Happiness Is…

…four cars, all lined up in a row on our plain gravel drive, Three of those cars belong to three of our daughters, our eldest daughters who have learned and grown and are ready to fly.  Some of them are seldom here any more, between school and work, but this is a golden week or two right here: the busyness of preparing for Christmas is done, and they’re on break from school, so we only have work schedules to manage, and you know what?  Lots of times, we’re all home.  So I’m soaking up my big girls as much as I can this week or two.  Classes will be starting up again soon, and there will be homework, and friends, and work and back we’ll go to hit and run conversations squeezed in to odd pockets of mutual availability.  But for right now, there are sometimes four cars parked all in a row in our plain gravel drive, and if there are, I’ll be happily enjoying the company of my girls.

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Back Again!

I just keep disappearing. 🙂 Actually, I’m going to blame it on my laptop. It’s been quite a while since my laptop worked properly. First, it was the battery. My beloved bought a new one, but it was an off brand, and it only held a charge for 20 minutes – less time than the one it was replacing! So no battery. Then, suddenly, the keyboard was on the fritz. Not all the keys, just some of the keys. So I attached an external keyboard, and if you need a keyboard, you need a mouse, too. My laptop had very much become a desktop. But babies play on the floor, and they like to have a mama nearby, and when I got time at my desk, I worked on school planning. That wasn’t going too well, either, because I wasn’t getting too much time at my desk!

The other night, Davey asked me, “So what do you want for your birthday?”

“Can I think about that for a minute?” I asked.

He nodded. “Oh, by the way, your new laptop will be here on Monday.”

“Wonderful!” I paused. “You know what? Let’s just call the laptop an early birthday gift. Come to my bowling party and we’ll call it good.”

“Deal.”

Henry and laptop

So now I have a new laptop that is actually portable, and I can sit on the floor with the baby and write, or edit photos, or type up the school lesson plans. Also, I get to celebrate my birthday for the entire month. Laptop this week, party next week before the girls go back to college, cake on the actual day, and, later, ice cream at Emery’s. Davey said, “Perfect, because nobody really likes August anyway.” True enough!

The face of hot.

The face of hot.

Last week was our county fair, and the family made a pretty good showing in the home economics building. One of us even won a Grand Champion ribbon! Penelope won for a crocheted piece. It’s our family’s third one, and I’m really proud of the effort the children put into their projects.

The weather was a little milder than the week before, but it was still hot! We drank a whole case of water and about a dozen lemonades in the five hours we were there. It was still pretty quiet when we left at 7:30, so we had a great time on all the rides with hardly any waiting. Also, funnel cake. Lots and lots of funnel cake.

Can you tell who they're dressed up as?

Can you tell who they’re dressed up as?

I should be able to blog more regularly, now that I can write just about anywhere!  I’ll share some of our school plans, and also those make-ahead breakfast recipes I promised.  Easy mornings are good!

Here We Are

ducklings at sunrise

Welcome. Welcome to our farm. Isn’t the sunrise beautiful? And look! One of our duck families is on the water! They are a wee bit annoying on land, but they do seem to keep the ticks down, at least. Our dog does a fairly good job of keeping them away from the house, so there’s less mess, but I like them best out here, on the pond.

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We’ve got a new milker around here. Rosie is twelve, and she’s been training for about a month. She’s getting the hang of the routines and rhythms, and it won’t be long now till she could run her own crew, or take care of things by herself, if necessary. We usually work in pairs, both for the companionship and for safety, but it has happened that the whole family has been bedridden with some horrid stomach bug, with only one person (usually me) left to tend the sick and manage the affairs of the farm. And sometimes, it’s just really helpful to have someone else who can take care of things without assistance, especially now that the older girls are getting ready to leave us. We have to keep up-training the younger ones! Nine year old Penelope is next. 😉

raining

Shortly after sunrise, a thunderstorm rolled through, so this is mostly an inside day. The baby is two months old and becoming more predictable, and I am very ready to get back to business as usual. I’m not sure exactly what that is, yet, as this new little one gets folded into our ordinary life, but there’s some kind of normal on the horizon. I can just feel it.

37+ Weeks and Counting

They smell like fish, but the bees are just in heaven.  There are all kinds buzzing around up there, from honey bees to bumble bees.

They smell like fish, but the bees are just in heaven. There are all kinds buzzing around up there, from honey bees to bumble bees.

