Monthly Archives: April 2014

Oh how I admire people who are easygoing and flexible. On this front, that means I don’t admire myself. Like at all. I tend to get a little grumpy when things go less than the way I planned. Take this week for instance.

Our trip to the doctor for the girls’ one-and three-year appointments consisted of two potty stops on our normally half-hour drive. After a check in (by me) and something like a circus training (by kids) that took fifteen minutes due to upgrading to digital records and an insurance switch, the girls saw the doctor. Somehow, we walked out with more tears from the child who didn’t have three shots and two blood draws than from the one who did.

Since I couldn’t get all my grocery shopping done before their appointment (due to multiple potty stops), I had to stop again on my way home. (I don’t recommend going to the grocery twice in one day with two cranky kids, just in case you would ever consider this.)

While I was unbuckling Smiley, FireCracker pulled down her pants in the car and announced that she had to potty “right this very now.”

(This is why I always carry a kid potty in the car.)

Not having quick access to wipes, I wiped her down with a the window shammy I keep under my seat.

This is my life. This is my day that consists of feeding little people and wondering how in the heck the doctor’s office expects me to fill out six forms while corralling two kids onto the scale and away from the doctor’s tools and grocery shopping twice and kissing boo boo’s and feeding them all over again. Not bad … just different than I had planned.

With the emotion of a Midwest Spring (ever changing), I wondered how in the heck people do simple and necessary things like go to the store with kids … at least with my kids.

Even still, on the other hand, I’m grateful my kids are healthy enough to have the energy to beg for popsicles, and that I have all day to take them to town. Even if it does take all day.

I got to ride in the planter with Matt on Sunday night. For the few minutes it took to plant the small patch that surrounds our home, looking up at the nightlight in the girls’ window, I drifted back to my high school self.

Determined to win the state FFA essay contest, I read all the farm papers my dad subscribed to cover to cover. I came across a regular columnist who, on that particular day, was talking about doing chores with her kids. She said she had the best job in the world – mom, farm wife and writer – and I agreed.

Although life has looked a little different than I planned (I didn’t ever dream of broken pipes and shattered expectations and too-busy schedules and having to put the groceries back on the shelf because we under budgeted), in so many ways it’s more than I planned.

(Kind of like when your husband asks you to make that casserole again that you first thought might be kind of iffy.)

I think back to that farm column from nine years ago. I now am a mom. I am a farm wife, even if we just have our few acres and handful of livestock. I am a writer. I even have an article coming out that includes the sentence “Normal testicles and a high scrotal circumference is directly related to the buck’s fertility,” to prove it. (I had to spell check a couple of those words.) Ah, living the dream, writing about goat anatomy!

But really I am.

I get to work in the comfort of my own home on my own time. My kids get to experience the wonder of growing and raising their own food. I never have to miss their first words or first steps or the joy of them discovering something new. We have room to roam. We don’t have everything we want, but we have plenty more than we need. My days and my life usually doesn’t go like I’ve planned, but I’ve come to realize that’s a good thing. I’ve also come to realize there’s a better plan.

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Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish immeasurably more than we might ask or imagine.                                                                          Ephesians 3:20

God promises to give us more – to an extent that we can’t even measure – than we imagine. Even in the trials I wouldn’t have ever picked: in wearing slippers in my house for a solid year because we just had sub-floors and in job change and losing a bunch of money when we didn’t have any to start with and in feeling isolated when I first had my babies, he gave me exactly what I needed and he grew me to where I didn’t ever think I’d be. And the good far, far outweighs the ‘bad.’

Now we’re off to feed the pigs and chicks and bake monster cookies at FireCracker’s request … and probably ignore most of my To Do list. If the phone calls don’t all get made and the floor is still littered with breakfast, I know I’ll feel unsettled. But today, I also know there’s more.

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I had a few posts I started this week and never got back around to. This is due to the fact my hubby has been working 15 hour days. And so the only posts I really wanted to write were about how three years old has to be the worst age that ever existed, sponsored by my espresso machine, York Peppermint Patties, and maybe Oliver wine.

