Summer days

Here is just a tiny bit of what we are up to…

Bradyn running

Blake on the tire swing

Brian on the tire swing

Ben in backpack with Jeff

Not much, and yet everything.  Mostly we are just enjoying what we have and what God has made.  Nothing complicated, nothing serious.  Its pretty magical this thing called summer.

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Pony Perks

Coming home to Minnesota has had its own perks this summer.  Recently we have been enjoying our neighbors ponies, who have taken up temporary residence on our property.

Ben touching pony

All of the kids, including us big kids parents, have loved being near these majestic creatures.  Here is our littlest one learning the art of being gentle.

Blake petting pony

Mini Man is attempting to pet this gigantic pet over the hardly working electric fence.

Brian and pony

I loved watching each of the kids relating to these unknown animals.  The ponies quickly ate thru our patch of grass where they were penned up.  A couple of days we all wound up spending nearly 2 hours picking grass and each of the kids were helping to feed the ponies.  They were in heaven!  I was amazed how they each picked the pony that they liked best and stuck with only feeding that particular pony.  I kept wondering what it was about their pony that made my kid decide to take sides.  Oh to be in the minds of a child!

bradyn in the barn with horse

Little Miss Ariel had me cracking up the most with her fearless attitude.  We often had to tell her that it isn’t a smart idea to get under the fence and just start hanging out with these 5-times-bigger-than-her animals.  Her dad and I were concerned, but apparently she was not.  Here she is getting to know each and every one of the horse gear that was left behind in the shed from the previous owners.  Ariel just loved shouting “WHAT’S THIS MOMMY?!”.  I was just grateful for these laid back ponies who didn’t seem to mind the loud ruckus she was making.  Perhaps this girl is a cowgirl in the making.

Jeff helping pony

Now just because these guys were laid back, didn’t mean that one of them didn’t get into trouble.  Often.  This vanilla colored beauty decided that electric fence or not, he was going to go onto the other side to greener pastures.  Literally.  Poor little guy was starving.  We had to call the owners to let them know of their houdini escape artist.  To make due with a bad situation, he had to tie up the pony to tree until he could get some hay for this desperate pony.  Unfortunately, during the hay wait, the pony would get itself all tangled up, so Music Man had to come to the rescue.  It was such a sweet and tender moment between human and animal that us city folk rarely get to see.

Too bad the ponies had to go to their permanent home in North Dakota where they can graze all they want and hang out with their fellow pony friends.  I’m still crossing my fingers that the owners will stay true to their word and bring back child friendly ponies or horses for us to get to know this summer.  I don’t know who is more excited about the opportunity to learn more about the animals, me or the kids!

Fun finds that I had forgotten

Coming to a different place to dwell for months at a time can be challenging, but it can also reawaken your passions or loves.  Since we acquired this farm house, I have had loads of fun finding unique finds to fill it up with.  Granted, not everything is antique or unusual, many things are new and practical, but my favorites are my vintage treasures.

Last winter, while shopping downtown at the local antique dive, my cousin and I found this gem.

PepsiColafridge

Now I gotta admit, I’m definitely more of a Coke girl myself, but this old fashioned ice box with the perfect blue was just yelling my name, and it was only $65!.  It currently resides on one of our porches just waiting to be used.

I didn’t have to leave my kitchen before re-discovering another fun find that I acquired late last summer.

CowPigChickenCookieJar

Totally cheesy I know.  But seriously, how can you pass up a Cow/Pig/Chicken cookie jar combo?!  Answer: You can’t.  Now I’ll be looking forward to my handy hubby to put a couple of open shelves in the kitchen to display my quirky ceramic finds.

In just a few short weeks, I’ll be antsy to get into the furniture chalk painting workshop to make over several other thrift shop finds that are just begging to be re-done.  Awh, summer will be fun.

On the other side

Well its been pretty obvious that I’ve been missing from here.  I have plenty of good reasons though!  Have you ever tried packing up your life to spend an entire summer elsewhere with 4 children with one on the way?  Yah.  Me either.  It ain’t easy.  But luckily most of stuff is on the other side, besides the kids clothes, so that makes things much easier.

My days have been over flowing with stuff to do and people to see.  Its been a wonderful send off and I truly cherished every friend we saw before we trekked our family into our country paradise.  And now that we are here, things have turned quite upside down.  Besides a night with the in laws and a dinner with friends, its been down right boring around here.  Oh sure, Music Man sure knows how to fill his days with tending to all the chores in the outdoors, but I find myself with not much to do.

It’s weird.

I did however decide to embark on ‘living off the land’ so-to-speak and decided to try my hand at making a rhubarb dessert with our overgrowing field of rhubarb.

