Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fall's Final Sigh

September began with a new beginning for our family. A certain blond and sparkling blue eyed five year old was very eagerly awaiting her first day of school. Her back pack moved around the house with her as she would take everything out and pack it all back in and contemplate what else she may need to go to school. (Hanna tends to think she needs to take everything along everywhere, doesn't get that from her mom at all!) She counted down the sleeps and could hardly wait until Aunty Trudy would roll the big yellow bus onto the driveway. I asked her if mommy should drive her to school the first day but she protested heavily against that!  And so on her first morning of school she bounded out of bed and got her herself dressed and washed up more quickly and willingly than ever before. I think I was just as excited as her. Poor Jake just followed her lead and kept on saying that he was going to school too. Happy goodbyes for Hanna turned into a very sad little brother who couldn't understand why he wasn't going on the bus too and with Aunty as the driver of all people. I consoled him with telling him we would drive to the school and meet Hanna to take her to her classroom. That sufficed. 
A few minutes later there we were, the Kindergarten mom paparazzi with our cameras in hand waiting for backpacks and ponytails to come bounding off the buses. The funniest thing was in class, once the children were all settled at their spots, it got really quiet. We moms just stood there like we didn't know what to do next and the children kind of looked frozen with uncertainty in their new surroundings. It seemed no mother wanted to take the first move to leave the room until we were gently reminded by the teacher that it was best to just say goodbye and leave so that she could take it from there. And out we filed, me kind of feeling like I needed to go to a class and learn how to be ' the Kindergarten mom'  No tears for me though, I was so happy for Hanna and also looking forward to this new phase of letting go a little bit and letting Hanna learn. Just a feeling of de ja vu as I remember being that five year old girl walking down the driveway with my niece, Cara, as we embarked on our Kindergarten journey. I remember so clearly as we'd go to school with matching outfits and nutella sandwiches, playing  games and singing songs with the bus driver. Little low german speaking girls in a new world of learning.  And so, twenty and several years later I watch my own little girl create her own school pathway of memories.

