Not-so-lazy days of Summer

Peaches in the barnyard (that wasn’t the barnyard when I planted the tree, but luckily the animals aren’t getting to them).

Haus Meister reminded me the other day that the latest blog post still began with “April” in the Middle English, thus galvanizing me into action! Especially as August with all its busy-ness is hard upon my heels—it’s time to catch up on the doings around here!

Farewell to “Brockhall”

The very first picture of our property that Haus Meister sent me on his first visit here. January 2018

Just about this time of year in 2020, this lovely chestnut oak, a full and rich green in its day, suddenly decided to go dry brittle brown on us and it wasn’t a drought. No signs of life from it in 2021, we were at the mercy of the local tree men who were themselves overbooked after several Spring and Summer storms, not to mention the resurgence of Covid. Finally, at the start of this summer, a crew came out and took down the tree the kids had named “Brockhall,” after a giant tree in the Redwall book series. Gone but not forgotten, it lives on in the five deep stacks of logs waiting for the autumn splitting, and two huge stacks of milled wood in our workshop waiting to become furniture as the need arises.

Logs piling up during the chainsaw phase; the stump; and the mountain view that opened up after the tree came down.

Meanwhile, back on the Farm

The barnyard has been in a state of flux lately. In June, Rascal sold his entire stock of rabbits to a family who were interested in homesteading. That officially ended the rabbit chapter here, unless one of the little girls wheedles for one—and only ONE—rabbit in the future. ;). We all learned a lot about the furry beasties, and which of them were good mothers, and which were not. Also which little blighters managed to exploit unexpected exits in the rabbit hutch.

I just realized this picture had been taken before the Rouens and Khaki Campbells had grown out their adult feathers. They really are a striking set, except it turns out there are five males and two females in that set.

The Pekins and the two roosters hatched last November became meat birds as we began a “farm to table” aspect of the farm life. However, on the very day those seven birds went to processing, an Orpington hatched seven chicks in our hayloft! Fortunately, we were on to her before any chicks made a leap out of said hayloft, and they had a happy start on terra firma. Only three survived the first week, and they are already running all over the barnyard and add a good deal of entertainment. Amusingly? Mama Chicken decided as her chicks grew that their ideal roost would be in the rafters next to the hayloft ladder. She wins in the end!

Shop News

As in workshop news, that is. Haus Meister and Rascal spent a week at a Blacksmithing Institute building a Tire Power Hammer to complement our home smithy. It was a fun week for the two of them! Rascal is definitely meant for that kind of work and we’re intrigued to see where his discernment path leads as he progresses through high school.

I’m thrilled to have some home-forged decor appearing around the Haus, like this shelf Haus Meister built for the powder room.

Out, about, and around the Haus…

Attacked by a Roman soldier one evening after VBS. 😉 The Squire and Princess were teen volunteers while I helped lead a group and most of the younger girls were willing participants.
Prepping Brockhall’s stump for its debut as a firework launching pad on July 4. These fellows are more trustworthy than they look. 😉
The strawberry cobbler I made for July 4, minus the blueberry syrup and whipped cream. When thus came out of the oven, I knew I’d found the recipe I’m going to make every year until the kids tell me to stop. And then probably do it anyway.
Li’l Bit wanted me to help her sew buttons onto a piece of fabric and named each after the planets in our Solar System… including Pluto.
Pool time any clear afternoon!
Pipkka running around in a sister’s shirt and goggles, waiting for a change into her swimsuit. She hates baths but LOVES the pool! She has been walking up, down, and all around; names several things, people, and cats; and smiles!
Docena is 5 months old, rolls over, coos and giggles, and is just a roly poly darling!
All for tonight, dear reader! See you on the other side of August!

When than Aprill with his shoures soote

“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in switch licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So Priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages”

So did Geoffrey Chaucer begin his “Canterbury Tales.” And so did a few of us learn to memorize this passage some two decades ago in my Anglo-Saxon Lit class. Was it for extra credit or just credit? Blast. But hey, Dr. Rice, I still remembered part of it before googling it!

