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Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Buried: Snow Covered Dreams

Snowstorm Stella came, and she didn't disappoint.  The children are having their second snow day this week, and we are in the midst of digging ourselves out from under the biggest snowfall we've seen since we moved back up North eleven years ago.

The snow was past the knees of our little ones yesterday morning.

It was up past my knees yesterday afternoon.

We had to shovel out doors and vehicles and animals.

It continued to snow a bit through the night, and the children can now crouch in the shoveled paths and let the wind blow the snow right over the tops of them.  They say they're crawling in the trenches.

This snow has covered outdoor benches, picnic tables, patio chairs, and most of our chicken tractor.  You can barely see where the front porch begins because the snow is higher than the steps and nearly level with the porch floor.

Other than driving our daughter to the orthodontist later today, I'm staying inside, content to watch the blowing, drifting snow through our farmhouse windows.  I'm feeling rather contemplative and am re-reading some books on discovering and living your dreams.  Like the daffodils that had sprouted a few inches but are now covered with two feet of snow, I think the dreams of my younger self have been buried for years under decades of birthing, nursing, and mothering young children.  I can feel the seasons of my life changing though, transitioning and morphing into something new that I want to more clearly see and define.

Just as clearing paths in this snow helps us find what was buried underneath, I find myself needing to uncover dreams from long ago that got put on the back burner because my family needed so much of me for so many years.  Even though life is still full of activities and responsibilities and obligations, and our farmhouse is full of children and life and growth, there are now some nooks and crannies of my day that are free for me to dream again.  I can take out those buried dreams and brush them off and pursue them again, or I can dream up something new.  I'm more aware than I've ever been that I've still probably got half of my life to live, and I don't want to waste it all on mindless tasks, errands and shopping, and social media consumption.  I want to make sure I am living purposefully, and that is what I'm pondering these days.  

Nelson Mandela said it better than I:
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." 

I'm praying that all of you hit by Stella are finding your way out of the mounds of snow today, and I'm hoping that all of you readers everywhere are living your dreams to the fullest.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is This Really February?

I know Punxsutawney Phil forecasted six more weeks of winter, but surely he was mistaken.  For most of this week, we've got temps near 70 degrees here in the Alleghenies.  One of our school groups planned an outing many weeks ago for families to go tubing at a nearby ski resort.  Our children had been looking forward to it for days, but when we arrived, it was a balmy 66 degrees on the slopes.  I didn't know whether to bring them t-shirts to change into or the traditional snowsuits and sledding gear.  We settled on something in between, but I did see a few teens skiing and snowboarding in shorts and tank tops.

I didn't participate in the tubing, but stood on the sidelines enjoying the unseasonable warmth and tried to get pictures with my phone because I forgot my new camera.

My youngest is afraid to go on water slides, so I wasn't sure she would participate, but she was the first member of our family to grab a tube and get in line.

And she loved it.  It was safer than sledding at our house since you didn't have to worry about hitting a fence, a tree, or going over a ravine at the bottom.

Initially they all went down one by one, but they soon learned it was more fun to link together and make a train.

The only problem was that our youngest son was usually at the front of their train, and when they came to a stop, he got flung out of the tube and rolled several times in the mud.

And that mud at the bottom just got worse as the evening wore on.  By the time we decided to call it a night and go into the lodge to eat dinner, everyone's backsides were covered in it.  Our smallest son was literally coated in mud from his neck to his toes.  I had them strip out of their outerwear in the parking lot and did my best to wrap up those clothes in a manner that wouldn't totally wreck the back of our SUV, but it was just one big mess.  I'm doing heavy duty laundry today and cleaning the inside of our vehicle, unfortunately.  We seriously looked like country bumpkin hillbillies at the resort next to the clean, mud-free skiers and snowboarders who enjoyed completely snow-covered slopes all the way to the bottom. But the kiddos had fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, our pets and livestock have also been loving this spring-like weather.

Our lambs and goat kids are running and hopping all over the place.  Their favorite activity is to jump on the back of our large lone ram and ride him around the pasture.  They've even worn bare a patch of wool on his back where they like to sit.  He doesn't seem to mind as he goes about the business of eating any green grass he can find.  I have got to get out in the pasture with a chair and my camera when I have some free time to videotape it.

I hope all of you are getting some of this warm weather too.  Have a great weekend, Everyone! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Little Things

This evening's post is a random list of little things going on here this week.

