Huzzah!

Renaissance Faires are some of my favorite places ever to visit. Mostly its just great to have a time outside of Halloween to wear a fun costume and go see a ton of other geeky adults getting together to celebrate geekiness. (Quick aside: When did Halloween become “National dress like a hooker day”? It really bothers me. Oi.) Plus, I can call it school for the day, so winning all over the place. The Renaissance Faire in Las Vegas is a fairly respectable affair with all the jousting, turkey legs, and  craftiness one would expect. The one here in Charlotte is even better as it has a permanent location. That means buildings and a glass blowing kiln (I bought the coolest hand blown ornament for our Christmas tree!), and a set jousting arena. Open every weekend in October and November it also has the advantage of crowds spread over more than just 3 days. However, we choose to go on one of their “Education Days.” We went on a set Tuesday specifically geared towards elementary and middle school aged kids. Oh. My. Field Trips. Any crowd advantage was lost and next year we might just go on a weekend and maybe avoid some of the madness. But who knows? Maybe weekends are worse. We shall see next year, and in the mean time, even with hordes of munchkins running amok, it was still awesome.

He didn’t dress up but he happily came with us and that, as you know, makes every aspect of the outing infinitely better. Daddy is the favorite, after all.

Friends were made and pictures taken!

img_2394Low key Costume, but fun none the less. I made this bodice when I was in high school for my very first Ren Faire and I’m happy I can still sport it on occasion.

Lunch on the bleachers while we waited for jousting was simple: apples, cheese and meat, homemade bread and cookies (maybe I should call it “Authentic”) and it started to fill up with people right as we finished eating. Yelling and cheering and booing, it was cool to see the armor and horses and the competition…all my kids were fans of the whole thing.

The Falconry show was one of our favorite things that we watched. The birds were loose to fly to various perches around the audience and they mostly came back when called. Owls, falcons and Kookaburras, oh my! Before the birds, though, there was a super cool juggling show that we caught the tail end of.

This is definitely going to be new a fall tradition for our family. Especially since Garyn had the great fortune to win a Merkel. The girls are all hoping for one next year.

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That, my friend, is a Merkel. His name is Devin.

 

 

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dragons, and ghosts, and pigs, and fairies…oh my!

oI love Halloween, don’t you? Being a mom is what actually inspired this love. I stopped trick-or-treating when I was about 12 and being a rather awkward teenager I never really had much to do on Halloween and felt like the biggest loser because of that. But then a husband and kids came and all that mess changed. Now I’m a veritable rock star when I pull off costumes that impress and delight my children and I get to orchestrate fun lunches (mummy hot dogs) and Day of the Dead parties (complete with sugar skull sugar cookies!) This year was something of a wild card. Because of hurricane Matthew and our church’s commitment to help with the clean up effort, our normal trunk-or-treat was canceled. We happen to live just far enough into the country that I was fairly certain trick- or-treating was not going to happen in our neighborhood (“what? done after 3 houses? I guess we have hiked three miles…”). Luckily my brother and Sis-in-law graciously offered to share their neighborhood and they even fed us dinner before hand to build up the energy reserves for a thorough candy acquisition operation. Helps that their neighborhood is one of those where people give out full-size candy bars and a few couples even had a tent and were serving up hot dogs and hot chocolate! We know where we will be next year!

Unfortunately, when we kicked off the festivities with pumpkin carving, Neil wasn’t here. He is traveling back to Vegas for one week every month. Small price to pay for having him home 100% the rest of the time, but I’m pretty certain if his boss makes him travel over my birthday again, I’m going to refuse to drive Neil to the airport. Ever. This year was the first that both big kids did their pumpkins completely solo. Babies…Growing up…Sniff. And as an aside, as soon as the pumpkins started to cave in and get soft, Mei (our dairy cow) yummed them up for dinner. No waste on this farm!

Little Man is a fairly steady customer when it comes to costume requests. He knows months in advance what he will be and he sticks to it. This year he knew he was going to be “Steve” from Minecraft. About a month out, that changed to “a red dragon.” That was fine by me and it led to one of my favorite costume triumphs to date. Hi. I’m Lindsey, and I work in felt.

