working together


I have a lot of ideas. I have a lot of enthusiasm. But I also have a whole lot of books half written. That's why God had the good wisdom to give me Rory. Because Rory sees things to completion. I have experienced the joy of this phenomenal trait a lot lately. He believed in Farm Camp and so it came to pass! When it was all over I remember saying to him, "Without you, I believe I would have been 89 years old and still telling anyone who would listen, "I have this idea for a camp at our farm..."

We had such a blast working together. I wrote the devotional books, and he did the layout and art so they looked amazing. I showed him a pencil sketch of the logo I had in my head and he took it to the computer and made it come alive. Each day of camp I showed him the schedule and he made sure each space was set up for us when we arrived. I prepped the food we fed the campers and he had it all set out when it was time to eat. 

Rory has been talking for years about working together as a family towards a common purpose. He calls it a Family Economy and wants our kids to be a part of our work as well. Slowly, we are catching the full vision for what this may look like for the Groves family and it is quite exciting. 

This fall we began working on a revamp of our family farm blog. We wanted to combine everything we were doing in one place: the blogging, Farm Camp, and farm products we grow and sell. And working on that together was also so fun. We have been waiting for a long time, wondering what was ahead for us, and suddenly some parts feel illuminated. 

The new website is evidence of this. So head on over and click around. I'll be blogging from there from now on: www.thegrovestead.com 

And one more thing:
If you want to continue to get my blog posts sent to your email, be sure to fill in your email address at the bottom of a blog post on the new site (any post). The subscriptions from joyfullybecca don't transfer to thegrovestead, so you have to enter your email again.

See you there! 

head on over to the grovestead blog!

You may have noticed all the icons on my blog are fading away... Not sure why (I had someone design my blog years ago), but whatever. Because for a few years Rory and I have been talking about merging my blog with our farmstead blog, and we are about to take the leap. We have been working together on a brand new website for our farm (it should go up later this week!) where I will still blog as usual about family and life and whatever happens to be on my mind, and we will also use that site as a hub for everything else we are doing on the farm (farm camp, workshops, pastured meat for sale...)

So I recently posted a blog post over there and I wanted to let you know. And hopefully I will begin blogging a bit more regularly again. Because everyday I think of things I want to be writing about. Like how today Elsie said, "so when a king sleeps in his bed and a queen sleeps in her bed, do they just push the two mattresses real close so they can sleep together?" Naturally only queens would sleep on a queen mattress and kings would sleep on a king...

As always, I love that you care about our family and keep tabs on us in this way. I know so many of you who are reading, and I also know there are many that I don't know. But I write with the hopes that someone is interested! So thanks for following along.

You can find The Grovestead website here: www.thegrovestead.com 


back the train up

On Wednesday we had a guy come out and look at our shingles. Our brand new shingles are buckling on our garage. In the end he said we need to empty out the attic and spray insulation in there before winter.

Oh my goodness. The attic is where I store EVERYTHING. And now I have to find new homes for all of it. I can't use that space anymore! And if you have been in my house you know we only have one closet in the entire home. And the basement doesn't have proper stairs for fitting bins up and down the steps. I could store things in the barn, but it's not convenient and it is also so dusty.

So it will all be heading to the garage. Or at least half of it will be. My goal is to get rid of half of it before then.

But here is how this is going so far. I call this a 'Back the Train Up' Project. Do you know these kinds? The kind of project that in order to do the actual project at hand (empty the attic) there are nine other projects that really should get done so that this project is done well. Like the garage needs to be cleaned out and purged a bit, making room for the stuff that has to fit in there. And the upstairs closet needs an overhaul to make more room for the things I want to store in there.

Here's my nightmare: Rory just starts taking bins out of the attic, pell mell, with no real plan for where they should end up. And then, the kids, being helpful and fun, begin to unpack the bins and discover favorite items stored away, and by the end of the day the contents of the entire attic are strewn all over my house.

I've lived my life long enough to know this scenario is more probable than my own orderly game plan.

So I have begun my work in haste. I'm sort of excited because I do love getting rid of stuff and this is the ultimate in forced minimalism. But I'm also sort of in disbelief because there is so much stuff that needs to find new homes...

Wish me well!

The birth story of Elias

So the real start to this birth story definitely began that Monday before when we thought FOR SURE we were going to have our baby that day. I wrote about that part here and here.

And then we waited all week long, and it was a long week. The kids were great and patient, but Rory and I were so ready to meet this baby. We just kept making up stuff to do. All. week. long.

But then Friday night I started having contractions. And they hurt enough to call them legit contractions. I didn't wake Rory but I kept wondering if I should call my mom to start driving in case things went quickly. But they were always 10-15 minutes a part, so I knew we weren't actually that close. I made it to seven in the morning before I called her and we decided she would come about 9 or 10 to get the kids.

