Thursday, February 25, 2016

Life in 99 Pictures

Life via Instagram. Do you Instagram?

top row:  blanket fort in our living room, friends at our school's annual fundraiser event, my beautiful mom and dad with my kids.
middle row: our old man house-cat snuggled up on our bed with our "little" wandering tom-cat who had just been returned home after wandering off for a few days to visit neighbors, my girl playing with a mustache bookmark, swimming at the hotel pool with the kids and friends on a day off school
third row:  kiddos snuggling in my bed, a bit of Addi's funny personality coming out as she wear's Daddy's Captain Morgan hat, Addi pretending to ride a snowmobile at a friend's house.

top row:  (video of kids riding 4-wheeler in our yard), Gavin is NOT a fan of Sushi but kudos to him for trying it on Gavin and Mom date night, our little wanderer getting comfy back at home.
middle row: Coloring at Pizza Hut, Eskimo style while the kids played in the snow in our front yard, painting hot air balloons at Cheers Pablo paint & sip event to benefit teen mental wellness.
third row:  paint pallet at Cheers Pablo, Dad pulled the kids in a sled behind our ranger for a trip up to the woods to take down hunting blinds and stands, kids riding 4-wheeler around our yard.

top row:  the peaceful, quiet that embraces me in my parents living room on a gray day, my new fave wall-hanging - I bought it for a friend, but couldn't let it go, My girl.
middle row: My boy trying something new - weaving on a cardboard loom, zuppa toscana cooking on the stove, a hot cup of coffee in my new mug that my sweet little boy painted for me.
third row:  Gavin and a friend building with Legos on a Lego Monday at our library, beautiful snow in our front yard, Me and my boy off on a winter camping adventure at Beaver Valley Camp.

top row:  Cliff and Gavin skiing at Welch Village, Gavin struggling through a LONG family hike at Kinnickinnic State Park, a beautiful winter day at the lakehouse.
middle row: My momma and me at the Sound of Music at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, Our Christmas tree all dressed up, Choosing our Christmas Tree before the snow came!
third row:  The kids discovering their annual ornaments on Cliff's parents' Christmas Tree, Snuggling with my girl while she avoids nap at all costs, Superman Ice Cream following lunch at the South Fork Cafe.

top row:  A little archery practice in our shed this winter, I walked into Addi's bedroom to see this little set-up - apparently the animals were hungry and the girl (doll) was their lunch, Gavin made about 30 of these drawings of Vikings and they're nearly identical.
middle row: The Lincoln Log house that we build in Gavin's room, Family movie night - "Home", Gavin and his buddy watching "Into the Woods" at the Phipps Center for the Arts.
third row: My sister and I at dinner before "Into the Woods" at the Phipps Center for the Arts, Yum - that's all, Watching Annie with Gavin for his first time!

top row:  My boy reading to me - just learning, Snickers, Crocheting while wearing a Lumberjack Halloween costume.
middle row: My and Gavin's Jack-o-lanterns, Carving our pumpkins while dressed like a Lumberjack, CandyLand and the Minnesota Children's Museum with friends.
third row: Addi hiding under her bed for the fourth time in a row during one game of hide and seek, Watching Stella and Sam while home sick, leaf-printing with tempera paints.

top row:  Painting, Grandma stopped at our house to throw in a load of laundry on her way out to the field in her tractor, Corn harvest.
middle row: All smiles in the fall leaves, matching bed-head, when you pull out your planner at work and snow white falls out.
third row: Fall picnic in the soybean field while Dad takes a quick break from combining, it's scarf weather!, Cliff left this note with juice pouches for the kids and beer for me when he went on a hunting trip in Oregon.

top row:  My beautiful niece playing in the sandbox while we visited them in St. Louis, Gavin and a Chicken riding around my sister's yard on the electric gator, Addi playing in the sandbox at my sister's house.
middle row: Addi at my sister's house, a fun day on the Kinnickinnic River at Glen Park with friends, handsome guy at Glen Park.
third row: Gavin, A beautiful patina on a snail shell found while on a "treasure hunt" walk at the lakehouse, Addi playing on the beach at the lakehouse.

Top row: Fishing at the Lakehouse, a bounty of beautiful tomatoes from our garden, I love our neighbor's picturesque shed.
Middle row: Morning snuggles with Addi and her dolly, our college rodeo with friends, Addi balancing on a post at Glen Park
Bottom Row: Fun with my girl at Glen Park, quick picnic-style dinner next to the Granary while Dad takes a break from washing the combine, Yummy breakfast of fried egg with avocado, roasted garden tomatoes, and fresh basil
Top Row: A few minutes of "me" time on my patio with some pasta, wine, and a sunset, Getting Gavin off the bus on his first day of school (he stayed home sick on the actual first day), obligatory 1st Day of School photo before the fever and throwing up started.
Middle Row: Lunch out with friends at the Dish and the Spoon on school orientation day, my new "queen bee" t-shirt was a thoughtful gift from a good friend, Girls weekend with friends at the lakehouse.
Bottom Row: The kids' beach "treasures", girlfriends out for a sunset pontoon ride, my kids sorting out their precious beach finds. 

Top row: exploring the St. Croix River at Kinnickinnic State Park with our friends who graciously watched my kids for the day, Early morning silly faces in bed with Addi, Picking raspberries at Cliff's uncle's farm.
Middle row: picking raspberries, YUM, Golden raspberries.
Bottom Row: One of many slugs found while "creature hunting" for insects under rocks and logs, My nephew, my friend's son, and Addi looking for insects, Gavin and Addi with friend Dayton at the hotel pool on a summer day.

The 99 photos above represent the last six months for my family. an abbreviated format. I can get lost in memories just scrolling through these 99 photos. 

