Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Christmas and ringing in the New Year!

Happy New Year!

A day at home is exactly the right way for me to ring in the New Year! Jason and I started it off with some decaf coffee and another essay from our new book (we finished Up Tunket Road so it is now available for loaning!). We have many choose from after some Christmas presents were opened, but have decided to read Braiding Sweet Grass next. So far we have not been disappointed! My mind and heart are mulling over many things - what it means to be or become indigenous to a place, how to balance living with one foot in the gift economy and one foot in our money driven economy, how the various creation myths have influenced our relationship to land, etc... Good stuff! AND stuff I'm glad to be reading with Jason so we at least have little snippets of time to process it. Recently it seems that at least one of our younger gals tends to wake while the coffee is brewing or just after we get started. So we often have some snugglers with us - happy to have them absorb some of the wisdom and truth in these powerful reflections!

What a gift to have several weeks mostly at home over this holiday break! We have been soaking up lots of good times together! We all had some pangs of longing, especially once we knew the Benner folk had all gathered together minus us, but we couldn't see our way through to making another trip north this year. It has felt like on some days about 1/2 of our day is taken up with chores and the daily needs of the homestead, and finding people who want to tack that on to their holidays felt as daunting as strapping Terah in the carseat again for 10 plus hours total. So we stayed at home and continued some old traditions and started some new.

We've put enough words into this space recently, so I'm going to let the pictures provide the main substance of this post. The vast majority of these are thanks to Alida, who has been a willing photographer, especially when we are all outside together. She enjoys traipsing around and taking MANY photos, while we do outside projects together. If it keeps her happy...
After their cousin sampled a portion of the old semi-dried out playdough and licked must of the rest of it, we decided it was time for a fresh batch. :) Nothing like fresh warm playdough to keep a kid (or several) happy for a long time!

I have floated the idea that tomorrow is "de-decorating" day and have had cries of protest. Our tree is starting to shed its needles and I'm itching to have the table with the puzzle on it back in the front room where kids will feel more inclined to work on it near the fire and the other family members!

A big hit made for Jason's stocking! Sesame candy with just three ingredients: homemade butter, local honey and sesame seeds. There aren't many foods that Jason has any challenge employing moderation with - these might be the main thing on the list!

Christmas morning and she was the first one up for some early morning mommy snuggles. Is there anything more precious than a little gal tucked on your lap in footie jammies? I'm feeling rather smitten by her most hours of most days (with the exception of her occasional case of the "11 p.m. flop routine" when going to sleep). 

A Christmas morning surprise was that Alida had made paper airplanes for all of us for our stockings with a heart in our favorite colors - she even did one for Nora's stocking. My mommy heart swelled!

After successfully rousing Kali (took some effort), we enjoyed opening stockings before heading out together to do the chores. This had been designated a "family retreat day" and on those we do as much of the day all together as we can.
Every time we do chores together we wonder why we don't do it more often. It's so fun! And such a good start to the day for all of us - a little exercise, a little fresh air, a little family time...

But alas getting everyone pottied, motivated to bundle up and out the door in a reasonable time frame is normally the challenge that makes us not attempt is that often. But since it is still considered somewhat of a "treat" seeing that it is a rare occurrence everyone was enthusiastic to get going!

And slopping the pigs is a pretty fun thing (if you are ready to get mud splattered). We still have 3 but as of yesterday we think both females have been bred by the borrowed boar so we are going to thank him for his services, take him home sometime this week and HOPE for piglets in April!

Duck moving time! The ducks have been LOVING the rainy weather AND Kali's new resolve to let them all free range most of the time. They are thrilled with her new line of thinking in this arena!
I just couldn't not include this one. This was when we were moving ducks and Alida was snapping many pictures of Terah sitting on top an abandoned chicken coop so Duckie couldn't get her!

Nutty sweet potato waffles, chicken sausage and bacon taste pretty good after doing chores!

Terah was ready for a Christmas walk/jog with me and Jason to get her some rest so she could be more cheerful for the rest of Christmas day! This gal gets it! She knows that naps are to help rejuvenate her and while she may protest sometimes, not usually for long. She is in the jogger sleeping now as I type this. It feels like a new era for me and Jason to leave the older two gals at home and to take Terah out for a walk/jog TOGETHER! Yes, we could get used to this!

Thanks to the holidays, I've disciplined myself to not work through all of Terah's naps. I could use all that work time to catch up but then I'd head back to work feeling as exhausted and depleted as I did at the start of the break. So I've done a tiny bit of reading (caught up on two back issues of the Sun magazine), took a short snooze one day, and did some things with the older girls. We finally got some non-toxic fingernail polish for Alida's stocking and so she is sporting some bright fingers and toes!

I'm still baffled by Alida's puzzling ability. I should not be surprised knowing how amazing my mom is at puzzles but I sat down with her to try to work on this puzzle for a few minutes and she was like a wizard - she would scan the pieces, pick one up and put it in. Repeat...repeat...repeat. I got in maybe 2-3 pieces with much effort in the time she got 10 times that many. I was honestly in awe!

Christmas dinner: Indian food complete with feta stuffed naan. The feta oozed out all over the place but was still delicious. I've got more dough started today to give it a second go round. I also have paneer cheese draining (a failed recipe that I'm trying to rehabilitate - never done it and will use another recipe next time).

We tried to limit the number of "thing" presents exchanged this year and the number of coupons shared among members of our family went up exponentially. Jason and I each gave the girls a coupon for a one-on-one date/experience with each of us. You'll likely see updates on those in the coming months. Terah was the first to have her mommy date the other day and what a fun time we had!

