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Thanksgiving 2014

This past week began with My Man being gone on business.  Together the children and I managed to hold the loneliness at bay by having a giant “sleepovers.” Each night everyone but the baby piled into my bed and we watched Brave on the laptop.  And when it was over we’d just restart it, until everyone had drifted off to sleep. Then I would lay in the darkness and listen to the sounds of their breathing, and feel the bed gently wiggle as each one turned and tossed, and I would feel so thankful.  Thankful from the depths of my soul that here, surrounding me, were little people who depend on me and keep me depending on God.

By the third night I think we could have just turned off the sound and quoted the entire movie word for word. 😀

In one of the funnier moments, the children were wondering why their father is so very talented at the work he does.  Little Boo matter-of-factly states “It’s because he has big nipples.”

We all just stared at her for a moment, then Zorro (obviously prepared to leap to his father’s defense,) says “He has WHAT??!!!”

Boo holds her arms out and boldly flexes.  “Big nipples.  Like me.”

We *eventually* explained that the word she was looking for was “muscles.”  When we could talk through the laughter……

We had fun making some felt crafts as gifts for Thanksgiving, and I particularly enjoyed listening to Rosie agonize over which Superhero mask she should make for her father.  “The Hulk is strongest, but Batman is the most handsome…..”  She eventually chose to go with Batman.

Then, glory be, he was home for 4 days straight and we slept and snuggled and cooked and built and shopped and loved and laughed and generally basked in the warm glow of Thanksgiving and the haze of prosperity with which we are blessed.

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Delight and Disaster

Our Pumpkin is truly blossoming. Adorableness abounds.

She marches around the house saying “Muuah.  Muuuaah. Muuaahh.”  It took a little while, but we figured out that she is not attempting to say “Mom”: she’s kissing us.  When someone kisses back at her she becomes excited and thrilled and generally acts as if all is right with her world again.  If she hears any noise that sounds like akiss she begins calling “Muuahh.”  We’re having fun with this.  *looks innocent*

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She can very clearly nod “yes” or “no” to questions.  What’s funny is when she hasnt quite decided on her answer, so she swings her head in a few circles before settling on one or the other.  🙂  Even though she’s not talking at all she understands everything said to her, and her ability to answer questions is quite handy.

She’s running to give hugs when Daddy comes home.  She’s bringing books to anyone she thinks might read to her.  She calls the cat by running around the yard meowing loudly.  She giggles when birds come to the feeder outside her window.

Unfortunately, her talent for disaster has taken some precipitous bounds as well.

It started last Sunday with the Cornstarch Incident.

The next day she discovered how to climb atop the kitchen table, where she not only broke the eggs that were in the basket, but she carefully painted a path across the table with them, and then climbed down and added egg to the cabinet door…. And her hair…. And the floor… and the wall…. all within the space of half a math lesson.

Next she discovered how to remove her diaper.  But she was wearing an adorable little dress which disguised this fact.  There were puddles, and worse, to clean up from that one. The same day of the diaper removal a rooster got into the living room.  I have had chickens for 9 years and never, ever has one WALKED INTO MY HOUSE!!!!!! Any guesses as to what was the first thing that rooster did when he got nervous?  *sigh*

The following day, my lovely little lady discovered how to open the toilet, a source of endless wonder.

And then, she found the dog bowl……..

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Life, lived rapidly, seems to be my Ordinary Moments these days.

On a brighter note, I can finally drink coffee again. I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s a Really! Big. Deal.  In honor of that, I thought I’d add a picture that has been making me chuckle all week long.  It showed up on my FB feed and now lives in my head.  😀

Funny Coffee

Oh, and it looks like the cat is pregnant as well as the dog.  The children discovered a large orange tom far up a tree the other day. They spent the better part of their free time trying to coax him down, or climb up to him, but neither option succeeded.  The following day he was gone, and now Clever is looking suspiciously rotund.

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Preparing for Winter

It’s time once again for the weekly roundup of homestead happenings.  A cold spell has plagued us for the past week, but we had ample warning that it was coming and were able to prepare.

