Chesed

Is living in the country peaceful?

robin

So many times when people come to visit us they say, “Oh, my, it’s so peaceful here.”

hummingbird

Saturday night at ten my mom said, “I just have to get used to this quiet.  I think I’ll go out on the porch and just sit there for a  little bit.”

May 13_0020

It is so quiet here.  It took me awhile to describe it as peaceful though.  For a long time I felt almost claustrophobic.  As though I’d been cutoff from the entire rest of the world.  People and crowds energize me.  While other Mom’s talk about being completely overwhelmed at a homeschool convention, I walk in and get more and more excited.  I love the feeling of a crowd.  I love busy intersections.  I loved being outside and looking up at any given time to see airplanes criss cross the sky.  I love the hum of traffic.  It makes me feel connected to the world.  Not just in my corner, but everywhere there are people going, doing, moving, living, breathing.

baby tree swallow{Baby tree swallow who had a little trouble learning to fly. His parents swooped down to feed him.}

This land is quiet.  It’s reeeeeaally quiet.  On an average day we might see six cars go past our house and I can pretty much guess who it is by what time they drive past.  On a nice weekend when people are heading back toward the Middle Ford we stop and stare at all the traffic. TWENTY cars in one day!  Airplane sightings are less common than seeing deer or wild turkey.

wild turkey {wild turkey create traffic jam when they all decide to cross the road}

Living in the country where it’s quiet doesn’t necessarily mean nothing happens.  In the last two weeks we’ve lost power for over 24 hours (which means no water either), hosted friends from out of town three times, and then had our well pump go out (another 24+ hours without water) while hosting one set of guests. Nothing like having ten people in the house and no running water.  I told David we must have had every appliance in the house go bad since we live here and he said, oh, no, not yet.  The furnace hasn’t quit yet.  Anyone up for a visit, say mid-January?

Aug 13_0017

But quiet {or peaceful, whichever you want to call it} can be delightful.

hummingbird

I love that we get to see so much wildlife.  Besides the more common deer and turkey, it’s not unheard of to see a black bear.  Coyotes yip in the neighborhood and nearly every evening we are serenaded by the song of the whippoorwill. The birds are the best.  We’ve spotted hawks, woodpeckers and even an occasional bald eagle.  The boys both put up nesting boxes they made.  Bluebirds claimed Adam’s and tree swallows settled into the one Liam made.  Last year there was a wren nest in one of my ferns on the front porch, a robin nest in the cedar tree in the front yard, and a mockingbird nest in a pine to the side of the house.  We’ve always loved watching the hummingbirds, but this year we really got to see them up close and personal.  In the early spring when they were just returning from the South, someone found a hummingbird just barely flying in a building at camp.  It looked weak and exhausted and maybe sick.  It tried to fly but after several feet would collapse.  David had just hung a feeder outside his office window so he took the bird over to the feeder and tried to get it to drink.  The poor bird was too exhausted to lift it’s head.  He laid it on the ground and expected it to die. At lunchtime he checked on it and found it still alive.  After finding a medicine dropper, he syphoned some of the nectar from the feeder and fed little drops into the hummingbirds mouth.  Surprise, surprise, it was just enough energy to let the little bird take off!  Last month Liam found a dead one in our flower bed near the bird feeder.  It appeared to have been stabbed by one of it’s own. :(  Silly birds.  They could just share.  But then we’d only have half as much fun watching them.

tree swallow nest

May 13_0331

May 13_0049

June 13_0343

May 13_0030

June 13_0066

June 13_0071

June 13_0073

I love that there is so little traffic the boys can bike on the road in front of our house.  I can go walking on a paved road with a stroller and two little people on bikes way out ahead of me and the biggest threat is the black lab on the corner.  You would think I’d get exercise regularly.

May 13_0329     June 13_0131

May 13_0323

May 13_0104

But the best part of quiet living is the moments stolen on the front porch.  Our ridiculously full calendar hasn’t made for too many moments; but when they happen, they are perfect.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes.  With a cup of coffee to sip in the cool morning air. (Yes, I said cool and it is July. We also have yellow leaves on the tree and few to crunch through on the ground. Don’t you dare say that word that reminds us of pumpkins.)  A few moments stolen to watch the rain roll in across the fields.  Sitting with a friend and watching the hummingbirds at war.  Or my favorite.  Those twilight moments when the world outside is going to sleep.  A few last drinks of nectar for the hummingbirds. The loud chirping of still hungry almost ready to fly tree swallow babies.  The lazy walk of a dog headed for her favorite corner.  The deepening pinks of the sky and then, there it is.  The call of the whippoorwill.

May 13_0040


It’s quiet

It is quiet in our house.

