Kidding season begins…

We’ve had two out of six goats deliver so far.  This year we are hand raising our babies on bottles.  Certainly more work.  Also exponentially more fun. The goat kids live in the house for a few days while they get settled and we feed them their mama’s milk in a bottle.  There isn’t anything quite like coming downstairs in the morning to a pen of these little cuties waiting for you in the living room.  They are quickly imprinted on humans.  They adore our children and climb all over them at every opportunity.

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A normal day… (updated)

The announcement goes something like this: “Finn is covered. Head to toe covered. He is completely naked and covered with tiny shards of styrofoam. It’s everywhere. All over the bathroom walls, the counter, the floor. And Finn.”

I take a deep breath. I’m sitting on the couch trying to drink coffee, recovering from a full weekend and our very long Monday. There is some magical thing about a mama who sits down. She can be hustling around fixing breakfast, filling the crockpot with dinner, doing dishes leftover from last night, switching laundry loads, wiping up unidentifiable smashed food and she is near invisible in her work. But sit that mama down and no one misses it. My backside hasn’t been on the couch ten seconds before one, two, then three sweet things are fighting for my lap. Good thing it’s a soft and plentiful lap. Everyone snugs in and about then is when oldest boy comes in with the news about Finn.

And these are the things our everydays are made of. Kids practicing self defense moves on the barn roof. Digging for bones in the forest and coming back with near intact skeletons. Hard working almost teenage Rylee traipsing out to the barn in her pajamas every single morning with a big milk bucket and bed head. Someone forgot to let the turkey out and she’s talking loud from her pen reminding us to set her free for the day. The pigs are done with breakfast but they are ready for second breakfast if anyone cares to oblige. Coyotes are closing in every morning and the three big dogs are on constant watch, sure to bark away any rustle from the forest.  A dog shows up locked in the pantry after someone shut him inside to “clean up” an entire box of spilled granola.

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A two year old whose sparkling blue eyes are sure to dazzle is happy to climb trees or climb onto counters using drawer knobs as a ladder.  She is just as pleased to act as “baby” and get to “nap” in a suitcase.  Only the pretend nap turned real and she lays there in the middle of the noisy kitchen for an hour snoozing.  She has a penchant for “beddies” (berries) and the berry crisp someone accidentally left here last night ended up being her bedtime snack since she found it (and a spoon) before anyone else did.  She loves to snuggle cousins and creatures of every sort.

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Blisters on my hands now just healed from an evening of food prep and endless slicing and dicing. The sacrifice of a weeknight evening for the sake of precious friends seemed painfully small but the only thing I could do to communicate love. Their loss of new life at 11 weeks pregnant was all too familiar to us and besides praying our hearts out, food seems the only other way to extend compassion.

There are stacks of great books to be read, one 7 year old sits reading to me this very minute. The library hold shelf bears our name and inquiring ones want to know when we can go pick up the waiting books. Older ones have been enlisted by youngers to place holds so even the littles have books waiting for them today.

As for me, only styrofoam awaits me at the moment I’m afraid.  Lots and lots of styrofoam…

***Updated 9:56 AM***  While I scoped out the styrofoam mess I came downstairs to the sound of Dad’s drill on the front porch.  This is what I found: 

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When I inquired about what was taking place, Finn was quick to explain “I caught a moth, I put it in a ziploc and Audrey helped me poke holes so it could breath.  I’m going to drill it into the front door to make sure dad can see it when he gets home.”  To which I took another deep breath and commended him for his use of eye protection then I explained that while that was very sweet, it would permanently ruin the door.  We searched for a big piece of wood and screwed the ziploc into it instead.  It is propped up by Dad’s parking spot waiting for his return.  The front door is scratched but not badly so.

While it might be very entertaining for me to write these posts every day (as this is very normal) – it would surely overwhelm.  But for posterity’s sake I’d sure like to try every now and then!

