Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Chose You

(Here's a blast from the past - five years ago now, but just as true today.)

This is for every woman who ever chose a child over other options.


I could have had more time,
more house,
more room.
I chose you.

benblue

I could have had more money,
more things,
dinners out…
I chose you.

dino

More me,
More sleep,
more freedom;
I chose you.

cry

Less mess,
less cooking,
less laundry;
I chose you.

mess

Less school,
less PBS,
less PBJ;
I chose you.

emmie

Because of you,
I have MORE.
More love,
more memories,
more smiles,
more delight,
more joy.

Where would I be without you?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yearning

Along about the end of February, winter becomes the guest who has over-stayed its welcome..  We yearn for days like these, above, where bare-footed children run and climb unfettered.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just to make you smile...

 There are not many things cuter than a chick in a tutu,

 or the girl who thought of it...

Are there?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ben


Benjamin Cade,
my Valentine,
my critter-loving boy...
is now seven.

He's still little enough to sit on my lap,
but too heavy to carry far.
Still small enough to not care very much for school,
but big enough to be doing well with reading, writing and arithmetic.

Big enough to check eggs and feed the cats,
Big enough to shoot a slingshot and a cap-gun,
Little enough to still climb trees and 
kiss chickens on the beak.
 
 Our seventh child is seven.
He's just perfect,
for us.



Farm Babies


I brought home some new babies yesterday.

Black Jersey Giant

Black Star

The chick above was from a different batch from last fall.  Back in September we hatched these cuties out from eggs from our own flock.  We did pretty well for our first-ever hatch, with a hatch-rate of around 60%.
This week, at four and a half months old, they began laying the tiniest, cutest, little brown eggs.  

We didn't want to miss a moment of living country life to the full, so we incubated as soon as we moved.  We also didn't want to experience a drop in egg production as the flock we inherited from the former owners was beginning to slow down.  I'm already looking ahead to fall with the chicks we just purchased, when the older hens will be phased out.  I enjoy a variety of hens, love the different egg colors and personalities of the hens.  I don't think I would gain quite as much pleasure from a homogenous flock.
    
    

Ahem.
    

Silly kitties.
Not quite *that* different.

On one occasion, we actually had a chicken and a cat vying for the same nesting space.  The chicken ended up sitting on top of the cat, and they stayed there for several hours.  I guess they both won.

 We fell into country life quite easily.  No longer could I say "no" to animals for the children.
(Although we have had to make certain adjustments in animal ownership.  I no longer let the kids grow attached to roosters.  Roosters, by necessity, come and go.  Live and learn!)
We have around 55 chickens, and I anticipate a few more chicks in a few weeks.  I have not decided whether I will raise meat birds or not, although we certainly have the room for it.
There is a pasture and the place is fenced for quite a few different types of animals.
Today, a friend brought me two rabbits, and I'm on the lookout for a couple of piglets, maybe some turkeys in March to pasture thru the summer in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

 It's a very natural fit for our family.  My parents and my sister are such organic sources of farm wisdom, so the learning curve has been gentle.

 Farm babies, like all babies, grow up quickly.  They are renewable, however, so the enjoyment goes on and on.  When one batch grows up, we can begin all over again.








Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Endurance

When I was a little girl, I sat on the floor and watched my mama's brown legs as she stood hot, endless hours at the counter canning peaches.  I wondered how she stood for so long, how they remained so strong.  Didn't she ever get tired?  Didn't she ever want to stop?

As I grew into a teen, I moved to the chair, sometimes peeling along with her. She still stood, and I still wondered.

How?

She was up at dawn, tending to something or the other, always up, always working, never, never stopping.  She raised four children and faced Carter's deep recession by growing a bigger garden.

She was a pastor's wife, so along with a hard physical life of self-sufficiency, she carried the grief of my father's congregations:  wayward children (one of them her own,) miscarried babies, accidents which took fathers.  At times, the loads were so heavy that I could not understand how she got up in the morning, let alone kept doing the work of her life.

