Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tender Hearts

I've been asking Adelle to clean her room for the past week and a half. Still trying to figure out my girl and what works for her. Do I make her do it herself? Do I help her? Do I turn on her radio and make it a dance party? Do I do it by myself while she is gone? Do I punish her for not cleaning it? I've tried all of those things.

Her room is usually a disaster with clothes carpeting the floor and millions of loose papers, scissors and pens. She's got projects started and unfinished. She's got jammies stuffed in pillow cases. Necklaces adorning every shelf and hook. Reminds me of my room when I was a highschooler, or probably even before that actually. Reminds me of my husband's side of the room presently.

Today her and a friend were playing in her messy room. She came down to the computer while I was on it and asked me if I could make them a color copy of a picture they had made. I was working on some business paper work and she wanted me to do it right then. I asked her if her room was clean? She said, "no." I said, "Did I ask you to clean it?" She said, "Yes. A long time ago"(meaning a few days ago).  I said, "So sis, why should I do what you need me to do right now when you didn't do what I needed you to do in regards to your room?" She understood.  I made her the copies, she continued to play, and when her friend went home she cleaned her room. It took her a long time. She did it all by herself and smiled and didn't complain the whole time.

Braxton and I went and ran some errands to prepare for his birthday party tomorrow.  While we were out he asked if we could go to the scout store to get him his new shirt for when he earns his Arrow of Light next week. I said we could. We went to the store, and $48 dollars later he had a big smile and a new shirt and patches. He told me thank you and we continued with our errands.

At the end of the day I found Jeff on the couch in the middle of all four of our kids. Adelle had found my book, "Oh the Place's You'll Go," by Dr. Suess and Jeff was reading it to all of them while I was upstairs tidying up. I came down and cuddled in next to Braxton who was on the end. I told him how much I loved him and he smiled.

After the kids were tucked in I went up to my room to find a note from Adelle on my pillow. It was beautifully colored and had writing on it that said, "I'm sorry I didn't clean my room when you asked me to. I love you!!!!!!!" Laying on top of the picture was a selection of some of her favorite jewelry and another note that read, "pick one." My heart exploded. I love my girl.

And this is all real but really crazy that it all happened at the same time!

Then I walked over to my night stand because glancing that way a $20 bill caught my eye. I walked over to find a $20 and a $10 next to the receipt from the scouting store that Braxton and I had gone to. He had taken the bag with the shirt, patches, and the receipt up to his room earlier and apparently decided that he should pay me back for some of it? It wasn't the full amount that I spent but it was more than half of it and I never even mentioned how much it was or what a rip I think the scout store is.

I couldn't contain myself. The tears came, full on.  Happy, mommy tears. So blessed to have these kids as mine.

This one time

This one time my love and I sat on our hand-me down couch and dreamed about the day when we would have our own little homestead. Chickens, because by now we were already egg snobs, pigs, cows, rabbits. The brainstorming continued, accompanied by giggles from me and miles of exaggerations from Jeff. The sky was really the limit for us when it came to talking about our dreams. It was so easy, and dreamy, really. And fun.

So we started with animals, all the ones we could think of. And bees, if those should be considered separate from animals. And then it progressed to the multiple children we would have, the parcels we would maybe divide for them and their children. The orchard we would design and all of the fruit we would grow and harvest, can and dry. The fruit pies I would hand make and sell at Our Diner which would sit in front of our house and serve everything farm fresh from our own yard.

We decided we would homeschool our kids because naturally we would need them around to help work on the farm. Not only that, but more importantly, because kids should have the chance to run around dirty and stay up until dusk without having schedules ruling their little worlds. We would do yoga in the backyard together and find frogs to dissect. We would write letters to our grandmothers in cursive and paint watercolors of the sunsets.

We would do summer kids' camps when the weather got warm and all the kids could come and feed chickens and collect eggs and then we would pick blueberries and make jam. Each kid could sleep in their tent or under the stars and go home the next day with their own little jar of blueberry jam and a developed appreciation for the outdoors.  After we all ate scrambled eggs for breakfast, of course.

We would plant a garden that outstretched as far as the eye could see and we would become one with the earth as we tended to it. We would cultivate our very souls together, in the backyard, planting seeds and discussing parables and requirements for seeds to grow strong plants and bare good fruit. We would grow exotic melons and lettuces and serve specialty salads at Our Diner with homemade dressings and kombucha.

