Some days.

dandelionSome days just cannot be put into words. Some days the headlines are too wrenching, too blatant, too hard. I sip my coffee in my sweet little corner of the world and wonder…

how. can. this. be?

For while I continue my sipping on an unusually cool July evening, bathed in the glow of a dim porch light, with a loyal dog at my feet and fireflies entertaining in the yard, somewhere else, albeit far, far away, life is coming apart at the seams.

I study the tiger-lily filled mason jar on my patio table and the small blueish sidewalk-chalk footprints carelessly left by young, carefree spirits just hours prior and ponder whether such garish tales could possibly be true? It would be much easier to close my eyes, to forget, to pretend, but…

it. is. not. so.

I pray. And I sip. And I pray some more. I pray for peace. I pray for love. I pray for mercy.

And I hold my babies oh-so-close. Some days are just like this. (And some days, quite thankfully, are not.)

And tomorrow will come. And I will pray some more. And we will laugh and we will dance and make merry under the mulberry trees. And thank God that his mercies are new every morning.

Love & Coffee.

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The Real Maker

imgr01We were traveling home after a long day of errands and activities in town and as it often happens, The Man and I found ourselves with two separate vehicles there. The big girls routinely beg to ride in the car with Dad, and the littles settle in with me. Several times a week, this arrangement seems to happen and it is during these twenty minute drives home where Lovey and I chat.

 

So precious.

 

Even at four, (nearly five now) she fights to be heard amid a houseful of giggling girls. They all have so much to say. All. The. Time. Lovey seems to have only one volume level: Dora the Explorer. (If you are not familiar with Dora, she shouts everything she utters. Every. Word.)

 

It is during the oft-evening drives home through the Iowa country side that Lovey indulges me with stories, songs, and witticisms. She makes music of the happenings of the day and spins wild tales of adventure, mystery, and intrigue. When she has all of my attention (aside from the driving, of course) she gushes. And I revel in every delectable morsel.

 

My heart cannot help but smile.

 

It happened on one of these recent drives, that Lovey quite surprised me. Together, we were marveling at the first signs of spring: trees just barely greening, flowers springing, and the just barely detectable scent of freshly mowed grass. It was then, I took note of the remarkably, colorful sunset stretched out before me. It seemed it was a show just for us. Nearly speechless, I mused, “Oh, Lovey. Do you see the sunset? Isn’t God the most incredible of painters?”

 

“No, Mommy. He is not a painter at all. He’s the real Maker.”

 

Now, truly speechless, I took a moment to think on what she said. Of course! In her mind, a painter is merely a mimic, only able to create something already in existence. And Lovey’s understanding of her Creator, even at four, is much more complex than I could have realized before.

 

“Yes, yes, Lovey. You are exactly right. He IS the real Maker. Yes, indeed.”

 

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.

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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.)

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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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Daily Dozer #1

(Hey, look!  It is a guest post from none other than… The Man!)

Dozer

Dozer at 9 weeks

So! It’s finally happened. We have a boy dog in the family.  We call him Dozer.

We researched. We planned. We paid. A lot.

In fact, we paid more than I have ever imagined paying for any pet. All of the gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, cats, and puppies I have had as a child, barely reach the total down payment of my little guy. Though, here we are with our little furry friend.

I drove over 300 miles round-trip to pick him up from the breeder’s farm. Leaving at 5:30 am, I was determined to get my guy home so he could have the afternoon to acclimate. I was home by 1:30 pm the same day.

Needless to say, it was “puppy love” at first sight. Everyone. Was. In. LOVE. Thankfully our little guy was just as eager to reciprocate the affection. He has a warm temperament and currently exhibiting traits of a medium energy dog. He is absolutely beautiful.

The downside… Potty training. House breaking. Whatever you want to call it: It. Is. Hard.

The long trip home inside the kennel didn’t bode well with the little guy, and left a bit of a challenge for crate training. What to do. I slept next to him, on the carpet, all night long.  I am sore and tired, but hardened by the experience of having four daughters. I can change a poopy diaper and serve the night watch until the wee hours of the morning. I am battle ready, but a little out of shape and a little out of practice. This is all very new.

The first night ended in the black: 6 messes in the house and 7 outside. So far…  so fair I guess.  The next day, he got an even better score: only a few messes with the majority of trips outdoors being successful.

Now to tackle the other issues. Like the crate. We’re trying to make it the coolest place to be. I resorted to smearing peanut butter inside the crate walls to get him back inside. My goal is to get him to spend longer periods of enjoyable time in his crate.  I need sleep.

Thank God for a great wife, family and coffee machine.

Sincerely,

The Man

Love & Coffee.

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Begin Again.

DSC01626 I feel like we are starting all over again.

All. Over. 

In March of 2012, we moved here to this sunny little Iowa acreage just shy of heaven. We had plans. Really big ones. Plans for all sorts of things. (You can read about all about our initial foray here: Dreams and Things.)

The Man and I have a long-held dream of rural, sustainable living on our little homestead. But there’s this thing… We’ve never really done anything like this before.

