30 May 2019

Remember

Of all holidays, one of my favorites is Memorial Day. Sure, there are other more exciting holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, but Memorial Day is a simple day that doesn't incur a lot of stress or require a lot of preparing. All that it truly requires is for us to remember.
Jack teaching Kate the art of rib rub in preparation for smoking them.
One of the other benefits of Memorial Day is it's a guaranteed day off of work and school and when that happens that means we have fun together. And by fun, I mean work. Because work is fun. At least I think so (don't ask the kids).
Hay is ready to be cut! Fingers crossed it A) stops raining and B) we can find someone reliable to actually come do it.
I've been eyeing our far west pasture to first have it cut for hay and second, finish repairing the fence so we can use it for part of our grazing rotation. After we burned and reseeded it, the grass is beautiful, nutritious, and practically weed-free. Plus, more fenced pasture means I can get more animals...right?? 😉
Peter's first time in the carrier. Hands-free baby carrying is the only way to get things done around here.
The previous owner had it fenced off for cattle but the fence is so dilapidated that it looks like it hasn't been touched in about sixty years. Our neighbor has generously begun stretching new cattle fencing on one side, so we focused our efforts on the other. I walked ahead and checked t-posts and pulled wire, while Jack mowed a path so we can better put up a Woody-proof fence.
If nothing else, it makes a lovely walking path.
All the fun work was cut a bit short when a rumbling thunderstorm rolled through the area. The kids had been up on the dam playing so they didn't accidentally stumble into any poison ivy that always creeps out of the edge of the forest and with the first clap of thunder and fat drop of rain, headed for the safety of the house.
Head for the house!
Jack and I would've gone in too but right as the heavens opened up with a downpour...we discovered Dolly had escaped. We've had her separated from Woody for the past few days to dry her off so we can breed her again but she was through being separated from her baby. Usually, she's docile, if not a bit ornery but that day, she wasn't having it. She ran all over the property, into the back field we'd just been working on (good thing we had the fence restringed!) and through the garden (gah! 😒) before going back to the barn and being caught. Thankfully, all's well that ends well.
One of the things I've been trying to be better about is balancing work and fun. While I realize I'm the only one who'd be happy working all day, the rest of the family likes to have a break. So, after the rain blew through, there was still time for fishing...
...and swimming with the giant peacock...
...and painting our hand-me-down hot tub. I do believe Henry may be taking after me in finding happiness in checking things off the to-do list.
Though we didn't celebrate Memorial Day with a parade or visiting the family headstones like I used to do growing up, I realize the day was still incredibly significant. Because of those brave, honorable men and women who have and do defend our country--especially those who have paid the ultimate price, a lot of the things I have to worry about are relatively insignificant. I don't have to worry about being persecuted, whether or not we'll have food to eat, if our children will be able to go to school, if the government will protect my rights. All thanks to those who protect, defend, and serve.
Peter shares Grant for a middle name with Great Uncle Fritz, who died in WWII.
 I haven't served in the military but am proud of the heritage I share with those who have. My grandpas, great-uncles, brother, cousins, father-in-law, friends... Of those, I feel a particular bond with Great Uncle Fritz, who served and died in World War II. Though I never even met him, visiting his grave every year with my grandma, she told stories about him growing up and how he died (plane shot down over Germany), which left an incredible impression on me. To honor his sacrifice and always remember the price he and others have paid, Peter shares the name Grant with him. I hope all our kids cherish that heritage like Jack and I do.
We ended the day with an ice cream run!
To all those who serve, we thank you and hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day, remembering all the blessings we're each given because of another's sacrifice.

💖 Happy Memorial Day from The Rehomesteaders! 💖

26 May 2019

Grilled Pizza

Most Friday nights at our house mean homemade pizza BUT with near 90-degree weather and a broken air conditioner, the last thing I wanted to do was heat up the oven. Grilling pizza was the perfect answer! It made crunchy, chewy crust and kept the house from warming up. Plus, it was ready faster than if I'd put it in the oven. We'll definitely be using this technique again!

To Make:

1 batch pizza dough (here's our go-to recipe if you're looking for one)
Olive oil
Favorite pizza toppings

Prepare pizza dough according to instructions. Roll out to desired size and brush olive oil on both sides and place on a pan. Ignite the grill and heat to about 350F. Carefully put the dough on the hot grill, shut the lid, and let cook for about four minutes, checking for hotspots that might scorch the dough. Flip over and carefully put the ingredients on the top. Close the lid and grill another four minutes or until cheese is melted. Carefully transfer to pan. Cool a minute or two before slicing.
Enjoy!

