The Summer in the Garden

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The End of Summer

The summer in the garden is beginning to come to an end. It is getting colder outside in the evenings and the days are getting shorter. It has been an incredibly busy around our house but I feel like great strides have been made for us as a family. I wish that I had been able to blog more of the good stuff. We have lived and learned a lot together. We have argued, laughed and cried together- none of it in the garden. Yet, in my heart I feel as though we spent the time doing some of the simple things in life. We visited with friends, worked until we were tired and invested in the most important people to us.

I couldn't ask for a better time spent. I couldn't ask for better people to spend it with. There are many people who do not enjoy their children. There are days that I feel the same way but for the most part- I had a great time. I love the time spent on them and their projects. I worry that I will get so used to doing their projects that when they grow up on me, I will be lonely. I want to invest as much time and thought as I can into the kids before they move on. I want to raise them the way I want my grand kids raised...

I do get tired of constantly 'reminding' the kids to work on their projects. I tell you what, I feel like have to hand hold them. Jared must have called me five times the other day when I went to pick up feed. Cracks me up and reminds me of last year when I yelled at Jared for not helping to get ready for fair and he promptly backed the truck into the power pole, broke it and there were live power lines down all over the farm. Let's hope that doesn't happen again this year...

I continue to be amazed at the place where I am. I am happy. The kids are happy. Everyone is growing physically, emotionally and spiritually. I am grateful for that~


The pic was taken on my recent (very short) road trip out west to see my good friend's newborns. I had a great time and the twin boys were perfect.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Secret Weapon...? Shock Collars

I sat in the new fresh house tonight and enjoyed its newness, fresh smells and untouched beauty. Then I realized that when we move our family in- all of the newness will be gone. Eventually, a child will put a hole in a wall or mark on the floor. Maybe it won't even be a child...! As much as I love the way the house is, I know that moving us in will make it a home. Many people have said that we will so much fun, we will make memories, etc. My response...? We have always had fun. We have always made memories.

We will have more space. I hope that we will be cleaner and more organized. Yet, as I looked at my tornado struck living quarters that have become an embarrassment to all- I know that we will still live in whatever abode we inhabit. I am sure that you are scratching your head now thinking, "What is she saying?"

We will always live in the abode that we inhabit. My house will always have that 'feel.' The one that says, "Hey- we live here. We work here. And because we do a lot of both of those activities- this is what it looks like."

I love visiting other women's homes. Many of them are so neat and tidy. They do not have things littering all of their counter tops. They do not have dirty dishes piled in the sink and laundry piled so high that you can't see past it in the wash room. I stand amazed at their ability. As a recovering perfectionist, I try not to focus on their abilities for too long- my self-esteem cannot take the beating that comes from it.

"I live in a home that has children who are home schooled. I live in a home that has children who are heavily involved in 4-H."

If you ever walk by me in public and hear me muttering- this is probably what I am saying- over and over. It has become my mantra. Everything that I do in this life is for my family. If my home has to look lived in in order to walk where I am walking, so be it. Yet, it is not always that easy. There are times that I just want to pull the children out of their activities, send them to school (any school will do) and sleep (no, just kidding- I mean clean.) I do clean but it never lasts. Ever. Every time I mop the kitchen- someone walks across it in dirty boots or drops their koo-aid. Every time. Mathematically, that should not happen. Yet it does. Makes you wonder, huh?

I hate to admit this but this is the third night in a row that I have sat down and posted on this blog. Maybe someday I will finish it? How can it take that long to write one blog? You may question. Well. let me tell you...

I have been so busy with the kids' activities that I never sit. I never eat. I just run kids from point A to point B and back. That and sleep. I sit at night for one minute and fall directly asleep. No wonder the house looks like the hoarders have taken over. Really. At any second I expect that a TV crew will show up on my door looking to kick through my mess. The issue here? I actually have perfectionist tendencies... So you get a glimpse of my dilemma.

The kids are having a great summer I think. They do not get a lot of time to swim. They do not sit a whole lot. We work a lot together. We learn a lot. I believe that it is good. We did go camping last weekend. It was so much fun. The pool was our favorite. For whatever reason, we prefer the pool over the lake.

I have started to move our school supplies to the new house. I cannot wait to get my hands on it to organize. That kind of thing is really fun for me- kinda weird I know. I have been debating about how to get the kids to put things in their rightful places and have come to the conclusion that only shock collars will be powerful enough to send the right message. Don't tell CPS...

