–International Skeptics Day. I know you don’t believe me, but it really is.

October 15–I Love Lucy Day. Great day for binge watching one of the most intelligent ground breakers in television.

October 17–Wear Something Gaudy Day. Make it mandatory for the entire office. They’ll love you.

michael scott the office gaudy turban fall bucket list autumn fun days

October 18–Chocolate Cupcake Day

This is my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe. It’s from Taste of Home. I’ve been loyal to this recipe since before I had kids. Also. It has coffee.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (we sell farm fresh eggs , Hint Hint)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1-1/3 cups sour cream

FROSTING

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and sour cream, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into greased and floured lined cupcake tins. Bake 15-20ish minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in the chocolate, coffee and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Cut each cupcake in half horizontally. Spread between layers and over top  of fairy  cakes. Cover and refrigerate until serving

If you’re not up for making your own chocolate cupcakes from scratch, make your child do it. Failing that, buy a mix- I recommend Ghiradelli.

Still lacking time for that endeavor? Go to a cupcake store. Here a few of my local favorites: Oh So Sweet  in Davenport, Eastern Iowa Baking Company, in Eldridge and Old Towne Bakery. in Moline.

(Also, America? Can we please start calling these fairy cakes?) 

October 20 —International Sloth Day--I have a trip to pet sloths in Costa Rica on my lifetime bucket list, but I know I won’t be able to go this month, unfortunately. I vote we not adult that day and be sloths instead. It’s mandatory.

October 24–Bologna Day–How easy will it be to have fun with this? Make a bologna sandwich. Learn the Oscar Meyer song. Use bologna to demonstrate the parts of a cell.

October 26–Howl at the Moon Day–the full moon is the 24th, so it will still be nice and gorgeous by then.

October 29 —National Cat Day— I have some sweet kitties you can pet, but the kittens and cats at the Humane Societies and pet stores always need some love. Make it a priority to go and snuggle a cat today!

Which idea are you actually going to write in your planner and make happen?

Please follow and like us:
FinnellaBirth_001

The Perfect Home Birth of Finnella Blessing

May 31: I had been getting more and more tired of being pregnant and trying different tricks that might get labor going for several days. Of course it was nothing drastic as my due date wasn’t until 9 June. When Kevin and I went to bed that night, he noticed I had a “piddle pad” a reusable thick cloth pad one could use for incontinence; we used them for changing pads for the wee ones. He was teasing me about it; but I pointed out that my water broke as my first labor symptom with Elivette and I wanted to be safe, in case that happened this pregnancy too, I knew only about 15% of labors start with breaking waters, but maybe it would bring me luck. Unfortunately, I’d been sleeping on it for several days too, and it had done nothing to start labor. 😉

We had been in bed for a while, and were still in that drowsy awake stage of pre-sleep when suddenly, I felt a tiny “flick”, and boom: the precautionary mama cloth I was wearing, my pajamas, the piddle pad and the mattress pad were all soaked! Guess who was glad I had preemptively protected the mattress now!

I knew it could be a while before contractions started, but I went ahead and texted my midwives and the people who had promised to be in prayer for us, around midnight. I was excited and jittery and found it hard to get to sleep. I got a surprising number of replies too, which helped keep my mind calmer. I’m thankful for my night owl friends.

I woke up around 7 as usual, and no more signs of labor, just the occasional gush of amniotic fluid reminding me how I wasn’t laboring. By 10, I was starting to get resigned to the fact labor was not going to happen, and frustrated about it. My mother-in-law picked up the three youngest and the girls and I kept busy around the house. We went for a walk down to the lake about 1/2 mile from our house. It was pretty and peaceful and I would have stayed there most of the day if not for a heavily pregnant woman’s need to relieve herself frequently and the fishermen I wouldn’t want to see me do so. We trundled back to the house and relaxed a little.

At lunchtime, Kevin wondered if he and Aviana could drive a few hours to go pick up the milking LaMancha goat he found on Craigslist. I said they may as well, since I wasn’t going to have the baby. My midwife thought it was possible it wasn’t my actual amniotic sac that ruptured, but the forebag. She also thought that perhaps it wasn’t amniotic fluid at all, but pee. I was positive THAT wasn’t the case.  A friend,meaning to be helpful, bless her heart, told me she had gone to the hospital one day thinking her daughter would be born, and she wasn’t born for 17 more days. And my discouragement grew.

