Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the most important thing you'll hear this school year

My sister's girls slept over on Friday night and I had the great privilege of tucking them in and saying prayers. We prayed Now I Lay Me, Our Father and Dear Jesus. And then I asked the girls if they had any questions about God or things they wondered about. I am, after all, one of their Sponsors, present at their Baptism, and take this responsibility very seriously.

The room was dark, they were snuggled into their sleeping bags and I felt like a camp counselor. Sonna wanted to know what happens to us when we die, so we talked about Heaven and how this world isn't our actual home. Our home is still waiting for us where we will be face to face with Jesus and there will be no more pain, sorrow, death or sadness. 

I told the girls about the story I read with my kids this morning from the Jesus Storybook Bible. We read about how Satan came into the garden and told Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the tree. And that when they ate that fruit God's very heart broke because he knew that by eating the fruit men and women would forever begin to think they didn't need Him. That they could outwit his wisdom, out-think his logic. Men and women would come to believe the whole story of God and Jesus is just a made-up, feel-good tale. 

I told them this: the most important thing for you to remember is that this is still Satan's goal in this world.  He wants us to eat that fruit and believe we have become smarter than God.

But then we talked about the moments Satan cannot take from us. The moments when God is so near we just know in our bones that He is exactly who He says He is. Like when you're out in the dark country and see a canopy of bright stars above you. Or when you hike to the top of a mountain and see a view that takes your breath away. Or when you witness the steadfast faith of a grandparent or someone you love and respect dearly...it helps fuel our own faith. Or when you hear a song that stirs your soul. Or when you watch a little life grow inside of a mama...the most amazing miracle for me. Or when you feel pure joy and happiness. Those are all times when you know God is Real. 

But Satan wants us to think the whole story is a lie. And will work hard to confuse us of our identity. We have to always remember that we are Children of God. My prayer is that they never forget that.

We talked about reading our Bibles and how that is the one place where we can hear God's voice clear as day. God wants to speak into our lives, and the Bible is where we can hear him the best.

The room was dark and quiet and I felt so honored to be sharing these big ideas and this good news with them. And for God to be reminding me of his good news even while I was telling of His great love to my nieces.

Then we wondered why Adam and Eve ate the fruit.

And I told them the truth: I would have eaten the fruit. And they would have too. I told them about how I sometimes say things I wish I could take back. How I lose my patience with my kids. How I get frustrated and think mean thoughts. They said they do these things too. I told them its even written in the bible that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Eve was just the first.

And that's why God sent his son Jesus.

Because of our sin we have been separated from God. So God sent his son Jesus to sacrifice his life on the cross to make things right with God. Through Jesus, we are forgiven just as if we had never sinned. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.

And that reminded them of a Vacation Bible School song they know, so we ended our conversation with singing.  I went upstairs and lay in my bed. I thought a lot about how good it was to walk through my own beliefs, explaining them to a child. It's hard work. But I felt fire in my bones as we talked. I knew in the moment there could be no more important way to spend my time. I loved hearing their thoughts and stories that came up as we talked. And I love knowing that they are starting the school year having heard the most important thing they'll ever learn: That God is real. That Satan would like for them to forget this truth. That all have sinned. That Jesus is the only way to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

this summer was sponsored in part by...

Lemonade Ice Tea. aka the Arnie Palmer. I have consumed so much of this stuff over the last three months, it's crazy. I actually think I have had enough  now, and can wait nine more months until it's time to buy it again.

Santitas Corn Chips...the $2 bag. We go through these quite quickly at our house. I have found the $2 bag is important for us, as we can't seem to eat the bigger bag fast enough before they get a stale. But we can consume a $2 bag like nobody's business.

The red dress I got at Old Navy for $12. I wore it every other day and sometimes the days in between.

Marie's chunky blue cheese dressing. I ate a whole lot of cucumbers and sweet peas with that stuff. A whole lot.

Honestly, without these items, I wonder what my summer would have been like.