Thoughts on adventure

We’ve been home five days.  The running list in my mind of what I will remember from our four week stay in south Chile with friends keeps getting longer so I thought I’d write it out for myself here…

  • the logistics of traveling with six children under 12 for nearly 30 hours
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  • the way we could hold our breath and not move when Liberty would actually sleep
  • how ridiculously heavy and full our kids carry on bags were packed – totally unnecessary
  • Finn walking shirtless through the LA airport like he owned the place
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  • seeing my beloved friend through the glass walls at the tiny airport in Temuco, Chile
  • realizing we would be cramming 12 people into a truck and a Subaru for a month (turns out it costs $300 a day to rent a van, insane!)
  • the moment when I realized when she said she lived five miles down a dirt road, she had actually meant it
  • how fast she drove on said dirt road
  • the taste of the dust coming through the vents
  • the vibrant yellow wheat fields rolling over hills
  • dogs, lots of dogs everywhere
  • how kind and warm their two children were to ours, sharing their rooms and space and entire life with us day after day
  • trying to wrap my mind around neighbors who build dams in canals and steal water
  • learning to wash dishes in such a way that water doesn’t get wasted
  • how brown my bath water was, me thinking it came out that way, but realizing it just was dirt color instantly because my feet were filthy…how this confirmed my strongly held belief that dirty bath water is an excellent indicator of good times had 🙂
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  • good but cheap wine (no sulfites), no place to go and nothing but time
  • palta…smashed avocados and salt – best avocados we’ve ever had
  • white bread, fresh every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • choripan – delicious fresh sausages with mayonaise inside soft bread
  • nescafe took some getting used to, not the same as a strong pot of freshly ground coffee, strangly satisfying however
  • shelf stable milk in boxes…I knew this was the case but still, its a long leap from fresh daily goat milk
  • ox carts in the Wal-Mart parking lot
  • realizing the ramifications of that Wal-Mart on small, family business’ is so devastating
  • how often the truck didn’t want to start….how hard on vehicles such monumental dust and rough roads are
  • runs into town to try and blog or check email – the reality of life with no internet at home and how it was actually quite wonderful
  • how even in town there was sometimes no internet at the cafe so blogging time turned into long talks of the deepest sort
  • what it felt like to wake up next to my husband every day for a whole month
  • what waking up and going to bed together does for the heart
  • countless hours on the trampoline with Liberty, it was like her giant playpen
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  • watching our friend pull his cell phone out of the BBQ and watching God provide him a new one
  • moonlight and no curtains and birds that call out in the night
  • wondering how fields of cattle could eat on such sparse land and still live
  • how the lamb we bought to roast was small because “there hasn’t been enough water or food”
  • rationing out bath time…amazed how long they are happy to not take a bath!
  • hours long reading marathons, kids strewn everywhere with their noses in books
  • dishes.  wow.  the dishes.  our kids asked a few days in why we were washing so many.  I laughed and pointed out the empty spot in the kitchen where someday a dishwasher might be…
  • forts in the forest, inspired by Little House on the Prairie
  • swimming in lakes and in the Pacific Ocean
  • such a hot sun
  • reading good quotes from fantastic books to eachother at the kichen bar
  • going through pounds of white nectarines every single day
  • people everywhere doing whatever they could to make money…selling water bottles in the streets, doing tricks at red lights, selling jewelry on any open piece of sidewalk, selling anything just about anywhere
  • paying money for bathroom use – with eight of us, we figured out quick that 200 pesos was a bargain but if it was 500 pesos we needed to conserve trips
  • boys filling the water tank every day, twice, so we would have water in the house
  • thinking about water.  a lot.  realizing I’ve never had to think about water.  so many things we take for granted.
  • merluza – a white fish I’ve never had or heard of… flaky and perfect and so delicious
  • how happy and content our kids were without their rooms full of legos and toys and comfy beds…they are so strong, so resilient
  • the struggle to be a part of a group of kids when you don’t speak their language…I won’t ever forget Rylee crying.  it is hard to be the odd one out.  hard to hear chatter around you but not understand.  and hardest to pull yourself up and go back in knowing it will still be hard.  so proud of that girl.
  • church, I didn’t go.  but Chris and the older kids did.  the message was on marriage.  and the passage of scripture they used was David and Goliath.  still don’t have that one figured out.
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  • taking risks.  doing scary things.  hard things.  not knowing how something would end up but doing it anyway.  this sums up our trip in many ways.  packing up our six children and heading thousands of miles from home to live in someone else’s space and land for a month wasn’t a lap-of-luxury, beachfront sort of vacation.  it was an eyes-wide-open, cross-cultural, rich beyond measure sort of time.
  • what it feels like to have someone else see your life, day in and out, to live in community, to hold each other up and wash each others dirty clothes and dishes…and to still call each other friend at the end
  • how when people come over to hang out, they would just stay.  for hours.  and they would always help in the kitchen, hand washing, drying and putting dishes away constantly.  and if they were tired they would simply take a nap.  on your couch.  and it was more than okay, it was good.
  • slower, less driven, frenetic life.  a pace that felt so far removed from American life.
  • the magnetic, magnificent personality of my friend Tina – the way she draws out people, loves deeply even in a land and with a language not her own…it amazes and inspires me
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  • the volcano that erupted two days after we had stayed in the town near it.  if we’d beeen there, we’d have had to evacuate our family at 3 AM when the sirens went off.  thankful to see its beauty but safely so.
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  • much more…another day

