29 September 2014

Fall Foliage Fiesta!

Well, actually it was a drive not a fiesta, but I was having fun with my alliteration.

I suppose that I now understand where my children got their desire to make their writing paper titles alliterations.  It is just plain fun!

This past weekend was huge for us, HUGE!  Tyler and I took our annual fall road trip through parts of Maine and New Hampshire.  For the second year in a row we brought some of the boys.  This year, Andrew joined us for the first time as well as Josiah and Elijah, who experienced fall fun last year and wanted to go again.  In 2013, we traveled NorthEast, or Downeast as well call it here in Maine towards West Quoddy Head and the Eastern most point of the USA.  This year we went South and West.  The Western mountains in Maine and New Hampshire are some of the most beautiful sights in New England.   I grew up camping, hiking, and swimming in these mountains and always find myself drawn to them for a fall drive.  

Our 2014 Fall foliage adventure started with a quick drive to Portsmouth NH to visit the beautiful living history museum of Strawberry Banke.  We had a wonderful time studying the architecture, gardens, and listening to the roleplaying employees.  There is something quite odd about conversing with a woman about her grandchildren when you know those grandchildren are now dead.  At one point I wanted to ask her, "wait!  Are you talking about your real grandchildren or those of your character!" Man did she know her history though.

Andrew checking the pitcher plant for any bugs

Josiah studying the compost bins so that he can build me one.

Playing on the boat outside one of the houses

After our walk through historic Portsmouth we ventured North along the NH/ME border towards Conway.  Our sole destination at that point was Mt. Washington.  We wanted to arrive by 5 pm so that we could drive up the side of the mountain and view the foliage from 6,288 ft.  It was a beautifully clear day for this and although the activity caused us to not be able to meander and stop along our journey, we all were thrilled to make it to the ominous mountain in time.  Mount Washington boasts the world's worst weather as they have calculated the highest wind speeds on its peak along with cold temperatures, snow, sleet, and everything else with only a second's notice.  The temperature on the mountain the day we visited was a balmy 64 degrees.  It was 84 degrees in the valley and unusually very hot for Indian Summer.

At the Top! 

The cog railway train came  up right after us.  Next time I think we may take that so we don't have to drive our jalopy up the mountain. 

The drive was terrifying as both Tyler and I are afraid of heights.  Tyler is a master at driving though and we made it both up and down the mountain safely.

The colors were superb!

26 July 2014

Liberty & Independence for all

Eli milking Tilly

A funny thing happened.  Ten years ago, Tyler & I bought our first dog.  Actually, we didn't buy her.  She was free.  At 5 weeks of age we brought her home as a little black ball of fur.  Appropriately named Liberty Belle, the poor little girl had to be trained by a mad pregnant woman.  But it worked, ten years later she is a very well trained over hyper black golden retriever dog.  

Libby posing with the boys. I swear she thinks she is a kid. 

 Liberty is so well trained that she comes, sits, goes to her room, gets out of the kitchen, fetches the ball, and does all of the normal things that a dog does.  Except bark, alert us to danger, protect my children in our back woods from rabid raccoons or bobcats, and keep my goats in their pen.  Basically,  she is well trained for a family in suburbia that doesn't need their dog to do anything except leave the neighbors alone and come when she is called.

To make a long story short, Tyler and I had this predicament:

1. Liberty does not protect our children
2. Liberty is going to die in the next 3-4 years,
3. Liberty should be here to help train a new dog 

Our answer: 
1. What: An Australian Cattle Dog or Heeler 
2. Cost: cheap
3. Timeframe: 1-2 years

Current Solution:
1. What: A female Australian Cattle Dog
2. Cost: A deposit and recently milled hemlock
3. Timeframe: Now

So we have a new dog, about a year early, but affordable.  Her name?  Independence.  She wasn't free, but she was bought on Independence Day.  

Already, Indy has herded my little Nigerian buck into his pen a handful of times, and is learning the property lines by walking with the boys everyday.  Liberty doesn't seem to mind a farm dog on site.  As long as it doesn't bother her sticks or balls or frisbees.  

24 July 2014

Summer Living

Summer living is hectic, hectic, and even a little more hectic.  But nothing brings this hectic life to light like a house full of 8 people and a broken washer.  Doing laundry a la colonial is yet one more of the everyday events that succeeds in making our life this summer, well, hectic.  

We keep it real though with lots of weeding of the garden, goat care, and afternoon swims in great gram's pool!  

Oh yeah, and by training our new puppy!  But more on that one later...

