19 May 2019

Motherhood Means...

Such a happy newborn!
Better late than never, but happy (SUPER belated) Mother's Day (I get a free pass for being tardy, having a newborn, right?)! Though every day is mother's day around here (I'm positive the world would implode if mom, a.k.a. me, went missing), it is appreciated when we get to celebrate things that are sometimes taken for granted.
Around here, motherhood is always very prevalent, probably because I'm in the thick of it at this point of my life. I'm not the only one either. Dolly is an attentive, doting mother to Woody. Rosie and Goldie have started sitting on their own clutches (fingers crossed for chicks soon!)...heck, even the ants that invade the kitchen ever spring have some queen mother tucked somewhere in our walls.
Motherhood has brought me all kinds of experiences that I never dreamed I'd have. Like the fact that I can't do anything without someone interrupting me, unless they're taking naps, have gone to bed, are watching television, or I've locked myself in a room--even then, they sometimes find me.
That means for about the past ten years, I haven't been able to do anything on my to-do list without someone helping, from mowing, to milking the cow, washing the youngest sibling, cooking dinner, showering, taking out the trash, writing my next book, napping, tying my shoes, or eating my own lunch (because mine always looks better than whatever I've made for them, even if it's the exact same thing).
Zoey "helping" wash Peter.
Motherhood also means I'll probably never have clean windows, floors, doorknobs, couches, or walls ever again.
Motherhood means clutter--everywhere. Shoes, crafts, coloring pages, clothes, hair ties, unfolded laundry, books, Legos, Tupperware lids...
Most of the time, though, the reason the kids made the mess in the first place is because of me. The scattered sheets of scratch paper are from Claire trying to create the absolute perfect rendition of a dragon that she can, so she can tuck it under my pillow to surprise me. The books are out because Zoey wanted to read together. Henry builds the most masterful Lego mansions in my honor, while Evelyn can stitch together the cutest little felt animals to gift to me. Kate loves to brush my hair and I might as well be at a spa.
Amid the chaos, there are gems of childhood wisdom I find if I'm being attentive.
Between the bickering, there are plenty of tender moments of love and friendship that can only be fostered by the unbreakable sibling bond. Warms my mother heart!
I love when everyone is getting along!
Of course, being able to cuddle some adorable babies in my decade-long career of motherhood has been the cherry on top.
The week leading up to Mother's Day, my own mother was in town visiting. It's always fun to have Grandma visit--it might as well be Christmas morning for the kids. For me, especially so soon after a new baby, it's like being a kid all over again, having someone cook and clean for me.
Claire, Kate, and Grandma peeked inside beehives.
 The whole week was pretty relaxing, with everything from bonfires...
...to horseback rides...
...to pizza.
Mother's Day brought a haul of homemade crafts and cards, chocolate, cookies, and treats.
I even snuck in a nap...not alone, of course.
The highlight of the day was taking a drive up to the Indianapolis Temple, just to take a peek. In our faith, families can quite literally be together forever. What more could a mother ask for than to know the relationship with her children isn't bound by this life alone?
As much as we tend to talk about what mother's do for their families, I think more often than not, my children are the ones teaching me. Their unfailing kindness, ability to forgive, boundless creativity, total optimism, and unwavering faith is enough to humble me. Watching them grow and wondering what their future holds is as exciting as seeing where my own life takes me. One thing I know for sure is they'll always hold my heart, they'll make me proud, no matter what they pursue, and it's been a complete honor to mother them!
Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