1. We got a surprise a few days ago when our goat Feta gave birth to twins: Fontina and Manchego.  After losing two of our older goats in the past month, these babies were such a pleasant surprise.

2. We've been picking up our grandson and hanging with him one day each week.  He is definitely a bright spot in our gray winter days.

3. We had more ice and snow here this week, which gave the kiddos another 2 hr. delay.  As you can see, the snow hit the upper mountain ridges while the valleys got the ice.

4. I realize I'm coming late to the game here, but my husband got a trial Amazon Prime membership, which means Downton Abbey is available to us for free.  Oh my gosh, I can't believe we went all these years without watching this.  It is now the favorite evening drama show of every big person in this house.

5. After coughs, fevers, and sore throats last week, we have now moved on to a stomach virus.  So far two of our little ones have been camped out on the loveseat next to "the Bucket."  Yuck.

6. This actually feels like a big thing because the carpenters finished our kitchen renovation yesterday!  I'll post no more pictures of this though until the new Amish-made corner hutch has been delivered, and I've put everything back together again.  But I am so happy with this fresh, bright room.

7. I'm sure you noticed that my blog has a slightly different look.  I wanted to make more room for the pictures, and there will be plenty more of those coming next week!  I hope this change is easier for you readers to view and not quite as "busy."  I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ice Storm

When I posted on Tuesday, schools were dismissing early due to inclement weather.  While the forecast said a coating to an inch of snow, this is what it looked like here by the time my husband and children arrived home in the early afternoon.  I just happened to create a new chalkboard design that day, and once everyone was home safely, I felt I could display this and mean it.

When the children went to bed that night, they were hopeful they'd be on a 2 hour delay the next morning.  I told them not to hold their breaths because it was supposed to warm up and start raining by midnight.  Instead, we got the call at 5:30 AM Wednesday that schools were, indeed, on a two-hour delay.

Shortly after that, schools were canceled for the day due to the 1/4 inch of ice that coated everything overnight when the temperatures didn't rise as predicted.

I put my Yak Trax over my hiking boots, picked up my new camera, and headed to the woods.

If I stayed off our lane---which was a thick sheet of solid ice that my spikes couldn't penetrate---I could safely hike and photograph this winter wonderland.

Things were just starting to melt as the clouds began clearing, but I managed to get some photos of ice stubbornly clinging to everything around me.

A strange fog sort of hovered near the tree tops, and the sun never shone fully that day.

However, it did warm up A LOT as temperatures reached the low sixties yesterday, and everything completely melted.

But I am so glad that I braved the ice and took some time out of our busy, noisy, bustling house on that snow day to slow down and be in the moment and notice the small, simple, beautiful gifts that surround us here on the mountain.  Above all else that I hope to accomplish this year, choosing to be still and aware and present tops my list.  

And now, to finish this week on a totally different note, here is a peek at our kitchen at the end of day three of the renovation.  We all wait until the evening when the carpenters leave for the day, and then we practically run to those doors and have a look inside as we watch it transpire.  I've been visiting a local antique mall looking for farm treasures, and my Pinterest boards are expanding as I peruse the farm kitchen pins.  I think it's safe to say a trip to Home Goods and Pier 1 is in the plans for this weekend.

May all of you have both moments of excitement and stillness this weekend. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Creating a New Normal During Our Reno

While there is a snow/ice storm occurring outside that seems significantly worse than what was forecasted, I'm waiting inside for Hubby to safely bring home the children from their early dismissal from school.  I've got nervous energy from the stress of roads being closed, worry for all the families and buses out there driving their kiddos home, and too much coffee this morning, so I decided to blog to get my mind off my concerns for awhile.  

We finally managed to get absolutely everything except the wood/coal stove out of our kitchen on Sunday.  It looks like an empty house that's on the real estate market.  Well, it did before the contractor's crew began working on it yesterday morning.  Now I keep the doors to the kitchen closed and try to stay out of their way all day.  We do take a peek at night though to see the magic they have worked.  The day we cleared the last of everything out and wiped down the last of the cobwebs and dust (and there was an awful lot of both), our 7 year-old daughter put on her most beautiful princess dress, broke out the classical music, and danced her little heart out in the middle of that big, empty kitchen floor.  It was her own personal ballroom until her brothers came running in, loving the way their voices echoed in there.  Once the work began, however, all children have been banned from the kitchen, as well as all animals.

