Streak Breaker

Note: Post contains video. Read at mommie2zs.com for best results.

I broke a long streak of many months with at least one post when I didn’t post anything in April. Living life and not writing about it.

Buds and Monkey are still working on moving the blog over to a private server. I’m a little mentally stalled by that since I know it will mean changes to how things work and look.

Many things going on with the our crew. We’ve had trips to Vermont, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and soon to Ohio. We’ve had birthdays and Girl Scouts, and love, laughter, and tears.

And I was the target for musket shots at a Civil War Homeschool event because I teased the Lieutenant.

Please note that Yessa shoots at me with much less alacrity than many of the other children.

A few random photos with explanatory posts to follow eventually.

A few long drives.

Beautiful day for being out and about.

All getting so big.

So tall.

Saturday workouts.

Beloved nieces come in all heights.

The new game store space.

Monkey’s smile/look intrigues me in the above picture. She’s an enigma.

These “smiles.”

That’s better.

Saying Good-bye to Massadoah

In an unusual twist for the last few new family selections, the partnership found a partner family to replace us quite quickly. Despite the rational knowledge that this was the best decision for the partnership and our family, it was still with an underlying feeling of sadness that we realized our time as Massadoahans had come to an end.

So many fantastic memories with so many dear ones.

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Thanks for the memories, Massadoah.

Yessa’s double digits!

The youngest is now 10!

With the fierceness and drive that is part of her personality, Yessa let us know early on that she was okay with having her actual birthday at Grandma’s house to help with the move, but she wanted to have a celebration at home, AND she wanted a celebration on her birthday.

Since her parents still feel the guilt of celebrating her birthday with an eleven-hour train ride last year, her requests seemed fair.

Happy Birthday to me...grimace.

Happy Birthday to me…grimace.

For her pre-birthday at home, Yessa wanted Cousin M to stay overnight, and to go to the pottery place to paint up some pottery together.

Check:

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Buds got a coffee while they were there.

Buds got a coffee while they were there.

Grandma and Grandpa Vermont were in town to help celebrate birthdays, so Yessa got lots of help putting together her birthday cake. And since we always also make a cake for her Birthday Twin, Cousin O, the extra help was hugely appreciated.

Nonni reading up on the recipes.

Nonni reading up on the recipes.

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We had a delicious party celebrating both of them.

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At Grandma Iowa’s house, we got so much of the packing and sorting complete that we were able to take off the day before the movers arrived to head to the indoor waterpark about an hour away. It was just Yessa, The Buster, and me, and we had the whole place to ourselves!

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A few presents to open, sushi for dinner, and a “cake” made out of her favorite cheese. It turned out to be a delightful day, despite missing Dad.

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Happy Birthday, Dearest Youngest. You make our life magically vibrant.

Halloween 2016

The children are growing and changing and aging, so I’m never sure what each new holiday will bring. I love our time at Halloween carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, and I love that they are at an age where they know what they want and can do pretty much anything on their own.

I wasn’t sure what they’d want to do this year, but it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever!

As always, it began with the slaughtering of innocent gourds.

We love this part.

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Having children of an age where we all get our own knives…priceless!

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Then on Halloween we all headed out together, stopping at every house in our neighborhood with a light on. It was a beautiful night, warm and bright. We talked and laughed and sang. And met even more neighbors.

I loved, loved, loved it.

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I guess walking all over Venice for hours was worth it!

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The costumes were a little varied this year. And the children got warm, so as the night wore on, they peeled off layers and masks the longer we walked. I looked like a walking coat rack by the end of the night.

Then back home for the great candy sorting extravaganza.

Jeremy and Teresa had put in their candy preferences when they visited earlier in the week, so the children carefully set aside the candy for them, then began their trading.

Jeremy's favorite.

Jeremy’s favorite.

Teresa's preference.

Teresa’s preference.

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Ms. Glenda, my walking buddie, gave out slinkies, silly putty, glow sticks and colored pencils, all of which were thrilling for all of us.

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After treat bargaining, the night was still young’ish so we watched a Halloween classic you might recognize.

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A great time had by all despite no sightings of The Great Pumpkin.

Happy Halloween.

Nashville Additions!

Two awesome things happened right before the crew and I headed up to Mom’s for her move.

