This morning I did the chores. My dad’s gone working in the city overnight and my husband was leaving early with his employees. I didn’t end up going out to feed the animals until around 9:30am because I first had to feed breakfast to the kids and bring my daughter to school. It’s her second day of junior kindergarten and she waved goodbye and ran over to the little crowd of kids standing with her teacher. I drove home with my angry son. He woke up mad today and I can’t really blame him. It was still 30 degrees last night at midnight and he can’t quite talk enough yet to say what he’s trying to say and he can’t quite walk enough yet to get where he wants to go. He’s hot and grumpy and to be honest, if someone tried to put me in a five point harness right now I’d probably be a little on the gripey side too. Because of the record breaking heat this year, by the time the air conditioning started working again we had made the less than ten minute drive home. There is one rural stoplight on the way to my daughter’s school and today we made it through green both ways. That small satisfaction was enough to just make it feel like a good day. When I got home and my son busied himself with toys that he’s not used to having full access to, I asked my mom to keep an ear open to my house so that I could do the chores. I knew if he got sick of Susie’s toys he’d go to Oma’s for a snuggle and a snack. If you’re in a desperate hurry and you only have time to make sure there’s food and water available for the animals, chores can be done in 15 minutes or so. Today I spent two hours out there. When I first went out, I went to the garage to put on my barn boots. I didn’t wear my coveralls because it’s so hot, even in the morning, that the protection they provided wouldn’t have been worth the hotness of them. I walked down to the barn in my boots and I started by grabbing two five gallon pails that were sitting in the barnyard and walking into the barn to fill them up. When I brought the full pails of water outside, I used one to refill the turkeys’ water. There are 14 turkeys right now and they are being sent to the butcher next week. My dad built a wonderful contraption that is a mobile turkey housing unit. For the last couple of years he has dragged it around the property so that his turkeys had fresh grass and foliage to peck away at. When he came walking up to the little tractor to which he had attached his pen, the turkeys all started gobbling excitedly and it was nice for him to have such benevolent creatures. This year, however, shortly after we put our turkeys into this pen and started dragging them around, a sly old fox dug a hole under one side and took 11 of our birds. Now the remaining birds are in the mobile pen, only it’s not mobile. It’s on the concrete barnyard floor and we throw in straw if it’s wet plus my dad cuts wheel barrows full of comfrey and tosses it through the roof hatch so that they have greenery to peck at. They seem to love it. This morning I filled their food pail, which is in a garbage can with a lid, sitting next to the turkeys. Then I crouched down and went inside. I hobbled over to the feeder and dumped in the new food, turned around and hobbled back, not forgetting to grab the waterer hanging from a seatbelt/wire thing in between the feeder and the door. I also try to pet the turkeys and call them things like sweet girl and handsome boy. They really are nice animals to have, if you don’t count the poop and the occasional curiosity peck in the arm. One time last year, when the turkeys’ pen was being dragged around the meadow, I didn’t latch the door of the turkey pen when I went outside of it to fill the waterer up with fresh water. I got distracted by my sheep at the fence and went to give them a handful of grain and by the time I turned around 12 of the turkeys had walked outside and were enjoying freedom. They weighed between 20lbs and 35lbs each and they’re surprisingly fast and agile. By the time I had caught all 12 of them I was sweating profusely, swearing intermittently and bleeding on the spots where the biggest toms had flapped their powerful wings into my skin. I had poop all over both hands and arms from grabbing them by their legs and I was only wearing a ribbed tank (sans bra) and a pair of cotton shorts. I used my tank top to wipe the sweat and blood from my face and then drove my golf cart back to the house to clean up. As I crested the hill on the driveway, certainly looking like a crazed maniac, I realized that my husband’s clean, neatly dressed parents were standing under the tree in front of the house with his clean, neatly dressed aunt and uncle for a surprise visit. I’m just so darned good at awkward situations that I keep getting myself into them, apparently. After I finished with the turkeys this morning I moved on to the laying hens. I used water from the other 5 gallon pail to fill their waterer with new, cold water and I filled their feeder with new laying mash. Their house was also built by my dad. In fact, all four of the bird contraptions in the barnyard were built by him. He uses old gates and old fence pieces along with portions of sign board he has left over from his bucket truck business. Right now the laying hens are next to the turkeys, who are across from the ducks and the rooster, Pascal. After I gathered the eggs from the nesting portion of the pen and put a few handfuls of fresh straw in the nesters, I fed and watered Pascal. Pascal is in a solitary confinement unit that was originally built for an especially cantankerous rooter named Chuck Norris. Pascal might be as much of a jerk as Chuck Norris was but he’s smaller and cuter, and because he’s a silky chicken he has extra toes and sort of a teenagery crow. Also, he hasn’t pecked my dad’s arm yet and that was the beginning of the end for Chuck. This morning Pascal just flapped a wee bit when I leaned in to pour his food in the dish. I’m pretty sure he gave me the finger with one of his extra toes but I couldn’t really tell. I’d like to put him in a cozy place with a couple of the laying hens to see if we could get some chicks but I haven’t prepared the space yet. That’s one of the things on my to do list, I guess. I decided to feed the ducks last because we have two week old ducklings and I wanted to do a bit of snuggling at the end of chores so I went into the barn to take care of the livestock. Two pigs, two cows, an alpaca and a donkey is the extent of my herd. The pigs are in their own pen in the barn and they are very tidy boys. They poop in the same spot every day so that their straw bedding stays nice and clean. Their names are Bob Barker and Alex Trebek. Dad had to hammer a new stick across the top of their pen because one day Bob Barker somehow jumped out. I have a feeling Trebek helped him but I can’t be sure. They weigh about 80lbs each and they scream like they’re being abducted if you have to hold them still for a needle or pull them to make them move anywhere other than the place they’re standing that moment. At least they’re small enough that they aren’t frightening for me. Cows are a little bit scary because even if they’re friendly, they weigh 600lbs more than I do and their foreheads feel like a cinder block with cute, auburn curls. Last year one of the cows inadvertently head butted me in the chest while I was crouching and it almost knocked the wind out of me. He didn’t even do it aggressively but it scared me enough to always keep a fork with me when I bring the food to feeder. I decided to take care of the cows, donkey and alpaca before the pigs this morning. They all live together in the pasture right now and they are friendly with each other and with us. I first checked their water and it needed to be filled so I took the end of the hose that was close to the gate outside and kinked it with baler twine before I went to the tap at the other end of the barn and attached the hose to the tap and turned it on. I then put some grain in a steel pail for them and left it at the gate. Sometimes there is a bale of hay sitting at the gate to feed them with but today there wasn’t so I pushed a wheel barrow that was in the barnyard to the old, little barn for a bale of hay. I normally just carry the bale but I didn’t have my coveralls on and I didn’t want to get all scratched and dirty. I hesitantly pulled down a bale and quickly tossed it in the barrow because Dad told me that he found a wasp/bee/hornet nest when he was in there a while back and I didn’t want to find it too. He told me it was gone but I don’t trust those little guys. Jerk bees. On my way back to the barn I glanced at the ducks, Peppa and her 14 ducklings. Peppa is a Muscovy duck and this morning she looked like she could use a coffee. The door to the duck