Spring lambs: One year later

A few weeks ago, I stood outside in the parking lot of our 4-H meeting talking with our club leader about her new batch of baby lambs. We made the decision not to breed May and Penny this year in an effort to keep things a little simpler (mostly, on me). But sitting there listening to her stories of her babies, a little part of me missed those weeks just over a year ago, when we were welcoming our first-ever baby lambs to the farm

And while I wouldn't recommend your first crop of lambs arrival to be simultaneous with the fixing up and moving to a new farm, those days of romping, leaping fuzzy-headed lambs in the barn sure were sweet. 

A year later, and it's hard to believe what big beasts Pete and Paige have become. Just this weekend, I scheduled their appointment with a shearer and hopefully we'll finally be able to see their sweet eyes again under those fluffy cheeks.

Though I do the occasional fill-in for chore duty, Emma is their person. As soon as the back door slams and they know she's headed to the barn, the shuffling around the gate begins. 

By some magical contortions and animal husbandry tricks, she manages to get all animals out of the field and sorted into pens, fed, watered and bedded down for the night. 

In a few days, we'll add two more lambs to our flock that will be Emma's 4-H project for this year. There are pens to be built, hay to be bought and trucks arranged (or else we'll be carrying them home in our laps, not unheard of in my family.) 

After this year off, I'm thinking that we might have to get back in the baby lamb business again. Looking back at these pictures is like flipping through the pages of my girls' photo albums...I'm probably only remembering all the good and forgetting the stress, worry and sleepless nights. But still, we consider doing it all over again.

I'm not sure I'll be able to top four

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that my youngest child is mildly horse crazy. (understatement of the year.) Her riding helmet and jockey goggles are pretty much standard daily uniform. We've watched The Man From Snowy River so many times that we've burned out the chase scene--right where the horses start galloping through the snow in slow-motion. She talks about Jim and Jessica like they were family.

If she's not downstairs on her belly playing with her horses in front of the wooden barn (we scored out of the neighbor's TRASH), she's upstairs on the rocking horse listening to the soundtrack from The Man From Snowy River and reciting lines perfectly in time with the scenes from the movie. 

So, when it came up at our New Year's Eve party that my aunt and cousin's had the perfect little Shetland Pony that could come live here as long as we wanted, plans were set in motion for the best birthday present a four-year-old girl could want.

This weekend was the big day. An extra stall was secretly made ready in the barn. A trip to Dover Saddlery "just for fun" was actually me shoving brushes and tack boxes at the ladies behind the register (who were delightfully in on the secret) while Birdy was lost in the corner full of Breyer horses. Trailers were arranged. Family gathered. 

While everyone assembled outside, I stayed on the inside of the house trying desperately to keep Birdy away from windows. Birdy, who was suddenly completely uninterested in watching a movie or any other normal distraction a four-year-old would like. (We ended up making beds together. Go figure.)

Elizabeth was also being surprised with the pony. She's slowly moving up the ranks as the next horsey girl in the family, and I knew she'd get just as much (if not more) fun out of the pony. There's nothing like a little Shetland to help you learn the ropes of riding--especially when you get bucked off and it's not very far to fall. (Both girls have already tested this philosophy.)

Just as I thought, they were stunned to silence. No tears of joy. No squeals of excitement. Just mouths open, eyes unbelieving. But as the dust settled on what had just happened, the joy was pretty evident.

Seriously, there's not much better than this on your birthday.

The next morning, as I was carrying Birdy downstairs for breakfast, we stopped at the window at the landing, which gave us a perfect view of the red pony grazing in the field. Tinkerbell, is her name. And Birdy leaned in to me and whispered, "I'm so happy Tinkerbell gets to live with me."

Happy birthday, Birdy. And PS. I'll probably never be able to top this. 

From the fog

My family is emerging--both figuratively and this morning, literally--from the fog. We've been battling a stomach virus that has been slowly taking down members of the family one by one for the past week (two weeks?) or so. 

I feel like I've lost track of time in the haze of sickness and laundry and trying to maintain some kind of order. Apparently a crazy super-bug is making its way through our county. It's big local news, as they try to track its source. 

Dan has been the last one to fall and sickest of all of us. A trip to the urgent care clinic turned into a trip to the emergency room and I felt like I was walking in to something out of a movie. Triage, people clutching buckets and moaning, crying. People being treated in the middle of the waiting room in order to move people through more quickly. 

Meanwhile, I kept my face down, my hands to myself and applied what I imagine was the equivalent of one gallon of hand sanitizer on a constant basis. Thankfully, the nurses liked us, and placed us in the back "behind the curtain" to wait out our stay and test results. 

Today, we're still limping along. I'm running on little sleep and lots of chaos. I waffle between running this house like a tight ship--chores divvied! school work checked off! laundry humming!--and blinking back tired tears while trying to text a friend and tell her how tired I am.

But. BUT. Normal will return. In fact, I can see it on the horizon. The fog IS lifting and there are things to be thankful for!  

  • We have electricity. As silly as it sounds, every time I throw another load of laundry in the washer I think, imagine doing this if the power was out. 
  • It's not snowing.
  • My kids are doing chores like champs.
  • We're still managing to get school work accomplished.
  • The fog was beautiful this morning.
  • Birdy's daily outfits make me smile.
  • Barn cats swirling around your legs when you walk out the door? That's free therapy right there.
  • This sickness is only temporary.
  • We're about to have our birthday marathon and one of my girls is getting a huge surprise.
  • It's spring! Hallelujah.

So that's where I've been. Hiding out, recovering, changing sheets and serving up ginger ale, crackers and toast. But still...finding little things to lift my spirits in the moments that try to drag me down. 

Thanks, as always, for listening. 


Going home + a list


Hello, friends. Easing back into this space with a list of things that are striking my fancy. 

*The photo above is the house I grew up in. Sorta has a Woodlawn feel doesn't it? This Saturday I went home for a 'celebration of life' for a very close childhood friend. Though he is rapidly losing the battle to ALS, he decided that to celebrate LIFE and bring together the people he loves now, instead of after he's gone. I admit to really dreading the weekend--the uncomfortableness of why we were getting together, seeing people I haven't seen in years, worrying about the 'right' things to say in a situation like this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my fears were all about me. And this celebration had nothing to do with me. My friend is one of the bravest people I know. He is facing this with courage and grace. And I am so grateful to him for bringing us all together, truly, to celebrate. 

More soon...xo.

Elevate the small


That quote stuck with me several weeks ago when I was feeling bogged down in the big philosophical questions of motherhood. And while it is important to parent with the big picture in mind--What kind of person will my child become? Will they make good decisions later in the life? Will they be a good person? Am I doing a good job?--it's also important to just settle in to the little things. There can be just as many important moments in the washing of jam off little cheeks, sing-a-longs at stoplights, tucking hair behind ears, and brushing teeth.

There's nothing like mothering through difficult patches to bring out every insecurity and worry about whether or not you're doing it right and doing right by your child. 

But this one little quote burst that balloon full of doubt and worry and what-ifs that I was facing a few weeks ago. My mind had raced so far down the path of the future, I was forgetting to just do the little things really, really well. 

That, I can handle.

The quote comes from this article, 8 Reminders for Mindful Parents.