Blood, Death, and Puke.

20160209_165527000_iOS (2)That is the criteria.  When the bathroom door is closed.  When the bedroom door is closed.  When the office door is closed.  Do NOT dare knock on that door unless there is

Blood.  Death.  Or Puke.

It is simple really.  As much as I adore my dear girls, there are days and then there are DAYS.

So there I was, locked in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bathtub for probably the fifth time that time that day, nearly in a state of catatonia, daydreaming of what it must like to have peace and quiet for five whole minutes.  Or to actually complete an entire thought without a minor crisis.  Or to have…

Knock, knock.

I bellowed the familiar mantra, “Blood.  Death.  Or puke.  If none of that is currently happening to someone in this house, I am confident you can handle yourself for another five minutes.”

And then I heard The Man’s voice, “Are YOU okay?

“Of course.  Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Because you have literally been in the bathroom ALL.  Day.  Like so literally.”

And he was right.  Because I was hiding.  From the house.  Responsibility.  Parenting.  I mean, that’s normal, right?

Everyone always says “Ohhhhh, FOUR girls???”  And they are always smirking.  “Just wait until they are teenagers. *insert evil laugh*”  And I have always wanted to just give those haughty women a little speech about how awesome I am at raising sweet little ladies and that crap junk is so not even on my radar.  (Sorry, that I just wrote crap junk, but I gotta be real for a moment.)

And then it happened.  Earlier than I expected.  I mean Peanut and Ladybug are now 12 and 9, respectively.  But they may as well be 13 and 16, because most days I believe I will go certifiably insane from the drama.  I could be wrong, but I positively do not remember this level of drama at 12 and 9.  Seriously, when I was that age, all I really cared about was New Kids on the Block, sky-high bangs, and Crystal Pepsi.  Easy peasy. 

And while Lovey has seemingly grown out of her taste for deodorant, she still enjoys a Chapstick every now and again.  And like a good big sister, she has lovingly trained Cupcake in her sordid ways.  Poison control is still on my speed dial.

But then those sweet four decided it was spa night for Mama and they gave me the makeover of the century.  They are either apologizing or preparing me for something.  Either way, it’s been a long week so I’ll take it. With coffee and a smidge of sugar, of course.

 

Love & Coffee.

 

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Sweet Freedom.

20160318_142814000_iOS (2)Hear me, Friends:  Sweet freedom is upon me!  How refreshing to be out from under the weight of a heavy academic schedule!  There is a very good reason you should undertake (and finish!) such things when you are young and unobligated.

It has taken every ounce of everything just to survive these last few months and the idea of a summer break with which my brain can rest is of epic proportions.

 

I look forward to beautiful things like:

 

Recreational reading.

Early morning walks.

Pre-dawn coffee with a book I ENJOY.

Embarrassing the heck out of Ladybug, Lovey, and Cupcake at every ball game.  (Yes, I am THAT mom.)

Digging into the massive pile of begging-to-be-read subscription magazines on the floor next to my desk.

Art projects with Peanut. (Who really is NOT a peanut anymore.  *tears*)

WRITING ON THIS BLOG.  (Woohoo!)

Heck, I might even reacquaint myself with The Man!

(Also, tackling the incredibly disturbing laundry mountain should probably be on this list.) 

 

On school, the end is sight.  But until August, I surely plan to squeeze every ounce of sunshine, delight, and utter awesomeness out of summer that I can.  And there will be loads of coffee to make it all happen.

 

So friends, consider this fair warning:  We are BACK IN BUSINESS!  And I could not be happier.

Love & Coffee.

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For the Birds, Part 4

feather on a white backgroundThere.  She.  Was.

Plump, spry, and happy as can be, Clover was once again roosting on the patio table and sullying the deck.  Upon closer inspection, I found that she was missing a small patch of feathers from her neck. If there were any doubt before, it certainly took leave: Something was truly after the bird.  Clover cheated death.  And won.  Every time.  It seemed she was destined for greatness.

