Friday, October 29, 2010
Did anybody notice that I blogged EVERY SINGLE DAY this week?!? Because I DID!!! (A feat that has not happened since before dear Smooch came into our arms.)
If you are wondering how/why it was possible, I will tell you.
My dear Mattie left me flying solo for the week while he was off gallivanting around on a business trip, his first long abandonment of Smoochs' life.
You would think with all the responsibilities (like animal chores) I wouldn't have any extra time at all but the reality is-I can't sleep without him. (I stayed up until 1:30 last night....errr....morning) SO~I fill up my time with silly, foolish diversions like blogging and movies (I have watched so many movies this week I feel like hiding under a rock), trying in vain to have people diversions; trying not notice that the best piece of me is missing.
And that, my friends, is why I have been visiting more often. You know I love you blogland, but you are a POOR substitute for my Heart.
We have missed him so.
Good news is---he is coming home tonight! YAY.
I feel fairly certain I will be incapable of letting him go once I get my hands on him.....
But I have eight other hands in competition, so we'll see how it goes.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It is costume-making time.
Here are some cloodles as to what is keeping my fingers nimble these days: any guesses?
The oldest two strain their necks when we go grocery shopping, to see all the costumes around and made their decisions after seeing store versions.
Now, I am cheapskate and proud of it but even despite the $25.00 price tags, one lesson I really want to convey to my children is that HANDMADE is not only more economical, but more quality and WAY more fun.
The process of creating something unique and working for something that you want is incredibly valuable. I am constantly battling the "Let's just run to the store and buy it" mindset and would much rather see the "Let's made do with what we have and creatively work on ways to get what we want" mindset play out. The latter generally comes more natural to me.
Of course, that means that I need to exemplify that for my children. And THAT means, that the week before Halloween and the week before Christmas, especially, are the times when I most curse that characteristic of myself. You would think if I were smart, as I add children to the mix, I would also add more time for preparations and work. But noooooooooooooo-once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator.
Of course this year, after promising and discussing costume possibilities and getting the children wild with anticipation of rock-on, out-of-this-world costumes, I find out that Halloween is on the Lord's Day. And though I have never found fault with having a good time on Halloween, the Lord's Day is and always will come first. So-no trick or treating for us.
Talk about a buzzkill.
Who wants to stay up all night making costumes for a passel of children for NOTHING?!
My brain got to buzzing and I have come up with a grand solution to the problem. One that can happen on Saturday night and is WAYYYYYY more cool than trick or treating anyway. (Why didn't I think of it sooner?)
Think:: Tasha Tudor visits the Newmans; pumpkin moonshines, popcorn balls, caramel apples, apple cider, donuts, forest hayrides with candle paths and stories around a campfire.
Since the "Let's made do with what we have and creatively work on ways to get what we want" mindset is ever present, looks like I have lots of work to do and not just with costumes.
Where is my popcorn maker again?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Fall wouldn't be Fall without a leaf project (or several).
The best kind of projects are ones that start with a treasure hunt: art class lasts all days in instances like that. The treasure? Leaves.
I also love a good project that can serve as homemade holiday decorations-and these stand up to the challenge.
Sculpey Clay in leaf colors
a sharp knife
First step: gather leaves. Make sure they are still flexible and choose ones that are not terribly big. Maple leaves leave a great impression (ha. Get it? Impression!)
Step 2: Warm Sculpey clay in your hand and roll out to desired thickness. Make sure you use a mat of some sort beccause unbaked clay can stain furniture. The thicker you would like it, the longer it will take to bake and the less flexible the bowl will be. Lay your leaf on top and cut around it with a sharp knife, getting as close to the edge as possible.
Step 3: Using a toothpick, either trace the leaf vein indentations or draw your own onto the clay leaf.
Step 4: Create aluminum foil "donuts" and shape your leaf into a bowl, then place unbaked bowls onto of "donuts" and those, on top of a cookie sheet. Bake according to the package directions.
Step 5: Let cool and admire. If you so choose, you can modpodge them for a shinier affect. Or not. (We didn't.)
