Category Archives: family

celebrating our boy

On Sunday we celebrated the day, three years ago, that this wickedly handsome, crazy smart, fiercely intense, wildly imaginative, first class snuggler of a  little boy joined our family.

The day before the four of us went to the movies for some popcorn, Planes and lunch out.  The day of was a simple one with two sets of grandparents, a mama-made Very Hungry Caterpillar cake, temporary tattoos, and a Spiderman backpack filled with the superheros he loves so much.

Oh, these pictures and milestones that keep reminding us of just how those long days turn into short years.

And Motherhood breaks my heart once again.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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foraging

Perhaps it is because we miss having a garden (some may even call it guilt for not putting in a garden).  Or it could be that it appears to be a bumper year for all the things that grow.  Or perhaps still, it is the most delightful warm Autumnal weather we’ve been experiencing since the deadly July heatwave.  Whatever the reason, we find ourselves pulled into the woods and trails in search of berries this summer more than ever.

Of course, we made batch upon batch of tasty apple butter in our first summer here, but the jars that weren’t eaten right away went bad.  There were a number of things we could have done wrong.  We could have tightened the rings too much, I am quite certain I heated the lids more than once, I washed the jars, but didn’t sterilize them, and lastly, I didn’t “process” them in a boiling bath after sealing.  We will do it differently this year with the help of Ashley English’s book  (in fact, her whole Homemade Living Series is a wonderful resource) and some diligence.

In June we picked and froze 15 quarts of organic strawberries from Ellenberger Organic Farm and made a wonderfully large jar of garlic scape pesto from the large bag of scapes they graced us with.  I made it just like a basil pesto and we ate it over pasta with tomatoes.  With the leftover scapes, I blended them in the food processor with olive oil and froze them in ice cube trays for cooking throughout the year.  It made about 35 cubes.

We own about 4 acres, but are surrounded by about 80 more which is owned by a lovely couple who only camp here a few time per year.  I have fond memories of picking the abundant blueberries while we visited Mike’s home of Newfoundland, so we were quite excited to find a couple handfuls along the shore of the pond a week or two ago.  They were no comparison to Newfoundland’s berries, but it was a bit like finding treasure.

We have both pin cherries and choke cherries here as well, but this is the first year they have produced like this.  Chokecherries don’t taste like much when eaten off the branch and the seed apparently contains cyanide, but when made into a jelly, they remind me of childhood and fall.  We were able to pick 3 quarts from the two small bushes behind the house and made 12 125 ml jars plus a pint.  We went by the book this time and they all sealed successfully.  We have plenty more on the property so another batch or two may be in order.   I think they will make nice Christmas gifts this year.

While picking the chokecherries we noticed crazy amounts of blackberries (or what we assume are blackberries) growing fairly low to the ground on what we assume to be young bushes.  We are a little unsure now as we found two types while we foraged for our dessert yesterday afternoon.  In abundance, we found the smaller berries low to the ground, but then we happened upon some larger/taller bushes with the more characteristic shape and size of blackberries.  Both taste similar, and both types came off with the rasp inside (unlike a black or red raspberry where the rasp is left on the bush).  No matter how you slice it, they tasted decadent, still slightly warm, atop our Kawartha Daily french vanilla ice cream.  The kids were in their glory despite the mosquitoes and scratchy bracken that was often taller than them.  Berry loving Poppy was especially happy to pick to her heart’s content which she quietly did while Silas made sticks into swords, put rocks in his basket, and saved himself the tedious task of picking the berries himself and thieved from mama and daddy’s baskets.  We covered a lot of ground and spent over an hour for only a quart and a half, but it was fun and we figure we’ll be going out each night for our dessert until they dry up.

The apples look a bit small, but oh so abundant and just beginning to blush.  We’ve purchased a clamping apple peeler, corer, and slicer in preparation for our apple-filled fall.

So though we may not have a garden this year, and though we’ve only made it to one farmer’s market this season, we are still enjoying the fruits of the season and we’re ever so grateful that so much of it has been found in our own backyard.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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the first days of school – guest blogging at so fawned

It is hard for me to believe, but after four and a half  years of talking about it, the day quickly approaches; the day we officially start our homeschooling adventure.  Of course, like most people (whether they realize it or not) we have been homeschooling since the beginning, but call me old fashioned because September 3rd, 2013 marks the official beginning for me.

