Happy 6th Birthday Natalie!

Dear six-year old Natalie,

Now that all of your friends have gone home and the party is officially over, I can take time to wish you a very happy birthday. Today you are six years old. It seems like just yesterday that I held you for the first time. Your arrival marked my very first Mother’s Day. It was surreal. Meeting you changed me forever. It was about this time at night that you were born. Shortly after 9 p.m. on May 10th, 2008. The next morning, I held you while someone brought me my first Mother’s Day breakfast. I don’t remember the food that was on that hospital tray, but I do remember the little laminated card that came alongside it that said “Thank A Mom Today.” I still have the card. I don’t think I’ll ever throw it away. Then I had no idea what being a mom really meant. I’m still learning six years later…

I’ve struggled with what I was going to write for your birthday this year. Partly I think, because I’ve been a tad bit sad that you’re getting so big. I’ve watched you grow from a little baby that I could carry in one arm, to a small girl that doesn’t need to be carried at all. You have changed so much throughout the years, and it scares me a little to watch your chubby baby cheeks thin into a little girl’s face.

Today you woke me up at 5 a.m. by jumping into my bed to tell me that it was time for your party. You were so excited, and so was I. The night before, while you slept, I made you a cake and decorated the dining room with streamers and balloons. It was a special surprise for you. One that I knew you’d love. One of the things I adore about you is your enthusiasm and desire to make all things special. When I ask you what you want for lunch, you always say a picnic. You think eating your lunch at the table is fine, but a picnic is special, and therefore more fun. You’re always looking for ways to make things more fun. I hope you never lose that. One year when you were younger, perhaps 3 or so, you decided that you needed special Christmas plates for your toy kitchen. You couldn’t imagine serving up a delicious meal of plastic food without festive plates for the holiday season. You love ALL holidays because you know it means decorating and celebrating – two of the things you are so good at. Every occasion is a special occasion for you. I love that. I’m glad that you are always looking to celebrate things, no matter how mundane. 

When your friends arrived, you happily ran around with them and spent almost the entire 4 hours laughing. It made me so happy, even if I was a little overwhelmed by 12 kids running around the yard. I’m glad that at 6 years old you have lots of little girlfriends to giggle with, and celebrate with. After the cake and presents, your friends went home and you looked so very tired. I could tell that all you wanted to do was curl up in your bed. When I kissed you goodnight you said “Thanks for the streamers mom.”

Thank you, Natalie! Thank you for noticing that I tried my best to make your day special – even if it was with balloons and streamers from the dollar store. Thank you for being the best daughter a mom could hope to have. You were the best Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever received. 

Happy birthday to our leader of the pack. Our number one girl. The sensitive and loving, heart on her sleeve, sassypants Nattie B. We love you always, and forever!



p.s. A picture of you on your special day.


I May Never Milk a Goat and That’s OK!

It’s been awhile since my last post. Let me tell you why. I got a little distracted. In the depths of my winter despair, I had come to the conclusion that I was never going to leave the house again. Every single day I’d look out the window and it would be more snow, more whiteouts, and more bone-chilling cold. I was sure that I was on the set of The Day After Tomorrow Pt. 2. As a result, I spent a lot of time looking at Pinterest. I have a love/hate relationship with that site, but that’s a whole different story. One day as I was looking at pins of fantastic (and unrealistic) ideas, I came across a link for modern-day homesteading. OK, I know what you’re thinking, and trust me, I’m not turning into a pioneer or anything. At least not anymore. I came to my senses rather quickly when I realized the amount of work involved in that lifestyle. BUT… I did find some really good ideas on these sites. So I decided that hell, if these women could grow their own vegetables, raise and slaughter their own animals and sew clothing for their huge gang of children, I could too. All of the information on the topic made sense to me because I was SURE that I’d never see civilization again. I thought it was about time I learned how to kick it old school. REALLY old school. It must have been a complete mental breakdown or a case of severe cabin fever that led me to believe that I could start making crap from scratch. But regardless, it kept me occupied for awhile. First I started making bread. It wasn’t that hard, and it was really worth the time and effort. Then I decided to make my own cheese, which let me tell you, is NEVER a good idea. After that fail I decided that since I was never going to make cheese from the milk of a goat (which of course I would raise and milk myself), that I’d start canning. I know a lot of people who do this. To me it was always an insane idea. I buy jars of tomatoes. I do not spend hours packing them myself. But I kept clicking link after link… After that, I decided that it would be my mission to can my own tomatoes and prove that I too can spend hours doing something that I can easily buy at Costco. (I’m hoping that I will be able to taste a monumental difference thus justifying the massive amount of time, work and money I’ve thrown into this whole hair-brained idea.)

Obviously the first thing I needed was tomatoes. I knew that if I really wanted to be a show-off homesteader-wannabe, I would would have to grow them myself. One google search later I knew that milking animals wasn’t going to be my thing anymore because obviously GROWING VEGETABLES WAS!! Over a two month period I spent a few hours a day (I skipped my morning workouts in favour of sitting in front of the computer researching), reading about gardens. I figured out what I wanted to grow, how I was going to do it, and then I bought seeds online from a reputable seed company. When my seeds came I figured out the kind of set-up I needed to start indoors. I got it all started and planted my seeds. Every morning I’d run downstairs to see if I had any sprouts. It was like Christmas. When they finally started I was over-joyed (take that homesteaders!) I’ve run into some minor issues. Mainly that I planted WAY too many seeds. The panic set in when I counted over 300 good tomato seedlings. I’m sure that there will be mishaps, and I’ll probably freak out about the massive amount of weeding I’ll have to do, but I’m going to do it. Someone told me that I’d never ever follow through with this, and THAT my friends, is how you can be sure that I will. 

Here is a picture of my sunroom which is now my plant room. This is what happens when I get locked in the house all winter.