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It’s Sunday night, the kids are all asleep (or at least pretending to be), and we’re on the cusp of going back to school after a two-week spring break. That’s right–two whole weeks of glorious spring break for the kids. It felt like an eternity and the blink of an eye all at once. Where did all that time go? It was time (mostly) well-spent.

Indiana mud. ‘Nuff said.
The first week, we were so lucky to have my parents come for a visit. Not only do the kids get to spend some one-on-one time with their out-of-town grandparents, it also means that I have some 24/7 babysitters. I’m not one to take advantage of people and force them to watch my kids, but when they so kindly offer, I’m going to take them up on their offer. Yeah, it was cold and rainy most of the week, but I needed to get the pastures and fencing in shape before the animals are turned back out on the green grass. By golly, I got sections of fencing redone that I’ve been waiting years to do. There were some long, backbreaking days, but I love crossing off things from my to-do list that have been begging to be done.
Saying goodbye already.
We also saved some time for doing fun things, like buying feed and fencing, going out for shakes and slushies, passing around the stomach flu, and doing lots and lots of laundry since everyone was either muddy and/or barfing. Ah, gotta love spring break and the gifts that keep giving.
Tearing apart our old tractor so we can put it back together again.
We had exactly ten seconds with Jack before he had to go off on the first of his back-to-back-to-back work trips. What did we do? Spent it tearing apart our old tractor that kicked the bucket this winter. Boo! Thankfully, Jack understands machines the way I understand horses, though it’s going to be a long and greasy job to get it all fixed. I’m hoping we’ll have it done before next winter when we’ll be back to feeding hay exclusively. We’ll see. I’m told I sometimes have unrealistic expectations of how long it’ll take to actually get a job done.
Once we dropped off Jack at the airport and had a pinch of sunshine (never mind the temperatures hovering around freezing), we stopped at a park to let the kids play somewhere other than our mushy, wet playground at home. The nice thing about crummy, cold weather is that nobody else thinks to go play at the park. We had it all to ourselves and had a blast playing until our fingertips and noses were numb.
We warmed up with lunch at McDonald’s. I know, I know. Not my favorite restaurant either, but kids don’t have very high standards and I had some coupons Henry was gifted over Valentine’s Day, so I was happy to oblige their desire to eat crappy hamburgers and salty fries. I do think their ice cream is delicious, however. I’m a sucker for soft serve.
Another monumental occurrence over spring break happened when Adam had his first haircut. He’s definitely the youngest to go under the clippers, but his hair grows like the weeds in my flowerbeds once I’ve given up. It’s bittersweet watching him shed the last parts of his babyhood, especially since he’s the baby, but his fuzzy hair had to go sooner or later. At least he giggled for a majority of his buzzcut since it tickled his head. And just like that, he’s a little man. Excuse me while I go cry about my children growing up too fast.
Our maple syrup season was another good one this year. We managed to collect a decent amount of sap, avoided totally ruining our stove when it boiled over once, and have a nice stockpile of syrup to smother our pancakes with this year, so long as we don’t drink it directly out of the mason jar. That means when the weather and sunshine stop the flow of sap, we have to go out and pull taps. It was all hands on deck, and we were able to get it done within ten minutes. Thank you maple trees! You’re always so good to us!
Despite how busy I keep having everyone at home and trying to get our pre-gardening, pre-pasture grazing, pre-summer plans all straightened out, the kids still accumulate a surprising amount of free time. They know better than to tell me they’re bored–that’ll earn them some time helping me with my chores–so they find things to occupy their time.
Claire, for example, made friendship bracelets like they were going out of style by hooking the thread between two Lego blocks and wedging it between her knees. Thank goodness we have embroidery thread on hand so she didn’t have to slow down. I think she is wearing them from her wrist up to her elbow now and she tells me she’s going to share with friends when she gets to school. I was even gifted a particularly cute one that I rather love. Best kind of jewelry is the stuff a loved one makes, in my opinion.

Though I cry about my babies growing up, it’s not all bad to have them get older. The three older girls have begun asking if they can have a later bedtime on the weekends. Sometimes I regret it the next day when they’re crabby, but for the most part, I like having some big kid time without having to wrestle a crayon out of a baby’s mouth or break up a fight over a blanket between the toddler and his brother. One evening, Evelyn, Claire, Kate, and I spent engrossed in a game of Clue. It took FOREVER to play, everyone eventually guessed wrong (which means I won, haha!), and it was a blast. I sometimes need those reminders to sit my hind end down and just enjoy being without the incessant need to check something off my to-do list.

One of the other things I love about school breaks is that the kids ebb and flow from orbiting around me. Sometimes, I feel like the nucleus of an atom, with all the electrons (a.k.a. children) spinning around me at dizzying speeds. Other times, I am completely and utterly alone, without a child in sight, usually when I say I’m going to go do some work. If I’m lucky, I can snag one or two of them to help me. Often if there’s a power tool involved, I’m more likely to convince a kid that they should stick around and help.
Along with our usual garden plot, we’ve been making a few raised beds for plants that don’t do particularly well in the native Indiana clay. The best part is we’ve been able to use about 85% repurposed wood–remember all that fencing I was doing the first week? Turns out it and the round pen planks we removed over Thanksgiving break make excellent raised beds. Just a few cuts, attaching them together, some linseed oil, fill them with what I’ve mucked out of the stalls, combine with some topsoil, and we’re good to go!
Girl power!
It was also inevitable that the animals would run out of hay while Jack was gone and the tractor was dead. That meant it was up to us girls to muscle a half-ton bale of hay out to the greedy cows. It took some grunting and maneuvering, but we managed to achieve our goal. We would have given each other high fives, but we all got manure on our hands when it rolled through it on the way to the hay ring, so it was words of encouragement that we shared. It was nice to know we can do it…but I still miss that cantankerous old tractor. Get well soon!
Our last hoorah before school returned to session for the final quarter was to visit the zoo. Like the park, the same principle of going when the weather isn’t conducive to people being outdoors also applies. We choose a fairly brisk, overcast day to go and renew our membership. I was fairly certain we were going to freeze to death while waiting for them to take all the needed information for our membership, but we survived and were able to warm up in the aquarium building. No fingers or toes were lost to frostbite, probably because by the time they were trying to pet the sharks, they forgot they were cold.
The walruses were by far the best part of the trip. The two of them were having an epic playfight right at the edge of the glass. They’d bodyslam their blubber right in the kids’ faces and would chase each other off. If there’s one thing I love, it’s watching animals have fun.
It wasn’t a surprise that a lot of the animals still weren’t out for display since it was pretty chilly out. All that really mattered was that Claire got to see all their big cats–the tigers, lions, and cheetahs. If that’s all we’d seen that day, she would have gone home a happy girl. Thankfully, we did, so she was.
Adam, however, was…not. By the end of our half-day trip to the zoo, he was little more than a deflated coat, lying face-down on his brother’s backpack. One of the blessings and cursings of being a baby is you can fall asleep wherever you want and it doesn’t matter. It’s always a bit of a tender mercy to me as a mother when a kid finally quits fighting and just gives into the tiredness. He was transferred to his car seat with little more than a whimper and had a blissful, restful car ride home where he woke up, probably wondering if the whole thing was a dream.
She PROMISES she brushed her hair.

And just like that, our spring break is all wrapped up. That means no more late weeknight games, no more sleeping in until breakfast is over, no more days without brushing hair,  no more baby gang roaming the property, looking for a good time, no more impromptu kid cushion sandwiches. Despite the sometimes incessant bickering, screaming, and constant noise, I do miss everyone when they’re back to doing their own thing and the house is (relatively) quiet again.

At least until summer, which is only a short eight weeks away.
Bring it.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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