I posted on Facebook , “We aren’t having a baby, but we are getting a milk goat, so yay.” The support and solace my friends offered were bountiful. My photographer and friend, Kelcy, commented that there was still plenty of day left, and that made me feel a little better.

At 3ish, I felt a twinge of something. A dozen minutes later, definitely, something. I put the first birthing wave in my contraction app at 3:30. I texted my midwives again. Kathy lives an hour away and I’m not known for long drug out labors.  Sarah, my midwife’s assistant and friend and I chatted for a while. While we were going back and forth, my uterus amped up. Now the waves were about five minutes apart. I told her I would feel more comfortable if she were with me. She texted back, “ME TOO!” A little later she told me she would leave as soon as her husband got home from getting a chicken.

Meanwhile, Kevin was still 45 minutes away from home after picking up the goat.

Kevin got home eventually, and he started filling up the birth tub. Sarah arrived soon after, much to my relief.   Aviana felt strongly that JuneBug, the goat, needed milked then and there. Since I had the tub ready now, and Sarah was with me, I was ok with that. The contractions were coming right on top of one another. Getting in the tub spaced out the contractions so I was able to have some breath of a break; I was amazed at how the water helped!

During the time they were down at the barn, I had a contraction that was ‘different’, one that made me feel if Kevin and Aviana didn’t hurry up with that goat, they were going to miss Fizzy Baby’s arrival!
My good friend Karen arrived. She was here as support for the girls. We wanted someone to specifically be with them, in case of anything going awry especially. She was absolutely perfect in her role, and supported anyone who needed her. She and Brielle went downstairs to get some fruit ready to snack on. The watermelon tasted wonderful. It was the first time I had ever eaten in labor.

Close to 6, I told Sarah she had better tell Kelcy she had better come. She texted back, “I can see your house.”  I asked her if she would braid my hair, as it was starting to get wet and was all in my face annoying me.

It was such a peace filled, calm hour. Aviana tried to read some Baby Blues comics to me when Wanda was giving birth. It was amusing for a while, but quickly got to the point where I needed it to stop. I had some praise music playing. The birth affirmations were hung on the mantel so I could read them, and I would think of one when a birth wave came on, over and over again as a meditation.

 It wasn’t long before things started to intensify incredibly. A few days before, I had watched a mare give birth out in the open air. It was beauty to behold. She would get up, turn around a few times, and then lie back down again. I found myself sort of spinning around in the tub, and thinking of that mare.

 The mare was so composed and tranquil. I was starting to get noisier, but I felt like that mare. I never once felt scared or worried or out of control. With all of my other births, there was at the very least one moment, if not a whole scene, where I felt tumultuous.

A couple of times, as a birth wave crescendoed, I started to say “no” and then I caught myself and released myself into the passionate force of the moment. Being able to do that, being given the safe space, being surrounded by love and prayers, being completely mentally comfortable, was awe striking.

Soon, my birthing waves changed and my body needed to start pushing Fizzy Baby. There was no one moment of “Now, I shall push.” It was a gradual buildup and I didn’t really notice exactly when it was different. I never got checked to see if I was complete. No one told me what to do. Everyone just supported me and held me emotionally.

I had my hand on her head, and could feel as she began to come out into the world. This was a wonder-filled stage for me. I had never felt as in control before, so aware and internally calm.

I have seen several videos depicting the mechanics of birth (start watching about 1:40) and knew cognitively what was happening. Now I could feel it happening to my own baby, under my own guidance, under my own hand! I could feel her head molding. I felt her head turn and then her shoulders slide out, and then she was here!

 She didn’t even cry at first, just opened her eyes and looked at me, and gazed around at her new world. It was astonishing to see her be so peaceful and placid.
My legs started aching and shaking immediately after she was born, and I started whining about soon after that.  Somehow they managed to get me out of the tub, and into bed. There I delivered the placenta. Kathy assisted Aviana in its delivery. 
Finnella– heart–  placenta
 Brielle then cut the cord, and Finnella was forever her own person.
 We all fell immediately and irrevocably in love.