Zorro has been using his father’s axe to split firewood.  It took him 30 minutes to split his first log, but since then he has only improved.  It’s rather nice to have such a productive outlet for his boundless energy.
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While their brother split firewood, Rosie and Boo gathered straw to stuff the doghouses with.  Katie is pregnant (oops!) and will whelp around the end of November.  It’s been four years since we needed to keep a litter of pups indoors, but I think that’s what the winter will hold for us.

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I finally feel that I have perfected our bread recipe, and the system for making it.  Fresh bread three times a week has been quite a hit around here.  I I think my system just might deserve it’s own blog post.

Bread

Monday night there was quite a commotion when a pick-up rolled at the edge of our ravine.  2 ambulances, 3 Emergency Response trucks and 7 police cars lined our tiny dirt road.  Zorro and I slunk bare-foot through the woods and watched from the darkness, prompting My Man to make some vague remarks about Children of the Corn.  I ignored him, of course.

Big Wreck

This spring a peregrine falcon migrated through and took an inordinate interest in my chickens.  We spent the day outside waving sticks and shouting, and were relieved to find ourselves falcon’ free by the following day.  This event had slipped from my mind, until a looked out our large picture window to see a rooster running for dear life as a falcon dove towards him, pulling up just in time to avoid hitting our greenhouse.  There were two falcons this time, but being autumn our chickens have plenty of sheltering growth to hide under, and it wasn’t many hours before the falcons moved on.  I’ll need to make sure we’re alert to this issue in spring in case they come back through again.

Still, a falcon!  not just one, but two of them!  How cool!  As long as our chickens are safe, I don’t mind taking a day or two so we can observe these splendid birds.

I’ve been finding some interesting photography on my Kindle lately.  What big eyes you have, my dear!

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See my beautiful colored pens? While I was agonizing over my choices thoughtfully deliberating my options,  My Man swiped up both packages and I ended up not having too choose.  Now I can  feel that snuggly “I am so loved” feeling every time I sit down to plan something or write in my (growing) collection of notebooks.

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Last but not least, it would appear that some events are generational.  Like playing in massive amounts of fine powder, and looking slightly guilty when caught.

Powder Escapades

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Of Logs and Childhood

Last week a neighbor dropped off a load of logs to be cut for the winter, and they were piled on the north side of the house to await the chainsaw.  Normally I’d view them as an eyesore, but this week I have seen them through the eyes of children.

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In the last week those ugly logs have been a pirate ship, a castle, an island.  They have seen unprecedented dangers and seen miraculous rescues.  They have seen hubcaps transformed into shields, princesses saved from dragons, hordes of fish captured with stick and string.  They have been the base of spy operations, an island in the middle of shark infested waters, the hideout for dangerous bandits.  Dolls have been tucked to bed in hidden pockets, weapons have been stashed in handy places, and advancing foes have been met with flags waving defiantly.
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Like most joys in life, this one is fleeting.  Today the children helped to stack the wood their father cut and chopped, and there were a few tears as “favorite” logs were rolled away and beloved boundaries disappeared.  The pile they play on tomorrow will be significantly smaller than the one they played upon this week.

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I have no doubt their imaginations are up to the challenge.

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Of Book Sales, Practical Jokes and Real-Life Romance

I’ve attended the Norman Library Book Sale for the last 5 years, and I’m fairly certain it counts as a family tradition at this point.  I set money aside for it all year long.  I practice for an entire week to ensure that we all wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, feed the animals, gather everything we need and load up in the van in time to make the 2 hour drive to the city and arrive at opening time. I agonize over life-changing meaningless decisions such as which room to visit first. I study my lists of favored authors, making sure their names are seared into my my mind and accessible under pressure. Over the years I have honed my technique into a model of efficiency and speed, able to flip through the books with rapidity and move forward feeling confident that I have missed nothing worth adding to my collection.

