how and why we celebrate valentine's day scrooge

I’m a Valentine Scrooge!

 (even though I also love it a little bit!)

I have a love hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.

According to various lore, there are at least three historical Valentines. One St Valentine performed weddings for people when he wasn’t supposed to and got put in jail, or even sentenced to death.

Ahhh…how romantic. He put his freedom – or his life- on the line for love.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. I’m a fan of people helping people. I’m wondering why no one knows we have a Harriet Tubman Day (March 10, if you want to add that to your calendar.)

One legend claims a man named Valentine was in jail and fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Before he was KILLED, he supposedly sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine.  That poor young girl!  Can you imagine if your daughter was getting mail from someone on death row, and later, everyone said, “Oh how sweet! Let’s make that a national holiday!”

The Roman Catholic church in the middle ages declared Valentine’s Day a holiday because they wanted to Christianize the February celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival,  which took place on February 15. Just as in the cases of the Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, early church leaders took dates on  which the people were already celebrating and tried to change them to worship the one true God, instead of whatever celebration they were having.

Maybe Catholic  priests didn’t think it was good idea for Luperci priests to run around town slapping women with bloody goat hides in a bid to make the women more fertile in the coming year. Don’t worry, the women liked it. (History claims.)

This doesn’t really have anything to do with my modern beliefs on Valentine’s Day, I just think history is interesting.

SCROOGINESS

As a romantic holiday, I think it’s overrated and expensive. I think too much pressure is placed on guys to do the right thing. I also think giving stuffed animals and chocolates to women is stupid. I think it’s hard on people who are not in a romantic relationship.

I think waiting in lines to go out to eat on a certain day is ridiculous. Why spend an hour in line on the 14th, when you can be seated in five minutes the next week? how and why we celebrate valentine's dayIt’s crazy to spend $50 dollars on roses (how unoriginal by the way) when you can get them for $1 each a week later.if you’re going to spend the money, I’d rather have a single rose every week of the year because it meant someone was thinking of me at that moment, than a huge bouquet on a single obligatory day because my partner felt like s/he HAD to buy a bouquet on the 14th.

I saw the pressure in high school, and in the high school where I taught. The student council sold Valentines to be delivered during class, and the popular kids got a bajillion and the other kids got to watch and be reminded that they didn’t.  I witnessed the pressure in college and in my  twenties. People felt like they had to do something super special because Hallmark (and the jewelry stores, and the department stores, and even the grocery stores!) told them they had to.

What if you weren’t in a special relationship? What if you just started dating? What if you really wanted to break up but didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day?  Or felt sorry for your boy/girlfriend, and didn’t want them to be alone on Valentine’s Day?

I’m a fan of jewelry, but not heart shaped jewelry. NO woman EVER buys herself heart shaped jewelry. Also, why would we want jewelry shaped like an organ? Nobody makes stomach or lung shaped jewelry and I’m as big of a fan of food and breathing as I am of love.

how and why we celebrate valentine's dayI’m too old for stuffed animals, and I was in my teens too (even though I still slept with my stuffed aardvark-that was different). I love chocolate but I buy it for my self when I want to. I don’t need someone feeling like they need to give me a pound of chocolate to tell me they love me. Since when is it healthy to eat that much chocolate anyway!? Also, none of these gifts show any originality, or  that the giver really KNOWS me. I want someone who sees me and knows that I want a tiny bonsai  for the mantel or that I would love a wireless mouse to replace my broken one.  Mostly it’s just that I hate presents given because you’re “supposed to”.

I also hate the obligation of a romantic relationship. I appreciate the recent uptick in “Galentine’s Day”. I still feel so much compassion for those people who feel sad, or wistful, longing for something they don’t have, on the actual Valentine’s Day.how and why we do what we do on valentine's day

ON THE OTHER HAND

I love a reason to celebrate in the middle of February. I love parties and any reason to have friends over is a good one. I love pink and red. I really do love chocolate and the shape of the valentine heart. I love my friends and my kids and my friends’ kids and want to give them sweet cards. I also really enjoy a good pun, and Valentine’s Day seems to bring out the punniest cards (See what I did there?)

I wish there was someway for us to have less marketing and consumption around Valentine’s Day so people don’t feel “less than” if they’re not romantically involved or obligated. All love to you, dear ones!

