Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alida's 6th girls only birthday party on the day of Jason's departure!

Sunday afternoon and it's quiet! The only noise I can hear, other than the occasional chicken cackling or rooster crowing, is me typing. That's a change and I'm enjoying it, while also really savoring the memories of the sounds that have filled our house over the last day or two.

As alluded to in the last blog post, this past week was a very full one getting ready to say goodbye to a very intricate member of our homestead for 10 days! Not only does Jason do a lot, the gals in this household are quite fond of him (and the oldest gal, me, found herself in tears as the car pulled away with him in it!). As my mom truthfully noted, I had brought this upon myself, since I was the one who dreamed up the idea to send him off to Nebraska to see the sandhill crane migration. And I'm so glad I did! Stay tuned for a guest blog post by Jason upon his return about the adventures he enjoyed with my dad and his in honor of his 40th birthday (a half year ago).

In the meantime, the news from Tangly Woods: the week was spent in a bit of a mad rush to get as much of the spring planting done before his departure, and to also prepare for Alida's 6th birthday. Maybe not all that surprising in light of that that I woke up Friday not feeling great and as the day progressed I felt worse and worse. I couldn't quite believe the timing for me to land the first virus like this (the achy chills and general blahness kind) for years. I know I feel bad when I can't concentrate on working during Terah's nap and instead snooze through more or less all of it... I managed to keep moving through the list, but at turtle pace and with some help along the way. The weather cooperated beautifully though for us to make an outdoor fire for pizza pockets for our little family bday gathering. Alida loved throwing sticks in the fire, but about drove all of us crazy asking about every minute if it was safe. It was in fact quite safe and I marveled once again at Jason's design expertise and forethought - it was lovely having Terah running around the fire and now worrying about her falling. She was so cute climbing on and off of the chairs. And eating outside makes so much sense with that gal, as she rivals all our others in her ability to make a huge mess at a meal!

The oddest (and most beneficial) side effect of the virus was that I lost my energy for being anxious or worried. This might sound really strange and if I didn't feel it so keenly I'd think it was. But somehow when my body has to turn all its attention to healing, I just don't have a lot of space for getting up tight about other stuff - it's like I go into energy conservation mode and just do the next thing in a more present and calm state. So that was handy on the eve of Jason leaving on a trip taking him farther from us and for longer than we've been apart in our married life.

Thankfully, by Saturday morning, my fever was below 100 and continued to go down and my headache mostly subsided by party time! I'm still not back to normal, but I could go a long time in the state I'm in now, which is eons better than two days ago at this time. It's a good thing because there is nothing like having your partner go away to realize how very much they contribute to the functioning of the household. Other than being someone we like having around a whole lot, there are just many things that normally fall into "Jason's domain" that I'm getting an opportunity to insert myself into: emptying the toilet, monitoring and managing the incubators, tending seedlings, watering gardens and recent transplants, chicken chores, etc... So far so good, I think, but I'm also getting in touch with some of the pressures associated with Jason's daily tasks (for some more than others). When the toilet doesn't get emptied, oh well. We can just switch to the water one.  But if the incubators get too hot or the seedlings get to dry or the chickens don't get fed, there are more major consequences for our homestead, and our winter food supply.  So here's hoping there are lots of chicks to welcome Jason home next Monday, and that our peas will be sprouting outside and the tomatoes poking up inside.

Before moving on to the birthday celebrations, I'll have to take a minute here to just note that I do have moments of feeling just a tad proud of myself. So I'm not the bravest gal around, I'll be the first to admit. When I give blood, I'm always nervous about the finger stick at the beginning - it's the surprise factor, not the pain, that always gets me. Same with black snakes - I'm fine with them being around, I just don't want to come upon one by surprise. Well, the same is true with hens sitting on nests full of eggs. I've never ever been able to bring myself to just insert my hand under a hen who is cocking her head and eyeing me with that "sure, go ahead and try to get the eggs and see what happens" look. So last evening, I had Terah with me for most of the rounds (which complicates things considerably) and was not wearing gloves (which makes me braver) since it was so warm out. I was almost done rounds when one of the range pens had a hen who had bedded down on the nest. I was not about to lug Terah back to the house to get gloves as there was a birthday party underway that I needed to get back to hosting. So under I went, getting a good number of pecks on the first dive. AND, knowing there were more eggs to be had, I subjected myself to round two.  This was not a broody hen, so despite me texting Jason about being pecked savagely, I will now admit that they really didn't hurt and that I have now successfully taken the edge of that particular fear (similar to giving blood - it does get easier over time - not sure I'm quite there yet with being surprised by snakes...).

So it's good and hard - we miss Jason, we will appreciate him all the more after this time apart, we'll be so eager to welcome him home, and we are finding ways to enjoy and thrive during this time apart (it would not be so if my mom were not hear to lend a set of wonderfully capable helping hands and we'll have to check in if I'm still feeling so positive about this whole thing a week from now!).
But the first 24 hours were pretty fun!

