Snow Day

11-21-14 002 (1024x881)11-21-14 010 (1024x768)11-21-14 013 (1024x758)Tuesday we got our first official “Snow day.” I know the question begs, why bother to take a snow day if we home school? The answer is simple, because we can!
Of course, I do believe (and it has been my experience) that these extra snowy days lend well to winter learning. Days when the weather is frightful and extra cold, even the hardiest souls among us do not seek to escape the tasks before them. Yes, on these extra wintry days even the more mundane subjects such as Math and Language Arts are much more appealing.  But, there is something undeniably exciting about that first big snowy day. Even as the wind howled and the driveway disappeared we could not resist the pull to notice and acknowledge that the winter season is here. Though for weeks it has whispered its coming, and as gently as a season can has eased its way here. That day there was no denying its presence. And so we are left with a choice: What attitude shall we have to something we cannot change?
My simple thought on the matter is that there will be plenty of time to bemoan the season. Though quite honestly there is much I love about winter. There will be those inevitable moments when life and weather will frustrate even the most winter loving person.
Yet, for a day, this first snowy day, it sounded far better to celebrate the change in weather.

Simple pleasures reign in times like these. French toast for my loves with sprinkles, surly a treat that is rare. The whole day spent in pajama’s, even mama. Lots of coloring and lots  of mama saying, “Yes!” Ad in a touch of work (sorry no pictures of this,) noses deep into tasks that we have wanted to to do, but for whatever reason had not the time to accomplish. Special treats were made and promptly eaten before we could even get frosting on them.

Yes, these simple things are so special on a days like that. I think they are needed as well. For the day will come when we will wake to yet another snowy day. And we will push on with tasks and school regardless of whether the rest of the world does the same. They will announce Snow Days and event cancellations and children all over the county will rejoice, but we will press on, business as usual. But, not on that first snowy day. That is a day to celebrate!

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So Here is Winter

11-18-14 002 (768x1024) 11-18-14 004 (1024x768) The sun hadn’t even risen and yet I knew what was like out there. I knew partly because I could hear it, in all its fearsome winter glory and partly because I had already made the trek to the barn and back this morning. Yes, there is no doubt that winter is upon us.

And so it has come. A few weeks earlier than usual (I think in a typical year we get our first dusting around/after Thanksgiving) but also quite mercifully it has come a few weeks later than last year. There is always something to be grateful for. I am also thankful that this winter we will have the privilege of enduring… er, enjoying the full winter season in our little house. If you remember, we purchased this place at the end of January and didn’t move in until March. And while last spring left us plenty of winter to get the feel of how the season might go. I still think there is a particular excitement about living a new season in a new place. Of course, I am aware that it will not likely be all ‘Snowman and hot chocolate.’ But, today as I did my chores and made a few new discoveries about how blowing snow affects our barn, and our drive way… I do believe we still have a drive way…somewhere? I also feel that little prick of excitement and fear that is so commonly rolled into grown up life.

Along with the blowing snow, the questions billow through my mind, “When will the barn water freeze?” I don’t know, but I would guess it will at some point. “When will we loose power for days?” I’m not certain, but if the weather keeps up as it is, there is that distinct possibility. “Are we prepared enough? What will we do?” No, not likely, but we’ll get by, somehow. 
And then there is that nagging thought at the back of my mind, and though I try, and try I can’t seem to push it away, “Should I order that emergency home-birth kit?” After all, today I can’t see the driveway and I know a plow has not touched our road nor is likely to for the better part of the day. And, I think, “I only have five’ish more weeks of this pregnancy left! If this is November what on earth will it be like in December?!” :)

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View of our front yard road and driveway

 

 

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A New Rhythm

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Up before dawn I trudge out through a blanket of fresh fallen snow.
The stars in the sky so alive with their light.
Entering the barn I flip on the lights to blinking eyes and steamy breath.
The cold seems to vanish with the light.
Nickers and gentle lowing greet me good morning.
Eager eaters request and are served their breakfast.
I’m not out there long, but long enough to fully wake and fully embrace the day ahead.
I wish all a good morning and head back to the house for a warm shower
and a steaming cup of coffee.
As the sun rises through our eastern windows
I find peace in a time of quiet reading  and prayer.
Soon little voices greet me good morning with warm hugs and cuddles.