Today, I share our some our reasons, goals, and personal educational history on So Fawned’s series entitled the First Days of School in which she has gathered other bloggers interested in sharing their stories and decisions which brought them to where they are in their own schooling and parenting journeys.  It should be fascinating.

I hope you enjoy my contribution and well as the other wonderful people who have and will share.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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earth’s best sundays

We had a lovely weekend.

The heat broke with a downpour on Friday and it was a glorious relief.  We could not have survived it without the fans, ice packs wrapped in tea towels tucked into shirts at bedtime and the beach.  It has left me pining for Fall.

On Saturday we went to a local heritage day where they had all sorts of crafts people demonstrating their talents.  The kids dressed up as a fairy princess and a pirate for the occasion.  There were farm animals and wild animals, BBQ lunch, rock painting, a bee hive, potters, spinners, weavers, trappers, antique cars, letterpress, and face painting.  The face painting was free and there was a 2 hour wait, but once Poppy saw this, there was no talking about anything else.  Poppy chose to be painted like a flower fairy while Silas wanted to be Spiderman, but, at the very last minute decided he’d rather be a puppy dog.

We came home and sat outside where the bugs were almost nonexistent and the breeze beautiful.  Everything seemed do-able.  We talked about the third baby’s arrival and plans for the upcoming weekends while the kids stripped down and played in the sand and water.  We then decided to take a little walk up to the beloved apple tree to see how big they are getting and also to hunt for wild raspberries.  We only found a few berries, but the apple tree is drunk and heavy with apples this year.  We must think of a way to preserve them so we can enjoy them throughout the winter months (We are thinking freezing, drying, and canning are our best bets).  We also discovered the cherry trees produced millions of tiny ruby berries this year.  That is the first time since moving here that we have seen berries there.  Just not sure what to do with them and would like to know for sure if they are edible.

On Sunday, we worked while the kids donned their costumes once again and played happily.  We did laundry, cleaned the car, emptied and re-organized the sheds, re-attatched the porch railing, and did a general tidy up of the outside.  The last bit of wood was piled last weekend, but the grass may never recover from all the sawdust that is impossible to pick up now.  We worked until late in the afternoon and ate granola bars for supper.  My back and hips are still aching from all the bending and lifting.

I miss not having a garden this year.  We had planned to visit the Farmer’s Markets each and every weekend, but it never seems to happen.  I find myself craving a meal of green beans, chopped tomatoes with salt and pepper, and new potatoes with butter and salt.  I hope to make it to the one in Haliburton tomorrow after my midwife appointment for sure.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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hold me steady, beloved anchor of mine

27 weeks 5 days.

The third trimester always seems to bring with it a special kind of emotional tidal wave.  I spend the day counting down to the day I won’t be full to overflowing with a baby, swollen, fat, puffy, charlie horsed, and varicose veined.  I then  lay awake at night worrying about the c-section, the hospital stay, the transition, the sleeping arrangements, the outings, the patience this will all require.  Am I mom enough?!

It all sends me into a tailspin and then I hear an old song that reminds me of who I once was; what I had time for, and I cry.  Big, heaping, noisy,wrenching cries that come all the way up from my toes.  The cleansing kind that scares anyone who witnesses it, but oh! If they only knew how good it felt to cry and shake and feel every hurt leave my body.  Then, as a thunderstorm washes away the humidity, I am ready to love and work again.  But, just as this Ontario summer seems to go, the humidity- thunder cycle repeats itself without much reprieve.

I took the car on Sunday.  Alone.  I had hoped to get a haircut, but she was closed so I went to the drug store instead.  I must have spent over an hour there looking at pink lipstick, moisturizers, and skin care products.  I won’t lie, it was glorious.  I haven’t worn much more than mascara for the past few years because I thought it would bring my skin back to a natural radiance, but the reality was that I just looked tired.  So if some BB cream (I didn’t know that was even a thing, but I have been waiting my entire makeup life for it) and hot pink lip gloss (I am not yet, brave enough for the opaque stuff yet!) make me feel a little more like my old self, then so be it.