We have decided to look at this temporary change in our lives as an adventure as our big family lives without a kitchen, which happens to be the largest room in this house.  Everything that we would absolutely need, and everything that I was afraid might break, got placed in our dining room/multi-purpose room.  That room already had much going on in it: instrumental practice, homework, Internet browsing, game playing, video watching, and roughhousing.  Now the kitchen table and refrigerator are in there, along with much, much more.  

We look like we are hoarders now.  Every inch of space in that room is filled with boxes and bags of stuff that had been located in the drawers, cupboards, and counter tops of our kitchen.  We're having to come up with creative dinners that only require a microwave, toaster, or crockpot.  I'm still working on that.  Any dishwashing that needs to be done has to happen in one of the bathroom sinks, so there's a lot of paper plate use, I'm afraid.  Yesterday morning was the first school and work morning that the kitchen was off limits, and it was rather chaotic.  My husband couldn't find what he needed for work; our middle school son forgot his PE uniform; people were tripping over each other in that very cluttered space; and our youngest dropped and spilled half a quart of juice.  It was a mess.  But we are adjusting, and I'm happy to report that this morning went much smoother.

But I do tend to forget that we have the stove and dry sink stashed in the hallway, and I run into it nearly every time I round the corner with a full basket of laundry on my way down to the basement, which is where the washing machine is located in this old house (another thing I'd like to change.)  The past few days have really reinforced how much I never want to move again. If simply packing up the contents of one room to temporarily move into the next was a lot of work, I can't imagine having to pack up and move everything we've accumulated over the past ten years and moving it hundreds of miles away.  Been there and done that and hope to never have to do it again.  I'm grateful that this temporary situation is minor and of our choosing, and is leading to something we're all excited about (well, mostly I'm the excited one.)

I have every confidence that in a couple more days, we will have all adjusted to our new surroundings and be as relaxed and well-adapted as this guy---whose only issue seems to be that he has to eat in the hallway now instead of the kitchen.

And what do you know?  I see that the snow has stopped just as I come to the end of this post.  Have a great week, All.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lights Out: Surviving With No Power

With much of the eastern United States covered in snow and sleet this weekend, I thought I'd reference a post I wrote a year ago on preparing for power outages.  The storm missed us this time, but our electricity has been out twice in the past two months, both times for three-five hours.  When it happened the week before Thanksgiving, we were babysitting our grandson, but all was well as we snuggled under a fleece blanket together on my rocking chair as he took a nap.  Our daughter played music from her charged cellphone as we played card games by the oil lamps and candles, and the house quickly warmed up after starting a fire in the wood/coal stove in our kitchen.  We lose power so frequently up here on the mountain, that it has become second nature for us to go around the house lighting candles and lamps, starting a fire, and pulling out the propane burner for making coffee in our camping coffee pot or boiling stored water.  

Here  is the link to my previous post on learning from our Amish neighbors how to live without electricity.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Winter Storm Helena.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Winter Walk on a Sunny Day

Our New Year's Day was relatively warm and sunny here in the Alleghenies.  After Mass and lunch, I decided to go for a little walk through the woods and experiment with my new camera.  Thanks goes to our teenage daughter for the above shot; I made her come with me.

The pond was still partially frozen and looked mesmerizing with a layer of ice floating on top.

I took so many pictures that it was hard to decide which ones to include and which ones to delete.


We are so fortunate to have both a creek and a pond just below our property.

I don't know why, but I loved the way the leaves looked as if they were fossilizing in the melting ice on the creek.

On the way back up to our farmhouse, we stopped to see our goats, but they ignored me to eat the grass that had been covered in snow and ice for a week or so.

As I walked, and sat, and peered through my camera lens at this microcosm of my world, I knew what my New Year's Resolution would be.

And it's not to write more lengthy to-do lists.  It's not to stuff my mind with more news updates and images from social media.  It's not to have a greater number of projects to fill my days.  And it's not to come up with more events to fill our calendar.

It's to spend more time being still, reflective, and noticing the beauty in the simple things around me.  To be completely present in each moment.  To not be thinking of my checklist while I'm playing with my children or walking down to the mailbox or petting our goats.  To just be at peace where I am and still enough to feel the presence of God.

This will be a huge challenge for my busy mind and rather noisy house, but that is going to be my daily focus for 2017.