These would be fabulous placecards at a Thanksgiving table, how cute would they be each holding an after dinner mint?! Or you can use them to dress up a sad, flowerless table alonside some garden grown orbs of orange.
Monday, October 25, 2010
At daybreak, while children still were tucked in and breathing deep into their soft pillows, I trudged out to do animal chores. Winter chores are...chores...but on these cool fall mornings, they are still refreshing and peaceful.
Walking around the yard there is always someone to talk to, or maybe not talking is what you would like.
Magpie the tiniest cat, begs to be let in for the morning. Cows bellow. Impatient hens flap their wings and a rooster crows. Hogs run all around the barnyard, making their friendly, anxious snorts but the rabbits-they just twitch and hop, so they always come last. The patient ones.
This particular morning, Sassafras has a surprise for me.
She has plucked from herself her pure white velvet and made a cloud of cozy a few days priorand so I knew her time was coming...but even still, what a surprise to see the cloud moving, just a smidge.
Instead of peeking, I gave the proud Mama a rewarding ear scratch and ran inside and upstairs and sang out "Wake up, WAKE UP. Get on your boots and come! There is a surprise for you as soon as you get out of bed!"
It didn't take more than two seconds for everyone to be at attention and they stormed down the stairs and headed straight to the door---seems they had the surprised guessed before I even had to hint.
They ran straight away to the rabbits.
And then we took a peek.
Six sweet naked babies, teeny as can be, all snuggled into and on top of one another. It was a cool morning so we admired, counted and recounted, and stole peeks while trying not to disturb them or make them cold.
All the animals we have here have been acquired when young, but not once have we experienced our own animals being/having newborns. What a wonderful gift, to experience new life in your own yard.
And I think the very best surprises are the ones that wake you up with singsong bellows and are found after running into a foggy morning in just your pj's and boots.
After one week (my, how fast they grow!) :
Thanksgiving, without the holiday, can come every day, every week, every moment. And life can be full of surprises, if you let it.
Some more every day graces to make every day a holy day....they come so easily.
* 641 * first smiles and catching them on video, proof for the Doubting Tom's of the family (you know who you are...)
Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing
* 642 * money enough for bills, with some to spare
*643* a boy who looks at a psalter to sing, even though he can't yet read
*644* pajama surprises
*645* Mrs. Hobbit in our very own home
*646* rock candy
*647* catechisms set to music
*648* girls who curtsy
*649* Michael Buble while doing dishes
*650* brown paper packages
*651* a husband who is finally finding confidence in his dreams
*652* Narnia at bedtime
*653* stained glass in the evening
*654* new school books
*655* enough firewood
*656* Judah gets to meet his great Opa
*657* ( and I get a visit in too!)
*658* candycorn pumpkins with cheddar cheese
*659* a not-quite-second-honeymoon. (AKA, a hotel room all to ourselves!)
*660* NOT making the bed!
*661* laughing so hard I cry
*662* eating my dinner without first cutting up three plates worth of food.
*663* being a GENIUS
*664* vacuumed stairways
*665* houses made out of couch cushion, a weekly (if not daily) occurance
*666* a familys' audible delight at the from-scratch cornbread and sweet pan chili you made
*667* children asking for third helpings, and having them to give
*668* homemade icecream around October campfires
*669* potato fries, the real ones
*670* no regrets
Thursday, October 21, 2010
A certain Miss Addie Mae felt like a big girl sitting on the kitchen stool watching and had fun tossing apple chunks into the monstrous bowl until it was filled so full they began falling back out at her. I hope I remember how teeny she looked sitting on that stool when she is a teenager and helping me in the kitchen.
Preserving food first requires grading and sorting. The finest fruits are set aside to be eaten fresh or used for baking. Slightly bruised produce is sliced, diced or dried. "Ugly" fruit have the badspots dug out and are used for sauce. The scraps become treats for the many variety of willing and greedy animals around here, and I try to dole them out fairly.
This process never ceases to get me contemplating life. Liturgy in everyday life, it is.