Brenna took advantage of a sunny Spring Break day to catch up on her reading.

Brenna took advantage of a sunny Spring Break day to catch up on her reading.

She'd disagree, but I think she's beautiful.  I mean, look at this hair!  The color, the thickness, the shine, the curls at the ends.... Just lovely.

She’d disagree, but I think she’s beautiful. I mean, look at this hair! The color, the thickness, the shine, the curls at the ends…. Just lovely.

Grape hyacinths - so tiny, yet so fragrant, and they remind me of home.  The only other place I've ever seen them is growing alongside my mother's house in New Jersey.  I don't think you can buy seeds or bulbs for these.  :-)

Grape hyacinths – so tiny, yet so fragrant, and they remind me of home. The only other place I’ve ever seen them is growing alongside my mother’s house in New Jersey. I don’t think you can buy seeds or bulbs for these. 🙂

I don’t blog much these days, and for one simple reason, really: one isn’t able to muster much energy for non-baby related things in late pregnancy!  What energy I have goes toward maintaining home and home school as much as possible, and preparing for the little one to come.  I’m at the Weekly Visit To the OB stage, which is always a bit annoying to me.  BUT, baby is doing well, and my midwife seems satisfied with my health, except that I’ve quit gaining weight.  I, personally, am okay with that. 🙂  My diet right now relies heavily on raw fruits and veggies, and I make an effort to keep plenty of good fats and proteins on my plate.  I wish apples, carrots, and heads of lettuce were more filling!

I only have one last thing to do to get ready, and that is to adjust the car seats and install the baby’s.  Easy-peasy, right?  And maybe pack a hospital bag.  But there’s plenty of time for that once the contractions start.  No sense getting ahead of myself.

I told the midwife the other day that I was looking forward to an early delivery.  “Oh,” she wondered, “how early do you usually go?”

“Actually,” I clarified, “I’ve never been early.  Mostly late.”  But a girl has got to have something to hope for!

{p,h,f,r} Spring Days

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IMG_2661aOr maybe handsome?  My little guy is a whopping seven years old now, and I can’t believe it still.  He was five years my baby, before Evie was born, the one bridge between my husband and me as we struggled through five years of untreated depression, the sweet child who says he’ll never marry so that he can take care of me when I’m old.  He’s got a heart of gold, this one, and I wonder where it will take him.

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happy brenna evieBrenna and Evie have rekindled their happy relationship, since Brenna quit her day job and is home more during Evie’s waking hours.  They sure do enjoy each others company.

{funny}

8x10 evie funny

evie balancesShe was practicing her balancing on this gray day.  Some of those rocks are wobbly!

Yesterday, she was outside playing, and I had to go start dinner.  “Do you want to go inside with me or stay out and play with your sisters?” I asked.

“I want to stay home,” she said with the sweetest smile, as the wind blew her curly locks into her face.  “I want to talk to you, and I want to kiss you, and I want to snuggle you…”

I love being her “home”.  I can’t think of anything sweeter!

{real}

epas popping up in rowsMy peas are sprouting!  I soaked them before we planted, because peas always take so long to germinate, but just a few days after we pushed them into the soil, they are poking their little heads up.  Many people, apparently, don’t know about soaking seeds. I learned it from my dad, who always soaked his corn seeds for several days, rinsing each day, until they started sprouting in the jar.  I only soaked the peas for one day, till they were plump and soft, but it really cuts down on germination time.  Try it on all your biggest, hardest seeds!

Three weeks and two days till baby’s due date.  (The belly makes a photographic appearance here.)  Am I anxious?  Ready to wear pants that don’t contain elastic?  Eager to sleep without having to use the bathroom 12 times a night?  Anticipating taking a deep breath without somebody’s tush taking up the space normally reserved for my lungs?  Nope.  Not me.  Baby can take as long as he or she wants.  😉

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and I’ll see you over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

P.S. In between posts, I hang out on instagram, just in case you’d like to be friends there.  🙂

A Certain Saturday in March

The Evie, so much not a baby anymore.

The Evie, so much not a baby anymore.

I planted two of our garden beds this week: peas and lettuce, spinach and radishes, and a few carrots, too.  I couldn’t resist.  Who could?  Bright sun, warm temperatures… Oh, I know it’ll probably freeze again, though there’s no sign of it in the forecast, but I wanted something in the ground.  Even if it doesn’t pan out, it was worth it to dig in the dirt.

