April 2010

I am sitting here alone tonight, the kids all tucked away and dreaming happily, the animals taking another nap nearby, the house quiet except for the sound of my dishwasher running in the background.  It’s moments like this when my innermost thoughts can be almost overwhelming. 

I have so many thoughts running through my head.  Some might qualify as worries, others as concerns, some might even be fears, while yet others are simply pure curiosity and innocent questions.  Essentially they all revolve around one thing….what our lives will be like about 6 weeks from now.  Things could happen in so many ways at this point! 

  • Will we be living in a big house in the city or on some acreage in the country?
  • Will we be renting again or actually own a place where we can put our personal touch without concern of a landlord’s opinion?  (I’ve never had that option before)
  • Will we be limited still to our dog and cat, or will we have the option of having more critters?
  • Will I be able to find a good supplier of raw milk, or will I be milking my own goat?
  • If I can have critters, and I have the option of milking my own goat, will I be able to find one that has recently freshened, is a decent milker, and is for sale in June?
  • Will I be able to figure out gardening at 7000 foot altitude, when there is several inches of snow presently on the ground, and it is the end of April?
  • Will I be able to arrange to continue ordering our bulk food supplies from Azure Standard, and/or be able to recruit a few other customers for them so I can get a delivery to our new area?
  • How soon after moving could my husband deploy, and for how long?

Assuming for a moment that the property we are interested in actually works out, then there are more questions:

  • Will I be able to learn contendness in life and in mothering, in a crowded, old 600 sq ft. trailer, or the loft of the barn if a temporary living situation is necessary? (that thought makes me realize how truly spoiled we are!)
  • Will I be able to run an effective homeschool in the above situation?
  • How long will we actually have to live like that before being able to afford a new home?
  • If my husband deploys, will I feel safe enough and be able to fun a mini-farm and home with 4 homeschooling children by myself?

Oh, let me tell you, that is just the tip of the iceberg!   I have so many other thoughts running through my head, it just isn’t funny.  Unfortunately, I do tend to obsess and get very distracted in this type of situation.  It has really distracted me from my usual chores and responsibilities.  If I am honest, though, the biggest issue for me right now is really whether we will be able to have animals. 

Fact is, I am an animal lover.  Before marriage, and really up until I had kids, animals were all I knew.  I worked as a veterinary technician, I ran the animal department at a farm store, I owned horses and trained horses, I worked with the BLM horses, I trained dogs, I worked at a zoo and a nature center, I raised rabbits, I worked with the mounted police, and so much more!  I owned or worked with almost every species of domesticated animal at some time or another.  Until I got married, I was in school, majoring in animal biology, with the ultimate goal of going to vet school. Outside of being a believer in Christ, animals were really how I defined myself in day-to-day life.

The hardest thing I think I ever experienced was when God told me it was time to put the animals aside and focus on raising my children.  I fought it for a long time, but eventually came around.  I cannot deny I have been happy, and never had any regrets about that.  Nonetheless, I have seen it as a season in my life.  I have maintained a hope that God would eventually allow me the privilege of once again being involved with animals–even if it is in a different way than I had originally planned. 

This week, I almost feel like I am being tested somehow.  I can’t really explain it.  I got excited about the prospect of having a few animals at our new home, then those hopes were all but dashed.  Then we found this piece of property that seems so perfect with the exception of having to replace the house.  Everyone has been quick to recommend that we “just get a manufactured home and stick out there.”  Actually, that is exactly what we are considering, but there is a LOT more involved in it then that, and it just isn’t that simple for us.  Perhaps I will post about it one day.   As time goes on, though, this property becomes more appealing, and my hopes and excitement just increase by leaps and bounds.  How I would love to step outside to hear a goat bleat “good morning” to me again!  How I would love to show my children how to care for baby chicks.  How rewarding it would be to create a meal for my family that was provided by God and required effort on my part to produce, but allowing me to know the entire history of every morsel, rather than just running to the grocery store.  How much fun to cuddle with baby rabbits again. How I long to see my dog “set free” to be a dog and run to his heart’s content on our land, rather than be cooped up in a “postage-stamp” yard.