"Cider apples" were $5.00 a bushel this year from my source but other local sources were charging anywhere from $14.00-$19.00 a bushel, so even while I pine for my OWN apple trees, I can be ever thankful for the good deal I was able get.
After "apple day", 1 1/2 bushels of almost-perfect apples were leftovers and are awaiting....something. More applesauce, diced apples, dried apples-all depends on how quality they are. Then 3 more bushels come for winter storage-Crispins-likely this week. Last year, the Crispins lasted until April!
So, you see, I'll be seeing more of these soon. (And likely, you will too.)
When I married this man of mine, I knew three things about him. I knew that I loved him more intensely than ought to be allowed, I knew that sharing in his life would make me a better person, and I knew that if I married him I was destined to either be a pastors wife or a farmers' wife.
He never became a pastor, though he easily could, and instead has become a well-respected layperson whose opinions and feedback people value and seek out and whose input only help grow the church. He is filled with Light, even without a podium.
Farming has often been his occupation, in one form or another-but always working on other peoples' farms. Most recently, working more as a computer geek FOR farmers but he has spent many years knee deep in manure and elbows in cow places you just don't mention. Through it all, my competition will always be the land. You can take a boy from the country, but you can't take the country from the boy. Instead, husbandry is his way of life. As surely as the blood in his veins, farming courses through him and is his lifeblood.
Cows really did jump over the moon when the boychild dreamed and it was counting the cows he would one day milk that lulled the boy to sleep at night. A dairy farm of his own was sketched countless times in his journal with himself being depicted as a brawny muscleman. (You can imagine the chuckles I had when I happened upon those daydream journals.) This dream continued well into manhood, though eventually it changed its course a little. Instead of a large-herd dairy farm that filled his dreams in his younger years, the husband-man envisioned something on a smaller scale. Something that maybe didn't include JUST cows.
And I, his devoted lover, was up to any challenge that would have me to share in his life despite the fact that I knew nothing of farming. When my chubby arms and legs hardly kept me upright, we lived in what seemed to my small mind, in the middle of nowhere and my siblings raised goats for 4H. I remember the big goat butting me more often than not. When my knees turned knobbly and awkward, and we had moved to a less country, though still small town home, we had a rabbit. I don't remember if she was mine but I remember going out to the barn and cleaning the hutch often enough. As long as I can remember, we always had a dog. Big beautiful dogs that would live indoors and follow us outdoors just as often. In my formative years, we moved to a city house with a yard even smaller than the barn our old house sported. Those years still included a dog, but this time a small, persnickety poodle who loved nothing more than to sit on the couch and suck his back paw all day and the occasional cat, including my very own Siamese who lives to this day. (Old geezer.) And that was the extent of my non-existent farming expertise.
Somewhere around college-age, my hormones got the best of me (I guess) and, out of the blue, I began to show signs of allergies: specifically, cow dander.
I knew nothing of farming, would tear up and sneeze every time I visited the farm, and couldn't stop the tears at the tragic death of animals-even fictional ones. Farm boy falls for the wrong girl-the title of our Love Story would read, but I am so glad he did.
It would be a wild ride, I knew....and has proven to be.
Our dreams aren't realized just yet, (we don't even have a place to call our own!) but the big dreams are made up of little, every day dreams and everyday learning and everyday preparations for when those big dreams will eventually come. We are gathering extra oil; we are preparing for big dreams to come true and thanking God for the little dreams that already have.
Someday, Lord willing, it will be my mouth, like Grams, that nonchalantly captivates children with stories of chickens running headless through the yard and the telling of ornery cow antics. Someday, serving up a golden chicken for Sunday dinner that didn't start out first in plastic wrap will be just how things were and having ground beef that first hung in the barn would be as common as an evening of crochet and C.S. Lewis. And the many years of hanging clothes on the line might dull the memory of first learning the best way to hang them. Eating the biscuits that took years to perfect may force out the memories of those first hockeypucks that came from the oven. The jars of bottled summer, will have been so practiced that gone the memory will be of the days when jars exploded in the canner because of a foolhardy young farmwife who was trying her best at pretending.