Our day begins, and always there is much to do, much to accomplish.
The middle of our day will vary,
but this quiet beginning grounds me and brings peace to it.

As dusk falls and the sky changes to brilliant shades of purple and pink
we head to the barn again.
This time the whole of us.
There is much joy and laughter as we commence our evening chores.
Buster is happy to see his play companions.
They run up and down the barn aisle.
Kyle and I shake our heads knowing this cannot last forever,
but enjoying it all the same.
Stalls are cleaned and bedded, all the animals fed.
We linger out there, in the warmth of the barn
with the sweet smell of hay and the joyful voices.
Slowly, reluctantly we be bid all goodnight and head back to the house.
Our evening duties await.
This new rhythm suits us well I think.
We enter the house refreshed and relaxed and ready to do it all over again.

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Easing into Winter

11-13-14 035There off! Into that first glorious snow. The kind of snow with enormous flakes and that accumulate quickly. Also known in Michigan as “lake effect.”

And so we ease into another season. 

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A Month of Gratitude

11-2-14 004 (718x1024)Of all the months of the year November is my favorite I think. There is a crispness in the air. The sky is that ever deep fall blue and there is that exciting hint that winter is on the horizon.
But, I think that my most favorite thing about November is that it marks a whole month in which our hearts and minds find focus.
In our home November is a time of reflection. It is a time of awareness and most importantly it is a time of gratitude.

We choose to commemorate and make our month of Thankfulness more tangible by making a Thankful three. I forget where I got the idea for a Thankful Tree, I imagine it came from one or more of the wonderful blog sites out there. And of course you can find lots of tools and inspiration for this little tradition on Pinterest.
We keep our tree simple by just finding or cutting a small tree-like branch out of our own yard. It is easy enough to find printable’s for leaf templates on-line.
Each day after dinner we will all think of some things we are grateful for and write them on the leaves to hang on the tree. Sometimes we read all of the leaves on Thanksgiving. However, we do try to hang new leaves for the whole month.

This has become part of our yearly celebrations for about 5 years. Even better this tradition has obviously taken root in our little family. For the past couple years nearly as soon as the Halloween costumes are put away, I hear a chorus of little voices reminding me that the next day we must find our Thankful tree.  Oh, doesn’t that make a mama feel good. To know that these little things that we hold dear in our hearts, our children are learning to hold dear in theirs.

Wishing you a wonderful month of gratitude.

 

 

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The Decade

Wedding picture

Our Wedding Day 10/24/2004

Over the weekend Kyle and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. It is hard to even express how much this anniversary year meant to me. Probably because to be quite honest I never really thought we would make it this far.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here, marriage is hard!
If you asked me in the early days of wedded bliss I would even tell you that I wasn’t quite sure I was cut out for married life. I can list a whole host of witnesses prior to saying ‘I do’ that had heard me say at least a hundred times that I was NEVER going to get married.

But alas, my prince charming came along and I was swept away by the love bug.
Kyle and I had a sort-of whirl-wind courtship. Deciding early on that we didn’t bug each other and that if we were ever to do this marriage thing we would probably be able to tolerate each other. But, we also figured we had better hurry up before one or both of us chickened out (And our parents seemed to agree.)
So, from our formal “were together” announcement to our wedding day we had a total of 10 months to be sure we were right for each other.

(The romance of this story is nauseating, isn’t it?)

I share this only because, as a foundation to our marriage we have to admit it was a shaky one. So, this begs the question how on earth did we manage to make it a whole decade?

