Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

6:00 Wake up to alarm. Try to sneak out of bedwithout disturbing beautiful wife or two year old who’s snoozing between us. Am largely unsuccessful. Sneaking is not my forté. Grab a cup of coffee to down while putting on my coveralls. It’s 15 degrees on the seventh of April and the cow herd is calving. Dangerous conditions for newborns. The plan is to haul the last month’s accumulation of manure out of the cattle yards and use it to fertilize the fields while the ground is still frozen. It’s a week long job at least with nothing going wrong.

6:30 Check the cows. Discover a half frozen just born baby calf. Haul him in the calf sled to under the barn so I can get him nursing. His mama is not cooperative and keeps trying to charge me. Stupid cow.

7:30 Still having trouble getting her in the head gate. I’m sick of this cow trying to kill me, when all I’m doing is trying to save her baby. Take a break and go check the rest of the herd. Discover two more babies, just born while I was under the barn with the first ridiculous cow.

Drag them in to under the barn as well. Their mamas follow docilely like they’re supposed to. Get the calves all in the calf warmer—a tiny A frame shed with a heater.

Head up to the house for some frozen colostrum. I’m going to have to tube feed them all.

Put 9 year old in charge of warming up colostrum, the first highly nutritious milk. We always milk cows who have lost a baby or have extra colostrum, to keep on hand. Without those precious first few nursings of colostrum, the calves won’t live no matter what you do. It’s a miracle that newborn human babies who’ve never nursed can survive, as no animal will!

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

8:30 Go back out to barn to check on the situation and see that two of them are starting to stand and be halfway normal. The kids all want to come out and watch, so I let them peer through the window so they won’t disturb the mamas. Milk the two cooperative cows and tube feed their calves with their own mama’s colostrum since they can’t nurse yet.

9:30 Go back up to the house, get the warmed colostrum, tube feed the first calf. I don’t think he’ll make it. This is even more discouraging as just yesterday, I had twins (highly unusual for Gelbvieh cows), both born back feet first, both born dead. They’re supposed to be born front feet first. Besides feeling badly for the animal, we’re losing big money every time we lose a calf, and this is definitely not the year to lose any money on anything.

After feeding the calves, I headed up the breakfast operations while my wife was working out. Cadrian, the nine year old can make popovers on his own, but he still needs a little guidance and a lot of reminders.

10:30 Finally start hauling manure while it’s still frozen. I go into the cattle yards with the tractor, load the manure and the straw we use as bedding material into the loader bucket and dump it into the manure spreader. The ground needs to be frozen while I take it out to the field so I don’t tear up the ground with ruts, which then causes compaction, because I want to plant into it soon.

11:30 Take a break from hauling manure when my best friend comes over to get hay for his goat. We shoot the breeze for a while.

By this time, Jessica is gone to write all day at a local farmer owned coffee shop. I go back up to the house to check on the kids and get them to start lunch. They make frozen vegetables and macaroni and cheese.

12:30 The ground is starting to thaw, so I finally start chores. This involves feeding all the cattle in the cattle yards a special mixture of silage, hay and nutrients, and taking bales of hay out to the cattle in the pastures. I mow and bale hay all summer long so out cattle can be grass fed all winter, and I sell some hay to local horse owners. I keep a close eye on the worst off calf.

1:30 The kids are bounding around outside since it’s warmed up a bit. They want to help and be in the way and see everything. Elivette manages to get some milk to feed the half frozen, now thawed, babies!

A couple more calves are born, in the sunshine, which even though it’s still record lows,  makes a big difference so they were fine. After I got the new ones all ear tagged, I poured hot water over that first calf for quite a while, trying to get him warmed up internally.

2:30 Our pet cow Lolly had her calf! She is the smartest cow we have. She had the calf at the warmest part of the day, in the calf shed I just erected yesterday. Really it was probably dumb luck, but I like to credit it to her intelligence.

day in the life of a farmer
My wife with all her sick headache accouterments.

3:30 Jessica has gotten home but she has a sick headache and can’t go to the party with the family.

