Monday, December 24, 2012

The ties that bind

Traditions- those that we realize we have, and those that we aren't even aware of: they are so very important to families. They are the very things that we remember from our childhoods.  The things that add specialness to an occasion. The things that we look forward to year after year.

Growing up, there were very very few traditions in my family. I was practically giddy with glee with anticipation the first holiday season married with my husband. Ever a completely hopeless (unrealistic) romantic, I was sure that his family played the annual game of touch football on Thanksgiving and sang Christmas carols with someone playing the piano at Christmas.

That isn't quite what happened. Instead, there was the annual bickering that got more and more complicated and , frankly, soul-sucking.

The only "traditions" that could be found were nothing like my imagination, and nothing like what I wanted for my family. Even Mr. Grinch learned that the traditions that mean something weren't found under the tree. Yet, it seems like that is all too often the greed and materialism is the only reason for the season.

Dreams of family traditions faded away under the stress of making everyone happy and keeping the sanity.
Added to that, any little traditions we had tried to grow in our own little new family often felt silly and forced, especially when our children were tiny. No child really cares about those types of things. 

Making family traditions takes work. Just like any other good habit, the fruit isn't seen for many years, and sometimes it just seems like a waste of time. The easiest thing is to quit.

I wish that we had fought to make and keep the kinds of traditions that were meaningful and special. Legacy that could be looked back on with fond memories that were so special they want to keep them for their own families. I don't remember a single present that I ever opened in my childhood, but I do remember some of the things that made the holdiays special.

For my own children, I hope that they are able to push past the hard work of creating their own traditions. I also hope that they include me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting together the school "year"

Even though we school year-round, things always feel like they are "starting" in the fall. It's probably the fact that my shopping cart gets filled with wonderful school supplies. I do love some school supplies!

In truth about half of our subjects begin in the fall, the other half in the spring. In some ways, that makes things a little bit harder because I'm always adding in new curriculum and needing to change and tweak things. In other ways, it is easier because I don't have to prepare so much all at one time.

My printer and copier are very busy going through reams of paper as I print out and prepare for the coming quarter. I used to love being the teacher's helper, and I still enjoy doing my own preparing. It allows me to get  to know the curriculum, and gives me time for things to settle in my mind how everything is going to work together. I do admit that I wish I could clone myself for a few days to get all caught up though!!

This year I am teaching 8th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd grades. From Algebra to phonics. I'm thankful that I am a multi-tasker through and through. That helps a lot getting through so many different kinds of tasks every day.

Every year I make mental notes on what each student needs to accomplish. This year I am writing it down and posting it on my cork board as goals to make sure that we are keeping on track. I've been spending a lot of time making goals and really thinking about what the most important things to accomplish are.  This is the last year that the oldest has before high school and I want to make sure that I have met goals and filled in holes.

We took 2 weeks off of science to celebrate our accomplishment of finishing BJU's Life Science. One week just to relax, and the other to do a unit of Forensic Science, which they really enjoyed.

 I agonized over which middle school science to use, but I really feel like I made a great choice. The courses are very challenging, and have really stretched both of them. They have learned so much- not just about life science, but also about how to read a textbook, how to pick apart the most important parts of the text, outline it, and use those notes effectively for a test. Such valuable skills for them to have. Even with all of that workload, they've still managed to develop and maintain a love of learning science.

Showing Daddy what they've learned:

Looking at blood:
These pictures were the very last lab that we did (and we did all of them): dissecting a heart. We had a sheep's heart, but it just so happened that we slaughtered a beef. Knowing our experiment was coming up in a few days, we kept the heart and also used it. It was great having this giant model to use!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby Calf

Daisy gave another calf this morning!

This is abut an hour after s/he was born. Such a wobbly cutie!!

This is Frank's last calf that we'll have. He sure did throw some good looking cows!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Busy Month

The month absolutely flew by.

These two sweethearts are growing so fast.

This young man turned 12.

We had a mowing emergency. The goat weed (our arch enemy) was going to seed. Husband and I worked together to mow all of the pastures. It took almost 2 weeks mowing an hour or two here and there per day for each of us. It was hot, dirty, and buggy work. The goal for next year is to mow twice during the year (running a herd of calves on the land) and see if that cuts down on the weeds for 2014. Farming is definately best played proactively, not reactively.

