officially summertime

This week started out a bit dreary but Wednesday and Thursday were full on summer. And I realized that technically I can call the change of season whenever I want since we aren't on a school calendar yet. So as of Wednesday I decided it's summertime! That day we met with our ecfe friends for our first weekly park play date and I put sunblock on Elsie for the first time of many to come. Today I took the kids to Dairy Queen after we went to my midwife appointment for our first twist cones of the season. We spent most of the afternoon playing in the rock box and tonight we had dinner outside complete with sweet corn! (And it was good! From Aldi!)

Here's the other thing that really-truly felt like summer vacation: I devoured a book. My sister-in-law Sara recommended All the Light we Cannot See and I plowed through all 500-some pages like it was my job. Oh to be lost in a book! It is such a great feeling! And the second I finished that one, I picked up The Yearling, a book that has been on my shelf for a year or so. And now it is time.

Just a quick note on All the Light we Cannot See. I really liked it. And I will not give one single thing away here because I (fun fact) am one who does not like to read jacket covers or watch movie previews. I love to go into a story completely unaware of a single thing that is about to happen (if it has been recommended to me by a trusted source!). But before you pick this one up as a quick read, know that it is about WWII and it includes much of the horrors. But also know that the writer paints the story so vividly that 1) I had dreams about the book multiple nights and 2) I often tried to remember, "what was that great movie I just saw..." only to realize it was the book I was reading. The writing was that descriptive and the story was that captivating.

But even with that, it will be a while before I read a heavy-load-to-carry book. I needed something less intense, but just as good. Rory has been wanting me to read The Yearling and so that is my next read. Now don't you dare say one word about this book that will give a single thing away. Not a word! But do yourself a favor and go find a good book to kick off your summer. Is there anything better than reading outside in a camping chair? Add a lemonade ice-tea and you're living the dream.

backyard camping and princess camping

On Friday night Ivar and Rory decided to camp in our backyard. You might remember the last time we went backyard camping when Ivar was just one and I was very pregnant with Elsie. That is still one of my favorite family memories, especially when we brought Ivar into his crib around 10:30...

This time it was just the boys who stayed out to camp. I decided earlier in the day that anyone who was five months pregnant or two years old would stay for Smores and then go in the house for...Princess Camping! Elsie was most enthused. Princess Camping included reading her Sophia the First coloring book and going to bed. It was the best idea ever. Now I am all for camping, but when you are just footsteps from your own bed, pregnant or two years old, it just felt wise to let the boys have their own special time.

And it was special. I remember the very first time we saw this property with the realtor Rory said, "and that's where I'd put a family campsite." Friday night that dream came true and he was very, very pleased.

this week at the grovestead

It is sort of awful that on Monday I was crying about not being productive, because there certainly is enough happening around here. I'm not really doing the work, but I am keeping the ship running that allows for the stuff to get done.

Construction began this week on our barn. I'll just go right out and acknowledge that it's going to be big. First, because barns are big. And second, because you only build a barn every 150 years, and it felt wise to build it with 150 year of possibilities. Strangely, though, I think it is going to fit right in, and Rory and I could not be happier with the shape, the crew building it, and the progress being made.

Percy had four kittens! We knew this was coming when she got real fat about two weeks ago. :) We never had her fixed and were hoping for a litter. We're cat people at this house and so excited to get to hold them eventually (but not going to interrupt the mama-baby bonding happening these crucial first weeks...)

Rory planted the garden this week and re-seeded our field with pasture grass and regular grass (closer to the house). I asked for more lawn so we can play kick ball and t-ball, and he was happy to give it to me under the condition that I get to mow that section. :) Rory's goal is always to make less lawn to mow, not more!

He's been in full swing with a new round of honey bees. We purchased two nuks (workers and queen) for two of the hives and then our friend Adam gave us frames of worker bees, split from his healthy hives, enough for two more hives. Rory ordered two queen bees that came in the mail (!!!) and he has added them to the worker hives. He took pictures to explain all of this in detail and is working on a post at the grovestead. But I'm not sure I've ever seen my husband so busy in all our marriage, so I'll let you know when he posts next. :)

We're excited it's the weekend. I'm reading a page turner and am ready to rest for a few days. Happy Weekend! Have a great Memorial Day!

the sixteenth day

I didn't post this on Tuesday because I thought it was too pitiful. But I just reread it and it made me laugh. So here it is: Becca and her terrible-no-good-very-bad-Monday. 

Monday night at dinner Rory sat down and asked me very honestly, "Can you think of an equation that ranks the swath maps based on coverage area and hail size?" I looked back at him and said, "Just an hour ago I realized that today isn't actually Tuesday. It's Monday."