We dropped her big sisters off at their friends' and then did a few "boring errands" with an excited chatterbox in the back seat. Then we went to the FCFC for her to pick a snack to enjoy together and then we were off for a few hours of fun at the Children's Museum. We could have been there all day!

It's fun to see what a child gravitates towards. She was kind of reserved in crowded areas and was taking in all the kid hubbub but these wall legos got her attention and the "organized mind" Jason mentioned in his yearly update went to work. She very carefully wanted to make a border using all the legos. I had fun with the letter tiles!

Her giggles and smiles made it worth every minute of over-stimulation for me! And I will admit I had more fun than I expected - I had never been in the upstairs before and enjoyed that space more!

As I sat in the cockpit of what once was a real airplane, I had a moment of being really glad again that I have no plans to fly anywhere. How in the world do pilots learn what all those important gauges, dials, levers, buttons, etc... mean? 

Here we are with our matching face paint - a very successful date! Now I get to look forward to a roller skating date with Alida and boot shopping and lunch out with Kali! Jason will be enjoying a ceramics class with Kali this spring, planning Alida's flower garden with her and making a nature fort with Terah!

Probably my best present of this holiday season was a full day of working outside together mulching. Our leaf pile is considerably smaller than it was. Alida once again was resident photographer and Terah got out her camera too and took some photos from her perch atop the leaf pile. It was a glorious day outside (and I'm having no trouble remembering the day fondly since I'm still sore!)

What a great selfie!

When not taking pictures, she enjoyed many rides in the wheelbarrow!

We got all the areas within the main gardens mulched with leaves so it really feels like we "tucked things in" for the winter!

Yep, I think shades of green and brown are my favorites!

Our steady and reliable helper! 

We continue to think we can't possibly harvest too many leaves in fall. This pile was enormous but between mulching, pig, chicken and duck bedding and our humanure compost system, we expect to use it up easily. 

One of my favorite parts of work days outside together is I often get to be the one to go around and let chickens out to run late morning (once they have hopefully laid most of their eggs in the nest boxes). Jason's on to something pretty special with his breeding projects - not only is he developing breeds that work well for specific conditions and are suited to fill various niches, they are beautiful birds!!
So that brings us to yesterday - New Year's Eve! Since we were not in PA with Benners and were not hosting them in Keezletown, Alida chose for her December family night First Night in downtown Harrisonburg! So after an early nap for Terah (that was successful in part because she wanted to stay up until midnight), we headed to town a little before 4 p.m. and returned home after 12:30 a.m.!

Trust me, I'm well aware that most of you are not interested in the minutia related to our evening in town, but for the "scrapbook" I'm going to note what we took in over the course of our 7 hours at First Night (we again had a few quick stops, including the co-op for some snacks and to get our buttons for the evening events). We definitely "got our money's worth!" Terah was free and since we got our buttons ahead of time at the co-op, they were just $8 for the rest of us. So for $32 we enjoyed a very full and fun evening of some great entertainment! And, while I took the camera along, I did not manage to take a single picture and left the camera in the car after the first event - there was too much other "luggage" to carry around and too much going on to add taking pictures to the mix. As much as I like having photos afterwards, I also think I was able to just be fully present to our evening together and that was also really special.

5 p.m. - a show at the JMU Planetarium featuring Big Bird, Elmo, and a friend from China

6 p.m. - the Barefoot Puppets show about Little Red Riding Hood and the Gingerbread Man (Terah says now she liked it but at the time was pretty nervous about the wolf).

7 p.m. - Sachs Piano duo for part of the time (just a few :) steps above Kali and I's duets) and then Rainbow Face Painting (all except Jason passed on having sparkles and paint on his face).

8 p.m. - Brian Bence's magic show (I haven't heard Alida giggle so much in awhile - and she laughs a lot normally); we are still trying to figure out many of the tricks...

9 p.m. - Walking Roots band for most of the hour (but Alida, Terah and I first walked to the Children's Museum to participate in the Bubble Wrap Dance Party - loud and crazy fun! We should have hosted one when we took down all the bubble wrap from our greenhouse.

10 p.m. - Clymer Kurtz band (I'm partial but this was a favorite for me!). They have a new song that may become our family theme song. It hasn't been recorded yet so I don't even know the title of it but the chorus is focused on the phrase, "Did You Shuck the Flock Up." You'll have to hear it - we'll make a special request for it at our next house concert!!

11 p.m. - No Strings Attached - a comedy improv show (in a very hot room after being filled with people all night - Terah was down to her panties as I knew we would never last the hour if she was hot AND tired)

12 MIDNIGHT - danced to the square to countdown and watch the ball drop. A good part of the evening we had one of Kali's friends and his mom with us, which was fun and we got to all wish each other Happy New Year before making a beeline for our car to take us home to our beds!

1 a.m. - finally wound down enough to read a few paragraphs and fall asleep as my magazine dropped from my hands onto the floor!

It was such a fun evening! The streets were blocked off so as we walked to and fro (we happened to pick things that required us walking from one side of downtown to the other often), we had fun walking right down the middle of the streets. It seemed like there really was "good cheer" in the air and so as much as I'm mostly a homebody, I could see us repeating this in the future.
Yes, we had just drug Kali out of bed - she's not turning over a new leaf yet in 2019! Here's to a New Year in which we hope to keep doing much of what 2018 held for us. Jason was planting onions seeds as I typed this! We've made a few new goals for 2019: the one that we may need some accountability on is not buying anything on amazon.com; I already dreamed last night that Jason forgot and made a large purchase on January 1. :) Let us know if you want to join us - or read the Sun magazine interview that finally propelled us to make this commitment!

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