Monday, July 7, 2014

These two


These two. They fill my heart. They are sunshine and stars, they are twinkling fireflies on a summer night and warm snuggles on a cold and dreary day.
They fill my soul with love
(and yes, frustration, helplessness, worry, and tears sometimes too)

We've never had either of the kids professionally photographed and it has always been a bit of a sore spot between Cliff and me. I want to have their photos taken professionally and Cliff doesn't think we need to spend the money on that because we have the ability to take photos on our own. I take a LOT of photos, probably too many photos. But I just love taking their pictures. I love the way a good photo or series of photos brings a memory streaming back. I have lots of pictures of the kids doing things, spending time with people we care about. I wanted some pictures to print and display at home, so a few weeks ago I asked Cliff to help me take the kids pictures. We agreed we'd do it that weekend. Friday came and I honestly forgot about the photo-taking. Cliff was working on the farm and the kids and I had been outside playing most of the day. He came home around 5:00 that evening and said "If you want to do those pictures, let's do them now. We have a half-hour."
So, in exactly 30 minutes, we washed the kids faces, slipped off their dirty clothes and got them into clean ones, pulled one of our patio chairs into the shade in the front yard, and snapped about 200 pictures. There were about 190 out-takes and 10 good ones.
Gavin actually snapped a hilarious sequence of me and Cliff as we were trying to set-up the family shots. He even photo-bombed a picture or two of us. Funny kid.

These few below just make me laugh because they show a bit more of the kids' silly personalities.  


 My favorite little foursome.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Summer, Folks!

It's June 24th. Yep, June 24th. Firefly season. If you scroll down just a bit, you'll see that my last "live" post on this blog was April 24th, two whole months ago! April was practically winter compared to what we have going on now, which is steaming hot sunshine with rain and thunderstorms thrown in every day. Now, don't you go thinking that I have just been sitting around daydreaming - although I am a dreamer - and not writing or taking photos... nope! I have seven posts in draft form and just never quite got around to clicking that "publish" button. Why? Oh, I was waiting for a photo from a friend to add to the post, or I wasn't sure it was something anyone wanted to read about, or I got pulled away mid-post and when I came back to it later wasn't in the same mood or it didn't make sense anymore... lots of reasons. The biggest reason, however, is that I wasn't finished selecting photos. This is my problem. I take thousands of photos - hundreds a month, sometimes hundreds a day. Then I have this unnatural need to keep them ALL, but only want to post the great ones. So, I spend countless hours during my "night off" sitting at my computer sifting through those photos and determining which ones are the best for telling the whole story (scrapbook or blog), which are the ones I might want to print and frame to hang in the house, which ones are the clearest of the kids faces, etc. and trying to mark the best ones for use. Then I never finish that task and therefor, never publish a post, or complete a scrapbook page, or print and frame anything. Poo.

But, we've been having fun! and we've been taking photos! Here are just a few things going on...

Gavin is taking gymnastics class again this summer and is also in soccer. He loves soccer and he likes gymnastics so far. I think he'll really start loving gymnastics when he gets to do more skill practice and less tumbling. I already see how much he likes it this year compared to last year as we're going to the gymnastics club this year as opposed to the park & rec gymnastics. Archery starts up again in a couple of weeks too and then swimming lessons. He'll be a busy boy! That's okay though, because those are all evening activities (or Saturday morning) and he is generally at home all day, so it's really his only opportunity to get out and be social. Both kids are home with a sitter on Mondays, at my sister's house on Tuesdays and then home with another sitter on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so getting out of the house (and off the farm) is good for them!

Cliff's Archery season has ended and he picked right up with Sporting Clays again. He's also been enjoying lots of late-night bowfishing with friends. His bowfishing is my scrapbooking - our one night a week (or every couple of weeks) that we stay up (or out) way later than any responsible parent should hanging out with a friend or two, catching up, and doing something fun.