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-H fun!

Our summer has been even more fun than we’d hoped given our recent entrance into the wide world that is 4-H.  When we dropped in at the open house last September we were still living in our little house, our kids praying and dreaming for some space to climb trees and raise some animals.  We met a super sweet lady who had a dairy goat farm and we were hooked.  She was passionate about kids and animals.  She had a wealth of knowledge about something we were interested in and a heart to share it.  That last sentence probably sums up a good deal of all that is 4-H.

We decided to jump in and join the goat group even though we had no hopes of having goats in our little yard.  I sort of figured we’d live vicariously through the ones who did have goats and we’d learn a lot in the process.  My goodness are we ever glad we did.  Our kids have grown in their confidence and abilities in ways I never expected.  The look on their faces walking away with ribbons for participation and good work was priceless.  The friendship they’ve found there has been of even greater value.

We started into the world of fairs and showing animals with a small community fair this year.  It was quite possibly the best day of our summer.  My face hurt from smiling by the day’s end.  The icing on the cake was that my grandpa planned his trip out to visit to correlate with the fair.  So he got to see his great-grands do their first show.

There were no rides, just old fashioned games like potato sack races and climb-the-greased-pole.  The food was cheap and the pace was slow.  It was the best induction into the realm of showing animals and projects and such.  Little did we know when we started this adventure that we would move this year and be able to have our own goats!  We enjoy them more than we even thought we would.  They are wonderful companions and pets!

A boy and his dreams

Today the wide-eyed one who loves to wonder told me with with brazen confidence:

See that tree mama?  What I’m gonna do is climb it to the top and jump out after I make some wings.  I’m going to glide down (a brother interjected, “won’t you FALL?”) Oh no, I won’t fall I will GLIDE.  It’s going to be great!

I smiled at the blue-eyed one.  Much of life seems to bear down hard on this precious son.  The way he feels and learns and sees and hears makes for
o-v-e-r-w-h-e-l-m-e-d him more often than I wish.  Who am I to crush his dreams?  Who am I to be the voice of reason and tell him he can’t and it won’t work and here are 10 reasons why that is a terrible idea?

How many times have I crushed him already?  Not been tender enough when he was (slightly) injured for the millionth time and I could not muster one more ounce of compassion?  This the one child that managed to break his foot simply leaning back on a kitchen chair because he could not sit still through dinner.  How have I taken the fun out of something meant to be lighthearted when all he wanted was to dream big?

