learning to speak tractor

I am picking up a new language lately. I'm learning to speak Tractor. Except there is no Rosetta Stone for this language. So I'm learning by immersion and dropping myself into the land where others speak this language fluently.

I've been following tractor sales on Craigslist and finally found a few that I thought looked good. They fit the horsepower we need and were in our price range. So I called my Uncle Jake to ask him what he thought of the ones that caught my eye. And lucky for me, he was with his brother out in Colorado, so I got two born and raised farmers on speaker phone as I told them about the tractors I was looking at. It was going well for a while, but then they started asking me questions.

"Becca, does the tractor that you have now have PTO?"
PTO, PTO what could that stand for...it can't be Paid Time Off. Farmers definitely do not get Paid Time Off. "Oh man, I'm sorry you guys, I'm not fluent in the acronyms at all. What is PTO?
"Power Take Off"
"Oh. Right. Yeah... I have no idea."
"That's okay. But do you know what horsepower your kubota tractor is?"
"Hmmmm. No. Not a clue. It's a cute little tractor though..."
"And tell us about the baler you have. What kind did you get."
"Oh man. I am so sorry to sound like such an idiot. I don't know. Oh wait! I have a picture of it on my wall calendar. Here. Well Elsie is blocking the front part of the word and Rory the back part, but I can read CORM. So maybe McCormick or something like that? It's red."
"International."
"Sounds about right. I'm so sorry guys. But I will remind you that I was raised in Apple Valley and this is all new to me. But I am trying, and I thank you for trying to help me..."

I hope they found it a little bit hilarious. It is humbling to be learning so many things from the ground up. I would say pride is probably the number one thing you have to rid yourself of while trying on a new lifestyle like this. There's not time. Just be humble, ask questions and be okay with making mistakes. Because it just happens. And sometimes you sound like an idiot. That's okay. I am getting more and more fluent every day. In fact, I just watched six youtube videos on moco's, you know, mower conditioners, the implement that combines cutting and drying in one process? Like a haybine or the new discbine...

Are you impressed our what?!! I'm basically at the fluency equivalent of being able to ask where the bathroom is. And I'm learning more every day. Next I'm heading back to youtube to learn about hay rakes in case we don't want to spend the money on a moco.

one less plant for the plant lady

Well, it was only a matter of time. Or, I should say thyme, because it was actually the pot with the thyme seeds that was used as the weight for the blanket fort. I wouldn't have advised this plan, but I was told excitedly by two little girls, "mom! there is a huge mess of dirt in the living room!" They were strangely thrilled by the whole thing. I wasn't as much. But I did recognize the photo opportunity.
I hope you had a good Valentine's Day! Yesterday I asked Rory if we had any plans for today and he said, "Yes!" And I got a little excited. "We have to bring the other lamb in to the meat locker!" When I asked the question I was thinking more along the lines of of dinner plans or a trip to the cupcake shop. But he was consumed with his plan of backing the trailer out to the barn and separating the sheep so just the one lamb would climb in the trailer. No cupcakes on his mind.

But we did have a great day. We celebrated as a family with dinner and cards. It was low key and simple. And a good day all around.

toilet paper tube hearts

Look how cute this one is! So simple, straight from pinterest to you. I love how this one turned out. I used a sharp, flat knife to bend the toilet paper tube. It did take some finessing to get it just so, but after you work with it a bit, the heart shape shows up. I love it.

Mostly I just wanted to show you my Christmas cactus, blooming for the second time this winter. I have to tell you, I have become a bit of a plant lady. I didn't see it coming. But I seem to have quite the succulent collection and then this weekend I planted six garden herbs in pots along the window. The trouble is, now we're running out of room on the home school table...

And do you see the amaryllis?!! It grew six inches in three days!!!

a good lookin' graph...

Well, this week has been a big week for graphs: the dow jones industrial, the NASDAQ, the volatility graph...they've gone up and down and up and down. But in all the excitement you may have overlooked the most hopeful graph out there: the amaryllis growth graph. 

Things are looking good for the amaryllis. For weeks we saw hardly any growth and were sort of bored measuring something that seemed like it would never grow. But then one day the kids measured and it had grown A FULL INCH in 24 hours. Suddenly everyone was interested again. 

The kids had to stop measuring with the ruler and now use a tape measure because this thing is getting so tall! Thank you Mom and Dad for giving us this super fun gift at Christmastime. This is one very celebrated amaryllis!

one year ago this weekend...

I was in Seattle celebrating my mom's 70th birthday! And I don't think I ever blogged about it! So since I'm feeling all sentimental and nostalgic, I thought I'd reminisce. First, this is the Harrington Five. Or, The Nuclears, as I like to call us. This trip was so wild because it was the five of us, just like it was the whole first half of my life. Now it's been another 18 years, and we've added three weddings and ten kids to the mix (in this picture I was six months pregnant with Alden). But isn't that a crazy thought? That the kids I am raising right now will only be in this nuclear pack for 20 years. Then the family will grow and grow and grow. How incredible.
I love so much about these pictures, I can't handle it...
And then kabam! 
Five grows to Eighteen. What a wonder.

