30 April 2015

June Bug

Giving her new friend a tickle on the tummy.
Claire has never been shy with bugs so when I pointed out a plump June bug who'd flown into the window and ended up on its backside, she was the first to run outside, pick it up and make friends.. She's had plenty of practice with spiders, praying mantises, stick bugs, slugs...you name it. Kate, though, is a little less enthusiastic. See?

When Claire makes her sister scream bloody murder after putting a bug on her, she always remedies it by making them laugh.

Silly (and brave) Claire.

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29 April 2015

Old Man

Happy birthday, old man!
Our family's first teenager has come and gone: Stoney turned 20 yesterday.
Nice shot, Evelyn!
One thing I regret about Dancer is not knowing her exact birthday. I know the year she was born but celebrating Stoney's birthday has long been a family tradition. Sometimes we get into baking cakes and making him wear silly birthday hats but usually, he prefers less ostentatious celebrations. Today, he spent all day grazing, had several mouthfuls of carrots and his favorite little girls doting on him.
Kate watching Stoney out in the yard.
I always wanted to be able to have horses in my backyard and to teach my children how to ride on the horses I  learned how to ride on. Stoney is a fulfillment of that dream in many ways. He has a good life, and he deserves it.

His age is starting to catch up with him now. It's harder to keep enough weight on him over the winter (Dancer still has a thick layer of fat she didn't burn through--"easy keeper" is her mantra. His back is a bit more swayed, he's long in the tooth and little patches of white hair that he didn't have before are poking through. Horses don't age like people, in a gradual bell curve. Instead, they spike from babyhood to a mature youth, where they spend a good portion of their lives, then quickly and noticeably, become aged--too quickly, he has become the old man. It doesn't matter though. I'm hoping for another ten years (at least!) with good ol' Stoney, even if all he ever was was a glorified yard ornament.
Being doted on by his three favorite girls.
Happy birthday to our favorite gelding!

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27 April 2015


Kate and Claire watching their big sister have a turn.
Who needs a carnival when dad doles out free rides that are just as thrilling as a roller coaster?
Claire was all giggles!
Of course, when one girl gets a turn, he'd better be prepared to toss all three.
Kate caught the most air.

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26 April 2015

When Stoney Sheds

One swipe of the curry comb.
When Stoney sheds, everyone better watch out. He grows a fantastic winter coat (yay!) and then turns around and loses it in about a week. If it isn't hanging on your clothes, it's in your eyes and mouth and nose and the static cling makes it nearly impossible to get it off.
Leaving a trail of fluff.
He makes shedding dogs look like a walk in the park. Of course, he IS outside. Thankfully.
Kate collecting Stoney's winter fuzz. Probably to make a stuffed toy or something.

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25 April 2015

Book Signing

Do you think everyone will be able to tell what my novels are about???
Since finally admitting I wanted to be a published author, I've always wanted to attend a book signing. Ironically, the first I was able to attend was my book signing. To clarify, though, it wasn't a solo act. A friend invited me to an Indiana author event at a nearby library along with sixteen other authors of varying genres and accomplishments, where we met with fellow readers. I sold a few books, made new friends and clumsily signed my name before handing over my published work. It was an interesting experience for sure--for one, I learned I am a lousy saleswoman. Oh, well. The people watching was well worth it and gave me time to brainstorm new book plots.


Oh, and if you haven't had a chance to read Headed for the Win, you can check it out on Amazon (affiliate link). Road to the Regalia is coming soon!