Friday, August 29, 2014

august at the grovestead

It's been a good month. Full of pool-filling, diaper-only-wearing, dirt-digging, veggie-eating, cat-feeding, turkey-watching, dirt-eating, walnut-picking, cock-a-doodle-doing and storm watching. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

girls golf

In 10th grade I was riding in the back of a bus on the way back from a field trip. I was sitting with my friend Kari and she was complaining about how she had to go to golf practice that night. That her dad was making her join the golf team and she did not want to go. I remember telling her I'd go with her. That I'd call my mom on the public phone when we got back and tell her I was joining the golf team.

I went to that first practice having never touched a club. Ever. The coach was this awesome math teacher at Rosemount High School who sincerely wanted more golfers in the world. He dug out a set of clubs for me out of a storage room by his classroom and this began my introduction to golf. This teacher had flashlights taped to the end of pvc pipes that we used in a dark hall to watch the placement of our clubs. It seemed he had a toy for learning every part of the game. We worked with him until tryouts when everyone was placed on a team.

Kari and I were placed on the intramural team. And we were so excited because that meant we got to work with Coach Farrington. The hot college student who was hired to oversee those of us who needed some serious help on our golf game. Kari and I mostly giggled around Coach Farrington. It was decided early on that I was the one who should marry him because then we could hyphenate our names: Harrington-Farrington.

I loved golf from the start. I loved being outside, I loved the pace of the game. I loved talking to Kari each night after school.

I always felt bored around hole 7 (we only ever played 9 holes, a rule I still follow to this day), but by my senior year had improved enough that I was playing the #1 JV spot pretty consistently. But my coaches never moved me to varsity because as I was told, "Becca, you talk way too much to your opponents. You need to focus on your game."

And the idea of not talking while golfing sounded utterly boring. Why bother. So they never moved me up.

Flash forward to this spring. My friend Allyson and I talked about joining a league. And thank God we did not! But we did find another friend, Alexi, to come out with us. We met at a coffee shop in May with our calendars and tried to get a date on the calendar about every two weeks. (side note: Alexi had her calendar on her phone, Allyson had her calendar on her tablet. I had my kitchen wall calendar all sprawled out on the coffee shop table. Because I am that old fashioned!)

We met for our first night to play, which was the first time I had touched my clubs in five years. And you know what? It totally showed. That first hole was soooooo long and I was trying to figure out how to gracefully back out of these golf dates. But by the ninth hole I had hit enough clean shots that I wanted to come and try it again. And the second time we golfed I was better than I would have ever expected after that first game. (Still not saying much...but better.) Plus, after each game the three of us went out to eat where we'd talk for another few hours.

These nights were some of my favorite of the whole summer. It was so fun to be without kids for a while, fun to be outside on stunning, glorious (sometimes rainy) nights, fun to be hitting a white ball, fun to be laughing so much and fun to be making new friends.

We haven't had our end of season golf banquet yet, but when we do we have some awards to give out. I'll for sure get Most Improved. Alexi earned the Team Spirit Award. And Allyson will take home MVP.

See you next season, ladies.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

two years at the grovestead

At the end of July we hit our two year mark at The Grovestead. We were between vacations and I didn't have time to write about it, but I have reflected on this milestone quite a bit. My sister has always said that two years is the magic number for a new place to feel like home. And I would fully agree. It took both years to get here.

And just like one year ago, I am having trouble processing what was the greatest change: was it going from one kid to two kids? the actual lifestyle change from the city to the country? surviving two of the longest, coldest winters ever?

I'm not sure.

There are still moments when I rub my eye balls and shake my head that this is my life. Like the week I was looking all over for the bathroom scale, only to find it out in the garage being used to weigh potatoes. Strangely, I hadn't thought to look in the garage. Or the night Rory was away in Wisconsin and I found myself awake at 3:30, worrying that the chicks didn't have enough water. So I went outside on a very dark night, by myself, with a flashlight between my legs, pouring water into their water feeder. It was a moment I'll never forget because I was proud of myself for taking on the responsibility. And because it was dark and spooky outside. Becoming the keeper of the honeybees is another "who have I become?" adventure. But a good one. I feel stretched and surprised and so empowered by learning something so completely new.