All these years later, the secret is finally mine.   I never asked, she never told me.  I just watched, and learned.

I got here the same way she did.




Practice.

You just....do.  You get up.  You keep going.  You do the job in front of you.  You grow weary and overwhelmed.  You despair.  You become exhausted.

You think about what would happen if you dropped it all, just lay all of the responsibilities on the floor and walked away, let someone else handle them.

Then you think about everyone who would suffer if you did that, think of the ones who depend on you and trust you....

And you know that while your job is impossible, quitting is not an option.  Quitting would devastate the lives of those you love, and you won't do that.

During the tough years, this may be a daily cycle. 

Daily you give it up, drop it all, momentarily reject it, give it back to God, go to sleep, knowing that the only way you will make it thru and endure is by letting Him carry you and set you back on your legs. 

You get up in the morning, and you do it all over again....not for yourself, but for the ones you carry, the ones who trust in you.

You get strong legs for standing by just doing it - day after day after day.

God, in you, accomplishes the impossible the same way.  Small task by small task, moment by moment, year by year...

Until....


one day, by His grace, you will look back and be amazed at how far He's carried you and what you've endured and just how long you can stand












Friday, February 1, 2013

File this one under lessons from our children

 Dear Daddies and Mamas,

Let us never assume that we have the corner on teaching, that our children are given to us specifically so that they may learn from our vast stores of knowledge.
 I like to think I've journeyed far in my Christian faith.
Sometimes I even toy with the idea that I've got wisdom, that if these kids would just pay attention, they will learn so much from me.

I am humbled tonight, yes....again, this far in to parenting....
by a ten-year-old boy too sweet to have come from under my hardened and complaining heart.

From his feverish sickbed on the couch, my Josiah talks with me as I work thru my own stomach pain and pick up stray kleenex and kicked-off socks.

"You know, I'm thankful, Mom.  I really am....for lots of things."  And he makes a list:  the couch he is laying on, a mama to take care of him, movies to watch, medicine and cold water.

I think I stop and stare, a little discombobulated from the daze and the last few days with hardly any sleep.  I am definitely not thankful.  In fact, I've already run so far from thankful that I'm contemplating the goodness of God over a simple flu.  (Sleep-deprivation is not something I handle well.) 

He softens me, this boy who was a gift himself; in his own weakness he reflects his Father's glory with a pure and simple act of thanksgiving.
I may be the mama, but I have far to go and much, still, to learn.  He didn't get this gratitude from me - it came from his own heart which is turned in love toward God.


*these photos are recycled from several years ago.  I don't think any of us are up to taking/uploading pictures right now.  Ah well, you've seen one bad flu, you've seen them all.  Things look much prettier in photographs.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Granary

As sad as it makes us, we have decided that this old granary must come down.
We assume that since the house is from the early 1900s, the outbuildings must be from the same era.
At first there was some equivocation as to whether it truly was a granary, but following conversations with other country people and a little bit of research, it does indeed seem to have been the place on the farm for drying and storing grain.

At first we had hoped to save it.  We dreamed a bit about making a type of bunkhouse out of it, or a music studio for the kids.  There actually is a lot of good/sturdy wood left standing, but as always, choices must be made of where to spend time and money.  The fall and winter winds have been brutal, and have whipped even more boards and tin loose.  We just can't do it - it is too far gone.  Soon we will begin taking it apart, and hopefully using the wood to repair gaps and broken places in our second, larger barn.  

I like to think about the early days at this farm, and about the people who built the home and outbuildings.  I would assume that the wood came from trees surrounding the property, seeing that there was no Home Depot that long ago, and lumber would have needed to come from nearby.  Maybe the farmer felled them and planed them himself.  The timbers used for the granary and the barn are impressive - 10 x 10 beams (at least) held together by wood pegs.   The floor plankings are solid, 10 or 12" by 1 or 2", depending on the place and the need.  What they say is true, "they just don't make barns like this any longer."

