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 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...)

falling apart a bit...

Well that whole day-is-over-when-the-sun-goes-down lasted a good few days. But every day it is getting darker so much earlier! So it was nice while it lasted. We'll still light candles in the evening. And Saturday night we lit the biggest candle of them all: the wood stove. It was the first fire of the season and there is nothing like it. That radiant heat is so good. Warms you all the way through.

In other news, I fell apart today.

I'm not completely sure why, but I have lots of ideas. And I'm pretty sure this has to do with that female spaghetti brain thing. Because none of these are related, and yet because I am living them, all of them are related.

I woke up this morning and told Rory that I needed to have our anniversary do-over date on the calendar so I have something to look forward to. He said he can't think more than a few days ahead or he is filled with anxiety, so he couldn't commit to anything. I get that. He has so many details to oversee right now and the stress load around here is very high. But I just wanted the date on the calendar. I'm afraid it will get lost in the mix.

We were supposed to be in St. Louis this weekend, resting by my aunt and uncle's pool. I was really looking forward to the undivided family time. It was a great disappointment to have to cancel.

Our kittens have a bad habit of climbing into the warm engine of our cars and then not getting out when they hear us loading up. I tragically killed two kittens in this horrific way just as I was to leave for a homeschool meeting at the beginning of the month. It was as awful as it sounds. Actually, more awful than you can imagine. And then this Thursday Rory told me casually that the black kitten, my favorite one and the most friendly, was in his truck engine when he left for Menards and he had already buried it in the ground. I cried and cried for that kitten. Rory is on overload, and his waffle-iron brain had already ran the equation: kitten in engine--> kitten's fault--> farm cats are not pets--> move on to next thing. But my spaghetti brain had eruptions at every site. The death of my favorite kitten tipped the scale for me.

And then this morning my goat wouldn't let me milk her. I made a mistake earlier this week and haven't been able to milk her ever since. It's sad. I'm so frustrated with myself.

So when we got to church a friend asked how I was and right there in the parking lot I began bawling like a baby. And I never really got it together. I wasn't certain exactly why I was crying. Mostly I think I am exhausted. I made a stupid little sight sitting there through all the songs, blowing my nose and wiping my eyes.

And I know these things are all just half of the truth. The other half is good and filled with goodness. Saturday we had another amazing work day. My folks and friends from church all came out on Saturday. Even a friend who had more damage on her property than we had on our own. She just wanted to help someone else for a while. A couple from the Catholic church came to help us, as well as three high school sisters who go to a Lutheran church in town. We had never met these volunteers before and they came and spent their Saturday chainsawing, hauling and building community on our farm. It was so good. Community feels so good.

And our farm is looking better and better. The helping hours logged are truly remarkable. We are grateful.

And this is true: We will celebrate our anniversary another time, we will reschedule our family vacation, kitten deaths really do suck and Darcy will eventually let me milk her again. It may just be in a year after she has her next babies. And I also can stop eating donuts. Because I ate many on Saturday and I think part of this mess of moods is due to a flat out sugar/gluten crash. But it's hard to turn down donuts when you're battling disappointment.

So that's the latest. I'll be fine. Somehow this experience has stirred up murky waters inside. I've had neighbors say the same thing and Rory and I feel it too. There's a general un-ease and sorrow hanging about. And we rejoice that all were kept safe and that our homes were kept from harm. But for some reason it still feels bad. And sad. Which is why I need to go to bed now.

the sun is down, the day is over.

We were without power for three nights and three full days after the tornado came through. And since our well house runs on electricity, we were without water as well.

I sort of loved it.

Actually, I totally loved it.  Friday night I looked out the window and realized I had about an hour of light left to clean my house for Saturday. I knew my aunts were coming and would be running my kitchen, so I had one hour to get my house ready. I worked hard. I kept looking out the window at the setting sun to see how much time I had left. Rory was gone, so at dusk I walked out to the barn and did the evening chores. When Ivar and Elsie and I got back inside, I lit a ton of tea light candles in mason jars and the day was over.

There was nothing else we could do because it was so dark. The flicker of candles was so peaceful and the conversation was so rich as we sat quietly and talked about the day.

I sent a picture of our lit candles to the Groves family and wrote: "I wonder what we will learn in heaven about dusk and how we are supposed to end our day when the sun sets. I anticipated the dark an hour before it arrived and hurried to be ready and prepared for it. And now that it is dark my day is completely over. Can't do anything. Better go to bed. Amazing."

Our power came back on late Sunday night. But Monday I pretended like it was still out when the sun began to set. I got the candles ready. I worked hard, watching the setting sun as my clock, and ended the day when it was too dark to work any longer.

The Bible promises that "He gives to his beloved rest." (Psalm 127)

I am pretty certain this is the gift he is giving us when the sun sets. We are just so quick to turn back on the lights.

Try it tonight. Be completely done with the day when it is dark and sit in candle light. You're going to love it.