Saturday, November 22, 2014

You Found Me

Some people find God and some never find God.
Some people find God in their children, at their workplace, through their friends or on the corner of first and Amistad. 
I find Him in nature.
If I pay enough attention, I see Him not just in nature, but everywhere. If I am honest, my children have led me closer to God more than anything else. 
But my soul, the fibers of my body, humm and vibrate in unison with the pulse of nature. And I find God. He gathers me to him, like a child to his mother's breast and a soldier to his King's feet, in love and fealty.
I was reminded of how God works on me in that way when we went on a ten day hunting trip in October. 
After an 11 hour drive to Eastern Oregon with 3 kids under 5, even a dry camp looked like an oasis in the desert by the time we got there. The kids scampered out around the clearing in the woods as soon as their seat belts clicked off. I scampered over to a thicket of wild roses that were packed with cherry red rose hips, just waiting for me to harvest them. The Firefighter scampered away to give his ears and bladder a rest. We were all quickly called back, as my parents had stayed in camp the night before and had heard of very inquisitive bears in the area. Oh right, we weren't in Disneyland. 
No running water and no electricity meant few dishes, no laundry, and no showers for 10 days. We were gloriously filthy. We smelled to the bone of wood fire smoke and pine needles. The kids rolled luxuriously in the dust created by dry mountain air. Our only bath was in the soul-cleansing full moon that nearly shown like the sun in the dark forest night. 
Every day, we woke before the sun had considered rising, drank a cup of steaming camp coffee and snacked on homemade jerky, sourdough crackers and salty soaked almonds. In the dim pre-dawn, we took turns keeping the kids quiet and hiking into the wild country in search of elusive antlers. Some days we covered two miles of steep mountain before the hills were fully lit. 
Evenings were spent by the campfire after a long afternoon hike and peaceful sunset. Our bellies were full from hearty dinners and our bodies at rest. We raised our voices in song with the guitar. I imagined the music floating to the moon and drifting through the trees; the sound ebbing and flowing into nearby clearings, a lullaby to the forest. 
Even after constant "unsanitary" conditions, near death cougar experiences, absolutely no meat hanging in camp, a few bloody patches and rolled ankles, I would argue our bodies and minds had never been healthier.

He doesn't have to, but He gives us gifts. 

My Playlist:
My Kids playing with matchbox cars and a tea set

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Falling for September

September is my favorite month of the year. Is it any wonder?
Hot days quickly turn to pleasantly cool evenings at the first sign of the sinking sun. Lingering wildfire smoke clings to the edges of the hills reminding the nose of mountain camping trips. Green, yellow, and red leaves seem to catch fire in the soft bronze-gold of the early fall sun. Prickly stems and drying leaves curl back to reveal the last vestiges of sleek green cucumbers and bumpy yellow squash from the garden's harvest. Apples are finally in season; they crunch and explode with juicy sweetness like no other time in the year. The new pages of school books slide smoothly over eachother, their black ink dark with the promise of learning and adventure. The kids snuggle into their warmer fall clothes, the Fireman snuggles into his thermal henleys, and I snuggle into them all as the last rays of the summer's sun fall below the horizon.
While the world around us is following a pattern as old as time, the Chase family is having many new experiences this September.
We started homeschooling Brother. As I have discovered in many areas of parenting, this has been both very challenging and beyond rewarding. From blank stares, 'I-Don't-Know' answers and open defiance to understanding, 'This-Is-Fun' comments, love and laughing; we have experienced a lot in only two weeks of Kindergarten! I know we are in for a roller coaster ride during the next dozen-plus years of school, but this is our current conviction. So stay tuned!
We got two little Oberian dairy goats who will (hopefully) provide us with milk and cheese this coming Spring. Right now they are providing us with exercise as we try to keep them where they are supposed to be. Kat and Doob, short for Katmandu and Dubai (named by their previous owner), are apparently ninja goats, trained especially in the art of escape and theivery. Doob has made it into the chicken coop through the 10" by 12" chicken entrance in order to get to the kitchen scrapes inside. Both goats have escaped the field through electric wire multiple times. Picture red laser security systems and some very flexible goats. But seriously, there is no way to keep them from doing this. I am hoping when they get pregnant this winter they'll get too fat and forget their younger days as ninjas.

We found out what a "broody" hen is. One of our Buff Orpington hens attacked the Fireman one night as he tried to take her eggs away from her. After some quick research and some local networking, Broody Hen has been happily sitting on 9 fertilized eggs for 14 days. She only gets up once a day to poop and drink some water. She is starting to look wildly haggard, reminding me of my last few weeks of pregnancy. And, as a side note, if I ever need a genuine belly laugh, I ask the Fireman to give me his impression of a Broody Hen. It's the best.

Sister has discovered corn-on-the-cob. Since this discovery, corn has been on the dinner menu at our house most every night. This is not for her sake, but ours. She loves corn with a kind of ferocious passion. When those cobs are in her hand, the world melts away and it's just her and the corn. Bite after bite, she doesn't quit until it is gone. This makes for a most entertaining dinner show. As such, we have had a lot of corn lately, which is fine, because corn is five for a dollar at the farm stand right now.
There is our September in a moment. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to snuggle the Thermal Henley sitting next to me.

