Welcoming “Docena,” our petite princess, who arrived a little more than two weeks ago into our home and hearts. Unlike Pipkka, she didn’t have to stay any extra time in the hospital. The whole experience was marvelously uneventful and we’ve just been enjoying our littlest (and trying to sleep when she sleeps, but really, how often does that work after the first baby?!).
Around the Haus…
March is promising to be very event-full, with two birthdays and two sacraments in one week! Not to mention Lent, school, springtime farm chores, figuring out sheep-shearing…. wow! Fortunately, my mother has been visiting for three weeks now to help us with our transitions so far. We’re going to miss her even more than usual when she heads back to her home! 🙂
Pipkka is really easing into her big sister role rather well. It helps that as I type, she’s a week out from her first birthday and learning so many new skills that she really doesn’t mind if I’m holding Docena unless it’s while the latter is having a bottle. Pipkka, like Dibbun before her, sees all bottles as her personal property and will even valiantly attempt to sneak sips from the tiny size 1 bottle while she, of course, is used to things rated 9mos+. This too, shall pass…
On the Farm…
While we figure out a routine here in our new “new normal,” things have not been idle on the Farm. Rascal’s rabbit had a new litter the week before Docena arrived. Right now, we call them The Tribbles because they are cute, small, furry, and show up in the unlikeliest places.
I warned my family not to allow me to walk into Tractor Supply or Ace Hardware unattended until further notice as Chick Days are back. I simply cannot be trusted while my two springtime addictions are out on sale (peeping poultry and garden plants). The fact that the sheep ate two of my apple saplings last Spring gave me pause and prevented me from grabbing a Honeycrisp one outside Tractor Supply. And luckily when I did happen to make a late evening run to TSC for barnyard needs, there was a sign saying the chicks wouldn’t go up for sale until the next morning at 10. Saved!
We did have a few small indoor projects to fix up before Docena arrived, and I will get to them in later posts. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot of nostalgic reflecting as we approach the fourth anniversary of our leap of Faith relocation to this beautiful corner of the Blue Ridge. Old “photo memories” on my phone have been showing pictures of much smaller girls running in the yard of a house that is no longer ours, holding armloads of daffodils that I hope still come up to cheer the current owners. Out here, my bulbs have just come up and the daffodils have not bloomed yet, but they are coming! I cannot wait to start my cool weather garden in a few weeks. Winter still comes to us here, and lasts just a little longer than we were used to back there. And I still love getting pictures like these (taken in January):
We are enjoying a lovely Christmas season here on the farm. The weather didn’t cooperate with the girls’ wishes for a white Christmas (by a long shot!), and supply chain woes hit–of all things–the local Christmas tree farms! That’s not a joke: droughts in 2008 & 2010 and early cuttings last year when everyone stayed home for Christmas caused the local area farms to close down before December 5! So Haus Meister took some of the kids and visited the tree vendor next to the local ice cream & coffee food truck. We got a wonderful tree, the kids had wonderful ice cream, and a new tradition may just have been inaugurated.
The Advent wreath looked a little different this year because I was using spare beeswax candles we found last winter at a local candle shop (and had our priest bless on Candlemas). They lasted very well throughout Advent.
We also tried something new with the Nativity scene this Advent. Thanks to my mom and some of the girls, who sewed up cloth bags over Thanksgiving vacation, we turned the Nativity into a big Advent calendar of sorts. Each night as we gathered for night prayers and lit the Advent wreath, one of the kids would pick the bag assigned for the day, read the paper Bible verse ornament inside (then hung on the artificial tree above the stable), and pull out one or two figurines. By Christmas Eve Mass, every figurine was out (the kings are still en route through the house until Sunday). I don’t mind the girls rearranging the figures, and as you can see, Rosebud is patiently waiting for me to get the official Christmas Eve picture before she does so.
Our parish hosted a Living Nativity this Advent, and quite a few of our children participated. Princess caroled with the choir; Rascal and the Squire were Wise Men; Lil Bit was a sheep; Sunshine was Mary at the Annunciation while Miss M was Gabriel; and Posey, Rosebud, and Bright Eyes were also angels at various other stations. I did not post pictures of those stations as I didn’t get permission from the other actors in the scene. 😉 Suffice to say, it was very fun despite the foggy weather, and we were proud of everyone. I will just add that it was amazing to think that Sunshine could take on such a role, and sit in place for an hour and fifteen minutes! Our parish has been great helping her along the way as she makes such great progress. I couldn’t have dreamed she’d do this four years ago!
Around the Farm…
The population of assorted poultry is up by five now. The three hens on the left–the “Three French Hens”–were rehomed here from a neighbor’s coop as she wanted to start afresh with young chicks, and we had more room for older hens to retire gracefully despite being a few years older than even our first round of chickens. We’ve named them Pat-a-pan, Jeanette, and Isabella (yes, after French carols).
In November, one of our newer Buff Orpington hens suddenly decided to go broody and managed to hatch two chicks right around Thanksgiving (despite the fact that it was cold enough to frost outside). The chicks have a Silver-Laced Wyandotte for a sire, so we are calling them the Orpingdottes. They are quite a few weeks older now, and almost all their yellow feathers have turned white with some interesting black lacings on wings, tail, and the tops of their heads. I’m a bit worried that both are roosters, but we will see.