Blake rhubarb

Here is mini man with one stalk of our rhubarb picking.  Holy smokes Batman!  That thing was ginormous!  I made a rhubarb crisp which was more time consuming than I like, but it was well received.  I gotta admit, despite the valiant effort to disguise the tartness with mounds of sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon…. I still wasn’t much of a fan.  I haven’t given up it up completely however.  I think the next time I’ll be trying my hand at a familiar rhubarb/strawberry concoction.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Little Rascal turns 3

This past Sunday we had the privilege of celebrating our 3rd child for his 3rd birthday.  We kept it pretty simple with just our family and his favorite uncle and aunt to come and wish him a happy birthday.

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(one of the few pictures I have with him not crying)

We served steak, salad (or as Little Rascal likes to say ‘leaves’), french fries and watermelon.  We also decided to forgo the traditional cake route and went with the who-could-resist brownie sundae with sprinkles on top.  We tried really hard to hit up foods that the birthday boy would enjoy.  And he did.  Mostly.  Once he got a sight line to the watermelon, it was all over.  He didn’t want to touch anything else.  I wasn’t going to push him on his terrible eating habits on his birthday.  Frankly I was just happy that he was excited to eat.

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He then got to open up a few gifts from the special people in his life.  Little Rascal received a cool Farm bingo game, a lights and sounds tow truck, a dump truck shirt, and three truck related books.  But his favorite gift was the gift that mom and dad, who got him a giant garbage truck with 2 trash cans as accessories.  I wish I was smart enough to video him while he opened up his gifts, because if I had I would have had the best could-have-gone-viral reaction when he practically jumped out of his skin with 2 fists in the air and yelled “GARBAGE TRUCK!”  I loved it!!!!

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The joys of being an older sibling is that you have first dibs to all of the gifts….. or so they think.

My only bummer of the day was forgetting to account for transition time from gift opening to eating dessert.  Meltdown was enievetable.  You’d think with this being my 3rd kid that I would know a few things, but even this old momma needs to learn a few tricks.

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The best we could get considering he mostly cried.  Well as the song goes “its [his] party and he’ll cry if he wants too… cry if he wants too…. cry if he wants too”

This beautiful blonde hair, blue eyed, boy keeps me on my knees in prayer, in stitches laughing and amazed at his tenderness and bravery.  I love you little guy and am blessed to be your mommy.

My oh My… We are having #5!

One of the many reasons that I have been pretty sparse on here is that my energy is completely zapped.  I don’t mean, hey its been a long day I need to rest kind of zapped.  I mean I sit my squishy tushy down on the couch and immediately doze off kind of tired.  Tired.

I have a good excuse.

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My sweet little family is growing.

And I’m already exhausted.

St. Patricks Day fun

Its been quite a break from this here blog o’mine.  But that’s ok.  Instead of wallowing in my own self mommy pity, I have enjoyed my family time, for I know it is a precious time that will soon be a distant memory as soon as *pilot season* starts.

Luckily for us, St. Patricks Day was on the calendar, so the kids and I had a fun time celebrating our Irish Leprechan day.  We started by eating a big bowl of Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops.  Both good sugary-and-delicious-red-dye-40-once-a-year-choices.  Next up was a fun rainbow craft where the kids glued the left over Fruit Loops in the right order and cotton balls on the clouds, which of course I forgot to take a picture of.  Whoops.

Then I had to make my usual green eggs, but this time I decided to make them IN toast, which the kids really enjoyed.

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Since green food was the agenda of the day, we decided to make Mint Chocolate Chip cookies.  And my oh my were they a hit!

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This was my first time making them and I think this might become a new tradition  I brought them to our bible study group that met that night and they were happily enjoyed by all the big kids at heart as well.

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Considering we don’t usually eat dinner with the kids tuesday nights due to our bible study group, I had our semi traditional Irish feast later on the week.  Nobody was the wiser.  We ate overly salted corned beef from good ole Costco and steamed cabbage seasoned with butter and salt.  I was shocked when even sweet Little Rascal had his fair share.  All in all, we had such fun with one of my favorite holidays.

Crying Out

I’ve been a lousy blogger lately.  My family and I have been pretty sick and I’ve been extra tired taking care of myself and my cute sickies.  It takes a lot out of a girl.

Homeschool.  Work.  Occupational Therapy.  Laundry.  Cooking.  All the normal busy tasks that seem to take up most of your day.

Frankly, these aren’t the only reasons why I haven’t been blogging lately.  Sure, they are legitimate reasons, but it doesn’t cover the entire truth.

Every time I sit down at the computer ready with several post ideas, my brain turns to mush.

You see I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster since Thanksgiving and haven’t really been able to bounce back.  Another way to say this is, my heart has been slowly breaking for several months and I honestly can’t keep my thoughts cohesive enough to put it all into words.  No guarantee here either.

I can’t go into my initial heartbreak, but I can tell you an experience that happened very recently that could give you a peek into our world and hearts.