These two moved to Nashville from California and we could not be more thrilled:

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J’s boat lives in our front yard for now, which makes us seem way cooler than we really are:

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Second, shortly after they got moved T + J were over for dinner on a night cousins were staying overnight, which meant my adult niece, with whom Buds and I have many fond memories of visits to us when she was little, was in our house with our young nieces and nephew, who are the age now that she was when T had those annual visits.

My heart swelled up in my throat at the circle of life and how grateful I am to have lived by all these little people when they were little.

And now, to have T + J close to us here, as my own children are growing up?! It makes me cry from gratitude as I type this.

A little throwback for posterity’s sake:

Buddie's first trip home with me

Buddie’s first trip home with me

The morning after my graduate school graduation.

The morning after my graduate school graduation.

One of many summer stays

One of many summer stays

Staying in the dorm

Staying in the dorm

At our wedding

At our wedding

She's always been snuggly.

She’s always been snuggly.

That time we all went to New York City together.

That time we all went to New York City together.

With Monkey

With Monkey

Can’t wait to make memories with all of them, young and old.

Packing Up The Past

My mom made the major decision to sell the house she and my dad built 14 years ago and move to a house that’s a little smaller, on one level, where a homeowners’ association will take care of the grass mowing, garbage, snow removal, and she’ll have neighbors close by.

The children and I spent a week in October at her house packing up what we could, helping her take things to Goodwill that she no longer needed or wanted, and making some last joyful memories in this house where we’ve known so much love and laughter.

The mower provided hours of fun.

The mower provided hours of fun.

More mower

More mower

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Time with Cousin C is always time well-spent.

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No matter what your age, a box is a great place to have some quiet time.

No matter what your age, a box is a great place to have some quiet time.

This truck cracked us up. Yup, we were in Iowa.

This truck cracked us up. Yup, we were in Iowa.

Good bye to Mom's huge mums.

Good bye to Mom’s huge mums.

My cousins’ dad died (my ex-uncle, so-to-speak) while we were visiting, and the children and Mom and I drove to Belmond for the funeral and to have some time with family when several folks would be gathered together.

We drove by the apartment complex where my grandma lived until she passed away 6 weeks after Buster was born.

In that door on the end and down the hallway. The hallways were great fun for running around in.

In that door on the end and down the hallway. The hallways were great fun for running around in.

Monkey has a few memories of visiting Grandma Frosty here, and I’ll always cherish our last visit:

She got to hold The Buster.

She got to hold The Buster.

So many amazing memories in Mom’s old house:

The waspy retaining wall where Buster got stung six times, including one on his eye lid.

The waspy retaining wall where Buster got stung six times, including one on his eye lid.

It was a joy to live so close together for those three quick years.

It was a joy to live so close together for those three quick years.

The guest bathroom

The guest bathroom

The picture above is important to me because that’s where we gave Dad his last shower. My cousin and his wife were over for a visit after they had been to church, and they helped us wheel Dad down the hallway on an office chair. (I was 4 days away from giving birth at this point.) We got Dad in the shower on the little seat, and got him all soaped up, clean and safe.

This was one of my cousins who was a Trump supporter, and I hold on to that memory of how loving and supportive he was on that day with Dad a decade ago to remind me that we can have connections despite having violently different views on many things.

One final visit before we headed out in the early morning.

One final visit before we headed out in the early morning.

It was a good week of organizing, remembering, packing, and planning.

Transitions

A friend told me her college sophomore daughter wouldn’t be flying home for Thanksgiving. She wasn’t upset. She was pondering this transition.

This will be the first time their three children won’t all be home for Thanksgiving.

I remembered this conversation when our crew and I headed to the pumpkin patch this last week. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, over 80 degrees by the time we arrived at Lucky Ladd Farm.

We knew we wanted to choose our pumpkins, but we hadn’t decided if we’d make a full day of the farm or not. We ate our picnic lunch before walking from the parking lot toward the building to check in. A large sign board posts the costs for entrance, and as we looked at it, Buster said, “Wow, that’s expensive.”

And that seemed to set the tenor for the visit. It was a beautiful day. We were glad to be out and picking pumpkins was going to be fun, but paying a significant amount of money to spend a few hours there wasn’t at the top of our priority list.

At least, it wasn’t at the top of Buster and Monkey’s priority list. The two oldest children are starting to move past this sort of outing. Yessa and I, we would have spent the day there, no problem.