This move was a really good one for us. It's full of adjustments and challenges too, but overall we are living a dreamy life. One night in particular comes to mind, that sort of sums up our new lifestyle. The night before we left for Family Bible Camp, we were at a friend's birthday party for their kids. We were eating homemade doughnuts and pasta salad and Rory and I started telling each other what all needed to get done before we could leave in the morning: we needed to buy chicken feed, I needed to check on the bees, we desperately needed to mow the lawn, the beets needed to be pulled and maybe the potatoes and the apple trees had to be watered. Not to mention packing up the family for the week. We looked at each other and then checked the time on our phones and realized we had to bust a move. We had actual farm chores that had to get done before the sun went down.

But five hours later we had the car all packed up. We had worked like a machine, taking turns with the kids while one parent did something outdoors, the other cleaned and packed inside. Eventually the kids were in bed and on that starry night, Rory brought our tallest ladder so we could climb up on our roof to watch a lightening storm moving our direction. There was no moon that night and it was so dark except for the lightening illuminating the clouds in front of us and the milky way stretched out above us.

There were fireflies blinking in the woods and I remember really having it sink in that we are living a rich and full life. Even though hours before while tending to our animals and land, laundry and children, I was wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.

That evening seems to sum it up our transition to the country the very best. Our life here on this hobby farm is a mixed bag. There are moments that feel demanding and exhausting followed by moments that feel absolutely perfect and incredibly blessed.

And what I'm finding is that the blessed moments outweigh the frustrating ones. I'm excited to be here for a good, long time.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


So I have been quiet on this blog for a few days, but I've been really active on Instagram. It's a quick way to post pictures and I love that. But you all know I am much too wordy to go solely to pictures. I have much to say. So I'll still be writing here. But for anyone interested in the up-to-the-minute happenings at the grovestead, be sure to click on this link to take you to my instagram page :) You can click on an individual picture to make it bigger. Enjoy!


Friday, August 22, 2014

produce guilt

You could either call it Produce Guilt or Garden Guilt, but since about the middle of July, I have been calling it produce guilt. It's the very real guilt of a head of broccoli going to waste, flowering in your garden because you were only able to eat three heads of broccoli that week, not five. It's the sincere guilt of watching your swiss chard grow rhubarb-size because you just don't know what to do with swiss chard. It's a guilt that lingers as every time you walk into your garden you are greeted by brown and dehydrated sweet peas that still dangle in the wind.

I have told my neighbors about my Produce Guilt. I have invited them to come by anytime and get anything they want out of the garden. And a few have stopped by a time or two. But it's not enough.

So when my eggplants became ready for harvest, I decided I would not let one egg plant go to waste. After eating eggplant Parmesan, the one and only eggplant recipe in my repertoire, I consulted Martha and her incredible list of recipe ideas. There I found the recipe for Roasted Eggplant Dip with Greek Yogurt.

Last night in the midst of bedtime with the kids, I made the stuff. I roasted four smallish eggplants under the broiler until all sides were black with char, removed the skin, gave it a rough chop and added a few more ingredients. And it turned out decent. I don't think anyone would ask for the recipe at a party, but for using up four eggplants, the dip went well with pretzel crisps and was good for watching Shark Tank.

But I should warn you, the smell left on the lower level of the house seems to linger. Like, when you walk down the stairs at 4 am to get your son a sippy cup of water, there is an aroma that you must walk through to get to the the water faucet. It will stop you, make you gag a bit, and force you to give your son his sippy cup and run back downstairs to blog about it. And to rid your house of every last trace of the stuff. Because it smells so, so stinky.

So what do you do? Do you eat sub-par dip because you feel guilty about how well eggplants seem to grow in Minnesota summers? Or do you turn a blind eye to all of those purple tear drops, begging to be made into something?