11 April 2014

What Spring may Bring

Fun smile inducing, laughing, beautiful, and simply glorious surprises!

What an Awesome and Mighty God we serve!

02 April 2014

Reflections of a Friend

Elijah receiving his first hatchet

The Lord has been good to me.  Often, I feel undeserving of the love that the Lord has shown me over the years.  For I do not deserve it.  I did nothing to receive this love and yet he chose me.  I struggle with acceptance.  He has shown me that I am loved, accepted, and more than welcome at His throne as though I were an old friend.  Always welcome to stop in for a chat, a cup of coffee and a good laugh or cry or hug.  

Tami & Matthias last fall.

Honestly, on this earth I have had few friends that even come close to the openness that I feel with my Lord.  Why would a person want to be my friend if they knew everything about me?  I even find myself sometimes going so far as to try to convince people that I am not someone they want to befriend.  Maybe it is something from my past, but I just don't trust people.  People are fickle, unreliable, dishonest, full of betrayal, hate and sin, why would I put myself at their mercy?  

Tyler, Elijah and Josiah.  3 of my men.

An earthly confidant is a spouse, sister, brother, or friend that despite all odds, loves us and we love them.  I have precious few of these confidants.  Each of them is priceless and the loss of one through death, distance or depression is a tragedy.   I muse that the Lord is revealing to me the importance of an earthly confidant by showing me that the loss of one or two is not as bad as it seems.  Oftentimes, I am so fearful of losing something that I never set out to acquire it to begin with.  Yet, amidst great loss the Lord brings joy and I need to rest in Him.  He is my strength and I am His beloved.  

Sandi. The one and only.

The only friend that I truly need is Jesus.  He is my rock.  He is whom I turn to when I am struggling.  When my children all have whooping cough, chicken pox, or broken bones, I turn to Him.  When my goats are going into labor, my husband is traveling and there is no bread for the table, I turn to Him.  When my only truly close friends depart from my sight, I turn to Him.  This is one lesson that 2014 is teaching me and I fearfully anticipate will continue to teach me in the coming months.  

Andrew & Caleb at SMASH.

What else is 2014 teaching me?
I need to...

  • Trust God to direct my earthly relationships
  • Purge my heart of complaints and pessimistic thoughts.
  • Tear down any strongholds that I have that create a barrier between me and my Father in heaven and the people that He has put into my life.
  • Enjoy the privilege and voice the joy of spending every hour of every day with five boys.  

What is 2014 teaching you?  

22 March 2014

Deja Vu

Some of you loyal readers might recognize this photo from my 2008 blog post "My "Accident Prone" Son":

Of all of my time as a mother that episode in 2008 was the only time that any of my 5 boys had broken an arm.  Interestingly enough,  Andrew still holds the record for more emergency room visits in our household.  Deja Vu?  I think so.

Andrew's birthday is today.  Andrew is spending his birthday on the couch, because yesterday he went skiing with his uncle and aunt and spent the afternoon in the ER with his mother.  

When we got back from the hospital guess what Tyler and Eli had done to Andrew Bear?  New tradition anyone?

May your birthday be less eventful, yet more fun.  

18 March 2014

2014 Skiing Fun!

Elijah and my dad enjoying the view at the top of the mountain.

We have gone skiing more often this year than any other.  3 times in all.  This is mostly because of a local ski resort that charges a reasonable rate for the day, but also because my father has equipment for all of us which keeps us from renting.  As a result, I can take my entire family skiing for less than 50 bucks!  We budgeted for 3 trips this Winter and we took them all.  It was wonderful to watch the boys progress in their skiing skills.  Andrew started out the year needing to ski with an adult, but as of this past weekend he skis alone and very well.  His turns and stops were so impressive that we actually took him to the top of the mountain.  He did very well, and only fell a few more times than I did.  I am not a very good skier as I took it up a few years ago so that I could go with the boys.  I am having a great time watching them and learning right alongside them.  Even though I have no plans to keep up with their growing abilities, I am delighted to be able to ski alongside them on the mountain.  

Every year, I take a lift interview with the boys so that they can tell us about their progress.  Not only do I get a video log of their skiing, but I also get to record their wonderful little voices.  

Here are Elijah, Josiah, and Andrew's lift interviews for your viewing pleasure.  Caleb doesn't get a lift interview with me as we never ride the lift together.  Caleb still needs an adult to hold a pole for him and I am just not a strong enough skier to be his adult.  My dad has graciously and expertly taught all of my boys how to ski and we are so excited to share this activity with him.  