Cumberland Maryland Natural Light Photographer (1 of 1)

The boys left on homevisit so David took Goldi to the vet to get her post-surgery stitches removed and Liam to the doctor for a throat culture.

My friend, Sheryl, just picked up Adam so he could join in on the first stretch of the staff canoe trip today.

Zara is sleeping and will probably sleep for another thirty minutes unless her cough wakes her prematurely.

For the first time in months, my brain is just taking in long, deep breaths of silence and exhaling them slowly.

Cumberland Maryland Natural Light Photographer (2 of 1)

The funny thing is, I woke up this morning after an interrupted night and wondered if every mom gets up feeling so overwhelmed with love for her family.

But this quiet is delicious.  Even for a used to be extrovert.

 


Creating Community

That moment.

IMG_8357_0322

That moment when you drive out the lane for a quick (1 ½ hour) trip to pick up the dog from surgery and the moment you drive out the lane a ferocious storm hits.  That moment when your mom intuition kicks into gear and a look at the tree gymnastics in the wind make you wonder what would happen if a tree came down and two hours stretched into three and you turn around to pick up your just fed baby so your husband doesn’t get stuck with a screaming, starving child.  That moment when the rain hits hard as you drive back in the lane and you are soaked completely through before you get her buckled.

That moment when you drive back out the lane for the second time and steer your nearly bald tires through debris as thick as your wrist and know you made the right decision even if the extra five minutes was what got you soaked.  That moment when you’re not even ten miles down the road and you stop because the right lane is the taken up with a tree that toppled and the left lane is taken up by the tractor trailer that wrecked trying to avoid it.  That moment when you realize the accident probably happened in the last five minutes and you tremble because had you not turned around, your baby may have screamed for her mommy for a lot longer than three hours.

storm tree fell

Sometimes God works in the tiniest, every day miracles through a little bit of intuition and the things that didn’t happen.

Sometimes community happens over a cup of coffee or a neighborhood cookout. It’s a hello wave and stopping to chat when you’re out walking.

IMG_8421_0126

IMG_8417_0122

But the night you go walking and one neighbor lets your ten year old target practice with his gun and you band together with another to cut up a tree and clear the road …. That’s when you know you live in an amazing neighborhood.


Boy Quotes

Adam loudly fake belches in front of David.  ”Did that sound like real burp?” David: “No.”  Adam: “Well, Mommy’s a lot easier to fool than you are.” Comes to find me.  ”I think you must be a fish.  You can just cast some bait in front of you that doesn’t look natural and you think it’s real.  Actually, I think you’re a small mouth bass because you can be pretty feisty, too.”

I tried valiantly to teach both boys the German dialect I learned before I spoke English.  Adam spoke it until he was two and then suddenly switched gears and refused to use a word of “Pennsylvania Dutch.” I kept on, even switching to German halfway through a sentence; but finally I gave up.  It is HARD to speak one language when you’re always being spoken to in another.  It wasn’t that important to me that they knew this particular language as it seemed like a disservice not to teach them a second while it’s so easily absorbed.  One day when Adam was four my mom asked him why he doesn’t talk dutch.  Adam: “Men don’t talk dutch.”  Oh.  I tried again with Liam and lost out quickly.  Now that Zara is here, the boys are on my team.  They hate that I can call my mom and sisters and talk a full conversation in front of them without them knowing what I’m talking about.  Suddenly they’re all about learning.  Tonight at dinner we were learning words and sentences. **** Disclaimer: I only speak this language and have never learned to read or write it so I’m only sounding out words as they sound to me. **** We’d just learned, “Vit du essu,” which means, “Do you want to eat.”  Adam said, “Does, ‘vit du winky’ mean do you want a drink?”

It was another night at dinner with run of the mill conversation.  Liam counts everything right now and suddenly piped up with, “Well, I guess you’re the dad of three kids.”  David: “Yes.”  Adam: “Do you feel that responsibility pretty heavily?  I mean, pretty soon Zara’s going to want her own fishing tackle.”

May 14 (14 of 155)

The boys are so different in personality and sometimes a little behavior issues break out when one person’s strength shows up another’s weakness.  Liam takes the brunt of this because Adam has an large age advantage.  When we referee the conversations, we talk about how different people have strengths given to them naturally.  They love this.  One night soon after an episode of the sort Adam looked at me and asked, “So what are you good at, Mommy?”  It was one of those days where you feel like you are never actually going to get one section of life pulled together and I was too tired to think.  ”Oh, the only thing I’m a pro at is being a mom to you guys.”  Adam shrugged a bit and said, “No, you’re pretty good at clearing the dishwasher, too.”  I’ll remember that the next time I fill out a resume.

