Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Wishes

It's time!! The christmas season is upon us, and I for one have made up my mind- I will be prepared this year. 

Hear me now- there will be no last minute nights spent buying toys and hand selecting stocking stuffers. No wrapping and knotting bows til the wee hours of morn. No, no- this is the year it happens. The year that will go down in history as a stress free, prepared, happy Christmas.

Now, I fully realize that none of these above items are kids gifts- that's coming, or gifts for the hubby- sorry I've no ideas, but as I'm shopping and perusing about, I have stumbled upon a few little treats Santa might need to know about. Some a smidgen more realistic than others, and a few- well, more the stuff dreams are made of.

1. hunter boots - I've been after a pair of hunters for awhile. So classically chic, and effortlessly cool- perfect for a lass tromping around the city, or a "farm" girl like myself, toddling thru fields after children and chickens.

2. The Citizenry - Del Campo Blanket- honestly, I would take anything from them! Have you ever checked out their website? It's incredible- crisp, clean, and it has some sort of magical power that incites wanderlust, causes wondrous daydreams and brings out  your inner interior designer.

3. Stash Co. - Antler Clutch- alright, this is more on the dream side of things, but it's just so beautiful. I love all their gear really- completely handmade, rugged, and artistic. I love anything that's one of a kind, built to last and style wise will stand the test of time. Stash Co. does it all.

4. Nikon 35 mm F1.8 - I've been a little obsessed with this lens for a bit now. Every lifestyle photographer I come across seems to claim this as their favorite. I'd love to give it a little test drive and see if it's everything it claims to be.

5. Kelly Moore Bag - Kelly Boy- A camera bag, would probably rank top of my wish list. I've been carrying a dinky little thing that came free with my camera. It's terribly unattractive, but it does the job, and as I always seem to be shooting outdoors, ambling thru branches and tall grass, all while chasing four wild ones- I don't complain. I would probably ruin this in one tiny session. I'm really after a vintage number but every time I come across The One, it's sold:( Photogs around the world seem to be raving about these bags though, supposed to be best of the best.

6. CAMP Collection - Camp Staff Ringer Tee- not pictured but completely adored. Can't wholly explain why, but I love this collection. It's so whimsical and fun, it makes me want to pile up with my best gals and paint nails while eating twizzlers and laughing uproariously. 

7. Anchors & Anvils - Camera Strap- Again I've got my heart set on a little vintage piece, but these are too cute not to share. 
If you've got a photography obsessed pal to buy for, definitely check out these little numbers.

Any of these would be simply dandy, but all I really want for Christmas is a few extra snuggles, and smoochies and some time spent nestled up- just me and my crew.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving morsels

As thanksgiving is upon us, it seems only fitting to find what were grateful for. To make list, to seek joy, to look at ones glass with optimism. Delight in small moments and life's little obstacles that make each day superior. 

Theres certainly been times in my life that I've fought to prove something, waiting for a milestone to say "look we've finally got it together." Thoughts circling around my head, like a bird of prey on the hunt, always searching for that feeling like you've made it, you've at last arrived at some destination, and all the pieces finally fit.

A couple months ago, after some bumpy roads and internal battles, I came to one, very simple conclusion. I was happy right where I was. It was time to accept that. Even revel in it. 

It's amazing how that one thought changed everything for me. I'm not sure if you ever feel like you've got your sh*t together, and I never want to stop growing, stop reaching or changing. So why not just enjoy the right now, settle in a be truly happy in the present. It's a decision to look at life a little different, to let go and trust in God.

I'm so thankful for our little, beautiful life. I'm thankful that I've gotten to fall in love, that I've grown and carried four healthy little babes in my belly, for parents who adore me and fought to keep me safe and protected. I'm grateful for in-laws who love me because I love their son. Who so kindly have accepted me thru all my quirkiness and shyness. I'm thankful for smaller blessings like smudgy fingerprints on every door frame, a fantastic pair of jeans and good coffee. I'm thankful for a farm that my wild ones can be just that, and friends who will never not be there for me. I'm thankful for hopes of snow and sledding in the winter months ahead. For chopped firewood stacked up neatly outside, for paints, and crayons and yarn. I'm thankful for a husband who cleans up vomit like it's his job ( this man, he is so good!) and mulled wine and hogs and chickens and cows. 

I'm thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a celebration

We celebrated our little girl from the wee hours of morn til the moon was up and the stars had been clouded over. Filling the day with all her favorite foods and a few of her favorite people. 

