After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm a duck's mama!

Grace, my guest blogger, tells you more about her adorable little duck.


This is a picture of me with my ducky.  This is the first time I got to hold it.

It was still a little bit wet when I held it for the first time last night.

I am naming the duck Circles, and its nickname is Lucky Ducky.

Today I got to play with it in the house before we took it out to the barn.  Its favorite spot is on my shoulder. It thinks I'm its mama.

It likes to peck and nibble at my earring and play in my hair. 

It got tangled in my hair once.

Ducks are very fun!  Especially when they are babies!

Friday, April 27, 2012

DUCK! Day 31


This morning when we left for co-op the egg had only a little crack in it. And when we came home there was a duck! The crack was no bigger than last night when we left for co-op.  Now the duck is asleep because it worked really hard to get out of the egg.  We are going to leave it in the incubator until it dries and then we will give it some food and take it out to the other ducks.  I hope it likes its home.

A fine line: life and death

Yesterday my day started with a weird dream.  The duck egg is overdue to hatch.  I feared that I killed it.  I actually dreamed that when I was checking it, I dropped it and it cracked open on the ground.  I picked it up and the crack had revealed an eyeball.  And then the eyeball opened up and looked straight at me.  It wasn't a creepy thing, but it was telling me that it was alive and I needed to put it back.

So I got up and went and took the egg out of the incubator and held it in my hand.  I could feel it tapping and pulsing in the palm of my hand.  I stuck it to my ear to see what I could hear.  I heard scratching and swooshing and a peep. 

Naturally, I went and woke Grace and the rest of the kids up.  They needed to experience this, too!  And it was time for them to get up anyway.

Checking facebook I learned that one of my friends, who I've met in real life, experienced the premature loss of a well-loved pet.  She has five little children that she now had to explain this to.  And she didn't know how.

Last week I lost an uncle to cancer.  He was one of those people who made the world a better place by simply sitting there and smiling.  He was the principal at the elementary school I attended all the time I was there and beyond.  He played the organ at our wedding and he and his wife, my grandpa's sister, were such a positive influence on the world surrounding me and my family on daily basis.  It was a long battle and he fought it bravely and with grace.  It's how he lived his life.

A few weeks ago I also received news that one of my former students was killed in a car accident.  When he was a student he was one of those guys that everyone respected because he earned their respect.  Respected, respectable, and most of all, respectful.  He went on to a reputable school, married his high school sweetheart and returned to work in the area he grew up in and coached at the school he graduated from.  But then one moment he is snuffed out and everyone is left in shock.

Life and death walk so closely in this world.  And we forget this so easily.  I am a Christian--particularly Lutheran.  I believe everything in the Bible is true. Nothing added, nothing taken away. I try to live by it as much as my human-ness allows with the help of God.  (And I'm always struck by how Jesus had to be fully God in order to fully overcome his fully human side.  I am not even a tiny bit God, so there is no way I am going to come close to overcoming my human-ness!)

The other night Brent was upset with a couple of our kids who weren't making very good decisions.  He wondered out loud as he walked by why he got so mad at them sometimes.  I said something to the affect of, "Because sin entered the world."  He just shook his head and walked off because he knew that was exactly the core of the issue.  And I wasn't helping.  Or maybe I was.  I don't know. 

Sin and death.  Both are so ugly and horrible.  And there is nothing we can do to avoid them.  Sin is in our face every day from the moment we open our eyes.  We are born sinful.  It's in our nature.  We can't be perfect no matter how we try. 

I'm not implying that anyone does anything specific that makes them deserve to die more than anyone else.  But the truth is, we are all going to die and death is a horrible, ugly fact of life.  We die because sin is a part of this life on earth.  But even in the face of that ugly fact, life is a supremely beautiful thing and such an incredible gift from God.  I am utterly in awe of this little duck we have trying as I type to get out of the egg.  This from someone who has seen any number of other animals give birth and also given birth herself four times.  New life is a miracle.  Every time.

But even with fresh new life comes pain and misery.  I had four normal, healthy pregnancies.  I had four normal, healthy labors that produced four normal, healthy children.  But pregnancy is not among the most comfortable things in this world.  Labor and delivery is also not something that is easy and pain free.  And while the mom is recovering from that, she is faced with figuring out what to do with this beautiful new person that came out of her. 