May 14 (17 of 155)

In May we traveled to Virginia for an ordination since David’s brother was in the lot.  If you’re not familiar with conservative Mennonite culture and customs, most pastors are ordained by lot as opposed to choosing a vocation and being hired.  The voice of the church is taken through vote and a pre-determined percentage of votes determines who will be in the lot.  It is a heavy week for all involved and since David’s dad is the bishop, he felt it all very keenly.  He is also a very poised man and always gracious.  We stayed with David’s parents for the weekend and on into Monday since David had to travel to Richmond to do family work.  The next morning Adam was downstairs eating breakfast and talking as much as he ate like usual.  They were talking about the ordination when Grandma said that Grandpa is very tired. Adam: “Why would that make you tired?”  Grandma: “Well, you see, it’s a lot of responsibility.” Adam: “I thought it looked like you were having fun up there.” Before the laughter had a chance to subside he added, “Isn’t that kind of deceptive?” (to look like you’re having fun when you’re not?)

The boys were riding with a friend who asked them what their dad does at camp.  Liam: “Well, he entertains the boys when they come to camp.” Adam loudly and indignantly: “No, Liam, he INTERVIEWS them.”

We were driving home from hanging out at the creek when Adam said, “I’m just so infewated with flyfishing.”  I knew he’d just had an unlucky afternoon but thought it was a little much to be infuriated.  ”What?”  Adam: “I’m just so into it.”  Me: “Oh.  You mean infatuated.”  Adam: “Oh, yeah.”  So there you go.  Need a new word? Try infewated.

May 14 (113 of 155)

 


But now I am SIX

We celebrated Liam’s birthday a few days early while we were in Virginia since he was sure his fifth birthday was no fun.  ”Nobody came,” he told me over and over.  You know, little man.  I can remember one birthday party with friends when I was growing up.  I think we’ve been pretty spoiled having aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents so close; but the truth is, we all miss them. This time we decided to celebrate early to include some of them.

 

May 14 (24 of 155)

May 14 (27 of 155)

Liam wanted a basketball cake and I, like usual, gagged at the thought of decorator icing.  So we made another messy cream cheese frosting cake.  Or rather Mom did.  She kept the boys and made Liam’s cake while David took care of Zara and I shot a wedding. I got back just in time to help with the fun part which was ridiculously unfair.  I decided to call myself spoiled and enjoy it. :) The cake actually looked pretty good immediately after we made it.  Unfortunately, I just had a hard drive issue and lost a ridiculous amount of pictures so the good picture is nowhere to be found.  By the time it sat overnight the colors bled like usual and David and I may or may not have felt snippety by the time we got it to the picnic table at the park with plenty of orange food coloring on us to prove it.  Then again, we got pulled over enroute for suspects of a stolen vehicle since we now have Maryland plates and haven’t pulled off the expired Virginia inspection sticker.  I’m sure the homemade cake I had to hand to David so I could pull the registration from the glove compartment showed us up as the hardened criminals we are not.

May 14 (21 of 155)

 

May 14 (30 of 155)

May 14 (32 of 155)

May 14 (44 of 155)

May 14 (41 of 155)

May 14 (39 of 155)

May 14 (37 of 155)

Liam was thrilled as usual.  He loves to affirm and be affirmed and he ate up the gifts and attention like it was candy.

Afterward we got to enjoy the weak sunshine that felt like March instead of May and took the children to feed the ducks.

May 14 (70 of 155)

May 14 (73 of 155)

May 14 (72 of 155)

May 14 (74 of 155)

Six feels like the big little boy version.  Still the little boy who loves having stories read to him and who loves bubbles so much he adds water to the bottle to stretch it.  But also the big boy who saved up his allowance to buy a carving knife.

May 14 (86 of 155)

He’s the lovey dove who makes up songs to sing to Zara and has music in his fingers when he touches the piano with his own compositions.  He is full of hugs and kisses and equally full of dramatic emotional swings.  He’s the one who most easily feels overwhelmed and copes by walking away and saying, “I just need some alone time.” He is darling.  But don’t tell him I said that.  Because he’s also big enough to not be cute or darling or anything else that might be remotely linked to babyish or girlish.

six years old


Three Months

She’s a sugar lump.  Darling. Angel child.  There aren’t enough sweet words to describe her.

May 14 (87 of 155)-001

She’s quietly snuggling into our family.

May 14 (93 of 155)-001

She hardly ever cries (probably because we love to hold her so much).

May 14 (98 of 155)-001

She went from sleeping a four hour stretch at night the day she was born to six hours by two weeks, eight hours at two months, and an average of ten hours at three months.

May 14 (101 of 155)-001

She smiles and laughs and we all melt.