She received her first sewing machine, and together she and I learned how to set up, thread and use it- producing pillows and blankets for bitty babes. We crafted and painted and had a girls only getaway for manicures and yummy beverages. Topping it all off with a huge lego extravaganza on their bedroom floor, Parent Trap- her movie of choice, playing in the background. We filled any free moments with smooches and snuggles, wrestling matches, I love yous, laughter, and silliness. I think we did her right.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

happy birthday aussie

My sweet baby girl turned eight years old this past weekend. It's unbelievable! Eight seems so big, so impossibly grown-up- a huge milestone of sorts. 

Of course my mind keeps drifting back to the very beginning. . . 

It was thanksgiving day, I was anxious and exhausted of waiting- my arms ached to hold this wee bundle and to finally try on the motherhood title. All of our family was in town, feasting and celebrating together. After the huge meal of turkey and stuffing my sister-in-law and I snuck away to catch up and share in some secrets and giggles. In a fit of laughter, I asked "Is it common to start peeing your pants near the end of ones pregnancy, because seriously I'm going to need some new clothes soon." All of this led to more laughter, which eventually concluded with me standing amidst a large puddle on the floor. A veteran in this birthing gig, she informed me that my water had indeed broken and it was probably time to be getting on to the hospital.

I couldn't believe it was finally happening- it was all beginning and I was just on the cusp of something truly amazing. Mid-way thru this incredible moment called labor, the doctor informed us that there was a complication- it was apparent that the cord was wrapped around our little ones neck and the baby was struggling. They gave me a quick time limit to continue on myself before the whistle would blow, and they would whisk me away for surgery.

Somehow, we made it- and in a cacophony of noise and chaos, quiet and tears- there she was, my beautiful baby girl! Somehow amongst all the nerves and excitement, I forgot to listen to the one thing every mother longs to hear- crying. We were met with silence and a baby that was more than a bit blue.

Quickly the doctors and nurses snatched her away, and I was left confused, bewildered and desperate for answers- would she be ok? What's happening? I  kept asking. Then I started to see a tear roll down my nurses face and panic truly set in. My mind was racing, yet deep down there was an utter calm. This was my baby- she was a fighter, she was strong and brave. I hadn't met her yet, but I knew her still.

After what were the longest moments of my life, across the room came the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. My little gals first cough followed by a loud long wail. They fixed her up and there she was- mine. My daughter, snuggled up right there in my weary arms.

And so began the greatest adventure of my life. These past eight years getting to know her, hugging her, loving her, nurturing her have been the best days yet. She is exactly who I knew she would be- she is strong, she is creative and vibrant. Fiesty, and kind. She has a mother's heart, she's a caretaker with one of the most beautiful spirits I've ever known.

I am continually moved and pushed by knowing her. I don't always feel like I have the best knowledge of how to handle or guide her, but she seems to understand and appreciates me anyway. 

I want to bottle her up and keep her young forever, yet there's a huge part of my heart that enjoys watching her change and grow and I am wholly fascinated to see what she will do and who she will become. I'm hoping by writing this down it will keep her in someway preserved, remembered at this stage, for the magnetic and wildly adventurous girl that she is today.

Aussie we love you so much, you are our dream come true and never in a million years could we have imagined up someone as truly amazing as you are. Happy 8th birthday, my love!

Friday, November 21, 2014

the happy amidst the mayhem

It's been a wild road here this week. I have been hormonal to the max- overwhelmed and battling the feeling that I'm failing at it all- with not enough time to give anyone or anything my full efforts or attention. Throw in a little stomach bug and I'm about maxed out. 

Of course, I realize I am not failing, there's just a lot on my plate right now.  

In lulls like these, I find it's important to take a moment to reflect on the happiness that has been going on here, write down the beautiful snippets- it's a great reminder for me to see how blessed I am and how much I love this life of ours.

So here goes. . .

I made homemade laundry detergent! One of those things on my list to really becoming that homeschool mom you all picture in your heads. I just need to get out my long denim skirt and throw my hair in a low bun. I kid, the poor homeschoolers- we get such a bad rap! Making this detergent is something I've been meaning to attempt for quite some time and hadn't ever got around to. I've only been using it for about a week, but if I like it and keep it up, I'll share the recipe and tidbits.