I don't know why my uncle had to go the way he did.  I don't know why my former student was suddenly gone.  Both of these deaths just keep coming back to me and I keep pondering them. And I hold my children close and pray for them and tell them to make good decisions and love everyone as best they can. I fear for their safety and sometimes I am overcome with fear that they could all be taken from me at any moment.

I'm not fearing or doubting God or shaking my fist at him in anger.  I know He loves us and wants the best for us.  After all, He made us out of love and after sin entered the world, He set into motion His plan to save us from sin and death.  We celebrate Easter with that joy because sin and death lost their sting that day when the tomb was empty.

I pray for the crazy little duck.  I want it to hatch so badly.  I want it for Grace because she's worked so hard at it for nearly five weeks now.  And we've been looking forward to it because it is always such an honor to celebrate a new life, no matter if it's a new baby born into our family or our circle of friends or a little duck working its way out of its egg. 

Celebrate life.  Celebrate it with vigor.  Mourn as deeply as you need to in death and find comfort in the promise of life.  Only God can take something as ugly and horrible as death and give us hope through it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DUCK! Day 30 (again)

At 2:11 this afternoon there was a CRACK in the egg!!!  We heard chirping to! PEEP PEEP!!! PEEP PEEP!!!  This is a picture of the CRACK. It is very small. If it dosn't hatch tonight I hope it hatches tomorrow morning!

DUCK!! Day 30

This morning when mom put the egg up to my ear I heard the duck beak in the shell of the egg trying to get out! I also heard a little chirp! Calla heard it too! Mom woke me up so I could hear it. I am very excited!

Here is a picture of the egg this morning at 7:58.   There is no crack in the egg yet. But there is hope!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


You may recall that I recently acquired a flock of chickens after scouring Craigslist for several months.  Today we got thirteen eggs out of these girls.  A record so far.  I think they are finally recovering from the move. 

I feel the same way about moving, frankly.

Then we got really crazy and ordered fifty meat chickens--they sent fifty-two.  These little things have doubled their weight in roughly four days.  I think they are doing their job.

We also got eight turkeys.  The instruction sheet said that they are "known for being somewhat dumb."  So far we've only lost one.  But I can see why one might think a turkey is dumb.  You stick something in their pen, like your hand, and they all run TOWARDS it like, "HEY!  SOMETHING SHINY!"  I did put a marble in their food and they peck at it constantly.  Eight turkeys would be SO great to have in the freezer.  We shall see.


And ducks.  These really are the cutest things ever.  It's fun to watch them and they are so different from the chickens and turkeys. 

The chickens and turkeys seem to be in it just for themselves, pecking at each other, running over each other, and just generally in competition with one another.  Not the ducks.  They are a team.  Where one goes, they all go because it's the right thing to do.  They support one another instead of compete with one another.  They don't pick at one another and they seem to genuinely enjoy each others company and are very concerned about the well-being of the other members of their little flock. 

Today I took a bowl of warm water out to them.  For about five minutes they just stood away from it and looked at it.  Then apparently a decision was made because something had to be done and one duckling slowly approached the bowl and peeked in.  There was a beak in the water doing duck things.  And suddenly it was a duck pile in the bowl.  HEY!  LET'S SEE IF ALL OF US CAN GET IN HERE!! THIS IS GREAT!  A party in a bowl!

They pretty much took to it like, well, a duck takes to water.  At least that's what ran through my mind as I was standing there watching it all go down. 

We also have a cat here at this place.  I will short stop of calling it our cat because it came with the place and we pretty much only feed it because we aren't that cold hearted.  For the first several weeks she would randomly attack our dog.  But then they became buddies.  Right now they have a bit of a tough relationship because of this:

She had kittens.  These kittens are getting into that really cute kitten stage and I'm letting the kids play with them more and more.  But the momma cat, who is really a pretty cat with her fluffy gray-ness, gets agitated sometimes.  And the dog seems to just rub her the wrong way more recently. 

