Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm No Better Than You

This week my blessings and I have been sick. It's funny how when we are, we long to be healthy again so we can do all those things that we really aren't going to do once we are healthy again.

Of course, I, being the day dreamer that I am, constantly think about things I will never really do. That could be why, in reality, I never really do them. I tend to blend in so well with the crowd to the point, just as in Princess Diaries, I feel literally invisible. I am like a shadow. A memory of the distant past, easily forgotten. Dust in the wind.

Looking at my life, I don't really do much of anything. And I know people who would hush me for that. "Come on! You're raising 5 children. You're homeschooling. You have a small farm. Of course your doing a lot of things!"

I get it, but I don't completely agree. I could be, and should be, doing more. Yes, I'm raising 5 kids, but most days I feel like we got through by the skin of our teeth. (BTW where does that phrase even come from?) Yes, I'm homeschooling, but I don't see my children flourishing. Yes, I have a small farm with my husband, but I don't interact with my animals everyday. My husband does a lot with them too. He certainly knows more about them. I'm just a grunt. He tells me what to feed the animals and I do it. I'm not some amazing farmer. I'm just the wife of one. I'm just the mom of children with amazing potential. I'm just... here.

I'm not exceptionally good at anything. I'm not extremely talented. I'm not super healthy always making my own bread, buying only organic, making sure my kids get outside everyday, hair, clothes, home, and face perfect all the time. Nope. Not supermom. I am just an ordinary woman with my own faults and weaknesses. Who is trying my best to be and do the best I can, hoping I don't ever make someone else feel like they don't live up to me, because I am not that amazing, all while trying not to be squished by those who would condemn me for my imperfections and those who would exalt me because my seemingly superbness. 

I'm a competitive person, I'll admit, but I don't want to compete for the best mom, homemaker, wife, farmer, crunchy lady, etc.. etc.. award. I just want to finally be at peace with my life as it is regardless of you and yours and how our lives compare. I want that for you too.

Strange thing is, I started this post, pittying myself over the fact that, once again I'd been forgotten on a list of people for something. Yes, I said again. It happens often enough. It made me think about how little of an impression I seem to leave on people and I felt disappointed. Not wanting to be depressing, though, I tried thinking of positive things people have said about me and that led to me remembering the false impressions some people have of me. We all have false impressions of each other, even if it is something small.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

That moment when...

You realize how odd it is, for you, that you feel like you know someone because you read their blog, and find it hard to remember they don't know you at all!

About a year or so ago, I came across a blog from a woman who lived not far from me, had many children, and homeschooled. I guess you could call it a blogger "crush", because I felt like "Wow, this woman gets what I'm going through and what she writes about is often what I'm trying to find words for in my own heart." It was made even more interesting, to me, that we were both due around the same time.

Fast forward to now and it turns out she attends the co-op my family just started attending last month. She doesn't know me, but I feel like I know her and her family a little. For me, this is awkward, like trying not to gawk at a celebrity awkward, and I keep hoping I don't seem like a stalker. I help in the nursery at co-op and so I tend to her daughter, who I feel a little connection to simply because I remember when her mom wrote about her arrival. Yet, I don't really know this family and they don't know me.

This is one thing that I think is changing in our culture. With all the bloggers out there who share their life's ups and downs with the world, we read and feel engrossed in the well written stories, and yet we don't know them any more than we know King Arthur. Often, this might not impact our "real" lives, but it can. As we move more and more towards a technologically connected society, we find that our concepts of relationships, friendships, etc. is morphing. I see it with my younger sister. You feel connected to people all over the place and yet, you may not actually know them and they may not know you from a hole in the wall.Yet if you ever come across them in person you may find yourself shouting "I read your blog!" when/if you are introduced to them, and having them look at you like "Please don't be a crazy stalker!"  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Run Away Sleep

Four thirty in the morning is not a time I often see. However, this morning I woke up at 4:30 and found that sleep had run away from me. I was not too thrilled at this trickery, but after a bit of wasted time, I decided to make the best of the quiet darkness. I grabbed the laptop and began working on my manuscript.

It has been a daunting task, but in the middle of this silence, I realized it is partially because of my expectations. I've created an insurmountable ideal of how it all might work and, well, I have to accept that I'm just not good at completing tasks, especially ones that seem impossible. I decided to toss my stone and allow freedom for my book(s) to become whatever it will be. With that decision came a release of creativity that I pray continues as I push forward to complete my 2nd draft.

