Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Without Family

It's our first holiday without family and the feeling that something is missing is casting a shadow over this otherwise beautiful day.  I know that time is going to make it easier as we form new traditions and break bread in other ways, but we still have to do today, don't we?  I've never cooked an Easter meal.  My mom, in-laws, and siblings have taken care of that for me for 42 years. (Can I show my heartfelt appreciation to you all now?!)  I joked with Mom on the phone today that Taco Bell was on the menu because it's easy to fall into that "What's the point?" mentality.  But that's the cup-half-empty way of approaching this new season and I can't let that dominate.  My kids are watching.  God is watching.  The five of us will break bread together tonight, and talk about how great the food is in our rental farm kitchen, and how blessings continue to rain down on this family.  We'll talk about new beginnings and hope and freedom -- messages that echo today's Easter service and our family's journey.  We'll talk about how crazy an easter egg hunt can be across 55 acres of wooded farmland.  And we'll raise our glasses to the rest of the family we love and miss terribly on this important day. 

Here are some pictures from our hunt.  It was cloudy and mild, but the rain held off and it was perfect.  Even if we didn't find all the eggs.

Syd paid homage to the real progenitor (Drew's word) of eggs before we started.

Drew hid 88 eggs over a half-mile trail.  The kids found 77 on the first swipe.

Drew continues to remove any doubt that the Easter bunny is a farce.
Coyote candy.  Syd, seriously, put that down.
Thinking of you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Does Drew Need?

After all this talk about silence for me, and the animals for Sydney, and the creek for Lucas, and the trails for Seth.... what could this place possibly offer Drew that he might need during this time of transition?

H  O  P  S  .

The nectar of Drew's favorite beer, IPA, grows on this farm.

Kurt is teaching Drew the fine art of home brewing.  It was only a matter of time. 


Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Farm Pics

Below are a few more shots of the Carriage House and the things we've been doing this week. We are now officially enrolled in the new school and the kids have seen their classrooms, met their teachers, and know where to go when they got off the bus.  Seth is thrilled that Kindergarten is only half-day (with no full-day option) and will only be in school for 2 1/2 hours (slacker).   Lucas is excited to have a locker and that his teacher leads the drama club.  Syd is giddy that she gets to change into shorts and t-shirt for gym.  Hmmm...was it really that simple?  

I miss you all. It's been a whirlwind for the past six months and I have been swept up by all the activity.  But life is simpler and quieter here, and I can feel the moment coming when I'm going to be blindsided by the truth of all we've left behind.  Having the kids home with me has been a blessing, but it has also helped me avoid the loneliness I know is coming.  I pray God will feather my landing the way he has feathered my children's with the beauty and joy of this farm.  I pray the solitude that is around the corner will force my reliance on Him even more, because that's when I'll know I'm going to be okay.  I pray the same for the friends and family we've left behind, an even more difficult place to be.  

Here are some more pics:

This place is cozy and clean and has everything we need to be a family.

There's a den in the back of the apartment we're using as the kids' playroom.  It's where they watch movies and play Wii while Drew and I carve out some time for ourselves.  

There's a small deck off of FR for coffee in a.m., wine in p.m., and grilling dinner.

Here's the FR with great views of the farm from both windows.  My computer station is set up (on left) so I can take it all in while I'm writing/reading.

Kurt taught Lucas how to drive his tractor (with Seth and Syd in tow).

Occasionally the kids get to join in simple farm chores. Here Lucas is taking pruned raspberry bush branches over to the burn pile.  Syd and Seth know where to find the eggs, "little farm miracles," as described by Joyce.  

The chicks have arrived!!  There are eight of them and Joyce described them as "cotton balls with legs."  As soon as she said that I knew Syd would have a friend in her for life.  They talk the same language. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You Can Hear a Pin Drop

And a woodpecker peck.  And the sheep cry out for leftovers from their new friends.   I can see wild turkeys in the distance impressing their love interests with their full-feathered strut.  I can see the woods brimming with life and the field voles tempting the hawks that circle overhead.   This place is beautiful, but oh, the sound of it.  Most of you who know me know what sound can do to me -- it has the power to move me into a rage or in this case, to usher me into peace.  It is completely silent here except for the sounds of things of God.  I was prepared for the beauty, and the allure of the animals, and the quaintness of the carriage house, but not for the silence.  Thank you, Father in Heaven, for knowing what I needed. 

We are renting a 1300 square foot Carriage House that sits a few hundred yards back from the owner's main house.

The openness of the property and views is breathtaking.

The sheep and chickens have already warmed up to the kids and get all our leftovers.  I've never seen the kids eat so little. :)   Baby chicks are coming next week and we'll get to see them bond with a "foster hen" in a makeshift nursery.    While Drew is at work, the Andersons (owners) offered to take us to a nearby farm to see a 2-week old foal.

The owners have 55 acres of private field, forest, and rolling hills.  Mr. Anderson gave us a tour of all of it yesterday and showed the kids how to follow the stream home if they ever feel lost.  We learned how to identify different trees by their bark, and to watch the forest floor for deer and coyote tracks.  He is an Eagle Scout and loves to teach.  What a blessing.

It's hard to give you a sense of the topography with pictures, but there are ridges and ravines and mountains in the distance -- all safe for the kids to explore.

The farm is about 500 feet above sea level, but 6 miles up the road is the John Boyd Thatcher State Park, which is at 2000 feet above sea level.  The hiking is going to be incredible with the cliffs and the 300 foot waterfalls.  We aren't in Indiana anymore!

Pulled this photo from Wikipedia.  The Helderberg Escarpment is full of rocky cliff faces and makes for a beautiful backdrop for many Voorheesville homes.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I wanted to try to give you a sense of the place and our well-being.  This rental property has been an unbelievable way to start our season of change.  We have moments of tears and laughter in the same hour, but it's going to be okay. We are going to be okay.  Please don't worry about us.  God is speaking in the silence.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Stop Niagara Falls

Before writing any posts on how sad I feel to be moving away from everything I know and love, I wanted to start with some happy shots from our first family adventure. To split up our drive into two days, Drew looked for somewhere special to stay.  We knew it was going to be an emotional drive and we were hoping a "carrot" at the end of it might give the kids (and us) something else to focus on.  It ended up being the perfect call.  We stayed in a beautiful hotel overlooking Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. The border patrol was perfectly scary as he slowly reviewed our passports and asked us to remove our sunglasses, adding great drama to the experience. The hotel was as amazing as its pictures online.   Though the town felt a bit like Gatlinburg with its casinos and souvenir shops, what was authentic was the closeness in this first picture.  The day was exhausting, and emotional, and not without its tense moments. But we're doing it. Bit by bit. Together.  I so appreciated the kids' attitudes and fearlessness and love for each other -- no small thing today.  

The first of many family moments in this adventure...

Kind Canadians gave us a premium (and free!) upgrade to help make up for our family's difficult day.  Those are the United States falls you see behind Seth through our bedroom window.

What's a trip to Niagara Falls without the staged "I'm falling!" shot?   Leave it to Sydney.