But, over Easter, I did convince Matt it was necessary for him to help me finish wallpapering the entryway. Actually, I tried to do it without him, and called him in a panic because I couldn’t cut the edges once it was on the wall.

“Uh, I’m an hour away and on a four wheeler. Don’t think I’m going to beat that paste drying.”

I survived, and he made it home to help me hang the rest.

Here’s the before:

entry The previous owners may not have had exquisite taste, but they had some mad wallpapering and cutting skills.

photo (12)And apparently a fine knack for switch plates (although that thing was sharp enough, I thought about saving it as a switch blade). 

More before:

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The books were getting a little out of hand. They started out as neat stacks to keep them separate. But I guess climbing over mountains of books is much more fun than playing with your toys. I should have known!

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And, tada:

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IMG_2016Paint color is Gadget Grey from Menards. I found the wallpaper on Amazon. And, yes, we’re still missing a shelf on the upper left. I had to wedge it out of there, but I didn’t want to shatter it going back in. I think I’ll take it to the glass shop and have them cut it a little.

I’m so happy with how it turned out! Now I’m back to using this as my reading spot in the mornings.

Transformation Thursday: Entryway sneak peak

Welcome to my first edition of Transformation Thursday (if I ever post one of these on the wrong day, please, somebody let me know, as I tend to get confused of the day of the week when I get overly excited about things like home improvement projects).

As you may have gathered, one of my favorite things to do is decorate our house. A year ago last weekend, we moved into our absolute dream home. The woodwork, flooring and ‘bones’ of the house are fantastic, but the inside is a little less than dreamy (unless you are a person who likes to look at naked angels on your dining room wall, that is).

To throw a little bit of fun into my life posts, I’m going to share something I’ve transformed relating to our home every Thursday. Today, I was going to do a post on our newly updated entryway, buuut I totally cut the wallpaper backwards and it’s not done.

Yes, you read that correctly. W-a-l-l-p-a-p-e-r. The sticky, ugly stuff most people promptly take down upon signing the dotted line for a home mortgage. (I am aware of a new invention called paint.) Although I may have possibly spent months of my life taking down wallpaper that didn’t belong in any person under the age of 65’s home, I’m strangely attracted to the stuff.

I actually fell in love with a wallpaper pattern on Etsy, but they only stocked like a half of a yard of it, so sadly, it wouldn’t work. I repainted rescued the room from its former hideous hunter green with wicker baskets wallpaper. And while I could have painted the shelves too, I just wanted something different and unique. I found this beauty of a pattern on Amazon.

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Since I don’t have a real, completed transformation for you and we’re on the subject of wallpaper, I wanted to take a minute to travel down memory lane. Back to the kitchen in our first house.

It wasn’t the first time I ever peeled wallpaper, but it was the first time I peeled it on something I owned. And by ‘owned,’ I mean some bank was resourceful stupid enough to lend two broke college kids money on a $4,000 house.

Yes, a $4,000 house shack.

Here, I’ll show you ….

outside house

wingate house before

Do you believe me now?

(I don’t really want your discussion on who was stupider – the bank or us.)

(We actually just took out a loan to fix it up, not on the initial $4,000.)

This whole house is a story in and of itself, so I’ll save that for another time.

But back to the wallpaper peeling. When we bought the house, Matt and I were under the impression that we could put the few pennies we had into the house, along with a lot of sweat labor and make it a cute little house. Well, it turned out to be a cute little house, but we quickly found out that everything costs money.