My six weeks of beginner guitar lessons have just ended and I'm not able to register for the next six week session because it conflicts with Gavin's archery. Even if Cliff takes Gavin to archery, someone needs to have Addison because taking her to archery isn't an option at this time. I'm a little sad that I can't continue with guitar right now, but hope to sign up for the next session in another month and a half or so. So far I can play the first two or three measures of about 15 different rock songs, and that's it. Can't even pluck out kumbaya yet! My goal is to learn to play one our family's favorite songs, "Can You Canoe" by the Okee Dokee Brothers by October. I have this vision of sitting around the campfire in our back yard playing this song and my kids running around stabbing each other with marshmallow roasting forks  catching fireflies. I know that by October the fireflies will be long gone, but fall is really the perfect time for roasting marshmallows and sitting around a fire.

Can You Canoe?

Along with all of our "daily" activities and work and the farm, we've managed to fit in several really fun little adventures along the way too! Just for example...  here's a very brief recap of one recent weekend, and this was one weekend that Cliff just happened to be out of town (bowfishing), so the fact that we did anything fun at all is even more incredible.


Thursday evening after work - Gavin's first gymnastics class of the season = fun!

Dairy Queen ice cream cones on the way home = mess!

Friday: Spent the day at one of our favorite local State Parks with my sister and her kids and our good friend Carrie. We hiked, explored, had a picnic lunch, played in the water, caught a couple of snakes... you know - regular state park stuff.

Then in afternoon after our park visit, the kids got to hang out with a favorite babysitter while my girlfriend and I went out for the most fabulous late lunch and drinks on the patio of one of our favorite summer lunch spots overlooking the river. We shared the most delightful Brie Cheese Curds with Lingonberry Sauce and a White Truffle and Wild Mushroom Flatbread along with a fancy blue ginger beer concoction.

After lunch and a tiny bit of shopping, we went home and picked up Gavin and took him the truck & tractor pull that was happening in our town that night.  We ran into a friend of his there and a few friends of ours as well.

Saturday morning we took Gavin to his first session of summer soccer and he had so much fun. It was freezing cold and rainy, so those of us watching were just trying to stay warm, but the kids sure had fun! 

After soccer we went out for lunch before heading back home for a rainy afternoon snuggled up with a movie. Our friend Carrie left Saturday afternoon after watching a movie and Cliff got back in town a couple of hours later and we still had all day Sunday left! Cliff and I sat out on the screen porch and listened to the rain, shared some wine, and caught up with each other a bit!  On Sunday morning the kids and I got up and made scones for Cliff for Fathers Day. We had a quiet day at home and then had both sets of Grandparents over for an awesome dinner of smoked ribs, mashed potatoes, pasta salad, green salad, and watermelon. It was a perfect evening and a perfect ending to a great weekend! 

...and that was just ONE weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

Easter is miraculous and magical and awe-inspiring because of what it means for Christians, but the reality is that Easter, like any other holiday, is not always rainbows and butterflies (although one might argue that Easter has a better chance of being all rainbows and butterflies than, say, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas!)

This guy made a crown of thorns at school and when he saw a photo of one of his classmates respectfully wearing his crown of thorns (also shirtless) in a photo, he wanted to do the same. He wanted to stand barefoot out in the rain, like Jesus would have been. The crown of thorns was made from pipecleaners and a cardboard cross. I love the education he's getting and the respect and understanding that he has at 5 years old. Seems a little mature for his age in that respect, but I love his thoughtfulness. 

Easter was beautiful this year, in nearly every sense. The weather was a welcome respite from the cold and gray days we'd seen previously. Most of my family was together at my parents' house, which is always an adventure in and of itself. Our kids were healthy and SO happy with the gifts the Easter Bunny left in their baskets.