house has a latch but it’s a little looser than we’d like and there’s a crack at the bottom where a tiny duck could get out or a tiny jerk (like a mink) could get in. So, we set a piece of vinyl sign board about 2 feet by 6 inches and leaned it against the bottom of the door. Then we set a small wooden feeder against the vinyl and a rock against that. I moved all three things and unlatched the door. Peppa came right over and started exhaling dramatically whilst pecking her bill at the greenery outside the pen. Muscovy ducks are known as the quackless duck because while other duck breeds’ females quack loudly for many reasons, the female Muscovy just sort of hisses. The male, in our case, George, hisses more loudly and shows a lot of emotion by wagging his tail and shaking his head. The first time I let him in to see the babies he did lots of aggressive tail wagging and all of the babies stayed in the insulated, covered part of the house except for one little rebel who ran out to his dad and copied him at the feeder and drinker. It was just so lovely. Anyway, after a few seconds of peering around, Peppa started leaving the house and her ducklings tried to follow. I closed the door gently, with all of the ducklings safely inside and Peppa turned around, made sure the kids were safe and then she walked into the barnyard to check things out. I found a short pail and while I filled it with fresh water for her she flew up to the top of Pascal’s cage and then flapped off to the pond. I set the pail down for her and I brought the bale to the gate inside the barn and I cut the twine with the utility knife that we leave there. By this time the animals were all very excited about their breakfast and Jenny the donkey was hee hawing while the cows crowded the entrance to the pasture. I pulled the hose from the twine and pushed it into the water tub enough that the pressure of the water wouldn’t make the hose fly out of the tub. Then I climbed the gate, grabbed the pail of grain and crossed the concrete pad out into the pasture, where the hay feeder is sitting. The animals all danced around me until I poured half of the grain on one side and then the other half on the other side of the feeder. Then all four of them found a spot and started munching on their appetizer. Sometimes George the duck joins them and it makes a really cute picture. Once the animals were busy I went to the gate, grabbed a pitch fork and started carrying hay to feeder as well. It had rained last night and the concrete pad was a bit slippery so I scraped off the pad with a snow shovel we keep in the barn for that exact purpose and then put down a bit of dry straw so that they wouldn’t slip. Once I had finished this the tub was almost full of water so I climbed back over the fence and crossed the barn to shut it off. Next I filled the pigs’ pail with pig pellets and I took the hose back off the tap so that I could put water on top of their food in order to make it slop. Pigs like it sloppy. When I brought the pail into the pig room I noticed that it smelled extra bovinish and decided I’d go ask my mom if she’d mind watching the baby a bit longer this morning so that I could fork out the pen. Dad forks the poop straw out of their pen and leaves it in the next pen and when it gets nasty I wheel barrow it to the manure pile. I feel like I was the one that really pushed for pigs (mostly because I want to turn our compost into bacon) so I should shoulder as much of the pig responsibility as I can. I wanted to offer my mom something in return when I ran back to the house to tell her about Peppa and to ask her if she’d watch my boy. I looked around the barn and found a pitchfork that she’d been saying would be perfect to dig up the potatoes. I grabbed it and ran back over the lawn, across the little wooden bridge, past the back deck of our farmhouse to the back kitchen door of their addition. “Mom – would you mind watching him for a bit longer? I’d like to fork out the pig pen. I brought the pitchfork you wanted so that you’ll say yes.” My mom looked up from her phone and said something like, “And why, exactly, does this have to happen right now?” To which I replied something like, “Because it needs to be done and I’m already gross and if you just watch the baby I’ll dig your potatoes.” Then I told her all about how Peppa had flown off to the pond as soon as I let her out and that it was nice for me and for Peppa to be able to leave our children to get work done. She rolled her eyes and went back to her phone while my son opened her dutch Tupperware drawer and started digging. I lumbered back to the barn and was overjoyed to see a soaking wet Peppa preening her wings in the sun with George standing next to her looking as happy as a clam. They walked past the ducklings together and pecked at the ground and splashed in the water I had put down. I opened the door to the duck house and asked her if she wanted back in but I’m pretty sure if she could talk she would have said something like, “Are you kidding me?” I closed the door back up and found the other pitchfork before I went back to the pig pen. I had grabbed my phone and headphones at the house and I turned on the Stephen King audio book that I listen to while I do things like hanging up laundry and taking down laundry and folding laundry and putting away laundry and picking beans and forking the pig pen, apparently. I ended up filling four wheel barrows right teetering full and I had to be careful not to pull my headphones off by the cord while I was jabbing at the manure and straw and pushing the loads out of the big barn, past the little barn, and up the hill to the manure pile. I even used the scrapey snow shovel to clean the pen right up when I was finished. Afterward I cleaned up the pigs’ water pail and filled it with fresh water. Then I reattached the hose to the tap and sprayed out the wheel barrow outside. Then I went to the duck house and refilled their water, their food and I put some dry straw in the damp spots for the wee babies. I also spent a bit of time trying to take a picture of how cute Peppa was but, sadly, a photographer I am not. Peppa still didn’t want to go back in when I was all done so I left her in the sun with her sweetie. I could see from the barnyard that my boy had made his way out of Oma’s house and was playing in the sandbox, in the back yard that sits between our back kitchen doors. I went to the garage again to change out of my boots and back into my sandals. When I came around the side of the house Mom was sitting in a lawn chair on her deck and she smiled and told me that the baby had just done a poop. He was only wearing a diaper so I pulled it back to assess the situation. It was a doozy. I was also rather disgusting after having spent so much time at the barn. I put my finger in the air like I had just solved the problem. “Hold on!” I said to my mom and I ran up to my back deck, took off my shoes and slipped in the house to grab two towels, a diaper and a sun dress. I plucked my almost two year old from the sand box and took off his diaper, folding the sticky poop in and wiping almost all of the poop off of him with the clean part of the diaper. I rolled it up and fastened it with the Velcro before tossing it on the lawn next to the sandbox to for sure clean up later. Then I took my dirty, snuggly baby and went to my mom’s bathroom to have a shower with him and wash off all of the poop.
So that’s it. That’s what it’s like for me to do chores. The details change from day to day; more poop some days, less poop other days. Some days it’s easier to find joy in things like duck emotions than others. Some days it’s easier to speak tender words to all the creatures, from alpaca to human baby. Most days it’s easiest to find humour in all the situations that happen on our little farm. Recently Dad and I were discussing the best time to pick up a Jack for Jenny and researching donkey gestation and the like. I was reading out loud from my phone and read the words before I knew what I was saying. “One of the ways of being able to tell if your jenny is in heat is by looking for clitoral winking.” I said the final two words of the sentence and immediately grimaced in the horror of terrible awkward comedy. My dad and I stared at each other silently for a second and then I quietly said, “I’m sorry it’s called that.” And then we both chuckled and found something else to do. There are so many wonderful, hilarious things that happen all the time (like the time Susie asked me what I am going to be when I grow all the way up) and it’s so fun to be able share them. Here’s to finding the time to do the things that give us joy and finding the joy in the rest of the time that we have – no matter how much poop is involved. xo

