Every few weeks or so I head into town to the local Sam's Club. With five children encircling two full shopping carts, it is expected for us to hear multiple:
“Well, You've sure got your hands full!”
This is a constant refrain whenever our family appears in public, at any venue. And, no matter who the people are behind this observation, they are quite correct. Our hands, our hearts, and our days are very full. And we are grateful, for they are full of:
Our life is enriched with music in many ways, and we are so blessed to hear our children begin to fill the house with their own joyful melodies. After taking informal cello lessons at home for several months, Margaret began taking official lessons this past summer, and has flourished. Margaret, William & Amelia continue to take piano lessons from me, and this Advent we are enjoying having live Christmas music. William recently received a guitar for his birthday and has begun picking up a few basics. The children love their music classes at Ozarks Academy and will all (except Hattie) be singing in the musical Christmas program at church this year. It is a blessing for our children to be getting old enough to join in with our familial round singing sessions as well. Clay and I continue to haunt various venues where people, for reasons unknown, allow us to jam on fiddle & drum. Most notably the local farmers' market. When my siblings join the ranks things get kicked up to another level. Whether we're playing for dances, heritage festivals & or posing for our CD cover.... the Deylight Country Orchestra knows how to have a good time.
Ozarks Academy provides a great once-a-week opportunity for Margaret and William to have a blast with their fun teachers and good friends. History parties and science experiments, art projects, latin, music and more have been part of a wonderful experience. The rest of the time we are homeschooling, and I am so thankful for the chance to watch them stretch and grow. Our house is filled with books, craft projects, music, crayons and strewn papers, and I love it. William has turned the corner in reading this year and one of our chief delights is listening to him slowly, persistently sound out words every evening as he reads out loud with his book-light in bed. Amelia has begun the reading process and is already well on her way. Susannah absorbs everything, plays happily during school time, and repeats whatever poems, songs, or letter sounds that catch her fancy. Hattie has recently discovered the joy of learning to walk – with rapture on her face but still with one hand firmly clasping a support.
From our bizarre guinea flock roosting in the old silo, to our ancient pet starling, Arlo, who still fills the house with his endearing muttered phrases and fake coughs, to our herd of horses... we are officially crazy animal people. We try to claim that we are farmers and that our animals, for the most part, have a purpose or role on the ranch. Yet somehow that doesn't quite cover the pet goose out in the chicken coop or the large lazy tabby cat that snores on our bed.
Our summer was filled with horse activities as I gave our children riding lessons and continued to train Samson, our draft pony – most notably to haul a firewood sled. (And to bow, another vital horse farming skill.) We also purchased Dan the Man – an older Haflinger cross, to help us get started in harness horses. Clay and I have got the horse farming bug and have started drooling over every bit of harness & wagon & draft horse we see for sale. Meanwhile, patient Dan is giving us some experience and wonderful fun family memories as we drive him around the farm.
After several great years working with Terracon, Clay obtained a position as Environmental Analyst with City Utilities. We are thankful for this new opportunity. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, days are full of chopping & hauling firewood, milking, fixing fence, gardening, planting trees and all the other unending list of chores that come along with country living. It is a labor of love for us, though. And our children are already happily & helpfully chipping in with animal care and gardening-- when they're not out swinging at their playground, making mud pies or climbing trees. Wouldn't want life any other way!
Hard work is no good without little seasons of rest in between. Traveling to San Antonio (for business, but with some fun mixed in), visiting with family & friends, little hiking trips, and, of course, some horse play, are just a few of the ways we decompress. Our church family at Christ the King provides wonderful fellowship & a time of rest for us every Sunday, and we are continually thankful to the Lord for rooting us in that community.
Many blessings from our home to yours this Advent Season.
May your Christmas be bright and your New Year full of joy!
With much love – Clay & Elissa, Margaret (8), William (6) Amelia (4.5), Susannah (3), Harriet (1)