I’m surprised every time we have a birthday how time flies and how quickly our kids are growing.
A few of my favorite photos from when Robbie was one year old.
First day of school photo:
On the first day of school, Nola Mae and I took a bike ride to town to run errands. I needed to do lots of things this day, grocery shopping, library, bank, post office, drop something off at school and most importantly get exercise and get away from the house so I wasn’t thinking about missing my boys. Our way home was a lot of work for me…27 pound child, 15 pound bike trailer, 75 pounds of groceries and library books.
I have planned to dye my hair a non-traditional color (purple) for many months. I finally got around to doing it and it faded to pink (not one of my favorite colors). In the last month I have considered chopping my hair just twice to get rid of it. When my mom first saw me after I dyed my hair, she joked with me that my fabric dyes got in my hair. Now, I am feeling like I will keep it for a while. Next, I will attempt purple and maybe more colors.
Jack has made many cigar box guitars in the last year. This month Charlie finished a two string cigar box guitar.
Jack made a video of Charlie and shared it on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10202628856665701&set=vb.1326037913&type=3&theater
I have an amazing husband, he deserves a blog post all to himself. He is talented in many areas, he is intelligent, he is teaching our kids many skills, he creates beautiful wooden furniture and boxes.
I was a little skeptical about these ugly pieces of wood when he loaded these into our car.
One day he handed this beautiful bowl to me and told me he made it from the wooden burrows that we brought home.
Charlie turned a bowl with Jack. He took his unfinished bowl to school to show his teacher. Charlie was eager to finish it and then took it back to school. One day I was looking for Charlie’s bowl to take a photo. He told me he gave it to his teacher.
We got together with all the Vater cousins this month, unfortunately because Grandpa Neil passed away. It was wonderful to see our kids having a blast with their cousins, and visit with the cousins we don’t see very much. Nola Mae and I missed out on the last family gathering because she was sick. I am not interested in doing the math on when I last saw Jack’s cousins from CA, it was sometime when Ben was still a little boy. When Ben opened his mouth I just about died, because he had a man’s voice, not a little boy anymore! Ben is the tallest man in the Vater family.
I have many sisters, four of them, all of them are amazing in their own way! Early this month, Becca completed her first Ironman in Madison, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.
I wasn’t able to make it to Madison to cheer her on. I was able to watch her finish from the comforts of my home, 130+ miles away on my computer through the live-feed video on Ironman’s website.
I have my very own finish line photo of her.
Nola Mae loves to put clothes on, take them off, and put extra layers of clothing. While I was taking a shower Nola Mae climbed on the counter and was putting socks on and taking them off. I took this picture with the intention of doing a blog post with all the photos I have collected of her in her many outfits.
Everything was going great. You can see all the socks on the floor that she had on and took off. Then she got stuck in these blue socks, that is when things started to get UGLY! Exactly, one minute later…
Two days later…there was an outfit that included many layers and many tears – three shirts, one dress and one pair of tights – she wanted more clothes on and I wouldn’t help her.
The above photos aren’t so pretty ones of Nola Mae, but this one is!
When you co-sleep and put your child to bed before yourself they claim their spot.
I knew Henry was outside on the deck. I heard sounds of a trombone. I was afraid he snuck Robbie’s trombone upstairs and outside. I was relieved, happy and very excited to see him making music with the vacuum cleaner hose, rather than the $754 trombone!
Four days before my birthday a wonderful gift arrived at our house – a spiral ham and caramel popcorn! I was delighted, ham is one of our favorite things. Especially, mine because one ham goes a long way here. If I am remembering correctly this ham gave us at least four meals, fillings for additional meals, made awesome snacks and were added to cold lunches for boys. The very last of this ham will be eaten sometime this fall when I make my favorite soup!
On September 11th, Nola Mae and I drove to Milwaukee to see my sister, Emily. Earlier in the week she was admitted to the hospital for liver failure and the talk was “she isn’t going home until she gets a new liver”. Her MELD Score was so high, she was on the top of the liver transplant list for the Midwest. As the week progressed and she got more fluids and antibiotics she was feeling and looking better. I was thankful to see her in better spirits and health later in the week so that when and if a new liver came to her she would be strong enough to make it through a transplant.
On Monday, September 15th, around 4:30 AM Emily was told that there is an organ donor who is a perfect match for her. I am pretty sure this was the longest day in her entire life. It sure was for me! The staff took her to surgery for the liver transplant at 5:30 PM. If I am remembering correctly, I got the call at 12:21 AM, on the 16th, telling me that her surgery was done and she will be heading to ICU.
