Category Archives: Family Logistics

Twin Cities Book Festival and Filfillah

I am beginning to rediscover my first love. As some of you may have noticed we are taking a sabbatical next year from our CSA vegetables. This is due in part to a desire on my part to focus on my writing. I continue to finalize the details of my book Home School Farm which will hopefully be available as an ebook the beginning of November. My work as a writer and author has really rekindled my first love–books. As a child I never was without a good book to read. But as a busy mother and farmer finding time to read was difficult to say the least. Over the years a void began to develop.

I haven’t ever stopped writing. I have written for the Hmong Times since before I was married. I have also recently added a couple area newspapers, then of course there is my book. But I really wanted to branch out and pursue writing more. So this weekend found me at

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It was such a joy to see what books are new, what some of my favorite publishers are working on now, and seeing how some how some literary journals that were fledglings when I started writing like Mizna are doing now. I remember this journal was just coming out when I was in college and I thought my life would go completely differently. Now things are coming full circle except I have alot more life experience under my belt.

The highlight of the day for me was meeting Krista Tippett. She hosts a national radio show, On Being, that explores, “the question of meaning.” She has also written a book entitled Becoming Wise that explores some of her most prominent questions from her many interviews. I have barely started reading it and I am hooked.

I also picked up a copy of Beth Dooley’s In Winter’s Kitchen. I can’t get too far away from my love of good local food and aparently neither can Dooley. I can hardly what to get started with this one.

I also picked up some copies of literary journals I would like to submit to and stopped by many publishers booths for future references.

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Some of the books and journals I picked up.

After the festival I was able to meet up with Proeun who also had a class that day for a date–sans children. This was our first date in years! So much fun to discuss all the cool things we learned and be able to eat at our own pace rather then rushing through a meal before the children finished and got antsy. We stopped at Filfillah. It has Mediterranean food and was absolutely delicious. We got a sampler platter of appetizers that had hummus, falafel (the best I have ever eater!), feta cheese and more. Then we ordered their sampler grilled platter of kebabs and chopped meats over saffron rice. I highly recommend them!

It was such a great rejuvenating day!

Midsummer News

I have often said that the summer is so fleeting it seems that by the 4th of July the summer is virtually over. So this year we are really trying to hang on and enjoy as much as possible. But I wanted to spend some time sharing with you what is going on around our farm. First off we are having a bumper crop of basil! Silly news I know but we are having fun figuring out new ways to cook with basil.

2nd our helpers are getting bigger and having more fun around the farm.

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Pray was our first child born on the farm. He is definitely a farm boy and he knows how it works to! Here he puts on my work gloves and heads to the barn. Notice the not matching boots. Nothing else matters when it is chore time.

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He loves the animals and it appears that Donkey is his favorite. Funny how Donkey seems to know to be extra careful with his little friend. And I dare say Donkey loves the attention (yes his name is Donkey).

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We also have decided that since building a farm (and life in general) is a marathon we should take breaks when we can. For the children the simple act of going to the north shore (of Lake Superior) and throwing rocks is enough to reset them. Here we are at Tettegouche State Park. We hadn’t been there since we only had one child, so it was a fun and memorable outing.

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More rock throwing.

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Then we went to canal park in Duluth to rent a bicycle for a family bike trip. Loads of laughs there, but mommy and daddy’s legs were definitely burning when we were down. Oh and we actually got to see a ship come into the harbor. Mr. Pray is all about anything mechanical and big, so he was pretty impressed.

This week is the county fair so even more fun is around the corner and I will try to update you on that. But until then enjoy your summer!

 

 

Science Class

Oh we do have a bustling household. With 6 children it seems like there is always plenty to do. Now the older ones are starting to develop their own interests and school in becoming more involved. Sometimes at the beginning of the week I look over my schedule and think how things have changed from the days of 2 or 3 little ones content to be home all day. Those days it was mommy who felt the need to be out and about.

Our last birth was this January. I was so thankful that the cold and snow encouraged everyone to a more laid back pace and for many weeks it was nice just to be home. But now it is time to get back to our regular schedule. Including stepping up on school, homeschool coop and science class. We are blessed with a church that is very supportive of homeschool and that offer some supplemental classes.

This year the children have really been enjoying a science offered by local naturalist and author, Julie Von Vett. We took some time off over the new year but now we are back. Recently the children were able to dissect sea stars (star fish for all you ancients like me).

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Lessons from Lith

I have not been very active on the blog this year. Some of you may have figured out the reason–we have been preparing for a new addition to the farm, a new human addition. And for some reason this time around it just all seemed like such a rush. I was desperate to figure out systems and get things set up around the farm to make our work easier before baby number 6 arrived. I hadn’t realized what a frenzy of anxiety I had worked myself into until she was born this last month. There was the initial craziness of mom in the hospital (we decided against a homebirth this time) and dad and children trying to take care of everything around the farm. Then we came home to a wonderful welcome home party, clean house and children all anxious to hold their new sibling. But the initial craziness soon subsided and we found a routine and since it is winter a bit slower pace.

I found a new rhythm and stride and a weight lifted off my shoulders. Normally I love being pregnant but this time around not so much. Now I am free to enjoy our newborn and feeling much healthier then I have before. Hopefully that will translate to more energy for writing and farming as the new season approaches.

But I have discovered that each child gives me valuable insights and lessons as I grow to become the person I was meant to be. This child is no different. Whereas my first child started me on this journey and that I should expect the unexpected, my 2nd child taught me how much work I had to do on character and that for sure if you have a character flaw your child will get it.  My 3rd child taught me the beauty of life and letting go my ideas of the perfect sized family, my fourth taught me what a blessing health is and that it should be guarded. My 5th and 1st child born in our new life on the farm challenged me to set up ways to make work easier and this last child has taught me how futile worry is.

Last year was not a particularly good year for us. The wacky weather continued and seemed worse than usual. The CSA market was flooded and our membership was way down, so we had to look for other income streams and could not hire help like we had previously and I was pregnant, worried about how we would continue, my health, the baby’s health and a multitude of other things. I worried about having a homebirth, then I worried about having a hospital birth. There really wasn’t much I didn’t worry about, but in the end I have a beautiful perfect baby in my arms and both our health is preserved and the Lord provided through last year. Surely I didn’t need to worry. Now I am relaxing in a feeling of contentment. I am still planning and dreaming, but trying to let go if things do not go as planned. I am thankful for Lith and the lessons she has brought as I am thankful for all the other children. I am so thankful for this life, though it is hard at times. Many of the choices we have made are not the popular choice, but they are ours and we continue to grow as individuals and a family.

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Happy Memorial Day–Enjoy summer

When we first moved to the country I never wanted to leave the property and that was fine for awhile. But even farmer’s need to take a break and step back and reset. I find for me the best way to do that is the wilderness. I am blessed to have a family property I can retreat to, but even with having a place available I hadn’t been there since we moved. Finally this weekend I was able to get away and it was like heaven. I have to say being out there away from life’s pressures, enjoying nature, I just feel more myself and more able to enjoy life and family.

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My children took the weekend’s opportunity to enjoy trying out the camera. Two and Mavis especially enjoyed this with Two saying he wanted to be a photographer. Here is a portrait he took of Effie.

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Mommy t-rexxy by Mavis.

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Pray Grant by Two.

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I love just going for walks with the children.

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One thing I really want to learn is how to identify the things of nature–plants, trees, birds, bird calls, etc. Here is a plant I discovered on this camping trip. I believe it is a marsh marigold.

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It wasn’t all fun and games. The gentlemen worked to put up an outhouse.

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Finished outhouse by Mavis.

So work, play, relax, love, enjoy and reset that was the name of the game this weekend. Honestly it was so needed. I hope you are taking time regularly to recharge and reset. What things do you like to do?

Home Organization continues

I visited a friend of mine this week. She has a home just a little bigger then ours and manages to make it work with 6 children (soon to be 7). I was interested in seeing how she organizes her home. Between this visit and continued reading in Large Family Logistics I am getting all sorts of ideas for our home and things are going so well.

The key is areas and places designated for everything. “A place for everything and everything in its place.” So now as I type in my little corner of the living/dining room this is what my area looks like.

No more piles of papers on the printer or around the desk. So much nicer. Here are a couple tips from this week’s work.

* Shelves are wonderful. They are a great and easy way to utilize wall space. It has done wonders for our computer area, entryway and children’s bedroom.

* Sorting toys by type of play. Example, I gathered all those fun and silly clothes and put them in a bin under the children’s bunk beds. Now it’s a dress up box.

* If an area isn’t working the way it was intended change it. Our playroom is in the basement, but in actuality it had become a dumping ground for toys. Today the task is to box those up and use the mats as kind of big kids playground. Proeun studies martial arts in his “free time” and this weekend lessons will begin for the older children and cousins.

* Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get rid of things. That leather jacket I never wear, those high heels that just don’t work for chasing children, that shirt that forever wrinkles, and those clothes I am waiting to fit into again. This weekend I am taking 2 big garage bags full of clothes to the Alley shop, a local church runs a thrift store out of their alley that provides professional clothes for low income women and more.

More next week.

Household Organization–entryway

This January my focus is on decluttering and beautifying though often I find decluttering itself does much to beautify. After a very busy season of farming, followed by bedrest, a new baby and sickness my house is really needing some revamping. Plus the children are older, have different needs and we added one. My first area of focus was the entryway. I was reading in Large Family Logistics how the entryway is the first impression of the house and thus your life so special attention should be paid to this area.

So we added a coat rack for coats and one for sweaters. A shoe rack and a shelf with boxes for hats and gloves. The racks hold 5 hooks so it can hold the accoutrements of one more child.

So now you can walk in the house without tripping over coats and shoes and the best part is the children know how to hang up their own cotas and sweaters and where to put their shoes.

Next on the list of goals is the computer area and filing system for all our paperwork.

Dance of Coats

Overnight we have been plunged into winter. Yesterday was my first prenatal since becoming overdue and rumor has it that the large winter storm that came through last night and is still lingering today will effect the barometric pressure so much that all the babies due within a couple weeks will be born before Halloween. I can only hope.

When I woke-up this morning I knew I simply had to get out of the house so I was off to Peapods to pick up a late birthday present for Mavis. We still haven’t celebrated her recent milestone of 2 so I felt like I better prepare. Soon the baby will come and soon things will go back to “normal,” at least I will be able to bend over again–an essential skill as any mom knows.

Except I realized that we are not a normal family. With the coming of really cold weather comes a host of logistical problems. I remember how relieved I was last year when the weather finally got warm enough to do away with coats and shoes became an option. it is oh so much easier getting children out ot the house when they can go as they are.

Two nights ago we were going to go for an evening walk. Coats and boots were required and I almost lost my mind trying to get everyone dressed, especially since some of these clothing items haven’t been used for over 4 month.

So today my task is to evaluate coats, mittens, hats, boots, scarves, snow pants and all those good things and see what is missing from our family inventory.

At Peapods I found these great tools for keeping mittens attached to coats. They had 3 (2 “girl” colors and 1 “boy”) so it seemed perfect.

Coats and mittens are now secure. Two has boots but no snow pants. We have 1 pair of boots that is tight on Avril but too big for Mavis. The girls both have snow pants and we have plenty of hats and scarves.

Now the question is how do we store these extra items in a way that is neat and tidy but encourages the children to get dressed by themselves, and prehaps more importantly clean up after themselves? I am really regretting not getting that coat rack I saw at Ikea a couple months ago, but back then it was warm and didn’t seem a priority.

I ordered a new book from Vision Forum called Large Family Logistics. Just as the weather changed overnight, almost overnight I realized we are on the verge of being a “large family.” In any case I definitely need help with logistics. Coats are just the tip of the iceberg. But for now the plan is to keep the 3 everyday coats in the front hall closet and all the snow pants and extras in the children’s closet in their room. Hopefully in a semi organized way. Shoes I haven’t figured out quite yet, maybe something like this with bins for each child to keep their shoes in. I don’t know.

Proeun says we are simply outgrowing our house, which I think just means we need more organizing. I started with the coats.