I get the kids around and we head off to Aviana’s friend’s and Challenge A director’s home for tacos and a sing-a-long. On the way, I meet up with Brielle’s friend’s dad, because her friend Esther has stayed the night and needs to be returned to her family.

4:30 The kids have a great time while I chat with some of our friends. I have to supervise our kids pretty closely because they’re still so young and impulsive. The family who live here with their two teenagers lead a completely different life than us with our six rambunctious rascals ages 2-13.

Our nine year old especially needs to have some quality friends who are boys. We seem to have a lot of friends with girls. He and the host’s 14 year old son love to wrestle and roughhouse.

7:30 It’s impossible for me to round up six kids. You have to start an hour before you’re ready to leave, and then when you finally find them all, and get them pointed in the right direction, someone wants to chat some more and they all disperse again.

Bedtime is the best time of day for this farmer!

8:00 Get teeth brushed and pajamas on. By lying down with her, I get the two year old to sleep. I love snuggling her and helping her fall asleep. Often I fall asleep with her for a little while, and show her how it’s done. This farmer teaches thegreatest life lessons: Bedtime is the best time of day!

9:00 I head back outside and get the calves nursing for the first time. That’s a huge relief! The first one died. I check the cows again and see another new calf born, which brings our total to 7 for the 7th! That’s almost 10% of our herd calving on one day. I have to go out to the field to bring back the tractor I forgot out there because I drove the tractor pulling the manure spreader back and then got busy with the cows. If I had a fit bit I’m sure it would show that I walked 20 miles today.

10:00 Sit down for a rest while Jessica quizzes me about my day for this blog post. I like that she’s paying attention to me, but I’m almost too tired to think! Snuggling with the puppy in the comfy chair is putting me to sleep.

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Book Review (March Edition)

March Book Reviews

March was a great book month! I read a lot of winners. I rate books on 1-5 stars, but it’s really kind of silly because I never finish books less than three stars, and have trouble even when they are perfectly average. And then when I realized I could use the emojis to make the stars, I thought to myself, as anyone would, “I’m going to rate these books on a scale of 1 to 5 tacos!”

Happy Handmade Home 🌮🌮🌮

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space

I’ve been using A Beautiful Mess’s filters for years, so when I saw they had a book out, I jumped on it. It was easy to read, lots of beautiful photos, much inspiration. If you like home decorating books, check it out! If you don’t like home interior books, this would be a good one to read and change your mind.

Into the Water. 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Into the Water: A Novel

I read this for Paper and Glam bookclub. I was halfway through before I even realized this is the same author as Girl on a Train, which I really loved. I’m a huge fan of quality mystery, and turns of the plot, as well as strong leads. This one was a bit confusing because it had so many different people’s points of view telling the story, as well as many different flashbacks, it was intriguing though, and because I was riveted, I still gave it four stars.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

🌮🌮🌮

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

This book was filled with all of the Kennedy drama and tragedy, but honestly it was pretty boring. It was mostly a litany of day to day list type writing. I wish the author would have helped me feel more sympathetic and compassionate toward Rosemary, or any of the characters. I wanted to feel their pain, feel for them more deeply, but the matter of fact style of telling the story was completely devoid of emotion.

A Wrinkle in Time 🌮🌮🌮

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)

Although it fit the category of “A Childhood Classic You’ve Never Read” for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge, I didn’t really love it. My 13 year old said it’s one of her favorite books, so maybe it’s just very much a children’s book, which is disappointing because there is lots of other so-called children’s lit I love to come back to. I’m not a huge sci-fi or fantasy fan either, so maybe that’s part of it. It was very simplistic, with very little character development. It reminds me of a book I would have written in the 6th grade.

The Woman in the Window 🌮🌮🌮🌮

The Woman in the Window: A Novel

Reminding me frequently of the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window, Woman in the Window was filled with plot twists. I loved that I guessed some of them, but not to the extent they were written. I fell in love with the spirit of the protagonist. I couldn’t put this one down. Highly recommended: I almost gave it 4 ½ stars.

Safe With Me 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Safe With Me: A psychological thriller so tense it will take your breath away

March must have been the month for un-put-downable thrillers. This one had me hopping as well. This one had twists I never saw coming, as well as a hard to love, but still adorable narrator.