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24 April 2015

The Garden of Eliker

My helper!
One of my favorite scripture stories has always been about the Garden of Eden. I mean, I think it'd be pretty awesome to live in a giant, gorgeous garden void of weeds and in complete harmony with animals.
Putting in a row of peas.
The real lessons came, though, when Adam and Eve were escorted out following their transgression. I've always found it interesting that as consequence, they were told they were to work, that weeds were going to be a problem and that they were going to have to sweat to eat. In turn, they (and we) learn about the law of the harvest. Really, we do reap what we sow, especially when it comes to plants.
Good thing we only live a few miles from a giant greenhouse that has all the plants we'd ever want. Or maybe it's not...we were there for over an hour and a half today. Oops.
There's something lost nowadays since food is so convenient. Work and sweat isn't necessarily associated with eating and therefore, it's taken for granted. So, for about as long as we've been married, we've always tried to have some kind of garden, in containers or over sprawling patches of rich soil that produced bumper crops almost without trying or newly tilled sections in rock hard yet sticky clay that really does require backbreaking work to start.
The row of tomatoes and herbs who get their very own bucket this year.
This year, we're building on our efforts from the previous years and starting some raised beds. Partly, it's so Raven has boundaries (otherwise, try explaining to a dog why they aren't to run on certain parts of the yard...it doesn't work). We've tilled and composted and added a bit of extra soil and now that the plants are in, we'll mulch everything.
I'm Rachael, and I have a gardening problem.
I always think there will be unlimited space and, of course, I always run out of room and have to squash a few plants together. My friend Kristin sent us some of her old tomato buckets so to save a little garden space for sprawling plants like the squashes, pumpkins and melons, the tomatoes and herbs are all nicely in a row along the fence.
Guess what that is! It's a praying mantis pod, laid by one of the mantises from last year! 
We like to try a few new plants every year. Last year it was celery (a dud), pinto beans and peanuts (a success). This year it's sweet corn (should I admit a Cornhusker has a hard time growing sweet corn in Indiana??? In my defense, the soil is almost entirely clay...that must be why they named the area Clayton).
Ready to be mulched!
We have watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, red onions, sweet onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cilantro, oregano, dill, chives, garlic, basil, sweet corn, zucchini, beans, peas, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, pie pumpkins, Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, red cabbage, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, green onions, banana peppers, bell peppers and jalapenos in the ground. I think that's everything...if that isn't multiplying and replenishing, I don't know what is!
The good thing about obsessive painting? Unlimited paint stick collection to use for plant identification!
Now, to "veg" (haha, pun) on the couch to recover.

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20 April 2015

It's A...

Well, hello, baby.
Ever since we found out we were pregnant, we've been asked the age-old question:

Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?

With each successive girl, the questioning has morphed from boy or girl to an increasingly fervent and frantic Are you hoping for a boy? Or, my all-time favorite, Is your husband hoping for a boy? Because, you know, all fathers really want are boys. Girls are fine until a boy comes along (I'm being horribly sarcastic, but that's what the question implies). Well, we're happy to announce, it's a...

Hang on.

Before we spill the beans, let me just share my thoughts about the question. First of all, I always thought it was a bit futile to ask if one gender is preferred over another. Sure, it's fun to speculate in casual conversation but let's face it: it's not really a choice. Unless, of course, you have access to expensive scientific equipment and are really that set on one or the other. And if you're disappointed with the gender you randomly get, what would anyone really do about it? Exchange the baby? Sounds like some kind of post-apocalyptic best selling fiction novel. So, when people ask if we're hoping for a boy, or more specifically, Jack is hoping for a boy, I do my best not give a massive eye roll.
Those little feet rarely sit still.
When people find out we're having a fourth baby after three girls, we have heard all kinds of explanations about why we should be hoping for a boy. To pass on the family name (again, I suppress an eye roll--it's not my family name. I already kissed mine goodbye when we were wed). Jack needs a boy so he won't be so outnumbered (Ha! One more boy isn't going to put a dent in our boy to girl ratio at our house. Between the girls and I, there are hens and mares that only add to our stats). Jack needs a buddy (I want to ask if they know Jack. At all. He has no problem being a manly man only to turn around and have tea parties with his girls). The comments pitying the future me who will have to put up with at least three hormonal teenage girls (I really wish women who made this comment would understand the irony of it coming from them. I am never shy telling them that I was a perfectly pleasant teenager and I don't foresee anything but the same from my own girls). The list of ridiculous reasons to earnestly hope for a boy after so many girls continues.
Claire being wild and crazy.
Many times, I've explained to friends and family to complete strangers that I wouldn't feel any less fulfilled if we had a dozen girls, and no boys, that we won't be "done" having children if we happen to have a boy and that of anyone, Jack probably cares the least whether we're having a boy or not.
Evelyn helping unload soil for the garden.
Whether it be a boy or a girl, they'll learn to ride horses, collect eggs, do home improvements, use power tools, cook and clean and have fun and be well-rounded, just like everyone else. Boy or girl, they'll be welcome into our family. That allllll being said...