Click here to read my thoughts on the day of Emily’s transplant, “A Sister’s Emotions”.
I spent the day before my birthday glued to my computer and close to the phone waiting for any news on Emily’s transplant. I didn’t get much sleep that night and woke up for my birthday in a zombie-like state. I knew Emily was sedated, well cared for in ICU and I needed to get the heck out of my house! IT was MY birthday and I wanted my special coffee and I wanted to use my 60% & 50% off coupons at JoAnn Fabrics! So Nola Mae and I went to town!
I made a trip to my favorite thrift store and found a bunch of dye blanks!
I bought these fabrics. The birds and butterflies were on the $4/yard rack. The bottom white fabrics I bought for making dyed scarves.
A close up of one of the white fabrics.
I made two scarves from this fabric – one for my step-mom and one to sell or give away as a gift (or maybe keep for myself).
My last stop in town was Starbucks, thanks to my sister Danna and her boyfriend, I purchased a yummy coffee and this beautiful coffee mug.
The boys (& Jack) gave me a package of socks, these awesome rubber boots and something else. I can’t remember what the third thing was. I love my new boots and wear them every day!
Usually my garlic gets planted in October. The planting window for garlic in Wisconsin is mid-September to November. I remember this because my birthday is the beginning of this planting window and my brother’s birthday, which is at the end of October, is my absolute last day for planting garlic. This fall, I started planting my garlic before my birthday and then finished planting 200+ cloves of garlic the day after my birthday.
We are were still picking raspberries into October.
Every year I find a pair of Walking Sticks in my raspberry patch. They are always attached to each other every time I see them. This time I happened to have the camera with me and when I bumped them, they came apart and I took this photo.
I have accumulated many dye blanks, I am always looking for more. Recently, I had some time to organize and prioritize my dyeing projects
I also had some time to set up a little dyeing space in my basement and got busy. In one week I dyed 20 pieces.
We paddled up the river from Big Falls when the leaves were beautiful. It was a great way to end the month.
I am making and selling soap again this year. I started early for Christmas by making four batches.
“Cleansing Calendula”, with essential oils: Lavender & Tea Tree and ground Calendula flowers for a great exfoliation. Aroma: Soft, floral. Benefits: Renewing, cleansing, stimulating.
“Cinnamon Swirl” with essential oils: Orange & Cinnamon and ground cinnamon, which gives it the dark color. Aroma: Warm, spicy Benefits: Warming, comforting, energizing
(these are the same soap, just different batch and different method of coloring with the ground cinnamon)
“Jumping Juniper” essential oils: Juniper, Lavender & Rosemary Aroma: Floral Benefits: Restoring, empowering, balancing, purifying, & uplifting.
I have about twelve pounds of garlic to sell.
It was a good birthday month for me!
On Monday, Henry came home from school with his pumpkin from the field trip he went on that morning. He was very eager to carve it. I asked him to wait until the other boys have pumpkins and we can do them all together. He was not interested.
I didn’t really care that he wasn’t listening to my idea or want to discuss it any further because in the next 45 minutes we had to make and eat dinner, clean up and do homework in order to leave the house for flag football. I had an over tired 2-year-old who was sporadically crying over everything, one boy doing homework and I am not sure what the other boy was doing, maybe running around outside bare footed in 45 degrees and very windy!
Henry: I bet my friends haven’t cut their pumpkins out yet.
My response: You are right because their moms probably didn’t let them.
Henry: I bet Landon’s mom did, because she is REALLY nice!
It was all fine and wonderful until…
He cut the top all the way around and it fell inside the pumpkin = tears. I kissed him and helped him get the top out.
He continued to carve the eyes, and then the mouth wasn’t working like he envisioned = tears. I suggested he draw the mouth on the pumpkin with a marker so he could follow the lines.
The whole face of his pumpkin caved in = sobbing, serious tears and almost inconsolable.
I am a mean mom because I was kind of laughing inside, considered taking a photo of him crying with the pile of pumpkin chunks on the table and wanted to suggest we throw the stupid pumpkin to the chickens. Instead, I hunted for a little candle (relieved that I actually had one and found it within seconds), I carved a heart on the back side and showed him how pretty the heart glows. And promised I will buy him another pumpkin when we get pumpkins for the big boys.
