Friday, July 25, 2014

The Month of July

In the last twenty-five days:

Phil has been sick five of them. One Virginia friend said, "That's the just the air here. There is something pollinating twelve months of the year; the allergens never stop." If that's the case, I'm not sure what we can do to help him, if anything.

We watched the semi-final between the Netherlands and Argentina, when the Dutch lost in the penalty kicks at the end. And then we watched the whole final, and rejoiced when Germany won.

We've had a marvelous run of friends and fellowship. Four friends came to visit one-on-one; we hosted one large group party, one baby shower, one good-bye dinner; Phil had two visits with friends in town over coffee; I cooked a couple meals for an out of town group; and we went to another good-bye party. This besides church and community group. It's been fun.

The blackberries we planted in the greenhouse (that have since run riot) have started to ripen. I can pick a gallon for the freezer and still have some left over for a buckle or just eating.

I've practiced the flute all days but two. It's a fun challenge to see how much I can regain skills I had in high school and college. I am enjoying letting the flute sing for me, and enjoying the challenge to my fingers as I work through exercises. I'm not sure what to do after I get through the first practice book: after that I should work on my repertoire, and I probably will need a teacher for that, should I choose to continue. We'll see!

Phil and the boys built two planter boxes. And I haven't planted anything yet.

Phil and I went through our four deep freezes and took inventory. I was glad he was there, because the freezer with pork had frozen into a solid mass. Phil hacked it out over the course of a half hour, and my entire sink is now thawing a massive quantity of pork. I will probably grind it up into sausage and call it good. Oh—and I finally decided I never actually want to make stock with chicken feet, so I threw away the fifteen gallon Ziplocs I had accumulated over the last five years. That freed up some space!

Caleb took his first step, on his nine month birthday. Two weeks later, he started to take multiple steps, multiple times. He had a fever and has more teeth. He is starting to understand the word, "No!" He has an astonishing appetite. And he uses the toilet about 80% of the time, which I think more than adequate for someone who has no words.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Can't Get Enough of Friends

We had such a lovely week. A friend came on Monday to help Phil preg-check some cows. He stayed maybe seven hours.

Two friends came on Tuesday to help Phil tag cows. They stayed for four hours.

Wednesday Phil had his Bible study in town that he loves.

Thursday we had Bible study at a friend's house.

Friday I went to dinner up in town with two friends. We had a lovely four and a half hour visit. Soul-satisfying.

Saturday we had a friend cancel on us, due to the flu, but we had a party to go to in the evening, so we still had four hours or so of friend time.

And Sunday we went to a restaurant after church to watch the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Mexico. We wanted the Netherlands to win, but that was a pretty brutal way to do so. (I got to watch the goalie Ochoa in action, though, so it was still a win for me.) And then we all sat and talked until 3:15pm. The boys are so good. They watched the game, sat quietly, went to the car, and generally got along well.

So, from a people standpoint, we are doing fabulously.

From a work standpoint, life goes on. The boys are doing some schoolwork again. Phil used his new mower (only broke one of the blades thus far; based on how rough the mowing sounded, I'm surprised any part of it still works). Caleb has turned out to be a true water baby: he will sit in the tub and splash and laugh. I think maybe Jadon and Isaiah did that, but the next two had a strong aversion to water, so it is fun to have a tub for him to splash in.

People comment on Caleb's happy demeanor wherever we go: "I've never seen such a happy baby!" With two parents and four older brothers to smile at him all the time, no wonder.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Two Weeks Later

The boys and I were planning to fly to Colorado during the night of June 8, but due to weather, we would have missed our connection. So we went home from the airport and spent Sunday and Monday nights in our own bed, and flew out very early Tuesday. It was about 3:30am when we left the house, which put us to Denver just after 9am. Crazy!

While Phil moved cows and worked, I shopped and visited and talked. The boys played with their cousins and went to the pool. We also hit a zoo that breeds giraffes (some boys fed them). Isaiah fed an elephant. We went to a butterfly pavilion and held a tarantula. I put Jamberry wraps on my nails, which, a week later, still feels exceptionally glamorous. The Botanic Gardens has an installation of glass sculptor Chihuly's work ... that was a highlight. Stunning.

The boys and I returned without issue last Wednesday, and we've been getting back into the swing of life. We finished the ten-book Squire's Tale series. We miss it. We watched Fiddler on the Roof with friends last week. Fun, but long. We enjoyed our community group after church yesterday for almost six hours.

I went running with new trail shoes on Friday and Saturday last week, but both times I had dogs run with me part of the way (one stepped on the back of my shoe, so they don't keep their distance). Since Isaiah was bit by a dog last year, I have some fear built in to that. Caleb has to be asleep, and I need to go before it's too hot. This morning, he woke before 6am and didn't fall asleep for hours, so I didn't go running.

I was proud of myself, though, to go about two miles the first day (and maybe the second, too, but in a different direction).

I also picked up the flute again. Abraham said today, "You are better at the flute than the piano." True. It is fun to start at the beginning of one of my lesson books and work my way through as quickly and well as I can. Will I keep it up long term? Who knows? It is easier to store a flute than a cello in the space we have. And I own a flute, and not a cello.

This feels a bit like a season of reinventing myself, or at least testing out the various pieces of who I have been. I ran in high school, and Phil and I would go running pre-children. Do I still like to run, enough to keep doing it? We shall see. Do I want to play the piano? The flute? Both, long term? Neither?

In farm related news, Phil called the butcher last week, and the earliest we can bring some cows for processing is at the end of August. It is going to be an expensive summer and winter for feed. Again. And we had another calf born, so we are up to 23 animals, on land that can probably support about six without buying lots of hay.