We have been doing a family painting time in the evenings. Introducing the little bits to acrylic paints and some unfamiliar styles and techniques has been such fun. The wild ones love any sort of orchestrated family activity, and it's mind blowing how calm and engaged they become.

Kaleb hung my Giving Thanks sign, and it makes me feel deliriously happy and fallish. I found it in pottery barn years ago but didn't have the extra cash flow so decided to make one for myself! They don't sell it anymore or I would show you a picture but they do have this one that's crazy cute.

We got a new hog- it is a HUGE boar, mildly terrifying, and to avoid an onslaught of questions, you have to keep the kids away because there is a lot of pig lovin going on out there. Still, we should have baby piglets come mid-march and we can't wait to see those little chubsters!

My little girl turns eight this weekend. I wouldn't exactly put that on my happy list, but she is so excited and I have had fun planning and plotting. I think we're going to go with the ever popular woodland creature-ish theme. I found the most amazing party plans here. Yeah, yeah, mine will look nothing like that, but you get the idea!

Also, in keeping with the upcoming birthday, Kaleb and I have been putting the little bits to bed then sitting ourselves at the dining room table, cutting and painting little crafts and banners for the big day. He is so good to me. That time spent crafting, with music playing softly in the background, scissor in one hand, coffee in the other, has been such a sweet time.

I got an entire day off yesterday! Kaleb watched the kids, cooked, cleaned up, folded laundry, accomplished their schooling and piano lessons, and gave baths. My best friend drove into town and we literally did nothing, except sit in one coffee shop after the next eating and talking. It was complete heaven!

I have been blown away, completely baffled by my crazies creativity lately. I'm not sure where it comes from but it is truly something to behold. 

Isaac had been feeling so left out at school time so we've asked Aussie if she will start working with him. she has taken this job very seriously for this is her dream come true- to get to finally be in charge and boss her little brother about- she could not be happier. She has made charts and graphs and somehow managed to make an erasable white board out of a tin of mints.

See- I needed this. 

I got this. 

Our little life is too good to not be fully enjoyed. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend! What's been making your life happy this week?

p.s. pictures are leftover from various adventures and random little moments here on the farm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

new traditions and a gift

Last week I got the most wondrously lovely surprise in the mail. 
A dear friend of mine had sent our family this nativity book as a little  pre-holiday treat! 

On christmas eve we always snuggle up close around the fire, clothed in our freshly unwrapped matching jammies and read the story of Jesus' birth together. So I could not be more overjoyed for this new addition!

The illustrations (by Julie Vivas) are some of the best I've ever seen- completely unexpected, creative, and vivid. It's paired with text from the King James Bible and somehow it all comes together in the most enchanting and heartwarming way. 

I have yet to read it, and not be moved to tears by the beauty it portrays.

It's a perfect read to start forming traditions around. One the littles will remember and love, and you can pass on for generations to come. 

I wanted to share it with you, in case you were on the hunt. You can purchase it here or -Kaleb and I would like to gift a couple as a way to kick of the holiday seasons. Just leave a comment below, including a way for us to contact you, and we will send them to the lucky ones next week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

journey into motherhood

A mother to four little wilds is not exactly where I saw myself at this juncture of my life. I knew I wanted to be a wife and mother someday, but I assumed I would have been older and wiser when I did take the leap. I was more than a little jaded on the notion of marriage and I certainly had not pictured myself married young with a wee babe on my hip.

In my high school and early college years, I was driven to something, not exactly sure what, but I knew I wanted to go and do, prove myself, be somebody. 

I think God knew my heart better than I did. He knew I was lost and pushing, fighting for something that didn't need to be fought for. . . and then there was Kaleb, and somehow he picked up all my pieces and pulled me together in the most beautiful way possible.  I didn't lose myself when we got together, like I had with previous boyfriends, I found myself. He pushed me to dream and explore, he encouraged me. He made me a better more pronounced version of myself.

So, I laid down my fears, the chip on my shoulder, and any preconceived ideas on what I thought my life would look like, and decided to just explore it day by day with my best friend. It was, to date, the best decision I have ever made. Although, that is not to say it has all been easy peasy and smooth sailing. We were still young and a little lost, but we were lost together. 

Well, you know how the saying goes, first comes loves, then comes marriage, then comes the baby. . . Kaleb and I are not planners, we are not very practical, we are dreamers, optimists the both of us. So with little to no regard for income, stability, and or forethought- there we were, preggers.