(And nobody better ask me if Jack is relieved)
See you soon, sweet baby!

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18 April 2015

Do A Good Turn Daily

Getting ready to start another project!
After a full and eventful day yesterday, it ended on an equally chaotic but fun note. Jack works with the younger scouts through church and since we've got a bit of space, they came out for an overnight camp out. They arrived, got a fire going, set up tents and lived up to their slogan of doing a good turn daily.
Learning to use a miter saw.
 It was a learning experience for them. Most of them hadn't laid hands on power tools before but after some instruction and watching over, they were more than eager to cut and secure our top rail of fencing.
Just getting started.
They worked well and at the end of two hours, we were getting pretty efficient. The sun was setting though and there were a few groans about their rumbling stomachs but Jack teased them that a pregnant woman (me) was working harder than they were. There weren't many comments after that. After all, boys don't ever want to be outdone by any sort of girl when they're that age.
Cooking up dinner.
While working on the fence, Jack and another young man got dinner started. We still had the two roosters we'd butchered last fall in the freezer and with some barbecue sauce, seasonings and stuffed with wild chives then smoked and cooked over the fire, they turned out really well. Our girls, even knowing it was their old playmates, ate as much chicken as anyone. Nothing like being connected to your food source.
Jack got a little carried away lighting tiki torches.
Once the sun went down, we broke out the s'mores and lit the tiki torches. The adults sat down and chatted while the boys made up games to play in the dark. Evelyn and Claire insisted they wanted to sleep outside but Kate had resolved to sleep in her own bed. We all stayed up way past our bedtimes but once in a while, I think it's important to enjoy a bit of indulgence. The weather was absolutely beautiful, the insects were almost non-existent and the conversation was lively.
Craft day!
After too little sleep, we woke up and was surprised to see the rest of the fence rails had been set. Our rooster had done his duty and woken everyone up at the crack of dawn so they decided to do another good turn and finish what they'd started before leaving for a merit badge clinic. I took the girls with me and spent the morning recovering by doing crafts with a bunch of ladies from church. It was just the thing we needed after an evening of hard work.
And a long nap.

Thank you to the Scouts for helping us get another good start on a much needed project!

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17 April 2015

Family Time

Family time is my favorite time. I do enjoy a bit of solitude during the day while the girls rest so that I can recollect, but I love the commotion, fun and hard work that seems inevitable when we're all together.
Next time I plan a garden, I fully intend on putting them in straight rows. Oh, well.
If we're not tilling and preparing the garden...
...we're hammering together bee boxes for a new hive...
...or putting the master bathroom. Seriously, what little girl wouldn't want to be spending her free time puttying? It's quickly becoming our girls' favorite pasttime. It's not all work when we're all together, though.
There are plenty of climbing lessons, compliments of Jack...
Watching General Conference and coloring. Naturally.
...breaks from work to attend church...
...and visits to nice restaurants.
Evelyn made a point to try every single meat. She is a carnivore.
Really. Jack took us to Fogo de Chao, a ritzy restaurant in downtown Indy that's basically a glorified buffet. But boy, is it deeeeeelicious. Claire and Kate ate their weight in rolls (which was a lot because they were made of air and calories) and Evelyn consumed an entire cow (or pretty close). To top it off, the kids were free and we had a half off coupon. Family time is even more fun when it's cheaper than expected.
So many memories together.
Claire starting off with a light salad before the meats came around.
Bottom line: family time is awesome.

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