Night Road 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Night Road: A Novel

In my opinion, Kristin Hanna can do no wrong. I love how every book of hers is a different time period and about a different topic all together, and still hits me in all the feelings, and makes me cry, teaches me something new, and still has a happy ending. When you have to work through a lot of crud for that happy wrap-up, it makes the end all the sweeter. I do so love a happy ending.

Underground Railroad 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

The Underground Railroad: A Novel

This is the best book I’ve read all year. I loved all of it—the gritty, hardness of it. The truth of it. The absolute fantastical aspects of it. The spirit of the main character. The heartbreak of it. The beauty of it. Just read it.

Little Fires Everywhere 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Little Fires Everywhere
I will just come right out and say I was completely unsatisfied with the ending, but up until then, everything about this book was stellar. I was riveted the entire time. I loved the backstories by way of explanation of certain characters’ behavior, I loved all the different, yet intertwining plot lines, I genuinely loved the characters. Despite everything still being at loose ends at its conclustion, this was a book I was disappointed to have end.

What were your favorite books in March? I have a never ending TBR (to be read) list; I’ll be happy to add your recommendations!

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Moms Run The World

We moms are like electricity.

I was thinking about this today as I chopped vegetables, intending to put out a veggie tray for the kids to have a healthy snack to graze on every time they passed through the kitchen.  We run everything. Husbands and kids expect us to do all the thinking for them. And for whatever reason, we do.

The other day I was agonizingly finishing up math with my most reluctant learner.  It had been a productive morning, but as is the norm with small people, there was plenty of arguing with each other and push back  to me and interruptions and a lost reading book we just had yesterday, which we still haven’t found, and character training and loudness and touching. I was really ready for a break. The Farmer came in for lunch.  He strode into where we were working,  griping about all the problems he had encountered outside with machinery. It added weight to my inner tension, but I couldn’t really respond, because if I let my attention wander, the math-doer would absolutely follow suit. There were leftovers. He’d be fine.

Suddenly, a small crash and loud faux swearing filled the air, The Farmer emphatically wondering who had left the egg on the stove top and why doesn’t anyone ever clean up around here?! I couldn’t bear it a moment longer and leapt to my feet emphatically answering. Everything else in the kitchen was clean, and I, already at my limit, was furious that he had an accident and was trying to blame everyone else. He didn’t notice that the rest of the room was tidy, just the egg now splattered all over the floor.

Thinking back over the altercation, I realized that I am like the power in the house. We just expect the light switch to turn the lights on when we flip it; we expect the fridge to be cold when we open it; we expect the button to start the microwave when we push it. Our families expect the same thing of us. We only really notice the electricity when the fuse is blown or the storm knocks out the power. We function so well and do our jobs so well as administrators of our homes, that we practically are invisible.

I live in a home built in 1850 and added onto in 1902. The electric in our house is cobbled together, added on in dribs and drabs over the years.  As we have undertaken remodeling projects, we make sure to do the electricity right, and up to code. Even though it worked before, I know that it’s better to completely redo the wiring and connections to make sure our home is as safe as possible.  Despite the fact that I know it’s necessary, and even want to do it, I’ve always railed against this  very expensive, invisible part of our remodeling process.

I’m a little like that with self care too. I want to eat right, want to spend uninterrupted time with God, want to exercise, want to take moments out of the day to read my book or to make my planner pretty. I don’t often make it happen like I ought to.  I know it’s necessary for my mental health and to be fully functional. I know I need to do it to be the best mom I can be.

It’s important to have the electricity of the home be at full capacity.  We moms are the sometimes invisible, usually unappreciated energy sources of our homes. Do what you need to to be at maximum power.

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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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A Day in the Life

I’m always curious about the average person’s daily life. I found an amazing video on Netflix titled Life in a Day. It is a documentary of snippets of people’s lives all over the world. It’s a bit of time capsule. It was beautiful.

It inspired me to make one of my own.

I have done this before in written form, with pictures, but never with video. It took me quite a bit longer to put the thing together than I thought it would, especially because I got sick for several days right after I shot it. I stayed up late last night and now it’s finally done.