Take the kitchen for instance. Thinking we could save money by keeping the plaster instead of putting up new drywall, I – along with a day they will never get back sacrificed by my sweet mom and sister – tackled our kitchen’s wallpaper. And, as you can kind of tell from the picture, it came off in shards. I can’t remember the exact details – probably because I permanently blocked them from my mind for the sake of my sanity – but after scraping off every last layer, we later decided the walls were too bad to be salvaged and drywalled over it all.

kitchen wingate house 2

kitchen wingate house

I promise it got better though. Here is our transformed kitchen. There are a lot of things I don’t miss about that house, but I did love that kitchen!

wingate kitchen after 2 wingate kitchen after 3 wingate kitchen after

So there you have it. My first transformation post (and maybe a few tears shed over the fact that I actually lived in that house). Check back next Thursday for my completed entry!

It’s all familiar to me: the averted but scared looks I get from people who don’t yet have kids. The empathizing smiles from older ladies shopping by themselves without kids. It happens pretty much every time I go somewhere with my girls (which is everywhere I go).

My hubby and I have a rule. If we’re going ‘out’ to eat anywhere with the kids, it has to be Wendy’s or equivalent quality food. As much as our kids would love to eat an entire container of cinnamon sugar butter at Texas Roadhouse, their climbing, constant potty breaks, amazing mess making ability, and general restlessness makes the food we quickly shove into our mouths before they kick us out all taste the same – whether it belongs on the kid’s menu or a fancy steakhouse. And this is why we eat 88-89/90 meals a month at home, where those things are more socially acceptable.

(But I do kinda wish we had a margarita machine.)

But today, I decided to take the kids to the mall to get lunch and do some walking inside, since it decided to SNOW last night. I always thought April 15 reminded us that the only two certain things in life are taxes and death, but apparently if you live any where north of the Mason Dixon line, April also means snow …

We also kinda needed to go find some real food, because I tried this crazy thing where I thought I could go the whole month on a $140 grocery budget.

(Obviously, it failed. We’re hungry!)

Anyways, back to the mall. A few outfit changes and ‘I don’t want to ride in the strollers’ and ‘She pulled my hairs’  later … and even dancing with ‘those people with no heads’ (read: mannequins), I was ready to go. Whatever 12 calories I burned off making my rounds, I quickly undid with my free pastry. Nothing like carb therapy! And whatever slight blood pressure drop I benefited from by being out of the house was also reversed by trying to try on clothes with two children.

words - manequin words - manequin 2

As I apologized to the woman we sat near at lunch, (who FireCracker had asked her first, last and middle names, how old she was, pet’s names, and whether or not she was big enough to go to the potty herself) she just smiled.

“Oh, honey, she’s just fine. I’ve been there.”

Nothing profound. Just some nice encouragement that I’m not alone. Many others before me have walked in my shoes (and indeed, lived).

Then, stopping by the bathroom on the way out, my always full of questions three-year-old kept asking very loudly why there were koala bears on the changing table and if that was a mommy bear holding a baby bear. The older woman  who was walking in misunderstood and thought she was talking about her.

“Well, no, my kids are growing up and I’m a grandma now,” she beamed. “You just made my day. You keep that outlook, young lady.”

FireCracker, always happy to have an audience, just smiled back and kept right on talking.

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You just never know how someone’s words can change your perspective. Or how much a ride on the ‘ring around the rosey’ can make your day!

Words - mill words - firecracker

Mondays are usually busy around our house. They entail exciting things like laundry, cleaning up from the weekend, paying bills and more laundry.

(I know, the excitement is contagious!)

(Don’t you wish you were me?) 😉

(I just love washing and folding clothes that are 17/18 not mine … but I digress.)

Laundry pic The little things

A task oriented list maker, my mind is always on the details. The productivity. The stuff you can see, like a clean sink and empty hamper. And wiped-off faces and clear glass without little hand prints.

After 33 crushed Legos and two sore feet and numerous dirty diapers and a time out, it’s nap time. I take a break and walk outside to check the moist earth. Those teeniest seeds I planted last week? They emerged – fragile seedlings who fought the 30 mph winds we had that woke me early this morning. They weathered the mood swings of an early Indiana spring.