Meanwhile, on Christmas morning, I was tickled to see as I visited the parish manger that the smallest sheep looked very much like our “Lou,” down to the brown face. The sheep are doing well and getting very fluffy! We’ll be researching shears soon….
The house painting went well this Fall! The main color of the house is “Into the Stratosphere,” and the front doors are “Parlor Rose,” both from a local paint store. We are very pleased with the lovely new look for Misselthwaite’s exterior. Indoors, Haus Meister installed a wood stove into the main fireplace that is much more efficient and heats the house wonderfully on the frosty nights. It was a craigslist win from last winter. The previous owner had only used it a few years and was ready to convert to propane. We were happy to help!
Outside the sky is growing darker, so it’s almost time for barn chores. We’ll then gather round a shrimp pasta dinner, and see how things go progressing toward midnight. The teens want to play board games with Haus Meister (in particular, “Clank! In Space!”), and I guess we shall see how the younger set fares. I think I am at the stage where I could ring in the New Year watching a live feed from London long enough for Big Ben’s tolling, and then turn in for the night, but the kids are not at that stage yet so there we have it.
I did save the best news for last, however, and want to share before she arrives in a month or so.
A very Happy New Year from all of us to all of you, and God bless you in 2022!
Tonight the wind was out of the west-nor’west and gusted down our driveway, past the front of our house, into and over the barn and through the woods beyond. If it were stronger, it ought to wail a bit and at least one little girl would need reminding that it’s just the Fall winds coming in. High time, too! We’ve had cooler days, and honestly, my Southern-born children sometimes still think they need winter parkas when the weather is in the mid-to-upper 60s. However, tonight the wind brings a cold front that means some modicum of business, and justifies the start of the colors in the leaves and the (7) pumpkins on my porch steps.
Pippka at 5, 6, and 7 months. (No sticker for 7 months because I temporarily misplaced it)
Around the Haus…
Little Pippka continues to grow like crazy and tick off all her milestones right and left. Since turning 7 months old, she has decided to begin the “army crawl” stage and gain a second tooth. She delights her siblings by reaching for them when she wants to be held, especially if I’m the one holding her. She is sitting well in her little chair and is starting solid food. It’s funny how the regimen of baby foods have changed since Trooper was the red-headed baby of the Haus. With him it was strictly rice cereal first (thickened in his case, but still!), and now it’s “whatever you’re having, just mashed.” I first realized this at a friend’s house where I was visiting while expecting Pippka, and I was surprised to see her little girl playing with spaghetti and soft carrots at 7 months! Suddenly, even though it’s been about four years since last putting a baby through solids, I felt like I was a generation behind in my parenting methods! Is this how our grandmothers felt when they were told it wasn’t allowed to feed infants orange juice until a certain age? (All in good fun, folks!) Now Pippka is exploring pancakes (without syrup) and other things while we keep an eye on her. I can’t say that she’s eating much of it, but she’s entertained.
Back when we were beginning to pack for our move here, I ordered several camping friendly wildlife and nature cards for our new home state, as the kids had been enjoying the nature cards I had given them long before for our then home state. The day the cards arrived in the mail happened to be one where they were feeling blue about leaving everything familiar for the unknown, and I hoped that they would be cheered up by what they saw. The results surprised me. The kids took the cards and dutifully took a gander, and then sat up in amazement. “Mama, Mama, there’s dolphins in this wildlife card!” “Seashells! Seashells! How come this state has seashells?!” I hadn’t thought at the time that they were moving from a landlocked state to one with a coastline, and informed them. Immediately, the kids were excited about this move and new plans were set. “How far to the beach?” We have yet to see a dolphin, but we do have a favorite seaside location that we visited in 2019 and again this summer (skipping 2018 due to moving and settling in, and last summer due to lockdown). It is just far enough to make an epic day trip event of it, where the entire family can get away for a few hours and listen to the ocean, gather the seashells, play in the surf, and get toasted, and still make it home in time to shut the barn doors for the evening.
Top left: Haus Meister and Trooper establish Base Camp. Lower Left: assorted children enjoying the seaside. Right: Bright Eyes after having her hair styled by Madame de la Mer (in other words, Bright Eyes came ashore with a wave that swirled her hair a bit).
The Cats of Misselthwaite…
“What?” You ask, “She has 24 chickens, 8 rabbits, 6 ducks, 4 sheep, and that ridiculous dog, and she’s talking about the cats again?!” If I were to ever go back onto social media, I am tempted to begin an Instagram thread with the above title and find my posts going viral because everyone likes cats on the internet, right? Well, I will be discussing the farm animals as we go, but since our last post the cat population increased by one. This one was a true rescue! Meet Ruby, pictured the day she turned up on our back porch, and then a month later! She has now been with us three months and is quite a fixture. Her name was the result of a misunderstanding. As “Tabitha Twitchett” had been taken by our (by now likely departed) feral stray friend from our first year here, I combed through my Beatrix Potter and decided on “Cousin Ribby” for our newcomer since she was really very emaciated when we met her. However, at adoption the vet tech heard “Ruby” instead of “Ribby” and it stuck. She is a spitfire of a feline gem, after all.