Now, you should know I am not and was not one of those gals with strong maternal instincts. I didn't and don't fawn over newborn babes, I never babysat, I wouldn't ask to hold your little bits, and if I'm completely honest- I never had that great of a rapport with kids in general. I had never changed a diaper, I didn't have a list of baby names stashed away somewhere, I had just hoped  that with age and time some of those motherly genes would kick in. But there I was, out of time.

Finally, the day arrived when they placed my perfect baby girl in my arms, and right then and there my whole world shifted. Not over night, but somewhere along the line I starting finding exactly what I had always hoped for. Becoming a mother settled me. It gave me hope, and peace and excitement. It gifted me my very own family, my own perfect place where I belonged and was needed and trusted. I think it surprised more than a few people, myself included, how much I took to it. 

I'm not sure where this all came from, but I've been thinking back to that time a lot lately. Looking back, it's hard for me to even remember myself that way, so afraid and carrying such a big chip on my shoulder- it's so far from where I am and what we do, yet I also love looking back on this journey and seeing how God knew my heart so well.  How he's moved and shaped me and showed me what it was for me to be truly happy. How he placed me in the center of my own great love story, that's filled with adventure and obstacles and uncertainty in the very best way imaginable.

I'm not saying it's always effortless, or that I do it all right or even well, I am saying that it's ok if life looks a lot different than you thought it would. That everything doesn't have to be planned and you don't have to have it all figured out. Let life lead you on your own wild adventure whatever that may be for you.  Lay down a few notions of what you thought your life might look like and be open to happiness, you may just find everything you were looking for.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

how the cookie crumbles

We like to eat healthy. 

About two years ago we made a decision to TRY and eat mainly organic. I then proceeded, propelled by our new ideals, on a kitchen rampage ridding the shelves of all plastics, processed foods and even letting go of the good ole microwave.

For us it was a great decision, yet- not one that takes you down the easiest or cheapest path. Eating organic on a budget, takes precision, skill and planning. 

For any of you who might be considering this path, let me offer up some advice.  Like all things in life, I think the most important part of this resolve is balance. To not let it get overwhelming I strongly suggest starting small, and then picking and choosing based on what's most important to you and your family. Find what you can manage while still enjoying the journey, and what is most doable for your life, so you're not missing out on the beautiful moments, the important parts because you're too busy in the kitchen.

So, I thought I would start sharing some of my favorite go-to's. Recipes that are yummy and easy and healthy. Foods you can hand out with little to no complaining from your wee ones, plus they are all so, so good.  You may not even notice you're eating healthier.

This is my favorite cookie recipe that I was given from my amazing sister-in-law and it's become a staple in our house. The recipe is simple, I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and if not there's plenty of room to improvise with whatever is in your kitchen. They are soft and gooey, with the perfect fluffy texture.  Seriously- you will love them!

You will need:

3 1/2 cup oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 cup ghee/butter 
1 cup local honey
2 tsp good vanilla

Pre heat your oven to 350.

In a sauce pan over low heat add your butter, honey and vanilla.  Cook just a few minutes til softened and combined. In a large bowl throw in all your dry ingredients then pour your warm honey mixture over top and give it a big ole stir til it's nice and integrated. 

Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes, then spoon it out in nice rounded scoops and pop them in the oven for 12-15 minutes. When they are finished they should just be starting to bronze along the edges. 

This recipe yields about three dozen cookies, perfect for those of us with large families, or if you're just really hungry! You can always freeze any extra dough and save it for a day when you're craving something chocolatey and delicious.

Again this recipe is more of a guideline, so play around with it- go crazy and find what you love best! I love using cacao nibs. They add just the perfect touch of sweetness and a delightful crunch. This go around I was plum out of coconut so I added some chia seed, poppy seeds and golden flax seed and they were still amazing. I think adding dried cranberries and a big handful of walnuts would be so yummy for fall.

Pile them high on a plate, and go share with someone you love!

Friday, November 14, 2014

one lovely blog award

Thanks so very much to the dear hearted Helen from I Will Bloom for nominating me for One Lovely Blog Award. She had so kindly nominated my for the Liebster Award last month, but the questions were so difficult, and I procrastinated under the pressure and never wrote the post. This seemed much more manageable, and I appreciate her giving me another go.

So without further ado, here's 7 facts about me.. . 

