December 24, 2014

Fighting Despair

Overheard while driving through town; my oldest (and apparently hungry) son by my side...

"Each time we drive past the Chinese Buffet I feel a tiny flutter of hope."

December 18, 2014

Out Of Nowhere

A hairsbreadth. A fraction of an inch. As near a miss as I've ever had.
One moment the road was clear, and the next...

Stupid deer.
The good news is my brakes work.

I can still see the hind legs of the huge buck as he passed my headlights with no room to spare. It all happened so fast. I know Annie shouted the warning, "Deer!" I know I hit the brakes without waiting to spot the animal for myself. And still, I'm completely amazed we didn't hit it.

"Thank you, God. Thank You, thank You, thank You...", I continued to murmur under my breath as my imagination took me down the road of what nearly happened.

Time to pull up some 'Deer Crossing' signs.

Earlier suspicions confirmed, our deer have a death wish. Before going anywhere, we always pray for safe trip with a prayer my mother taught me as child:
Our Lady of the Highway,
be with us on our journey,
for all thy ways are beautiful,
and all thy paths are peace.

Since living here we have added this prayer taught by Annie's Confirmation teacher:
Dear Lord,
Please keep
the deer in the ditch,
and the car on the road.
Thank You.
I'm so glad Our Lord is listening.

November 23, 2014

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

"Is it out?"
The hairdryer switched off and inquisitive fingers ran through the length of my hair.
Leaning over the tub I carefully wet and lathered my hair for the third, and probably not last, time.

I confess, I love to have my hair touched. I do. I love it so much, on my birthday my daughters offer to brush my hair as a present. 
I love it so much I have endured countless braids, 
funky hairdos, and tangles as the only "patron" of nine-year-old Mary's Beauty Shop, just to have my hair played with. 

If I am ever full of stress and tension, rub my hair and I will actually melt before your eyes. Melt. No more stress, just me, eyes closed, slumped over, unable to speak anything more complex than monosyllables, swiftly falling asleep. 
Weird, but true.  

Joseph sat next to me on the couch, running a thick lock of my hair through his little toddler hands. He wasn't pulling or tangling, just running it through his hands. 

"Your hair is pretty, Mama. I'm making your hair beautiful."

"Mmhmm..." I replied suddenly feeling rather sleepy.

"Beautiful. Beautiful." Joey continued.

"Mmhmm..." I murmured again. Someone should bring me a pillow.

Wait a minute. My ears had detected a noise, a quiet noise, an odd noise, a slightly wet, smacking noise that was not the sort of noise that clean, dry hair makes when it is run through clean, dry hands.  The realization that something was wrong seeped into my drowsy brain. 

I lifted my hand to my hair and encountered a wide streak of something terribly sticky. Joey's fists were full of a thick, white paste that I knew all too well. Diaper ointment. The white stuff. The greasy, white stuff that not only doesn't wipe off easily, but laughs - actually laughs - at soap and water. I didn't even know we had any.  

"I make-d your hair so beautiful, Mama." Joey said in a sweet voice.

Yes, beautiful, and white, and stuck in a thick clump to the side of my head. 

You know those moments when something unexpected happens and you truly appreciate just how ...unique... living with little ones is? It's like the times you find yourself stringing together words you didn't know could exist in the same sentence.

"Don't lick shopping carts."
"The cat doesn't want your gum."
"Your dinosaur doesn't need a bubble bath."
"Nice little boys don't shout 'booger' in church."
"Your brother doesn't like you dancing on his head."
"We don't rub diaper ointment into Mommy's hair."

I was having one of those moments. Yes, I was. 

I was also lathering my hair for the fourth time...

November 17, 2014

Smarshmallow Run

Annie was helping Joe wash his hands before dinner. His tiny fingers more intent on splashing water out of the sink than removing any actual dirt, when he leaned his face towards hers and in a conspiratorial whisper said,

"Okay, so, we gonna get the keys, and you get into the driver's seat, then we drive away quietly. Deal?"

Annie turned the water off and grabbed a towel.

"What? Why???" 

She looked at this little person standing on the step stool before her with an intent look in his eyes. 

"Because, Annie!" he exclaimed, waving his hands in the air. "We need to drive away quietly. Okay? Deal?"

Annie shared this with me as I dished up the plates. I glanced over at my little boy. Joey was now standing on his chair trying to reach the lit candle on the table.

"Joey, don't touch that!"

He stopped and looked at me.

"Joe, are you planning to drive away?" I asked, not sure he would want to fill me in on his sneaky plan.

He didn't even hesitate.

"Yes! I'm going to drive to the Smarshmallow Store and buy smarshmallows and we will eat them! Everyone can get in the van and sit in dere own seats and put on dere own seatbelts, and we can go get smarshmallows. Then we can build a smarshmallow house, and a smarshmallow car with smarshmallow wheels... and everything!"

Oh my. I think I need to hide the keys.