The truth is, I have no idea where we will be living, or what God is going to provide for us in the end.  Despite my efforts to not get my hopes up, I have failed.  I am cautiously optimistic, granted, but still, I know I will be disappointed if it doesn’t work out the way I dream at night.  It seems like such a silly thing to concern myself with, but I do.  It is so easy to say “just turn it over to God,” or “just pray about it,” or something similiar, but at moments like this, it is a lot easier said then done. 

At the same time though, I know God has the best plan.  He knows what the future holds, including all the details I haven’t even considered.  I know that even if I am disappointed in the short term, ultimately I will be much happier with His plan than my own, because His plan always works best for everyone and everything.  Fortunately, through the journey He has led us on over the last 2 years, I think I have spiritually matured quite a bit from when He initially asked me to give up the animals.  So despite my concerns, I have a new-found peace and satisfaction (even if I have to search for it once in a while!) that God WILL provide.  He WILL take care of everything for us.  It is simply our job to continue praying and following His leading. 

Whatever the final result, I look forward to getting through these next few weeks, getting all the questions answered, and getting back to a normal routine.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”     –Matthew 6:25-34

The delivery guys have to be wondering why they are paying so many visits here lately.  I have had loads of packages of all sizes being delivered here over the last few days.  What they don’t know is that those packages are full of boxes.  This is how my living room floor has looked the past 2 days…

And if you ask the kids, it can all mean only one thing….

A prime opportunity for their imaginations to run wild!!

I love blogging.  I have found it is such a great way to meet like-minded folks I would never meet otherwise.  It’s a great tool to stay in touch with family and friends–particularly as much as we move around.  It’s also such a fun way to learn from others, share ideas, and just generally record our life happenings. 

I have recently come to disklike one increasingly big aspect of blogging, though.  I feel like it can potentially be sooo incredibly deceiving!  It is almost as though, completely unintentional though it may be, I am making myself out to be someone that I am not.  And that bothers me. 

For example, just in the last week, I have conversed with a number of people who read my blog (THANKS by the way!!) who seem to have gotten this idea that I am this amazingly organized super-mom (someone actually called me that!!  HAH!), a fantastically creative mastermind in the kitchen who can whip together a feast out of a few leftover ingredients (SOOOO NOT TRUE!!), some brilliant teacher with a heavenly amount of patience since I homeschool my children (OH, if only they knew the truth!), and…..well, you get the idea.  That is NOT me.  In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the compliments.  It is quite flattering to think that someone out there might actually have that much faith in me.  At that same time, though, that is exactly what bothers me! 

God is the only one we should ever put our faith in.  The rest of us are only human, with a few strengths, and a whole slew of weaknesses.  It is easy to talk big on a blog, or limit topics to things I feel more comfortable with my knowledge of.  It is easy to post about the fun, exciting, “happy” aspects of daily life instead of the more discouraging topics like kids bickering amongst each other, disobeying, losing my temper, moments of impatience, etc.  Anytime we put a human up on a pedestal, so to speak, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment when that person fails to be what we conceptualize them to be. 

