In July of 1999, I decided at the last minute to join my parents and some friends for a weekend getaway in Northern Michigan. Traditionally, this weekend was reserved for my parents' card club only, but for the first time, it was decided that all of us "kids" were mature enough to party with them. So all the card-clubbers brought their kids, and some of the kids brought friends. My friend Christina brought a whole gang of friends. Among these friends was Jason, called "Martin" by his friends because 98% of the babies born in 1975 were named Jason, and you couldn't just yell JASON without 37 heads turning. We hit it off that weekend, and upon returning home I excitedly told my parents that I really liked Jason. "Jason?!" they exclaimed. "We thought you liked Martin!" "That's the same person!" I said. But it was understandable that they were confused, as none of the guys went by their real names. There was Gurp, Rud, and Nix, too!
We spent a lot of time together right from the start, and after just a couple weeks of dating, I took him up to our cabin. This never happens. The cabin is sacred and you must earn your place! Jason had a great time, but unfortunately broke his leg on a jet-ski and ended up in a very large, awkward cast. My parents were planning a trip to Baltimore and I wanted to go and bring Jason-with the cast. For some reason, they agreed, even though I'd only known him for a little over a month. I'm pretty sure he earned his place in the family when he beat my dad and uncle on the golf course, with that cast on his leg and just a five iron and a putter.
And then, when I took him to my grandma's birthday dinner, she pulled me aside and said, "Jason reminds me of a man I had a torrid love affair with when I was younger. You marry him." I guess that settled it!
That year was the historic Y2K. Remember all of the hype about exactly what would happen at the stroke of midnight 2000? We were partying it up on the streets of New Orleans, with 37 other guys named Jason, and were delighted that when midnight came, nothing happened.
We were engaged the following July, and married in March of 2001.
We spent our first week as a married couple on the beaches of Punta Cana.
And then, as they say, the rest is history...
We've lived in seven houses, including one of them twice, and in three different states.
We've been to Las Vegas and explored outside the city on motorcycle.
We've taken bike trips around Lake Superior to the North, to Tail of the Dragon in the South, and to New York via Canada for a wedding.
We've taken several winter trips to Florida to soak up the warm sunshine.
We have run races together, and cheered for each other separately.
We have mourned over lost loved ones, both family and friends, and celebrated everyday miracles. We've had low points including miscarriages and unemployment and personal struggles, but the good times far outweigh the bad. The low points were so low, but so few, and the high points? Well, I can't even give you a list. The high points are our daily lives and the health of our children and the support of our family and friends. High points are things like a family dinner with no complaints, or two points scored by an eight year old in a basketball game, or a Saturday with absolutely no plans at all.
We've laughed until we cried and always kept time for silliness.
We've taken on so many home improvement projects, mostly at my urging, and many of which start well past bedtime.
We've shared 15 Christmases.
We've dressed up for 15 Halloweens.
We've celebrated on 15 New Year's Eves.
We went from a couple to a family in 2003.
We made it a family of four in 2005.
Our family grew to five in 2007.
Then to six in 2009.
And then in 2012, our family was complete.
But we didn't stop growing...
And now here we are, 15 years later. We have five beautiful children, a home that we love, an amazing extended family, and so many memories. It's hard to believe that in 15 more years, our last baby will be finished with high school. These are the golden years. Our simple daily victories and our parenting challenges are not only giving us great memories, they're providing us with adventure every day. And while time may be flying by, holding onto these small moments is what keeps us happy and excites us for the future. Our hands are full, but our hearts are overflowing.
Even before we bought this old farm house, we had dreamed of farm animals. Wouldn't it be fun to have the kids grow up with a horse? Or a couple of chickens? We had a short list of animals we were interested in owning, but when we actually bought a farm, that list started to grow. Maybe two horses...and a goat. And why would we only have two chickens when we have all this land? And if we have a barn, we need barn cats, right? And a little potbellied pig would be fun. And, oh man, we could raise our own cow for beef! And a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner!! And then pretty soon I'll be homeschooling the kids, and sewing all of our clothes, and baking homemade bread on which we can slather our own churned butter, and drinking milk straight from our cows, and collecting various vegetables from our expansive garden to make the best dinner salad ever, and planting the fields with hay for the horses, and digging a pond to stock with fish for the Friday night fish fry, and baking apple pies for the neighbors with the apples from our tree.
Okay, so maybe I got a little carried away, but a girl can dream, right? For now, in addition to our sweet little bunny who joined our family in January, we have five new baby chicks to take care of. The little puffballs will live inside for a few weeks until they are fully feathered and the temperature here is a bit warmer. Then they'll head outside to check out their new digs.
We took the kids to the local farm store last night and everyone picked their own pullet. In four or five months, we hope all of these girls will provide us with tasty eggs for eating and baking!
And now for the introductions...
Owen chose a White Leghorn, (think Foghorn Leghorn) who will produce white eggs. He considered naming her "Big Pecker" which he giggled endlessly about, but settled on the name Mable.
Emerson chose a Buff Orpington. She will be orangish in color and will lay brown eggs. Here is Cecilia.
Greyson chose an Amber Link who will be peachish-orange in color and will lay brown eggs. He was very insistent that her name be Jackie. Hiiiiiiiiii, Jackie!
Alayna chose a Black Jersey Giant, who will be black with a little bit of a white breast and a red comb and waddle. This girl will be the largest of all of the chickens and will lay brown eggs. This is Lizzy.
Nash, with the encouragement of Mom, chose an Ameraucana. These chickens are also called "easter-eggers" as they lay eggs various shades of blue. Her name is Rosie, although he really wanted to name her "Chicken Butt."
The first night had its ups and downs. All of the chicks received lots of snuggles from their caretakers, and Owen's Mable was particularly relaxed in his warm hands. Cecilia was quite riled up and nervous and was pecking the other chicks relentlessly, so she earned her own little place in solitary confinement for the night. This morning, she was reintroduced to the others and has behaved perfectly all day.
At this point, all of us have been pooped on by our little chickies, but the reward of having one curl up in the bend of your elbow and fall asleep far outweighs that minor poop annoyance!
I've heard that chickens are the gateway animal to MORE farm animals, so we will see how things go with these five little creatures and take it slowly from there!