And then this one time we sat on our new, gorgeous, white leather couch (now dirty from our barefoot, happy kids), and mentally checked off all the dream boxes that for so long were safe in our heads. They were happening. We were making them happen. And we wanted to cuddle, and laugh and dream out loud. But we were tired. And the sun would come early. And we were grateful, in an exhausted sort of way.

And in her own head the farmers wife gave thanks to God. Because He is so good. And then she kissed the farmer. And fell in love with him in a different sort of way. He looked a little older, up close, and she felt a little more close to him. Knowing where many of those lines on his face were born. So she grabbed him and she told him that he was her best. Best everything. And that it doesn't really matter if they are on an old couch or a new couch. It doesn't actually matter at all. As long as they are on the couch, together.

My baby is 4!

Dear Gage,

I have 6 favorite dates a year and yesterday was one of them. The day you were born will always be special to me and memorable on so many levels. The emotions I felt that day were all over the board but the most prevalent was unconditional love for you, my baby boy. You joined our family here on earth that day and we have all been so blessed because of it!

Yesterday was perfect. I'm sorry you had a little cough and had to stay home from school but I know you liked, "skipping school," as you told the other kids, only to encourage the rounds of fake coughing that ensued among your siblings, who were a little green with envy. We cuddled and read book and then you got to watch a show, like you love to do, and be lazy in your jammies for a while. We had eggs for breakfast, your request, but not hashbrowns, also your request, because I didn't have time to make them. As usual you were forgiving and excited to be sung to at breakfast. I let you have a veggi/fruit juice box which more than made up for the lack of hash browns.

You were sung to at breakfast by your family and then you started getting text messages from other family members and friends, wishing you a happy birthday. You opened your present from mommy and daddy at breakfast, new long sleeve shirts and a coat, and from Braxton and Emmett, who shared with you some of their favorite football cards. Straight from their hearts.

The morning was clear and crisp with frost on the ground so we turned on the fire and huddled close. We took an early nap after the kids were off to school and you chose to read, "Scat Cats" while we laid in my bed. I love how you still respond to my, "I love you's," with, "I love you more," and then we batttle back and forth with, not possibles, as big as the worlds, never ever in your long legged life.... and whatever else comes out in the moment. You are such pure little joy nugget.

After our nap I asked you if you wanted to go pick apples at Bellewood, which you've been asking to do for a few weeks, because the day was so sunny and clear and we had some time before the kids got out of school. You excitedly said yes and went downstairs to pick out one of your new long sleeve shirts to wear. You chose the blue collared, button up shirt and it looked so handsome on you. You even put it on and buttoned it yourself and it was only cricked by one button. So you asked for help. I tried to layer it with the sweater on top, but that was pushing it, you didn't want to so I let it be and you wore your new coat. Which you took off in the car because it was warm enough that you didn't even need it.

The apple farm was busy so after testing a couple apples we decided to order some fries to wait for a cart to free up so we could ride ourselves out to the orchard to pick. Regular fries for you. Sweet potato fries for me. Ketchup for you. Tartar for me. Waters for both. We broke up lots of your fries to cool and laid them on the napkin to be blown on. I cherish these days that we have together to nap and eat fries. They are some of my very favorite. I sometimes wish they would last forever, that I could keep you to myself in your jammies all day, in my arms, but that would be such a dis-service to the rest of the world who needs your smile and your spark.

We ended up having to get boxes for the fries and take a range check for the apple cart and picking. It was time to deliver the eggs and pick up the kids so I said we could come back after that. We did. We picked up the kids and delivered the eggs and came home to meet two other girls from church that we were watching. We loaded them all up in our car and drove back, a block, to the apple farm. This time to score a cart right away.

I drove the apple cart and you sat in the back, rear facing, sandwiched between Braxton and Adelle and one of the girls we had with us. You were smiling the whole time. When we got out to the orchard you didn't want to pick so you just stood and held the bag and proved to all of us that you were big and strong. And I took pictures of you.

When we got home Emmett and two more friends got off the bus at our house. You played with all the kids while I made your dinner request, pancakes! It was easy for me and fun for all the kids to sing happy birthday to you as you blew out your candle on the pancake mound. Dinner was served, buffet style. Or maybe animal style? Then off to soccer went some of our family.

