First annual Ciderfest

We traveled north to visit some precious pals and spend the day celebrating fall and pressing apples for cider.  There is NOTHING like the smell of hundred of pounds of apples being smashed into brown cloudy liquid yum.

First the kids helped rinse the apples before tossing them into the (homemade=awesome) thing that chops them all up before pressing…

Then Kyler stood by with jugs, which were filled super fast because our apples were so darn juicy!

On surviving colonial Friday…

I woke up early and sent her an email that read something like this:

just in case you wondered, it works out to 1160 POUNDS of apples will be showing up in my garage this morning.  Um, time to get moving stuff around?  Time to bust out the shop-vac (thanks hubby!) and make my garage look a little less scary for apple man?  While I make petite almond tarts and bread puffs for fancy American Girl tea here this afternoon?  And get all my kids to work and do school too?  While Phineas screams at me like he has the past two days?  And I can’t have more coffee or my hands my start shaking?  And squeeze my squishy self into my costume for said girls tea?  Did I mention I de-wormed 5 goats, 2 horses and 2 dogs before 9 AM yesterday?  Yeah, I thought not, but that was yesterday.  And I’m feeling just a tad less capable today.  Uh, more than a tad.  And my dinner smells gross.  And it has to sit in the crock-pot and stink up my house all day, ew.

Deep cleansing breath.  Can it just be tomorrow and I am at your house giving you a huge hug?????  Please?  I would much rather be cleaning your kitchen than mine.  Seriously.

She wrote back with pithy wisdom as usual and told me I could totally do it, that all I needed was to make some signs for the spots I couldn’t clean, stuff all the things I didn’t have time to put away and SHUT the DOORS.  So I did what best friends do and did exactly what she said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus a large problem was solved and I could focus on baking and cleaning main living areas.  Nevermind that I did forget about one downstairs bathroom and when I saw a friend heading towards it out of the corner of my eye I might have said (while directing the girls sharing time) something like “Um, oh dear, yeah I didn’t get to that bathroom and I can’t vouch for its condition and don’t ask me why the tub is full of dried cranberries and…”  I stopped there and realized I was probably embarrassing myself in front of a room full of girls and their moms (if that was possible?).  She survived the bathroom and now she knows me just a little bit better than she did before Friday.  And she still wants to be my friend (happy me).

My mother was the star of the show and she played “Lady Randolph” and had invited her granddaughter (Rylee) to tea with her friends.  She gave them a lovely lesson on manners and why they were important.  Then she gave them a chance to practice them.

After their little practice on introductions and how to politely carry on conversation, they went to tea in the kitchen where they picked out their own tea cups and sat down to be served (by me, servant “Martha”!).

After tea we played some colonial games and each girl shared something interesting they’d learned about that time period.

It was a fantastically fun day!  Here is our group before everyone headed home –

The absolute only thing that could have made the day any better would have been being able to show all these cute pictures to my completely precious, deeply beloved Grandma Larson who resided in Williamsburg for the past many years and whose hand I’ve held walking down the Duke of Gloucester street more than once.  Miss her all the time, life here isn’t the same without her smiling face.

Baby Luke

My amazing little sister delivered her third little bundle of darling-ness last Friday – we could not be more delighted for their family to welcome his sweet little self!

More cousins = more love!

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Baby Luke you are loved and don’t have a clue just yet what incredible parents you have – but consider yourself informed – they are something else…

My rainbows

I just glanced outside and saw this mystical hue filling our front yard, dark black clouds sitting behind my brightly lit trees brimming with fall color.  I commented to Caleb as he worked on his writing,  “Look out the window – it looks magical out there doesn’t it?”.  He agreed and I wondered out loud if there might be a rainbow out there because it had just started to rain in the midst of such bright light.  Kyler headed out on the porch to check and indeed, there was one.  We ran to check it out. It was stunning.

We stood and soaked it all in.  Pretty soon there were two rainbows, the second one fainter than the first.  Kyler said “Oh how I wish I could climb the tree where it meets the ground! It would be so amazing!”  I asked him what he’d do if he could and he said “Well, I’d touch it.  I’d climb on it and it would be beautiful!”.  Though he’s heard me explain it before, knows its just light reflecting and the result of the perfect God-designed weather conditions (and the age-old promise He gave to Noah)….when its right there in front of you and its just so unreal how lovely it is.  It’s hard to believe its really even there.

What I couldn’t stop thinking about was if it wasn’t raining right now, there wouldn’t be a rainbow.  I know I can’t be the first person to think that but I couldn’t shake the parallels to my own life.  There is some rain, serious, flash-flood type “are-we-going-to-be-washed-away?” sort of rain.  But even in the midst of it, I have glimpses of the miracles at hand, the sheer beauty of God doing something beautiful in my mess, and it takes my breath away.  Makes me want to grab my (mental) camera and freeze frame my life that very second.