When I knew that the timing for this trip was going to fall over Alida's birthday I thought maybe it would be fun for her to have an all girls' party (I was secretly trying to ease any feelings of sadness about Jason missing it - which I think we succeeded in doing)! She was keen on the idea and it was a fabulous one. Maybe it wouldn't be so wonderful if our girls didn't have amazing friends. But they do and it was such a fun time. There was sidewalk chalk drawing ask guests arrived, followed by a little scavenger hunt, some artwork creating outside, and visiting the first brood of chicks before her chosen dinner of rice, lentils and green beans. Then the girls all took off to play while we cleaned up from the first course and they rejoined us for cupcakes she made and decorated with my mom, ice cream and some present opening. Not all the guests slept over but those that did all got ready for bed and lined up for a thriller - the only Max and Ruby movie we own, that Alida loves. It was thrilling enough, anyway, that no one fell asleep during it and they still had enough energy to whisper and giggle through a few reminders that they might want to get some sleep before morning. They actually did better than Terah who kept me up a good half hour after the noise subsided from the front room!
Alida was the only gal still sleeping by about 7, and so we sang Happy Birthday to wake her up. I'm fully expecting if those of us with Alida the remainder of her day special don't treat her with tender loving kindness, she will likely fall apart from exhaustion and sugar overload (we plan to treat her with those things and will hopefully get her to a reasonable bedtime all in one piece!). This morning included the kids playing more "mouse in the house," a game I think our girls invented with I & M but I'm not sure. Oh, and there was more art happening and a few more presents to open and her birthday breakfast (our home grown/nixtamlized/dehydrated/ground grits, eggs to order, chicken sausage, frozen berries and yogurt). The guests dwindled down to the final one leaving a little before 1 p.m.
I found myself feeling so very grateful for the group that had gathered to celebrate with Alida - all kind, good natured, creative, fun, energetic girls/women. And her friends' ages ranged from just shy of 6 months to 13. She got presents that suited her so perfectly from her favorite foods from the co-op to puzzles to a doll house made by one of her friends. I love it! I hope that Alida feels truly celebrated and I'm excited to spread out the fun by her redeeming the coupon from me later this week - thanks to my mom's willingness to keep our littlest gal, we'll enjoy a date morning and lunch out just the two of us! It's been a long time coming and I'm eager for some one-on-one time with her!

Now getting this blog post done this afternoon means I won't be thinking about wanting to do that this evening and it will increase the likelihood of us getting in some good game playing with the birthday girl before she crashes! It will be just us and Grandma Myers for her birthday dinner (she planned the menus months ago, so long ago that she had to be reminded what we were having) of pesto pasta and chicken breasts. I like our girls' taste for foods as we all share some similar favorites! And then it will be Monday again - they come around so fast!

Before I close, three more tidbits:

For those who won't see this on facebook OR want to see it again, here was how Terah felt when Ivy arrived at the party last evening. As soon as Ivy arrived Terah was very insistent on me getting her out of the carseat and then she went over and patted the love seat - she had remembered getting the honor of holding Ivy on that seat during their last visit:

And Alida still has the upper hand on getting Terah to do her best belly laughs. Of course I got in on it a bit late so the peak of the laughter had passed, but you get the point. Who knew jars of old giveaway seeds could be so fun:

And, finally, someone has long enough hair for pigtails!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring is upon us!

And then we got home from West Virginia and it feels like the winter projects are going to need to wrap up fast to make way for the spring ones - which is officially upon us tomorrow! Jason is outside, as I type, prepping the ground for peas, lettuce, dill, parsley, kale, beets onions and oats - all of which we hope to get in the ground before he takes off for his 10 day 40th birthday trip with our dads next Saturday!

...and that was as far as I got before Terah woke from her afternoon nap!

We've had a fun and full hosting weekend - kicking it off with friends on Friday evening for a green St. Patrick's Day meal here, complete with a surprise beautiful snow shower (with flakes that looked more like little snowballs falling from the sky)! We then enjoyed a 24 hour visit with a contingent of the Benner family :) and now are enjoying a visit from Jonathan, friend and former T.W. resident!

So, due to wanting to focus on the visiting still happening for the remainder of this weekend, here's some visuals from the homestead in recent days:
The seed shelf is full! It's that time where we need to get the onions in the ground so we can get the tomatoes starting. It's always a little like dominos around here - one thing has to give before another can.
Sweet potato slips - they are so beautiful AND we have a lot of them!!

Speaking of beautiful - I have yet to stock the top, but we are using and loving the wood storage!

And more beauty and cuteness - she likes meal times a whole lot (at least for the first few minutes until she has satisfied her hunger and is ready to move on).

So much for Lent being a time of sacrifice. Our "no grocery shopping" commitment is really not creating much hardship anymore. Here pictured is a recent breakfast of Kali's duck eggs or Jason's chicken eggs, fresh steamed spinach and a potato corn saute with homemade hot sauce. Yum!