This year the book sale held an extra special surprise.  I was able to meetup with a fellow bibliophile who lives out of state!  Our harried husbands gallant escorts supervised the little ones in the library’s magnificent toy area while my friend and I smiled happily at each other and occasionally crossed paths as we dropped off sacks full of purchased books for our husbands to guard. Sometimes the pauses were longer because a baby needed nursed or a toddling youngster had caught a glimpse of Mother slinking waltzing by and would suddenly realize their desperate need for a hug. Our husbands would smile indulgently, listen dutifully to our excited descriptions of the treasures within our bags and send us off again.

If you have never had the joy of attending a library sale with a friend who is equally enthralled with books, I would highly recommend it.  It is a bonding experience of the strongest kind.  You rarely speak except to offer a book you just KNOW your friend will love, or to eagerly accept a book your friend has just recommended.  You spend your time at different tables so you never, ever end up reaching for the same book, and the entire expedition leaves you with a feeling of deep kinship for all mankind and your friend in particular.

After we were sufficiently shopped out we decided to eat lunch together at My Man’s favorite restaurant.  Our nifty GPS informed us that there was one very close to the library, and we set off to find it as my friend and her family followed us through the city.  But apparently there is this sport called football, and some people prefer watching football games to going to book sales! :-0  Alas, there were roads closed and streets lined with cars, and our confused searching revealed that Hideaway Pizza was within the area that had been cordoned off for the football game.

Undaunted, we headed north and located another Hideaway Pizza.  I experienced a brief moment of shock when I realized how badly outnumbered the adults are when two large families get together.  🙂  Without the distraction of books, we were able to carry on with some actual conversation and admire our children as they played together.  As I watched our two oldest children exchanging stories, discussing books and talking about fighting moves I found it hard to remember that there was once a time when those two children had liked nothing better than to yank each other out of chairs and steal toys.  I realized that our children were growing up, and it felt good.  Somehow they had learned to be kind and unselfish and considerate, and I had hope that they will continue learning and practicing those things.

Goodbyes are said, hugs exchanged, children are safely sorted into the proper vehicles.  I dig into the treasure bags and hand each child a book to read on the long drive back.  But we’re not going home yet.  Still to come is The Annual Cookout, at which our entire church family and many others are present.

As expected, the food is good and the fellowship great.  The remainder of the afternoon passes in a blur of tending to children, visiting with friends and avoiding the ongoing volleyball game, a skill at which I am particularly talented. I am able to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: watching My Man as he talks with his friends and does all sorts of capable, manly things that make my heart beat just a little faster.

As dusk falls it is finally time for the pinata. The children line up, youngest to oldest, and the fun begins.  The pinata is suspended from a pulley, and the end of the rope is held by a man who tries to make sure as many children as possible get a turn.  The encouraging crowd of grown-ups tries to shout directions to the children, but it doesn’t help.  The pinata has moved by the time they swing the bat.  Even so, not all of the children get a turn before the pinata is smashed.

Now it’s time for the grand finale, the hay ride. As I check and make certain that the children are all settled in, My Man takes the baby from me.  He’s going to stay behind and ensure that she falls asleep.  As the tractor pulls slowly away I see him step into the circle of firelight, his strong arms tucking Pumpkin inside his jacket while she nestles her head up under his chin.  I close my eyes briefly and capture the moment, my heart overflowing with the love I feel for him, my children and the whole wide world. But him especially.

The wagon is loud tonight.  It smells like something died and crawled under the hay, but the ladies around me insist it’s the tractor exhaust and will wear off. There are children standing up and being sat back down, girls giggling and lots of laughter. Suddenly there is a yelp, a scuffle, lots of chatter, and voices are lifted. Word is passed around.  One of the hay bales is shocking people.  Other people sit there, certain the girls are imagining it.  Everyone wonders how this is happening.  I realize that over half the men are not with us, and suddenly I remember My Man helpfully taking the baby and opting to remain behind.

See, everyone brings a meal to church and we have a potluck together after dinner.  The men are quite fond of the desserts, and on April Fools Day the women of the church (admittedly, under my leadership) planned some extra special desserts for their culinary delight.  There was Dirt Pudding, (complete with potting soil added to the Oreos), Mayonnaise-filled Cream Puffs, Chocolate Dipped Cherry Tomatoes and Cherry Fluff Salad flavored with some Robitussin Cough Syrup.  The men promised retribution, but they were patient.  So patient that they waited until no one was expecting it.

