Friday, May 24, 2013
The thing about Ivar lately is that it seems he is staging his own awesome kodak moments for me. Everything he does is adorable to me and makes me want to run and grab the camera.
It is supposed to rain some more this weekend, and I believe he may be the only tractor driver around who will be okay with that. It's getting terribly late to get the corn in, and the rains just keep coming.
Posted by Becca Groves at Friday, May 24, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
This is our first springtime at our new house and it has been so fun to see what pops up. It's all a surprise. We had no idea those tulips under the coop were there when we first set the coop in place. I felt bad for them, assuming they wouldn't survive, but they seem to love it under the coop. The yellow tulips shot up in the middle of the yard, with a few purple ones nearby. And I am so glad to still have lilacs. That was one of my favorite parts of our yard in Minneapolis. I love that smell more than anything.
But of all the flowers, the ones that are delighted in the most are "The Dandylands!"
Posted by Becca Groves at Thursday, May 23, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Yesterday I spent much of the day with my new wheelbarrow. I adore it. It is the tool that has turned me from a nagging wife ("will you please move that pile?!!) into an empowered wife ("I can move that pile!"). I spent the day moving tires, cement block, and removing rocks out of the field. And as I hauled the HEAVY rocks back and forth, I realized that this sort of less impressive work won't make the blog, but it should. Because it is more "normal life" than rainbow cakes. The trouble is that there is no real great picture of a field before and after picking out the rocks. You wouldn't be able to tell much of a change. But I can. And I decided it is worth writing about because it is as much a part of our day to day as everything else.
My other task yesterday was to clean the downstairs bathroom now that the chickens are in their coop. It took me three hours. Every single surface had to be scrubbed down.
When I was done Rory was so impressed he said we should go out to dinner. Instead, I took a rain check and told him we had to mow the lawn. It was embarrassing how long it was. It blew like prairie grass in the wind. So we fired up the riding lawn mower and I drove myself in circles for an hour. And then Rory took over and zoomed around the trees.
Today we are tackling the garage, and planting a few more hostas around the shed. And Ivar is going to keep sweeping the grass. Because that obviously needs to be done too.
Posted by Becca Groves at Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Sunday was a precious day for me, and one that I don't want to forget. Our nephew, Kirby, was baptized and we went back to our former church for the morning.
During the sermon, Pastor Strandquist told a story of Jesuit priest Father John Kavanaugh who went to work for a season at The House of the Dying in Calcutta. He wanted to know how best to spend the rest of his life.
On his first morning, he met Mother Teresa and she asked, "What can I do for you?" Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. "And what do you want me to pray for?" she asked. He expressed the deepest desire of his heart: "Pray that I have clarity."
She said firmly, "No, I will not do that." Kavanaugh was taken aback. Mother Teresa continued, "Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of. " When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, "I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God."
We celebrated Kirby's baptism with a big family meal and then Sara, Kirby's mom, stood and read the blessings and hopes we had written for Kirby and sent to her the week before. The hopes and prayers for this boy were so empowering. I got so excited to get to watch him run the race. And it made me excited to keep running my own.
Then Sara told of how she and Kirby had been talking the day before about his baptism and why he wanted to be baptized. Kirby had mentioned that he felt like it was the next right step for him, that he wanted to know God more and that he was looking for clarity in what God would have for him.
Sara told this and then commented on the goodness of God to answer his question so quickly, especially on the day of his baptism, through the sermon we had just heard at church. She said, "that is how God speaks to us, and I don't want you to miss that. Sometimes I ask questions to God and it might be weeks or months, maybe years before I hear a word. But God hears me and he is faithful to respond. You asked for something on Saturday and God spoke to you through the sermon on Sunday."
She was talking to Kirby, but I sat back and remembered this truth for myself. It was a remarkable lesson on the beauty of a faithful walk with the Lord, and how He wants to be in conversation with us.
Kirby stood up and said how much he loves his family and how special the day was for him and then he said, "Trust is my Clarity!"
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.
Posted by Becca Groves at Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
It took Ivar and me forever to get ourselves organized enough to get out the door. I wanted to move fast, Ivar wanted to move slow. I was a frustrated mom.