Another cutie pie - happy on her planned family night - dinner out, a stop at the library to stock up on books, and ice cream cones and a game back at home.

We are fans of Las Chamas, especially the fried yucca and tostones. Another yum!

Keeping Terah content in a restaurant is a bit of a challenge, but having Grandma and Grandpa along on our family night was a big help. 

I considered our dinner out to also be a celebration of my dad's pending retirement - THIS FRIDAY!!

This trio is too much sometimes...and Kali puts up with an awful lot with so much grace and patience. 

Cousin time on the front walk - Marcie's first experience of sidewalk chalk (it was very hard to convince to join us for lunch inside)...

And more cousin time - Terah is a huge Ivy fan (that feels like a major understatement)!

Ok, so we have a number of Ivy fans in this house!

Ivy tried her very first food at our home last evening - a Tangly Woods sweet potato (which she downed pretty expertly and seemed to enjoy thoroughly - if her mommy kept shoveling it in fast enough to satisfy her).

And the first chicks have hatched!  A great broody mama hatched 8 out of 9 eggs (and the 9th was infertile so hardly her fault!). One chick died, but there are 7 cute fuzz balls in the compost coop.

I love how she is looking at them!
And, the picture isn't quite enough, as hearing a mama and her chicks is so fun for me. She clearly is communicating with them. I love watching them bury under her:

And I'll end with some of the bedtime fun happening at our home the other evening. Don't be deceived by this - this was a somewhat rare and very pleasant end to the day. More often than not tiredness takes over for the two littlest and the strung out mommy in this household. But this night, we all enjoyed hanging out for awhile and Terah was getting a kick out of laughing heartily:

ps. forgive any typos please; this one is not even being read through for a quick editing...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

While Jason was in Keezletown, the girls...

...enjoyed five days at the Mountain House in West Virginia with Grandma and Grandpa Myers!

After initially being a little scared of horsey, by the end she was mounting and dismounting by herself (and not so impressed when Alida decided to take a turn). 

We were joined in WV by Alida's opossum (Maggie) and doll (Ashley). Terah was impressed with the stairs (if  she left the room and it got quiet, it was a good time to go check on her whereabouts - very possibly heading up the stairs). 

We called the small snow we enjoyed "Kali's snow" as she has been yearning for snow and missed the larger snow that Alida enjoyed during her week in WV. While it didn't last long and wasn't deep, it provided hours of enjoyment!

A snow walk (or ride for Alida) to the labyrinth was enjoyed by all. 

Games, games, and more games were played! The marble racer was a bit hit. And, of course, WV state parks monopoly was Alida's favorite (what she was thankful one evening at dinner when we all said something we were thankful for).

Kali wanted to make a snowball that would last until we left. She was successful! 

Kali didn't even want to take the week off cooking, but made a delicious dinner for us to enjoy in WV!

Time with Grandpa often ignited the giggles, especially this stint involving "Da," Terah's new baby opossum.

We ventured to Canaan Valley to go hiking and I didn't even bring the pack for Terah. She wanted to be held a little but mostly wanted to be a hiker too!

The highlight of my week was having more time to enjoy hanging with this trio!

There was just enough snow left on the ground along the trail for snowball fights and throwing snowballs into the river. Thankfully we got through our hike with only snowballs falling in the water - all children and adults were dry!

Terah was so interested in everything - the rocks, the snow, the water...I love how much our girls love the outdoors!

Three generations!

Terah was impressed with Kali's snowball!

I benefited greatly from two grandparents who were happy to read stories, play games and otherwise entertain and be entertained by the girls. 

On the last day we hiked up Mom and Dad's land to their little pond in a drizzly rain. Again we enjoyed the water adventure with no one falling or jumping in - Terah was pretty interested in taking a dip!

Kali and Alida enjoyed exploring some rocks and Kali even found a new kind of red fungus that Mom and Dad had never seen on their place. 

I'm still adjusting to the fact that we really don't have a baby anymore. She's a tried and true little girl - complete with a new skill of "arguing" with us when she disagrees with something we say or are proposing we/she do. It's kind of cute!
It was really a lovely time away (other than missing Jason!). What is not pictured is that I got to work on some projects that I've been wanting to work on, was able to keep up with work stuff during Terah's naps and in the early mornings, got our taxes done AND I read a novel in 24 hours (if you are reading this blog and have not yet read small great things by Jodi Picoult, please do, and let's talk about it - could not be more pertinent for our times). That's about as close to a vacation as I'm going to get at this stage of family life! I didn't manage to get a nap or get a full night's sleep, but that might have just spoiled me a bit too much!

We arrived home late morning and are getting settled back in. The biggest news following our arrival home is that I went upstairs to get something from the freezer to find the girls out on the concrete pad in the rain AND Alida riding her bike! Yep, she learned to ride her two wheeler this afternoon and now is tearing around on it like a pro. As she was riding around, she commented to Jason, "Every day some different change happens to the world, isn't it?" Kids...they are incredible!