yes! five!

Apologies for that pregnant pause after posting Ivar's video. I had intended to come on here and further explain, but you know...life is in full swing.

So yes! Five! We are thrilled. We were hopeful for one more and were grateful to be able get pregnant again.

But let me tell you, we didn't see this coming even after Alden was born. We bought our minivan with full belief that we were done and would fit a minivan nicely. Now we will fit a minivan not so nicely. It was strange how our change of heart came about. There was a night where all six of us were up in Ivar and Elsie's room. The kids were playing, a newborn Alden was laying on a blanket on the ground and Rory and I looked at each other. He said, "there's room for more, isn't there?" And I said, "oh my word. I was just thinking that we're not done yet." And we sort of looked at each other in amazement. These thoughts surprised us both.

We didn't talk about it much more, other than making little comments here and there, "oh we could totally have another." or "where would we fit another bed?" It was always sort of floating around, and some days I felt super able to add another, and others I thought the idea was a little extreme.

But then there is Alden. Easiest baby on planet earth. He's just a delight. Easy peasy. Pure joy with a huge smile. And the more I thought about what we would have missed if we had stopped at 3, the more I wondered who would be our number 5.

Plus, my mom is the fifth born in her family. Just think how different my life would be if Phil and Velma Bredberg had decided to stop at four! (I'll give you a hint. Poof! You wouldn't be reading this blog right now...)

Around the end of August we realized we had to get serious about making this decision, so we took a month to pray and seek the Lord. That month we experienced the tornado, as well as the powerful gift of a large family and all of the help and love and care that descended on our farm because of my mom's large farm family. It was one of those first evenings after the storm, still without power, sitting by candle light that Rory said with tears in his eyes, "what could be more worth our lives than raising up good children who love the Lord and will take care of each other for the rest of their lives?" We took these moments as confirmation and decided we could figure out the logistical things like car seats and bedroom arrangements in due time. We wanted a fifth.

We also sat Ivar and Elsie down individually and asked them what they would think about having another baby. I know the oldest kids can sometimes have opinions about being the oldest in a bigger family. Ivar's response was, "oh yes! I just wish we didn't have to wait so long for the baby to be here! I want it here now!" And Elsie's response was basically some sort of squeal followed by a yes.

So here we are. I am already 13 weeks along (this will be a fast pregnancy for you blog readers! Already almost to second trimester!) And due mid-August. I feel fantastic. I cannot complain about one thing. That is remarkable to me, and I am very grateful. I have a swell of nausea once in a while but take those with a little relief that I actually am pregnant and everything is still going well. I will also add that this is how I felt with Ivar and Alden. It was Elsie and Hattie that had me sick. So there's that. But every baby born to a friend lately has been suspected one gender and then surprised everyone, so I'm not going to place any bets.

I think that's about all. My belly is growing. I still fit into my carhartt snowpants, but it's getting real snug. I have been nesting and cleaning and making give away piles like a woman who is trying to make room for one more body in her house. It feels great. We've got room aplenty in our house and our hearts for this baby. What fun to feel the same anticipation and gladness for the fifth pregnancy as the first. That is always a wonder to me. Our hearts can only grow and grow and grow.

Ivar's latest stop motion video...



(Be sure your volume is on.) Ivar has been doing so many stop motion videos lately, and it's fun to see what he comes up with next. This one has a great ending! :)

well hello!

It's been a long, long time. I'll try to fill you in on life lately...

Lately I've been:

Watching Tudor Farm and Wartime Farm with Rory. Both of these are BBC series where they reenact a certain slice of history and show how they did everything back in that day. Rory and I eat this stuff up. Where many are excited about the technology of the future, we are always slack jawed at the innovative ways things were done in the past. (both are on youtube linked above and the music audio on tudor farm is horrible...just a heads up...)

Enjoying all of the quotes that come out of Hattie's mouth.  A few nights ago we had friends over for dinner so that day I cleaned my kitchen so that it was basically empty when I was done. Every bit of paper and clutter was put in it's place and so the next day I was cleaning it again, hoping it might stay that way. Hattie came in and said, "More people comin' over?" I said, "no, I just want to keep it nice and tidy when it looks so good." And Hattie nodded her head, "Oh good! Nice and Tidy comin' over!"