Being inside my head is exhausting.  I miss being creative, but can’t seem to find a solution to the lacking.  I love baking, but I also love eating and if I ever intend to feel right in my skin again, I need to strike a balance there.  I enjoyed making jewelry, but it is an expensive hobby and I never really made any money at it anyway.  I would love to get more paid writing gigs and even do some fun/creative content marketing, but,unfortunately, the Clever Girls Collective is not accepting Canadian members and I don’t know where to start.  I enjoy sewing, knitting, and crocheting, but when I am pulled in a different direction every 5 minutes, I can’t focus on counting stitches or any sort of pattern with ease, never mind the cats and Silas running off with the balls of yarn and the dog chewing my needles.  Sewing is a no go what with all that tempting fabric to rumple, toss, and use as capes.  I like painting and it is something I can do with Poppy with minimal frustration, but I have no idea of even the most basic techniques, and despite nearly every woman I am closely related to being a naturally talented artist/painter, I am not sure that I got that gene.  I’d love to take a pottery course again, but know in my heart of hearts that I won’t go in the evenings when I am ready to collapse.  Also, once I start nursing, I won’t be going far anyway.  This isn’t forever.  One day the kids will play and read and imagine hours away quietly.  But, I won’t lie, there are days I feel like my brain might turn to mush and run out of my ears from the boredom I feel.

Today, there is a cool breeze and, though the humidity is at 100%, the sun remains hidden.  My sprouts are ready for eating.  The Postal Service is playing an old song.  I find myself thinking of Autumn (sacrilege, I know, but summer and I are on the outs this year).  The wild roses by the gate have released the most intoxicating, unadulterated rosey scent I have ever enjoyed.  The poppies (the ones I almost gave up on) in the front garden have exploded into life  and I can’t help, but smiles back at their happy, papery faces.

And finally, I am so loved.  Despite all my issues and frustrations and anger, and mad fluttering, and pregnant hot messiness, I am so loved and it makes me weep more tears of gratitude.

Hold me steady beloved anchor of mine for the wild bird in my rib cage will settle her wings again soon.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in life, photography + writing, the anchor, Uncategorized, wellness | 8 Comments

today, I am grateful for…

::source::

::source::

::source::

  • rhubarb
  • all the tiny green apples on the apple trees
  • the front garden I almost mowed down because I had lost faith  is now full of black eyed susans, poppies, and even a peony
  • kawartha dairy chocolate milk
  • a new lawn mower with sharp blades and a powerful engine
  • the horseradish and raspberry plants we transplanted are alive and well
  • the raspberries we planted last year are throwing up new shoots and lots of promising berries…not to mention all the wild bushes we have
  • the sweet train set and table I found on Kijiji for less than half the price for Silas’s big birthday gift
  • copious amounts of organic garlic scape pesto and garlic scape/olive oil ice cubes for cooking
  • the super powerful and clean food processor i found for $10 at the local junk shop
  • 19 bags of yummy organic strawberries in our freezer
  • dutch oven bread
  • overcast days
  • baby kicks, punches, rolls and tumbles.
  • violets and pansies
  • dragonflies
  • the deer flies are here, which means we are in the final stages of bug season…we hope.
  • fans
  • listening to the kids play together
  • peeling an orange in one complete piece
  • payday
  • silas attempting to count everything he sees
  • our wood is piled and ready for this winter
  • a normal, healthy, uneventful pregnancy
  • my new coffee mug
  • daisies and black eyes susans in a mason jar
  • a thoughtful gift and card from mike’s boss
  • being rooster-free
  • poppy’s thoughtfulness and kindness towards her unborn baby sister
  • the baby name we have chosen
  • our new car
  • our new (to us) furniture (every home should have a recliner)
  • birdsong
  • songza
  • waffle cones
  • nail polish in fun colours
  • a tidied laundry space
  • a new place for the dog crate
  • our good health
  • glamour lake beach
  • the fact that poppy prefers to pee outside and does so with gusto
  • our outdoor clawfoot tub (one day it will be in our bathroom)
  • the kids’ love of fruit
  • my stand mixer
  • mike’s job
  • living in canada with our incredible healthcare and benefits
  • watching our kids play with other kids and feeling good about the job we’re doing
  • it’s thursday