A study in contrasts. Layna, kind of out of no where informed me that she wanted to be a ghost (“Boo!”) and stuck with that for 2 months. Naomi went through this process: vampire witch, Princess Leia (until I semi insisted on a turtle neck dress…authenticity people!), mermaid, Pocahontas, and at last…Zarina the pirate fairy. I had a ton of fun with her costume too and learned how to shir. This made for a super comfy bodice that actually looked right. Plus she had a costume for Ren Faire! Win!

True to three year old form, Corra changed her mind daily for about 3 months. We were reading a magazine in which some kids went as pigs, and I reminded her we had the pig beanie (a white elephant gift from the work Christmas party years ago). She was sold, and double sold when I told her we would use Naomi’s old dance stuff to complete the ensemble. Win again! Also the full dragon costume. Yay for internet tutorials that made wings much simpler than what I was envisioning. How did people do things before the internet?

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Candy was acquired, fun was had, and life was good.

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The next night we had a Dia de los Muertos party for school, and later some friends came to dinner to help with decorating the cookies and eating the sugar skulls. These cookie cutters are giving my Ninja-Bread-Men cutters some stiff competition for my favorite baking thing.

Amazon also came through with these skull candy molds. So cool.

This was one of our better years for Halloween. For school the next day we did candy graphing and pumpkin measuring for math, and Halloween MadLibs for writing. This month we read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (the real one, and it was awesome!) and a book called “Little Witch“. It’s going to be tough to top this one, but challenge accepted for next year!

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big apples and seventh birthdays

Do you love New York City? I had never been before a few weeks ago when we went there on Naomi’s seventh Birthday. It was not a specific trip just for that, the timing just worked out as part of a larger excursion (next post will cover the rest of those good times!) As a farm girl and homeschool mom who relishes her space and crowd free life, I wasn’t sure how it would be spending a day in The City with my family in tow and no real plan. I needn’t have worried. Lessons were learned that day and seven years of life were celebrated in a way that was perfect for Miss Birthday Girl.

Not to sound finicky right off the bat, but I like London’s “Mind the Gap” better. More flair and style. Because I need flair and style…riiiight…We did love the trains though and I learned that people on trains are both nice and super tolerant of high pitch excited squeaks coming from my girls and my boy.

Crowds were no worse there than in Vegas so we were golden. I learned that it raises a place’s awesome factor if you can go from impromptu naked water play at a hidden park then go to a primer art gallery in 5 minutes and 100 yards. We were walking through Central Park (after an over-priced and under-quality hotdog on the grass) and we saw a park. That was a good solid hour of bliss for everyone. Bliss makes me brave and we attempted The Met.

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Three words. Bed Knobs and Broom sticks. Am I right? We hit ancient Egypt (Naomi’s request) and arms and armor for the boy. Samurais were imitated and Mummies were grimaced at. I learned my kids take on museums like champions.

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My mom said we had to get Mr. Softee soft serve ice cream. So I put it on the list. I asked at the museum and they said yeah the truck out front. Great, asked the guy in the truck and he said yes of course this right here (pointing to swirly ice cream cone picture) this is what you want. I learned that I’m a naïve tourist and you aren’t really in the club until you get hoodwinked by a local. Well. I’m in the club now. To be fair, it was still the best soft serve I’ve ever had.

There is a book called “Micawber” by John Lithgow. We love it and it’s the only reason I even knew that there was an old carousel in Central Park. Since Micawber, the art loving squirrel, lives in the top we had to go and check it out. I learned that kids do not even see crappy paint and hear awful carnival music. They truly experience things as they should be expierenced…no judgement, just joy in the moment. Pretty sure little man said this was the best thing he’d ever done. Like three times. The kid has been to Disneyland, but that didn’t matter in that moment. img_1694 Because we had just walked 8 millionty miles from The Met to the carousel, we crashed on the grass before embarking on more subway travel back up to Harlem for an IHOP dinner (birthday girl’s request of course). I learned that Central Park is stupid big. Like kicked my trash big. My poor sweet husband and children. They love me, even when I don’t deserve it.

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Her birthday was complete the next night with collective cake decorating, ice cream and presents. Everyone did a bit of decorating while Naomi consulted her sketch of the cake and bossed I mean managed the whole deal.

Munchkins have been missing their aunts and it was nice to cuddle and have some down time.

New York City was great. It was exhausting being a mom with 4 littles, no idea what I was doing, and a whole day to fill. But I had my husband who navigated all subway travel and overall we had a great time. Obviously, I know we only scratched the surface, but that just means we might have to go back some day.

This girl though. She pushes me and challenges me in ways no other human being on earth does. It’s good and bad and I’m sure someday she will have her own little Karma child to mold her into a better mother and person. I know the adventure is only just starting and I’m equal parts terrified and eager to see what else she brings to my life and the lessons she’ll teach me. Whew.

Next up the rest of our Ohio / New York trip!

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Mr. Bates

My fourth baby brought me so many life lessons, it almost killed me. Ok, not really [hyperbole back in its box]. But prior to her, I didn’t know what post partum depression felt like, I didn’t think nursing could possibly be any worse, and I had no idea how much I could need a child like I needed her.

After the ultrasound where we found out gender, I cried. I was so convinced we were having a boy and that would be mean God had given me permission that I could be done having kids and would not be a failure if I stopped at four. Don’t ask. I blame the hormones. That was three years ago and I can laugh about it now because I’m ok. The other thing we can laugh about is how I swore Corra looked like Mr. Bates from Downton Abby for the first month or two of her life. Exhibit A:

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that it is hardly fair to judge a person’s looks after they’ve been through a brutal journey where their face takes the brunt of the beating. But seriously.

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Even after photographic magic she looked like Mr. Bates. Truth be told that was a really rough time and nursing was, to put it mildly, horrific. Sparing you the details, I took her in to her pediatrician around 5 weeks and they put the words, “failure to thrive” on her record. Probably one of the most soul crushing moments of my life. And I don’t mean that in the way I normally use the term “soul crushing” (disappointing or frustrating). I mean I almost couldn’t breathe sitting there on that little plastic chair, mentally preparing myself to nurse there in the office because she was hungry and couldn’t make it home. After much drama, enough people gave me permission to stop nursing and life was beautiful again.

And oh my goodness. Three years later, could this girl be more beautiful? At three years old she loves puppies and trains and princesses and dinosaurs. We must be doing something right.

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Our current default show for the little girls to watch is Dinsosaur Train. Cute show, and educational so I’m cool with it. I made the engine from the show, complete with sugar paper printed characters.

As an aside, cardamom changed my life. I read somewhere about cardamom extract in baked goods. It so happened that I had some ground cardamom in my cupboard from a garam masala mix I made and so I put some in the cake batter. Never again will my cakes be sans cardamom. I can’t even describe it, so come over and I will feed you cake and then you too will know.

Three year olds are the best gift recipients ever, because every present is exactly what they had always been dying to get and they have no hang ups about gushing. Then they forget that gift entirely to be enraptured by the next. Perfect example to me of living in the moment.

Her big brother got her a toy train and graciously put it together for her. Something about gifts you give yourself? She also got a Russian stacking doll and she named her “Liddy.” I’m happy to report only two lids are broken and we are only missing one bottom. Sigh. Lessons, man. This kid is teaching me lessons.

Best part for me was having my grandma here. There was this moment of calm peacefulness while she read books to the kids that made me so grateful they moved across the country to be close to family. I hope to have my priorities as straight when I hit 80.

Corra continues to fill a hole in my heart that was put there for her. The good Lord knew exactly what I needed and sent me blue eyes and curls on a fairy princess who wants to be Cat Boy for Halloween.

 

 

 

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a decade.