Really, we have had a great summer. Very hot, very busy but very great. I wish that I had enough time to tell you about all of it. I am going to stop writing this particular blog and move on next time. Hope that all is well for you~

~Camo Pants

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Great Pig Caper

Yes, I have dedicated this particular blog to pigs- again. I said in a different blog that I have debated about changing the name of this blog to The Summer in the Pigpen. It has been interesting to me the amount of times I have 'changed' the name of this blog since it started.

Yesterday we decided that it would be a good move to take our pigs to a pig show locally and give them exposure. Wow, what a major undertaking and to top it off, it was over ninety degrees. We were dripping. Yuck. The show did not go as planned. We have been working them in the yard so I was under the idea that they would at least cooperate. Nope. They were horrible. They did not walk when we 'asked' them to. They fought us every step of the way. The boys were tremendously tired, hot and cranky. Another day spent together~

I am not certain what the pig issue is... Everyone at the show kept trying to tell us how to fix our pigs. It was everything that we have been trying. The good news- one of the guys clipped our pigs on Friday night for us. What a horrific process. I think that I am damaged for life. Pigs do not like to be clipped. Enough said?

I have to say though that there were funny times too. One time I sent Jared down the barn with his pig and went the other way to meet him and help him get the stubborn pig into the chute. I waited and waited. Nothing. Finally, I heard in the wind that there was a boy who had a loose pig. By loose, I mean outside of the barn. A little kid had left the gate open. Suffice it to say that by the time I got out there, he was headed back in. He was not happy- I laughed.

Jacie rode a pig for the first time. It wasn't a planned riding but...

I saw a huge pig coming at her and did not have the time to warn her. The pig came up under her and thank heavens her daddy was standing there because he plucked her off of the pig's back and lifted her over his head. She laughed. I cringed. Pigs can be kinda pushy and mean. I think it is because they are big and muscular. She also showed a pig. You can read about that in her blog @

Loren got second place in goat showmanship. I forgot to mention that there was a goat show on the grounds as well. He was in a class of twelve and almost won. He made several major errors and came out and reported them to me in detail. He cracks me up with how detailed he is. He was proud of his goat showmanship but left the day feeling low about his pigs. He has decided to get up at 5 and walk them every morning. We'll see.

Unfortunately, our pigs were the only ones that tried to jump out of the holding pens. They squealed like they were being killed and ran over everything in sight. In one class, they were so bad we were sent out of the arena- talk about embarrassing.

Yet, the time spent with the kids was worth it. I would do it again today in a heartbeat if it was what they desired. They are truly my best friends.

Last night Bart and I went out with some friends. The kids stayed home and Loren cooked for them. He then did the dishes. At thirteen- that's pretty good. Suffice it to say, this summer has not worked out as planned but I couldn't have planned how good it has been. Make sense?

Hope all is well for you.

~Camo Pants

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Will Blog For Food

Again, I find myself outside in the evening blogging. Part of the reason is that it is so much cooler outside than in- the other part? The children are in.

What kind of mother do those poor children have? You may question. I have a very easy, heartfelt answer for you. A terrible one. No really. I am a loner at heart. I find it difficult to think when my children are in the room, much less in the house with me. Oh and there is no kitchen table in the old house. I have taken it out to the garage in order to refinish it for the new house. Another project waiting for me.

I have placed the table and chair that I am writing on at an odd angle in order to not see the garden. It is such a mess and taunts me when I pull into the drive. Yesterday, I gave in and mowed part of it down. Some of the weeds were well over my head and an embarrassment. So that chapter is closing. I did leave up what was left of the onions (after Jared 'weeded' them.) Today when I got home I noticed that the excavator drove over the remaining ones while he was filling the hole that was made to run the electrical wire to the new house. Perhaps I am meant to buy my onions from others? Ya think...?

Last week it was too hot to blog- this week is cooler and so it is all I want to do. I wish I could make real money for my thoughts but I am afraid many people would only pay me to cease doing them. Doesn't seem right. I am debating about putting a sign in the front yard that reads, "Will Blog For Food" and see if I get any takers.

Speaking of food... I am not particularly a 'foodie' but I have to admit that tonight's supper was one for the books. The amazing thing is that it was very simple. We had fresh corn on the cob (obviously not from my garden) and hamburgers on the grill. I then added cucumbers, tomatoes and all of the goodies that others have given me to my burger. Yum. I wish you could have been there. I know for certain that the way to my children's hearts is through their stomachs. Definitely. They were quite happy with their fare.

