Everyone has a vision of what they thought parenthood would entail.  Likely it didn't include scribbles on the wall, balls left on the stairs, broken treasures, cutting a huge chunk out of one's hair, playing "mixing" with ten 24 piece puzzles, projectile vomiting, etc....but surely those are memories to chuckle about later. With any luck, life as a parent includes mostly the good stuff, including the stuff of what you dreamed of when you were thinking about your future decades ago.

For me, it was and is reading. I always dreamed of having children who enjoyed reading, would listen to the stories and snuggle in.  My obsession collection of books proves my vision. I totally have books from my childhood and books that I purchased in high school for my 'someday' kids. I have hundreds, maybe even thousands (and no, I'm not exaggerating) of books.  Shelves upon shelves, the attic and my work storing more.  Plus we frequent the library.  I'm so not a minimalist with books.  We read them though, I promise!


I am so thankful I have kids who enjoy reading with me. I don't think there's been a single day since either of their births that hasn't involved books. The days we're home, it's not unusual for us to spend 2 hours reading together. It's my favorite part of the day. No matter how busy we are, I try so hard to make lots of time for books. It's when I try to pinch myself and remember how lucky I am. It's the stuff I smile about as I drift off to sleep at night. 

Thankful my husband snapped a couple cell phone pics of me doing my favorite part of parenting.  Our reading sessions won't last forever, so I'm going to remember to enjoy them each day.


When the kitchen is a mess, you can either A) Put on a pretty apron to divert one's mind from the problem areas where clutter from the day has made a ginormous mound. 
Or  B)  Hang that apron back up, shut the light off, close the door and head to a room that's less overwhelming. 

Choice B wins. If you come to my house tomorrow, there will be clutter. I'll make hot cocoa so we don't notice the mess.



Thank you notes and creating

Although I'm not perfect, I really do try to keep up with thank you notes, and have my kids do them too. 

I think this one is my most favorite one ever.

 The art on the outside I just love.  Do you see the yellow circles? That's the honeycomb. And all those striped ones are the bees he cut out and drew.  100% his idea.  He spent three days making this.
 You know, I'm a wee bit of a crafty gal. I used to bring my babysitting tote when I was a teen with all these craft ideas. I'd create with all the little kiddos I'd babysit.  I thought I would be the pinterest type mom, but I've come to a different realization as of late. 

For me, what's even better than an adorable project from pinterest is the project that is planned and executed by little ones and their tiny hands. 

It's actually not that fun doing pre-made ideas with Adrian in particular.  He gets so obsessed with the model and how his must look precisely like the model.  Then when each meticulous detail isn't a carbon copy of the original, he bursts into tears.  (Audra just does her own thing she's no problem with anything structured). 

On the flip side, when I just leave the art supplies out and let them create with no provided models by me, the creations are SO much better than planned projects.  For real. I have pictures of cows, mosquitos, Jesus on the cross and a lovely picture of Audra picking flowers from Adrian. Audra fills entire papers full of tiny brushstrokes of watercolors.  She also does tiny spirals and circles and then colors them in (on the wall too, sigh). I have all these Valentines with red hearts drawn on them in piles to make me feel cheerful. I have this house with bears in all the windows.  I have these hidden picture designs that you have to search to find the stickers hidden with all the elaborate pictures around them.  I have creations, creations and more creations.

I sort of love my decision to just let them create. Multiple times a day, they head to their craft area I leave set up in the kitchen to create. Which is really the best way to go about things, yes?

It's really a good lesson for me. When I feel like I need my mind to be a little better organized, I really ought to escape to my creative world, even for 5 minutes or so. When I feel my mind is cluttered (which is the case lately!), I tend to abandon my crafting stuff, which is the opposite of what I should do. I'm betting a little art interspersed into my day would do wonders for my tired brain. 

Must get on that.
More crafting.

A good goal indeed. 



Story about this lot. My son said "Mama, can I pick out my birthday presents and you save them for my birthday? I want all these. And this is all I want"  The barnyard book, the John Deere and the BOGS boots, it added up to $10. That's it.  Birthday shopping done.  (Although I think I'll just give it to him for his half birthday in March.)

And this lot...A loaf pan. Richard Scarry (Can't get enough of his books!), a Bible book with great pictures, an Usborne book, a vintage mixer and a brand new thermos.  $5.50 for all.   I now have  thermos for each one of us, all thrifted and brand new. I tell you, these are handing for packing to go lunches, hot cocoa or a cold glass of milk.  Keep your eyes open for them in your thrifting adventures. You never know what you may find!

Bottoms up.

Well, we have quite a bit on tap. Bottoms up.

Clearly, the feline crew has gotten the message.  Might be time to host another 'let's drink milk' party.  Such a good problem we have!

His New (Free!) Nightstand.

 Oh this nightstand, who would have guessed it would be the best present ever?

I saw a sign that said 'free' and pulled a U turn.  Brought home a green night stand. When Adrian saw it, he was elated. "Mama! You got me a John Deere nigh stand!" 

He promptly covered it in cow print and filled it with his homemade tractor books and the boxes of magazine clippings of cows, tractors, barbed wire, silos, combines, etc.  The stuff he collects... (More about that here.)

He's such an intense collector.
 And he 'decorates' like this....all of his random stuff he complies into these displays. 
 To be truthful, sometimes I see the stuff he does and I try to convince him to toss, better organize or put away. He, of course, has no interest in switching anything up. He likes what he likes.....farming and nature.  I have to take a big breath and remind myself that it's okay.  Even though his piles are not aesthetically pleasing and his room isn't clutter free, it makes him happy (which this pic is from a good day, it's not usually this tidy!). Regardless, in his room, he has all of his favorite stuff, including the stuff I would throw away, but he's committed to keeping forever.  And really, it's okay.
Adrian, we embrace you, clutter and all.  We love your uniqueness, your proclaimed loves that are unwavering and your style. May you enjoy your numerous collections and display them proudly in your room.  A kid with a strong sense of self is really such a good thing.

Fresh Air

It's about that time when the dates for the summer Fresh Air kids come out and we all start planning our summer.  We've hosted 3x so far and are eager to do it again. If you have room in your heart and home, I encourage you to consider . We're so glad this is a part of our summer.


I usually only reflect on the good in this space because that's how I want to remember my days. I'm totally a glass is half full type of girl.  I assure you, I'm not exempt from challenging times or bad days.  No one is, of course.  It seems the more variables one adds (vehicles, being a homeowner, kids, animals, jobs, etc.), the higher the likelihood that something will go wrong. And sometimes one or two things go wrong. Sometimes a whole lot of them go wrong.

But then, maybe once or twice a year, this happens:
Which makes me think "Oh, no wonder we were having a rough one!" What a relief there's a reason!

There's always a bigger picture. Bad days come, and thankfully they go.  The bigger picture is a great plan where everything is going to work out just so. Let's not let the bad days get us day worried, the good ones are right around the corner.


Sure, there were errands I should have done.  The trash is overflowing. There's interlibrary loan books that need picking up.  I need to jet to the bank. I need to pick up some more hay. 

But today, we stayed home. 

They needed it. I needed it. We all needed it.

Sometimes having uninterrupted time to devise an idea and then stick with it until completion AND then have time to enjoy the result is needed.

They spent hours doing these masks.  I had to interrupt them to eat breakfast. Lunch was consumed late.  Time stood still for them while they fully focused on these elaborate projects. 

There's plans for more masks.  Dinosaurs. Puppies. Zoo animals. Farm animals. Bugs.

We just might have to stay home again soon, so we have time to complete all of these projects.

Childhood, the way it should be.  Errands can wait.


Things I love about this pic:

The pan, which we got when we were first married, nearly 10 years ago.
The roasted veggies, some from our garden and some from the grocery store. Thankful for homegrown produce and the grocery store to fill in the gaps.
Flip top glass jars. I love them. I've become a collector. One never has to find a top with a flip top glass jar.
Homegrown dried oregano flavoring many winter dishes.
And my rings, one from my husband and the antique diamond was my grandmother's.

Such simple and ordinary things, yet things to be very thankful for. I just might look around again and count my blessings once. more. 


And so it goes, we survived those days with bitter temps and winds that take your breath away. I worried about those animals in the barn, even made them a warm oatmeal treat.  I made sure our cats stayed in and monitored how long the dogs were out.

But our kids?  They go outside. And mama and daddy do too. Regardless of the temperature. Even with the winds.  Might just be a quick walk to the barn to declare "It's too cold!" or "It's too crazy out here!"  and then retreat back by inside by the fire. Or it might be hours upon hours of elaborate pretending when the temps hit the balmy mid twenties.

We have thick blood up here in Maine. We are tough ones who layer up and brave the elements. When everyone else is complaining about winter, we're not.  We're out there in wool, looking for the wonder of the season.

We just might have a blizzard this weekend.  Not the kind you get at Dairy Queen either.  One that might bring over a foot of snow.  If so, we're ready for it. A bit more snow is welcome. The Lipskys and their snowshoes aren't tired of winter one bit.


The 'butter days' are the days when I tend to find the dairy part of my life being bookends to my day. Today I woke before the sun to milk, worked for the day while my littles were home with my husband, came home to do dinner, books and bed with my littles and then worked on the milk situation.  Two pounds of butter later (plus cheese, laundry, dishes, night time chores and the know the life of a mama!), I find myself blogging and going to bed after midnight (thankfully this isn't everyday!).  I'm exhausted, yes.  But, my mind and heart are at peace, for I know all that hard work is for the good of my family.  That right there keeps me moving.
 (Plus the mighty fine fresh butter is worth it. Mmm.)


 Thrift store one:  Books my kids will love, to put away for the next holiday. Two pairs of size up sneakers. $5.00

Thrift store two: (With the 2015 stuff 50% off!)  LL Bean Skirt for me. Two music books. Little Red riding hood. 12 days of Christmas book and CD set.  Miniature wooden spoon.  Wooden bowl. Vintage metal embroidery hoop. Vintage Christmas tray. Two yards of pink corduroy. Perfect size spatula.  An against the bowl strainer (which has been awesome for draining whey when making cheese).  You won't believe this....$5.00 for it all. The deal of the century!  Or something like that.

Mama Made: Button Down Shirt and His Presentation

So, there's quite a story behind this.  At our homeschool co-op, there's a presentation day when kids get the chance to present whatever they want in front of a pretty big audience.  Adrian never has done any public speaking before, so I suggested a 'show and tell' of maybe his feed bag. As in "Look what I made, any questions?". 

"No mama. I'm a farmer. I want to teach everyone about cows."

I tried to convince him otherwise, suggest other ideas. You know, a smaller project to start out.

"Mama. People need to know about cows. I'm a farmer. I'm going to teach them so they know."

"Okay, but if I sign you up for this, it's important that you work hard and practice. If you are going to pick something hard, you are signing up for hard work.  We're not going to sign up and quit."

"It's okay mama, I'm going to do it."

Hard work he did do.  He spent an ENTIRE week making this elaborate poster. He was cutting things out right and left, gluing things here and there. The poster was mostly him, although I did guide him in labeling categories so it was more organized.

He did practice too. For four days before the presentation, I encouraged him to practice.  He had different (family) audiences at the time, which was trickier than practicing just for his parents and sister.

On go-day, he was nervous in the morning, but so excited.  He was super enthusiastic about setting up and loved standing up there...until it was go-time. And he didn't say a thing. I reviewed what he worked on and he stood next to me.  Of course told him that everyone loved his poster.

Then when we got home, he was so sad. "But mama, I just got scared and now no one even knows about farming." 

I assured him it was okay. 

It's hard to wrap my brain around what a mama should do in that circumstance.  I mean, it was his idea, he wanted to work hard and although I felt he was successful with making the poster and practicing,  it was hard on me that he didn't feel successful on presentation day.  But, we had an idea and made up for it.  He was stressed that no one knew about cows and I suggested we video and share the it so many can learn about cows. That was even better than presentation day sharing, as more could learn.  Turns out, he loved that idea.  You can watch that video here.  Also, on Thanksgiving, he did give the presentation in front of a big crew. They had a long question and answer session and Adrian knew almost all the answers!  They couldn't believe he could spout off the names of the cow's stomachs.  His interest is so intense.

Anyway, here's the shirt I made for the big day.

 Here he is with the outfit he chose for presentation day. Mama made cow undershirt, cow buttondown shirt and cow hat. He was rockin' the homemades.
 And here he is ready for the presentation. Click HERE for the youtube video of his presentation. 



Fact: We have a lot of milk.

I've decided I'm not selling it.  There's so many rules and regs and investing in this and that for approval. I'm not going through all that red tape and I'm not taking the risk of just selling under the table. I never set out to be a dairy farmer. I only have wanted to provide for my family. 

While I have gifted milk and milk products here and there, I have adopted an even better idea than that to use up the milk.


Why not share our bounty, our land, our home and our time? Foster a community who enjoy spending time together enjoying simple pleasures.

Even before we lived here, I always had this vision that this house would be a perfect gathering spot. A great place for kids to frolic, learn and grow and for people to come together.

The necessity of using up this milk before it spoils encourages me to say "Come".  (Which happens to be my resolution anyway, read about that here.)

And when I say "Come" and we gather here, my heart feels so full.  This place is meant to gather.  These are the memories children will have for an eternity. 

And so it goes, no one minds being force fed homemade chocolate chip cookies anyway, so the milk is used up mighty quickly.

Everyone wins.

New Resolution #2

I just chatted about my resolution #1 (here), "Just come". 

I've been collecting stuff for resolution #2.  (Which my resolutions have nothing to do with New Year's.  Just when my brain is ready to think about one more thing.  Right now I'm working on four new resolutions, so far that is). 

Resolution #2: Soapmaking.

Never done it before.

I've been collecting for the last few weeks.  Collecting buttermilk in the freezer (I throw in the towel...we cannot use it all to eat! I've been gifting but I want to figure out how we can use it for different things in our own family).  Also collecting supplies. I'm pretty stoked about my treasures so far.  A gift certificate for the book, a few dollars here and a couple quarters there for some supplies.  I love the pot and the vintage molds best I think.  I ordered lye and am trying to figure out what else I need.

Any experience out there? Hints would be good!  Recipes appreciated!  Encouragement may be needed! I can learn this craft, right?!  The most overwhelming part is finding all the stuff I need without spending hundreds of dollars (which would totally be possible if buying new).

I have no deadline in getting the ball rolling, but sometime before summer would be nice to get started. Might take me that long to collect all the thrifted stuff I need to get the job done.  Which is okay, as this homesteading thing is a process I've been committed to for over a decade now.  Learning the homesteading art is definitely at crockpot speech, not microwave speed, for sure.

Holding my breath....

You know, I think I went the whole afternoon without exhaling. 

Because of this random cat that showed up nearly a year ago.  Zip.

He was outside all summer long (This pic is from warmer days).  When it got cooler out, Miss Audra started toting Zip inside. This fall, we had that scare that he could hardly breathe.  We took him to the vet, inconclusive results. Verdict was he probably wasn't going to make it. Well, he made it, much to the vet's surprise.  The best guess is he was hit by a car.  A miracle cat.

Today, he scooted outside first thing. He snuck right around the waters I was carrying out to the animals (No running water in our barn. Boo...) The wind was howling and catching momentum from all that open field, snow was being whipped this way and that. Bitter cold.  Zip definitely prefers to go to the bathroom outside, but he was no where to be found to come in after chores.  I hollered and hollered. Nothing.

Usually my husband is home with the kids while I work on Wednesday mornings.  However, due to an uncooperative snowblower, my family had to go to buy a part.  If Zip came to the door to try to get inside, there was no one.

When I got home from work, I hollered again and again for Zip. Nothing. So cold, so windy and a tiny little cat who didn't even have breakfast out there.  A cat who already had breathing problems. 

Got me feeling guilty for being frustrated with the little guy for breaking two of my eggs this morning before chores. Knocked them clear off the counter. (Dogs were happy!)

9:30pm, thought I'd try again. Said a little prayer. I went out to the barn and hollered. 

I found him.

Oh goodness, relief. I scooped him right up, popped him in my coat and snuggled for a few moments before bringing him inside. He probably couldn't hear all my cries for him with the noisy wind blowing my voice in the wrong direction. 

He's home now. Safe and sound. Having his 3rd dinner, happy as can be.  He'll be snuggled in the most inconvenient spot momentarily.

Hope that wasn't another of his 9 lives.  He's going through those lives too quickly, my heart needs a rest.


 Christmas around the world coloring book. ABC sticker book, Usborne craft book. THREE pairs of sized up boots, three music books, warm socks, brand new Melissa and Doug watercolor book. $3.50.
Brand new cutting/pasting book (my kids LOVE cutting EVERYTHING out with scissors.), books. Long chain with hooks on each end. Heavy rooster trivet.  Wooden spoon (so pretty and colorful!). Bennington potters oval baking dish from Vermont (Retail $36!!! Reference here.) $5.00 for all this, Score!

Milk. Cheese. Butter. Yogurt. Repeat.

I *just* made 2 pounds of butter on Thursday. It's Tuesday night and there's another two pounds of butter hardening in the fridge.  Plus 4 gallons of milk were turned into cheese tonight. I just made cheese  couple days ago too.
I tell you, it's time consuming.  My kitchen is forever a mess.  But...I'm getting this milk using down. My goal is to use it all myself to feed our family throughout the year.  My freezer is filling up! Still so much to learn, but I call it a success having a few recipes memorized.  I'm getting there!


Cows. (And my littles wearing mama made pants, dress and coat.)  He's in his element here.


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