Reading My Bible! I am enjoying this version so, so much! I had no daily habit for Bible reading the past few years. I was quite sporadic with long lulls in between. And even though I still don't read it every single day, I do catch up about every other day or every third day and I LOVE being accountable to keeping it up. Plus, this version that I linked to is really great. Good summaries, keeps it moving, adds insight along the way. Join in if you want! There is no "too late" to starting this good habit!

Eating the salad above. As often as possible. My sister-in-law Sara brought this to a Christmas gathering and I honestly think I ate half the bowl. It's just olives (I use kalamata) tomatoes (not in season, but they taste so summery in this salad) cucumbers, feta cheese and a dressing. Sara used Newman's Own Feta Greek dressing. I use Aldi's Greek dressing and both are SO GOOD. This salad tastes so not-wintertime to me. It's why I love it. It feels like I'm taking a stand against the frozen earth. Make this. You will be happy you did.

Playing board games! On Saturday we took the kids to a meet up where a big reception hall was set up with tables and tables of prototype board games to play with their creator. We didn't bring our own games and instead played everyone else's and it was SO GREAT. One was a card game that had us building sandwiches with our cards. Another was a Christmas Caroling game where you had to knock on the table, sing a carol and then take your turn in game play. It was all so fun! So creative! So inventive! And we left with our heads spinning with fun ideas for more board games.

Hibernating. When it gets this cold I just don't like to go outside. Rory is a stud and does all the animal chores a couple times a day, checking on their water and making sure everyone is okay when it's below zero. And I just tell him how great I think he is and quickly close the door when he walks outside.

Cleaning the kids room. It had hit a new level of sty. There were just too many toys accessible and today I cleaned it like it was my job. It sort of is, as their mother. They helped as well and I loaded up two big boxes full of toys to put into the attic and one big bag of toys to give away (don't tell the kids...) Their room looks great now and I will have more peace in my heart with less stuff strewn all over by my well-intentioned, though destructive, one year old.

That's all for now. I felt like I had to bop my head in here before you all thought I've quit forever. Not sure why the lull...you know me. I'll be back.

2018 in review

For years and years I have done an annual Best Of post. But this year I'm going to change things up a bit, going month by month, picking out the highlight from my posts that month. I just went through January and it was so fascinating to me to scroll through my life one year ago. So I'll spare you that task, and just share a favorite moment from each month.

January
 Goat. It's what's for dinner. Definitely a favorite blog post.

February

March

April
today on the farm... A good reminder of all that is to come in springtime. And to rest up!

May
post holes So. many. post. holes.

June
I'm a milk maid! Likely the happiest moment of my 2018. Can you tell?!!
to market to market to kill a fat pig There's just so much to learn on a farm...

July
August
can the rainbow ...my New Year's resolution last year.
 ...and, a BLT with the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato all from our own farm!

September

October...I only posted once in October...

November
Alden's Day 2018 A day-in-the-life at our house.

December
...no blog post, just a nice family picture
So there you have it. Our year in review. I have never had a year in my life where I have felt so changed...and I'm not certain if it was 2018, or when I turned 37, because that was the day Miracle was born, and that experience changed me so completely from an in-the-house farm wife to a full on walking-to-the-barn-at-2-am-to-bottle-feed farmer. I wrote about this transformation fully right here. And the big life experiences just kept coming. God has shown me so many things this year, taught me so many things, empowered me in so many ways. All things are possible and I believe it in my bones. My hands will remain wide open, ready to learn and grow and deepen my relationship with Him. Because he has me on a fast track at the moment and I simply want to learn more and more of him and his ways.

So there it is. 2018 has passed and 2019 looks full of possibility and promise. How good it is to be alive.

3 good Christmas stories

So this picture was taken earlier in the month...it's a little more brown and icy now. :)

Story One: 
Back in September our church hosted the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir. We have the Rochester campus come to our church and in the choir was the granddaughter of one of our members. Also singing up front was the young mom who sits in front of us every Sunday morning. I knew she had been in rehab, but I didn't realize she was at Teen Challenge. She's a great girl. She comes with her mom every Sunday and now her two kids come with their grandma as she gets help to overcome her addictions.

