Saturday, May 25, 2019

Spring is in the Air

With planting season under way, we had a week of really wet weather and James was able to be home to work on the house again. I was so pleased when he decided not to take a business trip this weekend. I hate when he goes and leaves little sad hole in our home without him. I was completely elated when he came downstairs yesterday and said, "Well, I guess the trip can wait, I think I'm needed more around here." 

Here is some of the progress we have made...

The girl room is completely finished...however, we made a last minute decision to put our third son in there with her instead of the baby girl. 

At night, I like to tuck everyone in and then read to each of the kids in their rooms. Well, the babies go to bed an hour before the bigs and I can't read to my son if he's in with the babies. So, every night, we have been snuggling down in Audra's room and reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. After a few nights, we realized that the logical answer would be to let him inhabit the blue room for the next few years until the baby is old enough to have a big girl room. 

The big room in the back is now considered the nursery and we are going to rework one side of the room so it's less girly. 

We had a large double sleepover last weekend and it was a blast. I don't usually like sleepovers and we don't do them very often. I like my kids in their own beds and I never had the greatest experiences with sleep at sleepovers. I ended up exhausted and grouchy the next day. But, the kids did really well and we had a lot of fun those two days. 

My daughter had a dance performance last week and BOY am I glad I don't have to worry about dance again until fall. It was such a chore getting everyone everywhere this season with sports and events. I loved watching her dance though, and of course, we signed her up for next year. This is her with her cute friend who is our neighbor. They live many many miles away as the bird flies and about a fifteen minute drive, but that is what neighbors are around here. Our closest neighbor is a mile away. 

Planting season has been crazy! I am the official cook, along with my mother-in-law, but she was out of town for a long weekend, so I was responsible for dinner and lunch for 4 farmers. The tricky part is, you have to think of food that will be easy and filling while driving a tractor. You have to package it in all disposables and it has to be delivered to each tractor, all of which are on different ridges on different mountain tops. Yes...mountain tops! There are many ridges and mountains and canyons around here and they are all so beautiful, but I'm still learning where each one is. So, when they say, I'll be on ridge 3 and the rest of the crew is by the lodge...those two locations are miles away and up winding roads on opposite ends of the canyon. It's a fun adventure delivering food...and beautiful.

You might ask, why don't they just pack food? Well, they live in those machines for almost a month from sun up until often midnight, and the food would not stay good all day. They don't take breaks and they don't want to eat cheese sticks and crackers all month either. So, it really helps them to get things done, when they can rely on two good meals. 

This is not a good picture, but it's progress. The kitchen is coming along slowly but surely. I can't wait for my villa tile, but that may not be a project James wants to tackle this summer. 

I love my larder! I turned the second office, off the dining room, into a larder. It's basically my baking pantry. Everything I need for making breads is in this pantry. It has become a little haven for me. I'll take better pictures when it's all complete. BTW...I came home from a LONG sports evening to my third son and the two younger siblings having made dough in the pantry...and the baby cracked eggs all over the new rug. It took a lot of self control to not freak out on the kids. I gritted my teeth, asked them to help me clean up and then get ready for bed. Lots of self control that almost wasn't enough...

On James' birthday, we decided to make crepes. It might seem like a chore to make crepes for nine people. But I don't use a crepe pan. I use a large griddle and I use two medium sized cast iron pans.  I can make 6 crepes at a time. It is just as fast as making pancakes or maybe faster. 

It has been such an adventure living here. We are still getting used to the drive. But I won't complain. The view out back is like a giant painting that changes every day. Sometimes it looks like Scotland with rolling hills and a dusting of rain and wispy clouds. Sometimes it looks like a unicorn will come bouncing along at any moment with sunshine and rainbows.

Those beautiful views are interrupted by the chaos of having seven kids, but we love it...even when there are 20 cracked eggs on my brand new rug, or someone has smeared coconut oil all over the linen sofa...or there's a pound of flour all over the pantry...or your important dishes are in the basement being used for a tea party...or you walk in at midnight and find the two year old ripping pages out of a book with the baby in her crib...or the two year old decided he didn't like his diaper in the middle of the night and you and the other kids spend the next morning cleaning baking soda off of sub floor...or your son walks with a busted open chin from getting in the way of a bat during practice and has to have his chin glued...or someone lets the muddy dog in and he runs happily through the living room spraying mud all over everything and while you're cleaning up the mud, you realize he must have stepped on some broken glass because there is a little bloody paw print every two feet. 

Well, that's a taste of life for us. But we are ok with it and it is crazy almost every day. No one would ever be bored here for even a second, which can be tiring, but we wouldn't trade it. We may run a small restaurant with how many place settings and meals we go through every day, but we wouldn't trade it...and our grocery bill is a little more than our mortgage, but we wouldn't trade that either. 