My sweet girls were over-the-moon to have her back. They chased her, fed her, coddled her, and just loved her to pieces. Clover again kept me company as I hung the laundry, retrieved the mail, and performed the outside chores.  The homestead felt just a bit fuller.  Even my coffee seemed sweeter.

On the other hand, The Man was less than thrilled.  I think he even grunted.  Maybe twice.  Still jaded, he threatened, spinning tales of savory chicken dinner slow-cooked over the fire.  He did not think she could survive the forthcoming Iowa winter.  I disagreed. The hearty bird had already proven she had nine lives.  And then some.  It seemed we could never truly consider her down for the count.

Weeks passed, summer faded, and Clover was happy.  She sat at my side, warming my feet, as I sipped my coffee each cool, autumn morning.  Scrubbing the deck became a regular chore.  Again.  And the big girls fought over who would feed her each day. Life was a peach.

But no one could have imagined what happened next…

 

Stop by tomorrow for Part 5, the finale!

If you missed out, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

For the Birds, Part 2.

For the Birds, Part 3.

Can’t get enough of the chickens? You can read about our previous flock here: 

Counting Chickens

Love & Coffee!

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For the Birds, Part 2

eggs isolated on white backgroundHe. Was. Right.

That crazy bird fared much better on her own than we could have ever done for her. Clover feasted on multitudes of farm-fresh delicacies, including but not limited to crickets, dandelions, and earthworms.

It really turned into a beautiful, natural sort of relationship between man, woman, girls, and chicken. The girls would set out special treats or extra water for her when it was hot, but mostly, that clever hen was just fine. She chased the kids around the property and kept me company as I hung the day’s laundry. We fashioned a nice little nesting box for her, but she would simply have nothing to do with it. Many nights she chose to roost in a low-hanging tree near the house. But eventually, she had a change of heart and decided the patio table was better suited to her needs.  (Meaning, the patio table where The Man and I have our morning chat over coffee in full view of the sunrise.  The Man was still not happy.  Clearly.)

She stuck close to the house, taking a particular shine to the side deck. Much to our chagrin, she left “evidence” of her existence all over the place so we made like pirates and took to swabbing the poop deck pretty much every day. One of her favorite places was right smack in front of the door so most mornings we would step outside and right into a lovely pile of aromatic unpleasantness.  Country-fresh.

I still loved her most of the time. The Man did not. He muttered terrible things under his breath and hurled insults at the poor bird. We could no longer find her eggs. That is, if she was still laying them. And as far was he was concerned, that was the only thing she was good for.

At the mere opening of the door, she would awkwardly cchicken editome running across the yard, ready to greet the lot of us. (Because pretty much everything about chickens is a little awkward, but that’s what makes them so eerily interesting.) We set out food for the cats and that silly bird would fight and peck her way through the felines for a spot around the dish. I am not sure if she even knew she was a chicken anymore. Clover held her own around those feisty tomcats and we certainly took pleasure in a hearty chuckle or two as we watched the daily farmyard drama unfold.

But then…

 

Grab a coffee and stop by tomorrow for Part 3!

If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

Can’t get enough of the chickens? You can read about our previous flock here: 

Counting Chickens

Love & Coffee!

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Life, Love, & Coffee.

cheerful heartHey there! It’s another unusually balmy January day in Iowa and we have tumbled headfirst into 2015 happy, healthy, and fully intact.

Can you believe it?

The holidays were busy. And beautiful. But also deeply contemplative. Deeply.

Do you ever just take a moment to pause? Or as in this case, a very long moment? The end of the year seemed to be an appropriate time to re-evaluate. To reflect. To adjust. There was something of a dissatisfaction. Some things in my life were just not working quite the way I wanted them to be. I needed time, good people, and some introspective moments spent lingering over a familiar cup of coffee. The withdrawal was cathartic and upon emergence I feel renewed, focused and expecting wonderful things for the coming year. Very good things, perhaps new and different things, are in the offing.

Anticipation is a lovely thing.

And while I plow ahead, I realize I have left ends untied… Chickens. The story is truncated and far from finished. So, I have aptly dubbed this week: Chicken Week. This will be a daily 5-part-series beginning with a recap from Part 1, originally posted last October. You can recap and refresh by reading that post here: For the Birds. Part 1

Check back each day this week to read more about the unbelievable chicken saga happening here at The Homestead. So cozy up in your favorite spot and don’t forget the coffee!

