Elsie's Cookbook

Last Saturday Elsie made her first recipe, asking me to not tell her a thing or help her because, "then it wouldn't be my own recipe!" She had an idea and just wanted to try it. So I left her in the kitchen and only came in to help her put the mini cakes in the oven.

As it turns out, 4 eggs, 1.5 cups of sugar, 1.5 cups of flour, 1/3 stick of melted butter and a handful of chocolate chips do make for edible and yummy mini cakes in a cupcake pan! We were all totally impressed for a recipe that never creamed things together or anything. It was just a dump and stir recipe.

The next day was church potluck and she told me excitedly, "You can make my mini cakes! I have the recipe all ready for you!" In the end I made chocolate pudding with thin mints crushed on top (by the way, I had more people ask me for the recipe on this one, than anything I've ever brought before! Ha! Instant pudding! File that one away for your next potluck!!!) and when Elsie saw her face fell and she said, "Did you not really like my mini cakes?"

Oh dear me. "No, no, I loved them. I just wanted something easy to make and didn't want to bake. But you're right. Many from our church would LOVE to have one of your mini cakes. I will make those next!" So after the kids went to bed I made a dozen mini cakes following Elsie's recipe and then make a card to set by them, "Mini Cakes, Invented by Elsie Groves" exactly as she wanted me to write.

And wouldn't you know, she got LOTS of attention and compliments on her original recipe. And it all made for a new favorite Elsie memory. Then we came home and she insisted on making a pie. Again with no instruction. She crushed graham crackers for the crust with butter and then made a similar filling with lots of eggs, lots of sugar and coconut flour. It was sort of like a baked custard.

Then she told us she is starting a cookbook. What fun!

Elsie is 6 1/2 and a complete wonder to me. She comes down from her room every morning dressed for success, complete with accessories, the right shoes and a hair style to coordinate. She is a joyful girl, very shy in new situations and loves to laugh and be silly. She helps me with the little kids, and often has more patience than I do, using a loving, falsetto voice, "No, no, Alden, you cannot throw your food on the floor. Are you trying to tell us you are all done? Then you say All Done." And Alden will repeat her. In these moments I try to take notes on how she does it...she is so dear and sweet.

She will talk nonstop while working in the kitchen with me, "Mom, I don't really want to be doing this, and I'm like sort of mad about it on the inside, but I'm like, I just have to do it. And either I can do it mad or I can do it happy but I still have to help and so then I choose happy so I can be more joyful because it's more fun to be joyful, right mom? I just wouldn't want to be mad every time I have to work, or we would all be mad a lot because there is a lot we have to do each day and I'd rather be happy..." And on and on and on and on.

I love having her companionship and look forward to eating more egg and sugar based recipes from her upcoming cookbook.

Little Baby Groves

Meet Little Baby Groves...with its fist rubbing its eyes! All six of us went to the ultrasound and while we were watching the baby flexed its arm, visibly drank some fluid (we could see it swallowing!) and put its feet all the way up over its head.  We were all very impressed.

It was so fun to all be in that tiny dark room together. The kids did great and this time around Ivar and Elsie understood what they were looking at. We had a little ultrasound tutorial before we left, explaining how the head will look and the body. It helped a lot so that when the nurse turned on the tv, they knew right away what they were seeing. Hattie was mostly confused and still asks if the baby, "came out of you?!!" I think she thinks we left the baby at the clinic. Which is terribly sad to me. But she also is convinced that she also has a baby in her tummy that will come out in summertime. So, really, all of it is just a lot to comprehend.

This pregnancy has been very smooth, except right at 19 weeks my energy levels tanked. It actually was the day I turned 38 and I thought it was just a sign that I am indeed older and that exhaustion just set in when I turned 38. For about 10 days I felt completely wiped out by mid-morning. But then I realized that I had, at that same time, stopped taking my vitamin B complex because I had run out. So I went to Walgreens, bought another bottle (and a Reeces peanut butter egg) and added vitamin B complex into my prenatal and iron supplement routine. Literally within hours I felt back to my normal self.  It brought my energy back, and I would sell the stuff door to door to tired moms if they would listen to me! It helps so much! (though I still will take a nap from time to time because there is lot going on around here...)

We are now 22 weeks along and baby is moving and grooving and I am in love. I am so thankful for this little life and feel ready to do it all over again. What a precious gift.

"firewood!" with Alden

Recently while at the zoo Alden called every mammal "a kitty!" and everything else "a birdy!" When we got to the taper, I asked him what that was, while looking at the large black and grey ant-eater type animal in front of us. He looked a long time and then said, "Firewood! Firewood!" And began running back and forth along the glass divide, positively thrilled by all of the fallen, dead trees in the taper exhibit. I'm not even sure he saw the animal.

It was so funny to me because this boy LOVES firewood. Just like Ivar loved "balls!" Alden's passion is firewood! Each morning of the winter he helped Rory build the fire and proudly helped bring logs to Rory. He even points out fallen trees while driving, "Firewood!"

It is nice he has this passion as we have many piles of firewood all over our property and even more trees that still need to be chopped up after the storm in September.
Alden is 21 months and is happiness around here, as well as a lot of work. He spends his every waking moment moving items from room to room. Alden begins his waking day yelling, "Ellllsie! Elllsie!!! I awake! Elllsie! Elllsie!" And then Elsie will get out of her bed and help him get out of his crib. He and Elsie are very close. One time the rest of us were at a playdate but he was left home napping while Rory was at home working. Rory said when he woke up he got him out of his crib and then Alden proceeded to cry for Elsie nonstop until we came back home. He did not appreciate being left out.

Ivar has his own special nick name calling him Oden and telling him to "grow up quickly, Oden, so I can take you to my new tree fort." Alden also adores his dad and if he ever sees Rory's truck pull up he will yell continually, "Daddy, Hooome! Daddy Hooome!" and wait in the kitchen right by the door to the garage, not taking his eyes off of the door, patiently waiting for Rory to walk in.
This boy is a joy. He is always a little dirty, loves to snuggle and be held close, thrilled by tractors and trucks and wants to be "outside!" all day long. We have a fun spring and summer and fall ahead of us!

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.