I enjoyed the drive to the garage sale we were going to. A pretty country drive with lots of cows and tractors. We even got to watch a train go by and Ivar kept telling me he "liked this adventure." I felt like a grateful mom.
I realized I forgot to get cash. I felt like an absent minded mom.
Went to Cub to buy bananas and to get $40 cash back. I felt like a resourceful mom.
But for the life of me I could not remember my pin. I felt like an idiot mom.
Got to the parking lot and remembered my pin. Went to Bank of the West and gladly paid the $3 additional charge to get my $40 out of the machine. Went to the garage sale and bought tons of clothes for Ivar, books, two dvd's, four tops for me, two pairs of shoes for Ivar, a Thomas the train set for next Christmas and a large cookie monster all for thirty six bucks. Felt like a thrifty mom. Which made me feel like a happy mom.
Returned to the car and couldn't find my phone. Knew I must have set it down at one of the three garage sales we had visited. Felt like an annoyed mom.
Had a lady call my phone, watched another confused lady walk out of a garage looking around and heard my friend call to me, "is this your phone?" Felt like a relieved mom.
Decided we needed lunch before we drove home and got us each a hamburger with extra pickles and a bag of three cookies from McDonalds. The cookies were for Cookie Monster. And I felt like the best, most clever mom in America.
Started our drive home and looked at the clock in the car realizing it was only noon. And I felt like a tired mom.
Posted by Becca Groves at Friday, May 17, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The thing that surprises me most about the chickens is how pet-like they are. If they hear my voice, all six come running to me what are you up to? oh you're going over here. we'll come too. so you're painting the trim on the shed. alright. oh careful not to step on us. here, we'll just stand on your feet while you paint. it looks real nice. we like you. a lot. glad you came outside again.
They are much more like mammals than birds, in this way. And I can see how people can quickly become crazy chicken ladies. I believe I am well on my way.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Rory made up his own plans and figured every part out as he went along. He blows my mind. Sometimes I rub my eyeballs with both fists and scratch my head and think I did marry a computer guy, right? So who is this guy?
The chickens are out there now and they love their new place. And after today I'm pretty sure the next item on the 'to build' list is a playhouse for Ivar with lots of doors and windows.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
When I tell people my blog is called Joyfully Becca I sort of cringe. I mean, I picked it, but I also have some issues with it. I imagine when people hear it they picture me twisting my pointer finger in an imaginary dimple on my cheek. Like I'm always happy. Always smiling and laughing and high fiving.
The truth is this: I am quite the half glass full kind of girl. Even when things are going poorly I will often think, "well, at least this will make a good story." I tend to enjoy life a lot. And I do tend to be joyful.
But I'm not always happy. I'm an emotional girl. But I have learned along the way that happy is the emotion and joyful is the choice.
Especially the last two months. I can now see that this rough winter was a combination of a lot of things: some postpartum depression for sure, some seasonal affective disorder with winter blues, adjusting to life with two kids, lack of sleep and incredible anxiety over things out of my control. The combination was pretty awful.
March and April were not happy months. But I still enjoyed them. We tapped our trees during this time, we got our chickens, we watched Elsie become mobile, Ivar started asking to play with his little sister. Life was good, and looking back March and April were joyful.
I've been signing every email and letter Joyfully, Becca since my junior year in high school. I completely stole it from my best friend Heidi who also signs everything this way. Heidi is my role model in all things joyful. We still laugh about a stressful day in high school when she told me, "You gotta choose joy, Bec." And I lashed out at her, "You want me to choose phoniness Heidi?!! Because I'm not joyful!"
But Heidi understood joy was a choice. I didn't have to be happy. But I could still choose to rise above whatever high school drama I was living that day. The earlier we learn this lesson, the better.
The source of joy comes from knowing Jesus and knowing exactly whose I am. Especially when I am walking through so many identity changes all at once (becoming a mother, moving to a new town, still finding my footing through it all) it is a great relief to always know whose I am. I am Christ's. And that knowledge right there, is joy.
So here's to joy. And to choosing it for yourself.