So Annika and I flew to Seattle together while our folks were flying in from Mesa. When we arrived, Mom was standing at our gate (how fun to have someone at the gate!) and we all screamed because the weekend was finally here. We went to find my brother and he and my dad were way down the sidewalk, walking towards us with the exact. same. walk. Same posture, same gait, same foot forward. It was so amazing to me. They deserved theme music playing behind them. The five of us loaded into his minivan and stopped first at Trader Joe's. My brother had brought a lot of food from his house, but we got some snack food and a few more ingredients and at one point I said, "Mom, can I get this?" and it felt just like the old days...

Then we were off to the ferry to find our rental house on Whidby Island. But before we got on the ferry, I spotted a Teriyaki Restaurant. And my pregnant self was basically beside her pregnant self. If you live out west, please, please do not take these fast-casual, strip-mall restaurants for granted! Rory and I ate so much Teriyaki while on our big road trip back in 2007. And we have yet to find one in the midwest. The chicken is charred a bit, the rice is sticky and the ice burg lettuce has some sort of watered down ranch dressing that is delicious. I swayed the minivan to stop here for lunch and made my whole family believers in the goodness of teriyaki. Just look at that goodness.
And here my dad and I took a selfie on the ferry in front of a bright window. Neither of us often take selfies (maybe never?) so it's worth including. Also, the waves were huge that day and the ferry was a-rockin.
Here I am with my mom and dad. And Alden in the belly. This trip was a good idea. The hope was to get a cozy house where we could hang out and just be with each other. And that's what we did. We played games, snacked, watched huge ships go by, napped, went for walks to collect rocks, visited cute little towns and hung out.
Now I want you to note where my dad is standing here. He's on the deck just outside the bedroom window of the room Annika and I stayed in. We were probably 20 feet from the ocean. And it was a windy, stormy night, with water spraying our window as we slept. Now that could be relaxing, except that I have a bit of tsunami-paranoia.
Here I am trying to climb a Tsunami sign. In an actual tsunami this would not be advised. My fear of tsunami's began after watching the terrifying, but incredibly-based-on-a-true-story The Impossible. Watch that movie only if you, too, want to have cymophobia (the fear of big waves...thank you google). Anyway, as it turns out, this sign in the picture below greeted us when we drove into our neighborhood. That house in the lower left hand is the one we stayed in. Can you believe it?

So all night I listened to the huge waves hit our window and kept waiting for earthquake tremors. I had my tennis shoes right by the bed just in case I needed to make haste. Because as a 6 month pregnant non-runner, my odds of survival were already very, very dicey.

But lo and behold, a tsunami never came. Pheweeeeee.
My kids could  not believe I was going on a trip without them. Ivar made me notes to open whenever I was missing him. Just like he had notes to find all around the house for whenever he was missing me. Grandma Margaret always did that for me when I was little. This one was my favorite:
I actually have barely any pictures from the rest of the weekend. Likely because we were sitting in the living area looking out at this and catching up. One night Mom told us about how she had a safety training in her stained glass shop and in order to demonstrate the protocol for a medical emergency, another glass shop member Betty, faked that she was having a stroke. Annika and I laughed so hard I could hardly breath. Just imagining all of those fine retired folk yelling for someone to call for help, but only mom and Betty knowing it was a drill, hit our funny bones. We were both crying by the end and to this day we just have to mention Betty and we fall to pieces. Good ol' Betty. Pretending she needed medical assistance. Oh man. there is nothing like a good, hard, shake your body, gasp for air, belly laugh. And of course we are glad Betty is okay...
We went to an old military fort that has lined the coast with welcoming cannons. Dad was trying to aim it just so.

And then we had the good pleasure of having Mat's clan join us for the rest of the weekend! I just love these kids so much. I love every single second we have together.
The weekend flew by. I do remember that. It was way too quick. But Annika had to get back to work and I had to get back to my kids. It was fun to celebrate Mom by playing games, enjoying little shops, collecting rocks, making rock art (below), going out to eat and catching up with each other. Family is the best and time together is one great gift.
Our rental house was incredible. I highly recommend it, if you're ever on Whidbey Island. This was my first VRBO experience and it was a really positive one. The couple who own the house were really great and I guess the only surprise was the cleaning fee that is tacked on to the final bill. That's not them, that's just how all VRBO's work. Here's where we stayed, though the price has gone up since we were there. And I don't blame them. They've got a winner location and a glorious home. Just keep your running shoes close by and watch out for tsunami's...