Poor Jakey-boy has had many tearful mornings watching Hanna leave for school, but he's adapted and now cheerfully waves good bye and watches the bus each morning from the window. Sometimes throughout the day he asks "Where's Hanna?" He definitely misses her even though they fight half the time they are together. So these mornings it's just me and the boys and I have to admit that right now I'm enjoying these much quieter mornings when I'm not constantly refereeing and being able to catch a nap after lunch while both boys are napping. Jake and I have been able to spend some one on one time doing things like feeding the chickens and playing catch. He enjoys playing quietly with his trucks and tractors too and tries to hitch up to everything or he gets to watch 'Mighty Machines'  while I work or look after baby. Jake just melts my heart with his big brown eyes and dimples and has smoke coming out of my ears with his whining and screaming. He's in a very typical two to three year old stage as he's learning more and more to exert his will and want things his way. Hanna used to be able to do everything first of herself and now she has competition from a little boy who picks up on everything and now wants to do those things himself. From opening the door first, turning off the light or TV first, going up the stairs first or letting the water out of the tub first. It makes my head so tired with the constant arguing, most of the time it just feels like I join the argument and nobody wins. The sweetest thing is though once the air is calmed I can hear Jake go up to Hanna and say I'm sorry Hanna and they'll hug each other. In those moments I'm reminded that after the storm when I feel like nothing good is happening God sends me these reminders that there is fruit in the labour of parenting and that these little hearts are learning and loving as we go. At the end of the day when Jake fires his slap shot and yells 'Check that out!' or Hanna sits and sings song after song that she makes up about Jesus, I'm reminded to be thankful for the gift of these children.
Then there's Peter. He's also got something new going on this fall and that is figuring out that he can sit. The nice thing is that he has so much chub around the middle to give him balance that he's hardly had any falls. So he just sits, leans as far forward as his belly allows and then leans back into sitting position. Once in awhile its too far to the side and then he ends up on his back, but this little dude just likes to sit and reach for toys. Even better than that is eating, anything I chop up and put on his tray puts his little fingers and mouth to use. Oh yeah, and the mess. I forgot how much of a mess babies make when they start eating themselves. He has a little addiction going on with those baby Num-Num crackers, keeps him entertained in the chair for a while. He loves to giggle at the kids when they act silly in front of him. Jake has been such a pest to him already though that as soon as he gets to close Peter starts screeching already. Once he is of the right size I think Jake will have it handed back to him. Nights are a bit better but I keep wishing for him to sleep through that early morning hour that he can't stay asleep through. Someday. It's so much fun to see his personality starting to shine through although the attitude is forming too. Hopefully the attitude won't match his red hair. Lucky kid though, I always wanted red hair!
Random shot of Samson. He's still the king of the castle. Lost a few fair feathered friends to the neighborhood fox this summer and some ended up in the soup pot. Last winter I was so tired of my chickens after trudging out there eevery day through pregnancy. I still can't get rid of them though and lately I have a new appreciation for my walks out to the chicken house. After the craziness of the day is over, I enjoy going out after it's dark and breathing in the cold air. The stillness and quiet and opening the hen house door to the soft shuffling of the flock is relaxing and clears my head.  I used to be so afraid of the dark and there's been several times Ive raced back to the house just like I'd do as a child. That fear has been replaced by just enjoying the simplicity of listening to the night sounds and having some moments of quiet prayer.
The apple dumpling gang! We made many pies from these wonderful apples. Finally got a good harvest from the Goodlands tree that Wayne planted five years ago when Hanna was born.
Wayne celebrated his bitrthday the first week of October and then several days later suffered an injury to his leg. The first Saturday of October he went out with his Dad to his Grandma's place where they were going to cut down a tree. It never even dawned on me to think about Wayne's safety as he's been cutting wood all summer but around three in the afternoon Wayne phoned as told me 'I cut myself with a chainsaw'. Him and his Dad moved fast and got into the truck to get to a hospital. Amidst confusion of where to go to I decided to call 911 and an ambulance met them on the way and took Wayne into Portage. He texted me a few times telling me he was okay but it was hard to imagine a chainsaw cut being okay! Along the way the ambulance stopped at the scene of a fatal car accident to offer their help while Wayne waited in the ambulance. At this point he was feeling very little pain possibly because of the shock to his nerves. He told me that sitting there watching the paramedics work at the deadly scene before him made his situation seem much more bearable. When I got to the hospital the ER was frantically busy as the ambulances all came in at once. I had to wait an hour and a half before I was able to see Wayne. When they let me in I instantly tried to avoid looking at his wound, not being sure I would be able to handle it and Wayne was the one who assured me that it was okay. They were just washing and beginning the stitching. I couldn't imagine how that torn flesh could be tightly stitched together again. After the procedure was done and x rays were taken Wayne felt intense pain that morphine couldn't ease. It was my turn to assure but you feel so helpless seeing someone you love in so much pain. during this time we were also receiving news that the accident had involved local boys and two of them had lost their lives. Meanwhile one of the boys was on the other side of the curtain from us and asking continuously about his friends. it was all a lot to take in and my regard for emergency medical staff certainly deepened as I watched everyone juggle between the situations. I'm not so sure I would do well emotionally as a nurse in an emergency ward. We were just so thankful that Wayne's injury was not worse and that he was alive. We were able to leave around ten that night afer Wayne finally received pain relief from stronger medication and he hobbled out on a pair of crutches. 
The next two weeks were certainly a change of pace and pattern for our family as Wayne was on the couch and putting up his leg. Each day was kind of up and down with pain, rest and attitudes. After several days infection set in due to it being a dirty wounds and several pieces of wood still working their way out. That meant many days driving in for IV  anitbiotics and check ups. We became quite familiar with the ER waiting room and ate a little too much McDonald's that week! We fit in a couple of Thanksgiving outings but it became obvious that healing needed much rest for his leg.
Through this time is was good to be reminded by this quote that : When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are still going right.
He was cut in a very awkward spot over his knee yet fortunate to have missed his knee cap and major muscle. Looking back now it's amazing how the body heals and knits back together. After the infection, each day brought much improvement and less swelling. Ater two weeks Wayne went back on the truck and adjusted to moving as his leg would allow. Not long after that he was back to woodcutting a little to my dismay, but not without protective gear!
Here's Peter giving Daddy some love while on the couch together.
It was great to have some extra Daddy time at home although I'm sure there have been many moments where Wayne would liked to have escaped for a bit from the craziness. I love this picture of Jake listening to Wayne play guitar. It reminds me so much of when I used to sit at my Dad's feet while he would strum many different Hank Williams' tunes.
Thanksgiving at Grandma Friesen's house. This one makes me laugh. Bradley busy on his phone and Jake checking out the farm and ranch magazine. I think Bradley should take a lesson from Jake and put the phone down, haha!
Ladies from the Friesen family although missing one gal from the pic. Looking at this pic reminds me of when I was a teenage girl and the gap was starting to close with my sisters as I began to connect with them. Now I see my teenage nieces coming down that same road and the gaps are beginning to close between us. We often joke at gatherings about the ones that are finally allowed to join the adult table. The rest are banished to the island. So thankful for all of our families and the many memories we create.
October 20 came around again marking the ninth year since Dad's passing and each year I dig back into my storehouse of memories. I have found that the years that I have given birth are the times I feel a renewed sense of grief and wishing that Dad could've been there for these milestones in life. This year I've had many moments of missing. One Saturday morning in particular I was baking buns and just put on a pot of coffee. This sense of nostalgia just swept over me maybe because that was just a familiar Saturday morning scene growing up. I looked to the door and felt such a sense of longing to have my pap walk in the door, pour him a cup of coffee and watch my kiddos climb on his lap. A tender moment not meant to be, but just imagining it was somehow comforting. Hanna asked me many time this fall to tell stories of my life as a kid and about my dad. That's meant so much to me and I enjoy passing my memories along. That's what leaving legacies is about. To be able to breathe memories and history into the next generations.  Every so often she will tell me that she loves and misses her Grandpa Friesen who went to Heaven.
Me and my mom at Thanksgiving. So thankful to see the joy that her grandchildren bring to her life. I'll admit, there were times I'd lament that I'd been born so late in my mother's life and that I had to grow up with 'old' parents. It didn't seem fair when I watched cousins and friends grow up with several siblings and their parents seemed funner because they were younger. However I'm the kind of girl that seems to learn life's lessons and reasons through hindsight. Looking back I'm so thankful my mom had me to be with her during the first  hard and lonely year and half after Dad passed. Also so thankful that she has been able to enjoy a new wave of little ones these last six years, grandchildren that have brought her much happiness and peace again.

Taking in the season's last bonfire. We've enjoyed so many evenings out and about on our yard and yet now it feels good have everything laid to rest outside till spring. The work didn't all get finished but the cat and chickens have a warm spot, the boiler and wood pile set for winter and rest will get covered by winter's snow. The week of the first snow I couldn't help myself and bought some clearance bulbs. Found a spot that wasn't frozen alongside the house and planted a bunch of alliums. It 'll be nice to those to look forward to in Spring!
This vine has never looked so pretty as it did this fall. One super windy day and everything was bare!

In the season of Autumn I'm drawn to the verse in Galatians 6:9   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Some days, I'll admit, I'm just plain tired. Physically tired from the sleepless nights and the constant demands of running a household and raising a family. Mentally tired from trying to keep up with it all and feeling like I'm running in circles and falling short.  Sometimes spiritually tired because I let my time with God fall to the bottom of the list. Sometimes it's days that feel like this, some seasons seem to feel like this more than others. However it's the not giving up part and knowing there is a God who understands me in all things that encourages me to see the next moment, the next day in a different way. When I look back over my days through renewed vision I can see that it takes toil mixed with the raining down of love, sometimes pain and the light from above to grow the seeds of thankfulness. And in thankfulness lies the harvest. That's why I love looking back over a season of family snapshots. None of the craziness is frozen in time. I see that it's been good, really good.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Summer Swings On By

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oh Summer, we wait for such a long time and then it's gone so fast. Yet I absolutely love the coming of Autumn. The feeling of rest that comes with the summer winding down after two jam packed months of soaking up all that sunshine and warmth has to offer. Looking back over the last couple months and finally having some moments to write about it, I feel like we made the most of our summer. I had little expectation (a failure of mine) of this season thinking I wouldn't get much out it because of sleepless nights and busy days with baby. And yes, there were many sleepless nights, some tears and crazy days and yet if I look past that I realize the season far exceeded any expectations. It just looked a little different.
We stayed home a lot more and the kids got dirty. Every day, I cleaned them up and they got dirty again, and had a blast while doing it. This low spot in the yard has needed some gravel for some years now but it proved to be a blessing this summer after all the rain we had as it provided many hours of puddle jumping and entertainment for the kids. No pool needed,  just a sprayer to hose down the mud after they were finished. It was a battle to keep their clothes on so they ran around half dressed all summer. I realized as I was going through my summer pics that it was hard to find any of fully dressed, clean kids! Oh well I guess less clothes means less...
Laundry! I definitely found it hard to  keep up with the laundry pile. I'm one of those gals that likes to have a laundry day; usually on a Monday but it seemed every time Monday came around I was still trying to put away the clean laundry from the week before and yet having to start all over again. This picture is slightly deceiving because that was actually only one of a few times this summer that I used my laundry line. I do love seeing the line full and the fresh scent of the outdoors. However I decided to give myself  a break from hauling around so many tubs of clothes and just tossed them in to the dryer to save time and energy. I tend to put far too much pressure on myself about what needs to be done and feeling guilty about what doesn't get done. I won't say that I've overcome that issue but I have tried to accept that I'm in a different season of life right now and that its okay to just do things a little differently. This summer that meant a few staples in the garden, less produce to preserve, no flower pots, and not planting a ton of canna lilies that I would have to dig up in the fall. Cutting back helped me to actually find some spare time to putter around in my flowerbeds and mow lawn, the two activities I find stress relieving. We spent most of our evenings outside working around the yard, and winding down with a bonfire.

