Tuesday, February 13, 2018

An Adventure in NYC

It all started with a scavenger hunt on Christmas morn.  Six clues later, 

the Blossoms were delighted to discover that in 17 days, we were venturing to New York City to spend the day at American Girl Place.  They made it their first order of business to tweak the now obsolete Christmas countdown to an American Girl trip countdown.

The day began at 4:30 am, with the girlies choring in the dark first, and then clambering into the van with a hot "cuppa" for each of us.

The drive went smoothly, as we avoided rush hour and pulled into our pre-reserved parking garage space.  We walked ten minutes to American Girl Place, which the Blossoms actually spotted first, with shouts of, "THERE IT IS.  I SEE THE AMERICAN GIRL STARS!!!

The store is divided into different sections - contemporary characters, Girl of the Year, BeForever dolls, Just Like You dolls, Bitty Babies and Wellie Wishers.  There are beautiful displays to just look at and a plethora of displays to be played with and rearranged by lovely little girlies like mine.

Blossom3 and Blossom4 are checking out a recording studio set for the Melody character, straight out of the 1960s.  

I loved how the displays brought to life the girls and the nuances of history they've read about.

There was a section devoted to the MegaConstrux American Girl sets.  Since our girlies are into Legos, they found this area to be very intriguing.

Check out this model of NYC made entire out of Lego-type blocks.  Their favorite characters were sprinkled throughout the display... and mine too!

And that NYC skyline!

The Rugged Mountain Man enjoyed watching the Blossoms savor all the girlie American Girl nuances.  

Eventually though, those feet got tired.  

We'd arrived at 10:15 am, so it was time to take a break with a Samantha movie before our next reservation

at the doll salon!!!! Clad in American Girl cranberry colored shirts, the Blossoms lined up to have their dolls' hair made to look new again.

They'd labored over which hairstyle to choose for the previous seventeen days.

Their stylists did a phenomenal job and even threw in a few insider tips on how to take care of their dolls' hair.  We ended up being thoroughly pleased with this splurge.  It's been a month and the Blossoms STILL haven't taken the hair styles out.  The stylists know what they are doing and make it last.  Ten thumbs up from all the females in this house!

The little things made a big impact too; the girlies thoroughly enjoyed riding the escalators up and down to each section.  We visited each section numerous times.

The snazzy pink Christmas decorations added to the glitz and glam that four girlies whole-heartedly appreciated.

Blossom1 was also particularly inspired by Tenney's banjo. 

She came home and made this guitar for her doll, Elizabeth.  I'm impressed!

With our morning muffins and McDonald's stop a very distant memory, we were more than ready for our reservation at the American Girl Cafe. We watched Grace and explored the book section while we waited to be summoned.  

Let's just say that their signature pink lemonade may have stolen the show at the Cafe.  For those of you who've read the American Girl books, the pink lemonade is from Samantha's birthday celebration.  It's quintessentially American Girl!  Even McKenna was tickled to have her own pink lemonade.

The Blossoms got their dolls settled in their doll seats, all the while delighted with doll-sized cups, plates and place mats.  They proceeded to sip an inordinate amount of pink lemonade, not that I blame them or anything.  

Afterward, we perused every display again, about sixty times, so they could pick their outfit to take home.  Such a difficult decision, but they did manage to resolve it as you can see by this shot the next morning.  Fancy doll hair and fancy doll outfits!

Though Daddy probably would've been done at American Girl Place after only half an hour, we didn't depart until 4:00 pm!  He and I agreed that we wanted the Blossoms to squeeze every last drop of delight out of our visit there.  And we did.  


We walked the streets of New York, constantly admiring the skyline.

The flags of the world were a hit too, as Blossom2 has a particular interest in flags and their countries.

We perused the Rockefeller Center and ice rink, as well as the Lego Store that you can see off to the right in the above picture.  It was very crowded, so we just did a walk-through, enjoying the magnificent Lego creations there. 

The Blossoms were very tired by this time and dusk was rapidly drawing near.

After walking through the magnificent St. Patrick's cathedral,

 we journeyed back to our van, sighing with satisfaction in resting our feet and having seen something the Blossoms and I have wanted to do and see for a long, long time.  

Navigating homeward during rush hour was long, difficult and a bit strange.  The Rugged Mountain Man had to learn to drive like a New Yorker.  We were also a bit puzzled by the police in Times Square donning riot gear, bulletproof vests and grabbing tear gas amidst peacefully strolling pedestrians.  Perhaps they were preparing for the normal Friday night party crowd?