This past Sunday she must have had a pass to leave the campus and came to church. We were sitting on the opposite side of our usual seats and so I didn't see her until I saw the commotion as we sang. She had been spotted by a good friend and the two were hugging and it looked so joyful. Then one of my favorite older men in the congregation got out of his seat and went to shake her hand and they talked for a while. And over and over I watched her be overwhelmingly welcomed into our fold with so much joy and gladness that she was back. It made me happy to be a part of the church- there was so much love surrounding her.

Story Two:
We got to church for the Christmas Eve service just as it was beginning. I was walking behind my clan with a toddling Alden who tripped and fell and by the time he picked himself up again, Rory had chosen our seats. He chose a row closer to the front in the middle of lots of people, next to our good friends with little kids. And immediately I felt like this was a bad idea. Christmas Eve is a quiet service and if I had been leading the pack I would have chosen the back row, with an easy exit for when we got to noisy. Instead I climbed over Rory to sit with all 6 of us in 4 chairs.

I was so annoyed. I didn't even look to see who was behind us as I climbed into my spot. I just felt embarrassed for what was to come. So I tried to be still and keep everyone quiet and fumed a bit at how stuck I was in this row.

But the kids were fine. And Alden kept smiling at the people behind us, and I just hoped they weren't regretful that their Christmas Eve came with a side show. Eventually I loosened up and I turned to see who Alden was beaming at. And guess who it was? Tony. Tony, Alden's very best friend at church. Tony is an old man who lives alone and comes to church an hour early so that he can feed Alden donut holes, one after another and scratch Alden's back. They love each other and I quickly realized Alden was likely making Tony's whole Christmas as he smiled and excitedly handed him ripped up scraps of paper.

And then I looked next to Tony and it was Gayla and her husband. Gayla teaches Hattie and Elsie's Sunday School class and adores my daughters. And when I made eye contact with her she lit up and wished me a Merry Christmas and her husband smiled and I felt so much grace.

It turns out we were surrounded by people who love us fully. I looked around and on every side were friends who love our family. And I felt that love go right into my heart as my body physically went from nervous and annoyed to relief and belonging.

Story Three:
This one involves you. A few years ago my mom got a Chronological Daily Bible and read the Bible in a year. The next year her brother Wayne bought this Bible for himself and for each of his siblings and they read it together. Last April I found this particular Bible at the used book fair in our town and picked it up. It took until September for me to start reading it and when I did I was so glad. This Bible is fantastic. The books for the prophets are woven through the stories found in Kings and Chronicles. The Psalms pop up from time to time, fitting the text. The book of Acts has been broken up with Paul's letters to the churches peppered throughout. The best part is that there are helpful paragraphs between readings that say, "Now remember while this is happening in Babylon, this is happening back in..." And it is so helpful! The story is alive and I am so grateful for the way the Word is made new through this Bible.

So I emailed my pastors and asked if I could invite our congregation to read this Bible with me in 2019. By 2020 we would have read the Bible together. And then I emailed a bunch of local friends to see if they wanted to join in. And at this time there are over 50 of us committed to reading God's Word together in 2019. Even the Hispanic small group bought 8 Spanish versions so they can join along!

So here's the thing. January first is right around the corner, and with Prime, you could have this Bible in your mailbox long before then. Or maybe it comes a few days late and you just pick up on the day it arrives because there is grace for this reading plan and because you likely know the creation story pretty well by now...

But I want to invite you to join in. It is 4-5 pages a day. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes. And I am telling you, I love this version.

It is called The Daily Bible in Chronological Order.  If you are feeling like your own faith life has been dry, or if you need a word from the Lord, then I highly recommend joining in. Because God is not quiet in his Bible! He has many words for you! They are right there.

And the thing about doing this as a group is that we are on the hook to read it! I need the accountability so much that I am leading this effort- think of the pressure on me to read it now! And you too! In a good way! I want to do this. Think about all that God wants to show us through his Word, if we would just open the book up. We will pray for discipline, obedience and steadfastness to keep our faces in the book- together. Literally on the same page.

So go order your Daily Bible. It's $20. I don't think you can regret this one!

Merry Christmas everybody.