He’s 10 now. So that means just over ten years ago, I became a mom. It also means that ten years ago I was as big as a whale and had no idea what the next decade had in store for me. And that was ok. And that is still ok. Because decades, man. Recently I heard a quote that said, “People grossly overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and vastly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten” (I think it was a second hand quote that oringinally came from Oliver DeMille). Garyn is now in the double digits age wise and I’m so amazed at what he is growing into…and lest I get all gushymommyteary, let’s just say that it is very good stuff indeed.

Confession: one of my deep rooted fears, a phobia straight from my childhood, is throwing a party and no one showing up. Some people are irrationally afraid of spiders, I’m irrationally afraid of this. Like lose sleep and have panic attacks afraid. When we moved here I was already stressing about his party. It was a year for a friend birthday party, but being in a new place our options for invitees were basically cub scouts, church, and neighborhood kids. Long story short I was terrified, stressed, and overall we had 17 kids come and play. It was perfect and I have had that phobia beaten back a bit.

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We settled on water games and a water theme since 1) it’s crazy hot and humid and 2) that is both super fun and super easy for me, the mom, to put together.

His request was for a camo cake inside shaped like a water sploosh. This is what I did.

Most of the party looked like the above. Lots of kids, screaming, sliding and water.

IMG_1044The plan was to eat a hot dog picnic lunch outside. But as I mentioned before it is hot and humid and kids were wanting A/C. We moved the kitchen table and improvised! It was actually kind of hilarious. Not only did my sister-in-law supply cousins to the party, she stayed and helped. Saved my sanity! As a completely random aside…I’m very grateful my brother married someone whom I genuinely like. It’s a helpful thing since we live close and our kids will grow up together. Anyways, she wins all the things for making the trek down to the party and making a huge difference in how it played out.

Back outside for presents and more playing. (Do you like our broken porch swing in the background? It held the presents admirably, albeit a bit slantwise).

Then there was cake and ice cream. Turns out a group of kids can put away impressive quantities of cake and ice cream…IMG_1058

…also chips. Pretty sure my little girls each ate their respective weights in chips. And lemonade.

The day ended with presents from family and more swimming. Since the pink pool hasn’t moved since the party two and a half weeks ago, I’m fairly certain the grass underneath it is dead. Small price to pay for the quiet hours of mommy time I’ve gleaned for myself while my babies entertain themselves happily outside.

Speaking of babies, mine turned 3 today. I have a backlog of posts that I’m going to be working through, but we are still in full out birthday mode up in this house. More to come on the Birthday du Jour as soon as I take a ton of pictures and wonder how she went from a scrawny Mr. Bates (from Downton Abby) doppleganger to my vivacious and funny little human being in miniature.

 

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summer

People tried to prepare me for the southern summer kicking my trash. They said, “No No! Humdity is different! It’s worse!” I call shenanigans. Yes, it’s humid. Yes, I’ve discovered that while some women glisten, I sweat big, ugly farmer drops of sweat straight down the tip of my nose. However, I’m still waiting for the inevitable trash kicking people said was coming my way. I’m pretty sure my garden growing out of control makes up for any extra sweat I’m exuding this summer.

I find myself more and more looking forward to December. Not as a respite from heat, but as a respite from busy-ness. Don’t get me wrong, I love what life is dishing out right now. 2+ hours of outside work a day, plus homeschool, and birthdays, a big church project and and and. It’s a pace that actually really suits me. But it also makes taking a month off of all of it, something I’m wistfully looking forward too. In December, the garden will be asleep for the winter. Canning should be done, pigs processed, Mei bred but not in milk yet, and chickens settled into a routine. It will be a time to rest. And for now, in the midst of the crazy it is a happy thing to look forward to.