When you came in and asked where the cupcakes were I didn't know what to say. All month you have been telling me you wanted popcorn cake and now here you were asking for cupcakes. So I made them. Because your a little spoiled, but mainly because society makes me feel obligated to give my 4 year old cupcakes on his birthday if it be his desire. So luckily, I had a cake in a box, that I whipped up into cupcakes in bear shaped molds and after the company left you and Adelle frosted them with homemade butter cream frosting which you chose to dye blue. The best part of this whole thing was that later when daddy and Braxton came home from Scouts, you only took one little bite of your cupcake that you insisted on having! And then you were over it and onto the rest of the night. Sigh.

We skyped with Grandma and Grandpa Ashmore that night because you got packages from them in the mail. You loved the bow and arrow they sent you and the junior football. Just like you wished for. More so though you seemed to love the bubble packaging that the gifts were wrapped in. Typical. Adelle had brought her own money to Costco earlier and her and Emmett secretly picked out a Thomas the Train book and activity mat for you which they paid for without you even noticing, thanks to the helpful Costco employees who were distracting you by asking you birthday questions.
So you opened up that before bed as well and were excited to play with it. You really scored in the sibling department, by the way.

I think we sang Happy Birthday to you 4 times yesterday. Once at breakfast. Once at dinner. Once for cupcakes... okay, maybe we only sung to you 3 times but it really felt like 4. Oh!! I was 4 because we sung to you right when you woke up in the morning. I knew it was 4. Four birthday songs for the special 4 year old boy.

Before bed was the best. You were upstairs getting your jams on with Braxton, Adelle, and Emmett, and they were all done before you. So on any other night they all know that one of them has to wait for you to be done because you don't like being upstairs by yourself. But, last night you noticed Emmett waiting for you, patiently, and you told him, "Emmett, it's okay. You can go downstairs. I can be up here by myself now that I am four." Emmett was so proud of you that he came straight down to tell me the new. You are big Gage. Larger than life, actually. I love you, more. Forever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Today I had a great day. We ate berries we picked from our garden. We went swimming at my grandma's house. We even ate left overs and homemade sandwiches for dinner. Also we made a bucket list. There were 2 eagles feasting on dead chickens this morning and Emmett, Gage and I went and scared the eagles away but when we were just about to leave to go to grandma's house we saw 4 more eagles circling the chicken coop.

Adelle's Baptism

Adelle chose to be baptized!
Her baptism was Saturday morning, June 18th and her Baptism was performed by her dad. It was such a special day for our family.

Adelle has been preparing for her baptism all year and she has been so excited about it. She planned the whole program and invited everyone she knew. The Spirit was so strong on that rainy Saturday. I will never forget it.

Adelle is growing up and for the past 6 months I have noticed her really consciously trying to be obedient and follow her Savior, Jesus Christ. She is happy and loving to all she meets and is often recognized as being sweet and kind. She has borne her testimony in Sacrament meeting the last 7 fast Sunday's and she is a great example to all that she is around. 

She planned the program herself, wrote it up, and extended the invitations for all who participated. 
The cousins sang their traditional "When I am baptized" and sweet Corbin stole the show standing up front with his arms reverently folded the whole time while all the kids sang. We are thankful for so many cousins and good friends who shared our day with us.

Isaac was a good sport too and got hauled around by Adelle most of the day after the baptism.
We had so much family in town and with all the excitement and happenings I didn't even get family pictures. Jeff's parents came and were here to join us. My parents and all of my siblings and their families came as well as my grandma's and plenty of extended family and friends. There were people standing in the hall because the RS room was completely packed. Adelle is so loved.  

I'm so thankful that this special spirit is in our family. She is such a blessing and such a little ball of love. Prior to the baptism we had lots of fun getting all prepped and walking around the property taking pretty pictures to display. Love this little lady and the beautiful daughter of God that she is. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

13 years of dating

Today marks the 13th year anniversary since Jeff and I went on our first date. I love this day. I'm so glad he asked me out before his friend had a chance. He has been my best friend ever since.

It's funny, the whole concept of time. I can remember that Friday night (or was it a Saturday night?) like it was yesterday. Sort of. I remember big things like what I wore; red tank, black cardigan, gap jeans, my most favorite Steve Madden black slip ons... I probably remember those details because I focused on them so much leading up to when he picked me up. Funny to think about how much I wanted to impress him. How much I still always want to impress him. I hope I always impress my husband. And I hope we always date. Which I am sure we will because we have kept it up for this long already. I remember what he wore too and I can still see that boy who came and shook my dad's hand and opened up the passenger side door for me.  He looks so young and less handsome than he is now. I love how we have aged together.