The boys rode their horses today. It was bittersweet to see Loren on a different horse. He was having so much trouble that we had to get a new horse. We have had the horse he was on since the horse was six months old. They become like family to us. Yet, Loren is enjoying the new ride. He is learning about himself and his riding ability instead of trying to fix a horse every ride. It is good. Jared continues on Paulie. He (Paulie) is my baby. His coloring is Palomino. He is truly beautiful. At this point, he and Jared are a good match. Jacie wants a mini horse. She saw one at the horse workout a couple of weeks ago and has been after me since. I know that she would love it but the thought of going from two horses to four is enough to make this mama's heart skip a beat.

Though we are not working in the garden, the kids and I are working. There is so much that needs to be done on the farm. I think that I could have them working around the clock. After we move into the new house, we are going to tackle cleaning the big barn and the lean-to. They are in dire need. That will wait until after fair because we are booked solid until then. I would also like to try to go to Chicago in October for a day because I promised Jacie that I would take her in when she was walking. She has an itch to see the Lego Store and I would like to hit the Rock n' Roll McDonald's and the Shedd Aquarium. I know that she would love it. Perhaps I will make it a reward for a summer of hard work. That will probably come up in my other blog, The Camo Pants Professor: A Rebel With Class. That blog is dedicated to our homeschooling experience.

I suppose I had better get at the dishes. It seems a waste but my duties call.

~Camo Pants

You can follow Jacie's adoption journey @

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life on the [Funny] Farm

I have been thinking of this blog all day. Yeah, I am a little obsessive sometimes...

Today was hot. It was hard. Yet, it definitely 'qualifies' for this blog. I spent the day with my children- all of it. I then, with great enthusiasm, encouraged them to go to bed. As I sit in the dusk of the day, I have to say, "I love the farm."

It is a busy life. It is hard work. But it is together and I like that. This morning, Jacie and I went to Physical Therapy for her. Unfortunately, she just got home camp last night and was completely exhausted, cranky and out of sorts- I should have just cancelled like I wanted to. So much for good intentions.

If we would have stayed home though, I would have missed the next stop and that would have been a shame. She and I went to the library to work on her summer reading program. I know many of you have not seen the list of To complete this summer reading, one has to dedicate a lot of time and effort. The one being, of course, the mother. She enjoyed the arts and crafts that they had going- though I did not know about it and it pushed our arrival home back by an hour.

Then came the pig washing. No, you didn't read this wrong- pig washing. We have been told that you can train a pig. That has been our goal this year. I think that the people who told us that did so just so they could stand back and watch- laughing. I set about washing with the oldest boys. They were incredibly tired and grouchy but I knew that the time to do it had to be grabbed so onward we tread. I wish that you could have seen us. What a joke. Suffice it to say... we did not wash any pigs today. The good news? We lived through the experience. I really think there is a plot among pig people...

We have to clip the pigs soon. Wanna watch?

I wish I could say I was able to spend the rest of the day lounging in the weed patch. And I did in a different way, we spent the rest of the day working together mowing the lawn we do for hire. It was a weed patch of its own. That is exactly how our lives look. Busy, busy, busy. I washed loads of laundry and hung them out, folded other laundry, did dishes and made dinner.

Whew! I am exhausted just reading what I did today. But the evening found me sitting outside, blogging and enjoying the cooler air. The light of the sunset filtered through the trees, the dusk settled on the farm and I began to relax. There is nothing not to love about life on the farm. Nothing.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Summer of the Weeds

I didn't even stop to look when I last posted on this blog. It has been a terribly long time and I am embarrassed. It has also been that long since I pulled weeds in the garden that was the 'theme' for this particular blog. Man...

I wrote in my other blog that I was renaming this blog, "The Summer of the Weeds" because soon after I started it I drove a lawn tractor off of a four foot wall and broke my finger on my left hand and sprained my wrist on my right. I also bruised my ribs terribly and my legs. Really, It's pathetic. Yet, it is true. So.. I have not been able to pull weeds.

I have re-thought the name though and do not think that it is fair. Yes, the garden has gone to pot but my life continues. The children's lives continue. I am blessed. I wrote about my oldest son on my other blog. It really should have been on this blog but I started it there and left it. You can check it out at "The Crown of His Daddy" in I forget sometimes that he is only thirteen. He looks so much older and often acts older too. Yet, he is thirteen so I shouldn't be surprised when randomly, out of the blue- he acts it.

