Ivar's Lego Land

Last summer Ivar and Rory were walking around the woods and Rory asked Ivar what his dreams were for the farm. Ivar thought for a while and after some time said, "You know, I'd really like my own space."

And then we moved him into a room with his three siblings. Ha! Just kidding. First we let him move all of his legos out to the cabin for his own private retreat. He loved it, but often commented that he felt a little lonesome out there. You know, in his own space.

So this winter Rory cleared the work bench in the 1890's limestone-walled basement, installed some new drop lights, built some shelves, rolled out a piece of scrap carpet and surprised him with his own space, in the house. Ivar was thrilled and has spent long afternoons working on legos, stop motion or art projects in his own personal Lego Land.

And he can't be too lonesome with big cousins Kirby and Toby smiling at him while he works...
So I've got a good story.

Last night Ivar came up to me, "Mom, I had no idea one of those lego books I got from the library was by Sean Kenny. If I had known that I wouldn't have gotten it. I always feel so jealous when I see how many legos he has."

"Oh Ivar, I know that feeling. And I'm so glad you can put words to it. That shows you have wisdom. It feels bad to feel jealous. Did you know I used to look at pictures and read stories about a girl who had goats and chickens and zinnias. And when I saw her pictures I always felt super jealous."

"But Mom! We have goats and chickens and zinnias!"

"I know it. That's how crazy jealousy can be. You literally forget what you have and wish for what another has. It's crazy. And I think Satan likes us to feel that because it means he has stolen our contentment. And it literally blinds us from the things we do have, that we should be grateful for!"

"I don't feel like this with every Lego Book. It's just that Sean Kenny has bins and bins of every color and shape and they pay him to build with Legos everyday! But some books I feel fine reading."

"Well that's what is so weird about watching another person. There are other writers and picture takers that I follow that leave me feeling inspired and motivated instead of jealous. And I'm not totally sure why that is. But the moment I realize that I feel sad about what I have or don't have because of someone else's pictures, I stop looking their way. I had to stop reading the blog of the girl with goats, chickens and zinnias so I could enjoy my own goats, chickens and zinnias again."

Isn't jealousy a sneaky thing? Hearing it articulated by an 8-year-old felt so profound to me.

And you can stop following this blog if his Lego Land makes you feel jealous. :)

four kids in one room

At some point during this long winter we decided to get all of the kids in one room, preparing the nursery for the baby due in August. We obviously made this change a lot earlier than we needed to, but when we brought it up the girls got so excited about sharing a bed that we decided to give it a go. And that left an empty crib in their bedroom that Alden could easily switch into.

So now they all share one room. And they LOVE it. Rory calls it summer camp.  Alden goes to sleep immediately, Elsie and Hattie snuggle up together and sometimes read books with flashlights and Ivar keeps an eye on it all, perched on the top bunk, often reading late into the night. 

And it is going really well. They've all been together for five or six weeks now, and with hardly an incident. The sisters have had to learn how to sleep with another in the bed and not thrash around, but that has settled down with time. Honestly, I think they're really fortunate to share this season altogether. I think it's really fun. 

farm camp creative projects

I have been working on all sorts of fun ideas for Farm Camp. This is a personal favorite: the rope rainbow. I have seen these all over online, and I love how each one turns out so different and unique.

Planning for Farm Camp has been so exciting. I am beginning to see how each day will feel, and how it will all come together. Our week this summer is going to be so much fun.. the crafts, the teachings, the meals, and the farm projects are all really varied and creative. This is the camp I would have LOVED when I was in high school.

We will be making these rope rainbows on day three, the day we focus on how we are God's handiwork, created in Christ to do good works. We will spend time discussing how we all have creation within us, made with a purpose by a loving and thoughtful God, and how we might share our unique loves and passions with the world.

This little rainbow is a hopeful sign to me of all that is to come!

Sunday morning with little ones

This Sunday Alden woke up especially clingy, and even while at home, would not let me set him down. He had his hand in his mouth and I assume it was some sort of teething thing.

But it meant that when we got to church, he also wasn't letting me set him down. Which is fine. Some mornings he will gladly go into the church nursery, and other mornings he makes it very clear by body lunging away from that side of the hall, that he is not going in there. But our church is gracious and usually we can be in the service at least during the singing.

And then there is the cry room that has a feed of the service for moms and dads to watch while their kids play. Lately, that's where Alden and I spend most of our morning.

And it's a funny mind game. Immediately I want to feel sorry for myself (I should say that Rory takes his turn as well, but often he is volunteering in the service as an usher, so he can't really leave as easily) and there is a devious voice that sneaks in and wonders why we made the effort to get to church anyway. Afterall, I could just watch this same service at home, with a sleeping Alden in his crib, instead of sitting on the floor, playing fire trucks, feeding the needy child donut holes and catching every forth sentence.