I think that little exchange perfectly sums up our life lately. Rory is running circles around me and is so productive and is accomplishing so much. He's overseeing this entire barn project (which is a big's a big barn!) and is in his peak crazy-busy season for his weather software (storm season) often not coming to bed until after midnight when he finishes his work for the day. He has taken over the honey bee operation this spring, driving an hour to purchase two new hives and starting two other hives from the bees of a friend and mail ordering for two queens to add to the boxes. He literally picked up the queens at the post office this morning.  He has planted our garden, sprayed our apple trees, reseeded our field and never seems to stop.

It's so hard when my days would never be described as productive, and often little has been accomplished that could ever be measured. Monday I threw myself such a fine pity party. This one was a dandy. I was so sorry for myself. This pity party had a motherhood theme, the one where it feels like nothing ever gets done because everything is always undone the second it's done. Even yesterday I actually finished the laundry, every last sock folded and put away, only to have Elsie flood the bathroom (waterfall over the counter onto the floor below) so that I had to take all my newly folded towels, clean up the mess as fast as I could and then...put them in the washer to make another load of laundry. I could have cried.

I would say I can usually keep my perspective, head above water, remembering my bigger mission in this awesome and holy calling of motherhood.  I probably keep my perspective fifteen out of every sixteen days. But it's that sixteenth day that I just want to hire a maid, laundry service, chef and nanny and run for the hills. Or stop midday, give up and make chocolate chip cookies and get out a new book.
Anyway, Tuesday the sun was out and I woke up completely reset. I was excited because I was confident that it really was Tuesday that day and that I had a whole new day to try my Tuesday all over again. I took a long shower first thing, made myself some coffee and took care of some correspondence long overdue. I had a friend over during nap time. And mostly I just woke up with my right mind. I know all the right answers to this productivity dilemma: I am growing a baby in me, which is quite productive, I am raising kids, keeping a house, keeping a family fed and I know it all counts. I'm just saying that about every sixteen days I'm ready for a day off...

maddie is engaged!

You might remember one year ago when we celebrated our niece Maddie's 21st birthday. It was such a fun night and that evening she told everyone of her plans to travel to Sweden later that month and then to tour in the summer with a ministry team leading worship around the country. Little did we know then that on that tour bus she would catch the eye of the sound guy. They started dating and this year to celebrate her 22nd birthday, she got an engagement ring.
We've all known this is coming for a long time. Chase and Maddie met and I was ready for the announcement two months later. Every holiday I wondered, every time we gathered as a whole family I imagined the news being shared. The Groves family loves Chase and we have been happy for Maddie from the start. So it should have been absolutely no surprise when we got the text from Kyle, Rory's oldest brother, that Chase had popped the question.

And yet it totally surprised me. We were eating dinner and Rory read the text. I laughed so happily and we explained to the kids what it all meant. We told Elsie that Maddie was going to marry Chase and she told us flatly, "I already knew that." We laughed as we imagined Chase having cleared the whole thing with Elsie before he popped the question.

I got all slaphappy and told Rory I was going to drive to Kyle and Lisa's and crash the engagement party, that was disguised as a surprise 22nd birthday party, thrown by all of her college friends. Rory joked that I should bring morel mushrooms and frozen rhubarb (the projects I had been working all day) as my engagement gift. He said, "you can introduce yourself as the cool aunt from the country and ask where you should put the rhubarb and mushrooms." I was laughing so hard I was crying at the thought.

We explained to the kids that one day they would marry someone and Ivar said he wanted to marry daddy. Elsie said she wanted to marry mommy. And we said it had to be someone not in our family, that one day they'd meet someone special and they would join our family, just like Chase is joining Kyle and Lisa's family. And in an instant, my hysterical laughter turned into hysterical crying. Sobbing. Which made me laugh, because I was crying. Really hard. In fact, much of the time I couldn't tell if I was laughing or crying, I had crossed over into some super-emotional land of heightened hormones. I kept laughing and crying and it was so odd. Ivar asked what was the matter and I said to Rory with laughter, "I don't know what's happening right now." He said, "You don't know what is happening?!!"

And then he stood up and told us we needed to put our rain boots on and get outside. That clearly we needed to burn off some energy. I went and got the morel mushrooms from my neighbor and then we went to another neighbor's swing set to play for a while. Rory planted more of the garden between rain showers and eventually we called it a night.

Oh I don't know what all that was last night, but today when I talked to Lisa, Maddie's mom, I got the feeling I was just putting myself in her shoes, amazed at how fast all of this flies by. I cried on the phone with Lisa, and she told me that in 22 years the baby I'm carrying may very well fall in love and get married. Made me laughcry some more...