So, how did we end up accidentally rescuing a kitten? On a Sunday in July, I let Sam (aforementioned ridiculous dog) out for his morning constitutional. Moments later, I heard him barking up a storm on the porch, and looking, saw him under the patio table aiming his snout–and barks–at the chair facing the door. Assuming he was giving Bilbo or Oscar a hard time, I went out to chide him (silly dog, those cats don’t care one way or the next what he thinks). There on the porch chair was a small kitten I had seen two days prior, running across our woods. I knew she had a collar but here she was again, on our back porch, all skin and bones and giving Sam a piece of HER mind (and it appeared calculated to be able to make a sailor blush, as the saying goes). I got Sam back inside and then went to meet the newcomer (pleasantly impressed already by the sheer audacity coming from such a small critter). Alas, her collar that I had spied from a distance was actually wrapped around her foreleg, cutting into her skin! There was no telling where she had come from or how long she’d been from home, and no identification on the collar, but I couldn’t just let her sit on our porch and stew like that! So we brought her in, and fortunately there was time before Mass to go out and get kitten food and a basic litter box. Over the next week we haunted the lost pet ads and played phone tag with the vet. The vet clinic five minutes from our house wouldn’t see her at first since she wasn’t ours, and suggested the Humane Society. The Humane Society wouldn’t see her because we were one mile outside city limits (and their jurisdiction), so we’d have to go to the county shelter forty minutes away. I somehow didn’t picture anyone going to look for her there, and so I called our vet again and asked if we could at least get her scanned for a chip. Meanwhile, I searched every lost pet forum and no one seemed to be searching for her. Obviously since we still have her, she wasn’t chipped, no one knew where she had come from, and no one really expected much from taking her nearly an hour away. So we adopted her then and there in the vet clinic and proceeded to take over her full care. She resides in the boys’ room, of all places, and likes holding sway over her domain. She tolerates Oscar alone of all the animals (I am not letting her run around outside yet, so I don’t know how she’d deal with the barnyard). Sam continues to get an explosion out of her, and she seems to have a perpetual enmity with Bilbo. Perhaps it is because they share a similar profile and build, the kind that suggests that their species were once regarded as gods by the Pharaohs, and they have not forgotten.
Now that it is Autumn, the pool is closed and so is “Celtic Music, Cookouts, and Chlorine,” which is our usual theme for summer evenings poolside. We generally don’t mind shutting down the pool on Labor Day evening because the days are shorter anyway, the evenings almost too cool to enjoy the pool, and the trees nearest the pool decide, rather obnoxiously, to begin shedding in advance. Really, by September it becomes more of a chore than a pleasure to keep the pool running any longer. Once the pool craze is over, it’s safe to turn our attention to other tasks that the summer heat, and the clamor of children for swim time, helped put off until now.
In July, Rascal helped me do a project that had been percolating in my mind almost since we arrived. Our upper floor bathroom looked fabulous in the realty pictures, as is the norm for everything in realty pictures, and it might have stayed semi-fabulous except it was the bathroom designed for the three bedrooms allotted to children in the house. The previous owners seemed to have given it better attention than they did the master bathroom (for which I could be thankful, actually). However, the large cabinetry made it hard to sweep beneath, the scrollwork caught any accidental toothpaste drips from those of preschool age, and the doors suffered a quick loss thanks to little girls using them as props to stand up on that interior ledge as a quasi step-stool (step-stools having no real room for maneuverability in here at the time). Plus, any splash from the bathtub whatsoever invariably made its way beneath the sink, and it was, in a nutshell, unpleasant. I finally decided that this summer we would tackle this bathroom before school began (other projects having precedent before now).
In the end, my involvement was the inspiration and materials gathering, while Rascal did the hard work (I did get a fiendish satisfaction of personally hauling away the old sink parts to the local dump. As it turns out, it was rotting beneath the marble facade anyway). Rascal repainted the walls with some white paint we had left over from other rooms (we call it Northern Michigan White, in homage to a favorite extended family vacation cottage). The new sink and cabinetry are a basic model from Home Depot (and yes, one can put a step stool in front of this sink). The mirror is from Wal-Mart, but Rascal spray painted the frame and the light fixtures a nice bronze to update them. The signs next to the tub (first picture) came from Amazon, and the shelf in the middle picture is from IKEA (towels from Target). Originally, I hadn’t planned on removing the old mirror, but once the new sink/vanity was in place, we saw it just didn’t work. Amusingly, as we removed the mirror, a thin piece of folded paper fluttered out. It was an unsatisfactory report card belonging to the son of the second owner of the house (we’re the fourth or fifth owners), dated 1991. I have kept some things that were left behind around here (a cabinet here a side table there), but this wasn’t one of them.
Rascal did earn some goodly reward for his hard work, including a trip to the homemade cookie-ice-cream-sandwich place in town. I think he deserved it.