There is deeper investigation.  The hay bales have been hot-wired to a mild electric fence charger.  It’s a charger that looks suspiciously identical to the fence charger that sits outside my chicken house, and I know My Man had a hand in this.    The vile smell is coming from a bucket of rotted egg shells that has been fastened under the trailer.  The fence charger is removed, the egg shells are dumped, and the rest of the hay ride goes by quite pleasantly.

Every one is laughing when the ride unloads.  My Man is grinning from ear to ear, and I can’t help but feel proud of him.  It WAS brilliant. None of us expected it and no one was injured in any way, which is pretty much the ultimate practical joke.  I find Pumpkin asleep in the van, her father’s coat still wrapped around her like a giant cocoon. We drive home through the dark, talking quietly and laughing together as he explains exactly how they pulled it off.  As I suspected, he was the mastermind behind the plan. We hold hands for a moment, discuss what will happen when we get home, and talk over the day. I feel so secure here beside him, as if anything at all could happen and I’ll still be okay as long as I get to sit here, safe beside him as the headlights cut through the night and show the way. We make a good team, My Man and I.

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Bits and Pieces 1

Ordinary moments I gathered this week.  Thank you, Gina, for the inspiration to do this in a more purposeful manner.

As I move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, Baby Pumpkin toddles towards me, tightly clutching her baby doll.  I bend down to lift her over the pile of dirty laundry in her path.  She grins and holds her doll out towards me.  I kiss it.  Intrigued, she turns the doll around, kisses the doll herself and holds the doll out for another kiss.  Only as I am dutifully bestowing the next kiss do I realize there is an excessive amount of snot on Pumpkin’s lovely face.  Snot that is now on the doll’s head. Right where I’m bestowing a kiss.

It’s a hot day, well into the nineties.  I have been exceedingly brave and applied henna to my hair, but the mix was too runny and now there are thin streams of henna running out from under the trash bag I have tied onto my head.  They leave vivid streaks of orange wherever they run, and I find myself unwilling to meander about doing normal activities while henna dye runs over my neck.  No thank you.  So I grab a pile of books and lay on my back in the yard.  The children swing on the swing set behind me, and Baby Pumpkin routinely come over to bounce her diaper against my face.  I begin reading aloud.  Before long Zorro has crept closer, sitting on the rocks of the herb spiral as he listens.  Baby Pumpkin stops bouncing on my head and sits in the grass beside me, plucking at the seed pods she has stripped from the basil plants.  Rosie and Boo play Princess in the background, and for an entire hour there is peace while I read aloud.  The narrations are brilliant, the attentiveness gratifying, and my hair is now orange. But in the typical way of henna, it has settled down in the days since and is now a rich auburn, just as I hoped.

Zorro and Rosie have banned me from the front window.  They’re making a surprise, they say, and I must not see it.  At last it is ready, and they come inside prepared to escort em out.  I decline the blindfold, promising to keep my eyes closed if they will direct me around any obstacles.  I am surprised (and slightly confused) to hear two little voices piping “Take a step to the west.  Now go north.  Now go north-east.   No, south a bit…..” Apparently they have paid better attention to our geography studies than I have. *gulp*  The surprise was a miniature garden, consisting of a tiny cedar tree and some yellow wildflowers which had been planted in the sand pit, covered with snow (in the form of stuffing robbed from a dog toy) and decorated with long strips of finger knitting.

Baby Pumpkin has taken to toddling about with all her treasures in her grasp, the only way to ensure they remain available for her personal use.  I had sat down on my bed for a quick break, and just as I began to unwrap an Andes mint she appeared at the door way, her arms full of a doll, a piece of paper and a teddy bear, with a piece of toast grasped in her little fist. But no sooner did she realize what was in my hands than she dropped everything, climbed over the pile it made and held her hands out with a grin, waiting for her chocolate.  That’s my girl…… 😀

 

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