I invite you to take twenty minutes out of your day to share part of mine. 🙂

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We’ve been busy

July is usually pretty busy for us, but this July has been even more so.

We had three weeks of swimming lessons. We had Kevin, Cadrian and Aviana’s birthdays. I was on call for a couple of births, one of which was a totally and completely amazing. I went to a city a few hours away with three of the children for a training for a new phase of our home school journey. I’ve read a few books. We painted our “new” family room. We got a puppy. I wrote a song, recruited a friend to sing it, and am in the process of making a video.

Aaand a bunch of other stuff..

I’ve missed blogging. My goal for August is to plan better and post at least once a week.
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My Day (in status updates)

Passion really is better than coffee.

It’s a DRINK! Get your mind out of the gutter.

Only one out of five screaming and neck clinging when I dropped them off at Grandma’s. We’re getting better.

Hey! I’m not late!

Getting fillings isn’t so bad when you can watch The Princess Bride.

Never had a leg wax in someone’s living room. I’ll go back. And next time I’ll stop at the ATM first.


Six avocados. Five pounds of freshly sliced meats. Four cucumbers. Three cauliflower heads. Two tubs of spinach. And one healthier mama. (Hopefully).

Picked up my sister-in-law at the doctor. Slightly jealous that she always looks amazing, despite spending the weekend in the hospital, and the week flat on her back with an agonizing spinal headache. Glad she’s feeling better.

“I’m gonna go mow.” Yes, I really said that. And I really did that.

Mowing’s stupid.

We have too much yard.

Still mowing.

Somebody needs some sheep!

Chatting–with MIL.

Oops! Time to leave again. Kuk Sool. Construction. Not even late. I totally rule.

“Mama! I want to climb that light pole!” This about sums up the energy level at Goodwill.

And your aisle’s entertainment will be provided by sword fights with wrapping paper. Stop laughing, fellow customers, you’re just encouraging them!

Goodwill Good Deals: For Kevin: Tommy Bahama silk shirt, Banana Republic shorts, J. Crew jeans and a couple pairs of shorts for work
                                  For me: VS Pink capris, questionably authentic Gucci handbag, and UGGS
                                  For Aviana: a couple of Gap swimsuits, and Iowa State tanktop and a pair of sandals                                   For Denton: a pair of Merrells
                                  For Elivette: a cute Carter’s outfit
                                  For Brielle: four black tops to wear under her Kuk Sool uniform, which is the whole reason why we went there in the first place
                                 For Cadrian: NOTHING–and he’s the one who really needs shoes ( I have a theory that five year old boys wear out all the clothes, so there are never any for me to buy)

Waving  excitedly to all the people in the grocery store parking lot while 9 yo runs in for the almond milk I forgot earlier. Yes. That was us.

We love singing along to the Best of Broadway CD all the way home! (although, I question the truth of The Best)

Make your children’s day and stop by the lake a mile from your house to pee and strut about to “If I were a rich man”.

Kevin doing bedtime = priceless

Nursing runny nosed toddlers is possibly the grodiest thing ever.

Cutting husband’s hair and it’s not the day of the wedding we’re going to…again with the “I totally rule”.

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A Day in the Life

6 a.m. Kevin’s alarm goes off. He has to go out and load cattle he’s selling today. Last calf finally born in the night. 107 lb bull calf. Helped it get nursing.

6:15: Hear 20 month old Elivette. She’s at the top of the stairs crying instead of just coming down to our room like usual. I pick her up and she immediately stops. I love that feeling when it happens, as if I’m the answer for which she’s been searching.

6:45 Take her back to bed. Nurse her both sides. Miraculously she’s fallen back asleep. I can’t even remember the last time that happened.

7:05 Lie there drowsily snuggling. Cadrian, 5, comes in; happy, talkative, and thankfully, whispering! He says he didn’t fall asleep for a long long time because his new clock kept him awake with all its loud ticking. We snuggle and chat for a while.

