five kids

So I am very, very aware that in ten weeks we will add another life to this home. This fact has me overjoyed and occasionally, a bit concerned. Like the addition of every kid before this one, I just can't quite imagine how it's going to look or feel.

I have been tackling this feeling in a number of ways:

First, in January I became a devout fan of Minimal Mom on Youtube. She's got all sorts of inspiring videos encouraging people to see how much time and energy our possessions really demand. She considers everything we own as basically inventory we have to keep track of, and the less we have, the less stress and the less mess. I have always been organized and I have always given quite a bit away, but this message has taken me to a whole new level and nothing is safe. In an effort to make room for another living soul, I am donating box after box after bag after bag. It feels fantastic.

Second, we have been preparing for this baby by setting up systems and schedules all over our life. We have an hourly schedule for each day of the week that considers both of us and what we need to accomplish. Rory made a two week menu rotation that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's incredible. I don't like everything on the rotation, but I do love that there is ALWAYS A PLAN. And this seems wise for the season that is to come.

Part of the weekly schedule is on Sunday nights, a personal favorite time called Power Hour. From 6-7pm, we deep clean the house. I hit the bathrooms and laundry room. Rory vacuums the whole house. Elsie sweeps and mops the kitchen and entry tile. Ivar washes down or dusts all of the surfaces in the house (tables, counters, bookshelves, kitchen chairs...) At the very beginning of Power Hour we all pick the house up quickly (like clearing counters, picking up the floors, and putting furniture up so it's easier to vacuum.) I will say that no one looks forward to Power Hour, but we all love how our house feels when kicking off a new week. It looks like house cleaners have come...and they have. But it was us!

And finally, yesterday I took the kids to run four errands. But before we left I explained now that we are out of winter coats, I would like Ivar to buckle and unbuckle Alden and Elsie to buckle and unbuckle Hattie. And when we get to a destination, brothers must hold hands and sisters must hold hands all the way into the store, and then again out of the store. We had four stops to practice and the only one who put up a fuss was Alden who was quickly told this was not an option and he had to practice again. Once he realized I was serious about this new plan, he followed suit with his siblings. Oh, this was such a big deal for me! As we walked into Dollar Tree, my four were ahead of me, two by two, and I suddenly could fathom having a baby carrier on my arm and believing that it will all be okay.

Because it will be!

As I am typing this, I have a baby inside of me who is moving a leg or an elbow back and forth across my belly. My striped shirt is bumping out in mighty ways all over the place. There is a life in there who is going to add their own personality on our family whole. What a wonderful thought! So we will be fine. These systems and plans will all help. Though there will surely be hairy moments. But we've got hairy moments now! And what I know for sure is that love always multiplies when a new life enters the family. We already love and adore this active babe inside of me. And this baby is going to be very, very well loved by our whole family.

farmer boy

I was sitting in the yellow chair looking out over the garden when I saw this scene: Ivar was driving the kubota for his first time. Rory and I had never discussed this, so I was totally shocked, but two things made my swallow my concerns and instead grab the camera: 1) Ivar's enormous smile and how he waved at me in the window for the whole length of the garden and 2) the fact that he had no shirt on.

So great.

Rory walked beside him the whole time and taught him how to raise and lower the bucket. Then they moved some dirt around and Ivar grew right before my eyes.

At this point, if you are ever at our farm, you will most definitely get a live demonstration from Ivar. Which means he already has four grandparents and a great aunt and uncle praying for him with serious concern. But if you live around here, you'll hear every farmer tell you that they were "driving the baler at 5." So really, age 8 is actually getting up there. ;)