 From the loft of the granary, looking west at sundown.



 An old door in the loft of the granary.
*photos by Emily.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The College Launch - Daughters v. Sons

Last night our daughter Emily signed up for the SAT.  Her year as a high school junior is swiftly passing.  Even after releasing our two oldest boys into the wild, my heart is disbelieving that soon it will be her turn to make the decisions that will direct the course of her life.

I don't know if all mothers would say the same (probably not...I can only give my perspective,) but the thought of graduating a daughter feels much more emotionally difficult than it was with my sons.

Emily helping me with our youngest two at a farm market, Fall, 2012.


It's not gender inequity, for while I am so traditional I'm now seen as untraditional (did you understand that?,) I also am so thankful for the freedom I had to make my own choices and appreciate my college experience and degree.  I graduated high school and went away to college at the age of 17.  My father made it very clear well before there was a potential mate in the picture that he desired for me to finish college before I got married.  I met the boy who would become my husband in October of my freshman year.  My fate was forever sealed and I knew it from the moment we connected, but I kept my promise to my dad.  I always felt like I got a good deal in the bargain with my father, because I worked hard and graduated college in three years, then married two weeks after graduation ceremonies.  I loved college, loved learning, and would have continued on for advanced degrees if God had led me in that direction.  I do not assume that college is in the future plan for every one of our children, but so far our first three have desired/or do desire to go.

I think that more of what I feel at the prospect of graduating a daughter is realizing just how much I'm going to miss her if she does decide to go away to college as opposed to staying local.  (And I'm trying hard to not be morose and I won't be making any decisions for her nor trying to influence her decisions.  I'm just pensive, thank-you-very-much.)  My daughters are my friends.  My sons are too - we are all very, very close.  The boys were not with me as much, though, they were off forging their way, mowing lawns, tearing things down or building things up, and the girls?  We are usually together.  We depend upon each other.  We are deeply interconnected.  In many ways, we have grown up together and they are my friends.

Emily and I, Mother's Day 2012
 How about you?  Have you sent any of your children off to college yet?  Are you able to compare the process for sons versus daughters?  Do you think that you would have different advice for your daughters than for your sons?  I'd like to talk about this in the near future, so look forward to what you have to say both now and in future conversations.


Friday, January 25, 2013

A little coat goes a long way

I had a conversation with a woman the other day, and she expressed horror that I had so many children.  She was very alarmed that my children would use up so many of the world's resources, and would grow up to be rampant, materialistic consumers.

(I am not offended, she doesn't know us.  I welcomed a chance to express a different view.)

Her view is one (sad and negative) way to see the world.  Another way  is to raise your children to give more than they take, to produce more than they use, to be healers and creators and problem solvers who bring the hope that comes from a loving and caring God to the world.

Anyway, I had to smile because a few minutes after having the conversation I helped get my youngest boy dressed up in warm clothes so he could play outside.  The little coat I zipped up?  It was originally a hand-me-down from an older nephew (who is now a 25 year old former Marine,) and now all six of my sons have worn it through the years.



That's one thing I love about having a large family - everything gets completely and thoroughly used up.  I have zero consumeristic guilt. There's very little waste, and when there are things in excess, we love to find someone else who can benefit from what we don't need.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

First days on the farm


We bought the old farmstead in the summer from homeschooling friends of ours who had a desire to move further southward.  The house is around 100 years old, and is of a simple, farmhouse style.  It was well-maintained, and doesn't need any immediate remodeling.  We will need to add additional family/living room space and another bathroom someday in the future.

There are three acres, and while we have quite a few large shade trees, we are surrounded by farmland.  I grew up with a national forest in my backyard, and that always felt a little creepy and foreboding as night fell.  I love the wide, open space here - it feels like a prairie.  It's a little bit of heaven after years of living on a small lot in town.  When the weather is nice, the kids just run like crazy; they can't get enough of the freedom to run.   Moving to the country feels like one of the nicest things we've ever been able to do for our youngest children.  (The older ones love it too.)



