Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Farmer's Life

On September 20th we finally closed on our home in the country. We now have 25.9 acres (mostly timber) that our children can finally be themselves on. They can play guns & not frighten the neighbors. They can build a fort, a tree house & a chicken coop (which they have) without getting a building permit & upsetting the neighbors. Sage can get up at 545am & go outside & sing to the stars & dog without disturbing the neighbors (well, the deer haven't complained yet) They can play football & baseball & basketball during school hours if they want to. They can pretend to be spies in the forest or trackers or explorers or whatever. They can have animals & watch birds & find wildlife outside our windows. So far, this has been all we've dreamed it would be. I might change my mind towards winter when I'm snowed in for too long with 6 squirrely kids but for now it sounds perfect. The only parts that annoy me now are the incessant flies & the grass/dirt tracked in by children that forget to remove their shoes or just plain don't wear shoes outside. 

OK actually I thought of one more thing. The neighbor's dog is a blue healer & he ate one of my chickens. I'm a little frustrated with him because he put 2 holes in my fence & he barred his teeth at me when I tried to get him away from the chickens. I think I might take the advice of some friends and use some pepper spray on him because he thinks he lives here & never leaves!

Jeremy & I are having fun working together on the farm though. We did build a rather big chicken coop completely out of pallets. We saw a youtube video on how to do it & we ran with it. It took us longer than the 2 days that it took the guy in the video but I like to work with Jeremy. One of the things that attracted me to him when we were dating was going to his grandparents' farm to work with him. Now I get to do it again...if I can get the kids to watch the babies long enough. The latest is that Jeremy put a solar panel up on the wall of the coop that will power the RV batteries that will allow my chickens to have enough light in the coop so that they will lay eggs all winter. It will also allow me or the kids to see when we have to clean out the coop on those dark winter days that are coming soon. I did make the fence for the run all by myself while he was at work. I'm kinda proud of it but not too much. I learned to use the table saw, reciprocating saw, saw-za, nail guns, staple guns, how to shingle & put up siding. 

So, next spring we hope to put up some sort of barn or Morton Bldg so that we can get some goats, a cow, maybe a couple of sheep...who knows. Of course, Jeremy will have his great big garden which means that I will be weeding & canning like crazy.We didn't get very many pickles this year because of all the deer & coons eating the cucs at our satellite garden. Hopefully the deer will stay away from the house where we put the garden. (We have seen about 15 deer all at once about 500yds from the house)

I did meet our neighbor to the east the other day. He's the one who has the blue healer. I was taking the dog back to his house to tell the neighbor that Jack was growling at Corbin. I stood on the porch after ringing the door bell. I was angry otherwise I never would be in that confrontational position in a million years. Well after waiting a couple of minutes I turn to leave when the door opens & out pops a man wearing a towel. Well, I don't have have to tell you that I was embarrassed. I looked up & to the side cause he wanted to introduce himself & I wanted to leave but I was now in this mess. I quickly explained that Jack was growling & please keep the dog over at his house & exited quickly as Mr Ted came outside in his towel to put the dog in the garage. Now, the previous owners told us that the dog never came over to their house & the neighbors liked to keep to themselves but that dog hasn't left since we moved in & Mr Ted honks at me as he drives away & he's come over 4 times in the 4 wks we've been here...the dog was back in 4 hrs & had busted a hole in their garage door to get back to my house. Honestly!

The other exciting parts to our day have included watching the combine across the road, watching the road scraper & then the dump truck putting new dirt on the road, watching the birds & deer, listening to the pack of coyotes that live in our timber, playing in the hot tub, finding a snake, avoiding the bugs, & helping Jeremy with all his projects that he constantly has going.

We did get a dog named Buzz Lightyear. A man in our church has been training labs for hunting for 30years & we asked him if he had an adult dog that we could have. He thought for a little bit & came up with a plan. Buzz is a pheasant dog. He's one of the best but he only really gets out to hunt a couple weekends a year & the rest of the time he's bored. So, we are now co-owners of Buzz. Mr Amensen gets him to go hunting & we get him the rest of the time. Perfect for me, as we get a highly trained dog that I don't have to worry about with my kids & he stays outside all the time. The kids can't wait for Mr Amensen to have some puppies in the spring because we get to go play with them & Sage REALLY wants a puppy.

One of the best things about our acreage is the effect it has on Brody. Since we've moved here he's been calmer & better able to handle life. He can calm himself by going outside & running or walking & I don't really have to worry about him getting hurt.It's not been perfect but it is better.