September 9, 2014

Meet the Girls

I smiled to myself as I lugged the heavy metal bucket from one pen to another. Farm chores! I was doing farm chores! If my neighbors knew how giddy I felt, they'd never stop rolling their eyes at me. I felt like a little kid at play, only this was real. With a feeling of satisfaction I scooped feed from the bucket to pour into the hanging feeder. The chickens ran out into their yard, clucking a greeting as they came. I tossed a scoop of feed into the ground. They hurried to the spot and immediately began scratching and pecking at the food.

The sun was just peeking over the rise, making the dew on the grass sparkle. I indulged myself for a moment and took a seat on a log near the chicken yard. The chickens left the feed on the ground and crowded the fence near me, talking to me through the wire. I plucked some blades of grass and pushed them through the fence. They shoved each other out of the way in attempts to reach the green stuff and pulled one blade at a time from my fingers. I held a conversation of sorts with the chickens. We clucked back and forth to each other and I was delighted to see if I called one by name, that hen would raise her head and peer at me with a curious look. Was it my imagination or did they really know their names? 

May I introduce the girls: 
This photo cracks me up. They look shocked to have their picture taken.

When we picked them out from a large metal tub at the feed store they were tiny fuzzballs that could fit in the palm of my hand. They spent the first few weeks on our back porch in a brooder box, where they were warm and we could keep an eye on them. This being our first experience at raising fowl, we weren't at all sure what it would be like. I had no idea just how charming they would be or how quickly I would become attached. 

They were handled often and would even hop into our hands when we reached into their box. David discovered that placing a little chick on her back and rubbing her feet seemed to put her into a trance. Blondie loved it so much she would close her eyes and go limp the moment he picked her up. 

I enjoyed watching them grow, each with her own personality. Henrietta and Clementine were bossy and the two of them took turns being top chick. To this day I'm still not sure which of the two is really in charge. 
Penny was the smallest, but super fast. She now zooms about snagging the best treats before the others can reach them. Blondie was a sweetheart. Today, she is the most likely to run up to me to peck at my shoes. Tansy was much more stand-offish. She still doesn't like to be touched.

And then there was Ruby. Ruby was an odd bird. She would stand in the corner pecking at the wall. She's still a bit of a goof.

My Ruby.

They quickly outgrew the brooder and Matt set about building them a safe, sturdy coop and yard. They made themselves at home and a couple of months later I can now look forward to these each morning:

Eggs! Beautiful, fresh, brown eggs! It's like finding treasure - every morning!

I  always wanted to raise chickens. The very idea brought back strong memories of being a little girl visiting my grandparents' farm. How I loved helping my Grandma Neta feed the hens and collect the eggs. Now, all these years later, I have the joy of raising these marvelous birds in my own backyard. I cherish the thought of taking after my Grandma and think of her often when I'm out at the coop. Chickens at last! And I'm enjoying every moment of it.

Blondie still likes to be held.

July 8, 2014

Celebrating the Fourth

 Independence Day Celebration 
Cold Anchor Farm style

I love our giant flag! It seems I'm not the only one. People driving by honked horns and waved. It made me smile.

The inside of our house was glowing red, white, and blue.

 What a great backdrop for a family photo!

 Maybe we should've cleaned up a bit first, seeing how we were all pretty scruffy from playing outside all day. I guess this a very 'real' family photo.

 ...and this one.

 ...and, well, you get the idea.

 At least Joey looked cute.

 A good time was had by all.

 The local fireworks show was so much fun. We then headed home where we sat around a campfire and made s'mores and lit little firecrackers and tiny sparkling fountains of our own. 
We said prayers and the kids settled into sleeping bags in the tent we set up in the backyard. Matt caught a firefly and brought it into the tent to show the children. It was so cool to see their little hands and faces lit up by that tiny glowing creature.
The firefly was released, children tucked back in, and Matt and I sat by the fire, enjoying the warm night air while the kids drifted off to sleep. It had been a wonderful day.

I hope your 4th of July was a happy one!

June 30, 2014


I should be getting up now. I should begin the day's chores, but my chair is so comfy. My coffee is still almost warm-ish. The windows are open and the curtains are billowing with the fresh morning air. We are expecting stormy weather later, but things are quiet now.

I've come to appreciate "now." These past few months (a year?) have been full of ups and downs as we make the transition from military life to civilian. The roller coaster ride is not over yet, and if I think too far ahead it can be overwhelming. I can, however, handle "now" - this moment right now.

It's been wonderful to have Matt home to stay and we settled into our new normal almost immediately. That is the up. The down is the hunt for a job that will support our family and the struggle to... you know... pay bills and stuff. It's easy to borrow trouble and worry about things I can't control. Trust in God is day to day, moment by moment. 
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." -Philippians 4:6

Sometimes the big picture is just too big...

I have become ever more mindful of the small things - finding beauty, comfort and gratitude in discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary. God is good.