So I write. I take note. I am not yet what I hope to be, but when I eventually get there, I hope I don't forget the joy the journey brought me.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I think this will be the first post without a photo in years. I can't remember the last time I did something horrendous like that. :-)
Instead of pictures, I will just shoot this post up with bullets.
- Thursday, though I was sicker than a dog and could barely get off the couch, I am proud to say, not once did I resort to movies as babysitters.
- Friday morning I was feeling a bit better-but still not on par when Matt took off work (even though I yelled at him for doing it) in order to help me. We didn't do schoolwork Friday either. Around lunchtime, Matt was doing dishes and said "I'm telling you. I don't know HOW you manage to do all this in a day, let alone with a full day of homescooling. How do you do it?!" *sigh* Every woman's dream: their work to be acknowledged.
- That said, he would be MIGHTY impressed with my day yesterday. Not only did we do a stand-up job of schooling, I exercised in the afternoon, washed and hung two loads of wash, did animal chores, sorted 5 bushels of apples, nursed a baby-lots, swept the floor, washed a gazzillion dishes-cooking and canning ones, made French toast for breakfast and caramel apple porkchops for supper, made and canned 28 quarts of applesauce, and stayed (relatively) sane all day!
- We finally started up the woodstove. It was getting downright frigid there. PA isn't exactly known for its tropical climate even in summer, let alone mid-October. brrrr. There is nothing that smells so wonderful as the first fire of the season.
- With the onset of cold, rainy October weather, I have been using the dryer more. I had forgotten how EASY and FAST it is to toss clothes in a dryer and push a button. Wow. Welcome back to the 21st century Rebecca. (This said from a woman who just gathered jeans off the line.)
- I mailed off Judah's birth announcements when he was a month old. Now the world knows how pathetic I am.
- Andrew picked the book BARNYARD IN YOUR BACKYARD to look at during rest time the other day and came out thoroughly educated on the kidding of goats. It just so happens to have the whole process in illustrations! (JOY!) When my in-laws stopped by for a visit, he told them in amazed tones about how baby goats come out of their Mamas bum. I then proceeded to bury my head in the sand. I wonder: does that count for health class? Anyone, anyone?
- I have been in a crafting rut since Judah has been born. I have either lacked time or energy (or both) to get any crafty things made and maybe my lack of gumption has also affected my lack of inspiration. No longer!! I got the Magic Cabin catalog in the mail the other day and, as usual with Magic Cabin, my inspiration tank is now spilling over.
I don't generally allow toy catalogs in the house (because why tempt the kids to be greedy? And why set them up for disappointment? I wouldn't spend a DIME on the things in most toy catalogs.) Magic Cabin and Hearthsong (and Vision Forum, if that counts as a toy catalog) are my few exceptions. The two former for the sole purpose of stealing ideas. Am I the only one who does this? Pours over a catalog and says "I wanna make THAT and I wanna make THAT. Oh YES-that too!!) Is it worrisome to immediately think about making it yourself instead of buying it? ? ? ? ? ? nah.
Wanna see some of the things that made me gasp? Things you might just see Newman versions of in the future? (Prepare to be inundated!)
This Classic Cloak would NOT just be for dressup if I know MY girl.
These toad stools are beyond cute.
This Christmas Pocket Gnome is super cute.
This pulley would be an awesome addition to the treefort the kids and I dream about. This rope ladder could be made from solid sticks and rope, and this fun ride cable? Methinks they would have to wait for my turn to be over.
I love looking at their dollhouse accessories selection because I love getting new ideas for making food and furniture to add to our homemade dollhouse. Love the watermelon, cheese, pears, and PIZZA! Alos love the pioneer shelf. All would be easy to reproduce with sculpty clay and sticks.
This Nature Collage Artframe would be a hit around here.And completely changable for the seasons!
This International Dollhouse Sweden Doll inspires me to make a few outfits for our own dolls for Christmastime.