Anyway, one of April’s shoures, I mean, showers are falling outside tonight as I type and while we aren’t exactly going on pilgrimage this year, we have been full of wonderful events at church. Likely before I post again, the class I’ve had the honor to help teach this past academic year at our parish Faith Formation will celebrate their First Holy Communion, and our Li’l Bit will be among them. Meanwhile, in the same weekend, Docena received her Baptism (wearing the family heirloom gown). And the Rascal had his Confirmation, taking as his patron the rather unknown St. Dunstan, patron of blacksmiths. I should say St Dunstan isn’t as well known on this side of the Atlantic, for the gift we gave him of a replica medieval badge of the saint came from the UK.

Docena’s Baptism day. Her godparents are her aunt and her older brother. ❤️
Rascal being confirmed (picture compliments of a dear friend, the wife of his sponsor).

Around the Haus…

Pipkka is 1! And no sooner did she turn one than she decided that she’d take it to the max. Climbing stairs? Check. Speech? Her vocabulary increases weekly. Walking? Coming soon. I should have been more nervous about that bottom right picture in this birthday montage (newborn + two of her first birthday) because this girl is plowing onward and not looking back!

Happy 1st birthday, Pipkka! ❤️

After all the sacramental festivities, my mom went back home again in Indiana (those who know can’t say that without hearing Jim Nabors), and we thought we were going to settle in to a “new normal,” as it were, but lo and behold a new seasonal cold descended upon us. Haus Meister had it the worst with a diagnosis of bronchitis and a trip to get x-rays and make sure it wasn’t worse (it wasn’t). Fortunately, we were still able to celebrate Posey Pie’s 9th Birthday and our own familial 4th house-aversary on the same annual day last month.

The Birthday Princess

It is hard to imagine that four years before, we were gathering in the same kitchen with the food that our lovely realtor had bought for us and left as a homecoming gift. Never had a tray of cookies from Sam’s Club tasted so sweet! Everything was so different and foreign four years ago. Now it’s delightfully familiar, and we still rejoice.

And yes, still marvel at this view from the hill above and to the left of our home.

Around the Farm….

The sheep have been sheared! While I was posting my previous blogpost, we had been researching the best way to do this, and as we debated this set of shears over that, Haus Meister found a man who travels around shearing small flocks like ours. He literally goes up and down the region and had already sheared 400+ sheep before he came to our house, set up his rig where we requested and within the briefest time, divested our ewes of a year’s wool growth! Haus Meister and the kids learned how to wash and “skirt” the wool (removing any dirt and hay left behind) and soon we shall take our four bags full to a fiber mill north of here where it will be spun into yarn!

Hattie (black sheep) wonders what hit Mattie (the shorn sheep, and her own half-sister). Lottie is obscured by Hattie so I took this pic while Lou was being sheared.
The Squire helps remove Hattie’s wool as she is being sheared.
Four shorn sheep attempt to preserve their dignity.
4.5 bags full

And in other farm news, the population of ducks increased by four with the addition of four Khaki Campbell ducklings to the three Rouen ones mentioned in the previous post.

The Khaki Campbells are the solid ducklings while the Rouen are striped.

Closing Thoughts

By now we are all either intent on keeping track of, immune, or dismissive of the news coming from Ukraine. I’d argue we better darn well pay attention, because in this small world nothing can really happen anymore without affecting all of us (pandemic, anyone?).

Or perhaps I’m biased in a sense because on the ‘net page of this blog for several years has been the widget featuring a toddler picture of a little boy with red hair. We have been the prayer warriors for him for quite a while. His name on the Reece’s Rainbow website is “Clark” and he lives in Ukraine, if he’s there at all right now. And who can guess? Who can guess if a ten year old boy with cerebral palsy made it out to a refugee site? I pray he did. He’s the same age as our Miss M after all. Same sort of red hair, same sort of brown eyes (I saw him on another website with recent pictures, that’s how I know he has brown eyes). And CP, well, we know a bit about that, also. Small wonder I signed on to pray for him. May God in His mercy grant that boy a good place tonight.

We at Misselthwaite stand and pray for Ukraine. 🇺🇦

February breezes by….

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?!).