Posted by Becca Groves at Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
My freshman year of college, I was assigned work study in the cafeteria. The first day I showed up in this room with fifty other students and they started calling out areas they needed help in. "The Grill. The Wok. The Pasta Station. The Bakery." And up my hand flew. So then five of us went to the bakery and they listed off other tasks, "Cookies. Bars. Cake Decorating." I was the last to pick and they said, "we'll put you on cake decorating."
It was awesome. I had a whole counter with every color imaginable. I had five gallon buckets of frosting all around me and a list each time I showed up of students who had a parent order them a birthday cake. There was every tip you could imagine for the piping. There was every color frosting in the world. It was like a little playground for me.
Only trouble was that I had no idea what I was doing. And those first cakes were horrendous. I had a great time making them, but my lesson was brief and the bags felt huge and I was awkward. My signature cake became one with confetti and big balloons because once the bag hit an air pocket and burst unplanned frosting all over my cake, I had no choice. Confetti and balloons covered all.
No one knew I was the cake decorator and I always thought that was a good thing. And no paying customer (the parents) ever saw the cake they paid for. Another good thing.
All this to say, I kept thinking about my days in the Gustavus bakery as I decorated this cake because this one, though it took time, was so easy to decorate. I used a large tip and made little imperfect circles, just going for texture and color. It's my favorite cake I've made. And has my head swimming with new ideas for the next one.
It took four recipes of Aunt Jan's cream cheese frosting. It took two white cake mixes to make the six layers. It took one day to make. It took seven minutes and thirteen six year olds to consume. And it was awesome.
I was planning on pastels on the inside, but wow that food gel is potent. I kept trying to use less and less but it wasn't meant to be. For the frosting I figured out how to just use a toothpick drop of color for each layer, and that gave me the pastels I was going for.
Sonna was my perfect client. She was thrilled and told her thirteen kindergarten friends, "Everyone has to close their eyes when my aunt cuts it, because there is a surprise inside! Ready. Close them!"
So Happy Birthday Sonna! We love you so much. You are the perfect colorful personality to have such a colorful rainbow cake.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Me: Ivar, tomorrow is a very special day called Mother's Day. Who is your mother?
Ivar: Baby Elsie.
Me: I am your mother. Your mama is your mother and tomorrow is a special day to say, "good job mother."
Ivar: Oh. (quick pause) Who's my dadder?
I kid you not. Verbatim. Stood up to write it down as soon as it was said.
And now, for some awesome Motherly Wisdom from years ago, click here.
Posted by Becca Groves at Saturday, May 11, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
We've got a fun weekend ahead including a dance recital, two birthday parties, church, mothers day and finishing the chicken coop. That would be quite the mothers day gift: to see my six sweet chickens find a new home in the great outdoors so I can get my downstairs bathroom back.
I'll leave you with a picture of Elsie, showing me that chicken feet are not scary and I don't need to fear them. Thank you brave Elsie. I am so proud to be your mama.
Posted by Becca Groves at Friday, May 10, 2013
Thursday, May 9, 2013
This is what is happening in my kitchen right now. It's my dream come true in birthday cakes, half way done. A rainbow cake with rainbow frosting, special request from the birthday girl Sonna. Since the moment Sonna asked me if I'd make her a rainbow cake, my thoughts have been dreaming of this beauty. And now she's coming together. It's tedious and requires a lot of cleaning between each color of the rainbow, but my oh my is it lovely.
You may remember I made my first rainbow cake for Sara and Lisa. And they seemed to love it. I was pregnant with Ivar at the time.
I made my first rainbow cupcakes last year for Sonna's fifth birthday. I was pregnant with Elsie at the time.
This time around I am not pregnant, but while trying to bake all six layers of Roy G. Biv goodness with both kids awake, I sort of realized how much easier this rainbow cake thing is without a two year old helping and a 9 month old crying out for attention. It was a bit more challenging this time, hence the frosting late into the night while the kids are sleeping. A much better idea.
Posted by Becca Groves at Thursday, May 09, 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Behold. You are looking at the only five pictures we have of the four of us since Elsie was born. Thousands of pictures have been taken, but only five of just the four of us. And none of them are winners. They're decent, but as I told Rory, "if one of us were to die tragically, the real tragedy would be that the other would have to frame one of these five and look at it the rest of their lives..."