I so wish readers who don’t know me well could know the real me (though it’s probably better that you don’t!).  I am a mom just like most of the blog readers, and I experience many of the same struggles.  I am a mom to young children, which essentially equates to daily losses of patience and a consistent failure to demonstrate the fruits of the spirit for my children.  I have been truly blessed with some wonderful mentors who have helped me avoid many common pitfalls in child-rearing, but children simply don’t come with step-by-step instructions.  I have a husband with a nutty work schedule, which means I can hardly plan anything during the week because his work hours are so variable and ever-changing.  I have learned to enjoy cooking, but that is new for me!  When we got married almost 8 years ago, I couldn’t cook ANYTHING.  I consistently burned microwave popcorn!  I have gotten much better, but I still have to use a good recipe.  I am NOT creative in the kitchen, and in fact, during times of low food-stores in the pantry (like now since we are preparing to move), I have to ask my husband to prepare many meals because I just can’t put stuff together very well.  And organization…..HAH!  Being organized is waaaaaaaaaaayy at the other extreme of my nature.  With each child, again, I have gotten better.  I think the desire to survive on a daily basis has forced that.  But I still have “the pit”  of dirty clothing or whatever that I tend to neglect putting away on my side of the bed.  I love visitors, and want people to feel free to stop by anytime, but I frequently tell them, “If you want to see me/the family, come anytime, but if you want to see the house, call first!”  The simple fact is, cleanliness and organization is just not always my top priority.  I have an amazing schedule posted on my wall, but I only use about 3/4 of it on a regular basis.  We have a great system of chore packs for the kids, but half the time, I completely forget to require their use!  Oh, and the ease with which I can get distracted!  I am ashamed to say I have forgotten my kids were sitting in the timeout chair on so many occasions it is embarrassing.  Even deeper, I have areas of my life where God has convicted me so strongly, I can hardly discuss them with those closest to me, let alone blog about them!

I say all that to hopefully emphasize that I am only human.  I periodically get some wonderful feedback regarding this blog, but I am still learning every day.  In fact, many of the creative ideas I post on here are ideas I learned from someone else.  Christ Jesus is the ONLY one worthy of any faith and praise, and as we go through life, we must always remember that.  Humans are born with a sinful nature, making it certain that they will eventually let us down, but Christ never will!  No matter how “busy” He gets, He will never forget we are sitting there waiting on Him.  He is solely responsible for every blessing in our lives.  And while I hope that my story may offer encouragement to someone who needs it, Christ is the one we must hand over our hopes, trust, faith, fears, and dreams to, as He will not fail us! 

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 188:8-9

I received a very important package this morning.  Although I was expecting the package–an overnight delivery no less, what I did NOT expect was the method they used to package it.

First, I opened this box…

Then I discovered a second box inside.  So I opened the second box…

Only to discover lots of packing paper…  I removed all the packing paper only to discover a large envelope…

I finally felt I was making some progress.  So I opened the envelope, only to find ANOTHER envelope…

At least I was getting to a point where I was running out of sizes!  So what was this ever-so important package all about? 

AT LAST!! My beloved and greatly missed wedding band!!

About 2 months ago, we had a little mishap involving dog, stroller, bike, and kids, and it resulted in my wedding band breaking apart, splitting right down the center.   I was forced to take it off until it could be repaired.  I asked all around here for a reference for a good jeweler, but no one could recommend anyone.  I didn’t want to take it to just anyone, though, so I waited.  Well, when S headed back to the farm recently, it was a perfect opportunity to get it repaired.  He has a friend back there who is a great and trusted jeweler, and he has serviced my rings several time previously.  Because the repairs were pretty extensive, S had to leave it, and it took almost 2 weeks for the repairs.  Finally, though, I have my ring, totally repaired, cleaned, and prettied up, back on my finger where it belongs!

Life has suddenly become a blur!  I think we broke a record for military efficiency and speed! 

Here is what is ‘supposed’ to happen to get ready for a PCS move, based on my understanding….First, you hear rumors of a new assignment. Secondly, you get a RIP, which is basically a form with all the needed data about the active duty member, his dependents, his current assignment, and the details of the new assignment.  The RIP is supposed to be sent 3-6 months prior to a PCS.  The active duty member signs the RIP, which is then processed through a chain of folks and departments.  Eventually, typically several weeks after he has signed it, a department creates the official “orders” paperwork that allows for the move itself to take place.  Ideally, the member then has around 90 days to go through his list of tasks that are required when leaving any station.  Realize things can change at any time, but as a general rule, the RIP means things are certain, while the orders confirm.  For example, you never go house-hunting until you have  RIP, because you want to be certain.  But you never sign a contract until you have the orders, to make it more definite. 

