halloween 2018

This year was a first, as I made one of our costumes. I was so, so proud! Ivar wanted a Batman cape and I hand stitched the whole thing. (I was too nervous to re-thread my bobbin in the sewing machine with black thread...) It is definitely one of a kind...I made half sleeves for his forearms and then what I am calling "backpack straps" to keep the cape on his shoulders. I knew he wouldn't like something tied around his neck, so this was my own innovation. Ivar was so thrilled that I made it. He told many proudly, "and my mom made this cape!" Made me feel like wonder woman. :)
My mom always made this pumpkin guy each year. Now I have the milk can thing (is this what it is called?) so I brought him back to life for another childhood of Pumpkin Guy! Here Batman is trying to take him out....
Elsie made a last minute switch from princess to lion (thanks for the costume, Beth and Presley!) and Hattie brought back the honey bee. Honestly, I just get out the dress up clothes and let the kids pick that afternoon. Then Rory showed up at 6 after a day at the meat locker, dressed up as a butcher. I asked him if he wanted to change his blood-stained pants and he said, "no the pants add authenticity to the costume."
And here is the Boo Crew! We met up with friends at a neighbor's house and then all headed to a local church for Trunk or Treating. It was a fantastic Halloween.

3 fun gatherings

Have you noticed my lack of photos? My computer is full with no more storage for my SD card. For two years I have been deleting other photos to make room, but now I'm having a hard time deleting photos because I still want them. Anyhoo, that's the reason I don't have pics on here lately...

I have three fun gatherings I wanted to write about though all set in our living room.

1) Lego Movie Night
Ivar had planned for this night for months and months. He is super into making Stop Motion movies using his legos with his friend Blake. So he had this idea to invite six families for a movie night where he would sell popcorn, monster cookies and apple cider to earn some money. And in exchange everyone could enjoy his great movies.

It was pretty awesome. He explained each movie a bit (most last like 10-15 seconds) and he had them organized in categories: the early years (his first videos), Batman and Robin, Barf Monster and Favorites. After the movies and concessions, we brought out two huge bins of legos I checked out from our library and all the kids could build their own creations. It was a super fun night of family fun.

2) Hattie-Rory-Ivar Birthday celebration with the Groves
We had the Groves clan here to celebrate these three and it was a really great day. We went to church and then came home for chili and corn bread. But something terrible happened. When I sat down to eat my chili, I took a bite and it was gross. Something was seriously wrong. Have you ever had this happen before?!! As a host, it's like the worst thing possible. I couldn't figure out what had happened. I make great chili and I genuinely found this chili inedible.

I told my table not to eat theirs, but they were polite. I brought it up to Rory later and he said he thought the chili was great. (ha! what on earth?!!) But he was wrong. It was the opposite of great. Not until everyone left and Rory went to put the leftover chili tupperware did we figure it out (I had told Rory to toss it all). But he still liked it and wanted to save it, so it was then that he found one solid inch of burned chili on the bottom of my huge kettle. I had come home from church, tried to heat the chili real fast, and as a result there was an added smokey (charred...) flavor to my usual soup.

Honestly, while it was happening I was thinking, "I think I'm done entertaining. It's just too stressful. I always forget something or ruin something..." But I think God heard that because after we opened gifts I had each family give a life update with prayer requests so we could know what was really happening in each other's lives. And that part was so, so good. There is a lot that doesn't come up during regular conversation and I loved hearing where everyone was at. And it was during that time that I decided maybe I would host another gathering again sometime.

3) Rory's 41st birthday
Which was a good thing that I decided that because I had four other couples coming over one week later for Rory's birthday. For months we have wanted to get these four other couples who are hobby farming like we are together in one room. So I sent out the invite and asked everyone to get a sitter.

We had each couple share their dreams for their farm and any prayer requests they had. And it was so rich. There were so many similarities in prayer concerns given our age and life stage and I felt so grateful for this time together. These were also families that showed up to help immediately after the tornado hit two of our farms. So we talked about the goodness of community and working together and already have our next gathering on the calendar to all help butcher one family's 120 chickens. And we are genuinely enthused!

So I will continue to invited people into our house. :) I will say that I never seem to get everything right, but I still think it is worth it to invite others over in the name of community, fellowship and friendship.

these are the days

***I just bent down to pick up a used band aid and yelped when I grabbed it because it was actually a piece of cold, wet ham.

***On a whim last Thursday we decided to potty train Hattie. She was totally ready. Understood what was going on, and proved so by only having two actual accidents. The best part is that every time while peeing she will happily announce, "water comin' out!"

***Alden was climbing up the steps and clearly had a lego wheel in his mouth. I told him to spit it out, and he just clenched his teeth. I stuck my finger in there and did a full mouth swipe, only to find there wasn't anything in there at all. I said, "well what is in your mouth?" And clear as a bell, he looked up and said to me, "teeeeeeeth."

***Alden's vocabulary is hilarious because he is quite verbal but seems to only say what needs to be said. For example, he calls Rory Dada and me Dada. It works. But if he sees something round and flat he will muster all his perfect diction to be sure he is understood, "Coo Key! Coo Key!"

***Today we took the kids to Cabella's so I could try on Carhartt coats and overalls. I don't actually want a Carhartt coat or winter overalls, but Rory said I should have winter farm work clothes so I will be warm working outside in the cold and stop ruining the coat that I wear all other places. So we went as a family and when I tried on the first coat, Elsie's face fell. She was positively mortified. Sure Carhartt coats look like an actual box on a woman's body, but it wasn't that bad. But Elsie has an eye for lovely things, and this coat did not make the cut.