We are working on other projects that must wait for other posts, but here’s a sneak preview.
I do realize, as I close this post, that contrary to the title, it was more of a summer re-cap than about anything autumnal. No mention until now of sweaters or pumpkin spice lattes, and nary a picture of the maple leaves turning from green to red! However, the breeze outside my window as I type reminds me that autumn is, at last, once again with us. The Cosy Season is back, and while the summer was more hectic than not (the week that Ruby came also saw Bright Eyes having surgery on her finger after accidentally slamming it in a door, Haus Meister’s first overnight business trip since the lockdowns, and Vacation Bible School for more than half the family), it’s good to be here and resting with a hot cuppa tea at the end of the day.
Welcome to the Cat Days of Summer. As opposed to the Dog Days, although in looking up what the Dog Days meant, I realized they technically began on Saturday. The hottest, most lethargic days of summer. Indeed, the summer haze is out in full force and I was rather regretting that my morning run began at 9 this morning instead of 6:30. Whew! But while our cats enjoy a good coze, they also seem to have their moments of frenetic activity, and that seems to sum up the summer so far. On the other hand, you’d think there would be a break from winding up an academic year, but in between lazy afternoons or evenings at the pool, we’ve been catching up on all the routine appointments we don’t usually do during the school year (hello, well-child checkups and the mid-year dental appointments!). We’ve already hosted two cookouts and have one more on the schedule, plus much-anticipated extended family visits, Vacation Bible School is back, and this means July is already crowded on the calendar. It is a welcome change from last year!
But it doesn’t feel like the Dog Days. So, it’s the Cat Days. Plus, it was fun to use those photos, taken on the same day within ten minutes of each other. Oscar was on one of the boys’ beds and Bilbo was curled up in the laundry room, inside the basket of (clean, matched) socks.
Pippka is now four months old and received her sacrament of Baptism in April. She received it the day before Posey Pie’s First Communion, just as eight years before, Posey Pie herself was baptized the day before Rascal’s First Holy Communion. We like to do sacraments in bulk around here. Pippka was the perfect baby throughout the ceremony, wearing the traditional gown that has now seen about 21 christenings, and Posey was a beautiful First Communicant in the dress her paternal grandmother made for Princess’ First Communion five years before.
We’ve had two birthdays since the last post, both with their own personal flair. I was able to make Li’l Bit’s birthday dress (“Sintra,” from Little Lizard King) in my new sewing room (more on that later), and while I still need to sit down and get a few more dresses made for the little girls, Dibbun definitely preferred the ornate princess dress I found from the Little Adventures princess costume line. Li’l Bit also received her first official pair of cowgirl boots (not pictured) and she wears them everywhere, to church and store and home again. Rascal made her sawhorse horse that she named “Yankee Doodle.” Dibbun paraded everyone in the house with her light-up bubble wand and reigned regally over her day. No two birthdays in this house are alike but they sure are a delight.
Around the Farm:
Harriet, Matilda, Charlotte, and Louisa arrived on May 15. They are Finnrace sheep from a farm in Northern Virginia, and they handled the long trip here just fine. For short, they are “Hattie, Mattie, Lottie, and Lou.” I got “Hattie, Mattie, and Lou” from the sheep in “Sarah, Plain and Tall.” Charlotte was tacked on because I just assumed it fit. When Haus Meister informed me that sheep can live as long as 18 years, I declared at that moment that *I* would be in charge of naming these new pets because I was NOT going to live 18 years with a sheep named “Sparklepoof,” (“Or Flufflebutt,” a son chimes in), and if you don’t think my girls would try that, just consider the names given to the chickens over the years. “Polka Dot Sunshine Sleeping Beauty Princess” takes the cake, but this year’s batch of 11 already includes “Mithrandella,” “Obsidian Falcon,” and “Caramel Latte.” I admit I did name one of the new Ameraucanas “Calico,” because like the cat of the same name, she’s all the colors, but I digress.
Lou is everyone’s favorite sheep. She is the absolute friendliest and will greet me even if she sees me puttering about my container garden on the deck (part of which looks down into the barnyard). She is Lottie’s twin sister. Lottie is also friendly–they all are–but Lou wins the prize for friendliest. Lou is also the mischief maker. We had to upgrade our feed bins because she found out how to kick the buckets open. Hattie and Mattie are half-siblings, as they have the same sire. Hattie is the dark one and Mattie is the one shown in the teaser photo in the previous blogpost. She has polka dots on her ears and legs and also those interesting rings around her eyes. The fiber artist in me cannot wait for shearing next Spring. Their wool is so interesting and variegated!