For the past couple of years I have had the fortunate luck to get to know another momma and her beautiful daughter while we homeschooled our children together with a couple of different co-ops.  Her daughter and mine became best friends and we wound up seeing each other practically once a week due to our school fun, but we also spent time in my kitchen drinking coffee, talking, letting the kids make up their own fun with costumes and imaginative play.  I wasn’t self-conscious about the dirty dishes in the sink or the massive amount of crumbs that all of my young children seemed to acquire every day, every meal.  It was such a comfortable relationship that it took me by surprise how much it hurt to have them leave.  Their sweet family decided that California property was too expensive (absolutely true) and job opportunities lied elsewhere.  They began to pray for direction and God made a clear path for them in Idaho.  You might be just as bad with geography as I am, but let me tell you Idaho and California are not that close.  Not once a week, have a muffin and coffee in my kitchen close.

Our last get together was festive, fun, full of tears, and way too short.  After hours of fun and gifts of memories made with promises of “please don’t forget me!”, they finally filed into their cars and me and my little people posse followed them out for one last lookie-loo good-bye.  My sweet baby girl was no where to be found for our last wave.  When I found her in her room upstairs, I was upset that she wouldn’t say good-bye (and frankly was acting up which was irritating to this momma).  When I confronted her about her behavior and why she didn’t say good-bye, she burst into tears and dramatically called out “because it was too sad!“.  (Truthfully, it makes me want to cry just typing that sentence, let alone living it out.)  I dropped to my knees and just hugged her while I tried to soothe us both.

While I’m so excited for this sweet family to go where God has directed them, I can’t help but be sad at the void they have left in our lives.

Homeschooling and living in two different states has left me (and to be honest my out going girl as well) feeling more left out than included.  I guess its inevitable since people are strengthening their own relationships while we aren’t there.  Which means that we hardly get invited to birthday parties or dinner dates anymore or even random get togethers.  We are forgotten.  Out of sight out of mind if you will.

I also have been detaching emotionally from my long-standing friends since high school.  I love them dearly, but many of my friends are not moms, we don’t live in the same town, and we don’t share the same faith.  Basically, our lives have separated so dramatically that there isn’t too much that resembles our original friendship.  This doesn’t weaken our love for one another, but it does naturally diminish our closeness.

Totally understandable.  But it doesn’t make it any easier.

I long for the days that stay at home moms got together with her neighbor girlfriend for coffee and a game of cards in-between loads of laundry.  I find that finding any momma who isn’t ‘too busy’ is a rare gem, let alone one that wants to stay and invest in a friendship that she hasn’t already established long ago.

I’m crying out for a community.  For like-minded mommas in my homeschooling network.  But mostly I’m crying out for true blue friends for my kids and for this weary hearted momma.

Bebe I love you

I’ve been pretty MIA lately.  Mostly because I’ve been taking care of my constantly sick family.  When you have 4 young children, one of them is always sick at a time.  Meaning, Child A gets sick for 2 days starting Monday, while everyone tries not to.  Wednesday comes along and Child C starts vomiting in their bed and Child B is extra fussy.  By Friday Child D has another diaper blow out and now you have zero clean pajamas for this kid.  Also, Child A is finally eating again, although its only plain toast and a banana (if your lucky), and Child B’s bed sheets needs to get changed again, and Child C hasn’t eaten solid food since Monday.

This is just a glimpse into my life recently. *This isn’t my actual family, just an idea of what a typical family goes through with illnesses*

At the end of the day I nearly pass out from exhaustion and am often caught sleeping on the couch unaware that I’m probably drooling on the couch cushions.  This happens at 9pm when I usually don’t go to bed until 11 or 12.  Needless to say, I’m a pretty tired momma.

And the few times that I have the desire to sit down and blog?  My brain turns from mush to liquid and I can’t keep a thought in my head, let alone type it out in a blog post.

But rather than focus on all the negative, I thought I’d share another one of my passions.  READING.  I love love love to read. Like I say in my bio, I am having an ongoing love affair with my Kindle.  I finally was in the mood for a book that has been on my list for a couple of years.

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This is an American momma author who is raising her children in Paris France.

I was blown away by some of her observations and thought for the first time in my life that perhaps I do like the French after all!

Here is a brief summary of differences between modern, LA based, middle class American parenting and modern day, middle class, Paris, France parents.

  • They are very strict on how much weight they gain during pregnancy (actually I wasn’t so keen on this point at all)
  • They have high expectations of their little ones.  Not so much a “seen and not heard” mentality, but rather, they see their children and little people who are fully capable of acting in a manner that is pleasing to the adults in the room.
  • The evenings are for adults and their time.
  • They don’t make it a habit to play with their kids, allowing for their kids to have independent play
  • They bake every chance they get with their kids and encourages 4-5 year olds to fully master a recipe without any adult help.
  • They talk to their kids like little adults (a bit more of an equal relationship) rather than viewing them as beneath them.
  • Mommas were not into making new friends.
  • They expected their children to eat a wide variety of foods and enjoy their vegetables.  They make their palate a high priority
  • They take the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” perhaps a bit more seriously than we do here, what with their esteemed day care system that takes more finesse to get into than Harvard.

