If only they'd invented scratch-n-sniff Internet...

Fresh flowers placed in a room have been proven to have a positive effect on mood and mental ability.

I wait all year for lilacs and their heavenly scent to fill my home and I put them everywhere from the kitchen table to everyone's nightstands.
Half-eaten cecropia moth.
...or be eaten world.

Found this poor guy down by our pond. Not sure what ate its body and part of its wing, but it won't last much longer. That's nature -- both beautiful and brutal.

This is my 3-yr-old. 

With his warrior heart, silly storytelling, and impossibly large brown eyes, he is a source of daily joy to me. Daily joy and daily frustration.

Today he earned his first trip to the Emergency Room, which turned out to be my first close-up experience with stitches.

Three of them. 
One for each year of his life. 

He was a trooper, though, as they say. We're still not sure exactly how it happened. One minute he was sauntering into Gramma's shed, the next he was stepping into the sunlight and screaming, blood running down his face and soaking into his favorite Texas truck shirt.
He says he tripped over the pedal tractor and bumped his head. The ER nurse said it best when she asked him if it was a John Deere pedal tractor and upon hearing the whispered confirmation, stated, "well, it was worth it then!"

They asked me to hold his feet down during the stitching and it was the second time I assisted in holding down a boy in the ER and again I noticed primarily the smell. 

If I do say so myself, my son and I were BOTH troopers today.

His dad promised him ice cream for being so brave. I got some too.

This is the same three-year-old that sneaks out of his bed every single night with an impish grin and says he needs to go potty. This is the same three-year-old that I respond to every night with, "Hurry up! I'm so tired of this every night! You're going to get yourself a spanking!" and the fact that I've never followed through on the threat probably renders the genuine anger fairly useless.

Tonight he tiptoed into the bathroom where I was brushing my teeth and had the same impish grin on his face. 

My tone tonight was kind. Loving. Patient. 

I sent him back to bed with two hugs and several kisses. The impish smile remained.

And so did the lingering thought in my mind: why was I so willing to be patient and kind tonight? Obviously because he had a rough afternoon.
But what if he had, God forbid it!,  a chronic illness? Cancer even. 

I'm guessing my tone would always be softer. More sympathetic.  My mind would be more attuned to the eternal.

But he does have a chronic illness. We ALL do. Each of us is born with the chronic illness of sin on our body and soul. Why do I forget this each night? The best cure for sin is the love of Jesus Christ. So why do I forget to administer this medicine each moment of my days with my children? 

Instead of yelling and being frustrated and tired from long days of mothering, I promise to now take a deep breath and remember how tenderly us parents care for our wounded babies. Then remember that not all wounds are physical or visible. We must treat each moment as the precious gift that it is.
The good life is not just good. It is indescribably awesome. I thank God every day for the blessing of such a wonderful simplicity.
The kids found a Killdeer out in the equipment yard.
Can you find her?
Here she is, trying to convince me that she has a broken wing and trying to lure me (and the cat) away from her ground nest.
And meanwhile, her unguarded eggs are nearly as camouflaged as she is!
See 'em?
What an awesome way to see nature close up and explain it to the kids!
This is my new-to-me chicken barn getting loaded up at its old home:
And here it is pulling into my yard! (It's the 2nd building. I also got a matching multi-stall garage for extra storage.)
It's not in its final place yet, but it will be soon. Until then, my chickies and ducklings will be housed in my old chicken barn, which I will be using as a turkey barn in the future.
What better way to dream away winter blues and cheer on spring than to get some of your flowers and veggies started indoors? Buying packets of seeds is a lot more economical than waiting until it's warm out and buying plants from a greenhouse. You can also get a much better selection from seed catalogs rather than having to take whatever the local chain store has on sale.

We started our seeds in April this year, but started collecting the containers much earlier: January. We've been saving up eggshells for a few months in anticipation of spring.

First we had to fill up the eggshells with seed starting soil:

Then we put them in the greenhouse to settle and warm the soil. (Okay, that's a big fat lie. We put them in there because we ran out of time to plant and because I wanted to do the majority of the planting with no kidlets around distracting me!)
Prairie Sue got to plant her own carton. She chose three kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, and three kinds of sunflowers to start in her eggshells. (Yes, a couple of weeks lapsed between the two pictures. She got a haircut in between!)

And here they are, a few weeks later, sprouting out and looking promising...
I ended up having Easter at my house this year, which is wonderful to me. Neil and I really enjoy hosting and having a chance to practice and improve our hospitality. I didn't find out I was doing Easter until a couple of weeks before. That may sound like a lot of time, but I'm fairly slow to process ideas and make very infrequent trips into town for necessary supplies. I had a turquoise-and-green-and-daisies theme in my head, but there was very little to support this idea -- and what was available was ridiculously expensive. (I must be getting old. Prices seem so astronomical for everything. When you know the retail markup on some things, it's difficult to justify buying it. A tiny single-stem daisy on sale for $1? Sounds okay until you add up how many dollars you'd have to spend total and you're already up to $25 for a couple dozen...)

I decided to just do "Easter" colors (a.k.a. "pastels") with a general springtime theme. My tablescape is usually the center of my decor, so I started there. I couldn't find (nor did I want to pay for) any pastel plate chargers, so I borrowed some lime green and orange ones. I used my plain white Corel plates  and a lovely borrowed ivory brocade tablecloth. Our table was extended full-leaf to accommodate 12 guests, so I didn't have a choice on tablecloth! It's difficult to find any that will fit tables over 100".

The most work-intensive part was the individual vases. For those, I spray-painted empty root beer bottles in pastel colors and filled them with some fresh cut daisy-like mums and white tulips. For a final touch, I tied some scrap ribbons I had in my craft box around the neck of each bottle. I then used pastel M&M's as table "confetti" (doubles as an appetizer, as Neil pointed out!) and called it good.

I really enjoyed last year's theme, which was turquoise blue with birds and nests, much better. But this was nice. Maybe next year they'll let me host again and I'll get another chance. Easter is early next year (March 31st). I can start planning now...
This might not look like the face of trouble, but last night my baby discovered an easy method for getting himself out of his crib.


He was out at least two dozen times before I got wise and traded out his mattress with a relatively flat playpen pad. That stopped him, but we had to switch it back before Neil and I went to bed because I didn't want him sleeping on that thing all night.

I worry about him escaping his crib and going out one of the exterior doors of the house, or just doing his favorite thing: turning on the faucet in the bathroom. This might be my fourth child, but this is the first one to give me this kind of issue. The others were all 2 1/2 before they had the freedom to come and go as they chose.

Any suggestions are appreciated ;)