So yesterday, I posted about our current status about being at a standstill.  I was “looking” for a house at our new assignment, but we couldn’t take the trip because we had no RIP, and nothing in my search was looking good.  I was frustrated, as they have been promising us a RIP since November!!  Now, we are supposed to be moving in about 6 weeks, there are tons of things to do to prepare, and I could hardly do anything. 

That has all changed now!  Yesterday afternoon, we got the RIP!  We were both thrilled, because it meant things were starting to happen.  I was up into the late hours of the night reserving a rental truck, ordering packing supplies, and S and I finalized all our dates for house-hunting and leaving.  We also discussed our back-up plans in the event we can’t find a house during our trip.  I also sent an e-mail to a realtor I have been in contact with regarding a little piece of property for sale. 

Since I got up this morning, I have had about 10 e-mails from the realtor regarding the property, which I will describe momentarily.  Better yet, though, we got our ORDERS!!  I can’t believe it–RIP to orders in less than 24 hours!!  Because we have medical issues, there is more paperwork involved that we can now work on.  S and I have been burning the candle at both ends this morning!   Thank the Lord I have such independent and responsible kids, as it really pays off on days like this!  Things are happening, and they are happening fast now!   The countdown has truly begun!

So about that property I found….I hadn’t seen it before because it was out of our budgeted price range.  I decided to increase the “search” budget by $5000, figuring we could always try to negotiate.  That is when I discovered this parcel.  It is in a PERFECT location for S to continue biking to work, meaning we won’t have to buy a car and all that goes with it.  It is in a beautiful forested area with huge evergreens all around.  It is about 2.5 acres, with no covenants, which means we can have critters to our hearts’ content!!!  Dispersed throughout the trees are little open areas of beautiful green grass that would be perfect for grazing a few critters.  It has an amazing pole barn all set up, complete with interior heat, concrete floors, and upstairs rooms for….ummm….whatever!  The barn is huge with lots of room to set up little winter goat stalls or kidding stalls, an indoor chicken coop for the worst of weather, rabbit cages, and S could still have lots of room for a workshop or whatever else we can dream up.  All the utilities, septic, water rights, etc, are good to go!  Could this be any better?! 

OK, so there is one catch–kind of an important one.  We may be camping for a while.  You see, there is a 3 bedroom, 600 sq. ft. or so single wide mobile home on the lot, but we aren’t yet sure if it is in livable or safe condition.  It has a couple of unpermitted (we think) additions built on.  Even if it is liveable, it will need to be replaced ASAP.  There are also a couple of permitting issues, but those seem easy enough to handle.  If the seller is willing to negotiate the price of the land, then we should be able to save enough additional within a few months to buy a new manufactured home.  We will just have to practice living simply and somewhat rustic–ally for a while.  Terri, you want to come show me how to build an outhouse? 😉

I was trying diligently to not get excited at this prospect, but I think I am going to give up on that.  It is everything I could have asked for and more (not counting the whole house thing, but didn’t I say I wasn’t picky?!)  So, at this point, the realtor has offered to go inspect it a bit closer for us, take some more photos, and then we see what the next step would be.  This could go so many ways at this point.  The whole thing could completely fall through before it ever gets started, we could put an offer in and the seller not accept it, and who knows what else?  We would literally be spending nearly every saved penny we have if this were to go through, and it would be with faith that we would have a decent home by winter (which can be brutal and long in that area).  A lot of what-ifs and unknowns right now. 

At this point, I am just praising God that the paperwork has all come through, and I am praying for a great deal of wisdom in this decision on a house…particularly on this house that we are interested in.  God always knows best, but I fear that my emotions and desires for animals might interfere with general common sense and practicality.  I don’t want that to happen, but the more excited I get at the idea of this place, the more unstable my emotions become!   I’ll keep you posted.

Having realized that we will be moving in roughly 6 weeks, we decided to kick it into high gear–official papers or not! 