There is just one thing that has been weighing me down about this Easter and it is that we didn't make it to church. I am a Christian and I have a strong faith in God and all that he has created. That said, I'm not a "religious" church-goer. I know I'll bruise some people's opinions here by saying this, but I just don't believe that a person needs to be "in church" to find God, to pray, to connect. However, I do believe that having a church community that supports you and that you can help support is invaluable and I do long for more involvement in our church at some point in our lives, hopefully soon. The one component of church that I find continuously brings me closer to God is the singing - I LOVE to sing! Honestly though? I am occasionally brought down by the singing at church if it is too slow, drawn out, they sing too many verses, if it sounds painful, or if no one else but me and the choir are singing, etc. So, sometimes for me, church is standing at my kitchen window washing breakfast dishes, and singing my heart out in praise. Sometimes it is sitting on my patio with my cup of coffee, closing my eyes and thanking the Lord for the birds that are singing around me, for my children's laughter echoing from the sandbox in the yard, for the fertile land surrounding my home where my husband grows our crops. Those are the times I really, really, feel God talking to me. So, why do I feel so badly about missing Church on Easter? I'm not exactly sure...   Was it something as superficial as not getting the chance to wear "Easter clothes" and really dress up? Was is something as primal as needing that sense of community? that sense of belonging to something bigger than just us? As much as it weighs on me that we didn't make it to church on Easter (or on Palm Sunday, which is actually my favorite week of the entire year to be in church), I know that we were just where we were supposed to be.

Our Easter celebrations were wonderful... overall. As I eluded to above, they weren't all rainbows and butterflies though. Amid the celebrations and praise, there were a few things weighing heavily in our hearts and on our minds. My father-in-law had a really uncommonly tough week in the hospital after knee surgery earlier in the week. He came home from the hospital on Saturday, the day before Easter, but ended up going back into the emergency room on Easter Sunday, just as we were leaving their house to head to my parents house for the day. It turned out fine, and he is getting better every day. It had been a tough week. Cliff has been working really hard (and 'round the clock) trying to get all of the farm equipment ready for planting - making repairs, doing maintenance, etc, so he's been "gone" a lot, although he has made a point to be home to help me get the kids to bed at night, whenever possible, which I appreciate so much and I know it's so good for the kids too, even if they don't realize it. Major run-on sentence there, but this isn't grammar class, right? Right. On I go...

On Thursday, in the midst of my father-in-law's hospital stay and complications, my in-laws' basement flooded and Cliff had to call in a septic company, who pumped 3600 gallons of (clean) water out of their basement. It was a plumbing issue and not a sewage issue, thank goodness. Another relative of mine was celebrating Easter with the worry on her mind about starting Chemo treatment this week. She was on my mind all day as I thought about what a struggle it would be to be singing praises and celebrating the new beginnings of Easter and Springtime while carrying the uneasiness of all of the unknowns of this illness.

All of that said, I woke up warm in my bed next to my husband on Easter morning. Life was good. Addison snuggled with us in our bed after she woke up and we even had a little time to enjoy some quiet time with her as she discovered her Easter basket that had been "hidden" behind her little rocking chair in our living room. She carefully and slowly explored its contents, while Gavin slept peacefully in his warm bed. By the time he woke up and went searching for his more-skillfully-hidden basket, Addison was enjoying the goodies the Easter Bunny had left for her. Gavin finally found his Easter Basket in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. That Easter Bunny sure knows how to hide things! The Easter bunny brought both kids new spring shoes, two pairs of brightly colored socks, a few little pieces of candy (reese's pieces eggs) in brightly colored plastic eggs, a beaded bracelet, a new movie (the Pirate Fairy for Gavin and Peter Rabbit for Addison) and then a few things each child would enjoy. Gavin's basket had a travel tic-tac-toe game, some Zyrofoam, a couple of basswood biplane gliders, a big bag of new rubber bands for his Rainbow Loom, and a few new pencils. Addison's basket had an insulated stainless steel water bottle, a new set of plastic forks and spoons, and a soft easy-grip bouncy ball. She immediately wanted her new socks and shoes on and Gavin wanted to play with his Zyrofoam and Tic-Tac-Toe game.  


The fun is just beginning! Egg-dyeing, Easter egg hunt, and the amazing time with grandmas and grandpas still coming!