We completely ran out of meat, and butchered our beever. Not exactly the right time of year for that...but we work with what we've got. Over 300 pounds of ground, roasts, and steaks in the freezer. We also rendered the tallow.

The oldest and I had a Mother/Daughter ice cream date.

Husband and some of the children have been working hard cleaning out  and organizing his shop. They've also been doing quite a bit of wood working projects.

I've been working at expanding my soap business.

Husband and I had an anniversary: 16 years now.

Since we school all year, we don't have a big deal about going "back" in August. In fact, we had quite a few off days. A week at the beginning of the month for art camp, plus quite a few other days off for the cow butchering and other items. We will be starting new subjects or new books in about half the cases. We will have one more week of the "old" science to go before the new book. I suppose we're easing back into a new quarter.

Seems like each day has been crammed to the brim as we've tried to make the most out of each week.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My plans and remembering the goal

I really ought to know better than to make plans and goals for any time frame! My goals for this week were to get caught up on some miscellaneous items, replinish my store's soaps, get caught up on business stuff, prepare some school things for next quarter, and a little time of quiet and just "me" time. None of that actually fully happened, least of all the quiet and alone time :)

The one day I thought it might, #1 asked to come with me on errands. I sort of pretended I didn't get the hint. As it is with young people, it was important enough for her to ask Daddy, who then offered to petition me with the request.

Being all to aware of how hurtful it can be to be turned down, and how horrible comments suggesting that I need to be alone can be: she came. And chatted. Then after we got home, the younger girl chatted and chatted and chatted. Did I mention there was a lot of chatter that day?

One of the challenges for me is meeting the emotional needs of 7 people daily. Little ones need hugs, biggers need hugs and smiles and talks, husbands need hugs and smiles and talks and time and attention. And I need to meet my emotional needs. Refill and recharge.

There was a time when I could run full speed constantly without a break. I don't find that nearly as easy as I did years ago! Good thing for a nursling- breaks are mandatory. Good design- that was!

It's possible that I'm a little sensitive about the subject, but I never want my children to feel like I'm too tired for them. I don't want them to feel like because of anything else I'm doing, or because of anyone else in the house, I can't do something with them. True, it isn't always possible to meet every need, but most times it is possible. I bristle to have it suggested that I'm too tired, or that because of the baby I can't do this or that with them. Those statements (and variations) can build a lot of resentment, and make little people feel that they aren't as important or valuable as whatever or whoever is "taking their place".
Far more important than providing a roof over their heads and food to fill their tummy is filling that emotional need.

 That's what creates the bond, filling one another's emotional cup. As several people are quoted: "A child may not remember what you taught them, people may not remember what you said or did, but they will all remember how you made them feel".

Friday, August 3, 2012

The little art campers

Despite the fact that smiling for the camera seemed to be an impossible feat, these two had a good time and had nice artwork to show.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week off

A week off of school- yipee!!

#2 and #3 are having a morning week at art camp this week, so I decided it was a great week to just call off the rest of school and get caught up on some things.

Yesterday I did some gardening items, plus primered the rocking chairs and another chair, plus rebatched some soap. Today I've been getting a start on organizing my recipes. That will be a lot of work! I also got caught up on laundry, sewed a little for my store, washed a few of the windows, started making a menu, and tried to get a little caught up on my work work. 

Of course, we did a little of this too:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Family updates

The Baby is doing great. He was as big at 4 weeks as #1 was at 3 months. He's still very much a newbie even if he doesn't fit the size. He's settled into a pretty good night time routine of every 3 hours or so. He sleeps by himself as often, or more, than he sleeps with me. He's beginning to smile at us.

#5 thinks he is one of the big ones now. He must accompany Daddy or Momma for outside chores or trips on the mule. If not, his feelings are terribly hurt.

The spring garden has been ripped out and the fall garden planted. We're gearing up to attend at least one farmer's market this fall. Planting gardens, propagating and potting plants and making soaps are keeping the rest of us busy. We made plenty of time to eat some good watermelon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby bliss

My husband commented that it's been over a month since my last post. What can I say other than I've been in Baby Bliss.