 

Mike and I are grateful people.  That said, we are also easily overwhelmed in moments of worry, stress, or exhaustion.  We recently decided to react differently than normal when our old car refused to start.  I felt the instant reaction of fear, frustration, and anger bubble up, but managed to work my way to the other side of it.  I started by focusing on counting my blessings and then put into effect a no whining, no complaining policy for the day.  After I posted that, I got the wine glasses out and we all clinked glasses full of non-alcoholic cider at 8:30 am to mark the occasion.  It was a defining moment and I saw immediate benefits.  Also, after nearly 24 hours of not starting, our car, rather randomly, started up and never gave us another problem.

Gratitude is something I would like to add to our days and so this is the beginning.  I may not always share it here, but I would like to share it over our family meal, or in the darkness of our bedroom, or simply jot it down in a journal.  Wherever and however I may do it, I feel it is imperative for me to practice daily gratitude.

So I will.

If you feel so inclined, please leave a link or share  your own lists of gratitude in the comments.

 

go gently + be wonderful

 

Also posted in celebration, life, wellness | 1 Comment

earth’s best sundays – canada day edition

This weekend was a good one.  It was, after all, Canada’s birthday.  Unfortunately, my camera was either at home or suffering a dead battery so we only managed pictures of Sunday at my dad and step mom’s farm, but I assure you it was good and full.

::friday::

intensive clean-up + reorganization of our upstairs

grocery shopping

buy one get one deals

::saturday::

Combermere Farmer’s Market on a damp and cool morning

a long wait for the best damn homemade donuts you’ll ever eat

a day spent at the cottage with my step dad, step sister and her wee family

sword fights, flower picking, fishing, bbq, bunnies jumping on a bed, grazing, matching jammies

sleepy children

::Sunday::

two loaves of dutch oven bread

piling the last few bits of wood (the epic job of 2013!)

warm strawberries

garlic scapes

Poppy obsessed with riding Dad + Janet’s new horse Nutmeg (or “Meggie”, as she likes to call her)

Grampa practicing his lasso skills on willing grandkids

watering the animals

checking for eggs

naked tub fun

tractor…always the tractor

birthday cupcakes

too tired to stop for fireworks…maybe next year

::monday::

hulling strawberries while sipping our morning coffee

iron + wine

a new lawnmower (our neighbour repairs and sells them so we traded in the old one)

into town to meet friends for Canada Day celebrations

the anthem + feeling grateful for being born in the best country.

the petting zoo

free Kawartha Dairy ice cream

slowest free balloon service ever!

Waiting in line for food only for them to run out

classic cars

toads+ coffee  in the garden

a quick stop at Kawartha Dairy for chocolate milk + ice cream + waffle cones

that chocolate milk  rocked my socks, wondering why I don’t drink it more often

feeling rather smug as we watched all the tourists making their way back to the city

homemade veggie pizza for supper

bed.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in celebration, earth's best sundays, ellenberger organic farm, life, photography + writing, wellness | 3 Comments

anger + motherhood

This moment didn’t actually make me angry. I just laughed at what they were able to do in the two minutes I had locked myself in the bathroom so I could actually talk to the bank on the phone.

“Take or leave ‘attachment parenting’ as you wish but raising human infants is not supposed to be done in isolation by a single caregiver, and yet overwhelming levels of individualism combined with conservative gender roles have positioned us in exactly that place. In our suburbs there is no-one else in the room when a mother reaches the end of her tether – there is no-one left to negotiate with – it is just an adult and a baby, crying in each other’s faces, desperate.”

I read the above quote about a year ago and felt instantly understood; instantly heard.  I have been seeing and reading a lot about anger and yelling in motherhood on Facebook and Pinterest lately.  In the world of social networking, perhaps this is our way of breaking the silence and/or asking for help…or perhaps just starting a dialogue of support.

As this third pregnancy progresses into 24 weeks, I have the distinct feeling that shit just got real.  All of this is really happening and though we know the love will be instant and true, with it being our third time around we know all the other stuff that comes along with it.  The sleepless nights, the endless worry of sickness and injury, the guilt, the baby blues, the aching bleeding boobs, the baby weight that clings, the healing c-section wound, the adjustment period of jealousy and curiousity.  Of course, in the end it will all be fine and dandy.