And just in case you missed it, Part 1 of the Chicken saga begins here:

For the Birds. Part 1

Love & Coffee!

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My heart is full.

DSC01626The day is yet dark, my coffee is piping hot, and it seems that winter has finally arrived in Iowa.  The chill is a trifle scathing, while the world outside lies suddenly dormant in a wind-blown white.

Still. Quiet.  I reflect.

My heart is so full of things.  Good things.  Wonderful things.  Christmas things.  Worrisome things (like the mouse I just caught scurrying across the laundry room floor. Eek).

Full.  Of.  Things.  To peruse, ponder, and pray about.

This week will also be full.  Calendar limits will be tested.  Coffee will be my constant companion.  For just a moment more, I linger at the window, warming my hands at the cup, and savor the view: winter white in the just-breaking dawn.

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.”  Isaiah 26.3 (NIV)

Happy Tuesday.

Love & coffee. 

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And the chicken???  Part 2 is coming tomorrow.  You won’t believe what happens next…
(In case you missed Part 1, you can catch up here:  For The Birds, Part 1.)

 

Things I Should Do?

cakeThere are all of these new-fangled parent things that I keep hearing I should be doing. I am not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly, I find myself living in a world full of souped-up Betty Crockers and hyper Suzy Homemakers.

I blame Pinterest. Mostly. And seriously? I am too old for this.

I guess the one-year-old cake smash is the thing to do now? *shudder* So I am supposed to purchase an over-priced, over-the-top cake, chock-full of artificial food dyes (because that is what makes it so pretty) and let her utterly destroy it while wearing an equally over-priced, brand-spanking new outfit (which will wind up impossibly ruined because of the aforementioned food dyes). Furthermore, this should be done before the actual first birthday so as to have proof-positive of the entire shenanigan on display at the forthcoming birthday festivities. And on Facebook. And Instagram. Twitter. And so on.

(Honestly, I just see dollar signs, an ungodly mess, and the potential plethora of “likes” from my social media friends whom I never talk to in real life.)

I also missed the gender reveal party that I should have done, too. (Any reason to party, right?) This is where we choose a fabulously cute (and probably complicated) idea from Pinterest, creatively incorporating pink and blue to reveal the gender of my baby in front of select amount of family and friends. And probably post the video on Facebook, too. And of course, issue a press release.

I do not mention these things to offend, but only to say… not.  for.  us.

And ultimately, I can not get over the fact that somewhere along the line there would be future sibling angst over the fact that Cupcake got extra “pampering” even though these things were quite unheard of when the big ones were little.

There are probably other things I “should” be doing, too, but I simply have too many other lovely moments to make happen in my day like: scrubbing filthy little hands after an afternoon in the dirt, baking another delectable loaf of pumpkin bread with my sweet girls, and watching the sun set over the field from the deck off the kitchen.

(What do you think?  Is this mommy guilt for real?  Or am I just grumpy and have not yet consumed a sufficient amount of coffee on this chilly Monday morning?  Comment below!)

Love & coffee. 

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Something to Do.

Tea and biscuitsA barely there Monday commences with a dark October sky, a warm cup in hand, and a stinging chill in the air.

Ready or not.  Another week comes.

Since the school year began this past August, I feel like this family of six has been burning the candle, not just at both ends, but every possible which-way.

Slow down.  Please, stop.  Let us breathe for a moment.  New plan?  “No.”  Just.  Say.  No.

To unnecessary goings-on.  To rat races begging to be run.  To the things that wear away at our little (maybe not-so-little?) family.  (And to drugs.  Always so no to drugs.)

We only one get one chance.

Peanut, Ladybug, Lovey, and Cupcake are sweeter than an Oklahoma tea on a sunny day.  And The Man?  Well, he is just as lumberjack handsome as a man can be.  (swoon)  Sometimes, we just need to be together.

No screens.  No phones.  No distractions.