7:30 Think I hear Denton, 3, stirring and I don’t want him to wake the baby. Throw on  fleece cupcake pants, and a plaid fleece lined flannel (both purple of course). Start to make shakes. Denton comes in, toting his giant car seat box. I pick him up and start his good morning song, but he immediately sees C going for “his” box and starts screaming. The girls, Aviana, 9, and Brielle, 7, are up. Hug and kiss and good morning song them. Can’t find  lid to one of the shake cups. Start to feel annoyed until I remember the poor of East End (London, I just finished reading the Call the Midwife trilogy) and choose to be grateful instead.

Good morning, good morning to you
Good morning, good morning to you
I love you so much, I’ll eat you right up (nibble ears and nose)
I love you, I love you, I do!

8:00 D & C are fighting over the box. B & A are shouting because B got dressed right away and A is furious that it is 44*F and raining and it’s May 1 and supposed to be spring and she had planned to wear a tank top. I calmly tell people that if anyone is shouting, they can shout outside all they want, and I don’t even care what they are wearing at the moment. If they shout, they are out.

        Fix B’s hair in a “Lacy Braid” which my friend taught me last night. Our amazing neighbor, Cindee calls to confirm she’s picking the girls up for their tutoring session at 8:30. She tells me she messaged me on Facebook, but I didn’t get on FB last night! She takes them to her house once a week to work on science experiments or long term messy projects that would get destroyed or messed with by the littles here. C and D start in again, maybe about the rocket this time. Put C outside. He comes in when he’s done shouting, which is almost immediately.

        Fix A’s hair in a “Five Plait”. I wish I could figure out how to do a French Five Plait, but my fingers get confused. I go in the boys’ room to see how the fabric I got to make a bed skirt for Cadrian will work and pick up quite a bit while I’m in there. A has calmed down about the weather and decided to wear her CuddleDuds under her outfit.

 8:30        Give those who want it bananas and peanut butter. Do some geography songs and reading with Brielle and Cindee arrives. Remind A to take their books and she worries they’ll leave without her. Decide to check messages and to let Melissa know I’m not going to get my hair cut today. Comment on a few posts. Clean up the bananas and peanut butter.

9:00   E wakes! Nurse her. She’s so happy and hungry. Put off changing her a few minutes. Kevin walks in and makes eggs and ham for himself and disappears. I make eggs for the boys and Elivette. E and D eat 2 and Cadrian eats 4 (our chickens are young and the eggs are not jumbo). D doesn’t like the egg I made for him so I give him a different one and don’t even feel irritated. That’s kind of new and worth mentioning.

9:30 Gather 50+ library books and videos that are due today and tomorrow (sometimes I go though a “put-everything-that-looks-good-on-hold binge) Change laundry. Put my hand in honey B spilled yesterday on the half wall in the bathroom which no one cleaned up. Still don’t clean it up or I’ll get completely side tracked from the laundry. Goals for today: Get MY clothes put away. Get the winter jammas and clean clothes put away.
         Get E dressed. Get  a second cup of coffee. Get counting animals down for D.

10:00  Get dressed–long sleeve lilac sweater, black sweater vest cardi, jeans. Make bed. Start hanging up my clothes. Kevin wants to make bean soup with the leftover ham bone but needs help with the beans. E has dumped the counting animals all over. No clothes are actually hung up yet.

            Get my clothes hung up and put away. I have a bad habit of just throwing my clothes on the floor when I’m done for the day. I don’t wash my jeans or sweaters every time I wear them, so that’s part of why, but it’s also just because I’m tired and want in my jams. I will tell you this: If Kevin did what I do, I’d be mighty peeved. It’s that bad.

             Put my shoes back on the rack. Twice. Thanks Elivette.
             Put my stack of yoga pants back on the shelf. Thanks boys.
             Be thankful they didn’t pull down the closet shelves when all three of them decided to climb them at the same time.

10:30 Switch laundry. Check beans. Carry in my three pairs of shoes that have mysteriously migrated to the family closet. Bring in jammas, and two baskets of clothes to be folded and the bin for the jamms. It would be easier to sort and fold the clothes IN the family closet but it drives me crazy to have the chiddlers underfoot in such a tiny space and I can’t imagine the destruction which would happen in the house if I stayed out there to do it .
          AND my center closet door just fell out! (we have three bifold doors with mirrors, very heavy) Thankful Elivette was behind it, not in front of it!