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The Thirty-Six-Week belly. It took quite an effort to hoist it back up off the floor!

Today is Saturday, and that means another week has gone and there are only four left till baby’s due date!  Some days, I feel great and get lots done, but other days, this big ole, worn out belly is tired and achy, and I just rest.  Yesterday was a rest day.  Happily, though, I have figured out how to stream youtube programs to our roku stick (very cool little device for us cable-averse folks!) so we can get some education couch potato-ing in.  Yesterday, we watched a documentary about the building of the Hoover Dam, and another about dam failures, as the vast majority of these structures are past their useful lifespan and have been, in many cases, poorly maintained.

The Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cake, courtesy of Delaney.  She's up next, though, so we'll need a new cake baker!

The Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cake, courtesy of Delaney. She’s up next, though, so we’ll need a new cake baker!

And today is Double Decker Birthday Day!  We like to group all of our birthdays as close together as possible, and we have done a remarkable job with the month of March.  Evie is on Feb. 26, which is almost March, followed in rapid succession by Brenna (Mar. 9) and Penelope (Mar. 10).  Delaney is just two weeks away on the 28th, and then, of course, the new baby is due in early April, which is also almost March.  Then we’ll have a little breather till June, but goodness!  Early summer must make us feel particularly, um, frisky around here. 😉

Group Hug, while we wait for the rest of our friends to arrive.

Group Hug, while we wait for the rest of our friends to arrive.

Brenna is 20 years old already!  I can’t believe she’s not my baby anymore, and I’m so proud of her.  She’s an amazing young woman.  And Penelope!  She’s nine, and as my friend Anne reminded me, the first of my blog babies.  🙂  How time flies, my friends.  Sometimes, I wish I could just freeze them, in this moment, right where they are.  But then again, watching their becoming is one of the most joyous and beautiful things in life, and I sure wouldn’t want to miss out on that!

IMG_2668aAnd for no particular reason, except that he’s my favorite, you get a photograph of my beloved.  He’s working on the wiring on his tractor, and I just love his smile.  And him.  Can you believe so many people get tired of being married?  My mother always said we should marry our best friends.  Best advice she ever gave us.

14/365 Apples And Evie

14.365owlOne of Davey’s cousins gave us this bowl for our wedding, some months after the fact.  We were already living in Colorado, and she was out there vacationing with her family.  She picked it up at a shop in Denver and told us we could exchange it if we didn’t like it.  Davey thought for sure I’d want to take it back; most everything I’d ever owned up until this point was some sort of mix-and-match neutral.  Oh, but I was head over heels in love with the colors!  I’ve been a big fan of bright, bold colors ever since. 🙂

14.365eviemomoThis girl.  She’s got an insatiable appetite for books!  Every night, I read aloud to them.  Board books.  Picture books.  Novels.  And then we say our prayers together, and then Evie brings me just one more book.  I read it to her, of course, because she’s irresistible.  And then: “No more stories tonight,” I say, but she gets another one anyway and climbs into my lap.

She knows she’s got me wrapped around her finger.  I sigh.  “Okay, but only because you’re cute.  But this is the last one!” She smiles and snuggles in, and I read.

And then? She brings me another! “I’m not reading you any more stories tonight!” I say, determined to stand my ground this time, and I set the book aside.

She eyes it for a moment, then, assuming I don’t like that one, she gets a different book. “Only because you cute, Mama,” she says, climbing back into my lap.

And I guess you know what happens after that!

 

The End of a Day

When she was done picking out which parts of her dinner she wanted to eat – mostly carrots, hers and mine – Evie climbed into my lap.  “Are you sleepy?” I asked, noting her unusually subdued attitude.

“I not sleepy,” she said, putting her head on my shoulder.  “I tired.”

She was sound asleep in seconds.  Deeply asleep.  Like I washed her, changed her diaper, put her in pajamas, and laid her in her bed, and she never even opened an eye.

This picture is blurry, because indoor lighting, slow shutter speed, and fast moving baby, but I just love that look on her face.  She loves her gift, Rosie's old kitchen all cleaned up and repaired and back in service!

This picture is blurry, because indoor lighting, slow shutter speed, and fast moving baby, but I just love that look on her face. She loves her gift, Rosie’s old kitchen all cleaned up and repaired and back in service!