The long awaited baby boy was born on June 14th weighing a whopping 9 lbs, 14 oz. (I think I have bragging rights for life now!)

In all his new squishy, dewy newness- ahhhhhh!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

9 or so days to go

For some reason, I was awake before everyone else this morning. I stayed in bed and enjoyed the time with my baby. I'm ashamed that I let the busyness of life get ahead of savoring the moments sometimes. I still have to remind myself of how precious this time is. How fleeting. There may never be another morning when only I can feel a baby in my tummy. Happy, growing, squirming. Just he and I. What a privilege to carry a life inside.

With weekly trips to the Little Big City, I let both Mother's Day and Memorial Day pass by without my new tradition of taking the time to myself. I should have done it anyway, but it was hard to justify when I feel like I'm gone too much anyway and there's still so much to do. I did take quiet time to remember my little ones that I carry in my heart on Memorial Day.  I will carry them always. While I remember and grieve over them any time during the year, I appreciate taking the time to purposely acknowledge their lives. Short as they were- I carried them, and I will not forget.

~In household news, 3 out of 5 children have now had CP. I wonder if the older ones will.
~Water could possibly be in our house this week.
~I've done all of the returns and tied up many other loose ends- whoo-hooo! Everything that I do manage just means that's one less thing to do after the little one's arrival. Stuff still has to get done, it's just easier when things are done before there is an infant's needs and schedule to worry about, and also easier when things are as organized as possible
~Replaced the sconce that was broken almost 2 years ago.
~New market opening in our little town. I really miss it this year. The hustle and bustle surrounding market days, the socializing (!!), the satisfaction of people's praise over your products.
~ Saw the midwife today, and she's fairly certain that Baby is over 9 lbs. Plus I measure 42 weeks (I'm not quite 39 yet). Hmmmmmmm. Happy for a healthy baby, of course...but that doesn't make me look forward to delivery!

Monday, May 28, 2012

38 weeks

2 babies have come at 38 weeks, so I know it could be any time.
The uncomfortable part of me is more than ready, but the other parts of me just isn't! There's still so many loose ends to tie up, and things to do, plus the fact that the sooner I have the baby the less likely I'm going to have any water relief fills me with dread.

Regardless, preperations continue on.

There are 18 dinners ready to go. 8 breakfasts (obviously the one I worry with the least) and 15 lunches. Not bad for a week's work.

Only 2 plants left to plant, and those will be done this evening. I'm shocked and proud of us for what we managed to accomplish with the gardens with all else that has gone on.

All shopping is done until fall. I made a very strict budget of $100/child including swimware and shoes, $50 to fill in gaps with the new baby, $50 for #5, only undershirts and town shorts for the husband, and nothing for me. I ended up needing swimware, but that's it. After all, I'm going to be 5 different sizes this summer, so why bother buying anything. I'm pleased to say that I stuck with the budget! New undies and socks, plus toothbrushes, and we are all set to go.

The pool is built, and stable. We're still having some issues with the water color, and we haven't hooked up the spa (thus my inability to use it for labor if I go at night, which I usually do). We're enjoying it to it's full potential, regardless!

Baby clothes are washed, and ready. Birth kit assembled. Laundry caught up.

Whatever time I have left will be spent trying to tie up loose ends in the garden and business. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

4 week countdown

I can't believe that I'm in the final month of this pregnancy! This has been by far the fastest pregnancy I've had. Being well aware that this could be my last pregnancy, I want to soak in every good, and turn a blind eye to the uncomfortable. Of course that doesn't stop me from complaining, but I am also well aware of how very much worse the pain could be! There's no denying though, that every pregnancy is just hard, but it is a very very precious time.

Things have been more than crazy these last few months on the farm. Seems like we've just been spinning in our tracks trying to get our list done. We had goals set for the year, but one thing right after another have been delayed. In fact, seems like everything has broken or been delayed which of course caused multiple chain reactions causing nearly everything on our list to not be done. From a list-checker-offer's point of view- this has been devastating news!

 Frankly, all things considering, I feel like I've done a decent job of letting go and just dealing the hand I'm dealt. All things considering. I only cried once, and while I'm getting pretty snarky and personally contacting the well guy (which, admittedly, isn't exactly "letting go") all in all, I've handled things very well. Really, I have. All things considering. I'm not ready to talk about the well yet, though.... Except for the water situation, most other things have been resolved. While that did indeed put me way way behind on everything else on my list of things to accomplish, that's out of my control, so all I can do is the best I can until the baby comes.

