IMG_7477The kids have a volleyball net set up in the front yard and boy, it’s seen some use this summer! It’s a great game for all the kids to play, no matter how good or short or aggressive or tall or fast or slow they are. IMG_7485It’s not to strenuous, and it’s especially fun in the cool of the evenings. I’ve captured some fun action shots of previous games.IMG_7474

Catfish from Tommy

IMG_4651The other day, Jeremie and Tommy went over to help a neighbor install a dishwasher. While they were there, they met a nice gentleman by the name of Tommy F. Mr F. took a liking to the other Tommy and dropped by out the blue and gifted him a bow for hunting. He was so considerate in taking Jeremie aside to ask privately if this was ok, before revealing this gift to anyone else. What a special thing to do! What a way to encourage a young man! To tell him that he wanted to gift him this bow because Tommy was a nice, kind, smart, respectful, boy who was interested and engaged in life. IMG_4657So the day after that, Mr. F. drops by with a cooler full of catfish! We have never processed catfish, so he had to show us how. He kept exclaiming, “Oh! All these babies and all these knives!” It was really funny because all the kids from Benjamin on up have sharp Victronix knives because they all help process the animals around here. Mr. F. is missing three of his fingers because he sister accidentally dropped a sharp ax on them when he was only 5! So I’d say his fear and caution around knives and sharp things is well warranted. IMG_4658 But anyway, all the fish got processed and fried up for dinner. I’ve always declined to eat fish, but I have been inconsistent in my distaste, because I quite enjoy sushi, as pointed out to me by Jeremie. “You won’t eat fried fish, but you’ll eat raw fish?!” Um, yeah, I guess that about sums it up.  IMG_4660

Houses, again.

img_4147One of our favorite traditions. Decorating gingerbread/graham cracker houses with friends. Yes, it’s a mess. Yes, it’s a little expensive..all that candy! Yes, it’s very unhealthy. But we love doing it! img_4149We’ve got a great recipe for icing/glue. Tastes terrible, but it’s super strong. This year we had a tank, birdhouse, Rapunzel’s tower, and some very creative houses. img_4153All these things, that we do every year, are building such sweet memories for me and the kids. I know I will look back on these days as the best times ever. img_4154

A passion of mine

IMG_3427A circle of girlfriends. Fancy coffee. Warm bagels. No babies. Good conversation. The topic of “what is your passion?” came up amongst us. I stumbled and fumbled for an answer. A mom is so wrapped up in her kids, she can quite easily lose herself. I’ve not really had the chance to deeply reflect upon myself lately. Words of loving to do hair came tumbling out of my mouth. But upon reflection, I am not the same 15 year old girl who would cut, color or clip anything attached to a head. I met my husband young, married young, and started a family young. The passions I had as a youth are not the same things that stir my heart in these adult years. But what? IMG_3378In quiet moments I would analyze my actions. My reactions. What got my heart racing? What topic made me prattle on for hours to anyone who would listen? What do I make time for, no matter how busy things are? I guess I discovered that I am selfish to the core. I think we all are, when the layers of pretension are peeled away. If I am passionate about something I will make time for it. I will carve out a moment to indulge my passions each and every day. So this is what I came away with. I am passionate about being intentional with my children. Not a day goes by that I don’t intentionally pour all of myself into them. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell my bigger kids why I do what I do. What it means to cherish God’s blessings. And I am passionate about homesteading. Raising our own meat. Yes, I guess that means I am passionate about running fence lines. Passionate about castrating pigs. I am passionate about growing and preserving all we can from our land. These are the things that ignite a fire within me. IMG_3379Somewhere along the line, somewhere between babies and butchering, I had lost sight of that. The children, the intention, the homesteading, the fences, the butchering, the preserving…it had become drudgery for me. I resented having to feed and water. I resented having to chase loose animals. I resented having to discipline kids. I resented having to get up to nurse. I resented living with the mess of 12 people in a double wide trailer. But when I realized my passion for these things, BAM! I got my joy back! That was another topic of our girlfriend talk..where had my joy gone? Acknowledging and claiming my passions has given me such happiness and peace, I cannot even tell you.IMG_3406 Discipline issues? Yep, love it. Because being intentional with my kids is my passion. Loose pigs? Love it. Cause raising food is my passion. Interrupted sleep for 18 years running? Yep, love it. Because I love nursing my children. Squash bugs? Well….let’s not get carried away. Still don’t love them. But every day I feel so thankful, so incredibly blessed that I get to live out my passions. I’m not pining away, wishing I could do or be something else. Like someone once told me, I’m “living the dream, baby!”