And we have been quick to learn that more often than not, things do not go as we foresee them to. Shortly, after moving here in 2012, we found ourselves completely surprised by pregnancy. (You can read about that here: Crayons in the Fridge.)

And as God would have it, it was no easy pregnancy by any stretch of the imagination. Riddled with complications, bed rest, and the longest winter of our lives, we did nothing but wait and wait and wait (and not usually patiently) for our precious Cupcake to be born. (More on that here: Sitting Still. And Thanks.)

We spent so much time just yearning for the terribly wonderful ordeal to be over and, of course, our sweet Cupcake was worth every second. (How it Went Down.)

It was just so much waiting.

Almost as soon as she arrived late last winter, The Man was ready to jump head first into homesteading. I was still trying to remember how to take care of a baby. (Funny how one can have four babies and everything seemed new all over again. I knew everything and nothing all at the same time.)

Cupcake was scarcely weeks old when The Man brought home 10 chickens to raise in our foyer. Uh-huh. (Chick-a-licious.)  Soon after, he surprised me and came home with a Rottweiler. (A Boy and His Dog.) Then the chickens died. All of them. (Counting Chickens.) Then the dog died. (Then She Was Gone.)

Our garden never even had a chance. I did manage to put in 4 lone tomato plants, but I only bothered to water them every so often and Lovey helped herself to the few small, green tomatoes she spied before they could ever dream of making into our kitchen.

But really, my baby just had my heart, my time, and my attention.

So THIS is the year. Cupcake is newly 1 (gasp!) and we are all healthy (woohoo!). We were blessed to have a lovely friend till our entire garden space last fall. I am really bad at estimating distance and size so for now, I will just say it is mildly gargantuan. After poring over seed catalogs for months, the seeds have finally been started. (Crossing my fingers.) I expect to lose a lot of lovely things to critters so I fully anticipate this year to be somewhat of a test year. I have grand ideas of canning and freezing anything and everything.

And here we go…20140324_211104225_iOS

The Man brought home chickens again last week. (A baker’s dozen and every last one getting cozy in a box in my foyer.) Naturally, we have a better chicken house security plan in place if the The Man can find the time to finish it up.

And a dog. The Man has Rotty fever once again, so that is also on the horizon. By the end of the week, our sweet little Rottweiler puppy will be here.

(Perhaps a goat or two are also in our future?)

In addition to all the plans we have for the interior of this cozy, old farmhouse, I’d say we have our work cut out for us. But things have never looked brighter.

Love & Coffee.

 

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Run, Run as Fast as You Can

Close-up of gingerbread man pastry cutter “Run!” they said.  “Don’t. Walk.  Run as fast as you can!” they told me.  Common sense (and the event rules) said otherwise, but I did it.  I listened to those teenagers and I ran as fast as I could towards the homemade slip and slide on the giant hill.  It was terrific for about half a second.  Before my feet shot upwards to the moon and the back of my head smacked the hard ground.  Very.  Hard.

I do not remember much about the rest of that long, awkward slide to the bottom of the hill.  When it was all said and done, I had a throbbing headache, a knot on my head roughly the size of Asia, and not a shred of dignity left.  I think it was what many Broken gingerbread man.would call a humbling experience.  And also an excellent reminder that I am not anywhere close to thirteen anymore.  This little shenanigan also earned me the distinction of having my very first (and hopefully last) concussion diagnosis.  From a homemade slip and slide.  At the urging of teenagers.  You might think this all happened when I was young and stupid, but unfortunately this was only last summer.  *sigh*

Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and try something new.  And sometimes that is a very, very bad idea.  And sometimes it is very difficult to discern between the two.  As much as I like to paint myself conservative, I crave the thrill of doing something totally different.

Yesterday, Lovey was telling me her Bible story from her Sunday class.  It was Jonah and the Whale.  She recounted every minute detail, even commenting that Jonah should have paid more attention to his mother when he was growing up.  (Yes!)  Lovey is a fantastic storyteller and as she speaks, we banter.  I intermittently comment and she shoots back and it is always time well-spent.  At one point, I said, “Well, I sure hope a whale doesn’t come and swallow me!”  She was quick to respond with that sassy 4-year-old eye-roll, complete with hand gesture, “Mom.  We live in Iowa.  There is no ocean here.  Not even any water.  Besides you never even leave the house.  You will not get swallowed by a whale… ever!”

First things first.  I am pretty sure I leave the house a lot more than she realizes.   In fact, I feel like I am not here nearly enough.  (Seriously, the proof is in the size of my laundry pile.)  But she definitely got me thinking about the thrill of new adventures, accompanied by a little risk.  Perhaps it is time to try something newish…

Love & Coffee.

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Out of Touch

Phone. Abstract techno backgrounds for your designTwo.  Years.  (A very long time.)

For two years, I have endured having a mobile phone number that was formerly the number of a trucking company.  For two years, my phone rings at odd hours of the night and day only to find that on the other end of the line is a trucker wanting to give me his “load number” or asking for assistance of which I am in no possible way able to provide.

But all of that has suddenly changed.