He’s hard at work behind me right now.  The sweet grunts and groans of boy deep in his work.  Believing big that he can do something great.  Is it my job to tell him he can’t fly?  He can’t change the world? Just because I feel so darn grumpy this morning?  Or just because the world is a terrifying place where the most unimaginable things happen?  Every.  Single. Day?

He just finished the work.  “I’m going out to fly mama!”  Hope filled and an ear-to-ear grin.  “I’m right behind you, hang on” I call to him. 

I grab a camera and chase the one who I know will one day conquer great things, for all the small he has to learn to conquer everyday.

“Do you think its going to work?  I’ll climb up and you hand me my wings so they don’t break, okay? (he pauses) Maybe I should come down a few branches and try lower first?”

He trusts me, implicitly, despite my daily failing him.  He knows I’m in his corner.  Despite the thousand times I’ve wondered why he didn’t get a better mother than me, somehow he loves this one that he has.  He asks if I think this is the right height. I breathe relief.  I didn’t want to say it.  Thankful he figured it out on his own.  He waits and shouts “READY!” and jumps.

My eyes well up behind the lens because its not every day I see this kind of sheer glee from him.  I love it.  I love his sparkle and his creativity and his determination.  I love the way he cradles grasshoppers and moths in his hands.  The way he knows the sounds of different birds in our yard.  I literally relish every single second because I know it won’t last an hour, maybe not even five minutes but the taste of this moments, these moments with this boy….they are so sweet my heart hurts.

Where big brother goes, little brothers long to follow.  This does not always pan out well here.  But it did today.  Little brother searched for his own cardboard, his own scissors and tape and formulated his own ‘wings’.  The littlest brother was happy to swing in the hammock chair while the big boys proved their awesomeness. The tree proved a challenge so we moved the picnic table to the edge of the deck which was a perfect, still challenging but not quite so crazy, height.

Someday his jump will take him out of my nest and into the wide world.  I will miss his good days and his bad.  I will miss the way he tucks himself under my arm on the couch because someday he won’t fit there.  I will not always be his leading lady so I am determined to find more days like this one and love them with all my heart.

Camping with the fab five

Someone told me at church today “If you go back and listen to old school Gary Smalley messages he said once ‘if you want to give your child great memories and bond as a family, go camping’.  Well, good thing something wonderful may come of our super challenging but super “fun” weekend.  Upon looking for this information online, I found this quote from him, which rings so true:

The real secret to becoming a close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.

~ Gary Smalley

After a less than lovely and three hours later than planned departure (don’t ask), we were on our way with nearly everything we owned (except the portable crib for Finn which we wouldn’t know until bedtime).  After sticking it out to make almost three whole weeks with no fast food, we broke down and had McDonald’s on the way for dinner.  We got to the campground around bedtime and stayed up later than our norm getting all set up.  There were cousins which made everything more fun.

No computers, no dirty bathrooms that needed cleaning, no agenda besides to have fun.  It was great.  Until I realized we’d left the crib for Finn at home.  We figured we’d just make him a bed and he’d sleep on the ground on his sheepskin.  Notsomuch.  He threw the fit of his life.  I packed it up and went to the van with him.  We spent the entire night in there.  Me sitting up making sure he didn’t fall off the seat where he’d finally fallen asleep after a couple good hours of him screaming.  Afraid that any noise I made would wake him I tried to freeze and sleep for about 6 hours.  Instead of sleeping, I stared at trees and listened to him breathe and looked for signs up daylight.  There is something very un-fun about being awake when everyone else is asleep.

Some coffee and some happy campers beckoned me to choose happy and get on with the adventure.  We searched for crabs and found hundreds.  Finn chilled in the Boba on daddy’s back and looked positively exhausted, which made me slightly annoyed because really, he got more sleep than me.  By a longshot.