But I caught myself this past Sunday. I made myself list all of the conversations I had during Fellowship Hour. And some of them were very meaningful to me. And then after service we stayed a long time (we are the folks who tend to close the place down...a genetic trait we both got from our own parents) and I had a few more great conversations.

On the drive home I realized I had two VERY TRUE stories I could have reported to Rory from my morning. The first was the pity party story of sitting in that back room with a fussy Alden, feeling tired and exhausted (likely from the donut holes I was sugar crashing on). The second was the connection I had with so-and-so before church and the life-giving talk I had with so-and-so after church. And I decided in the moment to tell the second story because I would have missed out on those meaningful connections if I had stayed home and watched in my pajamas.

The other story from the morning: After sitting in the cry room for a while I told Alden we could go see Daddy in church if he was very quiet and colored next to me. He said, "Yaasss." That he did want to do that. So we walked back into our spots, sat down and just then our pastor began talking about Peter. And everytime he said "Peter" Alden would yell, "Pizza! Pizza!" I tried to shush him, give him a cracker, distract him, but he was very interested in the sermon now, waiting for Pastor Brent to say the buzz word again. He did, and Alden excitedly yelled, "Pizza!" again, and then I had to take the walk of shame (not really, but you if you are a mom who has already exited the church with a noisy child, and have to do it again...it definitely feels this way!) back through all the church, back into the cry room to play firetrucks with Alden.

And likely if we asked Alden, he would say his favorite part of the morning was playing fire trucks with his mom on the floor.

Farm Camp this summer at our farm!!

I have been having a whole lot of fun lately. I am planning a week long day-camp at our farm this summer for 8 high school girls. It's basically my dream summer camp...exactly what I would love to do (and not do.) So there will be no spinning-our-foreheads-around-a-baseball-bat relays. But there will be lots of creative projects- embroidery hoops, mixed media collages, and daily baking or preserving. Every night each camper will go home with something edible to share with their family.

Mostly, I'm so excited to get the ears of these girls and to pour some dreams and hopes into their hearts. The decisions that a girl makes from ages 15-25 will have implications and consequences for the rest of their lives. These years are so, so important for keeping an eye on the big picture, and not just the immediate and instant. So we will talk about all sorts of topics from finding life-giving, supportive friends, wisdom in dating, the gift of marriage and the joy of one day having their own family. What fun to get to dream big dreams together! And what a gift to have time to seek the Lord and spend time listening to his voice in these matters.

And then there is the farm! We'll be working in the garden (not a lot, but enough to learn about weeding and good soil and growth) and with the animals (we'll milk the goat and make goat milk soap, spend time with the sheep, feed the pigs and we are hoping to have eggs hatching the week the girls are here in our new egg incubator). Everything we learn about on the farm will be connected to scriptures that highlight God's ways. This winter we have carved out two afternoons a week when I am writing the curriculum I will be teaching (or the girls will be reading) and I cannot wait! It's so rich! As always, I feel like I am the first student, soaking up these lessons as I learn and am so excited to pass these truths along.

I am envisioning a varied group of girls. Some might be from the city, with no experience on a farm at all. And maybe even no actual interest! But I want these girls to feel the welcome of a family farm and to experience a week here, sort of like when I visited my Grandma's farm growing up. I was definitely a city mouse, but am so grateful I had so many family farms (aunts and uncles) to visit throughout my childhood. Some girls might be from around this area and just interested in a summer camp that is closer to home or that lets them sleep in their own bed each night! (That would have been me growing up.)

And others might feel like they would love to live on a farm one day, but don't live on one now. I have two good friends from church who came to our farm last summer to help me, a junior and senior in high school. Both of them lived in town and one told me, "I just have this feeling I am going to be a missionary one day in a country where I will need to grow my own food and I want to start learning." (Talk about life vision and goals!!!) And the other told me, "I just want to learn how to garden and preserve my food and see how you do it all as a mom." Their visits were an absolute highlight of my summer and got me dreaming of this day camp that I am calling Farm Camp. I see the need, and I understand the gift of living this lifestyle for a short time to help cast a big and full vision for the campers that come. (Obviously they won't all move to a farm! But maybe they'll take an interest in gardening. Or making their own pickles from grocery store cucumbers.)

Can you tell I'm excited? It's really fun to tap into my former life as a Bible Camp program director and to see how God is creatively merging my life as a mother and farmer with camp ministry.

So one afternoon Rory and I made this spiffy little promo video. We had the kids upstairs playing in the bedroom, kept quiet by a sleeve of club crackers, and quickly recorded this baby in one shot. I didn't rehearse what I would say and in the end I think it does a fine job communicating the heart of this camp. As one who has never been able to take a selfie, this was a very awkward experience for me, but whatever. Hopefully it will help spread the word!

If you know of anyone who may be interested, send them my way! A full rundown of our topics from day to day can be found at this link on The Grovestead website. I am so excited for the week we will have together. It is going to be full of worthwhile experiences, conversations and teachings. Plus, it's just so great to think about summer, isn't it?!!