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My Sons

Would you like to hear a cool story that I have permission to tell? Awesome.
When I was in my mid 20s my husband and I started trying to get pregnant. We got pregnant right away but it was an ectopic pregnancy (baby in tube) and it had to be removed. There was a lot of sadness and grief that I won’t get into because it belongs in another story. We kept on trying and trying and we spent lots of money on treatments and we saw lots of doctors and eventually began the process to adopt children. During this time, we were attending the same church we have always attended and we were friends with a couple named Tim and Karen, who were part of our church family. When we first started really hanging out with Tim and Karen their son, Matt, was a child. We went on a mission trip with them to the Dominican Republic when Matt was 15. When Matt turned 18 Tim and Karen sold their house and quit their jobs and moved to the city so that Tim could answer his call to the ministry. Matt was welcome to join them but preferred to stay in his hometown and work. As they were discussing the move we were at an especially disappointing portion of our struggle with infertility. We joked while we drank coffee after church together that Dwight and I should simply adopt Matt and it would solve two problems. Matt would have parents close to home and we’d get a super good looking pre-grown son. We laughed about it and he started calling me mom and I started telling him I was proud of him and it worked out nicely. We continued to be fake parents to him for about three years and during that time several really awesome things happened. First, Matt moved into an apartment in the house next door to ours. Also, Dwight hired him and they were working together every day. Plus, I got pregnant! The logistics surrounding that also belong in another story but suffice it to say that we were delighted. When Susie was born Matt was her big brother from day one. When Stuart was born Matt got a brother for the first time. Stuart LOVES Matt. The story hasn’t ended yet but here’s what’s happening at this point. I’m 36 years old and I have a handsome husband, a gorgeous 25 year old pretend adopted son and a miraculous 4 year old girl along with her equally unbelievable 1 year old brother. I also have these awesome friends that gifted us with a well raised, intelligent young man to fake parent while we waited for God’s timing and they answered God’s call (and are now serving a Christian Reformed church in Lucknow, Ontario). We’ve moved from that house in town but I still see Matt when he comes to work every day and we’re on the same ball team. Here’s the adorable picture of my two sons that made me write this story in the first place. Have an awesome long weekend!

