31 March 2019

The Usual Routine

The first bass of the season!
Though we don't usually get to escape to any exotic, warm, beachy destinations over spring break (no...we do stuff like rebuild stairs and totally renovate our kitchen), this year was a tad more low key and by that, I mean we didn't do any major home improvements. But, that doesn't mean for a second we didn't work our tails off in other ways. Between spring cleaning and nesting, I was ruthless with the clutter and dirt that needed to be tackled. As a start to the girls' break from school, it was kicked off by kicking out teeth.

Surprise! You don't have a tooth there anymore, Claire!
Claire had a wiggly tooth that she'd been letting dangle in her mouth for weeks. A post-church wrestling session with Henry where he accidentally kicked it out took care of that. Funny enough, it was about half an hour after Evelyn swallowed her own wiggly tooth at lunch. Double duty for the Tooth Fairy that night!
Come Monday morning, I presented the kids with a list of tasks I wanted their help with while they were home (partly because I can barely bend over anymore, haha) and told them if they could help without complaint, then there would be a reward of their choice when it was completed. The first room they decided to work on was the kitchen. We scrubbed the cabinets, hand washed the floor, wiped every crumb off every counter, washed windows, wiped down appliances, and scrubbed the table clean.
Then, I took them to lunch and we picked up some modeling clay at the store, which basically undid all the sweeping and mopping we'd done in the kitchen earlier but hey, they were happy.
Tuesday was full-on bedroom day. We washed more windows, moved beds and cleared out the clutter, dusted fans, vacuumed, and tidied dressers.
Their reward of choice? Making their own clay that air dried so they could paint it. Can you tell they're very craft-reward-oriented?
They helped start getting garden plots ready outside.
The raspberries have a brand new bed!
They asked for pizza, hot dogs, and pop. Done!
They helped do the two-week grocery shopping excursion with great excitement (the fun has long since been lost on me, but maybe that's because I don't get a free cookie at the bakery anymore)...
...their reward? The Penny Pony.
More than once, we had to chase silly Pip off the deck. Something about spring makes him want to sit (and subsequently poop) right by the back door.
After which, we took a break, had a snack, and I gratefully accepted a foot rub.
By mid-week, I was slowed down by a combination of a mild-yet-annoying cold and a fast-acting stomach bug that basically made me want to sit around and do nothing. Which we did after we cleaned up the living room. The room is enormous, which means there is more than enough space for clutter. Again, we dusted the fans, washed windows, swept, cleaned up toys, moved and washed the couch, vacuumed, washed tabletops, and swatted down cobwebs...
...then went to the local co-op to pick up some grass seed for the back pasture. Everyone got a sucker, pet the resident mangy gray cat, and when we got home, they watched a movie while I laid around, nursing myself back to health.
Thank goodness the illness was brief, because there is always work to do on a farm. The animals need to be fed...
...and when it's nice outside, children have to get dirty. It's one of nature's laws.
Come Friday, we cleaned the bathrooms until they sparkled and since Jack took the day off in lieu of an upcoming trip, he took the center seats out of the car so we could really deep clean. By the time we were done hauling out stuff and washing all the surfaces, there were nearly two bags full of stuff. I have no idea how it all fit in the car, but it feels like we've got twenty-five percent more leg room now without the junk.
Then, Henry and Jack installed a new-to-us second-row bench seat in anticipation of the new baby.
Kate was in awe.
The very highlight of spring break was taking all the kids to see a movie in an actual movie theater. It happens maybe once a year and we let them choose. The anticipation of going about killed them but they made it, and hearing them giggle and ooo and aww was so much fun.
The recliner seats were a nice perk, especially when Zoey zonked out in them and gave up screaming about her insistence over holding the popcorn.
By Saturday, I'd run out of spring cleaning/nesting steam, so other than doing the dishes and a few loads of laundry, we spent our energy preparing for summer. In the morning, I took the girls to shop for a few new items of clothing so they have enough to wear when it gets warm. Of course, all they could see were the gobs and gobs of adorable, overpriced stuffed animals at every turn.
The most exciting part of all is the escalator in the mall. I remember feeling the same way about it when I was a youngster.
And, with a rainy Saturday spent mostly indoors, the kids already started undoing the tidiness I'd enforced earlier in the week. Meh. At least under the couch is clean, the fan blades are dusted, and the windows are still (mostly) clean.
Mother Nature's spectacular end to spring break turned the cold rain into sleet then snow in quick succession. Only a few hours earlier, we'd fed the animals and they were fine. When I went to check on them before dark, I ended up blanketing the horses and bringing them into the barn to warm up and dry off. April Fool's came a touch early and it was a rather cruel joke to play.
By Sunday afternoon, the sun was back out, the temperatures rose above freezing...and we had to drop off Jack for another work trip. I always hate to see him leave because that means everything falls to me--wiping all the noses, preparing every meal, breaking up every fight, feeding every greedy, gluttonous animal, fixing every problem--but it's especially not fun when I'm about due with another baby. He'd better stay put for another week at least or he's going to have some serious making up to do if he came while Jack was away.
To ward off those kinds of nagging thoughts, the kids and I came home from the airport, made a batch of cookies, and hung out in our pajamas until bedtime. A quiet, sugary end to spring break.
We lived vicariously through others' spring break photos and stories, got a lot accomplished around the house, had tons of fun, and enjoyed spending a few extra days together to last us until summer break. What a week it was--now, back to the usual routine!
My silly little lambs.