My sister, who is a rockstar, braved camping not with a needy 16 month old and four other kiddos but instead with a growing baby in her belly and her own two littles.  She deserves an award.  We both do, here is our game face the morning after camping, night one:

Our two girl cousin buddies enjoyed each other as always…

and all the boys ‘helped’ put up Nana and Papa’s tent on day two of camping fun:

Finn loved him some Papa…

and for that matter so did Kyler…

then everyone joined in to play “crawl to the beach like a crab” or something like that…

Ruby watched the silliness and stayed warm in her winter hat, because well, you know, this is still Seattle:

Daddy figured out how to build underground tunnels in the wet sand and everyone thought that was awesome…

It’s been just over a week.  I swore I’d never do it again at about 3 AM both nights while Finn kept me from sleep.  But you know what?  Our kids would tell you it was the best ever and a super fun weekend.  These are the things that memories are made of.  And as my sister so astutely observed ‘the terrible awful just sort of melts into the wonderful’.  One minute I was curled up in a ball in a van seat with a baby who wouldn’t sleep and shortly after I was sitting at the beach listening the absolute glee while my children found crabs of all colors and patterns and delighted in the simplest things.

It is that truth that leads me to say that probably, we will do it again.  Maybe we’ll do it a little better or maybe not.  But we will try again, we are crazy like that.

Winter sunset

11 months old and watching the world around him every minute – he can’t wait to be able to keep up with everyone

creeping close to 4 years old and an absolute delight of a girl

best friends + cousins

unbelievably sweet and tender boy – loves his baby brother more than words can possibly say

conqueror, overcomer, adventurer

“Mommy, look I drew you in the sand….and you’re a princess!” – Audrey

thoughtful, observant, nurturing and responsible

rock scrambling before the light runs out

watching the big boys throw rocks in the water

sometimes the unplanned, last minute outings are the best…
but anything with cousins is always fun!

Hawaii 2010

Our very last day we were delighted to see a huge pod of dolphins in the bay off the marina in Kona

Not sure why we even packed clothes…they wore these every single day!

Rylee and Nana stenciled their very own Hawaii aprons to bring home

Little buddy cousins Isaac and Audrey enjoyed countless hours of digging and grabbed snacks in between

Audrey fell head over heels in love with her Daddy these past two weeks

My dad trying to keep up with his son-in-law on the boogie boards

Kyler with his lei at the hula

Pretty sure the main reason my dad sprung for this convertible mustang was these two little boys (they dubbed it the “Supercar”)

We got a personal coffee tour from this darling man who planted 40,000 coffee plants in 1984 with his wife and now runs Bayview Coffee farm – incredible, pure Kona coffee

They let us try our hand at cracking mac nuts at the coffee farm…

And they handed us a bag and told us to pick as many oranges as we could eat!

Audrey giving Nana some love

Our last beach day, we hiked into Honomalino Bay, a  black sand beach nestled in a grove of coconut trees…..really no words for how lovely it was

Caleb loved piling coconut shells and palm fronds into forts!

For my parents/sister’s families last night there, we went out to the Kona Brewery for a tremendously fun dinner, Ruby got decked out in her baby bling, bracelet and all, for the occasion!

It was probably the most fun dining out experience we have ever had, honest, we hardly wanted to leave.

Our table was tucked in the back and we had room for a dance party!

Our fam on some lava where the Kona airport used to be….before it was bowled over by hot lava

Rylee and Auntie Stephie getting peeked at by a sea turtle at our favorite beach, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, Rylee did not share in her mother’s snorkeling fear and would watch fish and turtles swim with me until she was plum tuckered out…I was totally amazed at her little 7 year old self.

My dad did an incredible job facilitating the “Gospel in the sand”…every day the kids learned a piece of God’s story experientially through sand stories, it was awesome.

The two most amazing parents anyone could have.  Their love for Jesus and for family inspire and bless our socks off.  Their willingness to share their timeshare with their kids and 6 grand kids ages 7 and under was beyond generous.  This was the trip of a lifetime for us.  Though a ton of work traveling with so many little ones, we cherished the absolute gift it was to all be together and share in such beauty.