May 14 (103 of 155)-001

Most times she wakes before I do in the morning.  On the rare occassions she doesn’t, I mutter, “Is Zara still alive?” before I’m even really awake.  Sometimes I feel withdrawal if I don’t hold her for an hour.  By the time we get reunited in the morning it’s like a family reunion. :)



April Funnies

Mom was making garnachies at our house and Adam watched her shake salt into the beans without measuring.  “You’re a professional.  You just season to taste.”

 

Liam while doing his schoolwork: “This one is unconscious.  My ‘e’s’ don’t usually look like that.”

 

I made these outrageously good granola bars.  Shockingly, they’re also outrageously healthy.  Adam tasted one and said, “Did you put nicotine in these?”  I must not be the only one who thinks they’re addictive.

Apr14_0056

The boys were supposed to bring a wheelbarrow load of wood into the basement for the wood furnace.  The wood was under a tarp and, without thinking about the consequences, Adam would throw the wood to the edge and Liam would take it to the wheelbarrow.  The inevitable happened.  Liam got hit.  Adam brought him to the door.  I could hear his wailing the entire time they traipsed through the yard.  When Adam finished telling me the story I looked at Liam and the enormous crocodile tears and the tell-tale mouth hanging open (usually means I’m not really hurt badly but I am in desperate need of attention so I’ll milk this for all it’s worth).

Me: “Adam, did you apologize?”

Adam: “Yes.”

Me: “Liam, did you say, I forgive you?”

Liam: “No, I was too busy crying.”

And just like that it was all over and they tromped back to the woodpile a little wiser.

Apr 14_0526 {first tick bite of the season . they didn’t even wait until it got warm}

Liam was setting the table when Mom was here.  “Hey, Grammie, I ‘setted’ you between my mom and dad.”  We grinned at each other and turned to look.  He wasn’t kidding.  The table that normally seats four had five plates on it.  Four in their normal positions and the fifth plate squeezed tightly between where David and I sit.  :)

Apr 14_0457

Mom bought shrimp for our supper one night while she was here.  This is a huge, huge treat for our family and they get carefully divided so everyone gets the same amount.  We were all enjoying them when Adam randomly announced, “Good thing these are invertebrates.”

 

Another day while we were studying health I was reading over the jokes they had interspersed.  Adam listened obligingly then said, “These just don’t hit my funny bone.”

Apr 14_0195  Apr 14_0487

Liam’s newest vocabulary word is fair.  As in, “she slept a fair amount,” or, “There is a fair amount of paint left.”

 

Adam has been steadily making up jokes.  His most famous ones are what he calls the toothpaste jokes.

Q: What’s a hunter’s favorite kind of toothpaste? A: Aim

Q: What’s a surfer’s favorite kind of toothpaste? A: Crest

Q: What’s a carpenter’s favorite kind of toothpaste? A: Arm and Hammer

Q: What’s a farmer’s least favorite kind of toothpaste? A: “Cold Gate”

Apr 14_0485

At dinner one night Adam said if someone would tell him he could have one wish he would wish for all the wishes in the world because then he could wish for whatever he wants and he’d get it.  David  responded with the obligatory parental coaching.  “Well, you know you still wouldn’t be happy even if you got everything in the world you can wish for…..” Adam interrupted him.  “Well, then I’d just wish for happiness.”

Apr 14_0059

The boys do so well with Zara and she loves them to bits.  Some days I still crack up at how differently they respond to her than a typical girl would.  One day I had Adam take care of her for a bit while I was doing something else.  I walked back out to the living room to see him holding her horizontally out in front of him while he slowly made circles and “chop chop chop” noises.  Welcome to the world of helicopters and trucks, little girl.


Double Digits

He is TEN.

So grown up.

Chopping down trees.

Cooking food in a Dutch Oven over a fire.

Dusting and Vacuuming almost as well as I do.

Ready to shop in the men’s section the next time he buys tennis shoes.

Baking chocolate chip cookies.

Reading an occasional book from the grown up section like Gifted Hands.

Building a 6×8 log cabin in the woods behind our house.

Independently fishing.

Apr 14_0399 Apr 14_0397 Apr 14_0401

 

But still, so little boy.

Forgetting to close the door.

Climbing trees.

Devouring children’s books one after the other and reading the sames ones repeatedly because he doesn’t have enough new material.

Tusseling everywhere.

Enthralled with pocketknives, hatchets, or a toy boat in the pool.

Ripping holes in the knees of his pants.

Asking a million questions.

Apr 14_0395

Apr 14_0410

Apr 14_0422

He is ten.

Responsible and irresponsible.

Silly and serious.

Grown up and little boy.

Apr 14_0156

Grow all you can, my little man.  But one thing’s for sure.  You will never ever outgrow our love.