Thursday, April 25, 2019


After two years of no traditions, we decided to do as many as possible this year. Here are a few:

Hot "Cross" Buns
Homemade Kites (symbolizing the resurrection) 
Paintings to give as gifts
Egg dying and egg hunt (of course, a classic US tradition)

 The kites posed more of an issue than expected. The materials were quite expensive and it took seven tries to finally get one up in the air. Shad's made it up finally. We did find out that we had secured the bridle on the wrong side and it was catching the wind funny. Once we fixed it, it took seven different strings to finally decide that we need nylon kite string...but on the package it specifically said, "do not attach to anything that may become a sail or become airborne." 

It took me half a dozen children to decide that craft time was worth the mess and worry. I even enjoy it now and I encourage them to do crafts and get messy whenever possible. 

This was a particularly magical day where everyone got along and enjoyed painting and we read poems while we painted. It felt like a scene right out of an old book. 

James and I want to re-create more of a traditional childhood like we had or our parents and grandparents had. We want minimal "unnecessary" screen time and lots of family time. Crafts has been a fun way to accomplish it. No matter what else is going on, they seem to gravitate to whatever is going on in the kitchen, or wherever I am. So I try to have something stimulating to do each day. 

I had to show you this beautiful pot from France. I have a sweet Etsy friend that sent this to me with birthday chocolates and a nice card. This was a big deal. I also bought the copper pots you see behind you. They are decades old and in excellent, though very loved, shape and tough as boots. I don't think I'll ever need another set of pots. Easy to care for...if they tarnish, find a child, a few wedges of lemon, and a chair. The lemon makes them sparkle like new. 

We got a science experiment from the Easter Bunny who thought a fun project would be better than cadbury eggs...

And the cabinets arrived! James did an excellent and timely installation and I love them. They are a simple shaker style which I think is a very classic style. Shaker always translates to simple. I will be having gold (not real) handles and knobs installed. I'm still getting used to the color. I really wanted them to be Benjamin Moore Railings, which is a DeVol kitchen color that I absolutely love. If you don't know who DeVol is, you should meet them! You should also meet Laurel Bern. She is the life blood of design in my mind. She is so knowledgeable and talented. 

My only problem now, is that I don't have counters or a sink for the next two weeks. I believed myself to be a pretty innovative person with a good mind for problem solving. Children force me to problem solve all day long...but having no indoor mind shut down. I live in the kitchen. Sometimes I am in the kitchen so often that I sit on a stool to cook or do dishes and my children bring me their school work and work around me on the counters. But now I have no counters...or sink. So, after a very difficult day with some frustrated words and getting very bossy with everyone to stay away from me while I figured it out...I figured it out. Kind of.

I pulled the living room corner table into the kitchen to be the center island. I filled a bucket with soapy water for the cleaning rag. It gets drained and refilled with the hand pump every few hours.

It's a good place to prepare food, but like I said, children gravitate toward the kitchen, so it also became the perfect place to play Monopoly Deal.

Side note: I did successfully make some pretty rolls today and I am picky about which recipes make it into my sacred recipe box (yes I'm old fashioned and I love my box with cards and I will never get rid of it, no matter how many times I'm badgered to put my recipes on the computer) But anyway, I decided to keep this recipe. 

And this is what we do now, three times a day. The first bucket is where the dishes soak and are scrubbed. The second is a bleach bath. The boys drain and refill these twice a day too. I close the lids when we aren't using them. 

You might be wondering why I'm wearing a dress. I like dresses. I feel most comfortable and feminine in a dress. I don't mind yoga pants and leggings either but most of the time I am happiest in a pretty house dress (always with an apron, which comes in so very handy! I can't live without an apron at home and today I almost took Shad to baseball with it still on and covered in soapy water and floury handprints.) I also have a few pairs of ballet flats that I use as house slippers. 

I have always loved dresses and feminine clothing. I would dress in princess dresses if they weren't so cumbersome. You might also wonder if it's harder to work in a dress. I don't mind it, as long as I'm warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I don't notice much of a difference but I suppose I choose more dresses in the spring and summer because I don't like being cold. 

Other strange things about me...I am almost always pregnant and many people have asked if we are done. I'll be very forthright, and I am never offended by the's already strange enough to have seven in this day and age, but we are actually going for nine. 

We like having children and we hope that they will grow up to be nice people that will leave a good mark on the world. If each of my kids grows up and only touches one life for good, It will be all worth the effort. And no, I'm not a super-mom or a super-woman. I don't own a cape, I own a broom and an apron and I am very often barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, by choice. I am happy that way and grateful to my wonderful super-husband and father, James, who has gone off every day and sometimes weeks at a time to slay the dragons for us so that I CAN be all of those things. YES sometimes it is very hard. Raising seven children comes with lots of messes, sleepless nights, tears, and stress at times, but I'm not one to stop doing something just because it's hard. If that were the case for everyone in the world, we'd have no doctors, dentists, soldiers or mothers. 