09 May 2019

Epic Mushroom Hunt

Found a pheasant back mushroom!
Since Peter showed up, Jack has been home from work the past couple of days. It's nice to be able to sleep in (to make up for being up in the middle of the night, haha), and have some extra help with the rest of the kids, but it's only a matter of time before Jack starts getting antsy and wanting to go in search of an adventure while he has the time for it. This time of the year is great for mushroom hunting, particularly the coveted morel mushroom. I'm not a huge fan of your average, boring portabella but morels are on a totally different plane and are absolutely mouthwatering.
Harold schooling Jack.
So, Jack spoke with our old neighbor, who gave him permission to search in his woods, and beyond. With a warm, sunny day and my visiting mother in tow, the kids took a day off of school and went with him. After I made them help me tidy the house and fold the laundry. Work then play, I say!
Zoey stayed home with me--not that she wouldn't be capable of keeping up but because of her habit of wandering at this age. She's not very good at saying where she is when she goes missing, either. It's funny to her when she's hiding, which is not funny to me when I can't find my two-year-old. Peter hung out, adorable as ever, but before Zoey's fingernail paint was even dry, everyone came hurrying back.
He's soooooo cute!
On their way to the forest, they spotted an injured Cooper's hawk. We're not sure what happened to the poor thing but it obviously had a broken wing. Throwing a shirt over it, Jack brought it home and we put it in a box, called a local raptor recovery center, and drove it over to the vet for them. Hopefully it recovers soon because its mate has been calling for it for several days and is terribly sad to hear.
Get well soon, buddy!
With the hawk secured, everyone went back out again to see what other excitement they could find.
There were all sorts of interesting plants to examine, some of which were very fashionable... 
 ...and functional.
The terrain was fairly thick and rolling, so the kids helped each other navigate the thorns, ravines, fallen logs, and mud, all while on the lookout for edible fungi.
They did manage to spot a large pheasant back mushroom growing out of a tree and brought it home.
Unfortunately, it was slightly past its prime and while the taste wasn't bad, it was like trying to chew leather.
It wasn't long before their little legs were tired and without the excitement of finding gobs of mushrooms, their desire for adventure fizzled out.
They didn't come home with any edible mushrooms but Jack found some sassafrass trees, which smell like lemon and taste like root beer.
He washed off the roots, boiled them, and sweetened them and made a very delicious tea that can also be turned into root beer with some dry ice.
Sassafras tea. 
The epic mushroom hunt didn't turn out exactly as planned but it was still an adventure all the same!
Too tired to even eat!

07 May 2019

Enjoy the Pond

So happy about the first swim of the year!
One of the main features of our property is the pond, conspicuously situated right by the house. Most people around us are content having their water features be merely decorative but with kids, there's zero chance we'd be able to keep them out of it. There's too much mystery and adventure to be had just dipping their toes into the water.
So peaceful.
All winter, the kids were waiting for the pond to freeze so they could play hockey, ice skate, speed skate, and dust snow angels on the surface. Now that it's warm, they've been impatiently waiting for the first swim. I kept catching them at the water's edge, trying to snag minnows and tadpoles, or making mudpies. Yes, the amount of muddy laundry coming into the house has increased tenfold with the nicer weather.
Our spring has been about the epitome of perfection in a lot of ways. Though we've had a lot of rain, the temperatures have been so mild and enjoyable. Doesn't exactly warm up the pond quickly but eventually, the ice was gone and with one hotter day when all the kids were at home, it was decided that we'd go swimming for our family night activity. They've been waiting since last October to swim in the pond again and consequently, I've never seen them change into their swimsuits, life jackets, then dive in so fast.
Everyone except Peter, of course. He hung out in a nearby patch of shade and napped, which is currently his idea of a good time.
One thing I always seem to forget every spring is just how much work a pond actually requires, especially since we choose not to use heavy chemicals to control the algae and weeds that inevitably pop up with the sunshine and warmer weather. That means instead of spraying everything, it requires a lot of manual labor--scraping and pulling and burning plants to keep them under control. It falls under the same level of enjoyability as weeding the garden but once it's done, it really does look so much better and makes swimming fun. I for one don't love being tangled in algae when I'm going out for a dip in the water.
Ew. So gross.
The other problem is that it's an awfully large area to cover. Our pond isn't huge but it sure has a huge shoreline.
One scoop of algae at a time.
Luckily, we can get the kids to help quite a bit without complaint. It's surprisingly easy to convince them that whatever chore they're doing while swimming is fun because they're swimming while doing it. See? Parenting win.
Of course, they're also good for a laugh while they're struggling to drag their armloads of plant material onto the shore. Guess it's a good lesson in buoyancy?
We didn't get to stay out long--not that anyone would've lasted long since they were shivering with full-fledged teeth chattering within twenty minutes--but they were undoubtedly happy that the swimming season has officially begun. Time to blow up the big peacock, break out the fishing poles, shove off shore in the paddleboat, and enjoy the pond to the fullest.
Ah, so tranquil.

05 May 2019

Four Generations, Done!

Four generations done!
One of the goals I've had for the past several years was to expand my family history chart out to at least four generations. For the most part, it was easy since I could ask my grandmothers for information and records but sometimes, there's a person who trips up the whole process. It's not that they didn't exist but for some reason, they're difficult to track down.
I had no idea my great grandma was so much fun.
Four generations seemed like a good place to start. I wasn't so far removed from the people that it was impossible to figure out who they were. Aside from the satisfaction of filling in the blanks, there's something very real about remembering who came before me. It's a recognition that the family that created me had their own lives, ambitions, hopes, goals, achievements, sadness, and purpose before I ever showed up to mortality. Writing down their names, learning about them, and seeing (and sometimes remembering) their faces reminds me that families are eternal. That's why I think family history is important.
Grandpa Lamb.
Time to expand the goal to five generations!


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