Immortalizing those “comfy” hospital chairs while capturing a sweet picture of a Dad with his baby girl.
Of the 153 pictures we took of her first days, this is my favorite. She is NOT AMUSED. Haha!
Coming home! I didn’t match the socks to the outfit, I realize that. Her white newborn shoes were kicked off almost instantly, so at that point I just wanted her feet covered. 😉

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…

Goofy girls hanging out in Pipkka’s corner, where there is a kitchen set made from a thrifted TV center (not by me; we found it ready made at the Habitat Restore Store), and a laundry basket full of board books.
Apparently, as I uploaded the images, I discovered a pattern. Some of my girls live in pajamas while others live in princess dresses.
The boys discovered that it’s not a good idea to leave their laptop in their study corner, at least unattended.
This is Pippka’s 11 month picture, as we lost the stickers for 9, 10, and 11. Improvising here! It is also their mutual First Valentine’s Day picture, the first time in familial history where both littles share a first holiday.
Still not amused.

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.

(No bunny was harmed in the taking of this picture)

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!

Except the next day after school, we went and got three Rouen ducklings, as that was a pre-approved farm decision.
I was a sucker for this chick themed sign, however.

Restoring Misselthwaite

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):

On New Year’s Eve

Photo Project 2021

Around the Haus…

Pippka also learned a few new tricks (and that lamp has been moved elsewhere)

Christmas Joy

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….

Restoring Misselthwaite…

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!

Last thoughts…

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.

Introducing this sweetheart, whose blog nickname is “Docena,” as she rounds out a full dozen children in the Haus, and who will add a lot of love and fun (though less sleep) to the mix in 2022!

A very Happy New Year from all of us to all of you, and God bless you in 2022!

Maypril June

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.

Never at rest for long….

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:

Li’l Bit with (from L to R) Hattie, Lottie, Mattie, and Lou.

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.

Restoring Misselthwaite

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.

Ups, downs, and joys

(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?”

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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!

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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:

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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!

Yarn Along & Recap so far….

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The afternoon sun is out for a moment in between showers of rain.  It’s not very wintry here.  My aunt just posted a picture of snow in Indiana on Instagram, and here I am in the South posting pictures of daffodils.

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Don’t get me wrong; I do wish we had one more good snow before Spring begins in earnest. I wish we hadn’t already had mosquito bites in January.  Overall, though, I’m not complaining because I don’t have to try to drive in the snow. 🙂  If we get more than an inch, none of us go anywhere and we just enjoy the stuff and pray the power stays on. 🙂  Otherwise Haus Meister has to pull the Charles Ingalls routine and chop wood for our wood stove.  I do remember the night he was out at 2am restocking the woodpile because the power had gone down.  How homestead-erish it made me feel!  Ironically, true homesteaders would have had all their wood chopped and near at hand already.  But I digress.

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I finished Haus Meister’s socks/slippers before Candlemas so at least it was technically still in Christmastide. 🙂  I need to work on stitching soles onto slippers but he tells me they are quite comfortable.  I have some yarn I’m going to use for socks for me using the same pattern but without the leather soles.  I enjoyed the pattern a lot.

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My first official project of 2017 ended up being the Antler Toque.  I’m stash busting some Istex Alafosslopi in blue tweed.  Since the dusting of snow around Epiphany reminded me that we are woefully undersupplied in the hats and mittens department, I thought to keep happy doing small quick projects that help me use the yarn on hand.

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This picture was taken last week before I began the cables on the hat.  These are my reads for February.  The Brothers Karamazov is what my sister and I chose to fill the “book of over 600 pages” for our Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge.  Some chapters were hard to slog through without Russian v0dka, I’m sure (I didn’t try), but about halfway through I just couldn’t put it down.  Haus Meister kept teasing me about binge-reading, but I was.  I just was.  And then it ended.

Dostoyevsky, if we meet in the hereafter, you must tell me how you were going to wrap up the loose threads at the end of your story. Yes, I do insist there are loose threads at the end of a 718 page novel! The only explanation I can find is that the author was a few months from his own death, but he left one character on the verge of death, and I’d kind of like to know what happened to him.  And two of the others as well! Whom does Alexey marry eventually? What becomes of him?  And Dmitri? Does his plan succeed?  It was the nearest I have come to throwing a book against a wall in a long time–I merely banged the book against my knees. How could it be over at that point?!?!?!  I did actually throw Tess of the D’Ubervilles because it was (in my humble opinion) just awful.  This time, I had come to the end of 718 pages and I wanted a quick epilogue, at least. Note: since writing the above I have learned some editions do have an epilogue; I just happened through frugality to have purchased the one that didn’t. Heh.