Our tractor's mower has not been working well for quite some time. To repair it would have cost almost $1000. Phil found a used mower for a good bit less than that. He is so happy to have the appropriate tools to keep up the property.

That's not a lot to report on two weeks, but it covers the high points, I think.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Friday and Saturday my Mom was speaking at a homeschool convention. The boys and I read much of Friday. Saturday Phil did clean up around the farm, including commandeering Isaiah to help him drive the truck up the driveway (Phil was in the truck and Isaiah was in the tractor behind, pushing). He moved the chicken pen out of the greenhouse and mowed down the weeds around it. Overall, the place looks good.

Saturday night was a Pentecost Party. I so enjoyed our Good Friday time, we had one to celebrate the work of the Spirit among us. We had two talented guitarists play some of my favorite music, and the voices of the 20 guests and seven Lykoshes: what a beautiful, rich sound in the space. We read the story in Acts 2, where the nations whose languages were dispersed at Babel all hear the good news of Jesus in their own languages. And more than half shared something that God had done: a way the Holy Spirit brought comfort, or healing, or direction, or peace, or right focus.

It was a rich, beautiful time. And then Phil fired up the camp stove and we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. (We were prepared to have a big bonfire and roast marshmallows, but the group was smallish, and the camp stove convenient.)

I haven't had a s'more in twelve years or more. They were just as rich as I remembered. I cannot imagine wanting more than one. Phew! Sugar high!

We had a long time of fellowship after that, so the entire party started at 7pm (though only one person was on time; our friends roll a little late, and that's fine) and ended six hours later.

And there was great rejoicing!


Early in the week, Phil decided to be done milking. The two cows were grazing ever farther afield, growing ever more unwilling to reach the grazing shed, and giving ever less milk. At a half gallon for two cows, it was time to be done.

Tuesday saw Phil unchanged in sickness, completely debilitated. My Dad had appointments all day, so Mom and I went up to the Build-a-Bear store to get Abraham's birthday present: a new bear and outfit. Joe came, too, for the experience. And Caleb came.

Caleb is a funny baby. He would see Joe's dog and grab it with both arms and hold on. So I decided to get him one, too. We would hold up two bears and he would reach for one. It was interesting to watch: he showed definite preferences. And when he finally got his stuffed lamb, oh the tears if the lamb dropped to the ground.

While at the mall, I went shopping a bit, too. I got one blouse, one pair of jeans, and one pair of shorts. Feeling good!

And I picked up two pairs of shorts and a pair of jeans for all boys. They get through those more rapidly than I would like, but they're boys. It's okay.

Four stores done, we headed to Whole Foods for chips for lunch, then to World Market for a basket to hold trash, and to a craft store for an inner pillow. (My parents had brought me a lovely blue silk accent pillow case from Thailand, but I had never bought the pillow for it.) My loveseat looks so fancy now!

And we returned home, having spent three hours in seven stores, and purchased something in every place. The post office, on the way, also had some packages, so it felt like we returned laden.

Wednesday and Thursday my Mom and I cleaned out the white barn. I shudder to think how long this project would have taken me on my own. It maybe would have been the impossible dream. Not only was it hours both days, but I could hand things up and she would put them in the pile to be burned, or carry them to the house, or otherwise deal with them, and I would keep making decisions. If I had to do the deciding, and the running, and then deal with the ramifications of all the cleaning, I don't think I could have. (I had jars of fermented vegetables from 2011. Some were okay, and some were not, but, really? Three year old vegetables? The lids were almost impossible to remove!)

Occasionally we would talk through something. I moved a container of carob from Colorado. I don't like carob. It was time to get rid of it, but I needed permission or something. ("Everyone has clothes in their closet that they shouldn't have bought.") The tortilla press I bought with birthday money but used once: give it away!

Phil worked in the office, and also spent time mowing in the orchard. Now that it is all mowed down, it looks lovely.

He also spent almost all of Thursday afternoon and evening moving cows to the lower pasture. He put up T-posts and ran permanent wire, in hopes that that move will not take so long in the future.

He was so incredibly sore the next day! It's been a long time since he's had to do hours of physical labor. And pounding 45 T-posts is hard work.


Saturday a week ago, I went to a baby shower for friends. What a blessing, to talk and laugh for four hours or so.

Sunday a week ago, Phil started to feel a little under the weather. He went to a homeopath while in Colorado, and we weren't sure if he was catching what Joe caught, or something from travel, or if he ate something that gave him a migraine ... it was a bit mysterious. But he hung in there for our friend's birthday, that we celebrated for eight hours (with some Bible study thrown in). The line that resonates for me from that day was, as I understand it, a quote from a Roman Caesar: “Christians rise before dawn and pray to Jesus as if he were a god.”

By Monday, Phil was in bad shape. He had an engineering deadline that he had to meet, but he could hardly manage. He did what he could and then he went to bed.

Jadon celebrated his birthday that day. He had a great day. We usually open some presents first thing, so the birthday boy gets to enjoy what he has on his birthday.

He also had a pleasant treat, in that my parents arrived, too. Games of strategy with Grandpa, talking to Grandma ... they had a good day.

And for dinner, we had a party so my parents could meet my closest friends here. We had a beautiful time of sharing late into the night.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Not Much of Interest Happening Here

Phil runs errands, moves cows, and does deskwork.

I work, cook, and read to the boys. We hit 200 pages one day, and since often each page takes about two minutes to read, we did little that day except read. I'm okay with that.

But it doesn't make for much to write about. At least, not in this journal.