Granted, I do not at all consider myself a regular average LA mommy.  Not in the least.  Mostly because I take my parenting advice straight from the bible and most of my mommy friends do too.  But for an entire city (and the author made it sound like the entire country), to have a few key similar values struck me as quite interesting.

Kids do not have to be catered to to reach their full potential.  In fact, the more catering you do, the less potential they have.  I strongly feel like my generation of fellow parents are too hands on in catering to the whims of their little bosses, aka children.  Something Pamela mentioned several times was the perception of the American Child King.  We idolize our children to an unhealthy degree.  We no longer see ourselves as the person in charge, therefore unable to successfully put down ground rules that our children will follow.  We discourage our children from overcoming challenges and just simply do it for them thinking that it is helping them, when in fact it is hurting them.  Our playgrounds are actually too safe.  Kids don’t know how to get hurt and then pick themselves back up again.

And on the flip side, parents don’t know how to prioritize their lives, and often times have their children right smack in the middle and center of their lives.  The kids are the sun and parents are the earth simply rotating our axis around them.  This is obviously unhealthy for parents and their union, but it’s also highly unhealthy for kids as well.  At my house, we have the phrase “every night is date night!” as our couple mantra.  The kids go to bed and it is our time, and unless Music Man is working, it is designated time meant for one another.  On big date nights, we will often grab take out and watch a favorite tv show together.  Doesn’t matter what it is, it matters that it’s just us.

The Child King also gives rise to other neighborhood issues.  The face of bullying is no longer the pimply mean kid who has no friends.  Today’s bully is sophisticated, popular, and Eddie Haskel-like.  They are used to the world bowing at their feet and when people don’t do that, they retaliate.  They had to learn that they were the center of the universe at some point and it must have been early on in their short lives.

At the very least, this book opened my eyes to the fact that I and parents across the globe can agree on certain ideas about family.  I’m just sad that I and many of my counter parts right in my own backyard don’t agree.

This has inspired me to randomly have a Book Club posting.  Are you reading anything interesting?  Want me to read it and discuss it here?  Have you read Bringing Up Bebe and have a few things to say?  Agree with me?  Disagree vehemently?  I’d love to hear it all!

The beginning of a new day

Lately, my frustrations with Little Rascal have come to a head.  His refusal to eat normal foods have hit my level of patience.    I finally threw in the towel and waved the white flag.  I finally made the call.  I called our local child therapist center where Little Rascal and I went in for him to be evaluated.  After an hour and a half with him, he was officially diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Our very kind evaluator was concerned when she gave me her results and cautiously asked “are you ok with this?”.  I probably surprised her when I said (a little too enthusiastically) “YES!”  You see, since I have been grappling with ‘what’s wrong with this poor kid?’ for so long, it was so freeing to be able to put a name to face, er… a name to problem.  To finally feel like I haven’t been going out of my mind, was a great feeling indeed.  Pediatricians, family members, friends, and even daddy all had at one time or anther said “Oh he’s fine.”  “He’ll snap out of it.”  “It’s just a phase”  “He’s just being naughty”.  For this professional to validate my concerns was such a weight lifted off of my shoulders because I knew then that we can move on because now we would finally have help.

Our therapist said that yes, he does indeed have Sensory Processing Disorder, and more specifically, his biggest concerns are with his movement and tactile senses.  I must not have been paying too much attention to his delayed gross motor skills, but he is 6-9 months behind.  I mostly knew that this kid wasn’t thrilled with certain textures or being messy, but didn’t quite grasp the full importance of it.  Both of these issues are the main reason why Little Rascal won’t touch most food.  I don’t fully understand it all, but am committed to the process if it will turn our lives around.  Living with a child who refuses to eat 90% of the time is stressful beyond belief.  You come to the realization that you simply can not force the issue.  It puts you completely at their mercy.  For this strict-take-no-sheenanegans-momma, this is a hard thing to swallow (pun intended).  It has been the biggest mommy challenge I have yet to face.

She recommended that we have a once a week occupational therapy session with their resident food specialist.  We went our first week and cautiously went on the trampoline, where he sat on my lap the entire time.  Then we moved onto the ball pit with much trepidation.  Once we were inside though, Little Rascal loved popping the balls and sorting them by color, but was covering his eyes during the “popping part”.  It was pretty cute.  After meeting with our therapist, she recommended that we also participate in their ‘food group’, which is basically a time where several non-eaters eat together with their therapists watching and observing.

This is just the beginning, but I hope its the begging of a new day.