Sunday, February 11, 2018

Room #4 Back Kitchen

As we looked at February, we saw an amazing phenomenon. There was NOTHING on our calendar for February 8-11! This was in large part due to my plan to be a doula for a friend/neighbor due in February and thus wanting to keep my schedule as light as possible to be able to be more easily drop everything when needed. So Jason and I decided it was a good time to try to tackle one of our harder rooms. At our most recent family meeting it was decided: the back kitchen it would be!

There are a few things worth noting: this room is one of the rooms that has been least changed since we moved in AND heavily used since we moved in (12+ years ago). It has also been the repository for many things when we didn't know where to go with them. It is the central hub of a lot of action. It holds our filing cabinet and the girls craft cupboard. Hence the need to see FOUR open days in our schedule before we risked diving in. And we used each and every one of them!

We did a victory walk around the room this evening around 7:30 p.m. and declared the job done! This process takes a lot out of all of us and the younger girls were about out of patience with the sorting and decisions and the need for the adults to be able to focus on paperwork especially these last two days. We tried each day to end with some time together, but sometimes by that point in the day we felt pretty spent. See not only did this room have our filing cabinet (most of what was in there hadn't been looked at for going on a dozen years), but it also had the dreaded "bin of random papers" and various stacks that had accumulated over years (along with an accumulated layer of dust).

Here's the run down of the four days more or less - of what I can quickly recount while Terah plays play dough with daddy and Kali reads to Alida:

Day #1 - full room clean out, laundry and top to bottom room cleaning. We had a lot of buckets of water that looked like this. And many dust pans full of crud! We found all sorts of surprises, including the kids' doctor kit thermometer perched on the back side of the old kitchen stove. How long had it been there? Towards the end of the day we made some progress moving some of the easier and obvious things back in. Fit in the cracks were things like moving ducks, making cheddar cheese and other chores and daily tasks.  When the girls started getting a little loopy, we decided to call it a day. At least they were laughing. Here there are, along with a few other pictures of the first day:

Day #2 - major organization day involving sorting the craft cupboard and various other spaces and getting rid of a bunch of stuff while re-organizing what we were keeping. This is when it starts to get tough. Kali was even braver than me - I'm such a sentimental mess sometimes! She had this old pair of crocs (in the video above) that we bought when we went to Cape Charles right after Nora died. They had holes in them (not just the intended holes). They were a good 5 sizes too small. BUT she loved those crocs and they were a reminder of that monumental trip. Throwing them in the trash was hard for me (which is why they had been sitting on the back kitchen sink for weeks)! There was also lots of cleaning of the things that were still out of the room and either being given away or brought back in. Jason fit a milk run and I did some cooking and other cleaning.
Day #3 - the rain set in and the hardest work was still in front of us. The filing cabinet! And it seemed like most of the day we had chicken supervisors or maybe there were our fan club out on the porch (ok, so they just didn't like the rain!). This was decidedly hump day. By the end of the day we were all a tad on edge (ok, to be honest some of us were very on edge). Jason seemed the least hit by cabin fever out of all of us - maybe due to his getting out for chores at various points in the day. I made ricotta and a large pot of soup and otherwise was sorting, sorting, sorting. Each day I also did a few hours of my paid employment during Terah's nap so that was my "break" from the deep clean and purge. The older girls treated us to another one of their made up muffin recipes to go with our dinner. I spent time writing letters to various friends and family - with things enclosed we had found that I wanted to pass along. We found some real treasures - but most of the letter re-reading will have to wait until Jason and I are retired (or at least kids are older). We laughed and groaned as we read little snippets of our earlier writings. I even found a letter where Jason had been encouraged by the women folk in his family to grow his hair a bit longer for our wedding. We also found Kali's picket sign from when she was protesting the idea of us possibly getting pigs some day in the future! This was also the day that I was ready to find some entertaining videos on my computer to occupy the younger girls. Enter the winter olympics - which worked for just a few minutes until it stopped and I was asked to upgrade my service to keep watching. Argh!
We were very ready to call it a day late last night and were determined to bring the task to completion today!