Matt and Stuart

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Stay at Home Maniac

I’ve got four kids at home today because my bestie and I watch each other’s kids one day a week so that we have one day with no kids at no cost.  Right now it’s a 4 year old, a 3 year old and two 1 year olds. There are three boys in diapers. By the end of these days I always feel like I’ve been yelling all day. I asked my husband recently if he thinks I’m a good mom and he only said yes after a long, thoughtful pause. I asked what the very obvious pause was about and he said, “Well, you yell a LOT.” I tried to justify it by saying that at least half of my yelling is only volume so that the little monsters can actually hear what I’m saying because they generally create too much noise than is comfortable in an indoor room. As I was trying to use this course of justification I began to remember all of the times that old people have yelled at me for messing with their hearing aids because of my louder than normal inside voice so I just let it drop. You know what? I’m actually going to put some real effort into not yelling at the kids so much. I’m going to experiment with things like holding my breath or counting to ten. My mom suggested whispering. She says you can’t yell if you’re whispering. It would be a big adjustment for me to go from talking or yelling to talking or whispering. Additionally, if I can’t adjust my own attitude and loud outbursts how can I expect the children to cool it with the crazy making? I’m blessed to have a long house with the toy room at one end. If I put the kids in there I can sit in my living room at the other end of the house and hear them well enough to be able to distinguish between real crying and somebody took my toy crying but not well enough go insane from the noise a pile of children makes. Also, it’s pretty much monkey see monkey do with these cheeky parrots so maybe if I stop yelling all the time they’ll stop whining all the time. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but a big part of my end of day coma is because of the exhaustion of listening to whining all the time. My daughter’s regular every day voice is already kind of whiny so when she really lays it on it’s actually like a terrible violin. I get so mad because it’ll be about something ridiculous like the fact that her brother picked up one of her toys and I say something like, “Susie! Stop Whining! I am sick of hearing this! Stuart! Leave her things alone! Susie! You have to share your things!” By the time I get finished yelling she’s crying and he’s laughing or crying and I’m in no mood to snuggle either of them. Yup. This week I’m going to be calmer. I’m just going to start acting calmer and I have a feeling it’ll make me start feeling calmer too.
I’m very thankful to be a stay at home mom and I really love teaching my kids how to do stuff and I love listening to them play. They’re good at entertaining themselves (with their jillions of toys and electronics) and they know I expect them to do just that while I do things like folding laundry mountain, scraping food scraps off plates (I feel like I do this way more than everyone else) and trying not to say swear words when I step on dinky cars and barbie shoes.  The older I get, the faster time goes. I feel very aware of that as my kids are going through these stages, full of their awfulsome new things. I know that before I know it they will both be waving goodbye and living their lives. These few years of poop and tantrums and fevers and car seats are fleeting. It’s just like all the grandparents tell us: we will miss this. However, the kids are real turds sometimes and it’s bad enough having to hang around with jerks, but at the same time I worry constantly they’re only acting this way because of my terrible parenting. That’s when I try to tell myself that these children came out of me with their little personalities fully intact and while I am their main role model, I am not necessarily the reason they’re acting like a gigantic boob. It’s my job to teach them what to do with their temper. Or their shyness. Or their fears. Or their extra loud indoor voice.
I’m exaggerating their terribleness as well. They definitely try my patience daily but they also do really hilarious things that make me super happy that watching them is my job.
A few weeks before her 4th birthday, I had been reading “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Susie. We also read from a children’s Bible every night after supper. The former novel is about a family living in the woods in the 1800s and there’s lots of talk about Pa’s gun and the animals he shoots. Sitting in the toy room one day, she pulls out a little, red Gideon New Testament that she had found and tells me that I need to be quiet so she can read me a story. She put her finger on the words of the page and cleared her little throat and said,
“God Sent the Boat Away (This is the title of the story, presumably)
And Noah didn’t know that the elephant was killed in the woods so he knowed that the guy didn’t know what to do with the elephant so they just put him on a blanket on the porch. So, he just wrapped him up in the blanket and taked him to God in heaven and the when the elephant was there God and Noah runned and said hooray! Hooray! And how beautiful was that? And then, how beautiful was this? And then the flowers growed in the ground and so God in heaven picked them and so did Noah because he needed flowers as well. So he got his gun and shooted the elephant more because –“
(This is when I chime in) “I thought the elephant was already killed?”
“But it’s not really killed because Noah only shooted one bullet and that didn’t help so he shooted one more bullet.” I started laughing too hard when she said this and she started being silly and stopped reading. Luckily, I had stopped her at the beginning in order pull out my phone to record it. That story is, word for word, how she said it. If I hadn’t recorded it, I would never have been able to remember all of its hilarity. There are so, so many more awesome things that happen every single day that I can’t remember but even though I can’t always quote them, I try my best to relay the hijinks to Dwight when he gets home. If I’m not in a coma yet.
Stuart isn’t saying any cute things yet on account of the fact that he doesn’t really say words yet. He is not walking yet either. It seems a little late at 19 months but I’m not really complaining because I know that in about three seconds he’ll be running around yelling many interesting words. Plus, his little bum scootch is totally adorable.
It’s the end of the day. Dwight’s putting Susie to bed and my parents have disappeared after supper. I’m going to take a little time before I go to the kitchen to scrape all the plates and choose a method to try not to yell so much every day. Do you have any cool tricks? I’m all ears for how you tame your tongue. Here’s hoping this week is less yelly and more smiley and dancey.

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Awkward With a Happy Ending

I am an awkward person.  I think I’ve always been awkward but I’m really good at hiding it with a gigantic smile.  I often see blog posts on Facebook like ‘Why it’s hard to be an introvert’ and ‘Things you need to know about introverts’.  Thing is, being an extrovert is not always smooth sailing either.  I spent most of my life talking and hugging and being a very noticeable person and feeling ashamed at the end of the day by how many extra words I had said and wondering if any of the words hurt peoples’ feeling or not.  I’m turning 36 in a few short months and I feel like I’m at a bit of a mid-life awakening.  Instead of feeling badly about my personality traits I’ve decided to embrace them and work with them.  The first thing I have to do is just understand and be at peace with the fact that no matter how much I try I will never be a delicate lady who only says just enough and never too much.  I am going to put more effort into making sure that it doesn’t matter so much how many words I say but that the words are uplifting and true.  I absolutely notice that when I am acting like a jerk my three year old daughter also acts like a jerk.  Monkey see monkey do, right? I’ve started at home.  I’m trying my best to use kind words and helpful comments as much as I can.  It needs to be as important for me to be nice to the people I’m with every day as it is to be nice to strangers.  Luckily, I live with some really nice people.  My husband loves me.  All of me.  He takes me as a package and loving him is so easy because he accepts my enthusiasm and repeated stories and awkward social situations and just keeps loving me.  Plus, he’s gorgeous.  I also live with my parents.  They are also both so easy to love because of their generosity and their kindness.  It helps that I’m actually made out of them so most of my weird personality traits come directly from one of them.  I figure they are also used to me by now and had decided to embrace my awkwardness even before I did.  I want to give you just a few examples of what it’s like to be in public with me.