I’m also glad to report that the sheep (now that Lou can’t kick the chicken scratch bucket open) are finally getting the point that they are here to eat the kudzu and creeper vines, and they are beginning to make a start on the ever present threat of invasion. It may take a while, but it is still a start! 😉
As also stated, 11 out of 12 chicks are reaching adulthood. They still sleep in a separate area from the big chickens but during the day they can roam about freely in the barnyard with the whole menagerie. We lost one chick and one duck, and are not sure why about the chick but the duck became lame. I suppose we didn’t quite realize how top heavy Pekins are compared to the magpies we used to own, and the barnyard is hilly. One duck must have stumbled wrong or fallen off the ramp into the yard or something but no matter, it was sadly never able to walk again. Two others also had leg issues at first. One made a complete recovery and the other manages to almost literally hop on one foot but still gets around. We call that one “Hoppy Duck,” but no other duck has been named because we really can barely tell them apart.
It began with a new bed. One new bed moved into one room meant an old bed became repurposed in another room. Fabric that had been stored in drawers beneath the old bed needed a new place to exist until sewing days could take place. Enter what I used to think of as “The Ugly Duckling Room.” Honestly, it’s an odd room in an odd shape in the middle of the basement with three less windows than the boiler/electric/air conditioner room behind it, and until April it was really a dump station for things unless we had enough company to fill two bedrooms. As we didn’t have company that often in 2020, it exacerbated the problem. Somehow as we moved beds around, and sisters played “musical rooms,” and closets were aired and the rooms began to take on a whole new look than they had three years ago when we arrived and first arranged furniture, the thought came to me “Sewing Room!” And after all, why not?! I took a gloomy afternoon and rearranged things in that Ugly Duckling room. I dusted and vacuumed, hung pictures and placed books. The next week, I gave it a trial run and made a dress for Lil Bit’s 7th Birthday. It was so ideal! Three weeks later, I found a quilt cover for the bed that I liked better than the old set, and now there’s a pleasant spot for me to sew as well as a quiet room appointed for guests when needed. No more dump station! My cup overflows.
I considered this age old adage about March as I drove back from a grocery pickup run (one of the perks of the pandemic is that now all our favorite grocery spots have curbside pickup–the salvation of busy mothers). The only time I have seen a lion is in captivity, and all said lion did was exhibit the same amount of energy as our cats–sleeping on a rock on a hot afternoon. The video we received of the lambs we will soon add to the farm menagerie showed a lot more energy and rambunctiousness…
Not saying a lion is inactive, just wondering…
But March here, in this place, did open with a lot of wind, and it now closes with a gentle rain, so we will consider that it entered as a roaring lion and exits as a bleating lamb, and not think too much more about it.
I am probably the only person thinking too much about it anyway, so I digress…
Three weeks with Pippka! Thank you to all who prayed; she came home mid-March! You can see I’m having lots of fun with the milestone stickers. While on the subject, I’ve also been having fun filling out the “Be A Heart” baby calendar for this little one. I wish one like this had existed for every child I’ve ever had. It would have been so much easier to record milestones! (This is an unsolicited review–I’m just a happy mom of many reveling in a quick way to give the littlest a ‘baby book’ of sorts). But back to the main point: since the NICU graduation, we are all readjusting to the needs of a little one around the house, which isn’t too hard in the end, especially while the coffee maker still works. 😉 Everyone adores her and there are no end of eager siblings to hold her and older siblings who want to help. She passed all her exit markers with flying colors and at her first pediatrician visit I was told she didn’t need to come back for some of the early “NICU-graduate style” visits but could wait now for her one month checkup. We have been told a million times that you cannot possibly spoil a newborn, and I hope that’s truly the case else this one will require a red carpet a mile long everywhere she goes! 😉
On the Farm:
Ok, so “Chick Days” happened at the hardware store and Tractor Supply, and we simply cannot resist those peeps and cheeps… plus we missed the ducks that the coon robbed from us. So, welcome a baker’s dozen of poultry to this Crazy Poultry Lady’s Barn…
On the needles:
I am still working on the “bobble sheep pillow,” or at least I was until Pippka came home. I know I shall pick it up again soon, but lately I’ve been busy with all the Spring Cleaning I didn’t get done during the Extreme Nesting Phase of the Third Trimester (mainly because at 40, great organizing ideas did come but the energy to execute didn’t). I even bought material to make Easter dresses for the younger girls! This will, I hope, transition into dresses for birthdays yet to come, for in the end I caved and sought refuge in buying dresses online during a 3am bottle feeding session with Pippka (who I assume approved all my decisions since she will possibly get a hand-me-down or two out of the deal).
So instead of showcasing my hobbies, tonight I’ll give you a sample of Haus Meister’s latest fun thing: astrophotography. This is a glimpse he took of the Orion Nebula, atop the hill above our property.
Did I mention Spring cleaning?!
This winter-into-Spring, I managed to accomplish an unspoken life goal, one I probably have had since I saw the animated “Beauty and the Beast” in theatres when I was 11 (brand new in theatres, mind you!). I distinctly recall that during the scene when the Beast gives Belle the library in his castle, my dad leaned over to me and said, “You would be in Heaven.” And yes, I would have been! Every time I read of a library in a house in any bit of English literature, I think I always wished I had a library of my own. And in this house, I now have one, thanks to a lonesome room that until this winter lacked its identity. It was a den, a drop spot for all our homeschooling curriculum, or was (as originally listed) a dining room, but as the latter it lacked a lot for us mainly because, as in nearly all the rooms, it lacked LIGHT. Two windows and zero lamps were what we faced when we moved in, and we learned quickly that a third (rather essential) window was blocked in by a built-in entertainment center. The two built in bookcases flanking the center we kept, but this January I begged Haus Meister to liberate the window. We needed LIGHT, and we didn’t need that center, as it was built for an owner who wanted a television in every room, and I’m fine with one in one room. Besides, what is more depressing than walking past your own blocked-up window when you’re leaving your back deck?!