Day #4 - Jason and I started the day with a cup of coffee together in the front room and reading some Wendell Berry sabbath poems. A great start to the day - which might be why the whole day seemed to be a really good one! I spent most of the morning doing other cleaning, laundry, cheese making, making a brunch to enjoy all together (and with Aunt Emily who came to take our back kitchen stove off our hands!), cooking another large pot of soup, filling wood boxes, etc... Jason did chores and then did some odd jobs like fixing a handle on the game cabinet, fixing the prayer card holder on our dining room table, chopping kindling and some other odd jobs. We dove into the final stretch towards the end of Terah's nap - that aforementioned paper bin. AND we got to the bottom of it. AND the bin is now in the attic for our keepsake bin with just a small pile of things in it. There are no plastic bins in the back kitchen. There are no stacks of stuff sitting around. We know where everything is and can enjoy more what we have since we can now find it. It really is like moving without moving - which is great, since I have no desire to move!

This process was/is so many things - exhausting, energizing, aggravating, fulfilling, fun, freeing, perplexing, and just plain hard work. This round also involved emotions as we got in touch with snippets of our past, as well as some our dreams for the future. I find it hard to stay present when I'm being tossed from past to future by all the things we are sorting through. But we made it through. And spirits have been higher today. Now I'm hoping to snuggle up with Alida to get her to sleep soon as she is tuckered out! But a good family game playing session tonight seemed to boost the positive feelings all around.

Here's a few more before/during/after pictures to enjoy! May we all sleep well tonight! Go Myers-Benner team!

The back counter:
The back sink:
The craft cupboard:
The back desk/filing cabinet area:

Snow, planting seeds, and art class underway!

First things first: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM (my most faithful blog follower!). In honor of her birthday I promised her 2 blog posts by midnight so I better get on it - here's the first so hopefully she can read at least one of them before her bedtime. It seems appropriate to start this post then with one of her favorite things: SNOW!  While no snow today with temperatures in the 60's, we did have a small snow recently that turned to a wintry mix right when the girls were headed out into it to play. But that didn't deter them, since they, after all, are their grandma's granddaughters! They were soaked when they came inside, but happy and eager to consume the hot cocoa I had made. Here they are trying out the sledding hill:

Snow or no snow, come February 1 it is time to plant more seeds! We start onions around January 1 and then parsley and cilantro at the beginning of February. Terah was a great little helper for Jason this year, and it makes us eager to see what this gardening season holds for us. I'm wondering what kind of full body sunscreen we are going to be able to find, because this gal doesn't like clothing in the middle of winter so what will July be like!

When we are not planting seeds or out sledding, there is lots of imagination and creative play happening within our home. Last evening Terah decided to see if she could fit into the stuffed animal carseat. She actually got herself all strapped in and then I heard her traipsing around saying "turtle shell...turtle shell." Here's what she had discovered:

Okay, enough videos for this post. I'll end with two other tidbits. One thing I'm enjoying recently is watching the girls' budding artistic abilities. They seem to be taking after their father in that arena. Take note at Kali's recent depiction of a zebra!  Both Kali and Alida are taking another semester of a homeschool art class at Larkin Arts in downtown Harrisonburg. This was their first week and they were full of enthusiasm before and after the class!

And, finally, we are (as I type this) enjoying the last popcorn seed testing of the season while we play Seven Up, Seven Down together. When we sat down to play and dealt out the Rook cards, Terah looked at her hand and piped up "Green is my trump and yellow is my partner." We laughed! She's been around a substantial amount of Rook playing, wouldn't you say?!

Look for another post before midnight with the scoop on our most recent deep clean. The sneak preview is: we are DONE and we still LOVE each other!!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January's family night and other news

Let's see if I can crank out a blog post before the girls plow through their stack of new library books (or better said Kali and Alida plow through books while Terah eats her cup of restaurant ice and listens some of the time). We are just home from an afternoon/evening out and getting the house warmed up with a fire in the wood stove while a cold drizzle comes down outside. I think some decaf coffee and a family Rook game is likely on the agenda yet for this evening.

