March 27, 2013


Oh what a glorious day! The sun is all sunshiney,  puddling here and there on the floor, making warm, bright spots for Elsie to investigate.

Justin is boiling today, making syrup to be taken to Wyoming.

My windowsills are full of forced bulbs.

Real bulbs, outside, are starting to poke, dark pink, brown, and green out of the softening dirt and the few, tired, lumps of snow in the flower beds from where we shoveled snow this winter.

Awhile ago, someone was telling us about visiting an older couple who has very little--hardly enough to get by. The old man stood in the doorway to their dark little trailer and said "Ahhh, spring! I can feel the sap rising in me, like in the trees."  And I feel it in me too. A bursting at the seams to get outside, to feel that sunshine on my face, to feel the dirt, cold and wet, to watch things growing, changing, reaching to the sunlight. And we all get to experience this richness of the seasons changing. Whoever we are, whatever we have.

It is spring.

March 22, 2013

Life ain't so bad

Hello, hello! Here I am again. I missed last weeks happy list. For good reason. I had a toothache. A horrible toothache which lasted all weekend. And the things I was happy about were pretty morbid. Like "If the pain gets any worse, I will pass out and then I won't even feel anything." Not an uplifting list. After suffering all weekend, I think most problems in the world could probably be traced back to toothache or chronic pain. Probably, if we only knew, Kim Jong Un has had a toothache for a few decades, which is why he acts like such an angry child.

My tooth and I parted company on Monday. It now hangs out on my windowsill, a testimony to Why-children-should-brush-and-floss-every-other-minute. Did you know that, women generally lose one tooth per child they have? Seriously. So this was Elsie's tooth. I lost one after Lily, but had root canals for Orianna and Gilbert. I am going to save this tooth for use in arguments and guilt trips when my kids are in my teens. I not only gave you life, I lost a tooth for you!

Beyond the toothache, life hasn't been exceedingly smooth lately. Our washer broke. Completely. Lily split her lip, requiring no stitches after a few hours at the hospital. And other frustrating things. Sort of minor major things. They are annoyances, but not like losing our house, having a terminal illness, discovering a sinkhole in our living room, losing a loved one, or being hit by a nuclear bomb. See? How can I help being an optimist when I can come up with a list of catastrophes in the blink of an eye that are not a part of my life? Life is GOOD.

So things that I am feeling happy about this morning.

1. We are going to Connie P's this afternoon for a little visit. It has been a long time since we could get over there, due to colds and weather, so we are really looking forward to this!

2. I have a gift certificate to White Flower Farms. And I am having a wonderful time putting different combinations of plants together to buy. I have been at it for a month now and still haven't ordered.

3. Last night, all three of our kids ate a little of everything at supper. We had roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and carrots. Not exactly exotic cuisine. Still, Gilbert ate chicken in between piles of potatoes with a few bits of carrots mixed in and ingested entirely by accident, Orianna ate all three with only mild encouragement, Lily was persuaded to eat a few bites of chicken and carrots before she got her next heap of potatoes and gravy, and Elsie ate almost a whole bowlful of carrots, potatoes, and gravy. It warmed my heart. I know. This shouldn't be impressive. But since we have been trying to do "whole foods", the kids have been rebellious.  As soon as food is set before them, we hear "I don't like it." And then we fight and argue the whole meal time to make them eat. Before doing more whole foods, I thought we already did pretty good with healthy whole foods. I had that conceit taken out of me by my wee lad and lasses who look at whole food as if it were slightly toxic. But. Progress! Now that we have a firm grasp on the most basic of whole food, I am envisioning them scarfing down brussel sprout stir fry. Maybe a bit too soon to spring that on them?

4. Last night, after their bath, the girls ran back and forth in the living room with their towels flying behind them, pretending to be something or other. Such a ritual of childhood. I remember very little about Delaware. Life pre-my five year old self moving to New York. But one memory that is very clear is running down our hallway after our bath, with our towels flying behind us saying "Nan-ah, Nan-ah, Batman!" Actually, I am pretty sure we were yelling that. So after thinking this, I tried to remember as much as I possibly could about Delaware. And my memories are all muddled by the pictures we have of Delaware. Do I really remember being there, having that picture taken? Or did the picture just put a memory in  my head? I have an appalling memory. Lindsey has a phenomenal one. She is my memory bank. And she is coming back in about a month. Hooray! It is nice to have my memories a little closer than 4500 miles away!