The first happened while I was out for a run around the block last week.  Not surprisingly, I am the type of person that speaks to every person I see when I run around my block.  That sounds exhausting but I live in the country and I often go around the block without seeing anyone.  Last week, though, I saw a young woman pushing a stroller.  A couple that lived nearby had recently sold their house and I was wondering if this might be the new owner.  She was on her phone so I should have raised my hand in a slight wave, smiled and kept on running.  Instead, I pulled off my headphones, and walked toward her so she had to politely lower her phone to her shoulder and look at me.  I asked her if she was new here.  She said no and that she lived around the corner (the opposite direction from the house I was thinking of).  Instead of realizing I was being awkward, saying ‘Have a nice day’ and continuing my run I reached out my hand for a hand shake (I’m SO glad I didn’t hug her) and said, “Oh, well let me introduce myself.  I’m Jenny Kers and I live just up the road.  It is nice to meet you.”  She looked bewildered, switched her phone to her other hand to shake mine and said, “Um hi. I’m Tracy.”  That’s when my brain decided to tell me that I was in someone’s personal space.  I smiled and said, “Ok bye!” and ran away.  From the corner of my eye I swear I saw her put her phone to her ear, do a ‘That lady’s crazy’ face and then say, “That lady’s crazy” to whoever she was talking to.  My favourite part of the story is when I got to the house I had been thinking of the new owner was standing outside having a smoke.  I walked right up, of course, and we chatted while she finished her cigarette. I have a feeling we are going to become actual friends.  So, there was an awkward moment and an awesome moment.  I guess that story evens out.

The next story happened a couple of days ago.  I had recently volunteered locally at an event and I was responsible for delivering thank you cards to the other volunteers.  I went to the address that the high school aged girl had put on her volunteer form and rang the doorbell. A few minutes later a man answered the door in his robe and flannel pants.  I immediately recognized him but couldn’t place him while I asked if this was the right address and handed him the thank you card for his step daughter. Just as I was about to say thanks and bye bye like a normal person would do I remembered how I knew him.  So I said, “Um, did we make out once like a hundred years ago?” And he said, “Yup we did.” Then we both burst out laughing and I yelled, “Ok bye!” and then I ran back to my car.  It was pretty awkward but also pretty hilarious.  I told my husband about it as soon as I got home but he did not think it was as funny as I did.  I tried to explain that it was just kissing during one song at a dance and it was a hundred years ago but the humour was lost on him.

My family has actually created a signal to use in public if I start being too loud or too long-winded or if I am taking up more than my own personal space.  If any or all of these things happen they’re supposed to whisper “Baby ducks” and then I’m supposed to stop talking and back away slowly.  My husband started this because of the time that a neighbor came by and I apparently told her way too much personal information, too loudly and too close to her.  It was awkward enough for him to be slightly mortified but not so awkward that I haven’t since had regular non-awkward conversations with her.  I remember thinking during the awkward conversation that I should stop talking, but the words just kept coming out and the more flustered I got the more I kept on talking because it’s like a vicious cycle.  Talking too much embarrasses me but when I get nervous I talk too much which makes me more nervous which makes me keep right on talking.  Luckily, I’m blessed to have friends and family that use humour to reassure me that my awkward personality traits are only that.  Awkward.  They comfortably use my code word (more often than I thought they would have needed to) and continue to love me and make fun of me.  Plus, sometimes I make new friends and get free hugs.  I think it all evens out.

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Spring 2015

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It’s the beginning of June and it is beautiful here. The trees are green and the grass is growing. The sounds of spring are in the air: bees buzzing, sheep bawling (actually this is every season), crickets chirping, birds singing and dog barking (also every season). The garden is really looking fabulous. My mom planted lots and lots of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs and they are all just starting to pop out of the earth. I started feeling discouraged last week because I know that if it weren’t for my parents being here too, much of the barn and all of the garden projects wouldn’t exist. I feel like I’m getting to enjoy the spoils of the farm and not having to contribute very much. I told my mom about how I felt and she reminded that we all have our own jobs. My job just happens to be keeping the kids fed, safe and happy, doing the laundry and keeping my house clean enough that if someone stops by I can let them in. Sometimes I let people into a house that is probably too dirty for company but I try not to let it bother me. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t bother the people who pop in. I have many other jobs as well such as cleaning bathrooms, keeping a meal on the table, doing the groceries, touching poop, touching boogers, touching vomit and feeding the fish. My schedule is packed.

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My sisters and I have registered for a 5k race in July and I’m determined to not be the last racer over the finish line. It would also be nice to not be the last sister over the finish line but we’ll see. This morning I bought my daughter an app for $4.59 on my phone so that she would be distracted so I could run on the treadmill for 25 minutes. I prefer to run outside but I don’t like to take the kids with me and I’m having a little trouble finding a time that works when my husband’s home and we’re not eating a meal. Anyway, I started a new diet a few weeks ago so I’ll probably be unrecognizably slender by the end of the summer.

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Our livestock has changed a bit too! In the last few weeks we’ve gotten 20 poults (baby turkeys), 2 bunnies, 30 chicks, and six new laying hens. We also still have our border collie, Russell, our two ewes, Taylor and Angie, our ram lamb Harvey, Tony the rooster along with his two hens, the jersey bull calves Gus and Ollie and, of course, Hillary the goat. I traded one of my lambs for Hillary a few months ago. I found an ad on Kijiji of a strikingly handsome nanny goat.

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The guy wanted $200 or he would trade for horse tack, hay, tools, sheep, etc. Angie had twin ram lambs that were a few months old so I messaged with the guy and we traded one ram lamb for one nanny goat. She’s about 2 years old and she’s never been bred so we’re going to find her a billy this summer and then we can get a baby goat. Or two. We are all very excited about this. When we first took her home we put her in the pen and we left. She immediately jumped out of her pen and had free rein in the barn. She can clear a 5 ft high fence or gate from a still position. It’s quite beautiful. She’s almost like an insect. With a beard. Dad made her pen a little higher so she can’t jump out now. I walked her to the house on a leash once or twice but then dad and I thought it would be a good idea to tie her up outside to eat some grass. We walked her to a post, hooked her up and then walked away. She hated it so much that she broke the collar off of her neck and went back to her pen. Just the other day we finished the new fence and let the animals outside. Can you imagine how good it must feel to be in the sun and on the grass after having been in a barn for the whole winter? They were all very happy. Hillary just stays in the pasture with the other animals. She could easily jump out and go to town for beers but she doesn’t. She sometimes smashes her horns into the cows’ horns and she sometimes walks on the barn wall but she basically just sticks around and eats grass. I’m looking forward to seeing how motherhood affects her.