I did manage to fall back to sleep just before 8, this morning and had a nice 2 hour nap. Thankfully the interrupted sleep did not impact my day, with my children, very much. Though I was ready for a nap around 2, that is nothing out of the ordinary. I still managed to play a board game, read stories, have tickle fights, etc. I was honestly surprised by this, as I am not usually so tame when I'm tired. For me, it was a reminder that God is with me. It was only by His grace that I had any energy and patience to get through the day.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Passing Away

Nearly a week ago, I found out that the woman I have known as Grandma, my entire life, passed away. I haven't seen her since blessing #3 was a year and a half old, because the last time I was visiting she was recovering from a surgery. I can't say we were necessarily close, since I pretty much never called her and wrote her sporadically. Yet, she was still very special to me. Truth be told, I'm just horrible with relationships. I hardly even call my own parents. In part because I hate the part where the phone call is over and once again the person on the other end is a distant memory. Also, I'm just awkward in general and never know what to say. Small talk is not my forte. 

I remember when I was little, I thought of my Grandma as the woman with red curly hair and frito chips for fingernails. I didn't realize people could actually have longer fingernails, though they may have been fake... One of my favorite memories of her was how she was so good at getting my brother and I to go out and pick blackberries. I'd scrunch my face up at all the creatures living in the bushes, weaving my little hand past thorns, just to pick the ripest berries I could find, as I dreamt of her delicious blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. This didn't happen often, as we weren't able to visit much.

As I got older we would email each other and sometimes write letters. She never told me my dreams were out of reach and was very encouraging about my writing. She was wonderful and my heart hurts to know I won't be visiting her. I can still hear her voice, though I can't really describe it. I hope it never fades.

I know that life comes to a close for pretty much everyone, and I'm thankful for each of my Grandparents and the stories they have written, but with each Grandparent I lose,  my heart breaks more and I know I'm  closer and closer to losing my parents.

I just pray for my Grandpa and all the others she has left behind. Peace, comfort, joy, courage, and strength.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Another Sleepless Night

In the stillness of the night, as my family lay sleeping, I am once again left wide awake. This time, I don't feel my mind racing, as it often does. Instead, it is hungry for inspiration. Inspiration for my family, my home, my talents.

Over a decade ago I started a story and trashed it. When I took the adventure, of NaNoWriMo, a few years ago, I found the story returned to me with a new design and a new plan. Over these years, I have slowly added bits and pieces to it. I have a vision and a desire for it, but am lacking in motivation and prioritization, which is true for too many things in my life. Yet, my desire is to complete it. The task is overwhelming and tedious. I've never been great with details, however, all I have right now are bits of bones and flesh.

I quickly side track myself with all the busy work I can. After all, my house will never truly be clean, there will always be something else that "has" to get done "right now". This fickle mind can't seem to decide where it's focus should be. Following through is certainly not one of my strengths. My thoughts often wander from family and home, to finances and work, to all the things I love to do and all the reasons I'm too afraid to do them. Round and round, my thoughts twist and spin, never reaching a destination or conclusion.

So, here I sit, in the earliest, darkest part of the morning, staring blankly, awaiting inspiration and creativity, allowing my thoughts to fade and clear the way for the juices to start flowing once again. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Day After

Here we are at the starting line of our 14th year and I have to say my husband did an amazing job of closing out our 13th.

I had wanted to plan a special anniversary celebration for him and I, since we don't usually celebrate. I had gone so far as to find someone who could watch our children and take them to church. My plan was to take our "old car" and go for a picnic. Problem was, one of the kids was on the calendar as having playoffs, so I shrugged off my idea.

Must've been meant to be, in some form, because I never told my husband and yet he planned something similar, only better.

Yesterday, he smoked up some bbq chicken legs, made deviled eggs, and packed up a bag. I somehow managed to miss him packing a bag. He invited me to go out back and check on the bees, which I agreed to hoping for the best and trying not to fear the worst of possibilities. As we headed out, I began praying in my heart, that all was well. As I said yesterday, it's been a stormy year. It took me a few minutes to notice the bag and much went through my mind.

As we walked along the path, he walked by my side, which gave me hope that the end of this walk would be pleasant, since usually he walks far ahead of me. We talked about plans for the land and checked out different plants we had growing a long the path. We really need to go harvest mulberries, they are everywhere! We also stopped and checked on our bees.