I think The Man loves me.  He bought me a smart phone.  (He either finds me delightfully out-of-touch or they were on sale.  Probably the latter.)  It’s a very, very smart phone.  Is it embarrassing that I have been clinging to my trusty flip phone that takes me roughly 37 minutes to send just one text message?  I still kind of miss it.  It was familiar.  It was easy.  And it was well-loved.

I. Am. Not. Ready. For. This.

They say it will make me more connected, but sometimes I rather enjoy being disconnected.  I am simply not one to be “on call.”  There are just so many important things that I would rather be doing.  Coloring, playing dress-up, and bedtime stories will always trump a text message.  Every.  Time.  And when it’s time for family dinner (yes, we still do that nearly every night) all of those electronic devices are comfortably nestled far away from the table, leaving us focused on each other.  Real people.  Real faces.  It’s all real.  And amid the clanking of silverware, passing of butter, and spilling of milk, I find these sweet moments where we all share our daily adventures, challenges, victories, and always leave room for dessert.

It’s a beautiful way to live.

If you call, I may not answer.  If you text, I may not reply.  But rest assured, you may leave message and I promise I will get back to you… eventually.

P.S.  The sunrise is especially lovely this morning.

Love & Coffee.

If you liked this post,you might also enjoy The Quiet.

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The “Liver-ing” Room

That’s what Lovey callsBeautiful yellow, red, green color cups it. 

 Every.  Day. 

“May I eat my snack in the ‘liver-ing’ room?”  “Will you read to me in the ‘liver-ing’ room?”  “Let’s play Legos in the ‘liver-ing’ room!” 

Lovey obviously means the living room and she’s been saying that for nearly a year now.  I am entirely uncertain as to where it came from.  I just cannot help but giggle at this silly word. 

Every.  Time.

To me, a “liver-ing” room conjures odd images of a place of unpleasant things.  A place, perhaps, where unfortunate children in drab, gray frocks are force-fed an unsavory meal of liver and onions as a cruel form of punishment. 

“Your room isn’t tidy?  You didn’t eat your peas?  You colored on the wall again?  To the ‘liver-ing’ room!”  (Sly grin.  Evil laugh.)

Maybe we should call it the “Family Room” instead. 

Or perhaps I just need another cup of coffee while watching the sunrise through the picture window in the “Liver-ing” room.

Love & Coffee.

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Ticking Away.

The cuckoo strikes midnight, yet here I sit, sipping a cozy peppermint tea.  As I write, we are just barely emerging (mostly unscathed) from a six-day long skirmish with the dreaded stomach bug. 

All.  Six.  Of.  Us. 

To be perfectly honest, it was ghastly.  We never get sick.  I was unprepared. 

I got to do all those lovely “mom” things that no one in their right mind would ever do for another person, other than for the simple fact that they are for the ones they treasure most. 

I stroked feverish foreheads, poured extra rounds of ginger ale, and held back golden curls during the worst of it all.  I scrubbed carpets and rugs and did absolutely preposterous amounts of laundry.  The Man took care of me.  And I took care of him.  And somehow we all survived.

All.  Six.  Of.  Us.

We did not sleep much and watched entirely too much TV.  And there was so much time to cradle my sick, sleeping lovelies and think.

So.  Much.  Thinking.

Thoughts:

1.  Peanut is 9 1/2.  Which is over halfway to 18.  Which is when she will leave me to seek her fortune in this wild, wild world.  *sigh*  Am I doing enough to carve out the strong, courageous woman inside of her?  8 1/2 more years to get it right.  (Tissue, please.)  And cuddles.  I will hold her as long as she will let me and then some. 

2.  Ladybug loves to love.  She craves closeness.  She needs it.  Like oxygen.  Note to self: More cuddling.  No matter the pestilence, unrest, or tempers lost, at the end of the day… cuddles.

3.  Lovey needs me.  She is vivacious, cunning, and seemingly out-of-control, but ultimately, she is only four.  And I need her, too.  She makes me smile when I need it most.  Conclusion:  Cuddles. (If I can catch her).

4.  Cupcake is oh-so-squishy.  She giggles and squeals and claps with her feet.  She holds my heart and she is so cuddle-licious. 

My heart is happy.  My four ladies leave me little time for anything else but them, yet it seems I still can’t get enough.  I want to scoop them up in my arms and just hold them forever and a day. 

I am tempted to say that the break from full-throttle-life was oddly refreshing.  Almost cleansing.  There are many things left undone from such an extended quarantine, but alas it’s a fresh week.  And we are well. 

All.  Is.  Well.

Love & Coffee.

 

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Chilled.

Icicles on Log CabinIt’s so very difficult to lurch out of a warm, cozy bed on such a frigid morning as this.  I was snug, my pillow was just so, and my blanket hugged me like a long-lost friend.  I lay still, eyes closed, in blissful silence, savoring the lullaby of the friendly owls perched in the tree just outside our bedroom window.

The sun is yet sleeping.

The darkness still envelopes.

Yet the day beckons.

And there is coffee to be brewed.

Drink up, Friends.  It’s going to be a lovely day.

Love & Coffee!

 

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