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We’ll be getting two new bull calves next week and I have Gus and Ollie booked at the butcher in August. So far we’ve eaten our own poultry but this will be the first time our animals will be food for us too. The plan is to get a pig or two and fill our freezers so that the only meat we eat is meat that we’ve raised and loved. That might sound weird to some people but I truly believe that meat from an animal that was well treated, cared for and allowed outside tastes better and is better for you. As far as calling it a pet and then eating it is concerned, I think it will get easier over time. The butcher has invited me to be present when they cut the meat. She would show me where all the cuts of meat come from, which would be really cool because I know nothing about that. I think I’m going to do it and I have a feeling that will help me to be able to enjoy our cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys as pets but also to be able to enjoy a BBQ now and then too.

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My mom and I really wanted a clothesline so my dad built a little porch for us to hang our clothes on our TWO clotheslines. It’s perfect. Dad really likes to build things out of old junk and I love his creations.

This is a chicken pen for a chicken that is ill or a chicken that is a trouble maker. My dad originally built this pen for Chuck Norris, a very nasty, jerk rooster. Our current rooster, Tony, is Chuck Norris’ son. He’s way nicer than his dad.


Tony and the girls live in this nice red house built by another family member. The hens are working on filling their nests with eggs so we can hatch some chicks right here on the farm.


This is the bunny hutch. We just move it to new grass when they need food. I asked my cousin to bring one bunny for my daughter. She brought two. This may mean that we’ll have 45 bunnies in a few weeks.


This is the first and second homes that our turkeys have. The first is insulated and small for the tiny poults. There’s a hole in the roof to accommodate a heat lamp. When they’re strong enough to handle outdoor weather the first house is attached to the second house where the turkeys get some sunlight and some more room but they are still able to go into the insulated house at night.

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Now that they are big enough they’ve been transferred to this: a mobile, grass-fed turkey run. Every day my dad will hook up the skid steer or one of his tractors to the unit and drag it one pen’s length. The turkeys are fed turkey food but they also get bugs and grass and other naturey things. I think this is a cool system.


He also built this hen house. There are six hens and four nests. The nests open from the back for easy egg removal and the cage is made primarily of chicken wire for adequate light and proper chicken viewing. I love my dad so much. And not just because he builds me cool stuff.

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My mom is pretty rad as well. As an example, I had a drawer off to the side in the kitchen that had things like chargers and camera batteries and USB cords in it. I left an open bag of dog food in the cupboard underneath it like a dummy and the mice went to town. After that they retired to the drawer for a crap. It was pretty gross. The day I cleaned it up and put the dog food in a tote I couldn’t handle the nastiness of all the cords and stuff. I just put it all in a plastic bag and put it in the office. Recently I was cleaning up my office and my mom was talking to me about something and she picked up the bag and said, “What is this?” I explained and she just walked out with it. Later on that day she came back with all the items disinfected. She took one cute USB charger as payment and left. She also picks up groceries for me sometimes, lets me raid her kitchen all the time and has tea parties with my daughter. It’s pretty sweet.

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I was telling my mom the other day that I’m feeling really thankful these days. I’m 35 (officially middle aged), happily married, and the mother of two surprising, amazing children. I get to live my dreams on a little farm with my husband, kids, mom and dad. One of my two best friends lives 4kms down a dirt road and is also a successful stay at home mom and the other is only a phone call away. It’s all just so very nice. It’s sort of a sweet spot. We’ve had hardships before and we’ll have them again but right now is a time of happiness here. Here’s to making happy memories this summer! xo

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Why is this summer happening so fast? I can’t believe it’s the middle of August already. I became a full time stay at home mom on June 1st and Susie and I have adjusted really well to our new situation. Mom and Dad sold their house in town and moved into our living room on July 12th. Their addition is coming along nicely but it’ll be a bit before they can move in. We’re sort of camping together for the summer. So far we’re getting along well with minor disputes here and there and then me always realizing that my mom is right. One morning I was bringing Susie to the doctor’s office for her 15 month appointment and I couldn’t find my truck keys. I looked at the truck and knew that I didn’t drive it last because I never would have parked like that. I first yelled at my dad. Then he said he didn’t drive so I started yelling at Dwight.
“Dwight! Where are my keys? You drove last! Where are they?? When you use someone’s things you put them back! What pants were you wearing when you parked the truck? Seriously?? You don’t remember??”
And then, just as I was really gearing up, I glanced at the stroller and remembered that I had put the keys in the bottom of it to take Susie for a walk to the mailbox. I stopped cold and my eyes went wide and Dwight knew. He knew the second I stopped. He smiled and I ran up to him and hugged and kissed his face.
“I’m so sorry. I’m such a jerk. Why am I so stupid? I love you. Give me a kiss. You’re the best. I’m the worst.”
Anyways, later on I apologized for real for being such a jerk to him and he said that sometimes I’m a jerk to my mom so the next time I went to the grocery store I was going to buy her a bouquet of flowers. Since the store only had potted plants I bought her a shirt instead. She totally loved it. She showed it to my sister and told her I bought it for her. My sister asked why and my mom said, “Because she was being a bitch.”
So, yeah, basically things are going well.
One of the many amazing things about my mom is that she is a whiz at picking colours and helping to redecorate a room. One rain day Dwight decided to stick around the shop and build bookshelves for me. I was very happy because we boxed up my books a year and a half ago and last November I had to bring the boxes to the basement and put them on skids. Our basement is really basement-y. I was afraid that if I left my books down there much longer that they’d smell gross. So, in anticipation of the shelves coming in, my mom and I redid the room. Our living room used to be at the back of the house next to the kitchen. It’s a room that has lots of windows and was an addition built on the farmhouse about 30 years ago. I’m lying. I don’t know exactly how many years it was but it’s pretty oldish. The room is big and bright and has a small powder room attached. So, when we realized that mom and dad would be living here before their addition was ready we decided that the sunroom would be the perfect bedroom for them. It’s big enough for their king size bed, their little office desk and a set with two comfy chairs and a loveseat. That meant that Dwight and I moved our living room to the front room. Since we moved in a year and a half ago, this room has been basically empty. Or filled with boxes. Or filled with furniture I was painting. My plan was to eventually get Dwight to install some beautiful cherry bookcases and make a library. Then, when I started worrying about my stinky books I asked my dad to make me some makeshift bookshelves. After they talked about it I think Dwight thought it would be easier for him to just build something safe and not hideous. So mom figured that if we were going through the effort of building and painting bookshelves, we might as well repaint the room too. And then we might as well update the crown molding, the ceiling, the ceiling fan and the base of the fireplace. And also the hardwood could use a quick sand and varathane. Here are the before and after shots:

The colour is called Fernwood Green from Benjamin Moore. My mom has two colour decks and she always knows where both of them are. The crown molding was thin and mom used a trick she found online to make it look better. We put a thin strip of wood about an inch below the existing molding and then extended the new trim paint to the outside of the new wood strip. It looks fabulous. Also, the day that the people were in to do the ceiling in the addition happened to fall when the room was empty. Dwight asked them to do the living room too. I’m also tickled to see my books in their shelves. They’re organized in my own special way so that I would know where to find any book of mine that you wanted to borrow. I was going to leave one entire bookshelf for my mom’s books because I don’t think she’ll have enough bookshelves in her house but I had too many books. We’ll see what happens when their boxes make their way in here. This room makes me feel very happy now. Notice the cushions are on the couch. They have to be there now because Russell, our first born border collie, has been sneaking up and sleeping on the furniture. I love him but he’s so gross sometimes.

After all the work to make the room look and feel awesome, I realized that my dream of a cherry wood library with no tv and only some comfy chairs and perhaps several gentlemen in smoking jackets would not be coming true and instead this room is now my living room. That also means that once mom and dad are out of the sunroom I have a big room next to my kitchen with a little bathroom attached that I can fill with toys and comfy chairs and no tv. I can’t wait to decorate the toy room!

Here are some before and after shots of the back of the house with and without the addition. It’ll be a bit before it’s really cute and there aren’t dirt mounds covered in weeds everywhere. But, it’s coming along nicely and it’s very exciting to watch everything change and update.

Here is the shop last year at this time and this year at this time. So, also coming along.

Here is a picture of my little family. This is the face Susie makes when you ask her for a smile. She usually throws her head back too. Dwight’s hair is changing colour and I love it. I LOVE it.

Here is a photo of the path to our garden. My mom and I are a little embarrassed with our pathetic garden this year but our peas are making an honest effort. Today at lunch I went out with Russell and picked every pea.

Here is a picture of the peas. Also, Russell is in the background looking very guilty about something. He’s probably still feeling bad about going up on the furniture in my absence.

Mom and I have been taking care of a neighbor’s garden and she told us to pick and eat whatever we wanted. So for lunch today we had homemade zucchini from our neighbor’s garden, homemade swiss chard from our neighbor’s garden, homemade peas from our garden all fried up with carmelized onions. (from the neighbor’s garden.)

Here are some pictures that I took while I was going around the block. I simply can’t describe to you how much I’m enjoying summer at the farm with my baby and my projects. And my iPhone.


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Start of Summer

Well, summer has started and I’m feeling ready! I sold my business and became a full time stay at home mom on June 1st. I packed up almost all of my dress clothes and put them away. I did some savvy shopping online and now have a wardrobe of yoga pants and tank tops.

Here is a picture of me with my sweet Susie. I’m wearing a sweater that my Dad bought me when I was 15. I don’t think I’ll ever throw this sweater out.
The farm is really starting to come along. My parents’ addition is up and the drywall is just about to be installed. They’re moving in on Friday and because their place isn’t ready we’re setting them up a bedroom in our living room. We’re moving all of our living room stuff to our front room which will eventually be the library but for now is just a big empty room with a fireplace.

We’ve been wandering around all over the place and I found an old cast iron sink in the woods. I need Dwight to go get it for me because it’s a)really heavy and b)surrounded by poison ivy plants. He’s not as allergic as me so I’m waiting for him to go get it for me so I can clean it up and sell it online. I have to make money somehow, right?

We had two hens and a rooster but one of the hens ran away from home in the Spring when we were letting them wander around. Right now the rooster, Chuck Norris, is in his own home and the hen is sitting on eggs in this chicken coop. I’m expecting chicks in the next week or so! 🙂

I have been spending some time online and to justify the time I spend on Pinterest, I try to make use of some of the ideas I’m finding. First, I re-folded my husband’s t-shirts. He has one drawer of white shirts and one drawer of miscellaneous t-shirts. Don’t they look nice and organized now? My next project will be to empty out our closet, sand it, prime it, paint it and install new racking.

I also made my own laundry detergent and I LOVE it. If you’re interested, search Mom’s Home Made Laundry Sauce on Pinterest and follow the directions. It’s the cat’s meow.

I thought you’d also like to see a birthday card I made for my cousin’s husband. I was going to craft him up a nice card but then I found this. He loved it.

I wanted to share a photo of my neighborhood. There is a 2 mile block and a 3 mile block that I’ve been using to go for runs. Sometimes I just stop and take pictures because it’s so stinking beautiful out. Here is a photo of a perfect field on my 3 mile block.

I also wanted to post a pic of my happy kitchen. My parents’ 40th wedding anniversary was two weeks ago and my mom had made up all of these plants for center pieces for the tables. I put them in my windows. Also, my bestie had sent me a bouquet to celebrate my new job. Also, my sweetie gave me a bouquet of flowers for our 10th anniversary which was last weekend. Also, my mom started bringing over her house plants. So, my kitchen is full of flowers and makes me feel very happy.

Finally, here are two super cute pictures of my favourite kid. I just can’t get enough of her.
Here’s to the start of a wonderful summer!

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Use your time wisely. How many times have we heard that in our lives? These days I’m feeling like there are way too many things to do with the amount of time that is in a day. Keep in mind that I really, really like to sleep. So, in order for me to feel at all successful in my life I need to not only do a million things that I have on my mind, I also need to get enough sleep. Therefore, I’ve started a new routine. I get up in the morning and go for a run. There are three reasons why this is a good thing.

