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!

Thursday, March 07, 2019

House Warming

A few weeks ago, the Lee's left a "housewarming"gift in our garage. It was a pile of firewood. They live in the canyon too. We didn't know they lived there for almost a year, all tucked into the trees behind the road. They are off-grid for the most part, not quite as off grid as my Aunt and Uncle in-law. 

The wood stove was the last big thing we needed in order to live in the house safely. I can do without cabinets, but not without a good heat source. Our propane tank is emptying fast trying to heat that house, and it's expensive to heat with propane. So, we went to town and picked out a wood stove. We chose a Blaze King, king sized. I was looking at the one the heating store used in their shop and asked them if I could just have that one. It was only two years old. So they knocked off a thousand dollars and said they'd sell it to us for cash! 

I watched and watched for them to come but didn't expect them to show up until next week. And the minute I thought that, there was a knock at the door. 

There were five guys carrying it in...and five plumbers cracks! Which is funny because they are all from the heating and plumbing place. That thing is HEAVY. Five big men and they were struggling.

They got it all set up and I immediately cleaned the whole thing with rags and water. I buffed the new gold front door surround. If you don't buff it really well before you heat it up for the first time, any fingerprints or marks will be permanently etched onto the front. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Moved In!

I apologize for no pictures! I will have pictures later this week. We currently don't have internet set up and have to hotspot our phones, so I don't have a way to back up all the pictures from my phone...or at least, I don't know how to.

Sorry also, for the sabbatical. It has been a lot of work moving in and I had so much to do, I was a little overwhelmed.

A few highlights...

We have been snowed in three times since we moved in. Once we ALMOST made it out to the road to get Audra to dance and high centered about three feet from the plowed road. My brother-in-law pulled us out. James spends a lot of his time in the backhoe digging us out...and another snowstorm is headed this direction.

I'm learning a lot about building a fire at 3am in the wood stove. I learned words like kindling, and log cabin and suffocating and lots of other words that either helped or hindered my fire-building.

I am SO happy that I can get up early in the mornings wouldn't have been polite to go rummaging around someone else's house at 5:30, but I am up at 5:30 almost every day now and I get so much more accomplished!

I'm a little stressed out that the upstairs is still saw-dust and half finished wood-floors and the downstairs needs to be painted, but I have worked around it to make a very comfortable home.

Boring of borings, I am LOVING my laundry room and my laundry routine. I'll share my laundry tips in another post. With seven kids and often several visitors at a time, we go through many loads, but I have learned to love it and make it very efficient.

I have a dog...don't judge, I'm not an animal person, but I do like him. He's a good boy. He's a white husky with blue eyes. He sleeps in a crate in our garage and then plays outside most of the time, chasing kids on snowmobiles, then comes and gets lazy by the fire for a little while. I hate that he's always bringing trash onto my porch from the fire pit.

And last of all, and kind of funny, we went on a snowmobiling date the other day! Not characteristic of me at all! I remember thinking to myself...this is not sexy attire for a date! My husband knows me well, and even though I never said it out loud, he said, "I like you in snow don't always have to be wearing heels."

It's not that I'm a really prissy girl that has to be wearing the new styles all the time and have her finger nails painted...I'm not! I do like to have my toenails painted though, and I like girly things and girly clothes, so pulling on a suit that makes me look like a giant, purple and black snowman, was not like me.

I had SO much fun though. I even learned to kind of maneuver the snowmobile using my body while standing up. Again, I did not feel very girly at all! In fact, it was a little embarrassing when we had to try and make it up a very long, steep hill and I was riding the kids' snowmobile and had to go up in front of James and my brother-in-law...they wanted to make sure I didn't get stuck...I felt so stupid. Then we had to go down the other side and it was so steep, it looked like a roller coaster. If they hadn't made me feel so nervous about "pumping my breaks, and taking it easy, and riding it all the way down and not panicking," I might not have been so scared, but I begged James to let me slide down on my butt, but then the snowmobile would have been stuck at the top. So, I had no choice. In the end, I really enjoyed it and I think (unless he's just making me feel good) I did a pretty good job of keeping up. I only got stuck once. Did I mention...I find snowmobiling men to be very attractive...just James ;)

I will post pictures and updates and laundry tips as soon as we get internet going!

Have a nice week and...I hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day. I think it's a boring holiday, but I do get extra special house projects done on that day. That's my love language, after all. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Moving In and, Our Family Photos

We've never had pictures taken for our family. We always took them ourselves. But my new SIL is a photographer and she kindly offered. The pictures turned out really nice, but if you could have seen all that went on behind the scenes, you would have either laughed or cried for us. 
I was yelling at kids to smile and stop picking noses, James was NOT enjoying the picture process, he hates posing and kissing on demand and he kept pinching me or doing something ridiculous. 
My brother was trying to keep the two year old from running away and the baby kept stuffing rocks in her mouth. The big boys were saying, "Are we done?" in their most polite little voices, while I gave them the "BE POLITE" Mommy glare. 
I'm so glad we suffered through the process. 
I did have to put my little heels back in their box and they haven't been out since. Muck boots all day everyday :( 
                Yesterday, our counter-top situation looked of those "nepotism" things. So, we went back to square one and were going to order Unfinished Solid Wood cabinets from this company that had really great reviews. I was so relieved. I wanted solid wood and I kind of wanted to paint them myself...but then the nepotism thing resurfaced and now we might be going with our relative again. If it doesn't happen Saturday, then we are ordering everything on Monday. 

Well, in light of everything with the cabinets and counter-tops, we talked to the bank about different options and they said that since we will have a functioning main floor, including a bathroom and a kitchen (if we get a temporary sink) then we can move in.

The only thing we have left on the main floor, is grouting the shower and finishing the trim, which is happening as we speak. The wood stove is coming today.

I started getting really nervous. We've lived with my in-laws, two and-a-half miles from our house, for almost a year. I haven't exactly enjoyed living in a basement, but I have gotten used to having people nearby during outages and snowstorms...ok and I like watching Hallmarks with them when the kids are in bed.

...And during one of the blizzards, you are totally on your own unless someone checks on you in a snowmobile, which is possible. My brother-in-law visits on a snowmobile occasionally and we have one if there is ever an emergency.

But, living on my own in that house on the hill with James going back to work soon, is a little scary...I don't have any other logical reasons why. Maybe it's because the house isn't totally finished. We'll be living only on the main floor. Actually, the upstairs is finished enough that we can drag mattresses into the bedrooms.

So, I decided that I will start getting things moved into the main floor...I'll set up furniture and start moving appliances in and beds and trying to make it comfortable. Then I'll see how I feel when the cabinets are installed. I may not pull the trigger until James comes home next. Maybe I'll pull it half-way and we'll nap and hang out and eat there during the day and go back Grandma and Grandpa's at night. I would like to have some more food storage and emergency stuff set up before I wave goodbye to the canyon. February is usually brutal up here, and if it's anything like January, I may not leave the house at all.

I plan to document the moving-in process and the organization process. Like I've said before, I'm very boring and I like things like organization. I have a few life hacks though, after having seven kids. Most of them I stole from other people who are crazy too. Some I came up with out of shear desperation. My favorite life-hack for lots of kids, is laundry!

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...