Earlier this week, I took the car and the kids for a full day (7:30 am until 5:00 pm) in town.  I don’t know why I do this, but I am stubborn and sometimes the need to get out of the house wins out over wisdom.  It was a gong show and as I chased a shrieking  Silas through half the mall and halfway through a department store while dragging a giggling Poppy behind me I wondered 1) how I will ever leave the house without help again after baby #3 arrives and 2)  Will we all survive this?!

I am not great at dealing with stress…or heat…or messes…or bugs…or not being listened to…or being pregnant…or lack of reason.   Waaaaah!  I know, poor muffin!  Then why on earth would you sign up for the ultra intense gig of stay at home mothering in the country, dummy?  The truth is, even after the most intense day, it still feels like the most natural and fulfilling thing I could ever want to do with my life.  Most jobs are hard and tiring, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for us.

I have made my decision to stay home and to homeschool and I stand by it despite it being a struggle in almost every way.  Blame it on the Ellenberger’s stubborn gene.  That being said, I am also letting go of a few things I thought I never would.  For example,

  • I love a lot of the ideas (though not all) of Waldorf, but have come to the realization that I don’t see it as a perfect fit for us.
  • I decided against buying the expensive Oak Meadow curriculum and went to Chapters where we picked up a large assortment of learning/teaching resources for the kids for much less money.
  • I realized that we can be both homeschoolers and unschoolers because the days are long and varied and that is what sits best with us.
  • I picked up some instant oatmeal for the kid’s breakfasts because they like it and because I don’t always want to make food they won’t eat or spend an hour making crepes or apple fritters each morning.
  • I let them watch tv because sometimes I need the kitchen to myself as I make the meals.
  • We have let go of the ideal vegetable garden with lovely raised beds, a solid fence and heirloom varieties this year.  Instead we will plant mainly potatoes and a few basics that always do well.  The bugs, the kids and the budget mixed with the fact that our harvests have been a bit disappointing since moving here and we are slightly disheartened all played heavily into that decision.  Instead of paying out money for plants that would likely just turn into compost, I bought a Dutch Oven for 70% off so I could make more yummy Dutch Oven Bread.

Sometimes we romanticize the olden days and try to hold ourselves to that ideal, but forget life was also structured quite differently back then.  Neighbours were your family and vise versa.  There were often more generations living under one roof and they shared the work with each other.  We are living in a very strange time in which technology and old time values are merging.   We are inundated with blog posts and photos of picture perfect parenting/crafting/cooking/home decorating/partying/traveling moments and think we have to be doing something wrong because our kids/clothes/meals/homes/parties/etc sure as shit doesn’t feel or look like that.  I am guilty of it too.  I take pictures of the scrumdiddlyumptious,  made from scratch chicken pot pie, but neglect to photograph the nights we eat Kraft Dinner or cereal and chips for supper.  As much as I want rhythm in our house, it really is just perpetual motion peppered with guilt,  frustration, giggles, apologies, tears, and heart wrenching love and affection until we all fall down again.  I am coming to terms with the fact that that, in a nutshell,  is what parenting feels like for everyone.  We’re not doing it wrong, it just is what it is.

I know it isn’t ok to yell at my children or lose my temper because my expectations are too high for a 4 and 2 year old.  It’s not them, it’s me.  They are tiny and perfect and trust me completely, and yet I still yell.  Why?  Because I am always alone when I “…reach the end of my tether…”.  And that isn’t about to change in any drastic way anytime soon.  Our small extended families are quite spread out and busy with their own lives.  All we can do is keep doing the best we can with what we’ve got while trying not to wish it was anything different (though we often do).

As I try to tame the Orange Rhino inside of me, I fully realize that anger is a part of life too.  It is important to teach our children the big emotions and how to apologize when we’ve hurt someone.  I don’t get angry when Silas tries to hit me or tells  me he doesn’t like me.  I feel nothing but empathy, I soften and tell him it is ok to be angry with me,  I let him know that sometimes people get angry with each other, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop loving them. I also let him know it is not ok to hit.  I see an instant and remarkable change in him when I say this.  His face changes from anger and he always comes in  for a hug.  When I yell, I always seek them out and apologize within minutes of it happening.  I tell them in the simplest way I can that I was frustrated or hurt or scared and that I never want to scare them.  We hug and often cry on the floor together until it feels ok to get up and move on with our day.