Suffice to say, it was a good book.  I’m going over it again, a little more slowly, to see if I missed any clues now that I know how it ends.  Besides, February isn’t over yet.

Different is also a nice book, and definitely not in the same genre as Brothers K, so it’s rather amusing to see them pictured together.  It’s non-fiction and encouraging, like a warm cup of tea from a friend who has been there raising a high needs child.  I have been taking this book slow, reading a chapter every few days, so I’m not finished yet.

In other news….

Happy girls.

Happy boys.  At the end of January, the lads went to Dallas as the support team for Trooper who was due for a trip to his CP specialist.  They had a fabulous time visiting cousins, climbing trees, watching trucks (that’d be Trooper), and seeing the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  Trooper is standing in front of the Apollo 7 capsule.

Trooper is going to be getting new ankle braces soon.  He has totally outgrown his last pair. This guy is growing like a weed!

I’m having fun with a new teapot and new candles, except that one on the right didn’t look as nice once the label was off. It looked like a soft-boiled egg with a wick in the middle. So why did I take a picture of it?  Because I wanted to prove to anyone who heard me vent about it (my mom and sister, mainly), that it looked like a soft-boiled egg.

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This handsome fellow (picture taken by Sunshine), has been busy with more painting.  He did the kitchen, upper half of the basement, and is going to do the classroom in Lowe’s Historic Collection Antique Filoli Lace (which I mention in case I forget and need to look for it again).  The hallway, foyer, and upper living room is rapidly becoming Woodlawn Colonial Gray (from the same collection).

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Better picture forthcoming; this was all I had on my phone.

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As the laundry room was never entirely finished last year, I made up for lost time while the guys were in Dallas and painted the whole in “Craft White.”  It looks so fresh and warm in there now.  These doldrum months between Christmas and Spring is the perfect time to renew the home.  In our case, that usually involves painting, but there it is.

Well, all for now.  Have a great week!

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Remember the days when the messages were embossed on the hearts, and you didn’t have to use Google to know what they said?

 

Yarn Along, Goal met, Books, and links

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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 Woods during 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 Victoria and 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.

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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!

Counting my Blessings

We’re going to be hosting the dinner tomorrow, and we’re lucky to have almost all of Haus Meister’s extended family with us.  While I don’t have to do all the cooking, I am roasting a 19lb bird and I have committed to a number of pies, not to mention colcannon, asparagus, and the sweet potato casserole.  And oh, the cranberries…. so I should be baking something right now instead of sitting in front of the screen…. Riiiight.

But I have a lot of fun pictures I’ve been waiting to share and now is a good time.

I’m just so thankful for this rowdy bunch of hooligans.

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They make me rethink my “comfort zone” — for instance, this handsome guy with the toothsome grin JUST lost his second molar. As in, just now came up to me and motioned to his mouth where it was dangling on it’s last gasp and can I just say that extremely loose teeth make me squeamish?! His brothers are the type that will chase after me to show off their loose teeth while I scream, but he doesn’t like it any more than I do (chalk it up to extreme oral sensitivity) and so he waits to ask for help only if he thinks he needs it.  One day he came up from the basement with blood on his face and I ran downstairs expecting broken glass or something but no, he had had a tooth loose and never mentioned it. Just threw it away. Buuuut that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, I swallow my squeamishness and help yank the tooth.  And then I think I’ve made progress until someone tries chasing me with a loose tooth again….

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They make me realize the wonder of God’s creation by asking a zillion questions I can’t always answer without pulling out a book–or Wikipedia.  They make me value my Faith by giving me the chance to pass it on, and help me rejoice by living it themselves.

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They amuse me with a hundred fantastical stories a day, especially those made up on the spur of the moment to hopefully distract me from the fact that I’ve just assigned him a chore…

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They wear princess dresses for “school pictures.” They inspire me with their enthusiasm and creativity and make me really really wish I could knit faster and that my sewing machine worked again. 😉

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They challenge me a hundred ways a day, stretch me further than I thought I could go, and always always always keep me on my toes.

Because honestly, you can’t script moments like these:

(No, no one had the wine.  But we definitely started storing the box wine in a different place after I caught that!)

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They keep me laughing.

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They keep me smiling.

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They melt my heart.  Even as they tear up my house.

And I’m especially thankful for the handsome, loving man who helps keep everything around here, including me, running smoothly.  🙂

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