We have reached the fine tipping point of needing outings that meet the needs of youngest and olders. On this day, the pumpkin patch was voted down. We picked our pumpkins, then headed home.

Enjoyed the crazy characters, though.

Enjoyed the crazy characters, though.

Yessa pulled this in from the parking lot to be kind, and we were grateful to have it to carry our pumpkins back to the car.

Yessa pulled this in from the parking lot to be kind, and we were grateful to have it to carry our pumpkins back to the car.

Choosing just the right one.

Choosing just the right one.

I got this.

I got this.

This picture below pulled me back through time to one of my beloved picture from trips to the farm from the past:

A little different from the iconic picture of old.

A little different from the iconic picture of old.

Our trips to the pumpkin patch in VA might include ice cream. (I love this picture.)

Our trips to the pumpkin patch in VA might include ice cream. (I love this picture.)

And as I searched for the above picture, I felt the yin and yang of love for the pumpkin patch trips of the past and joy in the point life has brought us to.

These memories of past visits to pumpkin patches have me feeling slightly melancholy. I have truly loved every age and transition with these people I am blessed to live with. I sometimes wish I could jump back into these individual moments and relive them. (Which is why I write this blog, right?)

The first pumpkin patch with the solo child.

The first pumpkin patch with the solo child.

The pumpkin patch when there were only two.

The pumpkin patch when there were only two.

This is how we used to have to get to the pumpkin patch.

This is how we used to have to get to the pumpkin patch.

We might have the whole gang along.

We might have the whole gang along.

We’ve got our pumpkins for this year. We’ll enjoy the carving process and I’ll document it.

But for tonight, tonight I’m pining for the past. Those oh so brief years when we piled into the van and the adventures we found suited everyone.

I love these people I live with and sometimes I miss their tiny selves.

So much has changed.

So much has changed.

Transitions…

How High Is Too High?

Buds had a vision. The pull-up bars in the garage weren’t working the way we needed them to for quick, repetitive pull-ups. Plus, lots of our workouts involve running or lifting outdoors. It would be nice to not have to run into the garage for the bars.

He scoured the internet to find ideas, and we headed to Home Depot early on Saturday morning with a list and a very hazy plan.

We rented the HD truck for hauling some of the items home, and we got to work.

I got to drive the big truck.

I got to drive the big truck.

Loaded up at Home Depot.

Loaded up at Home Depot.

There were two major parts to this project: drilling out the holes, and mixing and pouring the concrete. The two-person auger was a tremendous help, but it still required a fair amount of power and effort. But, the job would have been impossible without it. (At least for us. My dad could have done it.)

Laid out on the ground, ready to get to work.

Laid out on the ground, ready to get to work.

So many parts.

So many parts.

The two-person auger that made the holes relatively easy to dig.

The two-person auger that made the holes relatively easy to dig.

We had to insert and lift the auger about 7 times/hole to get to our 3-foot depth. That equates to close to 30 deadlifts, for the CrossFitters in the room. (Functional fitness. That’s what it is all about.)

On our last hole, we tapped an underground stream, and we were a little stunned to look down in the hole to find a critter at the very bottom. Tennessee is home to the most species of crayfish in the country, and we were staring down at one. Buds and I were both more than a little unnerved to see a moving creature far below, and we hopefully urged him to head down stream by gingerly dumping a few rocks in to scare him off.

Looking at the crayfish or ground lobster we found at the bottom of one of our holes.

Looking at the crayfish or ground lobster we found at the bottom of one of our holes.

Brother Z and Nephew O and Monkey all helped lift and support at various times during the day. Having extra hands at just the right time is invaluable!

We got the tallest pole up first, and it was really shockingly tall. It’s used for muscle-ups (Link contains cursing, so don’t click it if you don’t like that.), so it may work out, but Z, Buds, and I were laughing as we stared up at it.

Well...that's really shockingly high in the air.

Well…that’s really shockingly high in the air.

Note to Jenny: The orange tub is still being used!

Humans for scale.

Humans for scale.

Four trips to Home Depot, a couple hundred dollars, fourteen 80-lb bags of concrete, a little less than twelve hours of labor, and we were through.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Unlike many of our DIY projects, there were no major problems with this one. Buds had thought his way through the entire process, and it went smoothly and efficiently.