Owen and Mzee and Ed Emberley's Funprint Drawing Book are two books I might be able to get through the library. I have loved Elsa Beskow for so long and so endearingly that I hope to own all of her books someday.
Crayon Rocks might just be on this years' handmade Christmas list.
The magic cabin dolls remind me again how much I want to learn to make Waldorf dolls.
Corynn would be in heaven if she had a reading nook this beautiful.
These pocket dolls insist I get a copy of felt wee folk and start making them by the dozens.
Silk Parachutes would be a fun crafty science experiment.
I might have to get Matt to make these stilts for the children for Christmas.
Somethings I just couldn't recreate or even own-but I can still admire right?
I wouldn't ever spend that much money on a baby chewtoy (I would rather hand them a measuring spoon to gnaw on) but I *adore* Sophie giraffe. Did I mention giraffes are my favorite animal?
Canvas tipis this grandiose make me swoon.
I KNOW we don't have room for this-but isn't this market stand a DREAM?!?
If I had to pick ONE thing to recreate-it would HAVE to be the tree fort.
PS. Naptime is over and the children are pouring over the catalog. Corynn has admired aloud the very things I admired in the catalog-it is incredible. A girl after my own heart. (She even pined over those stilts for Christmas!!!)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
In the wee dark morning hours I woke up with a bug. The biting, stomach-lurching, painful cringing in my stomach, always-know-the-nearest-route-to-the-toilet kind of bug.
I thought it would pass. It didn't.
I did chores and barely made it through.
Still, I figured if I just gave it time I would be fine.
It was when I started doing weird things, like putting a size 5 diaper on a 7 week old baby that I knew I better call a sickday. Even HE looks confused.
No telling what I might have taught the children during schooling.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Blue skies and golden sun beckons, after children have rested their weary bones or freed their noses from open books during afternoon quiet time. So books are shoved back into cases and apples are nabbed for the road, and we are off.
They run, these children of mine, only until they find sparkly stones to collect, or striped ones, or just plain gray ones that captivate despite their dullness.
It is quiet no more, with whoops! and hollering all the way up the mountain and back down again.
We reach the lower hill and admire the view. There's our (borrowed) farm under naked branches and fiery stripes of fleeting orange, with its' retired silos, green tin roof, and barbed wire fences that are no match for our ornery cows.
It still sorta stings, knowing it won't be truly ours. People say "God has something better in store for you." but I wonder-what could possibly be better than this? It would be impossible to love something so much. But God is the author of impossible, and so we trust. And WAIT.
Onward ho, to the middle hill. Ever behind, we trudge: she and he and me. If Adele makes it, I will be impressed. We have already come so far. If I were her and having a view like that stare back at me, I would feel defeated, but the one with the littlest strides has the biggest perseverance and makes it to the tip top. A mountain goat, she is. And a teacher to her Mama.
Sister grabs her tired legs and swings her round and round in a happy, giggly embrace when she gets to the top. It is so good to have people to share your successes with. It is so good to see those more accomplished, joyfully celebrating successes not their own.
If that wasn't enough reward, there is always this:
....and looking out and seeing how far you have truly come.
Our mansion house looks just big enough for fairies right about now:
Before she can properly claim she caught up, older brother and sister with the longer legs and faster sprints are off again. DOWN the hill. This time, off their feet and on their bellies.
Miss Fearless watches 'em go, and as usual, tries her own hand at it....
...only to discover it doesn't quite work out so well. Her chubby little arm just gets in the way.
Up and down they go, and we watch. If only I had half their energy.
But instead, I trail along behind, thankful for the girl holding my hand and the baby snoozing in front, both good reasons not to feel like I "can't" but that I "shouldn't."
I spy my own shadow, thankfully still attached (unlike Peter's), and remember a time when this shadow of mine was very similar and yet, very different~ for my baby now, is on the outside and Smooch is now decidedly a "he". Old habits die hard though, and "he" is still decidedly "Smooch" more than Judah.
We trudge home, with pinkish noses, chilled arms, happy hearts and of course, pockets and fingers full of treasures.
The joy is in the journey.
"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on
the feelings, as now in October."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne