The End of a Season

We're finally done harvest! 
After nearly 2 months of crazy pace and absent husband harvest 2011 is over.
The grain is in the bins.
Whoop whoop

Doing farm work was a nice change of scenery from the every day grind at home.

I'm going to go crash now.  Goodnight.


The fields are ripe for harvest

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to sent out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves" Luke 10:2

 When Jesus  spoke to the masses people, when the letters that are recorded in the New Testament were written to the early churches, people were still connected to the land for their food and livelihood. 
They understood certain things about harvest.   In our urban culture it's easy to breeze over certain verses and turn them into quaint scriptural cliches missing the importance of the analogies.

As I sat in a combine, cutting down wheat today I thought about the Kingdom harvest that Jesus is referring to.   Growing up on a farm, being married to a farm hand, and being part of the annual harvest crew I've come to learn that there are a few things that define harvest season.  When I apply those  to the verse above I think it helps me understand more fully what Jesus saying.

The main trait of harvest is URGENCY.  Winter is on it's way.
Harvest has a window of opportunity that can be missed and lost.   There is a natural sense of urgency.  When the field is ready the workers don't leave on vacation, they don't sit around watching football, they don't have other priorities.  They work.  They labor until the last of the grain is safe from the coming frost.  Distraction, apathy, or laziness can result in entire fields of grain laying destroyed under feet of snow.  

Another understood aspect of Harvest is that everyone pitches in.  Harvest historically is a family affair.  Each member of the family or crew has a task, a job given according to their skills.  Some cut the grain, some thresh it, others provide the resources or funds, someone cares for the needs of the workers.  Everyone works together for a common purpose, a goal. 

While there is a diversity of labourers, and a variety of work being done, it is all done for one uniting purpose.  

Anyone who has worked on a farm crew knows that all work is not forward movement.  Work done in the wrong way, with the wrong methods, with wrong motives will cause more damage than good.  
Breakdowns will disable progress.  Burnouts can cause irreparable injuries.  Crops can be mowed over carelessly and left laying in the dirt.  

I've noticed that the most effective labourers are humble, careful, and have a genuine vested interest in the outcome.  It doesn't take a lot of training or experience to run a combine but it does take attentiveness and a willingness to learn.  Some tasks need someone with a lot of skill and experience, some jobs just need someone with a willingness to get their hands dirty.  The same thing can be said about Kingdom Harvest.

A humble farmer knows that he is not the one who calls the rain clouds, or harnesses the power of the hail, or makes the sun shine.  He is powerless to germinate a seed, or send roots down deep.  The Lord of the Harvest does those things, the farmer is responsible for stewarding that drop, and carefully nurturing it to maturity, 
to Harvest season. 

Jesus commands his followers to get off their lazy boy recliners and put on their work boots.  He calls us to persevere and to sacrifice.  We need to work together as a community of brothers and sisters that have a common purpose.  
Love a lost world to Jesus.  
Receive grace, live in it, and pour it out around us.


Summertime the sequel

Just when we thought summer was over for good, we had a weekend of 30 degree Celcius weather!  Incredible considering some years we have snow by now.
The Hubster had a weekend away from harvest {because of an earlier rain} so off to the lake we went.
We quickly packed up the trailer and drove to a campground about an hour and a half from our house.
We really enjoy fall camping but it isn't usually this hot!  The campgrounds are quiet, most of the misquitos already froze to death, and the Autumn leaves are gorgeous.  

The lake was cold!

The kids didn't seem to mind.   

They had a fun afternoon at the beach...
maybe a little too much fun.

Resulting in a few "time-outs".  A feeble effort to bring the gratuitous amount of crazed energy and social 
un-awarness back to acceptable levels.  
We finished the day with our classic camping meal.

The kids spent the rest of the evening at the playground and exploring around our campsite.

Sunday morning we all woke up a little grumpy, because somebody screamed for 3 hours during the night....
an angry, "this isn't my bed", "I want to go home right now" kind of hysteria.  
It was awesome.
After we attempted to wash the sand and camp filth off of our kids, and pack up the trailer (while trying to keep the kids from getting filthy all over again) we drove to church in the City.

Afterwards we met some friends for a picnic at the river.
Day two of beach fun!

This time we went to a secluded top secret location that involved a short drive and a 10 minute hike through marsh and brush.  It was worth the trek though.  We had a huge sand bar all to ourselves.
Which is a good thing because I forgot Cece's swimsuit in the car (on the other side of the brush and marsh).

 Our friends treated us to a yummy picnic lunch.   

We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up our last rays of Vitaman D while we watched our river children dominate the sand bar.

Tomorrow, instead of cleaning out the trailer and washing all our filthy wet clothes, I'll be putting on my farmer hat back on and running the combine 
(with hopes that the cleaning fairies will do the house work while I'm gone). 
  I think the end of Harvest 2011 is in sight!
I'm not nearly as excited to see the end of summer though.  We had a great one and I have the pictures to prove it!


This week kicked my butt

 It had the same effect on my garden.

Although my garden resembles a bit how I feel , it's state of being mostly dead was brought on by a sudden change in temperature.   Last Sunday we had a 30 degree Celsius (86 F) hot summer day a couple days later we reached -8 (17.6 F).  My garden didn't like it so much.  I'm not that thrilled with the climate change either.  

However, my own state of mostly dead was brought on by these hooligans...and a mischievous 18 month old. 
It's my own fault really.
I tried to take them from this... 

to this.  Cold turkey.

{yes her hair always looks like that}

I was prepared.  I had been reading about educational philosophies, methods, and strategies.  I had wonderful plans, schedules, and ambition for our first full week of educating my kidlets.

 I'm pleased to report that it all went perfectly as planned, the children were eager to do their morning chores, and they studied with intensity from their new school books...
for the first 10 minutes.
It went great.

Then the 1 year old grabbed all the pencils, snuck off with the markers, chewed up the eraser, dumped out the flashcards, and turned a library book into her sketch pad.

My pre-schooler eagerly practiced his letters 
until he began a farting noise competition.
Aili won.

I bet you didn't know that kids could eat breakfast at 8 am ...
and then be STARVING at 9am
about 2 minutes after picking up their pencils.  

5 days
have never felt so long.
I may not survive.
Next year I'm adding a large bottle of of wine and a long straw to my first week of school survival supply list.

Maybe it would be better to ease back into incorporating curriculum/ book work into our day rather than to jump in with all 10 feet.  

I must remember for next year that the first week is going to suck and not to even bother with my white board until after harvest.   

I think if we didn't have such extreme weather I would prefer to reconfigure our home learning year into 3 months on, 1 month off.  That way we get breaks more regularly and none of them are long enough to completely forget everything.  We may work towards something more like that in the future. 
 Flexibility is a perk.

I hate how I'm already battling the insecurity, doubts, guilt, fear, and inadequacy that seems to come with  outside the box motherhood...or motherhood in general  There are moments when I am confident we'll get our act together, and I see so much value in our family integrated education.  Then there are moments when I want to drop them off  boarding school and drive far far away.  
This week I said at least three times "Knock it off, and get to work, or I'm putting you back in regular school!"

Knocking the dust off these summertime brains has been harder than I anticipated, I think it's been more like sanding off rust.  

This harvest season is getting old.  My husband is burnt out from working long hard hours in the field.
I'm burnt out from parenting long hard hours at home. 
We're getting less sleep.
 Tempers are short.  
Exhaustion is setting in.  
On the bright side we've got a long winter to look forward to.

Thank God it's Friday..and next week is a fresh start.


Farm Hand

Last week was the first official week of "School" for our household but my best intentions for setting some sort of routine/ schedule and dusting the cobwebs off of little brains was interrupted by recruitment.  

I was drafted onto the harvest crew part way through the week.   My work load consisted of 4 , 10 (ish) hour days sitting on my rear end, in total isolation, listening to hours and hours of podcasts of all my favorite speakers and music.  It was rough.  Not a child to be seen.  No laundry to put away.  No screeching toddler...just the comforting rubble of the combine.   

10 hour days are nothing during harvest.  The rest of the crew worked about 100 hours in 6 days.  I begrudgingly clocked out early to relieve the grandma babysitter and go home to put kids to bed. 

The She-rah in the picture above is my little brother's wife who came out to join the crew.  She has definitely earned the new title of farm girl. 

Other than my sister in law our little crew consists of my Dad (the boss man with the wrench) and my handsome Hubster. 

That smile and point translates to "Your combine is ready, put away the camera and get to work!" 

This week I'm back to family life as usual.  The school books have been dusted off, the library has been visited, and a weeks worth of laundry beckons. I've resumed peeing indoors.  

The rest of the crew continues to work long days in the fields.   
 Last week we had perfect, hot, dry, sweaty, dusty, harvest weather.  As of last night, cool, damp, autumn air has moved in and  serves as a reminder that winter looms right around the corner.  *shudder*

My mom, while also caring for my four kids,  fed our crew a hot meal in the field each day.  A harvest tradition that my kids look forward to each year.   We snuggled up to the semi truck to find shade while we ate.   It was a crazy hot day.

Our newest little farm girl.  Miss Cece thought eating in the dirt and watching the big trucks and tractors was great fun.

A few more years and we'll have another field hand.  He rode along with me for a few hours and was eager to learn to run a combine.   I really love that our kids are able to spend time working with their dad during the day.  They look forward to that one on one time with him.  I'm thankful that we're not split up into different locations, living completely separate lives only to converge momentarily at the end of each day.  We do life together.
Even if that life looks a little odd at times :)


Celebrating a Decade with my Daughter

This week was my oldest child's 10th birthday.
We are into double digits now!
It's crazy to think what another 10 years will bring...
oh, I shouldn't have gone there.  
In another 10 years this girl will be all grown up, and making her way in the world. 
Where did the years go? Seriously. 

She invited a few friends (the same ones that have been coming since her 2nd Birthday party)  for a sleepover.  We had a 1950's / rock 'n roll / sock hop party theme.  It was a bit of history education as well since not one of them even knew who Elvis was. 

Roman skipped the giggle fest and spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa's. Little bro stuck around and even allowed me to grease back his hair.  He refused to wear the white t-shirt that I picked out for him though.  It wasn't as cool as the shirt with the robot.  

It's nice to see his eyes again!  I may have to get this bad boy a hair cut.

He didn't seem to mind being out numbered 5 to 1.  

We did  Diner style food.  Easy peasy

One party game included a slightly scandalous version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  They played Kiss the Lipstick on Elvis while being serenaded by "Jail House Rock".  The one who made it closest to the lips won.   Of course they all danced and hula-hooped to some old school rock 'n roll.  

My ears are still ringing with the sound of giggling, shrieking, and singing.  My house smells like a strange mix of lip gloss and arm pits.  
10 year olds are are a fascinating bunch.  It is such an in-between age.  Not quite princess dresses and baby dolls....but not yet make-up and drivers licenses.  A brief moment in the balance between girl and woman.  A glimpse of the years to come while still familiar with the years that have passed.  

I've been a parent for one whole decade!
I feel so blessed.  It seems impossible that this many years have passed since I held my wide eyed, healthy baby girl in my arms.  I will never forget how it felt to leave the hospital with a baby.  Terrifying and victoriously exhilarating all at the same time.  

I am so proud of you Aili.  You are radiant.  Your enthusiasm, beauty, and heart light up our home.