Well, it wasn’t easy. We have had many ups and downs as couple. And I would love to say that we never talked about divorce, but the truth is we did… annually it seemed for several years. Because the fact of the matter is when you live with someone day in and day out they will eventually bug you.
I can laugh about this now, because after 10 years, we know we will bug each other from time to time. But, we also have reached the place where we understand that love, at its root is not feeling. It is a choice. The choice to put someone else’s needs above your own. The choice to forgive even when the other person hasn’t said they are sorry yet. The choice and decision to love outwardly must begin internally.

Of course, we have had a little help over the years. I am eternally grateful to all of the people who kept us facing each other over the years. Our parents, our pastors, our friends who were ahead of us on the journey, and even those who were behind us and still so nauseatingly “in love.” We have been truly blessed that in our worst days, when we wanted to turn our backs on each other, or probably more accurately, run as far away from each other as possible. Those people would stand in our way, grab us by our emotional shoulders and stick us right back toe to toe with each other. Let me just say– it is very hard to not work things out when you know you are stuck facing someone you are having a conflict with. It is also hard not to smile. And if you smile, you are at risk for remembering something you like about a person.

So, there you have it, our great marital secret: No Escape!
I don’t know if this method would work for everyone, but I am thankful that it worked for us. I can even say that not only do I love my husband but I even like this man I am stuck with.
As the years have gone by I can also thankfully admit that we don’t mention the “D” word anymore, I don’t even think we ponder the idea. You see, all those times of being forced to face each other has developed a habit of us facing and working our problems out.

But eventually there would be (and there was) a conflict that I am certain no person could help us resolve. No, the only answer to those dark days was to hand our hearts over to God. These were excruciatingly hard times. But I learned during that time what it truly meant to let Christ be the center of our marriage. We had to surrender ourselves and let God bind our hearts together in a deeper way than anything else could. Learning (often at different paces) that our relationship must be rooted in God and his word. Not in each other or in some unrealistic ideal.

The good news is, that in the mix of it all, I remember that the good days have always outnumbered the bad. Kyle is truly my best friend and closest confidant. He knows me in ways no one else does. And that is such a good feeling. I love that after 10 years the best part of our marriage is that we still like each other (most days) and that our conflicts have changed in that they are less against each other and more about how to conquer life together. I would much rather argue about how WE want to get from point A to point B, than how I want A and he wants B. We are bound more as a team and less as individuals, yet without feeling like we have totally lost ourselves. Kyle has offered me more grace to be me than I ever thought possible. And I hope I have been a help and encouragement to him in some way over the years.

We also have three beautiful reminders that we have loved each other. Our children by far are the best bi-product of our marriage. And now when things get itchy we have these living breathing examples of our love and commitment to one another.

Of course I realize that even though we have grown a lot in the last ten years, we also have a lot more growing to do. Nothing in life is certain. We are just as human as anyone else. We are aware that if this marriage is going to succeed in the long run there is still much work to be done. We have to be vigilant to care for and protect our marriage. Lucky for us we both seem to like the adventure. :)

 

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Surprise! We have a new baby

10-26-14 002 10-26-14 019 (960x1280) 10-26-14 021 (960x1280)We have added a new addition at our little house this weekend!
I don’t think I have been this excited about an animal in a long time. Just in time for Kyle and I to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary we got the call that a there was a calf ready for us from a local dairy farm. Of course a little haste was made to gather our supplies and get a nursery ready. But, who does not enjoy a little nesting on the fly?

And here we can introduce “Buster Brown” to you. He is a little week old Jersey calf. Who of course has a purpose beyond cuteness, but at this stage we need not dwell on those particulars. As of this moment his job is to grow and get rowdy.

Oh the joy of  FINALLY having something around here that will MOO! I never would have guessed that I would miss it. But quite honestly I have craved that sound for a few years now.

Of course I’m not the only one tickled with our new arrival. I think everyone is pretty happy about him being here. Well…. almost everyone. 10-26-14 008

Not to worry, I predict that by weeks end we’ll have to drag this little girl away from him.

 

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