 Our phenomenal midwives.
Please follow and like us:
DSC00711

The Throwin’ of a Pirate Party

I LOVE to throw parties. I have a philosophy: Go Big or Go Home. Kevin, my everlovin’ introvert, can’t understand it, but he assists me in all the ways he can. He gets into it too!

I like to have a theme for our birthday party. We just have one a year to celebrate all of us, all born in July and August. This year’s theme was pirates.

To set the scene, send out invitations. Of course, you could always do a facebook invitation, or text it, but people love to get something in the mail. I typed out pirate speak on the computer, tore them, dyed them with tea, wrote translations on the back as an afterthought, just in case. 
We built some pirate ships using hay wagons. I made the bunting from felt. 

A friend sent me the link to Catch My Party and these free pirate printables. I don’t really think “treat bags” are a necessity, but they needed something to put their treasure in after the treasure hunt, so…perfect! They got a couple of mini candy bars and treasure. (jewels and gold coins I purchased from Amazon.)

First we frolicked and face painted until enough people arrived to start the festivities.

 We started with Pin the Patch on the Pirate.

I had a talented friend draw a pirate.

 

On to the treasure hunt!
putting the map back together
For the treasure hunt, I drew a large map on a folded out paper shopping bag, labeling various areas around our yard, such as the Petrifying Playhouse, Tire Swing o’ Terror and the Willow the Wisp. I asked Brielle to tear the map into 15-20 pieces. She got carried away and tore it into 42. We hid those pieces around the yard and the wee pirates had to search for them like an Easter egg hunt. Then we had to put the puzzle back together. I’m not sure if we didn’t have all the pieces back or if it was because there were so many of them, because it was a challenge! I was impressed with their tenaciousness. We had wrapped a cardboard box in yellow paper and hidden it in a hollow tree. Then we marched back to the front yard and I threw all the treasure up in the air and they stuffed their bags. The big kids helped the littles get their share. 
 Then it was time for A Battle!
We had the dads be Captain Scallywag and Captain Salty Dog. We numbered off by twos and got the kids loaded up with water balloon bombs, water bomb splash bombs and water cannons.

 Once the ammo was mostly gone, it was time to walk the plank.
 Kevin rigged up the teeter-totter into an admirable plank.

me best matey and meself
 Then it was time for cake and ice cream!
 Brielle and Kevin had been working (sporadically) on this model ship since December. It was the perfect addition to our pirate cake.
All our soggy pirates.
 I made a three layer poke cake. 
It was delicious, but as it turns out, none of us like grape jello. I was trying to go for the colors of black, red and white. Next time I’ll just stick with red.
One of the wee little pirates.
 After playing on the hay bales a while, we loaded everyone up for a 
 pirate ship hay ride.
Elivette and her little friend Andrew

After this we had homemade sloppy joe sandwiches and the delicious sides that everyone brought to share. All in all, I would say it was a jolly good time
.

Please follow and like us:
DSC004722

“Luckiest” Girl in the World

I really hate the expression “he made me the luckiest girl in the world”. This man, this birthday man of mine, this good man, he works hard at loving me. I work hard at loving him. We work hard at loving our family. Of course there are easy moments, there are beautiful moments, there are hilarious moments. There are also, buckets and buckets of work.

This good man, this birthday man is celebrating his birthday today by hanging out with his family. That is hard for him to do. Being still is hard. Not getting jobs out on the farm done is hard. Being around the founts of energy that are our children, on a rainy day is hard. Prioritizing what is best, not what is easiest is hard.

It’s not luck. Our marriage, our 13 years together is not made up of luck. We challenge each other, we bring out the best –and the worst–in each other. We love each other madly, and sometimes, we love each other mad. This man, this good man, and I stay together because we choose to stay together.

I am so thankful for this man, this good man who chooses each day to carry on loving us in the best ways he can. This man has been by me through five pregnancies, and five births, and ten years of breastfeeding and diaper changing. He was there for me the times I had to be on bedrest. He stands by me when I’m sick, when I’m tired, when I doubt myself.

