Sunday, October 14, 2018

Terah's 3rd birthday - a smashing success (as are the sweet potatoes)!

We'll get to Terah's birthday celebrations but a few other tidbits before getting to her special day!

The other night I found Ivy and Terah playing doctor - actually Ivy was playing doctor and Terah was trying to avoid a check up. But for a moment, Ivy had the stethoscope on Terah's heart and it was almost an exact replica of a photo we have in my baby book of me with a little friend playing doctor. It was just one of those heartwarming moments, that I was unable to recreate for a photo opp!
The clouds...my oh my! I'm feeling more than a tad frustrated with the rain pouring down right now (which was not on our radar - or on the weather radars we had checked when making our plan to plant garlic today), but the cloud patterns with the rain and sun the last number of weeks has been impressive!
I don't know who most looks forward to our little neighbor Aria's visits. She is about as cute as they come and this past visit she was cracking both Alida and Terah up - she was especially fond of grabbing hair and noses.
The year has been going along at a pretty fast clip and we were in danger of not keeping our Adopt-A-Highway commitment if we didn't get a second road pick up done before the end of the year! It seems that large cans of Natty Datty won the not wished for "prize" of being the most littered item along our road. Just days after completing our trash walk Sara and I saw three "fresh cans" on the road. We are still hoping for a day we work ourselves out of this job! In the meantime, Terah is pretty cute in her reflective vest!
More fun than picking up trash is definitely digging sweet potatoes. Each hill holds surprises - great or small! And there were some pretty impressive ones!! Mom and Dad's 3-season room has been temporarily turned into a curing room and we've got ours in there and harvests from two friends making use of the space. Many wintertime meals in that room! Mom and Dad, I hope you will accept rent pay in sweet potatoes. :)
Sometimes when I'm out with the camera I stop over in Nora's garden to catch a glimpse of what is blooming. The canna has captivated my attention this year, but the marigolds are a close second right now. I love the fall colors!
They are lovely, but not as lovely as my little helpers. That is, when they are in "we want to be helpful" moods. Here they were eager to get in on my new experiment which I'm pretty excited about. How is it that we have had spicebush as one of the main understory trees in our woods for years and have never experimented with the berries? You can dry them and grind them up as a pepper and/or allspice substitute. I did one small batch with a tree that didn't get harvested when a friend came to pick them. Next year, we will still share some with the pigs but we'll be drying a lot more!!
And now the birthday festivities! Terah was really anticipating this birthday for some time! Her day started by opening a present from me and Alida and immediately following enjoying a birthday pre-brunch snack of her multi-grain squares. She has amazed me with her generosity - happily giving out portions of her various treats to others (especially Alida, who always wants to know if she might like to share...and she normally does!).
With a little snack in her belly, she and Alida helped me work on the birthday brunch while others were doing morning chores. She had requested waffles, chicken sausage AND bacon. No one in this family complained about her menu choices at all! At breakfast there was more present opening, as she had very little interest in "spreading it out." So we didn't - she was the birthday girl after all! And she then had the day to snuggle up in her new fuzzy blanket and take pictures with her camera and munch on her birthday cereals, rice cakes and chocolate.
I did a marathon nursing session and finally got her a birthday nap - I knew how much more she would enjoy her party! She was raring to go upon waking and happily helped her sisters decide what to wear for her party. Somehow this has become a transition in this household - that the birthday girl gets to choose what her sisters wear on her birthday. Thankfully it hasn't transferred to dressing the parents too!
We were sad the her cousin Ivy wasn't feeling well enough to join, but we still had a table filled with friends ready to celebrate with Terah. She planned another menu that went over well: roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans and then folks help cranked vanilla ice cream to go with dessert. There was also chocolate frozen mousse, frozen wineberries and blueberries and pecans. I don't think anyone went away hungry and Terah was probably most excited about everyone singing happy birthday to her. I think my favorite part of the evening was her choosing "You've Got a Place at the Welcome Table" for the meal time blessing and wanting us to sing a verse of "The birthday girl's got a place..." It was a touching moment for me to hear this chorus of voices singing to Terah - what a powerful message for this little gal to take in! I hope she always feels that way!!
The evening ended with a game Terah really wanted to play that we learned at Ivy's called "Peacock," or that's what she calls it. One person goes out of the room and everyone else chooses a peacock. When the person comes back in they close their eyes and everyone says "1, 2, 3, squawk" except the peacock shouts, "peacock." The person with their eyes closed has to guess the peacock. Lots of noise and laughter and a funny way to end her special day!
She has been trying to milk "the birthday card" a bit in the days since - noting that it is still close to her birthday. :) She does get to anticipate the fun of one more celebration with my folks later this month. I'm REALLY hoping that she'll be sleeping normally again then and not hacking half the night each night. She is completely fine all day but as soon as she falls asleep she coughs and coughs. She is doing just that on my chest right now as I type. Even when she can sleep through it, I cannot!

