I've struggled with what to share and how to share all that has happened to our family over the last three months, and although I'm sure my blogging hiatus wasn't the greatest for all of you, I frankly needed the space and time to process..to accept... without the pressure of writing about it. Please don't misunderstand- your notes and well wishes have been cherished and loved to bits over the past three months, and they have brought me comfort as my family and I have had some pretty big adjustments to make.
So... as one does with a bandaid... let's just rip this baby off and get it all out there, shall we?
Our best, best, best news is this: baby #4 is on the way! I originally dropped off the face of the earth in February thanks to my very first battle with morning sickness. (Can you imagine that it took until my fourth pregnancy to get nauseous? I know, I shouldn't complain.) This little bundle is due in October and we're thrilled to be adding to the family. Big Brother Ben has less than casually suggested that he'll be moving into the chicken coop if he winds up with another sister, but I suppose we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. We're all very excited!
On the other end of the spectrum, our worst news is this: In March, just weeks after learning that we had another baby on the way, we also learned that Garrett's apiary (that's a fancy word for a bee yard) was destroyed. Not by an animal or by any mite or hive disease, but rather willfully, by human hands. I won't share too many details here except to say that the perpetrator(s) were never found and thanks to an insurance loophole we won't be excepting any help with our rebuilding process. Since we decided to take the business commercial at the end of last season (remember all those excited hints about how different the landscape of our beekeeping was going to be soon?), the loss is more than emotional: it's financial as well. We're doing the best we can with the news and rebuilding as time and funds allow, but it will realistically be at least a couple of years before we are able to consider commercially producing honey and bee products again.
The medium (not quite bad and not quite good) news that I'm still trying to "spin" in a positive way is tied to the bees, as well. Since we've lost substantial income, I've returned to work. I've got three (yes, count them three!) part time jobs that I am very blessed to do from home. I continue to work as the Christian Education Director at our church, which is a position I've held for a couple years and truly, deeply love. I am also providing part time daycare for a couple kids in my home, and have returned to teaching Sociology at one of the large, online universities. You might imagine how difficult it is for a self-proclaimed educational purist to work for one of these education machines, but one must do what one must do, no?
The transition for our family has been challenging: the idea that Mommy needs quiet time to work (ALONE!) is one that is terribly difficult for our six-, near four-, and two-year-olds to understand and respect. Frankly, it's hard for their parents as well, and we haven't been doing a particularly great job of setting the boundaries that need to be set. It's misleading, the work from home deal: you think you're going to be able to make dinner and start a load of laundry in between grading sets of essays, but you never actually get to finish a set of essays thanks to the interruptions of daily life with young children, much less get dinner made. But that's fodder for a whole different post. Suffice it to say for the moment that we're learning as we go and we're trying to remember to be gracious and patient with one another as our family dynamic shifts.
Mom working more has meant that we've had to say goodbye to a number of little projects and dreams for the short run in favor of supporting our long term goals. We canceled our great cross country road trip this spring and put the cash toward rebuilding the apiary. I walked out on a book deal when it became apparent that I wouldn't have the time to put together a project that I could really invest my heart in while working in all my other capacities. We've cut way back on seeing friends and participating in homeschool coop projects and field trips because we've been too tired or too busy, and we've generally been hoping that these folks know we still love them but that we simply don't have much extra time on our hands at the moment. Our daily life feels very different.
Our last bit of news, which was scary to begin with but lovely at the end, is that our youngest daughter had some surgery on her eye two weeks ago, which came out quite well. While it is terrifying and stressful for the whole family to have a child under the knife, even one who has been doing it since she was an infant, we were able to leave the hospital this time with a reasonably clean bill of health and instructions not to return (unless things change) for three years! This news was incredible for us, and although little Ellie is too young to fully understand, she most certainly feels the immense gratitude and relief the rest of her family is experiencing on her behalf. We are gathering around her in love and support and reveling in our blessings.
Outside of such "big" events, our days have been filled with as much of our same as we can muster. We've walked in the woods and on beaches, tapped maple trees and cooked syrup, been planting, and raising chickens, turkeys and the like. We've spent some time mourning the loss of our family cat, and rejoicing in another year of homeschooling nearly complete. We are looking forward to warmer days- the taste of which is just beginning to settle in our bones from the few afternoons the sun has sufficiently baked us hot. We are excitedly anticipating all the beauty and fun summer promises our family each year.
As for blogging? After much consideration I've decided to keep Simple Little Home going, but it's not going to be the same as it was in the days before I worked seven days a week and was not yet pregnant with our fourth child under seven. Bear with me, extend me some grace if you will, and stick around if you think you can tolerate a touch of haphazard posting. The next few months are sure to bring all kinds of new insights and confessions, resolutions and indecision. They promise to be real, though. Our real. Our old values, but our new real.