First of all, I’m pretty fat. Eventually, the running will have an effect on that. I hope. The second thing is that exercising regularly gives me more energy during the day. I’ve heard. It better start working soon. The third reason that a morning run is good is that then the first 45 minutes of my day is just me and my music and my dog. I sneak out of the house and when the baby gets up while I’m gone my husband gets her out of bed and feeds her breakfast.

Now that I’ve explained why exercise is good for me I want to say that I’m definitely NOT one of those people who wants to brag about being all together and all ‘in shape’. When I picture myself running I picture one of those awesome ‘in shape’ people but I’m pretty sure what it ACTUALLY looks like is a 30 something woman stomping down the road, all haggard and exhausted with my windsock breasts jammed into a sports bra and my dog circling back to run into my knees. Anyways, I read on Pinterest that the only time anyone wants to hear about your workout is when you fly off the treadmill backwards and lots of people laugh at you. Luckily for me, we live in the middle of NOWHERE and basically nobody ever sees me looking ridiculous. Thank goodness.

The point of me telling you about the new routine is that I feel like I’m using my time more wisely. One of my favourite ways to use my time is to curl up on the couch with a blanket and my iPhone and play solitaire while ignoring the laundry and the dishes and the baby and my greasy hair. Thing is, that doesn’t make me feel very successful so, in an effort to feel better about myself, I took the first step and changed up my routine. To be honest, yesterday and today the weather was too depressing in the morning to actually leave the house at 6:10am but I did it when I got home yesterday instead and I’ll do the same today.

So, speaking of Pinterest and spending my time more wisely, I’ve done several of projects I found and wanted to share them with you. The first is a cork board for my jewelry. I took pictures step by step of how to do this and here they are.

I had a beautiful window from the century home we sold to move to our farm. I removed the glass panes, sanded it down, painted it, inserted wood plates, glued corks to the plates and then hung it up. I bought some wooden push pins at Walmart and used them to hang my necklaces. The earrings just get pushed into the cork. It’s in my bedroom and I think it looks super cute and it’s very easy to find a necklace or a pair of earrings in the morning when I’m scrambling to shower, dress the baby, pack our lunches and get as much coffee into my body as possible before I drop her off and go to work.

I also bought a really cute bird house and asked my dad to fasten to the outside of the house against a window so that with the back removed from it, you can see the inside of the bird house from the inside of the window. I even tacked fabric around the edges so wind wouldn’t get in and I hung a dark blue piece of fabric on the inside of the window so it wasn’t too bright for the bird inside the bird house. So far it’s been about a week and no birds have even perused the real estate. I’m leaving it up all summer because it would be SO cool to be able to see baby birds being born and watching their mama feed them.

Lastly, I painted a dresser that was in the nursery. We decorated the nursery before we knew if Susie was a boy or a girl so it was very yellow and brown. Now it’s yellow and brown and pink.

I had put that sticky drawer liner paper in the drawers before so they were already cute. I bought some adorable glass knobs and one liter of paint in the Benjamin Moore colour Deep Carnation. I totally love it. The front room of our house doesn’t really have anything in it yet because I’m waiting to paint the room and have my husband build me a library. So, it was the perfect place to take the dresser to paint it. I sanded it and primed it with oil primer. On Monday, when I wasn’t at work I gave it its first two coats. Then, last night after work and my run and supper and putting the baby to bed, I gave it one more coat, just to be sure. It felt really nice to be in my front room, listening to music, painting a dresser and using my time wisely.

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This morning my dad helped me carry the dresser back upstairs and it looks adorable in her room. I hope she loves it forever. 🙂

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My Baby

I was barren. We had been trying to get pregnant for almost 7 years and we had been through the fertility treatments and                                                                    started the adoption procedure when, one day, I peed on a stick and there was a glorious plus sign. I was pregnant. My mom told me that she had never felt better than when she was pregnant. I assumed it would be awesome. I was wrong. I threw up several times a day for the entire pregnancy and by the end I looked like a house.

The crazy thing about it, though, is that it was worth it. It was worth every minute’s wait, every dollar, every swollen ankle, every vomit splatter, every stretch mark and every contraction. I now have a beautiful baby girl. She’s funny. She’s 7 months old and she’s funny. She’s pretty. She’s good. She’s perfect.

I hope I get to do it again. 🙂

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The Office

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve moved my home office. There is a room off of our dining room that I knew would make the perfect place for an office. My husband and I are both self employed and it’s nice to be able to shut the door on work instead of the desk being in a common room, you know? When we moved I had the desk set up in the front room, which will eventually be named “La Biblioteque” once Dwight has time to build me some bookshelves to match the fireplace. The front room is right next to the front entrance and the office desk has been a big ugly mess greeting everyone that has come to visit.

The new office was painted a sort of beigey goldy tanny colour. Again, the trim was painted a similar colour and I much prefer to see the walls painted a colour and the trim painted white. I told my mom that I hoped to have the new office painted and set up for Thanksgiving weekend, as I’m hosting the family dinner.

The room had been full of boxes and junk that hadn’t been unpacked yet so the first job was emptying the room into the dining room. Then my awesome mom and sister came over and painted the room for me. I went with a colour called Sundried Tomato. It’s pretty deep but it accents the flowers in the dining room wallpaper (which is staying).

 Once the room was painted and the floor was sanded and redone (also my awesome mom) I moved the desk and all of its inhabitants into the new room. This included going to the scary basement and bringing the cable wire and the phone cord across the ceiling down there, drilling a hole in the office floor and sliding the cords through it. 

My craft table went on the other side of the room. My other sister had a tall cupboard in her garage that she wasn’t using and I painted it cloud white just like the trim. It fit perfectly in the remaining space. At the moment, the craft table is being used to place my baby in her bouncy chair on while I’m working at the desk.

Once I put the office together I organised the remaining boxes in the front room and will make it a goal to go through one or two a week so that the only things left are my books which can be unpacked later on this winter.
So, now I have a beautiful office and it feels so nice to sit at the desk and work.  And waste time on Pinterest while my baby sleeps behind me.

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