the gift of a picture with my kids on mother's day

Like most mom's, my wish for Mother's Day was for a picture with my kids. And man, did I get some! Every one makes me laugh for another reason. I am about to show you just a handful. I had about 40 to choose from. And these are for sure the winners. This top one may be my personal fave.
Alden was a riot during these pictures because between each one he would smile at me. But the second he was onto another picture being taken he'd slack his jaw. I cannot complain. I have had very, very photogenic children my entire motherhood. But this one, even with bribes, wasn't going for it.
And then our neighbor came over and got some family shots. Like 15. And here are the best two...
Elsie's dream is for the three Jelly Girls to have matching outfits. It's my dream too. I just never seem to get around to sewing the skirts or dresses. So she was thrilled when she figured out that we both had grey leggings and blue dresses with tiny holes in them. And she insisted on wearing her hair down like mine. I love her so much.
Obviously the sun was a serious problem, so we brought the camera to church and had the door greeter take this shot. Another favorite. Ivar asked recently to get a haircut with a style. He wanted to start using hair gel like his dad. What a stud!
All of these pictures feel like very honest snapshots of motherhood. Not one is perfect. Which feels so true to life. And totally true to motherhood.

Easter 2019

Easter sure is darling. My mom had a great hunt at her house again this year, with each grandkid assigned a different color egg. Alden was the color green, and even though his eggs were basically dumped on the middle of the lawn, it sure did take him a while to find them all!
 Elsie, on the other hand, was full of game, even in her high heels.
We celebrated with Annika and Jedd's family, Uncle Don and my folks. But since I never got a picture of my dad or Uncle Don, you'll just have to take my word that they were there! Sonna made a heavenly (from scratch!) carrot cake. It was so good. And Uncle Don made two banana cream pies, just like Aunt Jan used to make. Oh my. I'm still thinking about these desserts.
 Alden was wearing overalls that were Uncle Jedd's overalls when he was a toddler.
 Uncle Jedd and Alden are both still trying to figure out how that is possible!
I woke on Easter morning at 6 am from a dream that my sister had walked into my house and said, "My girls are all set, so I thought I'd come and help you find outfits for your kids, help hide the easter baskets and get the salad prepped." I woke up and was so amused that even in my dreams I was thinking through all that I needed to get done before church...and that my smart dream-self called for my sister to come and help get the show on the road! It tells so much about a woman's brain and how much she is thinking through at any given time! Even in her sleep!

We ate our traditional Easter Meal: ham and hot fruit, potato casserole, green salad, fruit salad,and new-this-year: grilled asparagus, had the egg hunt and then everyone sat on the deck for hours. It was so fantastic.

And while we sat on the deck, the cousins went wild in the basement. I found this picture on my camera as a surprise gift from my niece Sonna. Doesn't this picture just sum up cousins-in-the-basement time?!! It makes me laugh so hard. I remember these same wild and crazy times in my grandma's basement...

And some boys headed into the house for an Easter Nap.
A new favorite right here. And it kind of makes up for the fact that we never got a family picture. But clearly it was a very nice Easter!

Elsie's Mud Kitchen

If you drove by our farm these days you would see this tree that still needs to be chainsawed after the storm. It might look a little unsightly to you. You might wonder when the Groves are going to get rid of that eye sore and move it all to the wood shed. And now, with pots and buckets balanced on every flat surface you might think the Groves have gotten really dumpy. 

Or, you might think, "Well now, that looks like one fantastic Mud Kitchen!"
Ivar and Elsie came home from a birthday party on Saturday where the last few minutes were spent playing in their friends' mud kitchen. Elsie was delighted by their elaborate set up...some stumps were stovetops, others were were for cooling. Hooks on the stumps held certain utensils and each pot held a different ingredient: dirt, moss, tulip leaves (yup).

And even though yesterday was raining cats and dogs, Elsie and Hattie worked hard to set up their Mud Kitchen. And then, in an ironic twist, they walked their Muddy selves right into my kitchen while trying to fill their watering can. Thankfully I never saw that mess. Rory found it and helped them make it right.  
And today Elsie has been out all day long, mixing up recipes, jogging in the house announcing she needs another spoon. It's really great fun. And probably means this uprooted tree will get to stay put for a little while longer.