It's been a while

This is definitely the longest "break" I have ever had from blogging.  
The neglect wasn't planned or even anticipated but somehow it just happened.   

The more time that goes by the less this little corner of cyber space seems  like any sort of a priority.  Writing for the sake of writing starts to feel like a luxury I can't afford.  

It ends up at the bottom of the list...the to-do list that I never quite get to the bottom of.  Far below the mountain of laundry, the never ending meals that need to be made, the pulling a toddler out of the toilet, and every other little responsibility that keeps this family from sinking into filth and debauchery. 

My last post was about our foster daughters 1st birthday.   She is now a year an a half old and a delightful, spunky and very active toddler.  She has a mind of her own, knows what she wants, and is always on the move.  She keeps me hopping literally 24 hours a day (no, she does not sleep through the night).  I think this is part of my absence.  There is now a brief window of time...that glorious time of day called "nap time", that I have to accomplish many things that are hard to accomplish with my very eager little "helper".   

Today I'm using that golden moment in time for writing this.  It feels very delectable and extravagant. Like sneaking a chunk of dark chocolate into my bedroom and eating it alone while kids whine outside the locked door. 

I now have about 5 minutes before the school busses arrive and the rest of the crew descends with their stacks of papers, backpacks, lunch bags, homework and noise.  

So...this post may take a few days.  Or weeks.

This is a quick recap of the last several months.   The main reason I blog is to keep a running journal of our family life.  I have begun printing out different years of my blog into hard copy blog books. Someday I like to imagine my grandkids or great grandkids flipping though the pages of these thoughts and photos.  I think it would be cool to have something like that from my own childhood or from the lives of my great grandparents.  Plus I enjoy it.  I forget how much I enjoy writing until I sit back down at the keyboard to do it.  My constant blabbering about stuff on Facebook really only lets the steam off the top of the kettle.  

First an update on this sweet girl.
She is still with us.  That is not something we take for granted even for a day.

Our journey with her has been a wilder ride than I anticipated.  It has been more of an emotional  roller coaster than any child we have had in our care.  She has been scheduled to leave our home twice.  The first I wrote about a year ago and the most recent being just this fall.  Both placement plans fell through.  It's hard to even describe the extreme emotional lows and highs involved in that.  The constant uncertainty has taken it's toll in many ways, but getting to be a part of her life is worth every minute of stress.  
She's worth the extra worry lines, grey hairs and ulcer.  
She's not doing this hard story alone. 
This hard story is also amazingly beautiful and it's an immense privilege to be a part of.

She is so very loved.

Onto the rest of the family.
Spring began with me doing this.

It was fun and I would totally do it again.  I had signed up for the "Dirty Donkey Run" (a 5k race filled with obstacles and mud) several months earlier in the dead of winter.  Some cousins of mine were forming a team and it sounded like good motivation to start running again.  What sounds like a good idea in January is a little scarier when you actually have to do it.  I had been running a bit but by the time the weekend rolled around I was in no mood to go anywhere or do anything.  We had just heard a couple days before the race that Annie would be leaving our family.  After over a year in our home that unexpected news hit like a freight train. In the days that followed simply breathing seemed like excessive and cruel work.  I was in a fog as I packed our trailer and we headed to a campground to join a group of my cousins and others on my team.  

I was surprised to discover that it was exactly what I needed.  A huge distraction.  Something just for me.  Something FUN.  I needed fun.  My life is a lot of things but "fun" isn't always on the menu. 

Summer brought with it plenty of time at the beach and lots of time in the garden.

Annie LOVED the beaches.  She was as happy as she could be playing in the sand and water all day.  A perfect place for a clever, curious, sensory stimulation seeking toddler to explore. 

We had a family reunion at my parents farm.  A highlight was the giant back yard slip and slide.

We went to family camp for a week.  The same camp we have gone to for several years. 

My nephew and sister in-law came up for a month.  A tradition we've carried on for 6 years in a row. 

I got my hair cut.  Short! 
It was time for a change.  Something to spruce me up a bit. 

My little garden helper.

Happy beach girl.

Our big kids did quite a few back yard campfires this summer.  The giant pile of dirt is from the hole where our new basement bedroom will be.  More on that later.

This kid turned 12. 

One of her favorite things about family camp. Icecream every day. 

My summer project.  It was bigger this year and produced a lot. 

The main thing we did this summer is tear apart our house.  

It's an old farm house that was moved into our little town a few owners ago.  
It really needed some major renovations.
We had put them off for too long already so this year we decided to go for it. 

As we tore in we discovered quite a lot of rot, and even some fire damage that we knew nothing about. Any doubts about splurging for the renos were quickly erased once we saw how bad the damaged areas were.  

Phase one: tear off existing siding, replace all the old windows, rebuild rotten parts of the wall, house wrap, insulate, put on new siding, shingle the roof.  

I guess step one would be go to the bank and re-mortage our house.  Thankfully we have quite a lot of equity after 13 years of living here. 

I'm also thankful that I have a very handy carpenter husband who is able to do the work himself.  We did hire out the roof job to save on time.  Summer is only so long here in SK. 

Having a construction zone inside my home was a bit of a challenge with a busy toddling baby. We survived phase one though. 

I kid you not.  Our house was only insulated with old sawdust and horse hair. Real 70 year horse hair was what was insulating the old wooden windows. Saw dust was our barrier from -40 degree Celsius Saskatchewan winter.  No wonder there was a windchill factor inside our home! I'm hoping that our heating bill appreciates the effort. 

This is how it looked after putting on the new roof, new windows and new insulation around the entire outside of the house.  I'm looking forward to a much less drafty house this winter. 

Phase 2 of the project is to build an addition onto the back of the house (also paint all the existing rooms and put window trim back on).  It will include a basement bedroom and a dining room above.  A dining room that will fit a table that fits our family! 
I'm super excited about that. 

My beautiful daughter turned 14.

This guy had his 9th birthday.

My biggest and littlest girls taking an afternoon nap after a few hours of picking tomatoes.

This fall all the munchkins started public school.  
I will write more about that at some later date.
I still love the ideal and philosophy of home based education.  I really liked, and even preferred, the curriculum options and the freedom it afforded us as a family.....but the trade off was my sanity and children' misery.  

There are pros and cons to both and we've always only ever been committed to do what we think will help our child best learn and thrive.  As kids grow and change their needs grow and change.  As our family grows and changes our collective needs change as well.  So here we are.  All the kids back in school with Cece attending Kindergarten half time (every other day). 

With Harvest, renos and bringing in the garden (including hundreds of lbs of tomatoes to can) ...and a very busy toddler, I haven't noticed a huge amount of "me time" opening up....but I'm hopeful that as winter settles in I can do some things that I've been putting off.  Maybe even writing on this little old blog more than twice a year. 

Now that I'm on the topic I may as well keep myself accountable. Here are a few winter goals....other than paint every room in our house.  

1) I want to make some more digital photo books.  I've been trying to get all our family trip photos into actual hard copy books.  A book for each new and old adventure.  I also need to do a baby album for Annie. I love the finished products but it's very time consuming. 

2) I want to work on my Spanish.  I bought a Rosetta Stone and need to commit a certain amount of time to studying.  I'm hopeful someday we will return to our friends in Mexico and I really need to improve my communication skills.  It's hard to find time without a million interruptions though.  

3) I need to go to the dentist.  That totally counts as me time.  I could also add "shower every day".....  Moms of little ones get it.  

4) Write more.  Because I enjoy it. 

Here are my Lovies growing up super fast.

They are all doing great at school and enjoying it.  They're happy.  I'm happy.  Most of the time I'm not feeling like a complete homeschool failure...or a completely inadequate mother.  We're cool.

The house with new windows, insulation and siding. 

Now we are working (and by "we" I mean my very talented husband) on phase II.  This is a large basement bedroom and a dining room.  It will make our living room and new dining room one large room with plenty of space for a big table.  Our current dining area is very tight.  It's just a little bigger than our small table (that doesn't fit all of us) and we push it up against the wall when we aren't using it.  I can't wait until we have a big old table with plenty of elbow room....and room for things like serving dishes.  That sounds super fancy. 

Harvest 2015 is over and the grain is in the bins.  Harvest went late this year and many of our friends have not yet finished.  We are thankful.

A family that threshes grain together stays together....right?

Our updated family photo.  With a certain little girl's face covered. 
You'll have to trust me when I say she's beautiful. 

With that I shall end this long post.  Hopefully we shall meet here again before next spring.

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