Then I tried on the overalls in the dressing room. When I came out to show the whole get up to Rory, he was on his phone, price checking with online sites. Turns out Cabella's prices were better than online. Turns out while he figured that out, Hattie wandered off. We all split in different directions, looking under racks of clothing, down aisles, and then heard the intercom, "Hello Cabella's visitors. We have a darling little girl up here with us in Customer..." And Rory was up there before the announcement was completed. Followed by me, all stuffed and hot in my winter overalls and boxy Carhartt jacket.

expectations reset

Last night I had my home school mom meeting and at the end we shared our prayer requests. I shared that my temper is short some days, and that I hate that I am not filled with peace and kindness every moment of the day. I really want to be.

Earlier in the day I had just come back into the kitchen and found that Hattie had grabbed the bag of pistachios from a high shelf and dumped most of them on the floor. At the same time Alden was up on the kitchen table taking flowers out of a vase and dumping the water on himself, the table, a chair and the floor. And then Elsie ran in the house screaming that she hit her head with the shovel. She had on her rain boots, caked with mud and had run from the back door, on our carpet and into the kitchen where she paced and cried and I tried to console and calm her down. But mostly I was upset with my muddy, wet, nut-filled kitchen floor.

Another mom who has older kids shared very wisely that once she realized that most of her frustrations stemmed from unrealistic expectations. I tested her theory.

I have an expectation that my kids should note the lovely, put-together home they wake up to and then pick up their messes as they play all day. Ivar and Elsie are genuinely great help and pretty good about meeting my expectation. But Alden and Hattie miss the mark. Because they are 1 and 3. Hattie is actually very, very helpful and loves to have a task, so she is learning. She was pleased to pick up the pistachios. But she makes so many messes, it is hard to keep up. Alden is a professional dumper these days. Which is exactly what one-year-old's do. He sees books on a shelf and hustles over to brush them all onto the floor. He sees anything hanging off the counter or table and he reaches up to investigate. I should expect no less.

I wanted to share this today because I already feel a little lighter. My expectations were throwing us all off and I think by simply resetting my expectations we will have a better day. That includes letting go of the floor for a period of time, and deciding in each moment not to get annoyed by how quickly the house is messy again.

So far it's going great. Though I imagine it will be harder when the kids get out of bed...

the squeaky wheel

Well, after my little cry fest on Sunday Rory sent out an SOS to his family.  I knew this because my brother-in-law Kyle called me on Sunday evening and asked if he could take us all out to dinner on Tuesday night. I said, "did Rory tell you we're a bit of a mess?" "Yeah, something along those lines..."

So the call went out. Then I got a text from my friend Lindsay, a friend I haven't connected with in three whole years. And she asked if she could bring us a pot roast dinner for Monday night. She lives in Burnsville and came with her two little kids. I was so, so moved...she must have spent her entire day shopping, chopping, prepping and delivering. And the pot roast was incredible, as was our conversation while she was here. A friendship rekindled. What a gift!

In the mail that day I got a card from my friend Paige who just finished up seven months of chemotherapy for colon cancer. Paige has two young kids and has taught me SO MUCH about hope and gratitude and the goodness of God in the middle of hard, hard times. She sent a check for Rory and I to go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. The card, the gift, the sweet words from Paige...it all made me cry.

And the week kept rolling just like that. I got a text from my friend Beth asking if I had a favorite eating establishment in town and then had a gift card sent. Rory's folks came out on Tuesday so that Rory and I could go shopping for a washing machine and it felt quite nice just to be out and about, doing something as lackluster as shopping for a washing machine. That night Kyle and Lisa took our clan to Carbones and it was a blast. Just fun to be out and about again, fun to go out for pizza with the kids.

Wednesday my mom came and I made pesto out of ALL THE BASIL I had saved from the frost on Friday night. If I never write about it again, you must try pesto with walnuts sometime. Pine nuts are just so expensive, but the walnuts were awesome. Then we canned the salsa I had made the day before. It felt good just to do some home stuff like this. We even braided all of our onions! I now have five darling bunches of onions, hanging from the ceiling downstairs. I told Mom that we can now file this under "added life skills."

The week went on. A friend brought us a spaghetti dinner. I was summoned for jury duty and laughed my head off, because the timing is crazy. My niece Madi brought our family Chick Filet last night, a FEAST of nuggets, lemonade, salads and sandwiches that she brought in warmer bags. My kids were over the moon and we ate like kings.

And yesterday the crew showed up to put the barn roof back on. Today at 2:00 they finished and drove away. We are beyond grateful that this is done because every time it rained we had to go up there and sweep all of the water towards the "drain" we cut through the floor at the front of the barn. It was a tedious, time-consuming, wet job. Now we have fans working to dry the place out.

But what a gift that it got done so quickly! It's only been two weeks since the tornado! Menards said that storm damage often gets jumped to the top of the list of production, and even though all of our pieces were custom order, they still got them here in 10 days!!! File that under 'things that are going right in the world!' (I think we could all agree that we could use more in that file...)

So we are doing way better. We were at a play date this morning with many other mom's who have had significant storm damage. It was a gift to be together to process and talk.

And now my folks are back and Dad is moving tree branches and my mom is sorting our laundry. And I am switching out summer clothes to winter clothes. Which seems to take me days to accomplish. Anyone else?!! But I'm getting there. I've finished Elsie's, Ivar's and my clothes. Next I'll switch out Alden and Hattie's. Talk about Friday goals!

So that's the latest. I am just beginning to write thank you notes, and they are an absolute joy to write. Every word of gratitude I am pouring into those cards is so deeply felt and I just want everyone to know it. Community, family, friends, neighbors and new friends. What a joy to be a part of each other's lives! I am overflowing with thanksgiving, a great place to find myself. (With occasional bouts of overwhelm and meltdowns, for good measure...)