 Rather than focus on all of the things that I did not get to, I'm going to focus on what has been accomplished.

~Wipes have been made.
~Suburban has been serviced.
~Barn has been finished. About 3/4 of the stuff has been moved out there, and I did finally leave the rest to my husband who I think was a little tired of me trying to interfere and get it done. (I let go- yeah!)
 ~Fireplace and tools scrubbed down and summerized. Still looking for a mirror to also go in there.
~All the doors WD-40ed.
~laundry room junk drawers organized.
Since it took me a week to actually post this blog post, I'll stop here. :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

As I reflect on my job as a mother, I realize that I:

-Have been pregnant 12 times, for a total of about 71 months
-Have changed more than 20,000 diapers
-Done more than 2,000 loads of laundry
-Breastfed for more than 48 months
-Cooked way more than 5,000 meals
-Bandaged uncountable ouchies, cleaned up countless vomit puddles
-Had countless sleepless night caring for crying babies or sick children
-Homeschooled for 10 years so far in 7 grades
-Currently homeschool 4 children in 4 grades and work fulltime and run my household without outside help (not including plenty of DiGiorno's pizzas).
-I don't have easy pregnancies.
-I don't have easy births.
-I don't have perfect children.
-I don't have outside help, paid or family.
-Things are never perfect, and they rarely run perfectly smoothly.

It's worth every second.

When I chose to give up any of my own dreams and ideas of what I thought I would do with my life before children, I had no idea what was in store for me. How "just being a stay at home mom" (although I think I really fit more into the "work at home mom" category) would challenge and change me in ways I could never dream of. I didn't know of the sense of accomplishment when I look around after a hard day and can see the fruit of my hands. From learning to read and tackling Algebra, we're conquering every hill. Even in the days when I think I can't- if I can just dig out a bit and give myself a good pep talk, I can see that little by little, I CAN. More than that- I AM.

Frankly, I never knew it would be so hard. I also never knew what I was capable of accomplishing. In a world where there is almost never encouragement for women like me, a world that tells me that I'm crazy to have so many children, and does it's best to prevent any more lives, a world that insists it can teach my children better than I can, and that things are "too hard": that makes things even more difficult. Then there are those 6 holes in my heart that no one else will dare talk about. I still remember them, and I am still their mother.

I'm in the trenches. Every day is huge and bursting with a million things that must be done, taught, and fixed. Every day can seem the same as the day before. It can seem overwhelming and completely exhausting. It can seem like I'm not getting anywhere and all of it is for nothing.

Thing is, as we walk this road, we may never get acknowledgement or support. No one may ever know the sacrifices and tears that went into our job. Even so, there is a great satisfactory pride in the knowledge that every day I'm doing it. Every day is moving us in a direction, and each day that I don't quit means that it is in a positive direction. One more life lesson, one more educational lesson, one more meal, one more feeding for the body and soul. One more life.

I never knew it would be so worth it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More cleaning and purging

After moving 13 times in 15 years, clutter hasn't ever really been an issue for us. Every 8 months, we move, and spend a month cleaning out all of the junk that accumulated during that time. No problem, right?

I knew it was going to be a challenge for us now that we've finally settled down. I was right. I am a certified type A personality. I *need* order and cleanliness. Multiply that by the fact that we have a home business and 5.5 children, and I really really need things to be clean and orderly. Reality check is that I just don't have time to keep things to the level that I would rather they be, I married somewhat of a pack-rat, and more than half of my children take after him and not me :)

However, I have made significant progress during my nesting efforts in anticipation of #6.

I cleaned out our master closet. I need to do so again and keep reducing the needless junk.

I tackled the huge pile of stuff that had made it's way to the corner of our room.

I dumped everything that didn't belong in our room in one pile, and dealt with all of it.

Yippee- that was 4 more bags to Goodwill (in addition to a box of junk I found in the garage), and a clean room again! Usually we're pretty good about not letting junk pile up in our room, but for the last year after #5 was born, it somehow just happened. We were both so happy to have our calm sanctuary back after cleaning it up that we agreed not to let it happen again. Master bedrooms that are a true retreat is something worth working for!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The power of music

The power of music
Those who have met me would probably describe me as a no-nonsence, get-it-done, realistic person. All of that is true, but if you peel back those layers you'll find that I'm really just a giant mush ball who is quite sensitive. I just don't allow the time to dwell and absorb. But music- those lyrics can just cut right though to the heart of the matter. Of course, it's not just the lyrics- its never the same just to read the words, but combined with the music makes a very powerful combination.

I love music. I was surrounded by music when I was growing up, and do so whenever I am alone- sewing or driving mostly. Even still, those opportunities don't come up very often!

I must have really been living in a cave, because I hadn't heard the Rascal Flats song "I Won't Let Go" Immediately I fell in love with the song, as I do any song that can make me cry. That's what its all about, isn't it? To have that person or people in our life who can hold you up in your darkest moments- who will be there to do what needs to be done when you can't, and clean up the mess (and tears). I've heard it many times now, and it still makes me choke up.

Then, I heard this one not too long ago- I was in the car with one of my girls, and I caught some of the lyrics, and quickly changed the station. I knew it was one of "those" songs. Sanctus Real - “Lead Me”
I came home and googled the lyrics, and I went weak. There they were- the begging of my heart for the past several years all written out. I locked myself alone and sobbed for a good half hour. Music is so powerful.

I saved off the lyrics and the youtube video of another song. I sent an email to myself, and titled it "for another time, another place" a year ago. Every now and then, I read off the lyrics and watch the video. It's so powerful to me that I cant allow myself to dwell on it- the story of where I wish were, where I thought I would be, and the reminder of where I am not, but the slow process of healing and the question of daring to hope: Faith to be Strong_ by Andrew Peterson.

The power of music to reach an emotional level that we aren't always willing to reach on our own- what speaks to us, tugs at our hearts, and makes us remember a time, place, or feeling. Very powerful stuff.

Now, back to my pragmatic self :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time to garden

The last 4 weeks have been a mad dash around here as we prepare hundreds of plants for our spring Master Gardener Plant Sale. It is one of the big events that the children look forward to every year. As well they should, the two oldest make hundreds of dollars each! Well earned, as they work hard from the beginning of Feb through April to prepare their selections from start to finish, and then interact with all of their customers closing each sell.

This year is our biggest yet. We have over 500 plants, and there really are more to do, but I'm not sure that we'll get past this many.

It's hard to keep this clan indoors for any length of time this time of year! Normally, the bulk of our homeschooling is done in winter and summer, but our winter was so mild that we only had about a week of inside-all-day type weather. That means we aren't taking as much time off in the spring as we normally do. Still, lessons are a bit shorter, and I don't mind dropping a few things so that we can spend as much time outside as possible.

We've built new permaculture beds. And by "we", I mean them, not me.

We were hoping the barn would be finished by now, but there was a 2 month delay on the doors, so that's still on the unfinished list. The well is another unfinished item, although we're still plugging away at trying to get that resolved. They will be putting new casing and screening and substrate in very soon. If that doesn't fix it, we'll be drilling a brand new hole.

We are enjoying the fruits of our garden to it's fullest! We have meals several times per week when we realize everything we're eating came straight from our farm. We're rich, indeed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dates on a Calendar

A year ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of remembering and encouraging. Why, as a society, since the beginning of time we have needed and even depended on those things. It was a very eye opening thought process for me.

Life happens quickly while we work work work, and fill our time packed full with whatever we're doing. Rare indeed is the person who takes the time, energy, thought and resources to spontaneously show another person how much they mean to them. Easy it is to put more effort into the everyday than the more important.

As a homeschool mom of (soon to be) 6, work at home, home keeper, and home steader, I have plenty to keep me occupied. I found that I was putting myself always last on the list of people to take care of. I love to serve other people, and will go far out of my way to do so. I forget to do the same for me.

For the past year or so, I've made an effort to do a little something special for myself on those calendar holidates. Without that date, I wouldn't ever make the effort. I'd "get to it later", or "not worry about it". I find that I really look forward to the day, almost as if I would if I were celebrating it in traditional, commercial style. For many reasons, it is a good thing for me.

I didn't take the time to have my little shopping excursion on my own time, so I didn't get around to my dangley earrings and little treat that I had my heart set on. I'll get to it later, I suppose.

Meanwhile, I will continue my little tradition on the next calendar holidate. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Status Update

I'm way slower to get my goals completed than I'd like to admit to! The weeks are flying by. Of course, it isn't helping that I'm only getting one, or sometimes two good energy days per week. The other days are spent in survival and nap mode.

Never the less, I'm plugging away.

Here's my desk before:

And after 5 hours of filing things exactly where they belong:

The only thing left is a small order that is ready to be shipped out.

Next up: the cubbies and shelves above the desk. Since those don't have a big pile called "I have no idea what to do with this, but need to keep it", they should hopefully be much easier to conquer.

It is an incredibly busy time. We are sowing seeds, cleaning up gardens, preparing new gardens, and we have the barn project and the well project going on as well. Yesterday we had groups planting onions, cleaning out the barn, weeding the garden, making cheese, cleaning the craft room, sewing, and preparing for a freeze.

What about my 2012 goals?
1. About half the time
2. January was a complete fail, but I did make the menu for Feb. I haven't been that great at following it, though....
3. A constant struggle, but still working
4. ditto
5. Exercising 1-2 days per week. Not as much as I'd like, but better than nothing.
Slow progress, but progress none-the-less.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The landscaping around here is looking different!

First, the huge hole in my front yard is gone.

Next, a barn is being built.

Also, the great clutter and clean-out is under way!
I met my goal of 5 more (small) bags of clutter and trash out the door- hooray! Husband and the children spent a hard 2 hours outside cleaning a huge amount of trash up from the area around the house. Our huge trash can is full, which never happens, so I'd say that was a job well done.

Husband brought some more storage shelves into the garage, so it looks like I'm ready for Round 2 in there.

Monday, January 16, 2012

January Goals- cut the clutter

My biggest goal for January is to cut out a good amount of clutter in the house. Also, I still working on catching up a bit from my 3 months of first trimester ick.

I had gone through the trouble of embarrassing myself and taking a picture of the mess, but it seems to have disappeared.

In short, every counter top was completely covered and piled high with stuff that needed to find a new home, or be put away.

Here's the after: (obviously I didn't stage it!)

Everything still on the laundry counter found it's way to it's proper drawer, so it is all clear now.

To be fair, my wonderful husband actually cleared and scrubbed the two white counter tops. I dealt with the clutter and cleaned the laundry area. There's quite a bit still to do in here. When the barn is built, a lot more of the "stuff" will have a new home, and at that time, I will clean out the cabinets and drawers a bit more ruthlessly. Meanwhile, I had 4 small trash bags full, and 2 Goodwill bags that all went out the door- Woot!

I would also like to do some decorating in this room.

In addition to the laundry room, one large trash bag was filled from the cabinets in the mudroom, and from under the kitchen sink. (What on earth do I keep that stuff for, anyway??)

Two huge arm-loads of clothing was taken to the consignment shop, and another large, but half-full trash bag full of clothes was taken to Goodwill. I already feel lighter!

In light of the de-cluttering, husband asked me to stay out of his office!

My office is also being attacked, slowly, though....the baby can undo as fast as I can clean!

The unfinished project list:
Huge burn piles by the road are slowly being cleaned up.
history planned and purchased
worked on cleaning/organizing craft room

Goal for the week: 5 more small trash bags out the door
Get caught up on make-ahead kitchen items
make mint and oatmeal soap

Thursday, January 5, 2012

13 Years

Today our oldest daughter turned 13.

Time goes by way too fast.

I always get very sentimental on her birthday. After all, it was 13 years ago that I became a mother. I remember as the doctor walked out the door, he turned to us and said "Now comes the hard part".

These last 13 years have been both very slow and very quick. She's made me who I am every bit as much as I've made her who she is- because of each other, as well as in spite of each other we've grown into the people we are today. I had no idea 13 years ago that this would be the hardest thing, but also the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I do not regret for one moment "giving up my life" and choosing to be a full time mother. 13 years ago I began this journey with this child.

I am proud of the young adult that she is becoming, and I look forward to this next faze of our journey together.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Bug.