He comes along slowly, warily but surely, when I decide we’re not going to spank anymore. He tries. He supports when I start new ventures, when I try new things, when I dare.

This man, this good man, is celebrating his birthday today by going to Menard’s to buy things like brackets and bathtub plugs. He’s celebrating by corralling small children at the steak house. He’s celebrating by doing art with younglings. He’s celebrating by heating up leftovers, selling a mattress, getting a candle in his ice cream, and brushing teeth.

He could choose to be out with buddies, drinking at a bar, or flying thousand dollar remote controlled helicopters, or playing golf. He could choose to be at work and not be home for dinner.He could choose to look at other women, or flirt with them, or more. He could choose to be emotionally unavailable to me and our children because facing your feelings is a hard thing. He could choose dishonesty. He could choose distance. He could choose solitude. He could choose an easy peacefulness that doesn’t include five rambunctious children and a sometimes contentious wife.

But he doesn’t. He chooses me. Every day. He chooses us.

I am the luckiest girl in the world, but then again, it’s not luck. 
Happy birthday, my loving man.
Please follow and like us:
breastfeeding-in-ER2

The Absolutely Amazing Home Birth of Babe E

I’m sharing this video for several reasons.

One:  Because it’s awesome.

Two: I want to educate people on natural birth. Women were created to do this! (Not just this, but you know what I mean). I want people to know that even though it’s hard, and even though it can hurt, women CAN do this!

Three: My first birth was a Cesarean. That means I’ve had four VBACs, three out of hospital. VBACs are safe and should be encouraged.

Four: After Elivette was born, I had uterine clotting and bleeding. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. My midwife gently removed the clots, and administered oral Cytotec to clamp down my uterus. My midwife called 911 and I went to the hospital in the ambulance about two hours after the birth. My blood pressure was almost non-existent upon arrival. The ER doctor on call flipped out on me. At one point, he panickedly yelled at me “Do you just want me to take you back and do a hysterectomy right now?!” What kind of question is that for a medical professional to ask; especially to a woman in my weakened state? I knew my midwife had given me medicine at home, but I was unclear at the time exactly what it was. All I wanted was for him to wait until she arrived so I didn’t end up with some sort of drug reaction.

After my midwife arrived at the ER, we got the OB on call to come down. She removed (NOT GENTLY) still more clots from my uterus. I remember screaming and writhing. It was much worse than anything I’d ever been through. I had been loud during the birth, but now I was really screaming! Then, after she got down off of me, they gave me morphine for the pain. A little late, I’d say. I was also hooked up to Pitocin.

I was thankful at least I got to nurse my baby in the ER.

They wouldn’t let me eat. Once I got admitted, they made me stay awake and answer all these ridiculous questions for their intake forms. They wouldn’t let me eat! I just had a baby and they wouldn’t let me eat! I had to be on the surgical floor (I think) because since my baby was born at home, apparently she’s contaminated and can’t be in the Mother/Baby unit. The nurses were as kind as could be and very curious about home birth. I didn’t really want to talk though; I just wanted to sleep! And eat!

The next morning, the OB came back to check on me. She told me that my midwife did everything right. My home birth midwife saved my life. She told me that while it was good we transferred, in case I needed a blood transfusion, the her actions and the actions of the ER doctor and the hospital staff are not what saved my life. My home birth midwife saved my life.


I reiterate this because I want it known that home birth is safe. Home birth, even when there’s an emergency, is safe.

I want people to know that moving birth out of homes and into the hospital in the 21st century is much less about safety as they are led to believe, and more about money. Absolutely, there are instances where you need to be in the hospital–my first birth was one of those. But in the vast majority of cases, for the vast majority of women, it’s unnecessary.

Welcome Home banner the girls made for me.

Meeting biggest brother

Meeting big brother

Five: I want to encourage other expectant moms out there with this video. I loved watching youtube videos of birth while expecting because I felt it helped me be more prepared. It could happen this way, or that way, or some way I’d never anticipated. I loved watching the miracle of mamas bringing their little ones into the world. My baby was malpositioned, and it was difficult, but the euphoria of being able to bring her earthside is unparalleled.