Well, I better close this for now and try to lay her down so I can get a few more things done before bringing this day to a close. We are sure hoping the weather might cooperate tomorrow to allow us to get garlic and spinach planted. I am taking a vacation day since I miraculously didn't have any meetings planned and seem to not be finding time to use my vacation time right now...

I LOVE working on the farm at this time of year. There is something so satisfying about tidying up the gardens, doing the final harvests and planting cover crops. Sara and I chopped up lots of trombone vines the other day and I did remember to take a before and after photo of the trellis. My only regret was not wearing gloves - I'll write it down here so that maybe I'll better cement in my mind that not wearing gloves means my hands will be very irritated for a few days, and feels like they are burning up when in hot water (which I have my hands in a lot each day). Did I learn my lesson? We'll see if I remember a year from now...I just get so eager to get rolling on a project and if I'm finally in the garden with happy children, I just can't bear to go back up the hill for gloves. I should know better by now...

Our budding THREE year old photographer!

So as Terah's 3rd birthday approached the perfect present came to mind fairly easily! This gal has gotten quite into taking photos and a quick google search landed me on a blog post reviewing the top most popular digital cameras for kids. Sure enough there was one especially designed for kids 3 and up! I wish I could feel 100% happy about purchasing an electronic device made in China - it's full of mixed emotions for sure. That said, the fun of seeing Terah with her little camera makes it hard to resist a nice dose of joy too! I hope to write more about her birthday soon, but for now I'm going to share a few of my favorites from here first 160+ photos on her camera!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Birthday celebrations, new experiences, fall beauty and changes at Tangly Woods...

A follow up newsflash: it is NOT raining and our girls are at their first official soccer practice. The season is underway...finally! And they are at soccer with just Terah and Jason. I am now home from work and looking forward to attempting to knock out this blog post before my napless almost 3 year old arrives home and demands my undivided attention. It seems that napless is becoming a more common state by the day so we'll enjoy those evenings where she is well rested but not expect them to come around as often as we might all like! There's no in between with her. She either doesn't nap or takes a 3-4 hour nap and sometimes has to be woken!

So back to this past weekend. It was a full and special one in many ways! My 40th birthday dawned with hot drinks with Jason and reading birthday greetings compiled by a close friends from friends and family near and far. So I started the day feeling loved and appreciated! A walk with another close friend (and Terah) was followed by omelets for breakfast made by Jason!
I also loved watching how the day started and then changed so drastically in a few hours. Here are three photos I took in about an hour's time that morning of our yard and the mountain:
It was around breakfast when the gifts and cards from Kali started coming my way. That girl blew me away! Over the course of my birthday, I received from Kali alone four birthday cards (one for each decade) that I will cherish FOREVER, organic fair trade yarn for knitting dishcloths, a fair trade dark chocolate bar, crystallized ginger, and two sets of coupons (4 each). She was so cute with the 40 theme, making all my cards 40 square inches with the last one being 1 x 40. She so clearly wanted this to be a special year for me and her words of love for me and of appreciation for the work I put into making others' birthdays special made all that work over the years feel 100% worth it.