Unfortunately, when the kids were finally packed up and Mom arrived, things had slowed waaay down. Everyone left and I went up to bed. I had been up much of the night and needed to sleep.

I woke up about 11:30 and put my tennis shoes on to go and walk our road. Oh I was so frustrated. I couldn't believe the contractions had stopped entirely. I walked down to the end of our road and turned around. Rory met up with me one driveway down from our own and asked what I wanted to do. And I spit out angrily, "I want to go Tacoasis."

Which is hilarious. And unwise. You really shouldn't eat chimichanga's before you go into labor. But I didn't care. I was mad.

So we drove the truck to Tacoasis. And ate a chimichanga at our favorite outdoor table and I got a pepsi which felt special. And then Rory said we should go get ice cream cones and walk around our downtown. In the end it turned into a lovely afternoon. We ran into friends and I got a Mackinac Island Fudge icecream cone that was fantastic. We walked into nearly every shop and we spent an hour in the bookstore looking at board games.

The only trouble with this dreamy Saturday is that I couldn't really relax because I was worried about our kids. I had already had my folks watch them all of Monday. And if I wasn't actually in labor, it felt ridiculous to have my folks have them again, knowing that they would be with them after the baby came as well. But it was hard to know if we should go get them and bring them back. Because it also felt like maybe things would progress...

So we went to a movie and saw the new version of The Lion King. Which we loved, by the way. It's too intense for little kids, but it was the perfect movie for us that day. And lo and behold, my contractions started up again with some regularity. Mostly ten minutes apart. I would grip the arms of the chair, Rory would look at my face to see if he should record this one on his phone and I'd breath through it while hearing Hakuna Matata. Then the contraction would end and I'd whisper, "pass me the dots." or "are there any reeces pieces left?" And I'd inhale the candy until the next contraction.

I should also mention that I cried many, many times during The Lion King. To have a baby on the way while listening to Circle of Life was one thing. But that movie is packed full of Messianic themes and I could hardly stop crying at the end. I highly recommend it.

After the movie we brought books we were reading to a favorite park by a pond. We sat on a bench reading for an hour and everything slowed down again. But this was a magical moment. It was positively stunning outside, not a bug, and the sun was setting. The temperature was perfect and we were looking out over the prettiest scene. Plus, we both were reading books we loved. I was reading Read Aloud Revival and Rory was reading a Wendell Berry book of essays. It was dreamy.

We were going to get hoagies for supper, but decided to go to Aldi instead. I grabbed all sorts of food that looked good to me: corn on the cob, stuff for caprese salad, hummus, salami and on the way home we decided we should go home and make pickles to go with this feast.

But in a crazy twist, by the time we got home, none of that good food looked or sounded good to me. And I went upstairs to lay in bed while Rory stuck to the plan and got cucumbers from the garden for the pickles. And soon after my contractions began again and this time they were intense and terribly uncomfortable. It was at this moment that I remembered that having a baby is seriously painful. I called Rory on my cell phone every time a contraction began and he would tell me how long it had been since the start of my last contraction, along with where he was in the pickling process.

We kept this up for about 40 minutes when I told him he had better come and pack everything up. We had some stuff packed, but not our toiletries and chargers...

It was dark when we got in the car (we had swapped our mini van with the kids for my parent's car that could hold the infant car seat in the back for the ride home) and the stars were out. The moon was rising and it was a glorious night. We drove to the hospital on our country roads and Rory kept complaining that all the screens were so bright he was having trouble seeing the dark road. He kept asking me to try to figure out how to dim the dash screens. I barked at him that, "I don't care about dash screens! I am in a really bad mood when I'm having a contraction!!!" And then I'd try to figure out how to dim the screens again, until the next contraction. But it did help pass the time on the way to the hospital...

We got to the Emergency entrance (because it was Saturday night) and our nurse came and met us at the door to walk us to the Birthing Floor. She had blue hair and was super young. Soon after she was trying to get my IV in my hand and tried four times with a considerable amount of digging around, trying to hit the vein. In the end she went to find her charge nurse to see if she could get it in. That nurse tried the other hand and got it right away. And then the anesthesiologist came for my epidural and I felt so much uncertainty if I should get it or not. Things were happening naturally this time. Maybe I didn't need it. But I really, really wanted it at that point. It was midnight and I was remembering how awful the awful moments can be.

So I got the epidural, and then my skin began to itch. All over. It was bad. But bearable. And I couldn't feel the contractions anymore, which was as incredible as ever. But then I started to feel almost drugged in the head and my arms felt immobile, so I asked them to turn the epidural waaaay down. So the epidural was a very low dose, but I liked it much better. I still felt the contractions, just not the pain.