They look like the best of friends here but goodness can they ever fight too. They've driven me crazy many a mornings when sweet 'Good Mornings' and cuddles turn to screaming and tug of wars before you can blink. Fighting over colors of cups and plates, both wanting the same toy at the same time and especially Jake now being at an age where he wants to do everything himself that Hanna used to always have precedent over because he was too little. Deep breath in and out...and then at the end of the day they're tucked in and then I come into their room to find that one has snuck into the other's bed and silently nestled together. They are quite the pair.

Peter boy just grows and grows and grows. At three and half months I started him on solids and now at six months he eats four times a day and is well over twenty pounds. This kid is breaking my back already! He is just so much fun to cuddle. I have to keep myself from wanting to pinch his chubby cheeks and not just the face cheeks either!! He gets so excited when he sees Hanna and Jake and his eyes observe so much around him, he keeps a pretty close eye on his mommy :) He also hasn't let his mommy get a whole lot of sleep this summer. Getting up many times in the night has been hard on me physically and emotionally ; some weeks are better and then there have been some weeks that are a foggy memory. I know this stage will pass but some days it feels like the day just won't end soon enough so that I can catch some rest again. I handle little sleep so poorly and sadly I've probably been a hard to handle mom and wife too many times. Thankfully children are forgiving and my husband understanding and encouraging when I'm too hard on myself. Struggling with moments of resentment, I found much comfort one sleepy eyed morning in a verse from Matthew 21:16 Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise. I was reminded of the child-like faith Christ wants us to have. Like babies trusting their momma for all their needs so I need to trust Jesus in His care of me moment by moment. I love seeing those moments of faith in my children; Peter's facing lighting up when his family members come near, voices and actions aloud in the car as they sing out DVBS songs,

Our summer as whole revolved much around our project at home. For the past several years we've debated what to do with the unsightly Quonset that sits right beside our house. The conclusion we came to was to redo the end walls with doors on either end that would accommodate both the Semi truck and our vehicle to be in a warm space for the winter. It's been a very busy couple months for Wayne who worked hard many hours to have this completed for the winter. I'm very excited to be able to load kids into the car in a warm space!

Peter 'chill-axin' with dad; although it wasn't to chilly. Peter such a chubby baby I had to keep him as cool as possible in the humidity to avoid heat rash between all the creases!

Hanna and I had a lovely Saturday afternoon out to a Victorian Tea Party. Hanna was thrilled to finally have a chance to wear the dress that Grandma had picked up for her at the thrift store.

There was no way I was waking him from this nap and he couldn't stay in the car so the car seat and all got carried inside. He never missed a beat although a little flustered when he awoke to staring up at the ceiling and his car seat laying flat.

A little DIY summer fun. A tarp, sprinkler and slide kept the kids cool and laughing. Even mom got in the action. I could hardly resist since I'd always wanted a 'slip'n slide' growing up.

A whole lot of coffee all summer to keep my eyes open and feet moving. Food for my soul to keep my heart beating and believing.

Love this picture. Hanna has spent so much time holding Peter since he was born, now he is just so happy and excited whenever she is near. She has been a big help to me in many ways especially when she plays with him and I can get a few things done around the house.

I also really noticed this summer how ready Hanna was for Kindergarten. Her interest in letters and sounds increased. Most days I was asked "Is it almost Fall? When can I go on the bus? How many more sleeps to Kindergarten?" I'm not sure if my table has been clear at all in a long time, it' been covered with Lego, cars and markers for months already. We just make some room to eat when necessary!

This picture just sums up childhood summertime to me. We spent a day with friends at Splash Island and ice cream on the tailgate before heading home. 
One evening Wayne, the kids and I went out somewhere and we stopped at the COOP. As Hanna climbed out she smiles and says " It sure smells like a great day!" Those were such uplifting words because it's so easy to lose the simple joys of being a child when we are older. She reminded me that Summer isn't all toil but it's wrapped up in smells, tastes and sights that bring happiness!

These cousins love to have a good time at Grandma's house. This summer they spent a lot of time playing outside on the trikes, play structure, sand box and hanging out in Grandma's Happy Spring Summer Kitchen as Hanna dubbed it.