Fortunately, the entertainment center was able to be removed and the window was perfectly intact (even though one of the older vintage). Last weekend, I moved every bookcase in the house save one into that room, and with the addition of armchairs and a vintage couch from the Habitat for Humanity Restore Store, we have quite the cozy reading area. Over the winter, a propane stove installed by one of the previous owners died out on us, and we learned that we couldn’t replace the parts for it at all. Luckily, we had found a wood stove on Craigslist back in 2018 and were waiting for a good place to install it (it was too small to be efficient in the main fireplace, and it never quite made it down to Haus Meister’s workshop–where there is an insert built for a stove someday). It found a final spot in the library (showcasing the beautiful brick in the hearth behind it). My official “Library” is taking shape, and more pictures will come as we get the paint on the wall worked out, among other things.
Last March, I began my deck garden (potted plants and plants in the Veg Trugs) because we had found this was the best place to get the full benefit of sun and not be water logged in the marshy valley of the property or eaten by deer or wild rabbits. This year, learning from past mistakes, I asked for a greenhouse insert for my VegTrug for my birthday gift in January. Let’s not mention all the plants I bought in March last year that got blighted by a late frost during lockdown. I am so pleased that the early plants I started this year are doing well (and even better now than in this picture!) And yes, we do like brussels sprouts!
Also, the flowers are blooming! Spring is here!
Speaking of flowers, I have great ambitions to grow lovely homegrown seasonal flowers. Never mind that some of my daughters nab flowers as soon as they bloom. The geranium on the left is a exception. I can–and do–dream! As seen from my bookshelf this winter…
To close for now, Happy Holy Triduum, dear reader.
(She was slightly “over” the monthly sticker thing this month)
I’m not going to begin this blogpost with yet another apology about life catching up with us or time flying by. These days, it seems to be a given. Four kids have had growth spurts sending me scrambling to find seasonal clothing to fit them in time for the next heat wave and summer vacation. We renewed our enrollment with Seton Home Study School for another academic year. I’m grateful for a solid education for our children and also a special services department that helps me find great resources for Trooper and Sunshine.
Little Bit turned three earlier this month. She’s such a feisty, imaginative little imp. She loves to trot around the house carrying her brown-and-white stuffed dog, whom she has named “Snowy” after the dog in the Tintin books. She’s talking up a storm and asking all sorts of questions, mainly beginning with “What’s THAT?”
Spring has brought a spot of nature to our yard. We have apples on our two apple trees this year, and we have had not one but three house finches nesting in our porch eaves. Just when one set fledged and we thought it would be time to pressure wash the porch down at last, two more nests appeared almost overnight!
And then there was the episode of the stray cat. I had seen that cat a few days before, looking utterly bedraggled, but it hadn’t stayed around. Then, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Miss M happened upon it in our driveway. She immediately named it “Polka Dot” (it was once a lovely tuxedo/calico kitty). Rascal and Princess came out and fed it small amounts of food and gave it water. Polka Dot did not move on that day, as we made a bed for it in a crate and I posted a notice in our neighborhood forum (as well as warning Haus Meister about it via text, since he was away on business). Close to dusk, the trio moved Polka Dot into our fenced backyard deck area so it would be safe from the coyotes in the area. However, we were the last stop in Polka Dot’s nine lives, and Mother’s Day morning found me digging a quick grave in the backyard with Rascal’s help before the smaller girls woke up and wondered where our overnight cat had gone. A promise of a trip to Dunkin Donuts did much to dry tears (and give me some much needed coffee)! So that’s the tale of our 24-hr cat.
Our Spring has been full of house painting projects but we did turn our attention outdoors a but. We thought about planting a garden but are satisfied to keep some houseplants alive and two tomato plants on the porch. After my Texas rosebush came into bloom, I really think I’d like a rose patch. One bush for each child. What a fun variety, and a tribute to St. Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
Which brings me to the big news of this update:
We knew officially that she was coming on my birthday back in January and she will join us around Haus Meister’s birthday in September. What a gift from God! The kids are quite excited and while the boys were hoping for a brother to counteract the reign of pink in the Haus, they are rather more complacent since we moved them into our old spare room. Now their LEGOS are safe from the marauding habits of the Toddler Mischief Squad!
That’s all for tonight’s update. I hope this missive finds you all well, and enjoying the early days of summer! God bless!
I’ve come to the important conclusion that I need to stop beginning blog posts with an apology for being busy. I am probably going to be busy for the next twenty years, so it’s entirely redundant and unnecessary to apologize for it. If you do not hear from us in over a week, we’re just busy living life.