Rory got our music set up and began to play Resurrection Letters by Andrew Peterson. I swear the atmosphere in the room changed from fear to rest. All the anxiety and nerves and unsettled feelings I had went away and I felt calm and ready again. Of course the epidural helped with all of that, but I felt such a peace wash over me that I know it was spiritual too.

My nurse put one leg up on the peanut ball, trying to get the baby to turn the right way (I was having back pain with each contraction that was so bad they wondered if the baby was sunnyside up...) and then we basically tried to sleep while things progressed. When I arrived at the hospital I was at a 4. So we still had some ground to gain.

Rory got his itty bitty chair bed set up (bed is too generous of a word!) and he got horizontal too. We slept off and on until the nurses switched at 7 am. The new nurse came in and checked me and exclaimed, "oh wow! You're at a nine and a half. It's time!" She called the doctor and at 7:50 it was time to start pushing.

I pushed and pushed for an hour. The contractions were five and six minutes a part at the beginning, so we had a lot of awkward time to kill in between pushes. Which Rory loves to tell people about. Because apparently I just told stories between each round of pushing. I was telling them about my other births and funny things about my kids and what they're excited for with this baby. And we were still trying to land on a middle name if this baby was a girl. So all the while Rory was throwing names at me, thumbing through his Bible, trying to find a great middle name. It was a busy hour of pushing and conversation.

Finally we got to the very last pushes. I pushed hard four times in a row and knew I couldn't stop there. Baby's head was right there and I was in so much pain. On the video I say over and over and over, "ow! Ow! ow! ow!" It dawned on me how close I was to meeting this little baby and I tucked my head and pushed with all my might. The head came and then I had to push again. And then the body came, a bit slower than my other babies. The cord had been wrapped around baby's neck, they would later tell me, and that was why the whole pushing phase took so long. We praise God baby was okay through all of this.

Rory cried with tears and joy, "It's a boy!!!" And that boy was put up on my chest and I cried that joyful cry that comes so gladly with so much relief and so much happiness. A boy! I laughed and cried and started talking to my son, "Oh honey, you have been working so hard. I know you have. Oh Elias, you are here. I am your mama and I love you so, so much." And Elias cried and cried. We all did.

At that moment, the song "Is He Worthy" was playing. Oh I wanted to weep I felt so overjoyed.

There is a lot that happens in that hour after a baby is born, but somehow just an hour later, we were facetiming with our kids and my folks and introducing them to Elias. Then we called Rory's parents. My sister's family called us to hear the news too. Rory texted our pastor with some pictures and then at 11, we decided to tune into our own church service to catch the end of the sermon. After the sermon, they showed the pictures of me and Elias and announced that we had our baby and the church erupted in cheers and applause and it was so fun because we were watching!

And then my first round of French Toast arrived and around 1:00 our kids came in to meet their littlest brother. It was a ruckus, as you can imagine, and Alden was in desperate need of a nap. But my favorite moment came at the very end when Ivar stayed back so it was just him and I and Elias in the room. He said, "Mom. When you called and were about to tell us if it was a brother or sister, I told myself "it's a sister" so that my face would be happy when you said it was a girl. But then you said it was a boy! And I just couldn't believe it! I wanted it to be a boy!!! I had always thought it would be a boy." And then we talked about what fun it will be for him to have two little brothers that will always want to tag along with him.

Now it was time for him to go but he stopped in the doorway and said, "Mom. I really miss you." And my heart wanted to explode. We talked about the plan for the next two days and how good it would be to have our whole family back together at home with baby Elias. I could not wait to get everyone back under our roof again.

After their visit, Rory's folks and his brother Kyle came by and we had such a fun visit. I just remember a lot of laughter. The whole day was so joyful.

They left, and soon enough it was time to order more French Toast.

Smiling Elias

One week ago tonight we were waiting for labor to progress and still so uncertain that things would pick up that we decided to make pickles. Which will forever be a memory of this birth story now. At 8:00 my contractions suddenly became regular and intense. Rory was working fast in the kitchen trying to get the pickles done while I was realizing that things were really getting started now. I was upstairs in bed and would call him on my phone at the beginning of each contraction, "Starting," I'd grunt. "Ok, honey! That's six minutes from the last one! And I'm almost done with these pickles!"

I remember having a sense of humor about the whole thing even in the moment and by 9:00 we both knew it was time to load up for the hospital. And thankfully the pickles were done.

Anyways, it seems Elias has our same good sense of humor. His default face is a grin. It's a riot. He hears my voice and his cheeks turn up. He smiles and grins all during his sleep. He is a happy baby and for that I am so glad.

This first week has me pretty sleep deprived and remembering just how much you are up at night with a newborn. But with this little boy grinning at me, I can't complain. Newborns are so sweet and I know very well that this season goes so fast.