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.
Bedside table, Ordinary Time edition. The curtain was drawn because Rosebud was napping. There usually is a matching teacup on the saucer, but I used it this morning for my coffee. 🙂
As you may or may not be able to see, I am working through the gusset of Haus Meister’s last slipper sock. The end is in sight! After this, I am cancelling my Facebook proclaimed first 2017 Knitting Project of a sweater jacket. The weather is absurdly warm here, and not at all conducive to wool jacket knitting. 😦 I may go on to another pair of socks. I may knit up a bunch of hats and mittens because the recent snow scare over Epiphany (it was less than 1″) proved to me that we are woefully underprepared for actual winter weather here. Too many mild winters. Also, I guess I’m just still in stash-bust-short-project mode, and friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Reading-wise, no huge novels this week. I haven’t even gone back through Wuthering Heights lately! I have been reading a lot of other things, though. Dino received a copy of The Green Ember for his 10th birthday last week. I read it all to myself in about three hours and then began reading the first four chapters out loud to the oldest kids. It’s a good book! Everyone is listening to me read aloud from Little House in the Big Woodsduring our lunch hour every day. In the van, on drives this month, we’re enjoying Paddington Helps Out on Audible. For my own enjoyment, I’ve been reading old Jan/Feb issues of Victoriaand my current issues both of Victoria and The English Home. January is always a good month to go back and rehash my goals for the home, especially as we put Christmas away, albeit very piecemeal. So out again comes Sally & Sarah Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home.
Another huge book and home related goal was met this week. I indulged myself in a personal birthday present of an ebook of a year’s worth of meal plans and menus based on the Trim Healthy Mama plan. I’ve been following that plan more or less since last July, although I haven’t made Haus Meister and the kids live without sugar. However, 95% of our family dinners are made with THM compliant recipes, and none of us have suffered. As Haus Meister said, “a diet that allows bacon is one I can live with!” I found as the months progressed toward the end of 2016 that while I used the THM cookbook so much that it fell to pieces and I had to order a second, I also had an inordinant amount of printed-off recipes and way too many saved on my phone. At last I completed a goal I have wanted to accomplish for years. I printed out that ebook and used it to organize my recipe binder.
The only loose paper there is the pudding bowl full of Christmas cards, as we continue a tradition of Haus Meister’s family by picking a card from the bowl and praying for the sender every evening at dinner. The “Recipe Traditions” binder does have some old family recipes in it and favorite old cards from recipe books past. But no loose papers, no random prints. Everything goes in it straight away, and while I still check recipes on my phone, if it is voted a keeper, I will take the time to write it out, or if I have to print it, it will go straight to the binder. After about eleven years of recipe paper clutter, it is nice to declare independence!
My quick porch art for the season. I had to work fast; as soon as the word got out that I had sidewalk chalk in the Haus again, four or five pairs of hands came grabbing for it.
Within the hour, the back deck was decorated.
Or working on our inner Celtic Warrior Princess. Either one. 😉
Our 13th Anniversary (Lucky 13!) is on Tuesday. Last week I had the quick opportunity to zip into the little Zales where Haus Meister had bought my engagement ring 14 years ago and get my rings cleaned. That had been on my list of things to do for years! The top ring is a gold band he bought me while we were dating (we liked the design on it), the middle is my engagement ring, and the bottom is my wedding band. I’ve only been wearing the trio together for about a month, as I like the combination. Earlier this month, my mother gave me her star sapphire–or Lindy star–ring that she received from her grandmother (my Nana) for her 16th birthday. I remembered that ring being in the ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TOUCH category in Mom’s jewelry box when my sister and I were little girls looking for her 1980s beaded necklaces or, when older, trying to see who’d get to borrow her Nutcracker earrings first during the Christmas season. 🙂 So when she gave me that ring, well, I wanted to wear it daily lest I lose it. Or one of my girls take it and lose it. Hence the gold band went from my right hand to my left. 🙂 How’s that for random today?
These windchimes I found at Hobby Lobby!
Our Anniversary gift to each other–because we both like cooking–is a new oven range! We’re sappy romantics but we’re also practical. 😉 It arrived yesterday and the box became a backyard fort for a few hours. Cardboard doesn’t last long around here.
Rearranging the basement to help give it a more “family room” feel. We have large tables and wooden chairs upstairs but if you want more comfort, this is the place.
“Shopping the Haus” for new mantel decor. I later added a tiny white creamer jug to the right side (it had lost it’s companion sugar bowl) and a blue vase with yellow roses to the left side.
And because my crazy-g0-nuts nesting is still in high gear, I’ve been having fun with the upstairs walls, too.
EEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!! Toddlers with screens!!!!!!!
Oh, and he was complaining that he hasn’t had much presence on the blog. I told him it’s hard when he tries to avoid the camera. So he sat still once for a picture.
Lunch Break LEGO time. With a Warsaurus.
Why is it that toddlers want to climb into baby seats?
Things are getting very real over here. The bassinet is up, the carseat is on its way toward the van, there’s diapers in the closet, little outfits in the drawer, and a bottle on the shelf with the kids’ cups.
Little Bit decided to show up midway through the 37th week, all on her own. I’m just about 34weeks. Even if Munchkin2 makes us go to 41 this time, I’m going to be ready. This time. Maybe.