Rosebud hit her two month milestone and just looking at this picture makes me realize all the more how much larger she’s grown and how much she’s adorably rounding out. And how much time has passed since my last blogpost, but again, no apologizing.
School started, and on the same day that school began, Little Bit decided it would be a fun day to slice her finger on an exercise bike and thence need stitches. Thankfully, her aunt was able to take over the school day (good practice before beginning her Montessori job the next week) so I could get her to the pediatrician. Elizabeth Foss wrote an excellent article once about the first school day never going as planned, and I repeated that like a mantra all that morning.
The mischevious, marvelous Miss M turned five (5!!!!!!) in August, obtaining a princess dress that she has worn almost daily since.
Rascal has turned 11, reestablished his LEGO collection, sprained his thumb, and is currently out hunting doves.
We rediscovered the old episodes of “Zorro,” starring Guy Williams, which has given the kids another hero to imitate, and taught Miss M that “Z” is for “Zorro.” I should mention though, that the boys also like to impersonate the bumbling duo of Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes.
My laundry basket (plastic) broke and it was tiring lugging it around. Serendipitously, I discovered it was much easier hauling the laundry with our leftover IKEA bags. There’s a bit of sage advice for you.
Haus Meister went to Idaho on business, reminding us of a trip we took out there ten years ago. The picture top right is of a lake in the Grand Teton National Park where little Trooper and Rascal waded and splashed. Haus Meister camped in the Park for two days and snapped a bunch of pictures for us while hiking. We left a bit of our hearts out West on that trip. Haus Meister and I like to joke that one day we’ll retire there. Near enough to see these mountains often.
In the meantime, our own mountains are near enough to visit in a day, so we took my parents out over their last visit.
Of course, 0ur hiking was limited but the kids accomplished a bit of creek stomping.
I liked this view of Miss M and Posey Pie exploring a trail. The arch of the woods ahead of them reminded me of the scene in the movie version of “Fellowship of the Ring” when the hobbits first meet the Black Rider.
“Get off the road!”
And by the way, whomever you are, TG, your initial carving on that tree is now captured for posterity.
This is a Yarn Along picture I meant to post a few weeks ago. I am making slow but steady progress on my Evelyn cardigan. I’m also continuing on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.
July: A book you should have read in school: “The Virginian,” by Owen Wister. I had looked for that in high school because it was on our reading list but our library never had it.
August: A book published before you were born:”A Wrinkle in Time.” I had never read that because someone told me it was weird. Then I found it on several reading lists and at a sale so I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. It was like a lighter version of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy! And one of the characters happened to mention one of my philosophies of life quite perfectly:
I’ve been doing that for years, for better or for worse. I know many people who have misunderstood me on that score, who think I should deal with life more seriously. The thing is, I do take life seriously, but I refuse to let it get me down without a laugh. After all, the news channels and social media are chock-full of things being taken far too seriously.
We cannot all do that. How bogged down we’d all be!
We need to find some brightness in anything. To have some corner of joy to lighten the darkness.
To find something funny in the mess….
…like this: what bug did they catch in my jar-mug?!
And why wasn’t it THIS FIEND FROM GEHENNA?!! (Seriously, that was a huge cricket)
Well, hello there. It’s been a while. One hot dry day after another and suddenly, summer break was over for us and this beauty started first grade.
We were–are–in “summer hibernation” anyway. Too hot and humid to want to spend a ton of time outside, unless it’s neighborhood poolside! 😉 One night we had “Christmas in July” and turned on our DVD of London’s Nutcracker Ballet and the girls danced out their energy. 🙂
Back on July 2, we went to the nearby Civil War Battlefield Park for a renactment cannon fire in honor of Independence Day. This is one of our new family traditions. It takes longer to drive our van up the mountain and find a van-friendly parking spot than the cannon program lasts, but it’s worth the experience.
And the view.
These two lovelies handled the sound better this year. 🙂
My family came for a visit in time for Rosebud to come home from the NICU. Unfortunately, my sister and brother-in-law and their kids had to leave the morning of her homecoming, but we had as pleasant a time with them as we could with all the hospital runs.
Posey and her buddy, Grandpa Mark
The kids enjoyed my parents’ stay through Independence Day, and Rosebud’s Baptism . My Dad brought a little whirligig thingamabobber that really had the kids laughing.
I’m looking forward to updating this picture very soon–that baby has grown!
I tried to get a one month picture with those ubiquitous month stickers that seem to be all the rage these days. Of course, this was the best I could get on her actual monthaversary.
I tried again the next day, but couldn’t find the sticker!
But it’s a lovely picture of her.
Toward the end of the month, I finished a knitting project that we affectionately call Grumpy Bunny.
Miss M asked me to make it for Rosebud while the baby was still in the hospital, and I’m glad I did, even if Rosebud takes little interest in it right now. 😉 When my kids actually request me to knit something, I’m always ready to oblige!
So passed July away. We started back to school on August 8, homeschooling grades pre-K through 6. Only three days in, but we’re glad to be back on routine. There’s a lot going on this autumn for us, so I hope to keep this a little more updated. 🙂
Ending on a geeky note.