Most of you know how adorably rambunctious my sweet 5-year-old Lovey can be.  Last week, she absolutely outdid herself all in one day.

Oh, let me count the ways:

  • The entire salt container emptied onto the carpeted stairs.
  • The unwanted cheese from lunch strategically placed in my boots.
  • The mysterious disappearance of all the breath mints and gum from my handbag in one sitting.
  • The “lemonade” she made in her own bedroom for the Barbie doll party.
  • The markers she used to make Cupcake into a tiger.
  • The “washing” of the entire bathroom with the cloth diaper sprayer (massive amounts of soap included).

Her response?  “I was bored.”  That sweet little thing just need to something to do.  And attention.  Intense, undivided, full-of-wet-mommy-kisses, attention.

But then… books.  “Lovey, let us read.”

We reorganized the book shelves together and put our favorites all in one spot.  The new books we ordered the prior week arrived just on time and we organized those, too.  And we read.  And read.  And read.  Fairies, pirates, and Curious George.

She was not bored anymore.  My boots remained pleasantly cheese-free, my handbag was locked away, and the bathroom stayed dry.

(Cupcake garnished my hot coffee with a red crayon, but that is a story for another day…)

Here’s to a beautifully beginning week of stimulating busy little minds, keeping busyness at bay, and a healthy dose of coffee.

Happy Monday!

Love & Coffee.

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The Bad Thing About Butter

20140714_182051272_iOSIt is just so good!

I came of age in the eighties.  I grew up on aspartame, margarine, and imitation vanilla. I did not know any different. It was the way we did things.

There was no blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook meme to indicate otherwise.

But then.

Butter.

Homemade chocolate chip cookie dough with real butter. Real vanilla. Real chocolate.

What is that they say about raw eggs, salmonella, and violent illness? I must apologize that I cannot hear you for I am too busy licking every last morsel of decadent goodness off of the spoon.

Yes, this happened in my kitchen today. With caramel drizzle coffee. And I liked it.

And to the salmonella party-poopers (because I know that is exactly what some of you are thinking)…

nana boo boo.

Love & Coffee.

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Spring Love.

,The end of a tired, worn-out school year is utterly exhausting. No one wants to sit at a desk (or the kitchen table) and do anything related to education. The horrendous, years-long winter has finally given way to a beautifully welcome spring. (I thought it would never come.)

We would all rather be outside.

Springtime chores on the homestead are plentiful, yet mostly enjoyable. After a crippling winter (good-bye “polar vortex!”), there is much pleasure to be found in simply being outside, smack dab in the middle of God’s creation, no matter what the task may be.

DSC01814

Growing things!

The garden is partially in and we all hope, pray, and cross our fingers that something will survive the summer. My back is sore and my knees are screaming, but even the hole I wore into the thumb of my gardening glove makes me smile. I have come to crave the earthy smell of freshly turned Iowa soil. Rich. Black. Dirt. (Please, something grow. Please, please, please.)

DSC01835

Lovey’s treasure.

The chickens are hearty and well. All thirteen of them. I have come to be very good at counting them quickly. (They are so fast.) The Man must finish the chicken run soon, but they are utter entertainment running amok around the yard. Peanut and Ladybug (and sometimes even Lovey) are a great help with chicken work. Cupcake is newly walking. And chasing down the chickens to give them loads of slobber kisses.

Dozer continues to steal our hearts, love on my girlies, and chew my couch pillows. But he is great with the chickens. And great for evening snuggles. And I am pretty sure he is a keeper.

After another week of illness, and another week of travel, I am settling in to Monday, somewhat wary to take on the tasks this week will require.

Yet as I sip another lovely Caramel Truffle coffee, bathed in the light of a blazing country sunrise, I am reminded that this week is full of promise, hope, and goodness.

After all, it is “the week.”

Peanut’s birthday.

My birthday.

Mother’s Day.

And graduation parties galore.

This annual deluge of celebration leaves us tired, broke, and full of cake.

But it is so much fun.

Thank. God. For. Coffee.

Love & Coffee!

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The lilacs promise to impress this year.

 

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