25 May 2019

Double Digits

When Jack and I got married, we were excited at the prospect of welcoming children into our home as soon as we could. Apparently, Evelyn didn't get the memo because two years into our marriage, we were starting to lose hope we'd ever have kids. So, we decided to buy a dilapidated old house in Iowa while Jack went to school and I worked. It wasn't a month after we moved in that we were up on the roof, putting on the last few new shingles while I felt incredibly nauseated. I figured it was due to the intense, humid August heat and working through my fear of heights but it didn't go away when I got down and cooled off. Turns out, it was morning sickness! Nine (and a half!) months later, Evelyn decided to make her appearance.
Fast forward and we've got a brand new ten-year-old! Where has the time gone?! 🤷‍♀️
Have to take a deep breath to blow out all those candles!
As Evelyn has been with us the longest, she's been through a whole lot of interesting things in her short life. She's already lived in four states, three houses, and four apartments, and some of that time, we were desperately poor. She's a farm girl to the very core and finds all sorts of creatures fascinating, from chickens and cows, horses and dogs, sheep to emus...
...to crawdads...
...to newly-changed dragonflies...
...to plants, flowers, and trees. There's not much she hasn't held, petted, owned, fed, or cleaned up after during her ten years on earth. And after all is said and done, she maintains that she'd love to be a farmer when she grows up.
By far, her very favorite creatures are babies. Ever since the first day we brought her to meet her little sister in the hospital when Evelyn was only 18 months old, she's been smitten with tiny people. She loves to hold them and can stay for hours on end with them in her arms. She's gotten to the point that with Peter, she's probably better at soothing and getting him to sleep than I am. She gets a pass on chores if she's helping with a fussy baby. She knows it and I know it but most of the time, I'm okay with it.
Her first question when she gets home from school is always, "Can I hold Peter?"
To say she's a huge help when it comes to her younger siblings is the biggest understatement of the century.
Aww, Evelyn and baby Zoey.
I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother and as she reminds me, that'll be sooner than any of us think. When measuring the passing of time against children, time seems to pass incredibly fast.
Still helping out with Zoey!
As Evelyn has grown, so has her personality. She has a wicked sense of humor, though she has to be comfortable enough around you to let you see it, otherwise, all you'll get is a quiet, shy, polite girl who barely says two words. She's incredibly smart--when tested at school, she scored extremely high in mathematics, which would explain why she and Jack seem to communicate so well. I have no doubt in the very near future, they'll just use complex mathematical equations on their graphing calculators to talk to each other--to the bafflement of the rest of us, that's just how the two of them are. The interesting thing about it is that even though our brains are hardwired totally differently and more than I care to admit, we have misunderstandings and miscommunications, Evelyn never gives up on trying to talk out her problems, rather than clam up or shut down. When I take the time to listen, I'm always rewarded with an insight into who she is and why she does or feels or thinks the way she does.
With being the first child, I have no idea what I'm doing with Evelyn. She's my trial and error child and thankfully, takes it all in great stride. With each passing year, she's leaving childhood behind and testing the waters of adulthood by showing responsibility and independence, though she isn't quite ready to let go just yet. We talk sometimes of the future, her hope for schooling and career, making friends, moving out, getting married, and having children of her own and while she's excited about the thought of being an adult, she asked the other day if she'd have to move out right when she finished high school. When I asked why she was asking, she shrugged and said she likes living here. The thought kind of choked me up a bit, realizing she's already more than halfway done with being a kid. If anything, it was a good reminder to cherish the here and now because it goes so fast.
Once in a while, Evelyn asserts her need for alone time (heck, I need some alone time, too!) but most days will find Evelyn in the thick of things. She's a great leader and teacher, and while I'm growling at everyone to just get whatever I've asked them to do done, she can turn it into a game, organize everyone into ranks, and lead everyone out of it with a smile on their face. Usually.
She loves her siblings!
On the day of her birthday, it was jampacked, nonstop celebrating Evelyn (birthdays are kind of a big deal around here) and why not? You only turn ten once and for most, it's the first and last time they'll add an extra digit onto their age! The younger siblings and I met her at school and ate lunch with her while she filled us in about her day.
After she inhaled her food, she got Peter out of his car seat so she could show him off to her friends. That baby was literally a magnet for the other kids, most of whom have never been so close to a baby so young. Evelyn proudly displayed Peter for the entire fourth grade to see until the very last second before she had to go back to class.
If there's one thing that's true about Evelyn, it's that she enjoys a lot of decadent, over-the-top, extravagant kinds of things and when it comes to celebrating birthdays, she doesn't shy away from really celebrating. At first, she asked for cheesecake and cookie dough ice cream. Eventually, it morphed into a request to make cookie dough cheesecake and I did my best to deliver. That cake took two days to entirely make, bake, and assemble but when it was done, it was a thing of beauty. And SO delicious. 🤤
Her dinner wasn't the most outlandish thing we've ever had requested (Claire likes to feast on stuff like king crab legs for her big day) it was a hearty, delicious meal of all the things Evelyn loves.
Then the time came--presents, cake, and ice cream. The excitement was over in a matter of minutes and she was over the moon with the wide array of gifts bestowed on her, from tennis shoes to stuffed animals to a foam mattress topper. Stuffing ourselves with delicious dessert went equally fast.
That's like 20 pounds of cheesecake right there. Did I mention it was so delicious?!
To say that we've been blessed ever since Evelyn joined our family is a barely scratching the surface. She's kind, resilient, sensitive, smart, bold (when she wants to be), hardworking, intuitive, loving, hilarious, and a million other things. She's already given us glimpses of the woman she'll become and I guarantee she'll be one who shines brightly.
This sums up Evelyn perfectly.
🎂 Happy birthday, Evelyn! We love you! 💖
Our little lady.


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!

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