Did you notice my side bar? It only took me nine months to update our family picture to include Elsie! Hooray! And I added a few quick links to our chickens, maple syrup, the grovestead and my yearly favorites. It's been a long, long time since I've done any blog updating and it feels good. Enjoy!
Posted by Becca Groves at Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Well it is a new week and I am in some euphoric happy place that I like to call the land of lovely weather. For as low as I felt with the snow one week ago, I think I feel just that high now that it is gone. It is unbelievable how these warm days with green grass have helped with moral around here.
Today I got to drive the truck to Bloomington where I spoke at our old church for their women's bible study. It went really well and was so fun to see lots of friends that I have been missing since we moved. I had lunch with one friend and went to another's to pick through her garage sale items for tomorrow and I was just so grateful to be out and about, reconnecting. Plus, I love driving the truck. It;s fun to drive and it has a tape deck and crank windows. So I cranked those windows down and took in the lovely day.
Today we are painting the chicken coop because the coop finally could be finished once the snow melted. And let me tell you it is time to move the girls outside. They are a stinkin up the place. And they're so big now. Pictures and an update on the coop to come.
Posted by Becca Groves at Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
I have watched a whole lot of Sound of Music this week and I heard Maria sing the words I most needed to hear. She said she had confidence that spring will come again.
All four of us got the stomach flu this week...Ivar on Monday night, Elsie on Wednesday night, Me on Friday and Rory on Saturday. Between the flu and the snow, we are quite glad to see this week come to an end.
And now, looking outside, I am confident that spring will come again! The snow is melting today. I'm hoping it is all gone by tomorrow. And the best part? The grass that is visible again is BRIGHT green.
Spring has come again. Thank goodness.
***And tell me how awesome that last line is, "despite what you see, I have confidence in me." That is quality writing.
Posted by Becca Groves at Sunday, May 05, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
My top strength is Positivity, so let's give this a whirl. On the plus side, it is the kind of snow that takes gorgeous pictures. It's the heavy stuff that won't be around for long. The perfect snow for snowmen, snow forts and snow caterpillars.
Also, we're glad that no one was in the baby swing when that big branch came down. That's a good thing. Another good thing is that we just got a chainsaw. And since we can hear lots of big branches falling out in our woods, that'll be put to good use.
And for the kids of our town, this has been a record setting year for school being cancelled. And so that's fun. Snow days are awesome. Even my bible study was cancelled this morning, which was nice for me since Elsie was up all night with the violent flu. But she's napping now and has kept a bottle down so that's looking brighter too.
Oh, and we just completed our last batch of sap in our evaporator (pictured with the cylinder cement block chimney) so it is okay that it is covered in snow again.
All in all, it's looking like we'll spend another day on the couch, this time watching the new John Deere Tractor dvd Ivar picked out at the library last night. A lay low day, we call it.
And that's my best attempt at positivity. The bottom line: we know this stuff can't stick around for long!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
This is what it looks like out our window right at this moment and it's likely to continue throughout tomorrow. And guess what? It actually did snuff my May Day joy. I didn't really mean for it to happen, but between my upset tummy and the accumulating white stuff, I just gave up and we watched The Sound of Music all day long. Thankfully this day began with a lovely conversation with my old neighbor Kathryn, who told me she made a may day cake for the staff at the elementary school where she volunteers "since it is just a bit too much work to make each staff person a basket." :)
Well, it has been a long winter. But when you compare this winter to Laura Ingalls' Long Winter, there are some differences. For example, we're not binding corn husks together because we ran out of coal for our only heat source. And we're not grinding our wheat in a coffee mill in order to make brown bread. And we don't wake up with snow on our quilts because the roof isn't sealed. And we're not starving to death. So that's good.
But it has been a long winter.
Rory and I went to an event a few weekends ago where we spent two entire days outside. It was about forty degrees one day and thirty the next. But we dressed for it, and I felt great. It was so good to be outside for that much time and a good reminder that I really should get cross country skis or snow shoes for next winter. I think that would help me get outside for longer stretches of time.
**So I'm not super reflective this month. But you can click on the following to read my January Reflections, February Reflections and March Reflections all inspired by my 2013 word of the year: Reflect.
Posted by Becca Groves at Wednesday, May 01, 2013