A girls only tea party in 'Grandma's Happy Spring Summer Kitchen'. Of course many treats and sweets, the only way Grandma has it! Jake and Peter had to go down for a nap but Grandma sent treats home with them too.

Here we are at Clear Lake just before the end of summer, our only camping trip. We enjoyed an evening along the beach where Wayne was able to hear his favorite band of the 80's, Glass Tiger. The kiddos had fun walking along the boardwalk and playing in the sand. Fun to go away with friends and get some downtime but came home oh so tired from hard sleepless nights with Peter. Maybe next year will be easier camping.

Makin hay while the sun shines. Love these moments of neighbours helping neighbours. Not in the picture is the next neighbour tossing hay over the fence for his cows.  I love the friendly lane we live down where together we warn each other about the foxes preying on chickens, scheme up ways to catch the foxes, help each other where an extra hand is needed and give a friendly wave going by. This summer Hanna ended up at both sets of neighbours. One Sunday she decided to go visiting while we  were napping. She took along toys and went over for ice cream and when I woke up she was back home telling me she had a nice visit much to my surprise. Then one Saturday we let her bike over to the neighbours but she was supposed to come back soon. Well it became longer than soon so I took a drive down to see her bike parked by the house and she was enjoying lunch with neighbors. Guess she thought it smelled great and gladly obliged to sit down with them. Some days I'm not sure how to keep ahead of her independence.

Cuddling up with their 96 year old Grospap. It's interesting to watch these two very different generations interact.

Ending the summer with a day at the beach with the Grandpa and Grandma Doerksen and the family. It was very windy and slightly chilly but the kids hardly noticed. We were wearing sweaters and they were in swimwear splashing in the water. Enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch of fried chicken  and Mom Doerksen's tasty food.
One of the big highlights of the summer was taking in the rodeo and going to Grandma and Grandpa's booth. Jake was at an age where he noticed a lot more and he's talking quite a bit about the bucking bulls and cowboys and both kids are waiting for the rodeo to come around again. That event always seems to be the peak of the summer for us. 

Toes in the sand and wind in the hair.

All in all, a beautiful season of life.
He has made everything beautiful in it's time. Eccl. 3:11

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spring Snapshots

I've been finding myself in that busy spring/summer mode where it seems all the hours are counted for, doing outside and inside work. When there is some down time I'd usually rather catch some shuteye than pour energy into thinking about a blog post. However in the midst of our busy family life, between keeping up with the kiddos, nursing a baby and homemaking I managed to snap some shots of us in action; just living out life:
This picture taken on May 12th, the day Hanna turned five. She was so excited to be a birthday girl. We took some time that morning to dress extra special and curl her hair. She was all giggles and glee. And of course mommy wanted a pic with her three munchkins!
I put a little extra something special on her breakfast plate, Hanna loves blackberries.  

Birthday bike! I can hardly believe that I have a five year old already. She is such big, bright girl. So alive with a vast imagination. One of the traits I really love about her at this age is that she always has  a song in her heart. She's always making up songs and often sings so sweetly about loving Jesus.

Party time at Grandma Friesens', all eyes were feasted on the candy dishes. Jake was such a dedicated little party boy. He just sat there and soaked up every moment (and sweet treat) with pleasure!
If Jake can't sit in the swing with Peter then he may as well sit underneath it. Gotta keep my eyes on him these days when he gets to playful with baby. He always poking and pinching. Peter is going to have to grow up fast with a big brother like Jake. I can only imagine what they well be like in a couple of years.

Well here's Hanna and her big imagination. She figured that it was time to have a campout and prepared this little tent with pillows and blankets, all set up around the fire pit. The idea last only until it became dark out. Jake just goes along with whatever Hanna does.

So my kids don't want to eat their bread crust but they certainly can find other ways to use it.

We have been enjoying Peter so much these last weeks. His cheeks are all chub and he's generous with his dimply smile.

Hanna having some fun playtime with her friend Aimee. Muddy tea parties are all the rage around here!

Here we are cruising around the yard. We are always dreaming and planning about changes around the yard. This spring we have been busy making a change to our Quonset so that Wayne can park in a heated shop for the winter. He's also been busy cutting wood to use in his wood boiler. So it seems our summer months will busy with preparing for winter. In the meantime we find much joy in puttering around our yard and ending our days with sitting around the fire or relaxing on the deck.

Puddle jumper! My laundry pile seems to be bigger than ever these days with all the wet, muddy clothes. Who needs a pool when you have a big puddle. I love seeing my kids do the things I used to do growing up on the farm. Just not loving my constant dirty floor so much.

So that's just a little view into our window this spring. Living simply, simply living.