1. I am horribly uncool when it comes to music. I so want to be into it, knowing all the latest and hippest jams, but I simply can't find the time or energy for it. Anytime I do attempt to educate myself I start to feel very closed in by the cacophony of children's robust voices and questions, combined with the thumping rhythms and end up turning it off. Maybe someday, when it's a little quieter around here.

2. At one point in my childhood, near a lifetime ago- I was considered a dancer. I'm using that term quite loosely, but still- I loved it so. Now, I rent out a local studio and teach a dance class for Aussie and her homeschool friends, hoping she will also find joy in movement. If nothing else she loves the time with the other girls, so I call it a success.

3. I am the worst bowler there ever has been. Up until about a month ago my high score was a 46, but I finally surpassed it with a whopping 52.

4. I have dreams of extreme downsizing- building a tiny A frame cabin, smack dab in the middle of our bottom fields. Complete with solar panels covering the roof, a hay loft for the buggies, an open floor plan, and possibly a lovely little outhouse. Being all smushed together with the outdoors as our playroom sounds strangely enticing.

5. I began piano lessons at the ripe age of 5, and was not allowed to stop until the day I left for college. Somehow, I am still terrible! Although, I am thankful for the knowledge and know how. Currently, I teach my wee bugs and they seem to have my same musical prowess unfortunately. Jack of all trades, master of none- is my motto:)

6. I have a strange tunnel vision issue when wearing glasses. Let me explain-if I have on glasses and you are not directly in front of me I will not hear a word you say. It's very odd and of course my dear hubby loves to make fun of me for it, whilst making it as tricky as possible to hear him. It's a valid medical anomaly.

7. My wilds asked me what I was working on, so I explained the project and then proceeded to ask what were some facts they knew about me. Their answers were a steady stream of "you like to play with us." "you like to hang out with us" "you like to color with  us." And well, that best describes me. Those are the facts. It's who I am, and it doesn't put me in a box, or confine me, it liberates me, it frees me and lets me fly! 

and now for my nominations:

Cassie from Farmbrews

Michaela from Michaela Jean

Kristin from Moon Schooling Eleanor 

Valentina from Valentinaa Duracinsky 

Lyndsay from Prosecco in the Park

Ariana from Timothy and Ariana 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

where it all began

After a quick review of the weather, we realized that winter was fast approaching. If we had any hope of fitting in that camping trip we had been dreaming of then, the time was now. We only had a two day window before the temperatures would plummet. 

Bearing that in mind, we piled basically everything we own into the car (seriously, camping with wild ones- you may as well just rent a uhaul for all the gear that must come along) staggered our way out the door, with eyes and hearts set on the Buffalo River.

The fall colors were incredible- bright bold oranges, mustard yellows, elegant golds, with flawless pops of crimson. Nestled in between the bluffs were wide open pastures filled with thick green grass. Honestly, the sights were something to behold.

We hiked and explored trails, caves and one immense bluff til our noses turned rosy, our fingers began to stiffen and we could finally see our breath coming out in full white puffs, like smoke billowing across the evening.

Kaleb and I got engaged in this same spot near ten years to the day, and being back with four kids in tow, was a little wild and whole heap surreal. It was a sweet feeling to be back there and to feel so happy, so firmly settled in who I am and who we are. 

Big bonus, we got to see a herd of wild elk both nights! We sat on the bank of the road and observed- everyone utterly transfixed- except for Eleanor, who was scrambling out of our reach, yelling "Bobby, Bobby!" It's the name of our cat, so it seems to be what she calls all animals. . . and babies:)

After literally no sleep in the tent the night before, everyone was starting to feel a little weary, and our little miss would simply not settle down. She normally loves riding in her backpack, but she would have none of it. So our last hike, ended with me holding her as she poked and prodded my little cheekies for a few long miles. 

After finally arriving to the car, our sweet Zaino began to look a little pale, and as quick as that, he was spewing everywhere. We decided we had seen and done what we had come to see and do, and it was time to pack it in and head for home.

It all makes for better stories, and let's face it, we won't be forgetting this one! Chatting around the campfire as we roasted marshmallows and drank bad hot chocolate, sleeping in a piled heap of blankets, arms, legs, hats and jackets, sitting next to the trailhead cleaning up my Zain with the Eleanor's wails echoing around us, hiking with a baby on my hip whilst holding my sons chubby little mitt in the other, surrounded by the beauty that is nature. Somehow it all combined into the most wonderful of days, like it had all come full circle.