Christmas is a really big day, full of all the regular stuff that goes along with having a family – and maybe a farm – and then all the excitement of a holy day and a holiday, too: gifts, and Mass, and special foods, and maybe even company or travel.  It’s overwhelming for everyone, but especially for little ones.

But love – and maybe a shoulder to rest a weary head upon – conquers all.  And I’m grateful that I still get to end my days with a sleeping babe in my arms.

Tommy got a tool set and few kits to put together.  Now he's got his own gear when it's time to help his daddy in the garage!

Tommy got a tool set and few kits to put together. Now he’s got his own gear when it’s time to help his daddy in the garage!

{p,h,f,r} It’s Sunny!

{pretty}

8x10 sun in the cribWinter, in my part of the world, tends to be gray and overcast.  Except when it’s brutally cold!  Alas, like most of the country this year, we’re experiencing unseasonable warm weather, and thus, it is rainy and gray something like 99.9% of the time.  But today!  Today I spied the sun shining on my baby’s crib, and I was filled with joy!  Because I am completely and totally solar powered.

{happy}

8x10 rosie and evieJust my two happy girls.  We decided to go shopping this morning for some last minute Christmas groceries.  The store was crowded, but they had all the checkouts open, and the patrons were remarkably cheerful, so it was not nearly as stressful as it should have been!  That makes me happy.

{funny}

8x10 evie and the baby howsEvie is endlessly fascinated with the calves… but she’s still afraid of them! She walked over, saying to herself, “Pet the hows.  I pet the hows.” (That’s Evie for cows.  She refuses to say the /c/ even though she knows it belongs there!)  But as soon as I snapped this shot, she shook her head and started backing away. “No, no, no, no, no, no!”  (This picture is from a cloudy day.)

8x10 shopping buddyWe were in the store today, and she was riding along, watching me consult my list.  “Let me see dat,” she said, taking it from my hand.  She studied it carefully for a moment.  “Do we need anything else?” I asked.  She nodded and grinned.  “Cookies!”  Cookies were not on my list.

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8x10 muddy feetWell, the combination of warmth and endless rain means… mud.  That’s my reality.  Mud.  There is no place to walk without getting muddy.  The grass is muddy.  The drive is muddy.  The patio is muddy.  And you take your life in your hands if you walk behind the barn.

Let’s just stick with enjoying the sunshine, okay?

More {p,h,f,r} at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

{p,h,f,r} At The Tree Farm

We’ve been going to a small, family-owned tree farm for our Christmas trees for most of the time we’ve lived here, but last year, we noticed that the trees were getting scragglier, and he didn’t seem to be planting new ones.  So this year, we went with a bigger, agri-tourism operation not far from Louisville, and we were not disappointed!  They had a ton of beautiful trees, friendly employees, and, because we went on a Tuesday, it was very quiet.  We actually found our tree about ten feet from the road, though there were plenty of other likely suspects within a short walk.  The tree was more expensive, but we like it very much.

The best part of the day, though? We were all home at the same time!  That’s the biggest trial of children growing up: they have their own lives and their own agendas, and we don’t always get to do the fun things as a group.  But this week is working out perfectly for us!

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8x10 Brenna and EvieOur eldest daughter Brenna is Godmother to our youngest daughter Evie, but they don’t get to spend very much time together.  They make a lovely pair, though, don’t they?

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8x10 five sistersSix sisters!  Don’t they look happy to be together?  A little funny, too: When I was editing this image back home, I was looking at their faces, and finally, I said out loud, “No wonder people think you all look the same!  Take away the hair, and your faces are very similar!” They all looked, shocked to find out it was true.  At home, we take them each as individuals, and we know all their differences, subtle or not, physical or not, but now we know why everybody else thinks they look just alike!  Also funny: I emailed this photo to my mom, captioned “Five Sisters”, because obviously I can’t count.

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8x10 david the mighty tree slayerMy clown of a husband, lording it over his trophy kill. David, the mighty tree slayer!

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IMG_1354 8x10 tree farm family oneAnd this is us. A lot of us.  Happy to be together.  Even Jonny there at the end, who thinks it’s his job in life to look serious in photographs.  We’ll be eleven soon, plus Grandpa makes twelve.  Crazy, huh?  I never did envision this when we were young and starting out, but it is good.  So very, very good.

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