Thursday, January 11, 2018

14 Years!

Two weeks ago John and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary with the best, most expensive meal of our lives. 

We stepped away from the madness of nighttime hustle and indulged ourselves fully. This marriage feels magical and special, and I love celebrating this gift with John. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Gas Station Lunch

What an exciting time for my simple children! They've been watching the creation of a new gas station near our house. (The underground work it takes for a gas station to operate is amazing!)

They spotted the sign that said "cafe" and begged to go. For weeks. Luckily the gas station started sending mailers to our neighborhood, and I collected $20 worth to use at their cafe. I splurged on cokes for everyone. 

We walked there, ordered our food, and ate at the only four chairs that they had. The kids said it was the best food ever, and we have to come back with Daddy! Later Burl said, "it's not that tasty after you eat it for a while." His accuracy rang true. 

This outing scored me a lot of mom-points for saying yes to such fancy requests!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tree Bonfire

Every year we watch as some fun-loving 20-somethings grab our discarded Christmas tree on the side of the road. The kids freak out that someone is stealing it, then I explain what fun they are about to have. "They're going to light a bunch of trees on fire-I wanna do that!-we can do that at Pops' Farm!"

We scheduled it the same time that Daniel was there picking us his dog, so the kids were double happy. John stayed back with Lark while I got to take the truck and the three big kids on this adventure. 

As we pulled off the paved road and onto the gravel road that cuts through the woods, the kids noted the change. This is Pops' road! It was a normal, cold winter day, but still they want to celebrate our almost-arrival. "Mama, can you roll down all the windows?" "Yeah, and turn on a song and turn it up? A fast song so we can dance!" Loud dance music I took care of, but the windows stayed up.

We had a little bit of daylight left to roam around before we ate our hotdog dinner. Then the fun started. 

Here's the thing about Christmas tree bonfires: they are no joke and we were surprised. All it took was my dad lighting a few branches on fire with his lighter, and next thing we know, WE.IN.TROUBLE.

For a reference the tree standing up in the fire (pictured above), is 7-8 feet. The flames were enormous. Immediately my dad pulls out his hose, and immediately we realize that it's frozen or busted or both. 

My dad goes for buckets and the flames calm down. Daniel and I rearrange some things and have a decent bonfire going that is covered by the skeleton trees. There were too many sparks, so my dad put out the fun fire. We headed inside, the kids made hot chocolate that they didn't drink, and we passed the time like true locals-TV on the big screen!

With not nearly enough experience, Dad and I already declared this a annual tradition! Christmas Tree Bonfire, or as my dad called it, Meet Your Local Fire Department. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

January Clearing Around The House

"I can't think of anything happier than all these cozy decorations," I declare every year when we put up the Christmas tree and add the layers. Then, as soon as Christmas passes, I'm over it and want calm and clear and bare and quiet. 

Packing away all the Christmas love avalanches me into more clearing. This year, I emptied the mantel and it's currently stark naked. 

I tackled the crammed bookshelves. Anytime I do something book related; whether it's letter writing, journaling, reading, magazine-ing, purging; the kids always join me in their own flavor of it. Fern was my partner in crime. 

I looked through and said goodbye to my beloved Country Home and Cottage Living (bring back CL!) while she made a collage of cute pictures. I'm a recovering book hoarder-ah the days I worked at the book store! Now, I keep good ones to re-read or loan and the others get sold

After I organized our books, there were several gaps on the shelves, so I had to style them-something I'm never confident doing. Style them is a fancy way of saying "finding stuff for me to put in the holes."

I've trimmed down a lot of my house accessories, so there wasn't much to choose from: 
A washing bowl and towel, a gift when you join our church
A vase I bought on a trip with John
Some feathers my mom used to wrap a gift
An egg, my very first painting from an art class I took years ago
Burl's first communion cup 

The tinkering was fun and it's already changed since I took these photos.

Now, it's on to more spaces that need some clearing. That's how I'm addressing these cold hard months: by cleaning and calming. I would almost be tempted to use the word quiet-ing, but I have too many children for that.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

From Breakfast To Dinner

A couple of weeks ago, these three spent their entire day outside. From the kitchen window I saw them relaxing after lunch-a collective pause in their very busy day of play. I had to take a picture. I had to record it. It's my job to remember, as no one else in the house plays the job of Remember or Over-thinker or Recorder like I do. It reminded me of this quote:

"Some days I felt an urgent responsibility to each change of light outside the sunporch windows. Who would remember any of it, any of this our time, and the wind thrashing the buckeye limbs outside? Somebody had to do it, somebody had to hang on to the days with teeth and fists, or the whole show would had been in vain." 

An American Chidlhood by Annie Dillard

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

EPB Christmas Windows, 2017

This is the last Christmas post for this year. Stay tuned for how we've rounded the holiday corner and turned into 2018. 

I missed last year's Christmas window tradition because I was 4,000 months pregnant and had the flu. I was excited to get back at it again this year, with another set of babies to take with us. Ridge and Lark are the cutest pair together and I love watching them together. 

Burl and Fern have aged out of standing in awe at the windows. They're jumping off the bus stop, climbing benches, and getting yelled at for getting too close to the street. 

This year's visit was ramped up to the speed of four families. We did our normal routine: Lupi's pizza, free shuttle bus, windows, done. Not only did we go with another good family, we ran into two other families we knew doing the same thing. Game on. We were barely outnumbered, 9 children:8 adults, and we were pre-apologizing to everyone. I'm sorry for the noise, I'm sorry he stepped on your foot, oh I'm so sorry-did he hit you? Everyone was gracious and kind as we dragged our metaphoric sleigh ride around downtown. 

This year we added a stop by the Chattanooga Choo-Choo to see all the festivities there! It was a great, chaotic night out! We look forward to the years that everyone can walk (and keep up) on their own. This year, we had no problem breaking our backs and cramping our arms to see their little faces take it all in.