Now, being military, we realize that things can change at any given moment.  To give you an idea, my husband once received the official “orders” paperwork to move him from California to Florida.  The military-contracted movers took all his belongings, except for a suitcase full of summer clothing and his guitar, to FL.  En route to Florida, S decided to swing by and pay a visit to his family in the midwest.  While visiting, he was given new orders–TWICE!  By the end of his brief vacation, he had new official papers that ordered him to Iceland!  Unfortunately, it was considered a “deployment,” which meant he had no access to his belongings, which, at that point, were stored away in FL.  Needless to say, he had to make new arrangements for everything from clothes to housing very rapidly!

That being said, we know things can change.  Someone out there is still sitting around not getting our paperwork filed properly.  We aren’t sure why, but we have at least found the culprit and a few higher-ups are working our case for us now.  Because our new assignment is supposedly official at this point, and because our time here is getting short, we have decided to prepare as though we did have the paperwork. It looks as though we are going to be doing another DITY (moving ourselves) due to a number of factors involved, which adds a bit of complexity to the situation. 

Since we didn’t get the papers, we missed our preferred house-hunting opportunity this week.  So we are tentatively planning a trip in early May.  To prepare for this, I have been talking with a realtor and diligently perusing MLS listings in the area.  We could rent, but we are seriously considering buying at this point for more flexibility.  This new location may well be our longest assignment, and will hopefully finish up S’s military career.  Also, for a while now, and for many reasons, we have strongly desired to take the next big step toward self-sufficiency.  We have planned to begin raising meat rabbits and chickens (small-scale for now, of course), perhaps have a dairy goat or two, and have a little garden.  I would also love to have a house that has a location where I can experiment with having a “family closet” instead of individual closets for all the kids. 

Which leads me to this post.  OH. MY. GOODNESS!  How frustrating can this search get?!  I have made a half-dozen calls and done hours of research to learn the city and county codes for critters and gardens.  I was excited to learn that the city we are moving allows laying hens anywhere in the city limits.  Unfortunately, individual neighborhood covenants and HOA’s can override that allowance and forbid them.  So we considered moving out of the city into the county.  Then I discovered the entire state is very tight on water useage laws.  Very tight!  Although a property may be zoned for livestock and grazing, the county can refuse to issue you the necessary permits (or void them) to water that livestock. 

I really don’t consider myself very picky.  As long as the location is safe for my kids, the kitchen large enough for me to perform my tasks, at least 3 bedrooms, and preferably more than 2/10’s of an acre for our critters, I don’t really care about the rest of the details.  Colors can be painted, stairs, basements, fireplaces, nice views, and extra rooms are all options I really am not concerned with.  I don’t care if it is built with brick, wood, logs, adobe, or a vinyl mobile home!  I don’t even care if it is a bit of a fixer-upper, so long as I can move in right away and the kids will be safe.  I just desire a place where we can stay safe, improve our health with natural foods, and learn a bit more about self-reliance.  Is that too much to ask?

As of now, I have no idea how this search is going to turn out.  It seems like the door is being slammed shut everywhere I look.  I submitted 6 of our favorite property listings to the realtor to get more info.  2 of them were already under contract, 2 were short-sales, meaning not doable for us due to time constraints, and at least 1 of the remaining 2 had covenants against animals.  Although he really wanted to be close enough to bike (as he has done his entire career), S has agreed to buy another car (albeit a klunker) instead of bike, which has allowed us to extend our search area significantly.  However, neither of us want him to spend a huge portion of his day commuting to work.  At this point, while the goat idea could be re-instated if the right place is found, we have put that idea aside.  Now, due to all the covenants, it is looking like we may have to put the chicken idea aside as well. 

I have been praying fervently, and will continue to do so, that God will guide us in this search.  I know His way is always the best, and I desire to be where He wants us.  I, personally, am also praying that I will willingly submit to any decision my husband makes in this process, as he is the one most greatly affected by commuting.  Since I am officially in charge of researching properties, though, it is just so difficult right now to know which direction to turn.  We have been promising the kids chickens and rabbits this summer, and I don’t look forward to telling them otherwise.  I know they will understand, but I know how disappointing it will be for them–just the idea of not going that route is disappointing even for me. 