Then he took me a little past the bees to another circle of pines and asked if I'd like to have a picnic. I excitedly said yes and we laid out a sheet and he set out the food. We sat there, eating, talking, listening to the birds, and watching the clouds. Such a simple and beautiful time yet it's the first time I can think of, at least in a long time, that we've done anything really like it and I must say, I look forward to doing it again much sooner.

I admire the courage it took him to put it together, not knowing for sure if I'd go along with it. I appreciate the sentiment, because I know it took planning and that he had taken time to find the best spot. I'm amazed at his thinking of something similar to my own plan. (God is good, all the time!) And I'm thankful that he did this.

Honestly it was the best anniversary, I think, we've had in a very long time, possibly ever. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thirteen Years

Today marks thirteen years of marriage for my husband and I. I can definitely look back over the years and see many trials and tribulations as well as joyful moments. It certainly has been a growing experience. We've had our seasons of doubts and our seasons of security. Yet here we are, 13 years after we started this journey, still together, against the odds.

You see we married when I was 19 and 4 months or so pregnant with our oldest. We'd met in September and married the following June. Both of us come from dysfunctional families and both of us helped raise younger siblings. Quite frankly, statistics would've had us done for long ago. Thank God, He, is more powerful than numbers.

I can't say it's been all sunshine and rainbows. I can't say we've always been fully committed. I can say, we are fighters and that, in truth, we do love each other. Not the kind of love that's all tingles and butterflies. I'm talking about love. The kind of love that chooses, works hard, and is willing to grow even when it hurts, when it isn't easy. It is that love that holds us together against all odds. It is the hope that that love brings to each of us, when times are rougher than the most tempestuous seas, that gives us the strength to persevere.

This year has been a stormy one in our marriage, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel, and growth to be had. I thank the Lord, that He has brought people into my life who are not afraid to play devil's advocate, in my husband's favor, instead of just agreeing with me on everything I feel. I thank Him, for bringing people into my life, who speak hope, faith, and revelations into my heart.  

Through these friends, God has been able to show me where my focus should be and the changes I should be concerned with. Letting go of what I can not control and trusting in, Him, to take care of it all. Looking past my feelings to the facts and my role in everything.

I pray that as the next chapter of this love story begins, I will continue to allow God to move within me into this life we share. That I will continue to grow into the wife my husband longs for, the one I long to be. To let the past lay dead where it is, in the graveyard of unchangeable things, as I move into the light of the right here and now and appreciate all that is, in this very moment. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Officially Summer

    In our family, we love parties. We don't feel the need to go all out, extravagant, etc, however we do like to do so in our own simple way.

    Today was no exception. In honor of it being such a special day, we put up streamers, banners, and drawings. We also baked a cake. It was supposed to look like a banjo, but my chocolate ganache turned out to be more of a chocolate syrup. I used milk chocolate instead of bittersweet bakers chocolate, which the recipe called for. The syrup was still pretty delicious, even though, like all my cakes, it didn't quite match up with what I had imagined.

     We had intended to make packzis as well, but I think I got my milk too warm, because the dough never rose. I also forgot to make the crescent rolls I'd planned on, this morning. I've been forgetting a lot of things lately. I don't know if I just need to clear my thoughts and focus, or if my brain is turning to mush inside my skull.

      Anyway. Today was also the first time, I think, I've ever grilled up a New York strip. It was certainly the first time I've ever made lobster, which I also decided to grill. I can not tell you how juicy and delicious these were. Paired up with a good spring salad and some roasted rosemary and thyme potatoes. Man oh man! What a great lunch. haha If only I could afford to make dishes like that more often.

     I'd have to say in all our years of celebrating this blessed day, this was probably my favorite, so far. I look forward to the years to come as we embrace summer and celebrate life with passion and joy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mulberry Lane

    I've recently discovered and abundance of mulberry trees on our property. I knew we had 3 around our swamp and another one or two on our trail. Turns out there a many more than that all around the place! Some will need to be relocated, as they are currently trying to grow against buildings and fences. I'm considering only keeping 4 or 5 of them and selling the rest.

     Last year I cracked my ribs trying to pick the mulberries. I have heard of shaking the tree, but the ones in the swamp have poison ivy growing up them and around their base. I don't know if I am sensitive to it at all, but my husband is. Now that I know there are many more around, hopefully I can get more than 5lbs, this year.  I'd like to try making jam again. Last years mulberry jam ended up more like syrup. And I'm interested in trying a pie. My sour cherry pies from last year were pretty delicious.

     In fact, hopefully I'll have some cherries ready for the picking in a few weeks. I keep hoping to be surprised by more cherry trees. So far, I haven't been.

     At least we've had a bit of rain this summer. I've been horrible about going out and watering my garden. I have broccoli growing and a stalk of corn. Last I knew I had one tomato and 2 pepper plants also. As well as a couple of peanut and celery plants. I may or may not have watermelon and potatoes. Oh and I have some beans growing too.

     In the mean time, I've started bulk ordering produce with a group of friends. Sometimes it's been worth it, other times, it's been a little disappointing. All in all, though, I'm glad we're able to do it. It's nice to know that there is so much healthy stuff my family has so readily available. Now to get them to appreciate it too!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Just an Update

Apples! One of our apple trees is actually growing some apples this year! I just pray we will get to harvest at least one!

The bees seem to have settled in well, which is fantastic news. I look forward to seeing how our property blossoms with their help. Of course, I'm also excited about the honey!

The sheep are all doing well. We've almost weaned our bottle lamb. All the lambs are getting big. I don't know when we will separate them from the mothers or if I'll even bother trying to milk them. We don't really have a set up for it, yet.

We had 2 turkey hens go missing weeks ago. We assumed they either died, ran off with the wild turkeys, or were actually nesting. It's been long enough now, that I don't think they are coming back. I'm pretty sure at least one was eaten out on our trail. However, our fantastic mother turkey from last year, appears, to be sitting upon a nest in our swamp. Hopefully that goes well. Another hen just went missing this week and I'm hoping that she too has a nest somewhere.

Our chicks are all big enough to run around now. We've locked the run so the big chickens can't get out, but the chicks are all running around. Last I knew, we haven't lost anymore, though. Our neighbor just planted his wheat, which is why our chickens have to stay in the run. However the grass between his field and our property is long enough, the chicks haven't really gone over there.

My gardens are doing ok. I have beans that are actually growing from seeds. Unfortunately all my tomato plants are gone. The broccoli, pepper, celery, and peanut transplants seem to be doing well, though. My strawberry transplants are too. My herbs are looking really good, but I have them potted. I would love it if I could do raised beds next year. I think part of our problem is our rocky, sandy soil.

Our school year is almost over. I'm looking forward to the break, although, I have a lot prepping to do before next fall. I'm excited though.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Liquid Gold

Yesterday, I went and picked up our bees!

I've always been afraid of bees, knowing that my dad is allergic to their venom, but I also really like honey. After planning and thinking for a couple of years, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and picked up our bee gear.

The bee pick up was a little over an hour from home. One box of bees, we got two, was overflowing. That means there were bees flying around my van. Most of them stayed on the back window, but a couple made their way up front with my blessing #2 and I. I reminded her over and over, and myself, that the last thing they want is to sting us.

The whole ride home went pretty smoothly and amazingly, at least to me, none of them even landed on either of us.

When I got them home, my husband threw on his bee handling gear, I wasn't wearing any, and loaded the bees in our truck to take to their boxes out back. He'd found a great spot for them, guarded from the wind by a circle of pines, with a good bit of shade, and flowers!

I was surprised at how calm I managed to be about them. I was worried I'd freak out when they were near me, but aside from flinching a little I just let myself be where they were. I'm excited to see how this adventure in our homesteading turns out. Of course I'm certainly looking forward to hopefully having some honey also!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another Reason We Homeschool

My husband's days off are not the "normal" weekends. In fact, with his work schedule, he'd hardly see our kids if they were in public school.

Today, was a day of spontaneity. It all started last night when Blessing #3 went around the house inviting everyone to go out for breakfast, with him and Daddy. From what I gather, he hadn't actually made arrangements with Dad, before inviting everyone. However, the sweetness of his offer, for everyone to join them, won us over. So, this morning, we headed out for breakfast. A late and enjoyable breakfast.

Being in good spirits, my husband continued the spontaneity, by suggesting we take the kids to the local fire house museum. I agreed, it sounded like a great idea. So we spent the early afternoon touring it and discussing it with our kids. At the end, there was an arcade game where the kids could pretend to be firemen and spray electric hoses. The nozzle was a bit heavy for Blessing #3, so I helped him aim, but he had fun.

As we were setting out, to head to the hardware store, Blessing #3 reminded me that he still needed new shoes. That meant a quick pit stop for him to get a pair. He's been growing like a weed over the past year, going from a size 3T to a size 6 in clothes!