It isn’t a perfect system by any means, but it is what we have right now.  I hope that through it all, they feel the immense love, devotion, and respect I carry for each of them.  I hope that they learn how to be gentle with others and themselves.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in homeschooling, homesteading, life, Uncategorized, wellness | 11 Comments

earth’s best sundays

we delivered the 2013 chicks to Dad and Janet’s Farm (gold laced wyandottes from Kira and Andrew at www.bedrockandbrambles.com)

rain + sun + repeat

a dirty playful dog

thinking the kids would get more use out of an old tractor instead of a swing/slide set…perhaps with a slide dismount

nana’s popsicles, jello, + homemade ice cream

some raspberries + horseradish to transplant

iced tea outside

lilacs + bee bums

bringing the giant horses in + the kids begging to ride them

grading potatoes with toddlers is laughable

dirty, happy, tired kids

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in earth's best sundays, ellenberger organic farm, life, photography + writing | 1 Comment

counting my blessings

Today we had planned to take the kids out to the free admission Peterborough Zoo and for ice cream.

Last night we found our car won’t start.

It isn’t the battery.

The car gods must have heard we are planning to trade in our car for a slightly larger family vehicle this Wednesday.

This sort of thing, this feeling of powerlessness and frustration, tends to send me in to a panicky tail spin.

Mike is piling and splitting wood to burn off the worry.

I thought it may be a good idea to count my blessings and compile a short list of what I am grateful for.

 

  • We are all healthy and well.
  • Two vibrant, happy children and another on the way.
  • Mike’s wonderful job with wonderful benefits.
  • Our house in the country.
  • I get to be a stay at home mom and homeschool.
  • Poppy’s empathy/sympathy and resislient nature, wild hair, and sticky-uppy toes.
  • Silas’ intensity, eyebrow playing, story telling ways.
  • All of our secondhand furniture.
  • Free Slacker Radio (specifically the Billie Holiday and Classic Country Station).
  • A freezer full of organic beef, pork, homemade quiche, and corn.
  • Well stocked cupboards.
  • Our line of credit which saves us in situations such as this.
  • Being able to pay our bills.
  • Our large front gate is finally fixed.
  • The wood pile (that will keep us warm next winter) is slowly getting sawed, split, and piled by this wicked cool husband of mine.
  • Only using 2-3% of our propane tank last winter.
  • Our Hydro bill equal billing is going down.
  • I found a way to shave $411 off our yearly home insurance premium.
  • After much debate and research, we will be getting a white 2013 Nissan Rogue on Wednesday with a fair trade in price for our Versa.
  • New cars, their warranties, and all their new bits and perks.
  • Pachouli perfume.
  • When Silas farts and grins a surprised grin while saying “Oops!  I burped in my pants”.
  • The return of our “honey bird” (hummingbird).
  • Winnie the Pooh movies.
  • The lilacs and peonies and apples that grow around our house.
  • The two chickadees flitting about in the cedar tree as I write this.
  • Nag Champa.
  • I finally reached the bottom of dirty clothes mountain and found that was in fact the horrible smell lingering in our front room…ahem.
  • Our two clothes lines.
  • Every month, we get a little further out of debt…most of the time.
  • Our interest free loans from parents.
  • Friends.
  • That the kids’ adoration and excitement for dandelions exceeds even my own.
  • Being able to (slowly) build a new website and facebook page for Ellenberger Organic Farm.  They help us in so many ways and we enjoy being able to pay them back in tiny tokens such as this…until we can pay them back for real.
  • My anchor.
  • Kind cottaging neighbours who don’t get mad when Huck goes for a swim at their cottage and tears around like an idiot.
  • Our abundance of eggs.
  • Lemon meringue pie.
  • Play sand.
  • Netflix.

I know I am just scratching the surface here, but it does make me feel better.

Now, a no complaining + no whining policy is in effect for the rest of the day.

I swear.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life, our cabin, the anchor, wellness | 4 Comments