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They’re small, but mighty. I open up the book of Matthew:

He told them another parable; “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branchesMatthew 13:31-32 

The smallest becomes the largest. I take another look at my To Do list. It doesn’t include the seemingly unimportant details. All those little things that make up this stage of life. Watching my nephew, visiting my husband’s grandma who lives by herself, making cookies (and eating the raw dough) and letting FireCracker help (spray flour all over the floor), cuddling my not-such-a baby longer, making a meal for a friend, asking ‘How was your day?’ and greeting my husband at the door.

All those little things that take away from the seemingly big things … just maybe they’ll become the largest of what my children will take with them. The branches of how they will grow their own lives, long after their smudgy hand prints have faded from our windows.

front porch The little things

A mom’s guide to starting the day (three-year-old style):

  1. Wake up to “Mommy, I pee-peed.”
  2. Change her and let her in bed with you for a few minutes.
  3. Proceed to have moves put on you like you’ve joined the WWF … kicks, hair pulls, head slams, etc.
  4. Decide getting up is a better option.
  5. Choose to be optimistic and let her pick out her own outfit. Instant mistake. Start to insist pink shirt, teal skirt and football leggings (in April) don’t match, but quickly chalk it up as a loss.A mom's guide to starting the day
  6. Set out cereal, granola, applesauce, eggs, a leftover sweet potato and rice with ketchup. Pour juice, water, milk.
  7. Make coffee.
  8. “More. More. More, pleassssssssssse?
  9. Explain you don’t regularly stock cooked sweet potatoes and rice in the fridge at the breakfast hour, so there are, in fact, no more available.
  10. Set out eggs, applesauce, granola, cereal.
  11. Reheat  coffee in microwave.
  12. “What else can I have to eat?”
  13. Explain to her if she actually participated in supper more than once a week, she might not wake up famished. Breakfast is not an all-for-one meal deal.
  14. Give her a fruit snack, ‘cause that’s the only other option short of actually cooking something. And at this rate, breakfast is bound to run in to lunch.
  15. Wonder where she went as she bolts from the table. Not as important as next step.
  16. Beaconed by coffee.
  17. “Mommy, I dropped you in the toilet.”
  18. Fetch Dollhouse ‘Mommy’ from the potty.
  19. Wonder how you arrived here … to the American dream, complete with two kids who eat exotic breakfast foods and think enough of you to drop you next to their poop.
  20. Attempt to warm coffee again. Give up, stick an ice cube in it and pretend you intended to drink iced coffee to begin with.

A three-year old’s guide to starting the day:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Oblige Mommy and put some clothes on.
  3. Eat breakfast.
  4. Plot to eat everything else in the house so I can have a fruit snack at the end.
  5. Go potty.
  6. Play.

Take a deep breath. Realize you will never be this loved. This needed. One day you will miss their touches and “Mommmmmmmmmmmmmy’s” and all the ways they make you laugh. Carry on and know your time with them is small, but right now, you’re the center of their world.

It’s been one of ‘those’ days. The girls were up before I got out of bed. I may or may not have let them lay in bed and watch videos on You Tube while I ‘rested’ a few more minutes.

It was a struggle from the start – the ‘but why’s’ and dragging feet and Play Doh all over the floor and wanting to wear her dirty tights. Pushing her sister down and trying to clean the house up from the weekend.

“Can I help?” FireCracker (Grace) asked when I decided 10:30 was in fact not too early to start lunch. I found a packet of powdered cheese and put the noodles on. Smiley (Milly) decided she didn’t want to be so smiley, and I just wanted to pay my dang bills. (I know, it’s an exciting life I lead.)

A few words of encouragement later, they finally settled into playing together in the disaster-ized toy room. Not two minutes later ‘Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’ FireCracker’s screams pierce the momentary silence.

After scolding her for screaming (“What do you think Daddy would say if I communicated with him that way?”) (Although, I’ll be honest, it is sometimes my preferred form of communication after a long day.), I got to wondering why she screams at her sister when we often talk to her about expressing her feelings with words.