Our trip to the hardware store, was also enjoyable, though the ride there, not so much. Blessing #4 has been breaking down into fits whenever he wants something lately. No forewarning, just complete meltdown. It's been frustrating, because I'm left clueless as to what he even wants, until he calms down enough that I can get him to *talk* to me. This time, he just wanted some water, which he was able to get at the hardware store.

One last stop for animal feed and then we headed home. There seemed to be a simple peace in our van as we drove the winding road home. No fighting, just laughing, talking, and playing.

I've been craving more moments like these and am so thankful that the ideas of my children are able to bare such fruit in our family.

Of course, everything has to come to an end, and once we were home there was stuff to tend to. Yet, as we got caught up in our own activities the lovely peace still lingered and has the rest of the day. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring is in the Air

    Winter's worst has passed. Our first "real" Michigan winter, has left me thinking, maybe moving again someday isn't such a bad idea. However, with the ground thawing and the sun's warmth penetrating stronger and stronger, I'm hopeful of the seasons ahead.

    Today, marks the day of an experiment that I hope will end well. I've gathered some eggs, to attempt incubating, to check the fertility of our rooster. Last year we were pretty sure he was shooting blanks, and every time we let a hen brood, the eggs rotted. With research, this year, it looks like there is a possibility our rooster might be hitting his mark after all, though. I sure hope so. If all goes well we should have chicks in mid April. It is a bit early, but if it works we'll let our hens sit.

    We still have an army of turkeys to attend to. I'm hoping to make as much use out of them as possible, when we do. In the mean time, I'm waiting for them to start laying and sitting for next falls batch. Last year we started a bit late so they weren't ready to meet their fate when it was time. This year, I expect things to happen earlier, since we know more.

   As for our sheep, lambing should start Easter weekend. I'm pretty excited and can't wait to see all the new life arriving on the farm. I've been trying to get in with them more this winter, since I'm not pregnant, and let them get to know me better. I'd love to milk them, if I can.

   Also working on plans for my garden. Would really like to set it up in a way that we could use it year round. I know it'll take some initial investments upfront, but in the long run it will definitely be worth it.

   Lastly the family is growing. I see my children getting older, reaching milestones. I see them learning and developing in new ways, ways I don't always think about. Some of us have decided to declutter our lives this Easter season. My oldest has chosen to cut back on sweets and tv, while I have taken the x-box and put it away from the boys. For me, I've also chosen to cut back on tv, as well as computer and phone usage. On top of that, I'm trying to eat mostly foods we make ourselves. It's not always easy, but for the most part I've succeeded. It's something I plan to continue striving for, so I don't feel like I'm "cheating" or "guilty" when I do indulge in something. The fact is, I'm doing it way less and it has certainly impacted me and my children in a good way. I'm thankful that we've been able to support each other in our choices and to lift each other up and encourage each other in the areas we felt needed work. Now for that to spread through out the whole of each of our relationships!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's a New Year?

   It's amazing how quickly time flies by. I still haven't gotten my pay it forwards or my Christmas cards with family photos sent out. I'm hoping to get them out tomorrow, though. My baby is approaching his 1st birthday and has grown so much. I also see so much growth in my other children, that I'm constantly reminded of how little time I have them for.

   School hasn't really been happening for my boys, but my girls are moving along, inconsistently. I lean more and more towards child led learning every day.

   The snow has been pretty exciting for me, but the sub zero temps have made it difficult to enjoy playing outside. I don't like cold... At least I've been able to enjoy the beauty of it all.

   The animals seem to be doing great. We still have way too many turkeys, since they weren't as ready for the slaughter as we'd hoped around Thanksgiving. They look pretty ready now, though. Just a matter of making time for it.

   We have managed to move all our sheep back into the barn pasture and are hoping all our ewes will be delivering this spring!

   We strive to keep things as natural as possible for our animals. That means, no eggs for us right now. We are also trying to figure out if we want to get grown chickens or just hatched chickens this spring. It'll be nice when we're actually hatching our own chicks for food. Last year we didn't get any.

   Also trying to plan the garden. Our garden didn't do well at all last year. The area we planted in is pretty sandy, although the previous owners seemed to have a good garden when we moved in and our wheat and barley have done well in the past. No grains this year, as I'm the only one who takes the time to really harvest it and I don't get much of it.

   I've also been working on a few writing projects lately. Hoping to really do something with them. My blog writings leave much to be desired when I actually take time to type them up. Although, this is partially due to my almost never being alone and able to really concentrate. Thus is the way of life I have chosen, frustrating at times, but, in all, a great blessing.