Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Story of the Porch

We've lived in this peaceful little Hollow since July of 2003.  We'd only been married one year when we bought a house we knew we would grow into.  We really have grown into it.  Every square inch of space is now seeing heavy use.

Now we're starting to take up outdoor space too!

We've long wanted a back porch and discussed numerous options over the years; 
always deciding that it wasn't a priority and wasn't in the budget.  

Last September, construction on a roof over the back deck finally began.  

The Rugged Mountain Man and I dug the holes.  Together. It was tough work, but so good for me to realize why I really don't have a "honey-do" list.  It's easy to dole out what all you want done 'round the place.  When you do the work together, you realize what it entails and how much time it takes.  I came out of that with a new respect for the dirty work the Rugged Mountain Man does around here.  If we want something done, it's much more respectful to pull weight in that request.

I also came away from this experience very thankful for my two neighbors and father-in-law who wielded hammers and other tools on Labor Day to get this thing up.

Don't you just love the turkey in the pic?  He sure did taste good!

With the roof up, the "porch," as I now call it, stayed that way for the next year while the pressure-treated wood cured.  It was wonderfully serviceable and we LOVED it.  It just wasn't pretty yet.

Next up: 
All hands on deck to stain and paint!

The Rugged Mountain Man, Blossom1, Blossom2 and I all painted and stained all day.  

It was very hard work, but we all worked the ENTIRE time, just like champs.

We even used their favorite boring work tip:
We downloaded audio books and listened while we worked.  It makes the time go faster!

The Blossoms have a greater respect of what goes into a project now.

We truly could not have done it without them!

We're enjoying this new space for good family time.  Just the other night, we had family game night out on the porch.  The laughter and banter were the highlight of my week!



Friday, August 18, 2017

In the Dog Days

You don't really have to go far to find beauty. 

There's so much to savor close by.

One Sunday evening, the Rugged Mountain Man and I took the Blossoms to the lake for a little while.

Though it was close to sunset, we still enjoyed an hour or two of dusky, sandy family fun.

Family down time is something I adore.  It's rarely perfectly golden, like one might hope it would be.

But in these imperfect moments are the times that our family's bonds are forged.  

Our love is strengthened in the moments of just being together.

I encourage you, in these dog days, savor those snatched moments of just being together.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vignettes and Sun Tea with Me

When I went outside the other day, I took a few minutes to snap some pics of some of my current favorite vignettes.  You know, the little good things that make me smile, but I don't normally think to capture for you.  I wanted to share them, along with a few snippets of what might come up in conversation if we sat together on my porch swing.  Perhaps you'd like a glass of sun tea while we chat?

Right now I'm excited:
Blossom3 gave me a squeeze the other day and told me that I've been so nice the past couple of days.  If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is.  You're familiar with some of my previously shared parenting struggles here  The encouraging note in her comment was that she said it during a week rife with Fair preparations, so I knew that the Lord has truly been helping me make some positive changes in my interactions with the girlies ~ more affirmation, more one-on-one time, more smiles, more slowing down.  Thank God for progress.  Mamas, we CAN be Godly, with His help and grace!

We're busy too:
Now we're getting ready for vacation!  We've been looking forward to it all summer, since the cabin is one of our most favorite places on Earth.  I'm excited about the big chunks of family time and the time away from "civilization."  

I'm thankful:
I'm still relishing the good week we had at the Fair.  I do believe that the Lord's hand is on all parts of our lives, so I thank Him when that is evident in little AND big ways.  I really think we were able to be a witness there and that's what I'm most grateful for!

And what have I been reading lately?
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.  It's one of my favorites and I've been zipping through it since some off-handed reference sent me looking for it on my tablet the other day.  I also picked up Leaving Liberty by Virginia Carmicheal.  It's another clean and uplifting read by a favorite author.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James.  It's a fictional account of Jane Austen's life, written with superb Austen-esque accuracy and style.  If you're a Pride and Prejudice fan, just grab this to quelch your Austen craving for the day.

Aside from reading the book of Deuteronomy, I've been meandering around a bit in I Corinthians 12-14.  The thing that caught my eye is "love bears all things" in I Corinthians 13.  Oh man, that is SO convicting!  That gives me enough to focus on for the next three months.  Do I bear all things because of love?  If I'm truly operating through love, I will bear all things and bear them differently!!  

Thanks for having sun tea with me!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Catching up on the Fair

"The Fair," as it is known in our house, has concluded and we are settling back into our normal lives again.  It was a phenomenal week, which considering the logistics that go into a week like that, is saying a lot.

I think that I should just change my title to Logistics Manager, for that is what virtually every thought went into - coordinating all the details.   What equipment do we need?  What time do we need to be there?  What food do we need to take?  What are we having for supper?  Are the show clothes clean?  Do the pens need to be cleaned again?  When are the next deadlines?  Things flowed smoothly and I'm so, so, SO grateful for that. 

Sometimes I like to sum up experiences in one word.  This one would be "rapport."  The whole ten days were about establishing a rapport and building on that.  From the ladies and gents at the gate to the rabbit and poultry chairpersons and volunteers, it was a whole lot of getting to know more people - the same people year in and year out.  