Six: Our birth stories matter. Birth matters. Helping women have a “good story” or even, the story they want is important to me. I hope that this video encourages someone to have a natural birth and to be able to say “I did it!”

Because you can!
Please follow and like us:
DSC_0406

Mother’s Day My Way

It’s now a week and a half past Mother’s Day.

Something like mothering got in between me and my Mother’s Day post.

I am generally a bit cynical about “hallmark holidays”…days just made up to make money. I like the idea of  these holidays. Days to remember your loved ones, to honor those important people in your life. And even though I’m a big believer in capitalism, I just don’t love the commercialism. Take Valentine’s Day–tell your loved ones you love them, by all means, but don’t spend $100 on roses that day. I’d rather you thought of me with a heartfelt  $4.99 bouquet from Aldi than some over the top display. I hate the sense of obligation that has crept into a lot of these holidays. Even Christmas has gone way overboard. Merchandisers want me to spend my total allotment of gifts on “stocking stuffers”. Not to mention there is a sense of competition, whether people want to admit that is what they are doing or not, with everyone posting pictures of their presents and flowers on Facebook. Ridiculous.

Mother’s Day is no exception. I stay away from media for the most part, so I was really surprised when a friend wished me happy mother’s day on the preceding Friday. I responded with a blank look and a “oh, is that this weekend?”

She laughed and said, “you have five kids! If anyone should know when it is, YOU should!”

But I was kind of glad I had forgotten. I was glad to let my husband off the hook. Mother’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of planting season, with the 15th of May being some kind of magic day of “100% of the corn planted by then will grow” pressure-filled deadline looming on the horizon.

I was glad that I had forgotten too, because I remembered the heartache it was when we wanted to have a baby but weren’t pregnant yet, and didn’t know if we ever would be. Then I felt like all the Mother’s Day stuff was a slap in the face.

I know the day brings unimaginable pain for those who have lost babes.

As it is, for this stage in life, I never get the day off. I never get A day off.

sideways foxglove

I was glad I had forgotten. It was better to not have any expectations. It was freeing to wake up and know that it was just any other day. I could relax into the fact that Kevin would have to work, and getting the kids to church by myself was my reality. It went well.

I was glad to get the handmade cards filled with effervescent love from my sweet babes. I was fulfilled sending out texts to my mama friends–in the words of a wise one I’m blessed to know–my mama tribe– who are walking this path of building love legacies alongside me to encourage them, and be encouraged in return. I was warmed when we stopped by the grocery and nearly every person we saw was carrying out a bouquet or a plant for their mama.

My amazing mother-in-law and my babiest last summer

I was glad to do the tasks throughout the day of being a mama. I was so relieved I had gotten past the day should be all about me, and that I could just let it BE. I was happy to have my mother-in-law over for supper. I was thankful Kevin quit early and grilled out. I was glad he and she put the kids to bed so I could finish working on our closet design. I was glad I let it go. I was glad I had forgotten.

Because really, no matter what your situation was like, we can never, ever in one day be thankful enough to the mama who brought us into the world,  or  to the mama who raised us.

My mama and papa
and my three littlests last summer

To quote the sentiment of the card my awesome brother sent to my mom, “Mom, I very much appreciate you giving birth to me and all the work it was bringing me up all those years…so here’s a card.”

Please follow and like us:
happy-new-year

Happy New Year

A Visit  From Our Family

‘Twas the day after Christmas and at the Farm House,
Everyone was stirring, including the mouse
(who was packing up to move to Bogotá because our house was just too crazy for him)

The children were chattering like a flock of birds
While visions of anything that crossed their brains filled the air with words
(which, while precociously adorable, is also quite annoying)

The stockings were hung in the doorframes with care
Even though St. Nickolas had already been there
(and likely they’ll be hanging there until Valentine’s Day)

Papa in his flannel pants and I in my yoga gear
Had just settled in to look back over the year
(Truth be told, he watched Netflix, while I reminisced; but we were next to each other)

As it turned out 2013 was a wonderful year
Normal and challenging and filled with good cheer
(Which doesn’t even begin to describe the joy and hardship which is life with smalls)

When we flip back the calendar pages
It’s amazing to see the growth and changes
(The difference a year can make! I feel like an old auntie who pinches cheeks and squeaks,
“My, how you’ve grown!”)