As the temperature was rapidly dropping and excessive rain fell with an ice storm looming on the horizon, we made our way out of the city at a snail's pace.  The Rugged Mountain Man and I made a stellar navigation team; he at the wheel and I wielding smart phones, maps, snacks and an extra set of eyes.  We were grateful to beat the storm home and sent prayers of gratitude to the Lord as we lay in our beds for only a half an hour when the sleet began to ping off our bedroom windows.  

During our dinner at the Cafe, Blossom3 was asking fun little ice-breaker questions off the back of her dolly place mat.  When she posed the question "What is the greatest adventure you've ever been on?" we looked at one another, grinned and piped up in total unison, "THIS ONE!"

Although... the Rugged Mountain Man says next time, we are going to Wyoming, 
where there are no people.


Friday, February 9, 2018

In My Comfy, Cozy Corner

"How do I behave submissively to the Rugged Mountain Man today?"  

I think on this often.  I'm profoundly interested in anything that makes me the kind of wife outlined in the Bible, a virtuous women who helps and blesses her husband.  

In my comfy, cozy corner, I sat sipping tea and mulling over the day ahead; how to meet it with a good attitude, how to be obedient to the Lord in every part of it, how to be joyful through whatever we ended up doing on this particular day.  I wrote in my journal,

"Maybe submission is as simple as being flexible.  
Actually, it is probably, and more accurately, 
being happily flexible."

In this I can surely grow.  Indeed there are ample opportunities in a day for flexibility toward my husband.  He might need my help with a project.  He may remember something he needs me to do.  He may want to change our plans.  He may be quiet when I feel like talking.  So many moments for me to be happily flexible.  Choosing to grow in those moments and relying on His grace to pray,

"Lord, please help me to be happily flexible... today."


These snapshots are from our recent visit to NYC, where we meandered through St. Patrick's Cathedral.  More to come soon, I hope.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Micro-Farm Tested Winter Gear for Kids

The secret to raisin' winter-lovin' or just winter-enjoying kids might be as simple as keeping them warm.  Like my dad and the Norwegians say,

"There's no such thing as bad weather, 
just bad clothing choices." 
The Blossoms spend about 40 minutes every morning feeding their livestock, in addition to afternoon or evening play times outside.  We've found a number of things that keep the girlies outfitted for real, rustic life outdoors.  These are our micro-farm tested winter favorites!

#1 - Canvas Overalls
We love Carhart type overalls.  They keep the heat in.  Instead of over-paying for the brand name, we actually prefer the less expensive brand, Walls.  They are durable.  Though currently sold out at walmart.com, Berne and Schmidt are excellent brands too, and they are available at Tractor Supply stores.  We have found that regular snow pants are not as warm and they don't hold up to the every day wear and tear that this lifestyle requires.  I also don't care for snow pants you just pull on.  When you're bending and reaching like the Blossoms are, they need their body heat to stay in and overalls make an overall difference. (ahem... pun intended... sorry)  When the hand-me-downs wear out and I end up buying chore/play coats for the girls, I like to buy the matching canvas coats too.  Its toughness is unbeatable!  Plus, if I buy them in camo, they double as warm hunting gear too.

#2 - Mufflers or Gaiters
I upcycled a fleece scarf and fleece scraps into these mufflers.  They're an easy sewing project that has been super worth my while.  They stay on much better than a scarf.  There's no risk of it getting caught on any of their equipment, cages or pens, like a scarf would.  They can be pulled up over the nose if the wind is particularly bitey.  I wash the Blossoms' mufflers often to keep the germs at bay, since they often breathe through them on the coldest days.

#3 - Thick Wool Socks
Every year, the Blossoms get a pair of wool socks in their stockings.  They love this tradition and it pays off in the winter.  I even try to buy the colors they like best, so when I'm folding socks, I know whose are whose.  We've found that these Kodiak kids socks, which I've often bought in store at Wal-mart and online, hold up really well, keeping their feet toasty.  On the coldest days, with subzero temps, the Blossoms will layer two pairs in their boots to ward off the chill.

#4 - Long Johns/"Under Armor"
I once scoffed at the idea of wearing long underwear.  I've since decided that it is the mountain family's best friend!  Thermal long underwear bought from Wal-mart, hand-me-down under-armor and thrift store off brand finds all do the same thing: keep the girlies' core warm.  When the Blossoms were very little and tiny long underwear was a little harder to find, I layered leggings and a tighter long-sleeve tee.  It worked very well.  Long Johns + winter = MUST HAVE

#5 - Hats that Cover Ears
We own several aviator style hats. The Blossoms are required to wear these type of hats when they go out to feed and play, unless they have a thick "beanie" that goes down over their ears and stays over their ears.  Their bright orange hats I picked up from Wal-mart are their favorites!  I've since weeded out all the ridiculous beanies that don't do anything but look cute.  I need to know the girlies are warm outside.  It isn't wise to be under dressed in the wind and cold.