I guess that's about it for now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wish I Had A Camera In My Eyeballs

Have you ever been in a moment when you wished you could record every tiny thing? I don't know if it's age, the addition of more children, maturity, or finding a general appreciation of life that has lead me to this feeling more often than not.

I'll give you an example. As I type this, I am in my bed, snuggled up to my 3 1/2 month old daughter Glory. She's just finished nursing & is in her milky coma of bliss; a drop of milk teetering precariously on her rosebud lips. A blush of light touches her shoulder highlighting her peachy fuzz. The sweet creases on her wrists & the dimples in her fingers are as beautiful as her tiny eyelashes gracing her tired lids. I want to not only remember her amazing eyes but the sensation of her fingers gently touching my arms or wrapped around my neck. I want to recall at a moments notice that fabulous smell that only a baby can have. I want to pull from the recesses of my mind the beautiful sounds of her "talking" to me & her daddy as we lay in bed after the big kids are in bed for the night. I really love baby feet & tiny toes. Do I really have to mention her ears or her cute little knees that make my knees go weak? 

Celeste is 2 & she steals my heart every day! She is so painfully wonderful. At least once a day, she puts her dainty hands on my cheeks, getting nose to nose with me, & tells me "You my bes fwen" (You're my best friend) & "I wuff you, Mama". It's that feeling that grabs your heart & squeezes so hard that it literally pains you. I just sit & watch her so intently while she talks to me that sometimes I forget to listen to what she's saying because I get lost in her intensity.

But it's not only that way with my babies. I know I still think of Corbin as one of my babies even though he's 4 but he is growing so fast. He is learning so fast & so many experiences he has & I stand in awe of all he communicates with me. He is GORGEOUS with his towhead, blue eyes & incredible smile. There is no stopping this boy who tries anything as long as Mama is right there. He is starting to be a brave boy; stepping further from his Mama as he learns to be more independent. I know in my heart this is how it should be but I can't help but feel a little sadness as he takes those initial steps out of my arms. I want to remember the smile that is only mine because I know sooner than later he'll give that smile to some other very lucky lady rather than his Mama.

What I want to remember about Julia is her crazy flair. I don't think I could ever forget her "interesting" outfits she picks out because I bet she never stops dressing this way. She is so gifted in ways I am not. She has a wonderful self assured presence that other girls flock to her in social situations. She can sing without hesitation (although she doesn't know that she is rarely on tune), she dances in a crowd even when no one else would dream of dancing there, & she can act on stage with no hesitation or stage fright. She has made up her mind to be a nurse & so far nothing has changed her mind. She displays so many wonderful talents, gifts, & abilities. Her eyes light up when she talks about so many things. She feels passion so deeply & yet that can backfire as her passion causes her inner tiger to leap forth when she feels wronged.  She is fiercely loyal.

Brody is the toughest. If I'm really honest I know that there are so many ways Brody is like me & I wish they were the positive aspects. I try to take pictures of Brody's eyes when he understands a concept that eluded him previously. His mischievous smile can light up a room. He can give the best hugs so that you melt into those skinny little arms. He's got bony little knees & elbows like a newborn colt although he isn't as tall as he thinks he is. He has pointy ears like a little elf & white hair above the temples on both sides of his head. He wants to be hugged hard, scratched hard, squeezed hard, etc. He likes order, all things to stay the same, & has only recently found something that scared him (high ropes course). His mantra is that he is the biggest, strongest, bravest, fastest.  But his eyes cloud over faster than a blink. His intensity is topped off by his frustration & anger at a world he doesn't understand & finds it hard to function in. I cry as I feel helpless to include him in all that encircles him; some he realizes & much more that he is unaware of.