19 March 2019

Makes the Outdoors Magical

Henry found a flower to pick for me. Aww...
This winter hasn't been particularly difficult in our neck of the woods, but we are always excited to welcome spring, green grass, and warmer weather. Usually, it feels like winter long overstays its welcome and pushes well into spring but this year, it seems spring is arriving a few weeks early. Fine by us!
Today was one of those magical, sunny days at the end of winter that warranted popsicles, bare feet, and playing outside while I finished up making dinner.
Claire put her bouquet making skills to good use and made me the very first wildflower bouquet of the year.
 After we had dinner and tidied up the kitchen, we all headed out to do our chores. The grass isn't growing enough to sustain all the grazers, so there's still hay to divvy out.
Cleaning stalls and sweeping out the barn is a lot more pleasant when my fingers aren't frozen stiff.
We also worked on teaching our new cow how to stand to be milked. She's only ever been hand milked and is an angel for that but I do not want milkmaid hands--thick and burly like overstuffed sausages. No, thank you. With a bit of coaxing, grain, and encouragement, she realized being milked wasn't so bad. She even enjoyed a good brushing with the shedding blade afterward. What a good cow.
Once the chores were done, the kids found ways to entertain themselves in the most ridiculous ways. I love hearing them laugh, invent new and creative (and sometimes downright weird) games, and enjoy each other's company.

Jack also got a jumpstart on clearing out the weeds around the pond via his favorite method: redneck weeding. Zoey wasn't so sure about the roaring flamethrower and resulting fire but I have to admit, it is a very effective, quick, and efficient way to weed something that would otherwise take me a week to do by hand. Which is why I never bothered to do it.
When I announced it was time for bed, everyone complained that the day had already come to a close and you know what? No one said a word the fact that we spent the entire evening working, and that they hadn't once turned on the TV. That's the incredible thing about good weather: it makes the outdoors magical again.
Bring on the sunshine, warmth, greenery, and everything else good that comes from spring!

17 March 2019

Pizza Picnic, ER Visit

Toward the end of winter, we're all eager for the arrival of spring. After enduring a cold snap while Jack was gone, we've been blessed with more sun, warmer temperatures, and the first of the flowers pushing up through the ground.
We have flowers in Indiana!
To celebrate, we've been spending every spare moment we can enjoying the outdoors, even if there is still a nip in the air. On Saturday, after a busy day cleaning, chores, and running errands, Jack suggested we have a pizza picnic. He picked up dinner and we got out our picnic blanket, got everyone to sit outside, and sent Claire back inside for cups. About three steps up on the back deck, she slipped and fell, loudly proclaiming her pain with a horrible wail that could have woken the dead. When she calmed down enough, we assessed the damage. She'd whacked her chin, scraped her throat...
...and about bit her tongue off. So, instead of a pizza picnic, we had an ER visit.
She whimpered most of the way to the hospital, crying again when I confirmed her fear that it was a very good possibility that she would most likely need stitches (in her tongue, no less!). When we arrived, we were seen fairly quickly and if there's one thing I admire about Claire, it's that even when she's scared and in pain, she generally is in good spirits. Despite a sore face and numb tongue, she was polite, smiling, and especially happy to go home.
Lucky for her, the gouge in her tongue when her teeth slammed down on it was half a centimeter shy of needing stitches, so other than being told to ice it with popsicles, eat soft and liquid foods, and rinse with salt water, she was given the all-clear.
Our picnic will have to wait but escaping the ER without stitches, she was happy to forego pizza and eat popsicles instead.

12 March 2019

C'mon, Spring!

After enduring the cold spell last week, we're being generously rewarded with a patch of beautiful springlike weather and sunshine. We aren't ones to be kept inside when it is cold but it's so much more pleasant when our fingers don't feel like their turning into icicles.
It's officially spring...we have flowers!
With my list of things needing to be done outside growing, we took advantage of the sunshine and started with some landscaping while waiting for the girls to get home from school. I pulled the weeds that were still tenaciously hanging around from last season and Zoey and Henry handed me the pins for the landscaping cloth, in preparation for mulch and planting something other than the previous English ivy that had taken over.
It's not all work, though. After getting off the bus, everyone kicked off their shoes and coats and surfed down the little plastic slide in the backyard, brushed the cats, and ran around until their feet were dirty.
Queen of the slide!
Though we're headed toward spring, some of winter is still hanging around, and not in a bad way. The maple sap is still flowing, which is good for us. More sap = more syrup.

One of the first tasks I wanted to complete was to fix the back fence where Woody discovered he could weasel his way through (and if he can weasel his fat body through something, it's in pretty bad shape). That way, we can put the cows back out with the horses when the grass does start to green up.
That meant there was a lot of clipping back errant saplings, rosebushes, and black raspberries, putting on new plastic fencers so we can electrify it, and tightening the high tensile wire.
One tree has been there a little longer than it should have been and we'll have to figure out how to work around it. Literally. It's woven in between every single line. Since it was getting late, we left that conundrum for another day.
One of the downsides of Indiana's spring is that the ground that was frozen all winter turns to sticky mush, a fact Henry discovered to his dismay. He took the wrong route back inside and nearly lost a shoe and was suctioned in the ground until we could come rescue him.
He wailed until we came to get him, sure he was going to be there all night.
Once he was out, Claire went in to save his shoe, nearly getting stuck herself. Thank goodness for mud boots!
I wish I had Claire's ability to laugh about mud! Because really, there's little more that I hate than Indiana mud.
Inside, all scrubbed clean of mud and manure, everyone was ready to call it a day. That's what hard work will do to you.
As tired as we are, we're still hoping for more spring weather in the forecast so we can work and play as hard as hard as ever, except outside.

C'mon, Spring! 
(We're ready for you!)


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