11:00 Fold and sort clothes. Boys are playing with magnets, quietly-ish nearby. Cindee brings girls back who are WOUND UP. Try to discuss where to go from here and how long we want to continue our arrangement, but my brain has no ideas. Feel overwhelmed by the sudden mess and noise. The boys have now stripped to the waist and are wrestling. Cut up an apple for E. Finish the folding and go out to the laundry room again.

11:30 Clean up the honey. Pick up several toys and various detritus the baby or someone has strewn about. Among other things: a muffin tin, a cheese slicer, a metal tray, a magnetic letter Q, a headband, three socks and several pieces of apple. Put the pajama bin away, stepping over several articles of clothing in the process. Feel befuddled and annoyed this room ends up like this every day. (They take after me 🙁 )
           Put a load of rags in. Get another load of kid clothes out of the dryer. Decide I’m done and leave it on the floor.

           Orchestrate “pick up time” which is an exhausting and constant process. Everyone wants to negotiate their jobs and I just want the stuff picked up! Find several more counting animals. Keep 3 or 4 of them semi-focused and on task.

12:00 Start lunch. Mac and cheese and frozen mixed vegetables.Kevin calls suggesting I put Elivette down for an early nap since he wants to go to Menards later. Since she slept until 9, I don’t see that happening. Aviana wants to tell me why she is made. Cadrian wants to tell me why he is mad. Everyone is hyper and talking at once. I keep patient, telling them they are interrupting each other and listen as best I can. Inwardly though I feel anxious and irritable.

12:30 Tell C & D to sit down and wait quietly. They do fairly well. Ask B to get milk and C to help E with her bib, while I’m dishing up mackey. Suddenly I see B helping E and No-one getting milk. So irritating. Mention it calmly that no one would have to wait if she would have just done the job I’d given her.
           I love how E holds out her little hands expectantly at the beginning of a meal to hold hands and pray. Today we sing “Johnny Appleseed”, which reminds me to be grateful for even the rain.

Oh, the Lord is good to me,

and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me,
the things I need,
the sun and the rain
and the appleseed
The Lord is good to me.
Tell the children I need to get E down for her nap and to please clear the table and put their plates in the dishwasher. 
1: 00 Nurse E. Take her up to bed. Read boys Rain Drop Plop and Because Your Daddy Loves You. Put them in their Quiet Time areas after they choose where they’ll be. C is on my bed with a book and D is in his room. Several reminders of “It’s quiet time rest time, remember your question and ask me after it’s over” later, I have a bit of silent time. I snuggle up on the couch under my down comforter and rest with my eyes closed for a while. I hear Aviana singing Broadway songs to Denton.
1:30 Head to my studio for a bit. Finish making 2 I-Spy Bags, read a bit of Moon Time, send a few messages. Cut out fabric for several more bags.
2:00 Aunt Mary (another amazing neighbor) picks the girls up to take them to ice cream. We are so blessed to have so many people willing to give of their time to invest in our family. As soon as they’ve gone, D immediately begins hunting for me. He finally searches me out so I give him the job of counting out 10 trinkets for each I-Spy bag. 
2:30 He is so so excited to have such an exciting job that he jabbers like a strung-out magpie. Then Kevin comes up and installs a motion light in the homeschool closet. I next give D the job of cleaning the vinyl and quickly realize I’m done. 
        K is reading a book about the heart to C. He can’t find the other books because the boys’ room has devolved into a disaster zone. They clean up without complaint and find the books. 
3:00 Kevin goes back to work and I show C some videos of gliders and hang gliders. He promptly goes off to build one. I let Denton watch youtube with me and watch part of a boring vlog of a teen mom–her Day In The Life (DITL). Everyone wants to be famous. So ridiculous and sad. Watch a video on how to wash fleece. I have had a fleece in the garage for a couple of years and am finally going to use it to stuff “rocks” for our new play area I’m designing. Check eBay, my rocks should be here soon. I feel a connection with the woman in the video so look up her website. Maybe it’s just because we both have five children; other than that we don’t really seem to have a lot in common.