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Anybody want some eggplants?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

great uncle carl

These two love each other so much! And they take the best pictures together. There is love all around and somehow the camera seems to catch it every time. You might remember the time Uncle Carl showed up and saved the day when Ivar was just a baby.

Or the awesome Rooster Scooter he made for Ivar.

Just look at this sweetness!

Well, this time when he came he fixed the back wheel on Ivar's trike. Which was no small job, as the wheel we ordered was too big so that he had to grind down the axle using a blade grinder. And that's Uncle Carl: he's always fixing things and giving our boy lots of love and attention. We love you Uncle Carl!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

recipe links

I am reading Farmer Boy again. Farmer Boy is one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and tells of her husband's childhood growing up on his family farm out east. It details his day to day, what work they did each month, and a lot of the book talks about the food the mom and sisters prepared.

I am reading this book at the same time our garden is bursting with produce and I got inspired. So I've been cooking and baking and trying new things in our kitchen. For my own sake, and for yours, if you are interested, I thought I'd catalog the recipes we have tried.

Hummus.  No chickpeas in our garden, but I've always wanted to make my own hummus. And since we go through the tubs from the store so fast, I thought I'd give it a whirl. This hummus was as good as the stuff I buy at the grocery store. I wanted to for sure keep track of this link because the order and process seems to make a huge difference in the world of Hummus.

Basil Maintenance. I was all excited to make a batch of pesto, and then realized I needed a whole lot more basil than I had thought. So I stumbled upon the link for basil maintenance that taught me how to grow a healthier, bushier plant. And how to propagate basil from this one plant. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have six indoor basil plants!

Maple Lemonade. I wanted to figure out how to sweeten my lemonade without white sugar. You can definitely taste the maple, but it is unique and great on ice.

Martha Stewarts Seasonal Produce Guide. Have you seen this before? It's just fun to look around! I used it to try to find a blueberry cobbler recipe. I ended up making Pioneer Woman's Cobbler and it was awesome with our homemade ice cream melting on top.

Philadelphia Style Vanilla Ice Cream. I got out the ice cream maker this week. Man is homemade ice cream good. We now have a line up of future ice creams to try, including peanut butter ice cream and a blackberry sorbet.

Broccoli Salad: I cannot get enough of this stuff. But I'll be honest, I cannot make it as well as any deli counter can. I have tried, and my version just doesn't taste as good. I'm not sure what the secret is...but the grocery store kind is the best. So I'll just keep buying little, personal tubs for myself.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

life in words

This is our truck bed, where we have a little unexpected garden growing in the compost we never scooped out. I saw this day after day, but it didn't register as hilarious until I drove a friend to the movies and as she got out of the truck at the theater, she whipped out her camera to document our mobile garden.


So I have become a blogger who writes about the pictures she takes. It's fine, and serves as a great way to document our lives. But today, besides the picture of our mobile garden, I'm going to try to write out my thoughts here without pictures, as the thoughts pop into my head.

I'll begin with Elsie. Because the girl is out of control. I usually know where she is because I can hear the step stool scooting in front of her. She pushes it everywhere she needs to go. Yesterday, I was cleaning up the bathroom counter that was flooded after she had been sent to wash her hands. I came out to find that she had found the yogurt I had been dishing up before cleaning up the flood in the bathroom. She had utilized every spoon from the silverware drawer in an attempt to get that yogurt into the bowl.

It was everywhere but the bowl.

I sort of envision her as a little, white, female Steve Urkel. She doesn't try to be such a handful. She just is. And when I catch her mid-mess her eyes look so sweet as if to say, "did I do that?"

Today I was putting laundry away and discovered her standing on her step stool taking little bites out of all of the apples I just purchased yesterday. Every one of them, tiny bites on each side. As if a little rodent had found my fruit.