My Playlist:
Ho Hey - The Lumineers
Flowers In Your Hair - The Lumineers
Chop and Change - The Black Keys

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Series of Extraordinary Circumstances

I found myself telling The Fireman today "Hey Sweetie, don't do the dishes. I'm saving up hot water to wash the diapers."
Despite not having a number of modern amenities that I have taken for granted in my previous life, our little family is settling into this new life with surprising ease. There has been some complaining. There has been more than one moment where visions of nice big hot water heaters dance in my head. But, overall, losing some of our past life comforts has been surprisingly easy and (dare I breath the word?) refreshing. Shall I tell you about it?
My whole family sleeps with our heads within 5 feet of each other, separated only by a curtain. Now, this may seem like an unimaginable horror. But as parents of an imaginative 4 year old, a potty training toddler, and a newborn that requires feeding every two hours, this is a great arrangement. We don't have to get out of bed to assure Brother that there are, indeed, no green monsters lurking behind his door. When Sister needs to go potty for the tenth time at 11pm, it is approximately ten reasonable steps to get her to the bathroom and back into our own bed. When Little Brother wakes for his 2am snack, I don't even have to open my eyes to feed him and get him sleeping peacefully again. Now, please stay tuned for the next segment in The Chase Story: The Teenage Years.
I can clean my whole house in less than an hour. That is awesome. Does it matter that in less than 5 minutes that same clean house can look worse than it did before I cleaned it? I suppose it depends on who you ask. To me, no. In my heart, I know that in at least one point during the day, my house would've been presentable to the Queen of England. So, Queen, when you come to visit and there are rocks and feathers and dirt ground into my kitchen floor, and it looks like the ToysRUs clearance section was mixed with yesterday's table scraps and dumped on my living room rug, just know that at 9am this morning, the house was shining and beautiful. 
Without a dishwasher, I never need more than one 5-place-setting set of dishes because they all get washed after every meal. Saving money on dishes is great, right? Okay, I admit, I am really stretching to find the good in the whole no dishwasher situation. I would rather hand wash week old dirty diapers than the dishes. Really. When my parents, who we live next to, leave their house, The Fireman and I sneak over to their house with a tub of dishes and run them through the dishwasher. This brings us such excitement and sneaky joy that we giggle. Yes, giggle.
We found out post-move that we can't get internet out here. Something about the bandwidth being maxed out for the whole Dexter area, so no new customers. Anyway, what we can do is hover around the south wall of our house (the one closest to my parents) and try to pick up a faint signal from their internet connection. This signal is available at random times of the day and cuts out with no warning. We have had luck getting a better signal off our back porch. So, at night, The Fireman and I again sneak outside, ipad in hand, to watch an episode of 24. Excitement. Sneaky joy. Giggling.
Life is busy, crazy, and wonderful here. On my to-do list for the next month: Extract 7 hives worth of honey. Slaughter lambs to put up homegrown meat for the winter. Ferment cucumbers, cabbage, and beets for the winter. Card and spin freshly shorn Babydoll Southdown wool to make into warm cozies for my family. Organize and read through Brother's Kindergarten homeschool curriculum. Try to convince The Fireman to buy me a dairy goat.

My Playlist:
Counting Crows - Colorblind
Pearl Jam - Last Kiss
Bruce Hornsby - Every Little Kiss
Matt Nathanson - Come On Get Higher
Sia - My Love

Monday, June 23, 2014


I should really learn to ask more questions. Not only 'why' questions and 'can' questions but 'should' questions. For example, should a 9 month pregnant woman with two kids under 5 decide with her husband to move into a 600 square foot, 1 bedroom house? Sure there are plenty of reasons why. It definitely can be done. But should it be done?

I really dislike dumb questions.

Anyway, unless someone gets hit by a bus or some other tragedy, we will move from our 1200 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home into a 600 square foot rental on my parents 3 acre property in less than 4 weeks. There is one bedroom and a postage stamp sized bathroom. Brother and Sister will sleep in the closet in custom made bunks. When Little Brother makes his appearance, he will be with the Fireman and I. I'm thinking baths will be taken in a whiskey barrel in the kitchen.

All the goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens and bees will make the journey with us. We decided to keep them outside instead of in the house with us. It would just be too crowded.

Everybody has unique lives that are interesting and valuable in important ways. I realized today that our little family's decisions on how we are about to live our lives may be interesting to some people too. Or something to laugh at. Or at least to make you feel better about yourself.

Here try this out.

That's my kitchen right now. Sink overflowing with dishes because the dishwasher didn't get started and I can't reach past my belly to get to the sink. Moving boxes. Goodwill boxes. Giveaway boxes. Packing materials. A random pile of laundry that has sat on my kitchen table for days. See, feel better?

Or try this.

Can you see my feet? Yeah, neither can I.

Brother and Sister seem to be handling the slight craziness well.

Especially since they get to be in their jammies at lunch on the porch.

The Fireman seems to be happy.

Hmm, well he would be much happier if I would stop trying to fix up the house before we move.

And me? Oh, I'm happy. Look at all those pictures worth of things for me to be happy about. A kitchen. A dishwasher. My kids. My new baby. A husband. Sunshine. Opportunity.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

I hope I can keep y'all updated. It's sure to be an adventure!

My Playlist:
Josh Garrels iTunes Radio