We have devoted a lot of time to finishing the new house. We are about 5-6 weeks out from moving and I am excited. I have enjoyed picking lights, counters and colors but am extremely ready to occupy, if you know what I mean! When we are not 'housing it,' we are doing animal things. The boys and I have decided that we are going to work their pigs this year. This is a new leaf for us. We always have fed them and cared for them but never walked them, clipped them- well, let me be straight here- never anything that took major effort. This has changed. Now you can drive by three times a week and witness the boys walking their pigs around the yard. Truth? I think that the pigs walk the boys but don't tell them. When my friend told me that you should let the pigs loose in the yard and walk them I thought, "You are crazy. We will never get them back in."

I was wrong. They will go back in. They run like nutcases, then slow down and eventually you can guide them in. Remember that pigs don't wear collars...

I am the one yelling, "Keep them out of the road."

The boys are the ones yelling back, "We're trying..."

It is really quite comical. I definitely try to leave myself a lot of time to help before I have to be anywhere because sometimes it takes a lot of patience and prodding to get them to walk. My luck? They will probably be our worst pigs yet. That would so make me laugh.

At times I think that our family struggles because of the stress that it is under. Bart's work schedule is intense, the boys are well into the throes of puberty and Jacie is fairly new to the family but I really don't think that is it. As I listen to other parents around us, they are in the same place with their similar aged children. I think that children have to walk through the murky waters (that's what I like to call them) in order to figure out the right direction to go. do the stresses make a difference? Of course. Yet, there is something bigger going on in the lives of my children. God is calling their hearts and that is a difficult place to be. I know how badly I fought. I expect nothing less from them. Especially Loren since he is a drop straight from the mom tree- except his nose...

Jared is reading behind me. He has begun to learn that he is not Loren. This statement may seem a little crazy to you but it makes perfect sense to me. Jared has patterned his likes and dislikes after Loren. He was his hero. If Jared wanted something and Loren said no- Jared didn't get it. As they have moved apart, Jared is learning that he can like things that are different than Loren's tastes. Jared is developing his own desires. I love that for him. Jared is an amazing person who continues to grow emotionally and physically. It is an interesting process.

Hopefully I will be a little more diligent about blogging on this blog. Hope that all is well for you.


Friday, June 24, 2011

XL Sweatpants

I wish you could see the garden. It is a huge, weedy mess and I cannot weed yet because I have a broken finger on one hand and a sprained wrist on the other. Man...

Don't tell but I am considering hiring someone to come and weed it...for pay. Doesn't that make you laugh? I have to admit, no matter how hard I try to make things run smoothly...Bam! There were so many things I wanted to get done this summer- not including driving a riding lawnmower off of a four foot wall. I guess life happens sometimes.

This week has been fairly quiet. The boys were up at Michigan State University for three days. That made for a quiet house. Then Jacie went visiting and I was BY MYSELF. Yes, I am yelling that at you. I am so rarely by myself. Guess what I did with my free time...?

Yup. Slept. It was wonderful. I love sleep.

I missed the kids though. I find that they keep me occupied on so many levels that it is too quiet, too lazy when they are not here.

The boys came home today and are grouchy, grouchy, grouchy...

I have been hiding from Loren. He is biting everyone's head off and saying, "How come none of you are nice to me?"

I laugh behind his back. I would never do it in front of him because he would probably 'eat me for supper...' He is the responsible one. He spent his entire time away taking care of all of his brother's cares. He sees the problems and jumps in to fix them before Jared has even realized that a problem could exist. It is a tremendous burden for him to carry. I am thinking of ways to help him relax and have fun. He is so funny and fun to be around when he isn't tired, hot, worried, stressed, hungry, alone or with people. We call him our Little Old Man...

On the other front, Jared is our carefree guy. He rarely worries about things. I sent each boy with the same amount of money. Bart and I talked about how he would come home with nothing. We were right. He spent every cent. The portion that wasn't spent- he used in the vending machine of the dorm before they left. Too funny. If it tells you anything about the difference between these boys, Loren spent $8. total- Jared...? Times that by 6. Having said that, Jared brought me a lovely gift- A pair of XL sweatpants...

I am working on how to cut them down three sizes without ruining them. The funny thing is that he called and asked what size I wore. I said, "Well it depends..."

He replied, "For pajamas?"

I said, "Go Big. I love comfortable PJs."

He definitely went big...

Bart and I worry about 'losing' our boys. There are so many things that could go wrong in their relationship with us, each other and the cute little Chinese child that we thrust into their lives. I am watching our boys grow into young men and am grateful for the gift I have of being home with them. There are times that I would like to invest in permanent, thick ear plugs to drown out the bickering but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I am enjoying the summer in the garden- even if it hasn't worked out exactly as planned.

~Camo Pants