I know it is wrong to live for the future and worry about tomorrow, when I should be enjoying today.  I would be lying though if I said anything other than how much I look forward to getting through June, finding our house, getting settled, taking our trip back to the farm, and getting back to some semblance of normal around here.

Want a good laugh?  I can probably give you one……(either that or have you pity me to the extreme! LOL)

If you haven’t already, go back and read the last couple of posts I have done regarding the events taking place in our home over the last 2 weeks.  That will catch you up and give you a better understanding of why this post is titled as such.

Now flash forward to this week.  By early this week, things were feeling more under control.  When the grandparents and nieces arrived, they were all sick with some issue–from bronchitis to ear infections.  I have never seen so much medicine in this house!  Nana’s ear actually ruptured, and Grandpa had to take a trip to urgent care.  In any case, by early this week, everyone was starting to feel better, and the medicines were finishing up.  I even convinced my mom to do some sewing projects for me. Then it happened….

On Tuesday we got a call from our landlord.  He decided to put the house on the market. I won’t go into details, as it is a long confusing story.  Rest assured we shouldn’t have to leave before our move date in June, however, simply put we were only allowed to stay in the house past December if we were willing to show the house should he decided to sell it.  So Tuesday the notification came.  What we did NOT expect was to wind up with less than 24 hours notice! 

So now I have 4 visiting relatives, beds stashed wherever I can fit them, kids sleeping in closets even, and a realtor makes an appointment to come on Wednesday to take pics.  OK, I realize this is not my responsibility, but I do take  pride in “my” home, and don’t want photos of a messy house plastered all over the internet or to have total strangers come in and see clutter everywhere.  Thank the Lord my parents pitched in!  My dad took the kids outside and entertained them in the backyard for several hours, while mom and I set to cleaning and organizing a bit.  There were piles of laundry to fold, a few bathrooms to clean–mind you with so many visitors this week, a few chores had fallen by the wayside. 

The realtor came and took his pics, then told me not to worry, as it would be Friday before it was listed on the MLS.  Also, all agents showing the house could only show by appointment (my convenience).  I figured that gave me a full 36 hours to prepare for home tours.  Then I got my first call for an appointment on Thursday morning!  A whole day early.  Now, I realize you probably thinking “just say NO!”  but, again, part of the long, confusing story and condition of us remaining here requires that we show anytime we are available.  I just didn’t expect it to be such poor timing!  Nonetheless, we kicked into gear again.  Since it was around lunch time, we just kept feeding kiddos to occupy them while the realtor and his clients toured the house.

This morning, I woke to more calls and requests for appointments.  I am finding the realtors tend to call when the client is with them.  I was picturing a day in advance or some such, but I have had one give 15 minutes noticed and the others give 1-2 hours notice.  So, after this morning’s calls, I asked Nana and Grandpa to take the 4 older children (3 of mine and 1 of my nieces) for a ride to the park, and I would keep the 2 babies.  Then we straightened everything up again, and prepared for showing. 

For now, I have survived yet again.  It isn’t even noon yet, and I am tired (of course it was after midnight before I went to bed last night!) I feel like I have put in a whole day.  I called my parents to tell them they could come home, and it turns out they went for a drive.  They never made it to the park, but decided to go sight-seeing instead. 

If you know my folks, this totally makes sense.  In the mean time, I have no idea where 4 of the 6 children in my charge are–other than with my folks, and they have my van!  I am hoping they will be back in time for lunch, but you know what?  At this point, I don’t think I even care!  My kids are with their grandparents, hopefully enjoying some quality time, my niece is perched on my lap, and my youngest is playing contentedly nearby.  And I am just waiting for another showing request to call anytime! 

So there you have it.  What else could possibly happen to throw a curve-ball my way?  But alas, I figure such circumstances are what keep life interesting, keep us flexible, and keep the monotony at bay!!

This time of visiting with my family has been unique in that it is the first time in several years where EVERYONE from the 3 generations was together at once, and it was THE first time since we all had the grandchildren in the picture.  As a result, we jumped at the opportunity to have some memorable family photos done. 