5. I do not have a toothache.

March 13, 2013

Sinus induced self pity

I am feeling sorry for myself. There, you are now warned. I intend to whine.

 I have a sinus infection that feels like a bad toothache. A bad toothache that reaches around the eyes and into my ears. I went to the dentist and she concluded that it was a sinus infection after an x-ray and kindly whacking each of my tender teeth with her metal instruments and asking "Did that hurt?" I don't know if she sees a lot of stoics in her line of work, but believe me, if it had hurt, she wouldn't have had to ask. She gave me antibiotics, but they haven't really kicked in yet.

Last night, probably sick of a wife in pain, running on little sleep due to the pain, and feeling sorry for herself, Justin made me go to bed at 8. Seriously, he stood over my shoulder while I checked facebook and told me I needed to go to bed every few seconds. So I did. And 10 hours of sleep later, only occasionally interrupted by Elsie who was coughing with her newest cold, I decided sleep was just what the doctor ordered. Until I was up, doing the girls hair and my face started aching like billy-o. Wah!

So now I feel sorry for myself again. Mom suggested I get a hot water bottle and lay on it while reading a book. Hmmm.... Sounds like a decent way to spend a poor and put upon me day. I will have to discuss it with Gilbert and Elsie. I am sure, as soon as I explain the situation, they will both say they were planning on spending the day quietly in bed twiddling their toes anyway, so it is fine with them. For at least two minutes.

I realized, when feeling cranky with pain this morning that I should have been nicer to my mother who had a seemingly unending sinus infection when we were kids. Clearly, sinus infected mothers should have special, tender treatment. And somehow, amongt all eight of us rambunctious kids, I don't think tender treatment was our specialty. But then, my memory is faulty. Probably we were darling, solicitous children and I simply have forgotten.

And now, off to change some diapers, fold some wash, and do the breakfast dishes. Somehow, just talking about my sinus infection has made it disappear  While it is being shy and coy, I should really do something productive. In anticipation of my painful, leisurely afternoon in bed.

And now for something completely different, here are some North Country Winter pictures.

Driving to Burke

Almanzo Wilder Farm

Stuck in traffic in Malone

Barn by the stream

Stomping in puddles

March 8, 2013

Happy things

1. We are on track to have our first sap boil this weekend. Mmmm... sweet smelling maple-y smoke. We finally got some sunshine today, making the sap run hard for the first time since we have tapped.

2. The sun has come north enough again to shine into our kitchen for just a few minutes each evening.

3. The time change is this weekend. Which is the beginning of long sunshine-y evenings.

4. These pictures.

5. I was going through rubbermaids in the basement today and I came across these two things, randomly stuffed into a box of kids toys. 

Lindsey gave me this. And it still makes me laugh. 

And this was an Ocean City picture from.... 2001? Or 2002? Anyway, we were all so young. 

March 7, 2013

Rilla's birthday

Marilla became a five year old this week. So we celebrated last weekend. 

I knew it was going to be a party, but I didn't know it was going to be this much of a party! 

The terribly proud birthday girl

Ashley braiding Lily's hair for the party

The festive kitchen. This might not look too impressive, party-wise, but it is the most extravagant we have gotten with any birthday party. Be amazed.

All sorts of fun


Delighting in Cheyenne's present. And look how pleased Cheyenne is in the background!

Check. it. out!

I liked the decorations.

Seeing the bunk bed Uncle Justin made for her Bitty babies

Unwrapping the quilts, pillows, and sheet sets I made to go with the bunk bed

Trying it out

I had never made sheets before and Justin had never made a bunk bed, so we were terribly proud that it turned out so cute! Or at least I was. Justin is probably just used to making things that work right. The sheets were giving me fits, but I kept thinking about how much I would have loved a sheet set for a doll bed when I was a kid and how much Rilla would love it. And once I got the measurements and technique right, it was quite fun. Little things are more fun. 

I had planned to make two sweet little blue and white quilts for the bunk bed, but surprise, surprise, I ended up not having time. So I thought I would just make the quilts later and give them to Rilla afterwards. But it bothered me, since it was just more fun to get a bed with a blanket all together. Then I remembered these quilt squares that Mom had given me awhile ago. She found them at a garage sale and I didn't know quite what to do with two random squares. Besides making throw pillows, which we have quite enough of. So I added a white border to make them big enough, sewed some handy fat quarters on the back and finished it off. And now I have little quilt squares cut out in blue and white. The girls are pestering Justin for their own bunk bed and Justin is already talking about improvements he could make on the next one... so more wee quilts seem to be in my future.