This morning at 5:30 I woke up to the phone ringing and then the answering machine picked it up. This was the first night in almost a week that I wasn’t sleeping with the phone next to me. I knew it wasn’t for Jack because the person talking was going on and on – not the typical early AM call we sometimes get, “Jack, I do not need a ride today.” from Jack’s friend and co-worker who he rideshares with.
Instead it was my sister telling me there is a liver match for her. I was wide awake and afraid to get out of bed to listen to the message. I still haven’t listened to it. I got out of bed and called my sister back right away to hear it from her.
In the only way I know how to process my feelings in a stressful time in my life is to write about them. I started out with a list of my emotions and physical reactions:
Lack of appetite
Why are my feelings so negative when everyone who is replying to the news is so excited and happy?
Our family knew this was coming since she was a baby, now she is 40 years old, and the time has come! (Many children with Biliary Atresia have a liver transplant when they are still a child.)
Another family will have to suffer the loss of a loved one to help my sister live. I know, a precious gift of organ donation is priceless, incredible and unbelievable. A gift, I would not hesitate to give if my family was put in the same situation. I am sad that this has to happen to someone and someone else’s family. I am thankful people are organ donors and I will be eternally grateful to this one special family that saved my sister’s life.
The things I am doing today:
Sending positive vibes to my sister.
Wishing I was closer.
Hugging my sweet little girl who wants to hug me and wipe away all my tears while I cry today.
Drinking too much coffee.
And I may just clean my house, just like Emily would (AKA “the white tornado”).
With my birthday coming up I get frequent questions from my husband about what we could do for my birthday and is there anything special I want for my birthday? He is great, no guessing and all expectations are expressed. My wishes usually involve not having to cook dinner or a paddle or time alone in the sewing room. I don’t spend any money on myself, ever, unless it is around my birthday. That is when I may buy a yummy coffee from a coffee shop or new socks for myself or a yard of fabric I have admired (and only if I have a coupon). My life is simple and I am happy.
Last week when I was praying for my sister to make it through this, it occurred to me that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was for her to have a new liver. Tomorrow is my birthday.
It is 6:00 PM and Emily is headed for surgery now. Please help me pray for my sister and her doctors and for the grieving family.
An interesting resource: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/atresia/
Please pray for my sister. We have gotten word this morning that a match has been found.
A moment when everyone was getting along nicely!
Charlie is thrilled about his candy DNA he made in summer school. I had to take this photo for Aunt Danna who is studying Bio-Chemistry at UW-Madison.
Charlie celebrated his 9th birthday.
We biked to Big Falls this summer for the first time. Round trip was 16.5 miles.
We went to the Sweet Shoppe for some games and ice cream.
Charlie’s new hair cut – trim at the beauty solon.
Then a buzz cut from Papa:
This hen has always acted “broody” so I decided to give it a try to let her hatch some eggs. I expect chicks any day.
Nola Mae loves to come to the chicken coop with me. She has figured out how to climb so she can collect eggs.
My garden is doing well:
Garlic crop was a success. I am not sure how many pounds I grew this year.
I was able to recruit some helpers for the peeling and trimming jobs.
We got a lot of rain this month. I didn’t get out to the garden to pick my green beans for a few days. I was surprised with an 11.5 inch long green bean.
We found this cute frog in my purple cone flowers.
I have lots of corn in the freezer, about 120 cups.
I did some dyeing this month, check out my post Dye Projects – August.
These dyed items found new homes this month:
Granny visited us for Charlie’s birthday. Nola Mae put her glasses on.
Napping Nola Mae.
A common scene at our house.
I made a new soap this month:
Tea tree and lavender essential oils with ground Calendula flowers.
My very popular soap:
Orange and cinnamon, swirled this time.
Playing on the sinking canoe is always a lot of fun!
I made this wrap for someone, 100% linen, color is honeysuckle and beautiful!
I had to try it out!
I did a dye demonstration at the Norske Needlers’ Meeting.
I had the dye and supplies for them to do a Low Water Immersion dye in large yogurt containers.
At the quilt guild meeting I showed them how to start and ice dye with this shirt and two pieces of fabric. The two colors of dye I used was Dylon Flamingo Pink and Navy.
I had some leftover dye from the demo.
So I did this:
This was accordion folded and LWI in that bin above with the primary colors of fire red, daffodil and royal blue. I was horrified when the red was flowing across the whole thing. And then pleasantly surprised by the beautiful results.
The baby shirts are suppose to have a heart in the center – flopped!
This was the most surprising, the fabric on the left isn’t cotton, just the decorative thread is. So the thread is the only thing that took the dye. I was going to make matching skirts for me and Nola Mae. Making hers into a watermelon skirt. Some how the green that I used on the bottom wasn’t green.