Last January, Elivette could scoot in a circle a little
Now she climbs up on the table and dances in the middle
(Cackling and smiling her toothy grin all the while)

She can talk a bit and sign a lot
She tells us when to change her, when she wants a drink and when something is hot
(It’s such a thrill to watch her communicate—except when she communicates in ‘Whine’)

Pushing buttons, eating remnants off the floor and nursing are her favorite things to do
Along with trailing after her siblings, destroying towers, getting into cabinets too
(And did I mention the nursing :)?)

Denton is three, and boy, is he ever!
Stubborn and sweet, and funny and clever
(His abundant enthusiasm for life is evident in his phrasing: Oh boy! I wuv it! Dat’s my fwaverit!)

His resistance to direction makes me want to climb the walls
But he cracks me up with his “I’ll swice out your eyeballs!”
(Especially since he makes such dire declarations in his little happy cricket voice)

Last year, Cadrian, 5, talked like this: A gegagorus gat in ghelly on his gare.”
Now he can say, “A stegosaurus sat in jelly on his chair.”
(We’re so thankful for the natural learning process normalizing his speech!)

That sweet boy loves being outside with Dada and Duke, all over the place
And reading about dinosaurs, disasters, volcanoes, rockets and outer space
(He makes our home so loud, so messy, and so delightful!)

The boys are dressed up as knights on any given day
And swords and ‘beetle battles’ are part of daily play
(I had no idea how different boys are from girls until I had a set of my own)

The girls can usually be found amid several stacks of books
They also often are in the kitchen and are passionate cooks
Although asking them to clean up sometimes results in dirty looks
(The chocolate treats are worth it though—
and huh, I just realized that a lot of what they make in the kitchen involves chocolate.)

Seven year old Brielle has been taking Kuk Sool Won, a Korean martial art
She just earned a yellow stripe for her white belt, an excellent start
(She’s really found her niche and loves stick fighting, sparring, and wrestling.)

Aviana, 9, plays piano and has auditioned for a couple of plays
Writing music, dramas, monologues and reports and knitting fill her days
Both girls enjoy creating art, as well as competing to get their own way
(The bickering sometimes makes me want to join our mouse in Bogotà)

I’ve kept busy with home keeping and of course our small ones
I’m also passionate about educating families why not to circumcise their sons
(Since currently 68% of U.S. boys already are coming home intact, our hope is we’ll be able to completely change hearts and minds within this generation and everyone in the U.S. will follow the recommendations of the entire world’s medical associations and not circumcise at all)

I’m training to be a doula so I can assist in better birth
As much as I love that, my family is my favorite thing on earth
(I’m also a breastfeeding advocate and training to be a Parenting Coach)

I also find it necessary to have plenty of hobbies in play
Sewing, gardening, knitting, healthful eating, and most recently working with clay and crochet
(Learning new things keeps me out of the insane asylum)

Kevin continues to make improvements on the farm and to be a cattleman
He volunteers with our health care sharing ministry by the name of Samaritan
(Do let us know if you want more information—www.samaritanministries.org)

He enjoys making upgrades to our home when he has the time
But the fixing, fixing, fixing often makes him whine
(Even though he’s good at it, the constant need of repairs is aggravating)

So now you know some of our individual highlights
Now for a few of our year’s stand out sound bytes
(and by few, I mean, like, two—Kevin said this letter is already too long)

We all flew out to Colorado for a quick cousin visit and a cabin in the mountain air
And we delighted in visiting Wisconsin for the Lake Michigan beach and the Renaissance Faire
(and when we go again, Kevin even said he’d dress up!)

We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy, feeling truly blessed
And that this season fills you with joy and you aren’t a bit stressed
(Do what you like and leave the rest.)

Our message for you as we close our little letter
Is: A Happy New Year to All, and May It Ever Be Better!
(Mercy, Peace and Love be yours in Abundance. ~Jude 1:2)

Please follow and like us: