Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I almost didn’t send a Christmas card this year, chalking it up to too much time and expense anyway.  As the cards began showing up in our mailbox, however, I felt a pang of regret and decided to do something.  I usually order holiday cards from cardstore, scoring a sweet Black Friday deal or something, but this year it didn’t pan out.  I opted instead for cheap-o cards from WalMart.  I’m pleased enough with them, but wasn’t sent enough envelopes for all of the cards, so I had to use security envelopes which I already had on hand and those aren’t very festive.  Oh well, live and learn.

Those of you who visit me here or keep in touch with me regularly with already know most of these things, but I thought in lieu of sending a holiday update with my Christmas cards, I would share some highlights from the past year.

January – The New Year!  I love a fresh start.

February – The big kiddos went skiing for the first time at Yawgoo Valley Ski Area (right in our neck of the woods) with Grandpa and Uncle Paul!  Addy turned one!

March – We visited the Biomes center in N. Kingstown, fun for all seeing and learning about marine animals.

– We expanded our yard with fruit trees – can’t wait till they start producing! Our bees arrived and we put them in the beautiful beehives Phil made.  Easter egg hunt at Casey Farm.

– Continuing the tradition of the May Breakfast.  Much to the kiddos’ excitement,  it’s also the kickoff of our camping season. We visited the trails at the Audubon Society, where my mom used to bring me when I was younger.  Kiddos and I enjoyed storytime at West Kingston Baptist Church, the church we started attending earlier in the year.  Interesting fact: Phil grew up going to WKBC, so in a way he has returned to his roots.

– My Aunt Sherry visited from MN, the kiddos’ Aunt Jenn visited from FL, and we celebrated birthdays with friends – good times! We spent a beautiful day at Beavertail having a picnic, jumping on the rocks, and flying kites (me, getting a sunburn).  I saw a snake eating a frog; that image will forever be burned in my memory.  We camped in NH and ended our trip with a visit to a restaurant featuring all sorts of maple-inspired dishes, yum!  I would love to go back when they have maple syrup demonstrations.

– Canoeing on Wood River. We try to do this at least once a year!  Of course we stopped for ice cream on the way home.  Sparklers for the 4th of July.  One of our beehives is thriving.  Phil and I volunteered at Vacation Bible School at WKBC and had a wonderful time being involved.

– Spent a day doing a local farm-hop with my friend Nikki and her two kiddos. One of the farms had a giant slide that I would love to duplicate in our yard!  Added bee-friendly plants to our yard; amazing how expensive they can be!  Had tea and saw a fashion show at Clouds Hill Victorian House with some friends (fun till we all had to pee from all the iced tea we drank!).  More camping and swimming for the kiddos.

September – Two of the biggest changes this year: I purchased a homeschool curriculum and started my first official year homeschooling Gwen (though I’ve been creating my own curriculum for the past three years).  Secondly, Gwen asked to take dance class with one of her friends; she takes a half hour of tap dance and a half hour of ballet each week.  I love fall, as it means cooler weather and apple-picking time!  We took our 5th annual trip to Deerfield Fair, NH.

October – We got six bushels of apples and I spent a lot of time canning and cooking and preserving!  Daddy and the kiddos made cider.  I shared my love and birthday tradition of Brown & Hopkins and The Old Mill with the kiddos.  Worked on some handmade costumes for the kiddos and had a fun evening visiting family and going out to eat.  In proper fashion, I summed all of these things up in one fell swoop.

November – Every day it occurs to us how many words Addy has learned; she’s like a real person or something!  We constantly marvel at how well she communicates.  She and the big sibs get along pretty well.  Gwen turned 7 and Josiah turned 5; we had a fun “Brave”-inspired party for them. Josiah goes to Bible Study Fellowship most Wednesdays with Grandma and I do my best to keep up with homeschool and getting stuff done around the house.  I also keep up with my handmade hobbies, selling things at two local stores.  An article about my hobby/business came out in RI Local magazine!

December – Gwen starred in her first dance recital!  We were all very excited (and a bit nervous!).  My twin brother and sister-in-law/friend Jenn are visiting from sunny FL, staying with us for the holidays – fun for all!

I try not to make New Year’s resolutions, because they seem doomed to fail, but I like to think positively about the year to come, things I would like to change or improve upon.  I have such a crazy little family and I want to do the best with what God has given me – raising my children, supporting my husband, using my talents in a way that blesses others.  Remembering that it’s okay to take care of myself along the way.

There are so many encouraging verses in the Bible, relevant to any season in my life. I was looking for verses that might be appropriate for the New Year – something having to do with hope or new beginnings – and found this passage from Isaiah among 25 Encouraging Scripture Verses for the New Year:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19  

May you embrace whatever “new things” are ahead of you this year.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Much Love.


Can it be December first already?  I’ve been purposefully avoiding this space, as it eats up time I do not have! Since I don’t want you to think I dropped off the face of the earth, however, here are some highlights from the past couple months:

In September, we ended the camping year with our annual trip to Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire. We always enjoy seeing the animals, the tractors, and various events.  It was fun, but hot and tiring!  I was ready to get home and take a shower when it was all over.

Among the fall fun, you have the obligatory Jumping in the Big Pile of Leaves.  Usually I set it all up and make the kids wait to jump in till I have my camera ready, but this time they dove right in.  Last year we got our hands on an old fruit press that belonged to Phil’s grandfather… or great-grandfather… I can’t remember.  We made one small batch of cider, but were determined to try it again this year.  Phil called around to some of the local orchards, and we ended up getting a good deal on cider apples at Knight Farm.  We got six bushels of apples, and kept looking at each like, are we crazy?  We needed to use them up before they went bad – especially since a number of the drops already had bruises and soft spots – so I spent most of my time in the kitchen making and canning crock pot apple butter and applesauce, apple slices, and apple pie apples.  Oh, and of course the apple cider.  It was worth it!

When I was growing up, we had a tradition of going to the same restaurant for my birthday. We didn’t make it every year, since it’s a bit of a drive to get there, but we’ve had many happy visits to The Old Mill. It became a tradition because, the day before my twin brother and I were born, my parents took a scenic drive and ended up stopping at this restaurant for lunch.  The rest is history!  On the way, we stop at Brown & Hopkins Country Store for a gander around the shop and a bag of penny candy.  We hadn’t been since I was pregnant with Gwen, and that was seven years ago!

We’re not big celebrators of Halloween, but we still like to have fun! Every year I hem and haw over spending money on costumes, and this year I decided up on some [relatively] simple DIY-ers.  I already had Addy’s angel wings and halo that I used for some first birthday snapshots.  The last time we watched “The Incredibles” Josiah kept pretending to be Dash, so I put together a Dash-inspired costume consisting of some black pants, long-sleeve black shirt underneath a red t-shirt, on which I had sewn a felt logo. A black mask finished off the look.  Gwen’s outfit was… a bit more complicated.  She’s positively enthralled with Elsa from “Frozen” – what little girl isn’t? – but I didn’t want to pick the fad character. Another favorite princess of hers, one that she’s been mistaken for in the past, is Merida from the movie “Brave.”  I found a green velveteen dress and a cream-colored nightgown at a consignment store and put them together with some other materials to create a dress for her.  Since we don’t get any trick-or-treaters for Halloween and I don’t want to buy candy only to have to eat it all myself, we do our own thing – driving around to some homes of friends and family and going out to eat.

The kiddos’ birthdays – both in November, two days apart – were fast approaching and I had to figure out if I wanted to have a party or just give them cake for breakfast and call it a day.  In the end, Mommy guilt prevailed and I decided on a Brave-themed party to get some more use out of Gwen’s Merida dress.  It was quite a bit of work but I had a lot of fun putting it together.  We had a whole bunch of friends and family over, which made their special day even more so.  Feel feel to take a look at my Brave party Pinterest board to see where I got some of my inspiration.

Our Thanksgiving this year was a bit quieter than usual. We were all a bit under the weather; nevertheless, we got into the festive spirit and spent the day with Phil’s parents and grandmother. I made cranberry sauce, roasted root veggies, and some chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies (aka “moose plops”).  After we ate, the dads and kiddos got to fixing a Lego pirate ship – a highlight of Josiah’s day, no doubt! I have so much for which to be thankful!

Those of you who know me will know how long I’ve struggled with weight (and other) issues.  There have only been a few times when I’ve lost a significant amount of weight – in junior high when I decided to stop eating (unhealthy), just out of high school when I was waitressing and exercising multiple times a day (unrealistic), and shortly after giving birth to Josiah when I changed my eating habits (healthy, but haven’t been able to replicate).  I’ve been at my wit’s end, extremely discouraged and not really knowing what to do.  After hearing about The Virgin Diet, I decided to try it, see if it helps with weight loss and other possible underlying conditions.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

We’re on week fifteen of Heart of Dakota’s Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum.  It’s amazing how much I learn right along with them! So far I really like it – it’s all laid our for me with little prep work involved. I used to sit at the computer for hours, trying to find materials and different resources, requesting books from the library and printing things out.  Now, I have most of my books and materials already assembled in a bin, ready to go, and I just need to make sure I request a few books from the library here and there, maybe come up with some activities if I feel like it, and have some math and phonics workbooks.

I was honored to have an article published about my little crafting hobby/business in the November issue of RI Local magazine. I’m bummed because I wasn’t able to track down a copy myself, but a number of people told me they saw the article, and Phil was kind enough to take a snapshot of it, asking for my autograph.  Hehe.

Speaking of crafting, I’ve managed to get a few things done here and there, but can’t seem to find big blocks of time to sit down at the sewing machine.  Many of the things I’ve made have been for gifts and special occasions.  Pictured: mini bowling sets, tissue covers, dancing ribbons, car carriers, kinetic sand set, photo necklaces

Well, I think this should hold you over for the next few months!  I managed to track down the Little People advent calendar and put it on the wall today, but we never did get around to actually doing it! One day this week we’ll take out Christmas decorations and play some Christmas music.

Latest Projects Show and Tell

Our desktop is a few years old, which means “ancient” in technological terms.  Anyhoo, it’s having its fair share of quirks.  Phil, being the official bread-winner around here, needed a computer that actually works and picked up an HP laptop not too long ago.  I’m just sayin’, but I’m not too crazy about the new interface/browser that comes on all these new-fangled computers.  (pause)  I often voice my concern to Phil about what I’ll be like when I’m actually an old fart talking about “kids these days” and “remember the good ol’ days,” not being able to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Given the state of what has now been relegated to “my computer,” I pretty much only use a computer when Phil leaves his laptop at home because it takes the normal amount of time to get stuff done.  Aaaand I don’t get around to posting here because it involves wasting an entire day downloading pics onto my desktop computer files, taking a million gajillion  years for the computer to cooperate, stop shutting itself down, and unfreeze so I can edit said photos and upload them to my server, etc. etc.  It gives me a headache just thinking about it!

Well… I’ve got the laptop, the desktop is somewhat cooperating, and I’m updating while the kids are in bed!

So… can you believe the year is more than half over?  People think I’m kidding when I feel like I’m always preparing for Christmas, but as soon as one Christmas is over, it’s almost the New Year, which means almost Spring… which is close to Summer… which is very short as we all know… and then preparing for a new school year… and before you know it the whole Holiday Season is upon us and… Christmas!  So get ready for Christmas folks.  Especially if you’re the one in charge of shopping and cooking and cleaning.

But, I digress.  I wanted to share my latest crafts!  As soon as I dropped some of my things off at Mills Creek, Alyssia at Tula Tinkers requested some more items.  While I like to sew (and craft in general), when I’m working at it non-stop and feel pressured to finish already, it’s not quite as enjoyable.  Just like I’ve always liked to cook and bake… until I had to do it 3+ times a day just to keep a whole bunch of people alive.  Oh, and stay within a budget.  And make it healthy.  And yummy.  And not the same ol’ thing every day.  I really like pizza take-out.  We decided to limit it to once a month. *sigh*

On with the “show” part of this show-and-tell…

So this first one isn’t actually mine, but Phil does such wonderful work I had to show it off.  Someone requested a checker board, but he got carried away making a chess set and these were the results.  These pics are actually of two different boards – I want to say walnut and cherry, but I’m not 100% sure.  We looked around for nice chess pieces made in America, and while we found some that fit the bill, it doesn’t help to keep the cost low.  So, they’re really nice sets.

On my to-do list for a while now has been a pillowcase dress for Gwen.  This ended up being my need-a-break-from-my-other-projects project, spurred on because my mom sent me a link to a tutorial and asked if I could make some dresses for her Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes this year.  Figured I should try it out first!  I put together my own spin on two tutorials, first making a dress for Addy (the one on the right) then tweaking it to make the one for Gwen.  My preferred tweaks, in case you’re interested: 1) Instead of making patterns for cutting out the armholes, follow the cutting directions for the corners, then simply seam the edges.  2) After finishing the armholes, make channels around neckline for elastic and sew it in.  Making a channel for a tie to go around the whole dress is cute, but I don’t think it looks as nice or fits as well – though it is adjustable (I used this method for the righthand version).  3) Use some contrasting fabric for DIY bias and finish off the armholes using this super-easy method except I like to finish it off by stitching in the ditch since I think it looks nice and clean.

Okay, these headbands were actually in my last batch of crafts but I didn’t get around to organizing the photos.  Apparently, some local photographers were picking them up to use in photo shoots.  I love to see them in action!  Babies make them look so much better.

When Addy was still a baby (*sniff sniff*) I got a wonderful nursing/teething necklace from KangarooCare on Etsy (and later a teething toy).  I had seen these fabric necklaces floating around and decided they couldn’t be hard to make, and I was already sewing, so why not?  I made one for myself, made a few for gifts (some with flowers on them), then started to whip up a batch to sell at Small Circle… and then Small Circle closed and I was heartbroken.  Well, interest has revived, I ordered some luscious new fabric, and made a whole slew of them.  The one I’m wearing is the one I initially made for myself; the colors are amazingly versatile and go with so many outfits.  It’s so simple, really, but I get compliments every time I wear it.  I want one in every fabric I have!

I love me some baby sewing! It is a tough reminder that I no longer have an official baby in the house, though.  Aside: recently we were at the dinner table, I looked around at the kiddos, and crestfallenly remarked, “I’m so sad that all my babies are growing up.”  Phil looked at me and said pointedly, “NO!”  Me (innocently): “What?”  Phil: (knowing look)

So, baby shoes… things just do not want to stay on those little baby feet.  When they start walking, it’s just as well, because bare feet on the ground is good and natural for little ones.  But until then, those darned socks and actual-shoe shoes for kiddos who don’t even walk in them are kind of a waste of money.  My mother-in-law gave me two sets of baby booties – a pair of hand-me-downs and another that she bought at a craft fair.  Adeline lived in those booties!  I was so sad when she finally outgrew them.  But dude… I can make my own!  These were the first two pairs I made.  Since Addy was walking by then she got them good and dirty and I got sick of washing them; now I use them as slippers for her.  I wanted to try a pair of moccasins, buuuut I’m still perfecting those.

Next on my list: car carriers.  Lots of cutting little pieces and detail sewing, so I procrastinate.  Get your Christmas orders in now!  Good thinking, Heidi… my cousin knows to ask ahead of time so I have enough time.

I will be taking a brief sewing break to do some kids’ crafts for VBS next week.  Our theme is based on 2 Peter 3:18 about growing in the grace of the Lord.  It’s a nice springboard for garden-themed activities, and the theme verse for my craft is about the vine and the branches.  This week I’ll be putting together supplies to make a cluster of grapes magnet and Phil’s going to help me with a grape vine display so all the kids can hang leaf-shaped name tags on it.  Keep your fingers crossed for me – I’m a little nervous!  All those kids… it’s hard enough being in charge of the three that are my own!

Homeschool with Heart of Dakota

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t bother trying to keep up with this blog. I gave up Facebook a few years back because it was just too much drama and was eating up my time anyway.  However, I’ve appreciated all the help, resources, and inspiration I’ve found through others’ blogs.  One of the main reasons I had for continuing was the desire to share our homeschool journey both as an encouragement for others and as a way for me to document the every day.

Well… I ended up being more concerned with getting Just The Right Pictures while doing our lessons, or getting grouchy when I was trying to sum up the week in a post and the kiddos wanted me to read a story.  It was way too easy to lose focus of what really mattered.  So last year I decided to forego the regular posting and I felt things went more smoothly.  I’m always trying to find that elusive Balance, and that includes how much time I spend at the computer (blogging, reading, researching, working on digital photo albums, etc.).

I thought those of you who come here for educational ideas might be interested in my curriculum choices for the upcoming school year.  It’s a decision I hemmed and hawed – and prayed – over for the longest time.  Since Gwen will be first grade-ish and I finally have to report her to the local school district, I’ve been particularly nervous about what we decide to do for her first “official” year of homeschool (though I’ve been doing this for three years now).

Phil has been encouraging me for a while now to purchase a packaged curriculum, despite the fact that I like to create my own, piecing things together from lots of difference resources.  See, it tends to be cheaper this way… but can also be more time-consuming and overwhelming.  Here and there I’ve looked at curricula, always coming back to free, DIY programs.

Well, I started looking more seriously towards the end of this school year.  I thought perhaps we would do Beyond Five in a Row since I’ve done my own version of volumes 1-4… but I think we need a change and I don’t think Gwen is old enough for that program.  I eventually narrowed down my search to two Christ-centered programs – both of them inexpensive when compared to alternatives – and eventually chose Heart of Dakota (HOD).

It took a bit of time to figure out which of HOD’s programs would be the right fit, since their chart overlaps age groups.  I finally chose Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and was lucky enough to find many of the materials I need from Homeschool Classifieds.  I’m still looking for some of the suggested supporting materials – like emergent readers – but I can always request those from the library.

Having read a number of reviews about HOD – as well as some for My Father’s World, my second choice – I was curious whether or not I would like the structure and content of the teacher’s manual and the way the days and weeks are laid out.  Leafing through the book when I first got it in the mail, I actually got excited – I think I can do this!  As other users have noted, it really does seem like an open-and-go curriculum, and although I have yet to put it into practice, seems easy enough to follow.

***EDIT 7.1.14 – Just thought I would add some of the supporting resources I will be using with the program, some of them suggested as HOD go-alongs and others that I’m throwing in with the mix.

The Beginner’s Bible
Big Thoughts for Little People
God’s Wonderful Works
American Pioneers and Patriots
Stories of the Pilgrims
Boys and Girls of Colonial Days
Frog and Toad Are Friends
Frog and Toad Together
Frog and Toad All Year
Owl at Home
Amelia Bedelia
The Princess and the Kiss
XtraMath (a free online program)

I’ll also fill in with the rest of the suggested emerging reader books and some of the read-alouds, which I will request from the library.

I know the Summer just began, but… If you’re homeschooling, what curriculum will you be using this year?  Have you used HOD?


Now that it’s Summer (and the big kiddos are out of the house and the littlest kiddo is napping…) I finally have some time to sit down for a bit of an update!

It only took me, let’s see… three months?… to finish up a wholesale order that the lovely Kate Bussey purchased to stock her wonderful little store in Charlestown.  I made some purses, car carriers, crayon rolls, and rainbow wands.  Fingers crosses that they’ll do well!

We’ve passed Mills Creek Natural Market a few times before but never stopped.  In fact, when we drove there the other day I specifically remember telling Phil that I wanted to stop sometime and walk around the area!  Kate’s house is right next to the shop and her son was kind enough to bring us into their back yard to meet their three goats.  They were so sweet, and since we’ve been thinking of getting dairy goats it was nice to see how good-natured they were.  FYI the goats come from Silk Tree Farms, which also sells soap at the store and at various local farmers’ markets.

Kate’s shop is right up my alley. It’s very similar to Tula Tinkers in that it caters to local, small-business, handmade, one-of-a-kind items.  But it has its own eclectic array of items, so much fun to poke around!  I wish I had taken some pictures, but there are a bunch of photos on their facebook page.

There were some beautiful carved, wood-burned combs and I really want to get one for Addy.  I pointed out some whimsical gnomes and little rock houses to Gwen; they would look so cute in a fairy garden!  For the life of me I can’t figure out why taking care of air plants is so hard for me, but there were some hanging sea urchins with air plants inside – so pretty!  The 3-dimensional stained glass stars were gorgeous; keeping them in mind for gifts.  Actually, I think I could find something for everyone in there!  I picked up some local honey, which always seems to be on my grocery list (if I didn’t already have a honey stick I would have been all over that).

Yes… I did say we’re thinking of getting goats.  Isn’t it enough that we keep bees?!  We’ve slowly been turning our yard into land that will be more self-sustaining and we keep thinking of ways to improve upon what we’ve already done.  This year we added raised beds to our garden, fruit trees, and bee-friendly flowers.  We’ve talked about the idea of getting chickens, but we’re not too crazy about having their poop all over the yard, so we’ll stick with getting fresh eggs from our neighbors.

I’m hoping that, eventually, we’ll be able to do most of our shopping at the farmers’ market – or through other local sources – and that I won’t have to step foot in a grocery store (is that realistic?).  Next on our list is purchasing meat in bulk from a local farm that raises grass-fed beef.  Perhaps we’ll supplement our veggies through a CSA program?

It’s always been hard for me to lose weight, but it seems like after having Adeline, it’s been harder than ever.  I tried intermittent fasting, exercising every day, cutting things from my diet, and the scale just isn’t budging.  Even if I’m not losing weight, I feel that I must be healthy, since we keep making healthy food choices.  More and more I’ve been leaning towards a paleo way of eating; not to be trendy or eat like cavemen, but because it seems natural.  Recently I read Sexy by Nature and I really appreciated some of the insights author Stefani Ruper had in her argument for the paleo “diet.”  Buying quality meats, fresh eggs, making my own full-fat yogurt and buttermilk and sour cream, growing fresh produce…  it feels so good when we’re able to make these kinds of choices for our family.  We haven’t been able to do it all at once but, little by little, we’re making a difference.

Adventures in Top Bar Beekeeping

We’ve had our bees for a month now, and it’s been quite an interesting experience.  Since we’re using top bar hives – as opposed to the traditional langstroth – there aren’t many people in our area to reach out to when we encounter an issue.  At least one professional beekeeper we spoke to at a farmers’ market seemed critical of our decision to go with a top bar hive, but we feel it’s a more natural way to keep bees.

When we tell people we recently got honeybees, one of the first questions – after “have you been stung” – is “how many bees are there?”  It’s hard to say, since many of the die off for different reasons, but a 3-pound starter package of bees holds can hold approximately 10,000 bees, and since we got two packages… well, that would be 20,000 bees!  Since they’re small and clump together, I seriously never would have guessed that figure, but the sheer amount of buzzing bees can be intimidating at times.

It was a little nerve-wracking, picking up our bees, bringing them home, putting them into their new homes, but it wasn’t as “scary” as I thought it would be.  I feel like all those little honeybees are my babies to care for, and while I do wear some protective gear when checking the hive, it’s nothing like the worry you feel when watching a hornet or wasp fly about near your head.

When we first dumped the thousands of bees into the hives, we were able to stand there without any protective gear for a long time because the bees weren’t aggressive; they had neither established hive nor accepted queen to protect.  Only Gwen got a sting after a while, probably due to the fact that she squished on of the bees.

We decided right off the bat that we would be respectful and cautious with our bees, but wouldn’t assume the worst and spend a lot of money on expensive gear.  We used a smoker the first few times we checked on the hives, but it actually seems to upset them more than anything, so we haven’t been using it.  Phil and I both use a hat with an attached veil to protect our faces/necks, and I use gloves that protect my hands and arms, but that’s about it.  We make sure to choose a day when the weather is nice, wear light clothing since bees are attracted to dark colors, and make sure that we smell neutral (I wouldn’t go out with hair products or scented lotion, for instance).  We also work in pairs – never by ourselves – unless something happens.  Luckily, our little bees seem pretty tolerant of our intrusions, with just a few buzzing guard bees around our veils.  We are also careful not to squish any bees between bars, move the combs around gently, and so forth – don’t give them a reason to get angry with you!

Let’s see, some of the challenges we’ve faced so far:

  • The two packages of bees went back and forth between two hives.  Twice.  First one hive was the bigger of the two, now the other is.  So, one hive is technically “stronger,” I guess.
  • Both hives finally released their queens, and although we can’t be sure, it seems that one hive killed their queen immediately.  The stronger hive had an egg-laying queen; we were so excited when we saw the larvae!  A few days later, though, we saw supersedure/emergency queen cells in the same hive and no queen.  We assumed that when some of the bees from the first hive moved in, they killed her.  Hmmm.  At least she had time to lay eggs!
  • Since the larger of the two hives had more than one bar of comb with queen cells, we decided to move some of it into the smaller hive, hoping it would result in two queened hives.  Not being able to recognize a newly-hatched queen, we’re still not sure how to regard the now-empty queen cells.
  • When walking around just yesterday we saw two clusters of bees on a tree right near the hive boxes.  Ohmigoodness, did our bees swarm?  They hung on the tree for a while, then they all flew in the air for a few minutes, eventually disappearing.  We’re not sure if they all came back.  Was it the queen’s mating flight?  If so, perhaps at least one queen will finally have a healthy, egg-laying queen.

Upon some googling, it seems even more experienced beekeepers get puzzled by some of these scenarios.  A small measure of comfort.

We were surprised how quickly the bees started building comb.  At first we couldn’t see it since they were so tightly packed, but little by little, we saw the white comb poking out around the edges.  Then the more they built, the more obvious it became.

They have already built up a bunch of nectar and pollen stores.  Seeing them buzz around the yard, pollinating our plants and fruit trees is exciting!  I sure hope they get their act together soon so they can work together and give us honey already.  I can’t wait!

I never thought we would be beekeepers.  This is so cool!

Never Enough

Just a late night post after a long day, thoughts swirling through my head.  No catchy phrases or artsy photos to draw you in – just me.

I’ve often been told I’m a pessimist, but I like to think I’m just realistic.  It takes so much energy to focus on the positives, the bright side, put things in perspective, that after a while it’s just easier to see things as they come.  And like so many times in the past, it just hits me: I will never be enough.

I’m not talking about trying to measure up to some unrealistic standard, because I understand about those.  Yeah, my house won’t look like a magazine spread and I’m okay with that;  I’ll never be a size zero like one of my friends, but even if I stopped eating like I did in high school my skeleton hips would still be at least a size ten; I will never be able to do everything and that’s just fine with me – there’s just no way I’ll be able to learn Chinese or play an instrument really well or draw a picture that doesn’t look like a little kid drew it or drive a stick shift (among many other things).

But.  There are some things I really want to do, want to be… want to be better at, and it just isn’t in the cards.  And not for lack of trying.  I put so much time and thought and energy into trying to make things happen.  Some of them… I have prayed many times to just accept myself for who I am, be content with what I’ve got, but there’s no peace.

The other day I was watching some video clip and this line hit me, “A person is beautiful when she is true to herself.”  I wrote it down on a slip of paper and stuck it on the keyboard.  Do you ever have something like that that appeals to you, motivates you, brings a smile to your face… but the next day you’re reading the words, asking yourself, what the hell does that even mean?  

Trying to work through some things.  I tend to over-analyze so this isn’t necessarily a good thing, but what’s a girl to do? Sometimes I really feel like I have to do everything and I really don’t know how to do it all.  It can be hard to get up in the morning, knowing what awaits, and I think perhaps I put off going to bed to delay the inevitable (this is in addition to finishing my to-do lists, attending to crying babies, planning school for the week, finishing the laundry, etc.), and then of course I will never get enough sleep.

Off to get some of those z-z-z-zs now.