I can't tell our kittens a part. I never have been able to. I think if I tried I could probably figure out some marking, but there is little time to study cat hair patterns in my life. But I know which cat is which based on behavior. One is super wild and the other is super timid. I have decided Thomas is the more active of the two, the one who proudly brings frogs and bats and mice into the garage clamped in his jaw. Percy runs for his life when I get out the broom to sweep the garage.

Ivar is growing every single day and it amazes me. He looks so long and huge when I go in at night to check on him at night. Lately it has stopped me in my tracks and I just stand there and look at my little boy.

Yesterday I played with Ivar and Elsie really, really hard all afternoon. We were playing doctor, taking turns being the doctor and patient, and Elsie was always the nurse. We each wore a clean diaper on our heads and used more clean diapers to bandage wounds and to use as blankets and for ice packs. We laughed so hard together and it felt so awesome. To play without interruption. It reminded me of my babysitting days when I was a rockstar sitter. And now we have a whole package of diapers that have been spread out and are all ready to wear.

I have a lot of produce guilt this year. We have so much coming out of our garden that it is hard to keep up with meals to eat it up. And I know I should give it away, but even that takes some level of organization, and I'm just not there at the moment.

Tomorrow the woman who lived in this house for 40 years before us is going to come by for a visit with her daughter. This is the week her husband died, six years ago and she asked if they could just come and be at the farm. She has been here lots of times since we moved in, but not with her daughter. I am so pleased to have them coming and hope they can take a long walk and talk and remember.


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Stepping Stones Community Walk

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early and went to hang pennants for The Stepping Stones Community Walk. It had been rescheduled from earlier in the summer and I had no idea what sort of turn out to expect.

In the end, we had about 80 people come to walk and that number felt really good. A great start, and a really wonderful group of people. One of the employees from the Women's Center spoke before we walked and did an awesome job of communicating the heart this center has for helping these mom's get back on their feet. And then we walked a quick mile to the picnic pavilion that then led to Celebrate Dundas.

There is a funny vulnerability in helping lead an event like this. The day before I started to worry that it might have been a silly idea. You wonder if anyone will show up. But when everyone started pulling up in their cars to register I knew we were onto something good. People were there because they wanted to be and wanted to support The Women's Center. And there was a collective energy and camaraderie that made me so grateful to get to be a part of such a morning.

I was trying to explain this feeling of gratitude to my mom and my sister-in-law Sara after the walk as we wandered through a community garage sale and Sara mentioned a line Gary Haugen had once said, "If you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you do something, something might happen."

I love those words. They sum up the humble hopefulness you hold onto when you're doing anything that feels like you're throwing yourself out there. Like the young mom who walked through the Stepping Stones program this year who is now registered to take night classes at a community college. She's doing something, and it's going to change the course of her life and the life of her baby.


Friday, August 15, 2014

family reunion: to lake superior

My favorite memories from our family time together on the North Shore:

-The night we went to Temperance River and Claire Helen gave me a back massage while Sonna did my hair. I was sitting on a log and I kept making up new verses to The Edmund Fitzgerald a song of Harrington lore. Annika and Mara came over with Nellie while Sonna kept telling us "fun facts" about the sinking of the Titanic and I kept telling her, "that fact isn't fun at all!" We had the giggles so bad and I loved laughing with my nieces.

-We went to Lutsen to ride the Alpine Slide and I heard Simon say, "I want to go up with Becca!" I told him and his mama that my heart swelled three sizes when I heard him say it. On our way up on the chairlift Simon pointed out someone's flip flop down below. I said, "who would be dumb enough to wear flip flops on a chair lift?" Simon was horrified, "You! You are wearing flip flops!"

-Ivar got out of the pool complaining that he was cold. We wrapped him in a towel and then he walked back into the pool claiming he was much warmer now.

It was an awesome trip that included roasted beets made my my sister-in-law Stephanie, Sven and Ole Pizza, skipping rocks, S'mores around a campfire, finishing a book, late night conversations all accompanied by the sound of waves on the shore. It was one for the record books. Family time is the best time.