Violet loves these kittens.  She spent the better part of the afternoon sitting on the table in the barn next to their box petting them and talking to them.  She was out there so long that we just left her there and then decided eventually that we should go check on her to make sure she wasn't stuck on the table and crying for the last 20 minutes.  But no, she was happy as can be. 

Why am I telling you about a cat in a post about birds?  Because the mama cat is apparently named Bird.  I find that funny.  And I think we should name the kittens Chickadee and Wren. 

Counting the cat, kittens, the two chickens that came with the place, the rooster and all the other birds, we have NINETY-THREE birds on this place. I will not be a crazy cat lady.  But I could be the crazy bird lady.  Except my birds will be in the barn.  And on my dinner table. 

Horse Show! A first for them both

Grace is eight.  She just joined 4-H this year.  In fact, we got her in at 4:50pm on the day of the deadline for this year.  Her projects are horse and poultry (as you may know from her guest blogging.) Today was her first horse show.  It was also specifically for first and second year horse kids.

A couple weeks ago she was still on the fence about whether to do the horse project.  But then we went to a meeting and she met a little girl who is just her age who also signed up for the horse project and it was also her first year.  They hit it off and that was the tipping point for Grace.  Horse project was a go.

Nothing like cramming for a horse show in a week.  We actually had a couple weeks, but I have never in my life shown a horse.  Yes, I've had a horse, this horse, for most of my life and he's never been in the ring.  I suspect that my parents didn't think too highly of the horse people in our area.  And they didn't have time to drag their daughter and a horse all over the county.  But, I respect that and actually commented to the husband on the way out the door that I wondered if this was the beginning of carting a horse and a kid all over the county.  It'll be okay.

Now, I'm new to this horse showing thing.  We missed the clinic for a variety of reasons, most of them being that I need to be more on top of things, and our horse leader graciously did a couple sessions with Grace and her little friend.  The other mom and I were very impressed with their progress. 

We also had the issue of a dirty horse.  He's old.  And he's had one bath in his life.  And he's white.  We had to at least get the chunks off.  So Grace and I did just that last night.  Then we tied him in the stall with some hay and told him not to go rolling in anything.  He complied.  I was relieved.

We also had to get Grace something to wear.  Boots and a western-style shirt was in order.  She also got a belt and a new pair of pants with the deal.  They both ended up looking pretty sharp!

Shamere was bored and decided to take a little nap while waiting for his turn.  He just watched the freaking out horses and then commented to himself that they were just making him look even better.  Even if he is old.

More waiting.  But it's getting a little more exciting.  I stood over in line with them and scratched him some just to make sure he was calm, cool and collected.  And give Grace some love to make sure that she was calm, cool and collected.

 They both were in great shape, so I went and stood with the husband.  But not before I took this picture.  Something about this angle makes me smile.

It's show time!   Honestly, I knew about as much as Grace.  But from an adult perspective.  So this was going to be interesting to watch.

They make a good lookin' pair. 

This picture makes me smile for a couple reasons.  First, I gave Calla a camera and told her to take pictures.  She took that very seriously and when Grace was walking by, Calla said, "Smile, Grace!"  Second, Grace smiled.  The horse might be smiling, too. 

The class was so large that they broke it into two and then those that got a call back from their first round got to compete for ribbons. 

Grace got bored after a while and I was just standing there on the side and couldn't do a darn thing to get her to set up and show that horse even though she was bored.

But, in spite of her bored posture and not knowing where the pole of a horse is, she got thumbs up (literally) to go to the second round to compete for a ribbon.  Go Grace!  And Shamere!

Second round was better.  But the judge went sly and changed it up on them a little.  Grace did better when the judge was one on one with her, but forgot to move when she was in line.  Much like the other ten kids. 

Eleven made it to the final round.  Grace placed 7th and got a ribbon.  She was thrilled that it matched her shirt. 

Grace's little friend placed 6th.  They were pretty excited for each other, too.  I hope that's a sign of things to come for those two. 

Shamere is thrilled to be done with the whole bath nonsense and is out in the field happy as ever with the new spring grass and sunshine. But I kind of think he likes the clean part because he has yet to roll in the mud.    Maybe he's showing off for the horses next door.  "See!  They DO love me!"

Grace has a ribbon on her wall and a smile on her face. And fancy new boots and shirt and pants and  belt. 