We were dead tired, and the cement needs to cure, but we’re tickled.

Oh, and neighbors were intrigued by our latest craziness. Lots of waves, questioning looks, and good-hearted teasing as people drove by.

Stronger, faster, healthier; here we come.

A Farm Home Wedding

Editor’s Note: Video included. View at website for best experience.

There was the beautiful ceremony under the trees, then the talking and dining and visiting, then the dancing.

The wedding of Darling Teresa was a great deal of fun. She’s a kind, funny, strong, intelligent, driven woman, and I’m so proud to have known her since the very beginning. She’s the kind of loving soul who includes her grandma in the make up and hair do’ins because she knows her grandma would love it. She’s the kind of person who brings love and sunshine to the world.

We love this kid, and we’re so glad she and Jeremy found each other.

Tearing up during their vows.

Tearing up during their vows.

Love these three. The two big boys don't like having their photo taken, so this was a big win.

Love these three. The two big boys don’t like having their photo taken, so this was a big win.

Playing around before the ceremony.

Playing around before the ceremony.

A listening moment.

A listening moment.

Fancy clothes.

Fancy clothes.

Three generations.

Three generations.

Listening to my daughter.

Listening to my daughter.

Talking to my brother

Talking to my brother

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Another highlight of the weekend...

Another highlight of the weekend…

Buds wanted to look tall.

Buds wanted to look tall.

A perfect August night

A perfect August night

The horse barn cleans up well.

The horse barn cleans up well.

I love that we are holding hands in this shot.

I love that we are holding hands in this shot.

Love this smile.

Love this smile.

Dressed up and gettin' down.

Dressed up and gettin’ down.

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Everyone gettin' down.

Everyone gettin’ down.

So happy.

So happy.

Singing a romantic song to the bride. Even Buddie's back looks uncomfortable.

Singing a romantic song to the bride. Even Buddie’s back looks uncomfortable.

Dancing was splendid.

Dancing was splendid.

I've still got the moves, too.

I’ve still got the moves, too.

Another Granddaughter and Grandma- Pam's crouching down at least a foot to hug Mom.

Another Granddaughter and Grandma- Pam’s crouching down at least a foot to hug Mom.

He's still got his dance moves.

He’s still got his dance moves.

Grandma and the bride

Grandma and the bride

Gettin' down with the bride and another of her aunts.

Gettin’ down with the bride and another of her aunts.

The decorations and theme for the wedding were beautiful. If I ever get married again (or renew my vows, more likely), I’m having Teresa and my SIL Kathy plan the wedding.

They had a wedding picture wall with wedding photos of the parents, grands, etc. I loved that they had a wedding photo of my dad and my brothers first mom, Pat, which I don’t remember seeing before. Her picture always hung in our hallway when I was growing up, and I loved to look at her. My youngest brother looks very much like her.

My brothers' first mom and our dad. Love Dad's curly hair.

My brothers’ first mom and our dad. Love Dad’s curly hair.

And our parents:

Mom and Dad's wedding photo. That red hair!

Mom and Dad’s wedding photo. That red hair!

Parents of the groom:

The parents of the groom.

The parents of the groom.

Parents of the bride:

The parents of the bride

The parents of the bride

I remember George and Kathy’s wedding so well. I was so excited to have another big sister. I was 7 years old, and Kathy was impossibly tall and impossibly talented and amazing. I wasn’t sure why she picked my brother.

What a joy it was to spend time with this clan. The laughter and love sparkled in the air. It was magic.

Teresa’s Instagram Account for review of all pictures.

Reunited

My Dad was the fifth child out of 17 in his family. That means I have a very large extended family, which has always intrigued the children.

Because of the death of several family members this last year, it was important for me to attend the annual family reunion. There’s a picnic, then we swim.

It was so good to see cousins and aunts and uncles I haven’t seen for so long. So much love and many hugs. And, as I warned the children, lots of people who hugged them and said, “I can’t believe how tall you’ve gotten.” And, “You look just like…”

It was good to talk about my dad, or to share my sympathy with folks who understand.

One of the best parts was getting time with my sister-in-law, Faye. My brother wasn’t feeling well, but having the time to visit with her was awesome.

She and Yessa have a similar, quick-witted sense of humor, and to watch them bounce off each other at dinner was a delight.

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It was good to be with this crowd who shares my genes. So much to love.