 

source : https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2
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Christmas Home Tour-Frugal Edition-Living Room

Christmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbon

We got our 9 1/2 foot Christmas tree from a moving sale. It’s prelit, and may work just fine, but I can’t figure out how to connect them, so this year I used the Tree Dazzler. The children all “help” with the decorating, and then alter I go in and space out the ornaments and add the ribbons.

Our star is from Dollar General, as is the burlap and glitter wired ribbon. The red ribbon is from the Dollar Tree.

Under the tree you can see our fantastic collection of Christmas books.

Christmas home tour Christmas tree living room decor

Our mantel isn’t everything I want it to be this year. I’d like to make all matching Christmas stocking hooks, or have some that don’t show at all. These are all from Goodwill and they do for now.

My amaryllis is sadly just the one leaf, because someone broke off the bloom stem just as it was emerging from the bulb this year.

My dad brought the giant pine cones back front the redwood forest for me. The garland is a hand me down from my sister-in-law.

I’d like the candles tucked in among the garland so you can’t see them, but alas, kids. If you zoom in you can probably also see my half broken speaker and ziplock baggie with ornament hooks in it because I never got around to getting it back upstairs to the holiday closet.

I made the stockings without using a pattern and so I didn’t line them. That wasn’t the greatest of ideas. They all have pieces of cardboard inside them to make them hang straight-ish.

Christmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbon ceramic vintage tree

The large ceramic Christmas tree I bought at an antique shop before they were popular, and therefore it was a steal. The smaller one was given to us by The Farmer’s mom, and was from her younger days.

Christmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbon

I found a plain inexpensive garland at Hobby lobby and hot glued the same non breakable many years old ornaments we have on the tree and berries to it. I can’t believe they can charge so much for fancy garland!

Twelve year old wrapped the banister with colored lights. I did have garland over the lights on the newel post, but I also have a three year old.

Christmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbonChristmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbon

Holiday pillows I have collected, which never stay on the couch, and a snoozing schnauzer

Christmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbonChristmas tree mantel living room decorating decor holiday DIY garland ribbon

This is an inexpensive and easy DIY.

I keep my decorating to a manageable amount. Since this is the most decorations for Christmas I’ve put up in years, I felt compelled to record it!

What is your favorite decoration in your living room? Do you love pre-made or DIYs? How do you keep decorating fun and frugal? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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The Tree Dazzler: An Honest Review

I bought three boxes of the Tree Dazzler last year on clearance. Living under my rock, I had not ever heard of them. Based on the box, and the after Christmas price, I thought they were worth a go.

They didn’t take any time at all to install, as you just put the ring over the top of your tree.

Tree Dazzler review Christmas lights Christmas tree

The 64 bulbs on each set are guaranteed for a lifetime, which is impressive.

They’re meant for a 7 1/2 foot tree at the maximum. Ours is 9 or 9 1/2 feet, which I didn’t realize and is a bummer. I have to figure out what to do with the bottom gap.

Tree Dazzler review Christmas lights Christmas tree decorating

The lines connecting each bulb are really thick though, and while this protects them from getting tangled, they look ridiculous at the top of the tree where it’s so narrow.

Tree Dazzler review Christmas lights Christmas tree

You can’t even hide them behind the branches, and all the time we saved using this nifty gadget, was wasted trying to achieve hidden wires.

I am going to get some ribbon to make a garland and see if that can hide them. That part is a colossal drawback.

Tree Dazzler review Christmas lights Christmas tree kids decorating

The light bulbs themselves were quite a bit bigger than what I was used to. They remind me a bit of the vintage bulbs we used to have as a child. They also look like white ornaments so this isn’t necessarily a total drawback.

The top of our tree leans a bit, and we can’t tell if it’s due to our 160 year old farmhouse floor, our second hand tree, or the heaviness of the two Tree Dazzlers. I wanted to use all three but they were so heavy I was afraid our top section would topple off.

I like the options of the different light designs. They’re all pleasant.

The plugs are corpulent and oversized. Supposedly the Tree Dazzler is energy efficient so I don’t know why the plugs take up an entire power strip. Since my home is so old, electric outlets are much at the premium, so I’m not excited about this situation. Tree Dazzler review Christmas lights Christmas tree

Overall I can only rate the Tree Dazzler ⭐️⭐️/five stars.

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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
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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.

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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?

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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.
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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
.

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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.
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