Happy Skiing Everyone!

22 February 2014

Thought Processes

Thinking can be a relatively difficult task.  I find myself having the best thoughts while vacuuming, cooking or otherwise engaged and away from paper and pen.   Then when it comes time to write a blog update for you all I have no idea what my genius was from earlier.  How do you get your brain to wake up?

My boys at West Quoddy last Fall

Along the same lines both my husband and oldest son were talking the other day about trying to learn.  If they don't focus their attention correctly then what they are studying becomes extremely difficult to understand.  This problem happens to Eli most often in Math.  He looks at the problem and suddenly cannot remember anything about numbers at all.  He is completely overwhelmed and even admits that his brain seems to be malfunctioning.  They both asked, "how do we get our brains to reengage in our work?"

According to Andrew Pudewa, thinking is a process that begins by asking yourself questions.  As he puts it, walking into a room and thinking, "oh this is nice" is not a way to engage your brain.  You must ask questions like, "what is this color called?" and "how could I make this room more interesting?"  

Thus our conclusion becomes, when you cannot seem to focus or think: start asking yourself questions.  With Eli, we encouraged him to ask himself some of the simplest questions about his math, slowly work his way up and as he does his brain will awaken. 

The Eastern most coast of Maine.  From our big boy adventure to West Quoddy last Fall.  This is what I do when I am not blogging regularly.

Is it working?  I don't know. I had at least 10 genius ideas yesterday that I wanted to share with you all, but now while I sit here, they are all lost.  I was hoping that thinking through this post would recharge my brain.  My brain is now full of thoughts, but not about yesterday's pondering moments.  So this is what you get.  I am sorry, but then I also hope that you have learned a little more about how to think. 

05 January 2014

Traditions gone AWOL

Our Christmas Card Photo

In years past I have taken advantage of a good sunny warm autumn morning to: cancel school, yell dressing choices to my children, and rambunctiously require them to march outside.  Eli and Siah are old enough to know what is going on when I yell upstairs "Grab a white (or collared or etc.) shirt, either a vest, suspenders or tie, blue jeans, work boots, and march outside now!  No School!!"

Yes, it is portrait day.  The day in which I attempt to get a group shot of all of the 5 boys (that ends up on the Christmas card) and also an individual candid shot of each of them.  Some years are better than others, but I am usually somewhat successful.

What I have noticed about this tradition is that while the photo shoot still happens other parts of the tradition get lost in the hustle.  Last year, the Christmas card never got sent or created.  I was okay with that.  This year, the card was sent, but I never posted most of the awesome pics from the shoot on the blog.  

So, as someone who doesn't want to lose this tradition, I am going to post all 867 pictures now.  Okay, maybe just a few...

02 January 2014


We did it!  

Christmas morning drive

By it, I mean many things.  First and foremost, we managed to have a busy, productive, yet relaxing, refreshing and nourishing Christmas season.  The boys made cookies, breads, advent calendars, Christmas chains for decorating.  Elijah found, cut and brought in the Christmas tree all by himself.  I didn't flip over the immense clutter of trees and decorations in our house, and Tyler read his first fiction book since high school (if he even read one then, who knows?).  Our fridge broke, and we had an ice storm that affected our electrical and internet service, but the Lord watched over us and all is well.  Besides, the ice storm was simply ravishing (as my boys would say). 

Secondly, my "it" refers to a 5 year search coming to an end.  Thanks to the advancements in medical research finding someone to give my 5 boys the chicken pox has been next to impossible.  The futility in the search became ever so clear to me a few years ago when a Doctor from our health center gave me her personal number.  She too was trying to find the virus for her own children's immunity.  Amazingly, (how do you like that -ly opener?) exactly 10 days before Christmas one of my close friends got shingles.  And like a wonderful friend she called me to offer the virus to my 5 boys.  Isn't she glorious?  I don't think that we were the only ones that she offered her gift to.  

The long and short of it is that Christmas morning broke with two very spotty boys.  The relief that I have now as 4 out of the 5 are almost done with this week of itchiness is wonderful.  

We have spent the past 7 days in happy seclusion.  On Sunday,  the boys and I had our own church service by singing a song (I am sure that God liked it, even if I am always off key), reading and contemplating the test of Job, and then making a cup rack.  We wanted to surprise daddy when he got back from the service.  It was a nice Sabbath day's project.  Simple, and fulfilling.

Yes, it truly has been a wonderful month.  

Happy new month and year to you all!