Monday, January 11, 2016

Conversations with a Three-Year-Old

Oh, my little Gray--how I love this age! In you I have a constant conversation partner, and a chatty one at that.

I love your spontaneous, "Thank you for the yummy lunch, Mama!" and the way you exclaim,"Look at the beautiful vi-eew!" as we're driving. I hope you never stop calling evergreens "pineapple trees." (Pinecone, pineapple--close enough, right?) And my favorite expression lately: your poetic referral to spring as "When the plums grow." As in, "When the plums grow on the trees, we're going to get a puppy." And, "When the plums grow on the trees, Grandpa will till our garden."

Other things that keep me chuckling:

"Is this your crap area where you do craps?" (Crafts, crafts!)

"How did the construction guys get up to Heaven to build God's house?"

"I hope God has yummy food in Heaven. Like Cheerios and cranberry juice and stuff."

Upon being told to not touch our friend's sleeping kittens: "But I'm just organizing them!"

One morning at breakfast: 
G: "So, is this just how God made Ray-ray?"
Me: (Wondering what he was getting at) "Yes...can you think of something you like about her?"
G: "Well...her eyes are lovely."

One morning while Daddy was deer-hunting: 
"Is Daddy going bam with his gunner thing?" (We haven't talked much about guns yet...can you tell?)

When I emerged from my closet wearing a new white shirt: 
"OH! What's that beautiful white thing?"

Musings on his sister: 
"Her name is toddler. That's not a good sign."

Musings on his mother: 
"What's 'For Pete's sake?'" Answering his own question: "It's something that mudders say."

Sincerely puzzled, while cracking eggs for breakfast: 
"Why don't any of these eggs have any baby birds in them?"

When he didn't like the looks of our spaghetti squash dinner: "Please put that back in the fridge, Mommy. We can't eat it. It's sour like a mudfish." (We had read a bedtime story the night before where Papa Bear catches a mudfish. :-) )

Totally out of character: 
"I don't want ice cream. It's too cold and sugary. I want corn." 

Ordering fishing equipment: 
"I'm here to buy a 4T tackle box, please." (Guess he knows his size!)

Playing with his sister:
"Don't read the text I sent you, Ray-ray! I accidentally sent you the wrong one. Just bring the lumber!"

Also: So, so much farm talk. He can talk for fifteen minutes straight like this: "I'm going to order two sheds on amazon, and they will come in the mail. And then I will borrow a skid steer and crane and build them. And I will park my tractor and combine. And then I will borrow Grandpa's truck and trailer to bring the round bales. (And on and on and on.)

If anyone needs some entertainment, just give us a jingle, and I can put the little guy on the line. :-)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Full House, Full Bellies, Full Hearts

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family this year. Our day included a bit of sledding, baby rabbit-petting, and a thankful tree. And lots of scrumptious food, of course.

So thankful for this little life that provides enough challenge to keep me dependent on God, and enough friends and family to keep my spirit buoyant. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Farm Life

As Thanksgiving nears, my heart continually swells with gratitude for this country spot we now get to call home. 

When we first looked at the hobby farm last spring, everything felt right: built on a hill, perfect number of acres for us (12), peaceful view, no close neighbors, and a parcel of woods in the back for hiking, hunting, camping, and fort-building.

After looking at several other properties and realizing nothing else "clicked" like this one, we made our offer. October 1st we had the keys in hand!

We moved during harvest time, and the kids stood by the windows for hours, watching combines and grain trucks zig-zag back and forth across the vast fields. The first day's tractor-to-car ratio on the little road in front of our house was 13:1, much to our delight.

The sky seems bigger here. The stars crisper. Many nights we stand on the back deck and gaze up at them. No car horns or neighbors' radios punctuate the stillness. Nothing but a soft breeze rustling the trees.

The neighborhood feels old-fashioned in its friendliness.

"Use the trails in our woods anytime. There's a trampoline back there...jump on it if you want."

"Here's a jar of syrup for you. Mind if we tap your three trees that border the fence line?"

"On behalf of the church, feel free to use our playground anytime."

"Do you have a helmet, little guy? Next time I come around on my four-wheeler I'll take you for a ride."

This is how things used to be--how neighborhoods are supposed to be. We feel so privileged to call it home.

A few Saturdays ago Mike and I sat down with our coffee and a notebook. Pages soon filled with diagrams and dreams...chicken coop, swingset, garden, clothesline, pole shed, sheep fence. With a lifetime of farm ideas ahead of us, the hardest part is knowing where to start.