Now I did a post a while back showing the great fun it was to get 4 young children to look at a camera simultaneously and smile.  You can find it here.  This recent photo shoot, however, taught me that the only thing harder than trying to get 4 kids to look at the camera simultaneously is to try and get MORE THAN 4 kids to look!  In this case, we had two 1-year olds, two 2-year olds, a 3-year old, and a 5-year old, in addition to 6 adults.  The funniest thing was that the poor photographer had has much difficulty getting the ADULTS to keep their eyes in her direction rather than continually looking at the kids!  (K, I hope we’re still friends after all that!)  Despite the challenges, this dear lady did an amazing job, exhibited tremendous patience, and captured this possibly-once-in-a-lifetime (or at least for many years) opportunity on film for us.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, K!

Here are the final results of that photo shoot.  The pics include me and my family, my brother and his family, and our parents. Enjoy!

Grandparents with grandkids

My brother, our parents, and me in back. Although the photo distorts our heights to the extreme, my brother is over 6 foot tall, while I am the shortest at 5'5".

My beautiful family, created by God. I am blessed!

My brother and his wonderful family.

Two of my little tree-climbing monkeys.

The grandkids. We gave up trying to get all 6 kid to look at us simultaneously!

My 4 babies. N was trying to play peek-a-boo with us when we tried to get him looking at the camera.

Don't you just love those cheeks?!

Now I just have to figure out which one(s) get to grace the walls of our new house once we move.  Any suggestions?

So far, I am still surviving this little adventure we are experiencing. 

As if you are actually interested (and because I can’t think of anything more interesting to post right now), I will continue with our schedule of events of late…..

Friday:  the men took the older 4 children to one of those bouncy-house places where all the “toys” are those big blow-up bouncy contraptions.  As far as I am concerned, they are great for one thing…..wearing young children completely out!  I had some cooking and cleaning to do while they were gone.  Later in the afternoon, we went to a local park where a good friend took family pictures of our group.  I don’t have the energy to deal with photos tonight, but will get them on soon enough.

Saturday: my sister-in-law wanted to learn to make home-made tortillas, so we got up early and she helped me make up some breakfast burritos.  Shortly after breakfast, her and my brother said good-bye to their little girls and the rest of the family and hit the road for the rest of their journey to Alaska.  I cleaned up a bit, then started working on a birthday cake for little A.  Saturday night, we had a little party for him to celebrate his 2nd birthday (has it really been that long already?  WOW!)

Sunday:  was pretty typical for us–church, followed by lunch (only today it happened to be a church-sponsored cook-out), followed by naps, followed by having our extended church family worship group over for the evening.  It was a bit busier having a few extra folks with us, but all in all, typical. 

Sunday night:  I admit, I have temporarily lost my steam.  I’m sure it’s nothing a great night’s sleep won’t solve.  Boy, I gotta admit, I have had some AWESOME deep sleep this week!  I am just exhausted at the end of each day.  Despite that, though, it has been fun serving my family.  Whenever a situation like this presents itself, be it dinner guests or visitors needing a place to stay, it reminds me how much I truly love and enjoy having people over, entertaining, ministering, fellowshipping, and all the other aspects involved in having people over.  I always look forward to such opportunities.

You may be thinking I’ve fallen off the face of the planet by now.  I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown by.  I think I blinked or something, and suddenly it’s Thursday night!  In my last post, I gave an expected account of some of the goings-on, but we had no idea how truly busy things would turn out to be.  Let me give you a bit of a recount of the last 10 days:

  • Tuesday night: Friends over for dinner
  • Friday night: Friends over for dinner
  • Saturday:  First, we had our final pre-move yard sale.  Everything that didn’t sale was immediately taken to Goodwill.  After the kids took their nap, we had a much-anticipated “celebration” for JR for finishing Kindergarten.  Here is a quick peek:

The kids have wanted to visit this outdoor carousel for some time now, and we were waiting for some special occasion. This seemed to be the perfect opportunity! So, after grabbing a quick treat of organic ice-cream, we headed over to the ride.

