This is what the barn part of our backyard looks like right now. Hannah and Emmett are so fearless and daring – they’ve always scared me and catching Hannah up on the frozen barn roof was par for the course of how they tend to operate. For the record, she got herself down without problem. She and Emmett have the perfect mix of snow, mud and freezing (for them “refreshing”) temperatures. It’s funny because they make snowmen, complete with carrot noses, but when the sheep and goats get let out of the barn/stable for Rees to clean it out, they go around and eat all the snowman noses.
It was in the 70s last week (20s Celsius for our European friends) and now it’s freezing. Summer seems to last forever around here and spring and fall are gone in a blink. Being from Seattle and having temperatures in the 70s and 80s qualify as summer weather means that it feels like summer for much of the year to us – it just starts as “Seattle summer,” goes to “the hottest Portland summer temperatures summer” next and then settles into “freaking hot/sweltering summer” for most of the months that I always thought of as summer as a kid (and then some).
When the temperatures are freezing, life looks different here. Not just for us but for everyone. We all go into “hunker-down-winter-survival” mode. We are vigilant to keep water on so the pipes don’t freeze. We count the volts we are using to do life so that our stabilizer doesn’t explode. The electricity is not great (it was off from 8am til 5:30pm yesterday) and we move into only heating one room of the house and putting on our parkas before going into the kitchen to cook or do dishes. We have a propane heater that can heat up a whole room pretty well. I usually wear a stocking hat in my house, much to the amusement of my neighbors who just add another scarf to their heads. I’ll wear a scarf when I go out and about but I stand by the stocking hat as the best way to stay warm.
Candle-light lost its romance a long time ago, but the kids still like it. They tear off pieces of bread and toast them over the candle flame. As long as they weren’t watching a movie and had it cut off when electricity went out, they are pretty adaptable. There’s grace to appreciate the “cozy-ness” of all hanging out in one room and paring down on what we’re doing. We don’t do as many visits when it’s freezing outside, knowing that it’s difficult for people to receive guests when they are in winter-survival mode. I usually move toward 100% stove-top cooking one-pot meals or just buying non (bread) and eating it with whatever we can stuff inside. There are more games, puzzles, books, and drawings that happen when it’s freezing and it’s a little easier to chase the kids down to do school since they are usually either outside playing or inside the one warm room. We get stir-crazy for sure and when there is a fort built and children start wrestling and a little one is pacing around singing at the top of her lungs (darling really), it gets over-stimulating for me and I get irritable. We are usually able to find lots to be thankful for (thank you, God – that’s a grace!) and be content. At least until we see electricity get restored back to all the other neighbors and the apartments across the street from our neighborhood. It is really remarkable how quickly “thankful and content” turns into a pity party. But I’m growing in receiving grace in that pity party. We give the situation three boo’s: BOO, BOO, BOO!!! And then I focus on one task at a time, knowing it won’t last forever and that my foul mood will also pass. I used to internalize that and make judgements against myself like, “You aren’t really thankful, you are fickle. You really need to shape up.” Now I say, “Wow, Lord. My contentment seems pretty fickle. Thank you for loving me and using a fickle girl like me to glorify yourself. Help me operate in your grace, whatever this evening brings.” That’s the working of God’s grace in my life that I see in these days. Less about how I’m not cutting it, more about how He’s great no matter what and doesn’t need me to be super to reveal Himself.
The picture on the left is our veranda, which is equivalent to our living room. We have the propane heater going on the left. We are fortunate to have a three year old who will actually just go to sleep if she needs to, with us doing school and stuff all about her. Can you believe that?! I see God’s grace in where she came in the birth order. If she had been my first, I would have thought it had something to do with how I made the bed, invited her to lay down or how I told her to take a rest. Because He allowed us to have Hannah and Emmett first, we see it’s just how He made Annabel and can thank him for her ability to lay down and sleep if she’s tired. We also rejoice in Hannah and Emmett’s crazy creativity and “wildness” as they can find fun things to do no matter what the weather is like and have energy to take the garbage out for me or sweep the snow/ice/dirt mixture off our porch. The picture on the right is of Emmett and Annabel in their fort. Again, thank you God that they enjoy playing together.
I love how life is so connected to the seasons and I’m seeing how fast this season of having little kids goes. There are moments where it feels more like the endless, sweltering summer but when fall just skipped by last week, I was reminded that this season is really quite brief. So I want to enjoy it, which today will look like lemon tea, store-bought cookies, finishing a Nancy Drew book with Hannah, doing puzzles with Annabel and praising Emmett for being able to do all the puzzles by himself. We’ll reorganize the toy bins and I’ll chop up some things to get ready for Thanksgiving (which we’ll celebrate on Saturday). There will be some loosing of patience and not-wise choices too for sure (complete with ugly mommy faces, the ones that convey “what were you thinking?”). But by the grace of God, I think we’ll land on the thankful side of life.