#6 - Insulated Waterproof Gloves
The jury is still out on a dependable brand of warm, but flexible gloves for the Blossoms' winter gear closet.  Right now, we have a wide variety of options for them, ranging from ski-type snow gloves to wool flip-down mittens.  The current winners are these insulated rubber coated work gloves recommended to us by a 4-H alumnus.  The Rugged Mountain Man told her that Blossom2 always got saddled with refilling the water dishes on brutally cold mornings and she promptly recommended these.  I ordered them as soon as he passed the info on to me.  When Blossom2 came back in from chores after wearing them for the first time, she gave me a HUGE hug.  They keep her hands warm AND dry, so she was tickled to have something that took the bitterness out of good wholesome work.  I imagine I'll be ordering a few more pairs before long.

#7 - Rubber Boots
Rubber boots aren't known for being super warm, but when paired with thick, sumptuous socks, they are a winner for choring that involves snow, ice and water.  For kids' sizes, Wal-mart has them in stock, though I've found the longest lasting to be the adult sizes carried at Tractor Supply stores.  We buy 'em bigger and let 'em clunk around in them til they fit.

As I was headed outside to help with the shoveling, I took note that 4 1/2 year old Blossom4 got herself totally and suitable suited up for a 25 degree day in the snow.  She did it all by herself.  Now that she's helping outside daily, she didn't start out the winter being able to handle all the zippers and closures, plus remembering all the right gear.  Mama and the big Blossoms had to pitch in there.  I told her how proud I was that she managed all her layers all by herself.  I'm excited that she's learning how to be appropriately attired for winter.  Hope you found a few tips for keeping your people warm and toasty this winter.  Get outside soon!


PS - If you're interested, check out my summer work equipment list here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Life Lately - Winter Evenings

I noticed the Game Commission took a bear trap up to my neighbor's house the other day.  I don't think they've trapped Ugly Ted yet, but I'm hopeful.  I'm also relieved that a solution is in the works.  It's a bit unnerving to have bear sightings during the afternoon, when your children are out playing.

The Sleeping Beauty ballet was lovely.  Blossom3 and I immensely enjoyed the graceful dancing, superb choreography, rich music and amazing skill of the ballerinas.  It was also very pleasant to run into some friends there.  Blossom3 was tickled pink to be able to drink an entire cherry and blue razzberry slushy on the way home, without having to share with anyone.  Sure, she didn't fall asleep quite as quickly when she crawled into bed, but her shining eyes and special smile were worth it.

The evenings have been so cozy here lately.  The Blossoms are on a watercolor streak, so the dining room table is now littered with amateur landscape paintings.  One of the girlies was inspired by a book about miniatures and is dabbling in clay too.  Yep, those are also drying on the dining room table.  Blossom3 received a fleece tie kit for her birthday, so she's been plugging away at that.  It's like the Rugged Mountain Man says, "Crafting is a winter sport!"

I can't reiterate enough how much that 7:30 nightly all hands on deck cleanup is making a difference in our lives.  I feel like our days have been more productive because we're spending our time on the tasks of this day, rather than always catching up from yesterday.  Even the Rugged Mountain Man noticed.  I also rewarded the Blossoms with a token or two for their prolonged efforts in keeping our home tidy.

I'm looking forward to a pleasant weekend.  Tomorrow I may get to learn how to butcher a pig.  Ironically, I'm (strangely) excited about possibly adding this new skill to my arsenal.  We'll have some more family and Daddy time today too.  What a blessing family is!

Keep the faith, friends!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winter Fun

During Christmas break, this mama surprised her Blossoms with a fun little project.  

First, we cut the graham crackers according to google. 

Then, we whipped up a batch of royal icing.

We assembled the little graham cracker cottages and let them harden for an hour.

Then, the real fun began.  
Raid the candy basket, pull out the goodies I'd bought for this project 
and get decorating!

Every Blossom decorated her house a bit differently.  

That should come as no surprise.  They are delightfully diverse in personality, gifts and preferences.

That diversity brings such a fullness in our fellowship every day.  

They all agreed on this project though;

super fun!!! But, really not all that tasty.  

We love winter fun!