Posey Pie decided, after I bought the Star Wars band-aids, that I had a lot of boo-boos on my arm. I think I had maybe a mosquito bite. One. If that.
“Hello, world. My mama has been busy the last eighteen days making hats for me. Here’s a newsflash, though…. I’m not sure I like hats! Or napping in my crib, either.”
Isn’t she a precious little Rosebud? We think so. She’s been home since the afternoon of the 4th and to be honest we can’t get enough of her.
And if she doesn’t like hats, no matter. She’s got that hair.
The first hat I cast on (18 days ago), was the Coriolis Hat. I had finished the newborn booties and wanted another project to quickly finish, whiling away the time. I cast on the hat on Saturday evening, June 18. In the wee hours of Sunday morning I found it to be a soothing distraction while timing contractions. Sunday afternoon, my husband snapped an amusing picture of me knitting in the L & D room post-epidural.
I finished it a few hours after our sweet daughter arrived!
Knowing we were going to have to wait to bring her home, I began another hat while in the hospital. My in-laws had given me a book purchased at the Dutch Oven Yarn Shoppe in Alanson, MI, a special place to the family (well, the Dutch Oven Bakery, if not the Yarn Shoppe), so I cast on another hat from that book.
The cookie was a consolation from Haus Meister, who got to go get artisan breakfast sandwiches from the coffee place in the lobby while I had hospital food. 😉
This past weekend, I finished the hat. Here is how it will look when I’ve sewn on the flower and button.
Hat: Knit Picks Shine Sport in “Sailor”
Flower: using up the skein of Knit Picks Shine Sport in “Blush”
It was nice in a way that I hadn’t sewn on the flower before she was discharged because it ended up matching the red & navy blue outfit she wore home from the hospital on July 4th.
And here’s one of Rosebud today wearing Coriolis to her first pediatrician appointment (our pediatrician also enjoys knitting/crochet and always asks what I’m working on when I bring someone in).
We haven’t slowed up our reading much, so here’s the latest reads in the family.
So our summer began and we had a routine of reading and playing. Princess and Miss M attended their annual summer day camp with our American Heritage Girls troop. It was Miss M’s first week away from parents or grandparents, and even though Princess was in the same park, they weren’t together all the time. It was rocky on the first day, but by the fourth day she was quite a pro.
The boys had some school to wrap up, and even now, after this week off and next, there’s going to be worksheets as we get stuff done. I’m enjoying the respite from a full schedule to rest, breathe a little, and begin to plan for the next school year.
Last Saturday I told Haus Meister I felt like a “broody old hen on a nest.” It was as if all I could do was focus on that July 10 due date. Would she come before I finished knitting her booties? (No, I finished them on the 17th). Would she come before or during the week my mom and sister planned to spend with us? I couldn’t answer any of this. So I found a hat pattern on Ravelry that I could make with the last skein of Knit Picks yarn that I used for the booties. I cast it on the needles Saturday night.
I finished the hat Sunday night, recovering in the hospital from the surprise arrival of our Rosebud.
7lbs 10oz, 21″, 3:55pm on Father’s Day.
Yes, that’s right. Daddy’s Littlest Girl arrived on Father’s Day. I joked that she was vying for being the official Daddy’s Girl by becoming the best Father’s Day gift ever.
Because someone asked, that’s not a tattoo on Haus Meister’s hand. It’s Rosebud’s footprint. The nurse gave him a footprint stamp after stamping the official paper. 😉
Real but Happy.
Some Roses, even in June, need some extra help to fully bloom. Rosebud had some fluid in her lungs so she is in the NICU for a little while. These pictures are a little delayed, for she is no longer on her CPAP machine.
This is the same NICU where Trooper spent the first 119 days of his life. We have met nurses and respiratory techs who remember him even now. As he (understandably) would not voluntarily enter a hospital, it’s been hard to take him back for a visit, so it’s been nice to have a chance to give them a success story. They are very impressed with the fact that he likes to go indoor rock-climbing!
This picture is more recent, and was taken last evening when Rascal got to visit his baby sister again. Her story parallels his more than the dramatic/traumatic story of Trooper. Rascal had aspirated amniotic fluid at birth and also had to spend the first week of life in a special care nursery, in a different hospital, however. Her baby pictures are following the same pattern: birth, CPAP machine, nasal cannula, and now we wait for her to be off of that.
We waited months to see her, and now we wait again to bring her home. She’s worth every second of the wait.
I know I had not expected (based on reasons that I won’t go into since this blog is read by guys who won’t appreciate it,) that this pregnancy was a girl pregnancy. It didn’t feel like it. It resembled in many ways the early pregnancies with the boys. But obviously even a veteran of ten pregnancies can be wrong on some counts. I never wanted her to think that I was disappointed that she was a girl. It’s irrational to think she would think that, but when you’re huge and hormonal it’s hard to be rational anyway. I covered my bases though. One of the first things I said to her after birth was a paraphrase of one of the loveliest lines in Anne of Green Gables.
“It’s a girl. My girl. My girl that I’m proud of.”
And while we wait, life totally goes on for everyone else. 😉