Alida and Terah have some developmental milestones to hit yet where they can be more aware of how to make other people feel special and it is a bit of a shift for a 2 and 7 year old to remove themselves from the center of the universe. Those challenges aside, they added their own touches to the day, most notably with Terah singing, "Happy birthday dear Mommy, Happy birthday to Janelle" and their dance shows thought up to Alida, which turned into a family dance party. I looked over to see the sweetest moment happening between Terah and Alida as they prepared and happened to have my camera in hand. Score!

I was not able to avoid an afternoon office work stint while Terah napped but that was ok. I knew the following day was going to be a day off entirely... In the evening we got to celebrate Ivy's 2nd birthday with her and then came home and watched Akeelah and the Bee (which I had seen a number of times, which is my favorite way to watch a movie - no suspense left!). I still love that movie! It felt like a good end to the birthday with some good reminders thrown in there like this one from Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson: "And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

On Saturday, Jason turned 42 and we spent the day at the Mountain Run Jam in Sedalia, VA - what a gorgeous place! Jason had met the organizers of the Jam 2 years in a row at the VABF conference and this year they invited him to do a workshop. Initially I was very ready to "wet blanket" the idea of us driving 2 hours on my birthday to camp all weekend with 3 kids, meaning I'd mostly like be on childcare while Jason networked. But I find that if I pause and allow my brain to shift into creative thinking mode, I can often come up with some good alternative ideas. This time was no exception and we found ourselves traveling to the Jam with good friends and NO kids, thanks to Emily gifting us childcare for the day for our bdays!!

I will not linger on the note that both to and fro we spent more time on the road than necessary - on the way there WAY MORE time! We got to talking, we didn't read the google map closely, and I'm not my dad who can sniff out about any destination even without directions. Therefore, we took a very circuitous route. But we were with good friends and their presence de-escalated (somewhat) the tension for me and Jason! I do actually really wish there was some easy "chill pill" that I could keep a ready supply of handy with me at all times!! Overall the day was a success - good conversations, good food, good connections, good workshop... It was also a VERY dog-friendly event, so I found myself very grateful I didn't have 2 kiddos hanging on me all day!

Home late on Saturday and up Sunday with more adventures in store for us! The girls and I headed to the Staunton train station in the afternoon to pick up Sara, who had taken the train cross country from Washington to apprentice at Tangly Woods this month. Some time ago I got a "cold email" from her noting that she had read something Jason had published in The Sun magazine, googled his name, found our blog, had been reading it off and on for a few years and was interested in knowing if we ever had folks come and apprentice with us. The short answer is that no we have not. But there's always a first right? I chuckled as I replied noting that she knew a lot more about us than us about her, but through email and zoom and hearing from folks that have worked with her closely, we mutually determined it sounded like a good fit! There were a few hiccups to the pick up due to Staunton swelling in number by over 10,000 for a Harry Potter event, leading to ALL the roads being blocked off including the ones that went to the train station. So the girls and I left our car at a convenience store and walked to the train station. Thankfully Sara was a light packer and due to our tardiness she even got to see a marriage proposal happen before her eyes before we walked back to the car and headed home.

We are looking forward to our next few weeks together. I anticipate it being be a positive exchange and good learning experience all around! I would say of our girls, Alida would most like to steal her to "apprentice" with her in game playing.

I'm really looking forward to being able to turn my attention a bit more to the homestead in the coming days. It's been a really full (ok, also stressful) work week that is wanting to take all my surplus hours and more! But I'm hoping the next few days at home may lend themselves to Jason and I getting a chance to get our heads around the fall harvests and cover cropping. It feels like all the rain and the warm weather now has me feeling a bit disoriented about the time of year. The "farewell summer" here is in full bloom right now and is reminding me that we have indeed said goodbye to summer even if today felt rather summer-like.

I'll end with a few other favorites from recent days. The monarchs this year...Wow! And our little corn picker. She gets a Wow too! She'll be 3 one week from tomorrow - ready or not!