I thought about how the day had gone. (Frustrated mom 95% of the time, happy mom 5%.) What had I been conveying? It’s OK to yell if you’re frustrated or trying to make a point. So of course she would scream at her sister when she was playing with her doll house and she didn’t want her to. What goes in a child will come out of a child. (The law of inertia, or Rachel … or something like that.) (Especially embarrassing things. And corn. For some reason that doesn’t digest very well.)

Fail.

After some sorries and cuddles, she patted my face.

“You’re my best mommy. You’re so sweet. Your shirt is beautiful.”

The things I tell her almost daily: “You’re my best big girl. You’re so sweet. You’re beautiful.”

I’m so thankful she’s latched on to those things. (And that she doesn’t judge me for my circa 1999 T-shirt.) (Although beautiful is a stretch.)

When we picked out her name, we chose it for our concept of God’s grace – the free and unmerited gift of salvation. I didn’t know I’d come to appreciate it from a whole new perspective. I didn’t realize how much need grace – and Grace – every day as a mom. Although as the parent, I’m the ‘teacher,’ I didn’t realize I’d learn as many lessons as I’d teach.

Today, I needed Grace – and I most definitely need grace

grace blog

Facing the scary

This is a scary thing for me. Letting the words from my heart go onto the keys that tap out steady words.

For years, I’ve loved crafting words into thoughts, sentences and paragraphs at a time. Not so much the required school papers, mind you, but the things I cared about.

Life happened, and I graduated college after taking 21 credits my last semester while starting my full time job. A six-month engagement during a full-time job search while working several odd jobs happened right after that. Then, for some reason, we thought it was a great idea to gut an entire house down to the studs and buy 40 cows with money we didn’t have and start our ‘mini farm’ from scratch during those six months.

Job changes and health problems and a leaky roof drip, drip, dripped our lives full to the point of flooding. Two pink lines later, I had an infant who needed nursed, rocked, changed (repeat). I learned what ‘free time’ was and discovered that I had none of it, except maybe those sleep drunk hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when I was up anyways.

Then I had a toddler and learned I was pregnant again. I discovered I didn’t know what I was talking about when I had one child who slept a lot. Now I had an infant who never slept well, day or night, and a toddler who slept enough at night to harness all her energy for running around the next day, constantly requesting a snack or a playmate. Throw a few other things like budgeting, laundry, dishes, supper, potty training and sleep in there, and I started to spend my few precious moments on the toilet with the lid shut, sitting and checking Facebook (and maybe sneaking a swiss cake roll). Getting caught up on people’s lives, feeling like I had a real one. Stuffing my face, yet leaving my real cravings void.

Somewhere in the shuffle, my writing got lost in a few random notes on my iPhone or on the back of bills. My time got spent on attempting to muster the courage to start my To Do list. The clean laundry pile sitting on the couch and the dirty dishes next to the broken dishwasher called to me any time I thought about getting creative. They always ended up done, but at the end of the day, I always felt broken. Like what happened to the dishes every time my husband tried to wash them and pile them seven high.

Trying to figure out a solution to Curious George’s latest dilemna or estimating just how many more days our clean underwear would last was just not doing it for me. I was left feeling unproductive no matter how many things I got done to the house. No matter how many part-time stories I said yes to and got done at ‘nap’ time and after everyone else had gone to bed.

Not to mention I had two little bodies whose productivity meter thrived on undoing everything I just did.

Everything I wanted to do got shifted to the ‘some day’ side of the list. I put a cap on my words and just bottled them up.

My husband encouraged me to write often; my OCD just couldn’t handle letting the dishes hang out and the laundry take up residence on our couch.

But, today, maybe that’s OK. I just realized that maybe those ‘some day’ things really happen between the other things that make up life.

I only have today. I might as well use it to start writing. Even if it’s with a one-year-old helping me peck the keys while holding the doll my three-year-old so tenderly asked me to babysit.