JR was all grins on his mighty tiger!

M was happy to be included in the celebration. A was not quite so thrilled about the ride, but N thought it was great riding in my Ergo.

  • Saturday night:  Friends over for dinner
  • Sunday morning:  Easter

    All dressed up to celebrate the risen Savior!

  • Sunday afternoon:  we received a phone call that a close member of S’s family was not doing well.  As a result, he realized he needed to fly home as soon as possible.  We spent the afternoon researching plane schedules and prices.
  • Monday morning:  S went to work for a little while to get everything in order for his departure. 
  • Monday night: Dropped S off at airport for a red-eye flight.  After visiting his relatives on Tuesday morning, he ran a few needed errands around his home-town.  It just happens that his “home” also happens to be the location of our farm, so he got to pay a visit.  While there, he was thrilled to discover that things are starting to happen with the clearing of his mom’s land next door to the farm.  In fact, he was so excited, that afternoon he and his brother decided to break ground: 

By night fall on Tuesday, the two of them had successfully prepped the entire area for his Mom’s foundation and basement:

Boy, it's amazing! When my hubby sets his mind to doing something, things get done!

Just for the record, we are talking SERIOUSLY big hole in the ground! It is completely ready for the next step!

And no, the contraption sitting at the top of that massive hole had absolutely nothing to do with the speed and efficiency with which this hole was dug!


By the way, I have some great ocean-front property for sale in Arizona if you’re interested!

OK, ok, so they had a ball watching big machines move massive amounts of earth with amazing speed and dexterity on Tuesday afternoon.  But I do digress….

Back to the events of the week:

  • Wednesday morning:  S decides to construct a more permanent temporary fence for the sheep to give more control of the growing spring grass.  In just a couple of hours, he and his brother really did run about 800 feet of electric wire fence and netting. 

Very happy sheep!
  • Wednesday afternoon:  S visited his relatives one last time, then his brother took him to the airport.  He literally spent less than 36 hours back home.  It is amazing what he accomplished though.  In the mean time, I was preparing for the arrival of my extended family members.  I had been cooking all week, freezing what I could to make the job easier later.  My brother and his wife showed up Wednesday around lunch. 
  • Wednesday night:  My brother stayed with my kids (all sleeping soundly) while my sister-in-law and I went to the airport to pick up everyone.  S arrived first, followed 1/2 hour later by my parents who were escorting my brother’s 2 toddlers.  We all got home around midnight, and, being completely exhausted, crawled immediately into our beds.  Or futons.  Or bunkbeds.  Or cribs. Or pac n’plays. Or closet pallets and sleeping bags.  We can seriously pack ’em in when we put our minds to it!
  • Thursday morning:  We decided it is likely impossible to have 12 people from 3 different families living under one roof and not go insane.  Particularly when 6 of those people are age 5 and under.  So, in the best interest of the kids, we decided to get out of the house and do something.  We all played musical cars, loaded up, and went to Chuck E. Cheese’s.  It really was just for the kids 😉

    Of course, Grandpa, my brother, my husband, and JR just could not resist competing for highest score in the rat wheel. You can only imagine the entertainment that was!

  • Thursday afternoon:  Except for the feeling of complete chaos with all these youngsters, I think you could say things finally started calming down.  I got into more of a groove and developed a more workable, peaceful system for meal times, baked yet another feast, took a look at my pantry and realized just how much food that many people can pack away, and finally, we just spent some time in the backyard enjoying each other and the beautiful weather.
  • Thursday night:  JR and M decided they wanted more adventure than sleeping on a pallet in my closet, so they convinced their daddy to set up a tent in the backyard.  Unfortunately, it was a little chilly for M, so, as I sit here typing, JR and S are sleeping soundly in the tent, M is in my bed waiting for me to join her, and everyone else is already in bed.  That means that, for the first time in over 24 hours (not counting the few peaceful hours of sleep we had this morning), I have a few minutes of quiet.  Ahhhhh….don’t you just love the sound of it?

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