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Toddler, Thy Name is Difficult

This is not a staged photo.  He really does love this book.  :)  So appropriate!  :)  (I think he just likes the shiny printing on the front.)

Some people have easy toddlers.

We are not *some people.*  Most of our toddlers have been quite difficult.

The really great thing is, because he is my ninth child, I know that given enough time, patience, tolerance, love and stability, even really difficult toddlers grow up to be wonderful people.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why would you do THAT?

So, herein again....a quick navel-gazing session whereby I explore the "why" of blogging.  I know that most of you who have been around for a long time know that this is simply a journal.  (I've been online for almost ten years now...embarrassingly so, sometimes.)  When I think of it this way, I wonder why I haven't accomplished more in a decade.  :)

After five years in Southern Indiana, we've settled into our community.  I've met new people, made new friends....and the world is even more connected.  I guess that I just want to give a little explanation to any new readers.  Over the years, I've gotten quizzed -

"What do you hope to accomplish with a blog?"  (Which sent me into a spiraling existential crisis when I couldn't come up with a real PURPOSE...) and, from my very private siblings, "Why would you do THAT?"

Well....honestly....to answer both of the questions for old friends and new,

I dunno.  :)

I have no agenda.  I've lived long enough now to realize that I don't actually know enough about life to tell other people how to live theirs.  I have enough on my plate to even notice how you are juggling yours.  (And I think that's good....I think that's a point God's been trying to get across to me for a long, long time.  "Hey you - live YOUR life.  Live the life that I have for YOU and the ones I've blessed you with.  Mind your own business.  Start by making YOUR world better, and let me deal with the overflow or whatever happens after that.")

So, that's it.  Just...living life....and loving to write (and needing to write so that I stay in some sort of practice) and missing the record of our days when times are too busy to blog. 

There are times over the years when I have avoided blogging certain things because they are mundane or boring, and I've thought..."who really wants to read this?"

I guess I'm over that.  :)  If I'm blogging to keep a record, well, very often, being a "stay-at-home-homeschooling mom" is quite mundane.  (I know, I know.  Try to not let me see that shocked face, okay?)

So, along with satisfying your curiosity with large families, you'll be getting a regular farm report.

Just not at dawn.  I'm too lazy for that.

Thanks for stopping by....






Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Meanwhile, back in June 2012


I'll play a little bit of catch up here for awhile, mostly photographs with a little bit of commentary.
This spring our second son, Nicholas, graduated from our homeschool.  He was thrilled.  (Does it show?) Two down, seven to go.  I'm thankful for a brief break before Emily's senior year and the great college/transcript rush begins anew.  (2014.)


Nick is a freshman in college now, living about two hours from us.  He left for school the same week that we moved.  I'm not certain if two major transitions at once were easier; but perhaps they were.  He seems to be doing very well out on his own; and if the sounds from the piano are any indicator he is progressing quickly as he majors in music.  All I know for sure is that he is greeted like a rock-star when he returns home, and we are so very proud of him.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Which I Became a Country Girl

I never intended to walk away....honestly...but it has been a good year.  Some of you have been so gracious to periodically stop by or say hello - and I owe you an update!

This year has been full of so many things. 

In late summer we bought an old farmhouse on three acres.  Our family of eleven divvied up our favorite books and moved in three separate ways.  Our oldest son Jake stayed in town and still lives in our previous house.  Our second son, Nick, graduated in May and went away to college in the fall.  It's all good, good, good.  I'll fill you in over time...

I suppose that if I am to tell the full truth, I have to say that this adorable little boy above keeps me very, very...very busy.  And IF I am able to blog at all, he will keep me from being long-winded.

I'm a country girl now.  (Or at least I pretend.)  We live a simple life; as simple as we can make it. 

I've got a lot of pictures to share from the last six months - just a few at a time, a few minutes here and there.

So, hello.  How've you been?