Jeff woke up at 3:30am this morning to my alarm, which we both hear but only he responded to. He left to do a business job before it opened and from there drove to South Whidbey to do a church job. Long day and it's 9:00pm now and he's still not home.

I woke up at 6:30 and did the farm chores since the farmer was gone.  When I came downstairs there was a note from Jeff wishing me a happy first date anniversary and it said, "thank you for saying yes." I love him.
I drove the tractor out to both pastures with the feed and fed all the chickens and let them out into the day. Then I took the dog out for his morning wee and when I came inside Emmett was the only one awake. Slowly the kids woke up and read, showered... I made eggs and toast. Fried eggs for Braxton, Emmett and myself and scrambled for Adelle, Gage and the dog. We ate. Read scriptures. Gage and I walked the kids to the bus.

Then Gage and I took a bath together. I shaved my legs and he asked me 500 questions about the razor and why I am shaving and why men's faces have hair and when he can shave... Then we got out and met our friends at the beach. Hence why I was shaving my legs.

After beach bummin it for a few hours we came home and I laid Gage down for nap. It took no time at all as he was so tired from all of the swimming. He must have told me a million times thank you for taking him to the beach. It was so sweet. Once he was asleep I inhaled a few chips with bean dip and then got back on the tractor with my crates to go out and collect all the eggs. I texted Jeff from the tractor seat and told him that he makes me the happiest lady in the whole world. I got all the eggs collected, 622 to be exact, and still made it in time to come back in the house while Gage continued to nap.

I had to wake up Gage to deliver the eggs and pick up my big kids from school. Tuesday is busy day around here. I grab them a couple minutes early so we can make it to town for Emmett's eye therapy. We stop at Great Harvest on the way to pick out our individual favorite slices of  bread and buy a loaf of cinnamon raison for Wednesday's breakfast. Emmett always picks cinnamon chip. Adelle surprises me every week when she picks roasted garlic and then smothers it with butter and honey. Braxton likes the dill swiss and Gage changes his weekly. Today Gage went with the raspberry pound cake which was amazing and I stuck with my standard whole wheat sour dough. I love that part of Tuesday's tradition.

After eye therapy we met Gabe and John and their kids and cousins and the whole gang out at Semi Ahmoo. Gabe and John are visiting this week. The kids got into the water up to their waists and found armfuls of baby crabs. We picnicked and visited and enjoyed being together. I wish Jeff had family that lived here still. We don't get to see any of them nearly enough but it's always wonderful when they visit.

We came home late, brushed the sand off our bodies and the kids went to bed while I sit down to record the day. I love this life. I never would have guessed in a million years that going out on that first date with Jeff would lead to where we are now. We are a team in every sense of the word and I can't wait for the next forever years.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Oh la de, Oh la da, Life goes on...

The flowers on the table all month have been from my own yard. They vary week by week and on Sundays when I plan my meals for the week I switch out the flowers. The lilacs were my favorite because they smell so good but this week I have a peony and it's white and so pretty. 
Also  when we moved I brought some of my lily bulbs from my old house and planted them here and this year one is blooming. Reminds me of so many happy springs from  years past.   

Jeff and some of his buds have been busy being boys and playing with chain saws. They fell this tree this month to offer our orchard we are starting more sunlight. Also, the existing apple trees will be happy this tree is no longer shading them for most of the day. 
Gage and I watched this whole thing go down and it was amazing. 

Braxton got the Good Citizenship award at school this month. Adelle and Emmett recieved the award earlier in the year and were all excited for me to come eat lunch with them to celebrate. Braxton told me I didn't have to come. Then he asked if Kamal, who is one of Jeff's employees could come instead of me! It was a laugh out loud. I wasn't offended, just thought it was funny that he wanted a 19 year old kid who he barely knows to go to his recognition lunch instead of me. I got to go in the end and of course my sidekick, Gage, tagged along. He loved being surrounded by the big boys.

The tractor is coming in handy as the coops are way out in seperate pastures. Jeff or I usually use the tractor with the pallet on the end to carry the eggs back. Here Braxton and Emmett are catching a ride back as well after collecting. We are getting around 700 eggs these days. 

Gage is Mr. Social and always asking me who is coming over to play with him. When cousin Corbin came over he had a good time watching Gage use the bathroom. 

All the kids played soccer this spring season and it was so wonderful. I helped coach these cute girls on Adelle's team which was really fun and they had an awesome season.