She should be proud. Her daddy and are are pretty darn proud of her.    And frankly, we'd probably drive those two anywhere if it meant we could see that proud smile. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Those precious moments

A long overdue bunch of pictures.  Sometimes I just wonder how I don't just burst with joy.  Life is so good.

A bunch of cousins.  Most of them looking in generally the right direction.

My brother and his baby boy.  Boys and hats.  I'm tellin' ya.  It's a funny thing.  Love this picture. 

Grandpa bowling with blondie-pants.  She would only bowl with the purple ball.

Strike or spare.  I don't remember but she GOT THEM ALL!!!!  Definitely worth jumping up and down in celebration.

New baby in the family.  She's a keeper.  My baby brother is a daddy.  Love it!

My boy and a hat.  I love that my friend sends us stuff like this.  So fun. 

Spring (ish) days that draw us all outside to enjoy the weather and each other and an old man horse who puts up with it all very patiently.

Easter morning after much curling and spraying and getting dressed all pretty and handsome.  And roughly 30 seconds before the tights got ripped while getting into the car.

The boy and his hat. 

The boy and his curls.  They make me smile.  They need trimmed.

A rare shot of the girl who won't face the camera and won't smile.  I have so many pictures of the back of her blonde head with her arms crossed.

A visit from the tooth fairy was in order.  The tooth fairy even remembered in spite of the puking that went on in the middle of the night.

Couldn't resist this one.  "I want to hold it!   IT'S POKING ME!!!!"  (Both she and the chick survived this moment in time, despite what she thought might happen.)

Calla is in chick heaven.  I won't let them hold the turkeys, though. 

The proud duckling owner.  She has plans for these birds.  And she did tell me today that watching them fall asleep was the cutest thing ever.

Fancy new boots for the horse show this week.  If it goes well, maybe she'll get a fancy horse, too.  We shall see.  She's been practicing all week (nothing like cramming for a show) and it is surprising how much is involved in leading a horse around the ring.  The horse, being the old man that he is, tends to fall asleep.  It's funny.

A boy and his book.  (His sisters were watching a movie and he just sat and read this book for about 10 minutes--with his back to the television.)

A boy and his sister's hat and his sister's boots. 

Boys and hats.  It's a funny thing.

DUCKS! Day 22

Guest blogger Grace is here again to tell you how her duck project is coming for 4-H


Last night we candled all the eggs and this is what we found.  This is a picture of a clear egg that had nothing growing in it.  Egg #1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were clear like this one.  We think it wasn't fertilized.

Egg # 2 and 7 had started to grow but then stopped.  This is what they looked like.

This is egg #8!  This is the darkest egg.  It means that a duckling is growing in the egg.  We have watched it growing and each time we candle it the dark spot gets bigger and darker. 

This is a picture of it at seven days. 

We have also seen it move a lot.  But it has been harder to see it move because it is growing a lot. 

We took eggs #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 out because they weren't growing.

Today is day 23 and on day 26 I won't turn the egg any more. If egg 8 hatches, it will hatch on day 28.  We have to keep water in the incubator because it needs moisture to hatch properly.  Tuesday the 24th it will hopefully hatch.

Yesterday we got eight ducklings.  The cutest thing ever is watching them fall asleep.  The black ones are called Black Cayuga Ducks.

The brown ones are Khaki Campbell Ducks.  These are my 4-H project.  We hope they lay eggs and I am going to learn all the parts of a duck and show them at the fair in August. 

I am really excited.  We have never had ducks before.

They even have webbed feet. 

I like to watch them when they waddle.  They also have very small wings and they are not growing feathers as fast as the turkeys and chicks we got.

We started with eight ducks, but one died today.  It was very small and wasn't as active as the others.  Mom said it might die and it did.  But today I got to hold them and I'm really excited to get to hold them a lot and learn to show them.

This week I also am going to show our horse at the fairgrounds.  I am just leading him around.  I have to practice a lot and it's pretty hard.  We went and got a new purple cowgirl shirt, some fancy pants, a fancy belt, and some very fancy boots.  I wore the boots all day today and I'm going to tomorrow, too.  (I don't wear them to bed because I don't want my feet to rot.)

My very fancy boots!