We are doing a family night monthly again in 2018, rotating who plans that outing. January was Jason's month, which we just missed by a day. So we'll technically have two in February! We hadn't gotten to the Bridgewater ice skating rink this year yet; today was the day. The plan was for Terah and I to watch Jason, Alida and Kali skate for a bit and then walk down the road to the library. I figured it would not be enjoyable to hang out for an hour and a half in the cold watching them skate. When we were paying, we asked about the smallest size skates they have and they were actually about Terah's size. We were debating giving it a try when the lady at the desk told us that it probably is not worth it. She said normally little ones her size get them on, are on the ice for a minute before tiring or starting to cry and then parents are back with the skates. She didn't want to discourage us from doing it but didn't want us to waste money on it. She said she normally just recommends letting them try it out in shoes with the little walkers they have and there would be no charge. She said something like "most kids don't last more than a few minutes."
Well, let's just say that Terah is clearly not like "most kids."  She LOVED it! She was all smiles and every few laps I checked in if she wanted to take a break and go to the library with me. She was not interested! She wanted to go around and around and around - not always in the same manner. She found about as many ways to walk (or RIDE) on her little walker. Here's a little snippet of her grinning and having a grand time. I was trying to be a responsible parent and stay close to her, but she would have none of my hand on her walker unless she was wanting a ride. Silly gal!

Alida wore out first and was so happy to get off her heavy ice skates. Kali could have gone for awhile, but it wasn't too hard to convince her to head out, since they now got to join us at the library since Terah and I never made it there. :) So we took a short walk down the road, stocked up on some books and then back to eat in the restaurant attached to the rink. We had some hungry gals - worked up good appetites ice skating.

It was a really fun family outing, with everyone in good spirits. On the way home we were talking about the rest of the evening and were talking about reading some of the new library books. Terah said, "Keep...Give Away." I guess this little one is used to going through things since recently some of our book time has been going through stacks of books and having the girls say "Keep" or "Give away" for each book. She seems to enjoy the activity, which is good since we aren't done yet!! We did have to try to explain the concept of "borrow" and that we wouldn't keep or give away the library books.

Ok, I better wrap this up, so I'll end with a few other fun and notable tidbits!

We wrapped up all our corn shelling this week! It needed to be wrapped up BEFORE our deep clean of the dining and living rooms. We will be finding corn kernels for weeks to come.

Today was a FIRST for our household! Jason and I went out for a jog this morning alone! Last night Terah was adamant that she didn't want to come along and would stay with Kali. And she did and the girls did great. They were happily playing Rook when we returned. I see more of that in our future!

Last evening we all went as a family to the blood donation place. Jason and I both gave whole blood while the girls hung out. We were ready to leave before they were. Alida commented on how fast it was and I realized they are used to our 3+ hour stints there for the blood drives. We both sailed right through, which I was happy about. It still cracks me up that everyone there knows that CJ is the one that is assigned to me. For some reason I have gained the reputation of being a hard stick and CJ thinks I'm easy. Last evening, Jason told me that they called her once I went into the check in room. As she walked up to my room, Jason heard her say, "Anyone can check her in, I just need to stick her." I will be sad the day she no longer works there!

And, last but NOT least, we have a NEW GARDEN FENCE! All the posts are planted, trenches due, wire hung and gates made and operational. All that is left is the electric fencing work so we are days away from being done. And then a cascade of projects will be possible - we can mulch and not have to cover things with crates now that we'll have more productive area that the chickens can't mess around in. YIPPEE! This is very exciting news for us! We might grow a whole lot more sweet potatoes. That makes some of us very happy.
Finally, we don't want to forget how Terah says chameleons. Jason is reading her a library book now that has one in it. She says, "Meelweekin." This little gal says so many funny and cute things daily right now! And my does she have a mind of her own. She has VERY clear ideas about what she wants, when and how. Today she was my side kick for doing the property pictures. I could only convince her to let me take my list of pictures with the promise that she could take one of daddy when we were done. Her's what she got!