Adelle also participated in the district Talent Show and her and her friends made it to the finals to win the best group musical number.
Adelle and her friend sang, "The Perfect Nanny," and another friend accompanied them. It was adorable. Adelle's voice is spot on.

Emmett is still the child that wakes up early and right away starts on his chores and responsibilities. He is always reading without me telling him to, doing his eye therapy and taking care of the bathroom garbages. I will also often find him in his sisters room helping her clean up. He is so self motivating. 

Spring has brought more chores and longer days to get them done. Working together as a family continues to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my life right now. I love the skills my kids are learning and the fun we have while working together. There are rings around my tub every time the dirty kids bathe.

Braxton and I ran the Haggen to Haggen 5k this month together. Well, sort of together. We took bets on who would win and all the kids voted for Braxton. Jeff was true and faithful and voted for me. I really thought I would outrun him. I knew he would start out faster but I didn't think he would be able to maintain his pace. Originally I told Braxton we would stay together. Then he talked me into just being able to see each other. Finally on the day of the race we decided he could go ahead and I would just make sure I could see him at all times. 
That didn't even happen. He was so fast and endured so well. I chased him the whole way until the last bend when I lost him. He ran at a 7 min pace and I ran a personal best of 7.49 minute pace. It was a beautiful day and we both had a blast. He was so proud of himself he got 4th place in his age division and wants to run the next 5k.

For my mom's birthday and Mother's Day this year my sister and I organized to go to dinner at Thai Food and then to see the movie, "Mother's Day." It was so wonderful to be with my sister and my mom and my aunt and my Gramy. We laughed so hard and had a great time together. 

Emmett and his buddy Cayson at one of their soccer games. Emmett had such a great season, being his first year, and scored 4-5 goals this season. He was our only soccer played to score. All the parents who know Emmett couldn't believe how aggressive he was on the field for being such a nice boy.

One of our recent projects is building a bigger coop for our little personal chicken flock that we brought with us from Ferndale. They have been free range until now and I am tired of them pooing on the patio and scratching through my garden and plants so we are giving them a nice big, grassy area to roam but they will be contained. All the kids have helped to build it.

A couple weeks ago we threw a big surprise party for one of our good friends. The kids loved the lights that we set up for it and now in the evenings you can sometimes find us with the lights on and dancing. Adelle took a picture of us doing just that. It's the little things.
Jeff is my best friend. I'm sad because this past year really tried us.  The farmer and the farmers wife were sometimes just that and we have to work, harder than ever now, to not just be co-workers. We get so tired and so burnt out. We get frustrated and impatient and sometimes it all feels so heavy. In those moments I would often wake up early to write my feelings. To release as I would call it.
I was writing a memoir about our farm, our marriage and our faith. I was writing my blessings of blueberries and the funny mishaps of poop. It's all gone now though. The tears and the trials and the hammer flying through the air in anger are no longer recorded. Neither are the huge accomplishments and triumphs. The feeding our first 500 chicks or the first time we found an egg.  The rain that ceased when I said a prayers and the all nighters we spent, together, transporting hundreds of chickens to their new coops. All while other couples were doing what other couples do at night. 
I will start over now and though the stories will be different, they will still be stories. 

It's Sunday night and there is an amazing sunset. I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water and one for Jeff and I told him how amazing the sky was outside. He got up and came and stood with me and we just gazed out the front window. Pink and red and purple and blue. Orange. It was amazing and I'm glad we took the time to enjoy it.

My journal that I've kept for the past 5 years died with my hard drive a couple weeks ago. After multiple attempts it's been concluded that nothing from the drive can be retrieved. I am grieving. I feel broken and sad and lost without those words. Two thousand plus pages, typed, single spaced, of words. 

I've spent since Wednesday laughing at how saddened I am. Crying about how unfair it is. Curious about how pioneers traveled through snow and rivers with their journals and yet they still have them and here I am, in a warm house at a nice computer starting over at page one. 

Life goes on. Life is so good and full and although I will never again be able to read the reaction I had to Gage being rushed to the ER, shortly after a beautiful home delivery, or Emmett's first day of Kindergarten or Braxton's feelings about moving to a new school or Adelle's first time riding a bike... I have some of them in my head and I will start again. There is so much more life to live. More stories to be told. More memories to make. More treasures to behold. I lost a part of my heart in those lost words and pictures, but not all. Oh how life goes on.