I love InstaGram.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Christmas Card

Merry Christmas! 

You are reading this letter, not because we have something profound to share, but because we value your friendship and want to nurture it! 

Our family life is at a point in time when much of our focus is directed inward… on each other, our own little family unit, and our home. It has been years since we had an abundance of “free time” to fill with motorcycle rides, fancy dinners out, crafty home projects and Pinterest finds, camping trips, and social gatherings. We occasionally miss those days, but know they’ll return again all too soon. Right now our reality sits within a much narrower focus... Marriage, Kids, Family, Farm and Work. I will turn 40 this next year and although that is only a number, it does carry a lot of meaning. It makes me think long and hard about what is important to me. 

This year, Cliff has dedicated an enormous amount of his energy to running our farm and creating the right balance between his roles as Dad, Husband, Farmer, Son, and Businessman. The kids are growing and changing from week to week and at times it feels like I can barely keep up and they were just babies yesterday, but then at other times I wish away these trials in hopes of a time when the kids are mature enough to be reasoned with. I’m working with great intention toward living in this moment and just loving on this family I’ve been blessed with. 

Gavin just turned 7 and he melts my heart. He is creative, thoughtful, intense, active, witty, artistic, mechanically-minded, loving, adrenaline-thirsty, introspective, and a little too smart for his own good. He loves drawing tiny complicated drawings and making up recipes in the kitchen. He loves creating and building gadgets and machines and systems. He loves riding his bike, roller-skating, and running up and down our road to and from Grandma and Grandpa’s. He loves building forts in the woods, helping Cliff on the farm, and hunting and bow-fishing with Cliff. He is really enjoying his new-found fluency in reading and recently started spending his down-time with his nose buried in a book. He loves riding his dirt bike, driving the lawn tractor, and virtually anything with a motor. He also loves giving back-rubs, making me a cup of coffee in the morning, and sharing love by serving.

Addison turned 3 in November and she is our little fireball. Everything she does, she does fiercely. She has a wild heart full of love, wonder and excitement. She has a voice that even at a whisper could still be heard over the sound of a thousand angels singing. She hugs with all her might until you nearly turn blue and she covers your entire face in kisses until she is satisfied that she has kissed you just right. If you ask her, she is never, ever, ever tired and she is almost always hungry. She holds her ground with the boys and plays tough with the best of them, but she loves everything that glitters, sparkles, or twirls! We are working toward her doing a few things more independently, and at the same time, wanting her to let us help her with some other things that she always insists on doing herself! She loves to play with her dolls, swing, play outside with us, “help” Cliff on the farm, color, play with play-dough, make her own sandwiches, and dress-up. She is opinionated and strong-willed, but there is still a bit of our little baby girl left in her too. 

This life we have chosen - these kids, this farm, our jobs, our parents, and our extended families… they keep us busy. Sometimes our laundry and our dishes pile up. Sometimes our gardens get overtaken with weeds. Often, we wish we could spend more time with friends. Sometimes we dream of a beach vacation (yeah!). But, beyond all those wishes, we find we are living a dream. We are blessed beyond measure with family who support us, friends who wait patiently for a window of time that we can spend together, a farm that is prosperous, and most of all, each other. So, from our crazy little piece of the world to yours, we wish you a season of celebrating what is important to you! 

With Much Love, Erin

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

School has started. Some people love the start of the school year as it brings them back to routine, to schedules and plans and normalcy. Some people dread the start of the school year as it signals the end of the precious and limited "family time" that they so enjoyed over the summer. To some it brings sadness, some fear, some relief.

I'm not 100% clear on how it makes me feel. I feel a little excited for Gavin as he enters first grade and gets to know his new teacher a bit better, has the opportunity to develop new friendships with kids who were not in his class last year and further develop his existing friendships. He will begin reading again - we failed miserably at keeping up the reading this summer. That is all very exciting. 

At the same time, it's a reminder that we are another year closer to the kids becoming more independent and although I know this is the ultimate goal in raising children, I really struggle with the distant thought of them not being in my house, not needing me, not climbing into my bed each morning. I have a real fear of losing my sense of purpose, my reason to get up out of bed each day. 

On another plane, although the school year (really it's just the winter months) seem to be so chaotic and feel as though we are driving recklessly around a racetrack just trying to get to the finish line (the weekend) so we can breathe, I do crave the routine just a little. I love plans, checklists, being prepared. I love getting lunch bags and backpacks packed the night before and hung neatly by the front door. I love setting out clothes for the kids and laying them out with socks and underwear all ready to go. I love putting their shoes and coats by the door and having a breakfast plan and getting everyone out the door with a hot fresh cup of coffee in my hand. I love having a reason to get the kids in bed by 8:00 and I love that the kids aren't in the house everyday making lovely little messes (bless their messy, beautiful little souls!)  If I clean the house one evening, it's still clean when I come home from work the next day.

I wasn't nearly as anxious, sad, nervous, emotional WRECK, as I was last year or even the previous two years. I know Gavin is just starting first grade, but he has already attended three years of school - Preschool, Pre-k (4k), and Kindergarten. However, even though we was an ace with the whole school thing by last year, it was the first year this little heartbreaker rode the school bus, and man oh man, was that ever hard on me!  This year though, is his third year at this school, his second year of riding the school bus, and now he not only has one grade of kids younger than him at school, but two whole grades of kids younger than him, so that is fun that sometimes he IS the big kid on the block.

He sure is growing into a kind, smart, funny, witty, gentle, compassionate little man right before my eyes.

Not even the slightest hesitation as he boarded the school bus this year. Of course, he missed the first day of school because he was home with a stomach bug, but he was ready to go on day 2. 

...and the little lady of the house? I'll have to share about her tomorrow. Wow. 2 going on 15!