I got all these shirts from a thrift store. They were having a $5 bag sale so I grabbed everything in the store that was white to dye!
I still have some dye left over and am waiting for more inspiration to put it to good use.
I have been thinking of doing a galaxy ice dye and finally just did it on this sheet and piece of fabric and
Happy Birthday, Charlie!
Charlie wanted to decorate his cake. It is a little hard for me to let this go since I love to decorate cakes.
I hope he had a fun birthday weekend. We invited Granny to come spend the day with us. I made his favorite meal for dinner. And he didn’t have to do any firewood until the day after his birthday.
I thought the best gift was an awesome flash light – inspired by Grandpa Bob’s collection of flash lights.
Charlie told me today that his best birthday gift was the Legos and the pillow.
This month started out pretty horrible. I had strep throat. Once I was feeling better, I hurt my back while pulling weeds in the garden. I literally spent over a week sleeping and lying around. I feel fortunate to have independent children, a hubby who is able to take a day of vacation anytime and a wonderful doctor friend who will see me in her office on her day off and again on the weekend. I wouldn’t have been able to get better as quickly without her! That week did a number on my brain too. I haven’t recovered from that lost week yet!
If you come to our house, Nola Mae will want to show you the big hole in the garden. There once was a large rock there.
This hole keeps her busy and entertained.
Another source of entertainment in our yard.
Waiting for fireworks.
Mr. Ernst baling his hay in our field.
Counting Mr. Ernst’s marshmallows.
I love this smile!
Our big boys went to North Dakota with Grandma, Grandpa, uncle and cousins.
When they called me from North Dakota they told me they could spend all summer there because they were having so much fun.
All four kids together after the big boys came back from their trip to North Dakota.
Henry has this great friend, Micheala, who he sat next to in school, they played together, helped each other with projects and giggled a lot together. Micheala invited Henry to her birthday party at the pool. Every day we counted down the days until the day before the party. Henry helped me pick out the fabric for this bag to give to her, because she LOVES pink!
The weekend came…Eddie came to help Jack cut down the huge oak tree that was leaning towards the house.
Helen counted about 120 to 130 years for the age of the tree.
Jack and Eddie did a fabulous job dropping the tree away from the house and garage. Jack put his chain saw in a “safe” place. The tree landed perfectly on our wood pile and did not damage the chainsaw!
The video on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202381381878986&set=vb.1326037913&type=3&theater
We have an awesome firewood pile. Charlie thinks we won’t have to make firewood for a couple more years. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we make firewood for future years, not the coming winter. This wood is what we will burn, not this winter, next winter (2015-16) and hopefully some will be left for the following winter (2016-17).
The weekend was over…On Sunday night, after reading our bedtime story, Henry asked me again, “How many days until Micheala’s party?” At that moment I realized we missed the party, it was yesterday. The poor boy cried himself to sleep. I called the mom and made an ice cream date with Micheala. We picked her up and while we were in the car Henry had a whoopee cushion and kept blowing it up and squashing it. They were giggling so hard it just melted my heart to see them having such a great time. While at the ice cream shop they talked and talked while just sitting on the riding toys.
Fifty-five pounds of blush and bing cherries ($1.66/pound). We ate almost all of them except for a quart size bag of them went into the freezer.
Five days later, eighty pounds of blueberries arrived. I paid $2.25/pound. The kids were slacking this year and only ate about fifteen pounds before we made one pie and froze the rest.
There are wonderful times in my life when all four kids will play nicely together, not often, but it does happen. They went down the path to the edge of the field and played for a very long time. I can’t remember how long but long enough for me to keep wondering “What in the world are they doing?” Finally, this is what I saw coming up the hill.
And then something like this happens…Henry and I picked raspberries one hot afternoon. While we picked Henry and Nola Mae weren’t getting along. They were mostly fighting about who would get my next handful. I sent Nola Mae to a shady part to eat her raspberries. Henry was still kind of mad at her so he said, “Nola Mae I hope you eat ALL your raspberries! And then you poop, raspberry poop, on your head!”
Our lotion girl: Thankfully this mess was outside.
My sewing projects:
I made this wet bag for a friend who uses cloth diapers.
And this Didymos Winter Lillies wrap was made into a ring sling for another friend.
I dyed this in June and sewed it into a ring sling this month.
and this one.
My first minecraft creeper inspired pillowcase.