So, please don't feel in the least bit sorry for me. I know that traditional women aren't very popular in todays world but I find it a very refreshing and fulfilling lifestyle for me...I am up right now, with a cup of warm tea, writing. I just gave my face an ice bath and a ten minute oil massage. I read a book to my kids and sat with my dog for a few minutes. Tomorrow we will play and paint and fight and resolve and wash lots of dishes after a big chicken dinner. We are watching, Gone With the Wind, and installing cabinet hardware, snuggling babies with curly red hair, reading more books and watching the sunset. I wouldn't rather be anywhere. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Finally Some Pictures!

We've lived here almost three months and I haven't had good enough internet to download many pictures. But, we finally got the internet going and here's what has happened the past few weeks. 

We are LOVING having a place to do all of our family stuff without bothering everyone! I used to think that I was just losing my touch because I couldn't get everything done while we lived in the basement. Now, I'm realizing, it was just a matter of environment. I am able to get up early, get my chores done, go to bed early, take care of myself and accomplish SO much. I even have time to iron six outfits before Sunday.

Playing board games is much more fun too. Did you know that natural light can reduce depression and anxiety by 60%. The basement had one window and it was only about 2 feet by 2 feet. This window spot is our favorite place to iron, play games, read and eat snacks. These boys are not supposed to be messing with the Stratego game...I did stop them after I took the picture. 

It's also much more fun being sick in one's own house. Everyone caught a light flu bug a few weeks ago. I'm very kind to sick babies, but I am also very firm about their mobility while sick. I don't like to quarantine them away from the family, but they are given a pallet of blankets, covered in a towel and a bucket and some tea. They have to park their sick bed near the bathroom door and next to the warm fire. 

The boys are getting good at building fires and I turned the job over to them. It took a little bit of learning from James, but they are getting it! Just in time for Spring. 

There's no better place to play Snow Princess. That poor dress has been washed three times. 

The stairs are finally getting finished and I'll post pictures when they are completely finished. These two boys are taking a break from bringing in wood. 

We have had a lot of time with James lately. He hasn't had to leave in a few months, which is a blessing. We're making up for 9 years of him being out of state every other week. 

I can't tell you how much I love my kitchen...even though the cabinets still haven't arrived! It has been a month! But, I make due in our makeshift kitchen just fine. I'm trying out new and old recipes now that I have my magical, precious recipe box back. This recipe is poached eggs with a yogurt sauce. It's something you would eat for breakfast in the middle east. We can't afford to haul our family to other countries, so we bring them here. Some of our favorites are...Ratatouille, Feijoada, Loco Moco (from Hawaii), Papusas, and Roti and Curry. 

I got my sofas! I love them! I waited a year for these after 2 years of hand-me-downs and 10 years of James' sofas that he picked out from American Furniture Warehouse...we thought they were lovely at the time, and now I find them atrocious. If only I had known Laurel Bern back then. They are pretty sturdy and I'm hoping they will hold up to 5 wild boys and 2 wild girls. 

I'm not finished with this room and even though that's a good quality, untufted wool rug, I think it's too small for this space, so it might be going elsewhere. I also need two more chairs.

This is the partially finished stairwell. We are painting the entire dining room Rolling Hills by Benjamin Moore. 

I saw this color in a hundreds of years old house and I fell in love with it. Some colors seem to be neither here nor there, but this one has so much depth, and even my non-designer eye children love it and compliment it. It'll bring some interest to a very white house. 

I do love a good white room...and that is NOT a trend, no matter what HGTV says...white is always a classic and will always be...but some rooms benefit from some color. 

I think it depends on the room. I think we'll leave the living room Benjamin Moore Cotton Balls white, but we'll be painting some other rooms more moody colors. I like moody. 

Audra's bathroom is almost finished! All we need is a layer of grout and some cabinets. She wants her room to be blue. I'm on the hunt for the perfect shade. I'm such a picky paint selector and I won't just grab a tab from Lowe's. It has to be tried and tested by designers and I need to see it in multiple lightings and venues before I okay it in my home. I've narrowed it down to two colors...I'll do a post on that later. 

And here is a terrible picture of the pocket room. The beloved pocket room. I was teased about this room endlessly until we started using it for everything from a guest room, to a rest room, to a board game room, to a napping room, to a piano keyboard playing room and a sewing room. It's so useful. Not a big room, but very functional. Right now we are hosting guests in it. 

That is an overview of life right now. The snow is slowly melting....but it snowed last night. I think this is the last for a while and I think it will melt fast. 

Next up is Easter. We have waited and waited to establish some of our own traditions. We'll be making kites, hot "cross" buns, and painting Easter paintings to give as gifts. We'll also have an egg hunt and an egg roll. I LOVE holidays. Easter is one of my favorites for traditions. I am trying hard not to be bothered by all the messes. Crafts equal messes!

Spring is in the Air

With planting season under way, we had a week of really wet weather and James was able to be home to work on the house again. I was so ple...