I like that.  I'd actually call that demonstrating character.  People are getting to know our character.

Every pen cleaned, every barn swept, every time you ask "What next," it adds to what folks remember about you.  How did I respond to the good?  How do I respond to the bad and inconvenient?  

Why is that important to me and mine?  

Because Jesus.  

I parent the way I do because I believe it's what Jesus would do.  

I'm friendly because I believe it's what Jesus would do.  

I try to help because I believe it's what Jesus would do.  

We're trying to raise the girlies with a standard of excellence, not approved by any person or code, 
but a standard that He is looking upon.  It's a high mark, but with His grace, 
we can share Jesus through our life.  I feel like they're learning that in experiences like this.  

There were other parts to this Fair experience, like Blossom2 winning Reserve Grand Champion meat bird.  She was so pleased, in her quiet undemonstrative Blossom2 way.  Here, you can see a local professor teaching the kids how to tell a good meat chicken from a terrific one.  I sure learned a lot from the judges of the poultry and rabbit shows.  I love that 4H is about sharing knowledge.

There's other Fair week stories, like the stag beetle a friend discovered in the poultry barn.  Amidst excited cheers from the girlies, we promptly fed it to one of our favorite laying hens. She devoured it!  I guess it was the special cream-filled kind!  #redneckentertainment

Then, there's the annual pedal tractor pull put on by some of my favorite volunteers.  My girls always enjoy this little community competition.  Blossom4 was sure to get the green tractor, because they're the best.  #redneckpriorities

Because the girls placed so high in the rabbit and chicken shows, I got a backstage photographer "pass" to that part of the livestock auction.  That really means I shot the breeze with some of the other moms while waiting to snap pics.  

It was a good thing too, since the official 4H photographer was occupied when one kid's meat chicken decided to make a break for his freedom.  I swooped in, despite my clean-for-once-during-fair-week jeans and tackled the chicken.  
Apparently, I might've saved the day... for the 4-Her, not the chicken.  

My boots got a sweet workout this week.  
They are finally getting that distressed look that I prefer - lots of character.
You know I love the Fair because nobody looks askance at cowboy boots.  #classy4Hmom

Our fairgrounds are some of the most picturesque around.  This enabled me to snatch a few restful moments wherever I could - on a bench by the ga-ga pit or lounging on the bleachers.  I breathed in the peace whenever I could.

The views and the skies were glorious this week.  

The shadows were friendly and the goats were too.  

The girlies and a friend were enjoying to walk some curious goats for another 4H friend.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of their week, especially when the goats decided to "taste" her iced tea!  Bubbling laughter ensued!

I'm thankful for all the people who put so much time into their communities to make 4-H and county fairs happen.  It's been a blessing to my family and I'm looking forward to many more in the years to come.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Backpack Dump

Backpack Dump
~ Fair Week Version ~

To make up for my recent bloggy-silence and for your personal entertainment, I thought I'd do a little dump here.

My family bought me this amazing canvas backpack last Christmas.  It has become my hard-working go-to for any sort of day trip or more than the usual rugged type of outing.  It's hefty, loaded with pockets and matches almost everything I wear.  My family has good taste!!!

Here's what I discovered inside, once Fair week was over:

- plenty of pens
- permanent marker
- my child's checkbook
- wallet, of course
- bidding number for the livestock auction
- sunglasses
- hackey sack, so I can relive my 90s teenage years at a moment's notice with my Blossoms
- broken balloon
- sticky note list
- roll of duct tape
- mangled granola bar, because you know they'll eat THAT if they're hungry
- several zipper pouches that house things like ibuprofen, personal items, fingernail clippers and more pens
- three different flavors of gum (Why isn't one enough?)
- extra camera battery
- change pouch, which also houses my Buck knife
- claim tickets for items on display at the Fair
- old handlebar grip for Blossom3's bike, since I was supposed to find a replacement at some point in the last two weeks
- flashlight
- random bracelet I found at the Fair
- Blossom4's belt and belt buckle
- 4H wristband that fell off
- hair tie
- miscellaneous garbage and old reminder lists
- wipes that were obviously accessed NUMEROUS times
- compact mirror
- mommy cards
- chicken show lineup/brochure
- livestock auction lineup/brochure
- camera, not pictured

I have to say, the roll of duct tape is definitely my favorite!

Have a wonderful day!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Let the Fun Begin!

Apparently, this is how we prep and enjoy the first few days of the Fair.

With science posters.

With creative chicken and rabbit cage name tags.

With lots of plaid.

With miscellaneous tools, thank you poster and water jugs.

With Colonial doll dress sewing projects.

(in upper left of above picture.)

With a trailer full of animals.

With interviews.

With bunny ears.

With pleasant eyes.

With velvety noses.

With comfy snoozes.

With mischievous shenanigans.

With country quilts.

With stunning miniatures.

With tasty bread.

With satisfying ribbons.

Let the Fair fun begin!