I have no idea when I blinked & my Sage became a big boy. At 10, my son weighs much more that I did as a freshman in high school. He wears a size 8 men's tennis shoe & will be taller than me by 12-so he says. He's only a head away from that goal. He hates having his head touched & has since he was in utero-he'll need a wife who isn't in to rubbing her fingers through his hair! Right now his ankles are thicker than mine & today I noticed his neck is as big as his head. He is growing so fast but not only his body. His cute lips are just like his father's & they never stop talking. I'm not exaggerating, he even talks in his sleep. He's always joyfully singing or telling a story to anyone who listens & those who aren't listening. I wish I could bottle his innocence & yet he has become so mature lately. We have such great conversations. We were talking about the boys in his Sunday School class & I asked him to observe them while he was at a party with them all. He's been frustrated that they seem to pick on him a lot & I wanted him to notice the nuances of their relationships. I wanted him to fit in just like I wanted to fit in as a child. When he got home we sat & talked about how the boys acted, what they did, etc. I was impressed with his insight as sometimes I think he daydreams so much that he doesn't see things as quickly as others. His conclusion really made me think. He decided that these boys all try to act like each other, they treat each other unkindly (even when they are on the same team) & because God made us all unique he is going to be himself & not act like those boys. I am excited to see the man he will become although I can wait a little longer because that means he won't be around every day to flash his sweet smile at me while he sings a newly composed ditty about some animal/alien/or newly invented creature.

So, for today this is my snapshot... since I don't have a camera in my eyeballs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy January!

I have been awfully busy as of late. I am not going to blame my busyness on our new baby but people are pretty shocked when they see me coming with my 6 kids & the never ending question is always, "How do you do it with all those kids. I only have (fill in a #) & I'm overwhelmed, going crazy," or whatever adjective they throw out there. But how can you blame a baby when all she does is eat, sleep, smile & coo? Plus, she smells fantastic & de-stresses my body just by holding her while she sleeps. No, I blame myself for our busyness. 

This winter we have 3 basketball players that had their first games last Saturday. I am the assistant coach for Julia's team, Jeremy is the assistant coach for Brody's team, & the head coach for Sage's team. Luckily they all have practice on Thursday nights & Jeremy's parents help us with child care & the player shuffle. I can't wait for the Saturday that Sage's team plays Brody's team...what will Jeremy do? Run as fast as he can with the kids up & down the court shouting at all 10 of the kids instead of just his normal 5. (Seriously, it is just as fun to watch Jeremy coach as the kids play. He hops up & down just like Sage does, hollers, etc. He's normally not a gregarious fellow in public so it's quite comical)

We have had great weather this winter. Right now the big kids are outside WITHOUT COATS!...IN JANUARY!!!! Normally it's 12 degrees w/ a negative windchill & at least 6" of frozen tundra! We are loving it although it was a bit weird to not have snow for Christmas. That old friend Mr Cabin Fever hasn't stopped by this year because we try to stay outside in the afternoon to miss his calls.

Wow, I just realized something; track with me. I have had snow every year since I moved to the midwest in 1992. Which means that I have had 19 Midwest Christmases, 18 of those being white...which means I have lived in Iowa for 17 years; longer than anywhere else. Does that mean that I'm an Iowan now? I used to always to say, " I live in Iowa but I'm from Oregon." Can I claim that now? That is so odd. You know, even though this is a foreign idea, I don't mind so much. I love Iowa. It is so great. I don't think I could choose a better place for my kids to grow up. I used to miss the mountains & the ocean (OK I STILL MISS THE OCEAN!) but now I really can see the beauty in the endless farmland, the vast green fields in spring & the varied colors said fields turn in the fall. Wow, who'd a thunk it? And since we have no plans to move any time soon, it's great that I'm content with where God has placed me.

We planned another vacation to Wisconsin Dells at the Wilderness Resort (truly, if you want a great vacation on winter buy a week on ebay-it's a great deal). This time we are going with Jeremy's parents & sister's family. In lieu of Christmas gifts we asked that we spend some time building memories together. I hope it will be just a fun for them as we have had in the past. As the kids & I were talking about it before Christmas I realized that this means that I will have to be in a swimsuit on Feb 5th. What was I thinking; well I wasn't thinking. I have much baby weight to rid myself of & I will have to be in a swimsuit. HELLLLLLOOOOOO! I've been trying to find an old fashioned swim suit like the ones they wear in Cheaper By The Dozen (the older version) but to no avail. It's not really an option to just sit in shorts on the side when you have 6 kids to look after who all (well maybe not Glory) want to be IN the water not sitting on the side watching. Luckily Sage, Julia & Brody can be by themselves for the most part & the littles have no problem wearing life jackets just in case. I am generally not a vain person. I hardly ever wear makeup except Sundays, I go to the grocery store in a pony tail & work out clothes, & I don't have any of the newest styles of clothes unless my sister Aubrey gives me her clothes she has grown tired of. But the idea of being in a swimsuit isn't a positive one in the slightest. I wish I knew when I was a teenager how good I had it.

Good grief I am rambling today. I better go check on my kids.