3:30 E wakes up. Nurses. Get a snack for C, D, and E. Graham crackers and natural fruit leather. Set it out and go find E. She is standing on the stoop in her brother’s fireman boots “calling” Duke (Duuuuu! Duuuuu!) Watch the adorable for a minute. Go back into the kitchen to discover D stole everyone’s fruit strips and he’s hiding in the corner. C only got 1/2 of one and doesn’t have a fit. No yelling (pats self on back). C is too busy looking for a mile high place from which to throw his “glider” to really care.
 
4:00       Change E and she messes around sitting on the potty. She loves to sit on the potty, but it has yet to see any action. Think about doing yoga but get distracted by something. Do some preschool pages with D. It seems like he’s on par with Cadrian. He can recognize his numbers and knows how many of something is represented by that number.

4:30   Time to leave for Kuk Sool Won and the new Menard’s. Round up everyone’s shoes and socks and all the library books and adjust the car seats again. Realize I forgot the closet drawing for our new walk-in.

5:00 Stop in our small town for K’s cattle check and to return the books. Pretty cool we can load the cattle at 7 and have a check by 5.   The boys each vie for returning books in the drive through which means they take turns crowding me and stabbing me in the neck with their elbow. Jet to Kuk Sool. Aviana is telling the boys a Tommy and Timmy story. She has such a gift for storytelling.
     
  I tease Brielle by telling her to ask her Kuk Sool Master what happens to kids if they don’t give him a check on the first of the month. He’s also a fire chief and they just had a pancake breakfast so I was telling her to ask him if they had any leftover pancakes. She was pink cheeked and grinning; I love to hear her laugh. She has such a contagious joy.

5:30 Aviana is reading the highway signs joking that we’re going to DesMoines and starts singing a silly song about it. She wants to know if we can just leave Brielle at Kuk Sool and drive to Omaha. Denton often tells me he wants to “sell Cadreen to Jonafon”. Maybe reading them the story of Joseph and his brothers was a bad idea 🙂 Silly kids.

They were a bit berserk at Menard’s. They need to have a giant store to run around in and climb the walls of when the weather is rotten. Too bad there were other customers. As it was though, everyone was grinning at them. Even though I feel like I need to rein them in all the time, they are adorable and funny!

We looked at closet inserts and organizers but didn’t make any decisions. It’s so expensive! It seems crazy to spend that kind of money on storage space. On one hand, I love the idea of it and on the other, it feels so wasteful. People in third world countries–heck, even 1950’s East Enders would love to live in my new walk-in closet.

We ended up buying stain for the trim, a heating duct, paint brushes and M & Ms. We were there under an hour (but it seemed longer since we circled the store twice) and ran into friends of ours. I love living in a city this size. It seems like I run into someone I know whenever I go somewhere.

6:30 We picked up Brielle, who noticed the M & Ms straight off. They weren’t as good as I remember. We ate at Culver’s for supper. Another decadent indulgence. Just being able to go out to eat occasionally seems like such a gift.

The boys were still in overdrive. Denton ate 1/2 his burger and some fries and as we were pulling out of the parking lot announces, “I’m hungry.” Brielle didn’t like her burger so ate some of my pot roast. Elivette would only eat fries.  LeSigh.

7:00  It was nice to be able to chat with Kevin in the van. The kids were only semi-quiet, but we could hear each other, so that was a bonus.
        A few minutes from Culver’s, still in town, but on the edge, Denton declared his need to pee. We pulled over of course. He ran on his short sturdy little legs down the ditch, up the hill on the other side and behind a bush. Cadrian couldn’t resist that invitation so he had to go too.
         They took so long I thought they might have gone down the hill on the other side, but no, just looking for pine cones. Denton rolled down the hill, and then staggered dizzy like a drunken sailor. I got the giggles.

7:30 Kevin and I got to everyone to bed pretty efficiently. I watched the kids like a prison warden in the family closet to make sure no clothes ended up all over the floor. Kevin brushed teeth. I did jammas and stories and nursed and good night songs and shushings and prayers. We love Richard Scarry’s Going Places. It has cute –short– stories; perfect for harried evenings.