The rain is key to the beauty of the rainbow.  It is key to my rainbows.  I couldn’t possibly “cultivate the land, the life, He’s given me” if I didn’t have a drop of it.  If I only have the sunshine then nothing would be growing here.  The planting of little seeds of life and truth and love all around me, the pruning and clipping back of my vines that can’t bear fruit and the rain….the sometimes despised, often complained about but veritably LIFE GIVING rain in my yard and in my life.

Honest truth is I’m learning to love it, to say welcome to it every day.  Because the learning to keep walking, to keep believing in the midst of rain – this is what I long for.  The fertile life that is soaked and drenched in wet mess but green and sprouting all over?  That’s what I wake up asking for every day.  Looking for rainbows and the promise of miracles, small ones and big, all over the landscape that is my life.

 

 

Our fall tradition

Though this post always looks strangely similar to the one last year, I will share anyway.  More for me than anyone else.  We made sure to schedule this fall adventure to the pumpkin patch BEFORE the newest member of the Jorgenson family joins the world this coming Friday!  My sister was such a trooper and didn’t complain one single bit traipsing her nine month pregnant self around muddy fields.

Audrey, rockin’ her big 80’s hair, just because she can
Rylee taking Finn for his cow train ride – how is my ‘baby’ old enough to go without his mama!?
the big four, taking up the whole quad teeter-totter
girlie cousins, taking their first shared ride in the cow train
taking a tractor trailer ride to get pumpkins
Kyler ADORES this little cousin!
finding the perfect mud puddles
my little (big) pumpkin
the ever famous, ever growing cousin photo
be still my heart, I could not possibly love this man any more…

 

this pretty much sums up how Phineas felt about the day
this was the part where we bribed him with two peanut butter cookies…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living history – colonial times

History in a textbook can be so boring that the whole subject is forever labeled as far from interesting.  One of my favorite things is when I get the chance to make it come alive for my children.  Today was one of those days.  Our American Girl book club group met here today and we studied colonial America.  We’ve been hard at work all week getting ready and I was nervous last night that the day wouldn’t meet up to our collective expectations!

Colonial Williamsburg, where the Felicity books take place, is a place so near to the heart of our family.  We’ve visited numerous times and my grandparents live there.  My husband is a history major and is totally passionate about history.  I am the teacher of our children so I am immersed in all of it all over again and that has to be one of the best things ever!

We started with a book discussion, talked about colonial times, what their life looked like and how it differed from ours.  We talked about the Patriots and Loyalists and how much was at stake during that time. The girls joined me at the table where I’d put out several things similar to what they would have seen in the late 1700’s.

Glass blown by hand tinged green from the algae in the water, large keys made of metal and brass, candle holders to light dark nights with no electricity, extremely heavy iron that had to heat in the fire before using them and a washboard for all the hand washing of laundry.  A copy of the Declaration of Independence and a colonial map, just for fun!

In discussing clothing and bathing, we learned that the reason they wore those white caps on their heads wasn’t just the style but that it kept their hair clean – bathing was such an ordeal.  The mob cap protected them from sun as well as kept their heads cleaner.  My (amazing) mother offered to sew white mob caps for all the girls and also to get ready little small mob caps for their dolls.  It was too fun!

  The girls glued lace to the edge of their doll caps then let it dry and later threaded elastic through to complete the project – they were so proud – they turned out darling!  Even the boys insisted on dressing up, their job was to tend the fire outside.

I walked the girls outside, talked about how much work just making a cake would be, getting milk, making butter, grinding flour and collecting eggs.  We don’t get milk yet from our goats but we talked about how they would have had animals that all served a purpose and were key to their survival.  Our horse is a cute pet but I said that horses would have had to work hard then, plowing, pulling carriages or being ridden.  We checked for eggs but there were none, I’d taken the last two from under the hens this morning to bake our apple cake for snack time!

We made a button spinner, buzz saw type game with a string and button, played Blindman’s Bluff in the backyard and colored colonial paper dolls.  We talked about the things they used to play with – corn husks, shells, flowers, leaves and tried to imagine those being our ‘fun things’.

Getting to do this with these girls was the highlight of the month for me and for sure one of the highlights of our year!  Next time we meet I am hosting a formal tea, teaching how to curtsy and dance the minuet.  We might learn some manners too!

Tiny new life

Last spring we rescued a mini horse from a farm where she wasn’t being well-cared for, when we moved out to the country.   Turns out she was already pregnant much to our surprise, so we have been patiently waiting to see what would happen come fall.  Our little sweetie Willow delivered her foal last night – all is well and we can’t get enough of watching them together!  Life in every form but especially when it is so fresh and new is intoxicating!