Singing around the cake



A cute tummy

Our Elsie-poo  

The kids had to carry the bunk bed out so Elsie could see it.

On Daddy's shoulders

Pat, pat, smack! Pat, pat, smack!

March 5, 2013

Stoves, self-worth, and pictures

Not to brag or anything, but I showered, dressed, got two girls dressed and hair done, shoveled the walk, got them on the bus, cleaned under and on top of the range top, the oven, and all the burners by 7:45 this morning. Yep. I am awesome. A good mother, a good housekeeper, and a good wife (Justin was sleeping in) all before breakfast. Sigh. I think I will just sit and contemplate my goodness for the rest of the day. Except I might happen to recall spending all day yesterday in pajamas and that might tarnish the good impression I have of myself....

Last night, Justin made french fries on the stove and an accidental splash of water made the oil bubble all over. And made the burner catch fire. So there was half an inch of oil under the range top. The possibility of igniting a raging fire by turning a burner on is a great motivator for prompt cleaning. For some reason, cleaning my stove and oven is a huge annoyance. A few years ago, as company was expected, I was scrubbing the back of the stove, where the knobs are until it shined and I realized that I only do that when company is coming. And that phrase from Oprah or someone like that "You are worth it" came to mind. So a month later, when my stove was looking gross, I attacked it, since I deserve a nice stove to look at too. About 5 minutes of scrubbing into, I decided that actually, I wasn't really worth that much. But I persevered. And believe me, this is one instance, where daily maintenance is much easier than the once a month scrubbing. I know. Everyone already knows this. And I am a slob. But I am a skeptic. I have to prove things for myself. Even if it is something as simple as cleaning.

And I would put up a picture of my cleaning and sparkling stove and oven, except that someone would probably glance at it and say "huh. She doesn't even clean her such and so" and my reputation would plummet back to the original she-doesn't-scrub-the-back-of-her-stove-each-day level.

Yesterday, someone had one of those quotes and picture things on facebook that said "housework is something no one notices unless you don't do it." And unfortunately, that is true. Except for people that know me and are here a lot. They are impressed when my house is neat. It almost makes me want to make a little photo album of everyday messes, so when company comes, I can show them what a mess it normally is. So they can be impressed, even if I didn't manage to get all the papers off my counter.

So even if I am not putting up pictures of my stove, here are some of recent weekends and things. Which are much more interesting than my stove could ever be, sparkling or not.

Reading with Daddy

My tulip

My amaryllis

Ticket to ride with Fiona and Alex

They were so happy to have Fiona back where she belongs. Even for just a weekend!

Alex reading to Gilbert

Mom trying to feed a stubborn Elsie

"Reading" the piano folk song book, which is Gilbert's favorite thing to do

Sunday afternoon newspaper reading on a Wintry day

My cuddlebug

Daddy and his boy-o

More ticket to ride. Natch.

Oh niceness.

Sweet babies just waking up


Heading out to the barn. Orianna was wearing a pair of boots that were way too big for her. She thought it was funny the whole time.

One of the triplets

Fat chicken

Lily with a lop eared lamb

Isn't it cute?

Tori and Alex's pygmy goat

Gilbert giving the calf hay


A grown up Jane

Coming back from feeding cows

The triplets

Tori's porkers

A sheep

Owen, the shepherd


The lambs gamboling about. Seriously, they would run in like something was chasing them....

...then turn around and run out the same way.

My camera was being slow, so I got a lot of pictures like this.

Watching things

Olivia and Loppy

What the lambs were all so curious about

Oh the delight of a lamb

The triplets overworked mother isn't producing quite enough milk for all three, so Owen is supplementing with the bottle. Gilbert loves feeding the lambs.

Walking in from the barn

My forced bulbs

The curve of the amaryllis 

Bulb planter

Morning light 

A picture from Dorcas Porkus that I tackily asked Gilbert's doctors office if I could buy from their waiting room. I love it. Like really love it. And most people are just sitting there on their smartphones, so this book would get a lot more love at our house. Or so I justified myself when they told me I could just take it and didn't need to pay anything. I am planning on bringing them a nice stack of our doubles next time we go in.

The girls interesting coloring collaboration. 

The potty training boy on the computer


Getting ready for sugaring


This looks like such a baaaad idea. Standing on a shifting pile of boards and using a chainsaw. Hmm... 

Sawdust flying