  8:00       Denton had to get up and pee again.
 I heard him say to C “That’s just my breathe”
                                 “What?”
                                 “My breathe! The stuff tumming out of my mouf!”    
Nurse babe. She’s so funny about pretending to sleep.
Pray with girls. Sing them the good night song.

It’s time to rest your sleepy little head.
It’s time to snuggle in you cozy bed.
It’s time to say good night.
The sun has gone to bed and so must you.
Know you’re loved, all the whole night through
It’s time to say good night.
The stars will shine until the morning light.
God will keep you in His care all night.
It’s time to say good night.
It’s time to rest from such a busy day.
Tomorrow, we will have more time to play.
It’s time to say good night. (3xs)

Cadrian takes issue with that last line because he thinks it sounds like we’ll have more time to play than today. I maintain it only means we’ll have time to play again. 
As Aviana sagely notes, It does no good to argue with a five year old.

8:30  All is quiet. I mess around on FB and read more about Namaste Farms and read a few articles on gentle parenting. Chat with a few friends.

9:00 Kevin brings me in some ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce and I start typing all this up.

As I’m typing I realize I took ONE picture today. ONE.

Last year when I did this I made a photo book out of it–it turned out beautifully. It’s pretty hard to make a photo book with one photo.

I’m not going to be annoyed with myself. It is what it is. It’s a day in my life.

         

   

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tired mom why am I tired exhausted can't sleep

A Breath. A moment.

Today has been stressful. I feel like that word is overused, but it does seem like a very good word.

I love my children more than I can even describe. I love them so much it makes me cry sometimes. Sometimes I can’t breathe for the awe of it.

It is crazy having five little people and I will come right out and call it like it is, five selfish little people, around all the time. We are all selfish. That’s just the way it is. Part of my job is to help them put others first, to not act on every impulse, but to treat others the way we would want to be treated.
And sometimes it’s not even the selfishness that is the problem, just the childishness.

My day goes like something like this:

  • Try to make the bed. Child runs in screaming because other child zipped his penis into his pajamas. 
  • Try to get a meal train set up. Child hits himself in the face with his toy and promptly starts screaming.
  • Try to get laundry started. Discover child has “washed his truck” in the new bathroom sink and left a muddy wet trail all over the sink, the floor, the rug and the clean diapers hanging on the drying rack.
  • Try to make cookies with child. Get overwhelmed by the number of times I have to redirect and remind.
  • Try to get the drawstring out of my pajama pants where it has naughtily creeped into the casing halfway around. Have to listen to child have a crying fit because she wanted to pick the food for Friday, not Wednesday and even though she gets to have what she wanted to pick today, today isn’t FRIDAY.
  • Try to talk on the phone to make a surprise plan for a couple children. Get interrupted forty-seven times. Or maybe it was forty-eight.
  • Try to get the winter and too small boots sorted out so I know what we need to get, and what (boy! is it a lot!) needs washed before it gets put in storage. Enlist the children since they know what fits and what doesn’t. Am nearly bested by the chaotic cacophony that “simple” project entails. Am stunned by the stubbornness of someone insisting that winter boots 2 inches longer than the foot fit now and ought not go into storage.

It is hard. I thank God I can turn to Him, breathe a prayer and He calms my heart. I thank Him for growing me so that I am not constantly on edge about all this nuttiness. I thank Him that I can laugh and find joy and teach. I thank Him that my “Yell Chart” hasn’t had any new entries for a couple weeks.

I thank Him for all these moments. For the muddy handprints (or are they footprints?) on my nook chair. For the happy cricket voices that constantly fill my home. For the giggles and groans and the laughter and lunacy and silly centipede games. For the whining and the bickering and the mess and the help and the hugs and the hearts of these small people I’m given the privilege to raise. 

I am especially thankful for Now though. Now the Bigglets have gone to Good News Club. The Small Boy is with his Dada at Farm and Fleet. Babe E is (finally) asleep cozy snug in her favorite place, in her wrap next to my heart. I am listening to her breaths and the ticks of the clock. Watching the raindrops on the window.

Thanking God for this moment. This breath.

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birth-kits

The weekend…

Golly!

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

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

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

Photo credit to a friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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