Slow down

IMG_9553Time, go stand in the corner. Do not come out until you agree to slow down. No more of this dashing away as fast as you can.IMG_9475 No more slipping through my fingers. You may stand still. IMG_9476And after you have shown that you can obey, you may walk slowly. Go on, put your nose against the wall until further notice. I mean it. IMG_9472

IMG_3285We have been needing a new roof for a couple years now. After any storm our yard is strewn with shingles that have blown loose. And after the girls’ room started leaking, Jeremie decided it was time.IMG_3297 Roofing in the summer is hot. Roofing in the summer in Tn is even hotter.IMG_3327 We had some friends come help us. Without them I think Jeremie might have quit halfway through. IMG_3323The kids took some fun pictures of “jumping” off the roof. Sailing through the air like Mary Poppins. We only got the back half of the house done, so all this fun will have to be repeated again soon.IMG_3307 IMG_3292

At river’s end

IMG_4779What a lovely day we’ve had, hanging out by the river. This is a beautiful little oasis right in town. IMG_4718A pleasant shady spot of water, sand, pebbles and endless hours of fun. My children never tire of splashing, wading, floating and climbing around such places.IMG_4802 The weather turned out to be in the high 70’s, such a warm day for April. We visited there with friends and there were 17 kids there, between the two of us busy moms! IMG_4852Nice shallow little “rapids” for Roo to play in. Even Gloria enjoyed her day in the sun! IMG_4813There was fish catching, snake watching, tree climbing, rock throwing and lots and lots of splashing fun. IMG_4767


No! Gnocci!! A delicious, plump potato-y dumpling. Amazing. And homemade bolognese sauce. Oooooh, it was good, let me tell you. IMG_4161The girls have a friend who is from Brazil. But Ms. Gina also has spent time in France and Italy. Her cooking is out of this world!IMG_4177 She spent one afternoon teaching the girls how to make gnocci. It is quite an involved process, but so worth it.IMG_4167 Potato, cheese, flour, eggs, rolled together, cut into small pieces, boiled, cooled, covered with warm sauce. Mmmm! All the kids enjoyed it. IMG_4147And they enjoyed her fancy desserts..chocolate mousse cake, coconut pudding with prune sauce.IMG_4202 It was like eating at a delicious ethnic restaurant, plus we got to spend time with an amazing friend.IMG_4208

A Fresh Start

IMG_1490A New Year has been rung in with style! And I’ve spent the first days of it curled up in the recliner, smelling fresh baby head. I’ve made no ambitious resolutions. I’ve not accomplished anything that the world would deem “important” in these first few days. I’ve merely been here. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Here for the kids that toiled and slaved away giving me a respite in my bed for the first days after Gloria’s arrival. Here to read stories. Ruthies favorites are “There’s a nightmare in my attic” and “Little Mommy”. All reading family members have read them over and over and over. Here to walk through schoolwork with my pupils. We are reading “Hungry Planet” for health and geography. It is a fascinating book with large colorful photographs of families around the world and what they eat in a typical week. Here to peruse seed catalogs and argue with myself about starting another season. I’ve let the chickens in the garden to hopefully eat any last squash bugs that are lingering. I figure they can do no more damage than those rascally piglets. Here to turn over compost (lots of worms!) and breed rabbits (long overdue and not earning their keep). But, really this post was supposed to be about our New Year’s Eve celebration… We hosted a dance/game night this year.IMG_1464Not sure when the baby would be born, I was hesitant to plan any events, but the kids all pitched in and helped and it went really well. Gloria was only a week old, so she slept through most of it, but all the other kids danced and played the night away. IMG_1520They all made it to midnight, even the old folks. This dance was much less formal than our other affairs, and it worked out so well with the little kids. There was room to run around, chase, fight (!), and skate. IMG_1510Basketball, board games, jump rope and scooters took over, once the dancing came to an end. Thanks to all our friends who came out to help welcome in the New Year with us and made it a such a fabulous night! IMG_1496