My dyeing projects:
Charlie designed the glue resist on this cloth to cover his desk. He wanted rainbow colors, which I used to ice dye it, but it doesn’t look very rainbow-ish to me. When he saw it for the first time he said, “Awesome!” I was holding my breath because it didn’t turn out like I expected.
I made this ring sling for a friend who loved the ring sling I made last month in the same colors. This one turned out a little darker and just as beautiful. We traded this ring sling for a new bike for Robbie.
Robbie with his new bike. I think we got the better end of the deal!
This is a picture of “testing my patience”. I have learned that dyeing stuff takes a lot of patience. All of those items in the bags first sat under ice for over 24 hours, then I gently put them into these plastic bags for 12 hours.
Then they needed rinsing with the hose, and then rinsed in the washer for many rinse cycles.
Once I dried everything in the dryer I hung them on the line to get a good look!
This was a white sheet that I will make into a quilt for Robbie.
This was a white table-cloth.
We have a trombone player! He is very happy to be done playing the piano.
I have had this sign on my fridge for many months. I was reminded this month how very important this is for everyone to follow (adults and children)! I hope you follow this advice too.
June was a productive month for me. I am happy with the amount of things we did and the things I accomplished since it was our first month of summer vacation. Things are getting easier for me with four children, because I remember past years in June I spent the month adjusting to summer vacation and me feeling very frazzled.
I did a lot of dyeing this month, check out my post about those projects here.
A friend asked me to make her daughter a rainbow skirt for her birthday. Her favorite color is pink so I reversed the rainbow and put the pink on the bottom so it is more visible and because I can never make the same thing twice. I always have to mix things up!
Spiderman was in the house when I needed a model and
he was pretty good at twirling around.
I had helpers planting my hanging baskets and flower pots. I am usually picky about what color flowers go together and how many get planted in certain pots. Not this time. Lately, I have challenged myself to “let go” of the middle steps and be happy with the finish product – planted flowers.
I got my garden planted this month. And my garlic is looking awesome!
Since I am so late at getting this post done I am able to include a comparison picture of the garden a little over a month later.
Jack had some company while he changed the oil in his car.
Henry had his 4K graduation. I also wrote a blog about these awesome socks Henry is wearing. (Click here to read that)
Last day of school, June 2014.
Our strawberry patch was going strong this year. I didn’t have much time to pick them all when they were ripe. So I often sent kids outside to “eat as many strawberries as you can!”
Nola Mae playing in her kitchen. The hole for the sink (was a plastic bowl) is a common place for her body. She usually goes from standing on the stove, to standing on the narrow shelf, back to the stove and then into the sink area.
Aunt Susie came over and switched up our dinner table seating arrangements. Henry worked it out so he and Nola Mae could share the piano bench. And they were pretty cute together!
My sister, Becca, is training for the Madison Ironman this year. She is amazing! My Mom, our sister Danna and I went to cheer Becca on at the High Cliff Half Ironman race that she participated in this month. All I can say is “WOW!”
Our cousins came to visit with us for a couple of days. I had a wonderful time with a house full of children, seven kids – 10 years old to two years old. Although I had to share my time with Jessie and seven kids, it seemed much easier to visit with her than it is when we are at a family gathering of 50 people.
Our youngest babies together. These two littlest cousins got along amazingly well for being two-year olds.
Our oldest babies together. Some how our middle children got missed, isn’t that what always happens?
We spent a few days at Granny’s while our cousins (Andrew & Libby) and Aunt Karen from the West were visiting. Our visit happened to overlap on my Mom’s birthday. When I announced my plans to the kids that I was going into the sewing room to make Granny’s birthday present Henry followed me down to the sewing room with his own idea. He asked me what Granny’s favorite color was and I said blue. He gathered scraps of fabric, cut pieces out and told me his design – to make Granny’s house. I serged edges and he sewed the roof, windows and the door on. This was the first time he has sewn something on my machine.
This is what I made for my Mom from one of my dyed projects.
You never know what you will find on the farm. Henry happened to wander into the corn field and found hundreds of little frogs hopping around.
He took a handful back to the house to show Granny.
I had a blast this weekend. Visiting with family, watching and playing soccer. We have our own CrossFit coach in the family, so we did a WOD (I don’t have a photo of that).
The littlest goalies.
We ended our time with cousins at Diamond Lake.
Four days after leaving Granny’s I took the two big boys to Grandma Helen’s to spend four days with the Vater cousins in North Dakota.
I didn’t realize this month was full of extended family stuff until I put this post together. What a great month!