IMG_1093Speaking of chickens…look who’s laying eggs a month and a half earlier than expected! Huzzah the Fowl! Oh and I have a fun story for you about our delightfuly precious poultry. So we have been working their tractors slowly back to Mei’s yard where we decided they will take up residence. A new coop is being prepared (More on that later! It is a tale of trees and chain saws) and after going back and forth we think it will be better for them. After our success with Mei and electric fencing we researched and were told that a few lower strands of hot wire (electrified wire) would keep chickens in a yard. Awesome we said. Perfect we said. And the extra strands were installed and lit up. The day came and we moved the heavy tractors into the yard and cut off a panel of chicken wire to let them out. They were thrilled! And Mei was beside herself with curiosity and new creatures to investigate. Then the first brave bird approached the fence. We giggled a little because no matter how mature and compassionate you are, the thought a chicken being lightly zapped is kind of funny. Um NO! They didn’t even notice the wire on their bellies! Neil tested it to make sure it was still hot (it definitely was) and turns out our chickens are just immune. It’s darkish by this point so we hope they will just go inside their tractor coops and go to sleep and we’d deal with them in the morning. Nope. They followed us up the path. We gave up and went in the house to check on kids. Neil went back out and 20 min later I found myself in a hummid North Carolina forest, drowning in bugs, chasing chickens. Some of them fell asleep where they stood so we just had to track them down in the brush and put them back on the roosts. Oh. My. Gosh. Well we manged to get all but one (thank you cell phone flashlights!) and get them secure at least for the night (we also had to move the tractors back out of the yard because Mei kept messing with the makeshift cardboard panels. Dumb cow). So the current state of our chickens is that they are secured but in Mei’s yard. We will be letting them go free tomorrow night and we will see what happens. Theoretically they should stay close to their food, water, and nest boxes, but we shall see. In the mean time, Eggs!

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Our first 4th of July was a low key affair but it was perfect. I canned, we grilled, there were sparkles.

Expert corn shucker and grill master in training.

Pretty sure if they were casting “Expecto Petronum” this is exactly what they would both look like, respectively.

If you have to move across the country and are the type to miss your family, the best thing to do is just talk them into moving with you. It worked for us! Grandparents are moved in, my mom is settled in New York, and my dad will be here as soon as he retires (can. not. wait.) But before mom headed north she took the greatest family pictures…here are just a few:

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Have I mentioned how much I love living here? here’s a list of what to expect (hopefully soon) here on comfyposy: 10th birthday party, pig/chicken shelter from our own trees, harvest summary and fall garden plans, and 3rd birthday party, and possibly blueberries and fig trees!

 

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the pond

On our trip to the UK we flew over it. When I was a teenager and we took a family trip to Florida, I put my feet in it. But until we ventured forth with our munckins in tow, I had never actually swam in the Atlantic ocean. And I’m sold on the whole idea. We had so much fun on our first trip to a North Carolina beach I’ve already planned out at least 4 more this summer. We have to find a favorite one right?

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Something that can be a bummer about southern California beaches is the complexity of the excursion. I know that’s my total lack of experience (my cousin lived in San Diego for years and she is a beach professional) but choosing a beach then finding parking then lugging your stuff to the spot can be a bit much. This time we drove 2.5 hours through rural farm land, then crossed a bridge and were magically on the shore. We parked (for free) then walked up and down these stairs and set up less than 200 yards from the water.

In about 3.7 seconds after being slathered in sunscreen (not that it is acutally necessary for my bronze babies, but maternal paranoia) They were in their respective happy places. Kids and sand is a beautiful thing. Well not literally…sand in a mouth isn’t pretty at all and it’s worse when they don’t even notice!

Selfie, lest posterity think I missed my childrens’ complete childhoods. Also the little girls took turns going into the big waves with Daddy, and would have happily spent the next 17 hours jumping into waves and getting splashed full on in the face. They are 3/4 fish.

Picnics at the beach are something of a logistical nightmare for a mom. There is the actual menu (tasty and healthy, but easy to make, haul and eat), keeping sand out of the food (I gave up) and bringing enough, but not too much (no one wants to lug sandy, warm food back to the car, am I right?). Recently I’ve been on a crazy canning kick and I found a woman’s blog that I’ve been stalking for about a month now. This post of hers was gold.

Fudgesicle Frosties and Homemade Fudgesicles (Fruit or Agave Sweetened)

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The frosties were a solid victory. Also seaweed adorned sand castles. And sandy babies sleeping all the way to get pizza on the way home. Mostly we all love that beach going will now become part of what we do. I can’t wait to be a professional.

 

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