I left this blog stuck in the Triduum and here we are in the second week of the Easter Season. Happy Easter! He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!
An Easter family picture, which pretty much encompasses pretty, happy, funny & real. From the spunky lass who snuck to the back step when she was told to stand in the front, to the boy who forgot to tuck in his shirt, Trooper’s cheesy grin, and Posey pinching me while looking so sweetly… Ah, life. It’s good.
More “Pretty Happy” about Easter…
The Lamb cake survived! I used a Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix so that our whole party could enjoy it (we had 18 people over for dinner. It was great!). Of course, Miss M had to point out that it looked like a dog. So it’s a lamb-dog cake. Again.
Lace curtains always make me happy.
Little Bit always makes us smile. Hard to believe she’ll be two at the end of the month.
I promised the boys that we’d begin to do something to their room this month, and no sooner did I begin to try an idea than they ran wild with it and now they’re eager to finish. It’s a good incentive to get school done. 😉
We joked that since it matches their Trail Life calendar, then it’s the “Trail Life Room”!
The Little People Cinderella was totally left there by a little sister who had come in to observe.
I know a lot of the blog pictures have to do with the girls, so here’s the other two boys. 🙂
Hello, my nickname is Sunshine, because I’m an energetic warm beam of fun and light in my house. I just lost two front teeth, cut my hair (Dad and Mom did damage control), and specialize in taking phone pictures. I have been known to take 132 pictures of “Little Bear” while watching it on Amazon Prime. Lately, Mom found about 30 pictures of random items on the floor before it got swept. Famously, The Spoon and The Spaghetti Noodle.
…or so I have learned this Lent. Re-learned? It has been one of those seasons where nothing seems to go as planned, but if I don’t sweat every last bit of small stuff, it’s not so bad, right? 😉
The strep episode ended at the commencement of a three week fiasco with a refrigerator that wouldn’t cool. We’d think it was fixed, then it would stop again. So last week, new refrigerator.
Then, my beat up phone was due for an upgrade. That took a week to work out.
First World Problems.
We continued our fixing up of the house, repainting as the days got warmer and the sunshine came out. Plants arrived in the mail that I’ll write about another time (when I have them all in ground).
My sister-in-law coaxed me into the yellow (Benjamin Moore 275 Banana Cream) for the laundry/powder room. This is in progress. And I admit she made a good call, and so I would show only laundry triage is happening.
Haus Meister and the kids spent last weekend working on the red bathroom upstairs. It will no longer be red very soon. (Top wall: Valspar Woodlawn Silver Brook; Wainscoting: Valspar Bungalow White)
I can’t believe how big these kids are growing. They’re all shooting up like rockets this Spring!
This is so tranquil now….
Ideally, the bathroom would have been totally done by now, but that’s where we roll with the punches. No sooner had we the satisfaction of a working fridge, a working phone, projects going well, and school coming along nicely… enter stage left the 12 hr flu bug, which hit all of us between Tuesday and Friday.
Eww. That’s what I mean by laundry triage. Finally this morning I determined to just stop saying that “THIS week we will get back to normal.” Bad things happen when I say it! 😉
But around here there’s too much fun going on. Look at that smile!
So we roll with the punches and look for the fun silver linings and brighten the Haus for Spring.
I confess I’m kind of addicted to The Pioneer Woman’s line of products. A convalescent cup of Vernor’s and ice chips never looked so good. Or my morning coffee. Or that creamer with a hyacinth that Sunshine plucked (without permission, alas) from my front bed. And I finally found a kitchen rug I liked! You can’t see it, though, because it’s just as often a toddler reading spot. The littlest girlies barely remember carpet in a house! 😉 And for the record PW isn’t being compensated for this endorsement. I’m just gushing because would you really rather hear about the doings of 10 people with a stomach bug?
Yesterday after Mass I came downstairs to take the trash out through the garage and heard my washing machine dinging. You don’t want to know how many times auto-correct wanted to switch that to “singing.” I do happen to have a lovely blue pair of laundry appliances that the Japanese manufacturing company decided should sweetly ding and play happy tunes for me while doing the job we do together four times a day.
But yesterday the ding was for the “nd” error which meant the machine was not draining. Greeeaaaat.
So down on the floor I go to drain out the filter, the thinggummy, and the whatchamacallit. I did everything the troubleshooting guide suggested, and the machine seemed to work again.
Until the “nd” reappeared. Lather, rinse, repeat and repeat and repeat… Off and on all day. In denial about calling in a repair man, I closed up the laundry room at dusk and promised myself I’d tackle it in the morning.
So I did. This time I had a flashlight in hand and saw something far in the back of the filter. I’d already retrieved a button, hairband, and a flat plastic something. I took a long screwdriver and poked back there, which caused a minor deluge. The second time I did this, the machine cycle ended with a happy song, and not an error ding. Whereupon I reopened the filter bar and found this:
It’s a little felt guy from the little girls’ seasonal felt board pieces. I may just be banning these from the Haus, or at least from the washer.
On the plus side, my washer is completely operational again, and I didn’t have to call in a repairman! Time to go get the next load now. Signing off.