We're so excited to raise our children in a place where they will know the hopefulness of a sunrise, the roughness of a calf's tongue, the satisfying soreness of a full-day's woodpile. Where they can fill a knapsack with books and peanut butter sandwiches, say good-bye to Mom, and go on daring adventures in the woods. Where they can learn to appreciate the beauty of tender corn shoots poking through soft spring dirt, deer grazing on the fence line in that blurry time between day and dusk, and blustery snow blowing unhindered across an open field. 

And most importantly--we're excited to have plenty of room to host family and friends. Let us know when you're coming, and we'll throw and extra burger on the grill!

Here's to a lifetime of happiness in Beldenville--we hope to live on this little plot of land until we're old and gray! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Summer Garden

One of my favorite parts of summer was watching how much the kids enjoyed our little garden. 

They filled their gator with lettuce

Showered the Zinnias with affection

Dug in the dirt to their hearts' delight

Picked a wagonful of onions (When I only needed one!)

Helped Daddy pick beans for supper 

Learned to identify that pesky "Creaking Charlie!"

Hoed some flowers (and a couple weeds)

Chowed down on all the red tomatoes before we could even get them into the house

And begged to water whenever possible

If there's a happier place than a garden, I don't know what it is!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Watermelon Ice Cream

This Watermelon Ice Cream is in the running for my favorite discovery of Summer 2015. It's super easy, cheap, and healthy enough to justify serving bowlfuls to the kids for breakfast. Fair warning: don't attempt this recipe unless you're prepared to make it several times over. It's that addicting! 

Here's all it takes:

4 cups seedless watermelon
4-6 strawberries (not necessary, but I add them for an extra burst of color and flavor)
1 can full-fat coconut milk (if you only have low-fat coconut milk, add a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice

Blend ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker and mix until thick, about 20-25 minutes. Texture is similar to a sorbet, only creamier. 


Adapted from recipe in Kinfolk Magazine, Volume 16

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cheap Fun for Toddlers and Preschoolers

My husband sometimes accuses me of being a cheapskate. (Every marriage needs one, no?) Lately I've been excited about thrifty homemade fun. Here are some activities we've been enjoying:

I have no idea where this crooked plank even came from, but it's been a major playtime hit. Gray has used it as a bridge (Culligan salt bags make great bridge pillars, in case you're wondering), balance beam, stuffed animal picnic bench, train track, and ramp. 

Corn pool
This brilliant idea came from my sister. $8 gets you a 50-pound bag of corn and countless hours of fun. We poured the kernels into the kids' wading pool and added scoops, dump trucks, and diggers. A tarp underneath helped keep the mess in check.

Water play 
What is it about kids and water? They can't ever resist its draw. I grabbed this big bucket and some funnels on a whim, and now we use it on days that are too chilly for the wading pool.

Nature Collection
Gray collected these treasures during a family hike, and we arranged them on a tray after returning home. I smile every time I see the display; not only are God's creations stunningly beautiful, but the collection reminds me of our slow-paced Sunday evening togetherness. I also love that Gray regularly visits the tray to smell the pinecones, and their kitchen table placement has prompted several mealtime discussions about our adventure. I think collections will become a regular part of our hiking routine!

How about you? What kind of thrifty fun have your kids been enjoying lately? 

Friday, April 17, 2015


My hands-down favorite part of parenting has been watching how much fun our kids have together. They are only fifteen months apart, and that gap seems smaller and smaller the older they get. 

Yesterday Gray was tackling Rain, and I reminded him, "Be careful!" He replied, "It's okay, Mommy, she has a ton of giggles in her mouth." I have been trying really hard to teach him to listen to what she is "telling" him during their roughhousing and apparently the lesson is starting to sink in. :-)

Here are some things they've been up to lately (the greater the "mischief factor" the greater the giggling!):
 Digging around for a snack
 Pushing a "ferry boat"
 Wearing coordinating Mickey/Minnie pjs. (Cue major sadness when they're in the wash!)
 Pulling their pull toys from Auntie Kayla
 Going on wild fire truck rides
 Making major messes
 Pulling Sister to the park (all his idea!)
 Motoring around the backyard
 Lounging around reading Berenstain Bear books 
(the current fave!)
 Zooming around the house at breakneck speeds 
(Notice how there's usually a vehicle involved with these two?)
 Celebrating balmy temps with a backyard picnic
Helping Mommy with laundry
Sharing an umbrella

Gray and Rain definitely have their share of squabbles, but for the most part they operate as a unit. I know they will eventually go through stages of greater conflict, so I am enjoying the current harmony while it lasts!

I would love to hear your thoughts on sibling relationships. Are you close to your brothers and sisters? Do you wish you felt closer? What did your parents do that helped or hindered your sibling relationships? What are you doing differently with your own kids?

I've heard amazing things about the book Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (the same authors who wrote How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk), but I have yet to read it. Anyone a fan? 

Off to see what the latest giggle and crash is all about!