The three hardest words

Growing up, like so many in Michigan we watched the Red Green show often.  There was a segment where Red would address the men regarding the three little words they found so hard to say, “I don’t know.”

While that may be true enough, possibly for men in particular, they are not the words that I personally over the last few months have discovered are actually the hardest words out there to say.

The hardest three words, are ones that are in fact said all too often.  They are spoken more often than not as a lie, a cover, or out of desperate hope.  These words are ones that we speak hoping that no one will be able to see the wounds we are trying to hide or the giants we are fearfully facing.

We choke on these three words and shed tears over them when no one is looking.  We chant them into a mirror while we put on our war paint for the day.  We rehearse the smile and the laugh that goes along with them.  We lay on our floors at the end of the day when we just can’t bear these words a second longer.

No, “I don’t know,” are not the hardest words to speak.

“I am fine.” are the words.

“I am fine.”  “I am OK.”

How many times have you said these words knowing they were a lie.  How many times did you get the expected positive responses you were dreading, as you continued a normal conversation dying inside.  How many time have you told someone “I am fine,” because you feel the need to carry your burden alone.

Across our country there are hundreds of farmers and others who say “I am fine,” everyday before taking their lives, breaking down physically, emotionally or financially.  They are the hardest words I feel a person can speak.  I know over the last few months I have said them often, as a lie and as a wish.  A lie because I have been broken by circumstance, I have lost so many hopes and dreams.  A wish because I want to prevail.  I want to continue to carry on the life I dreamed of even if it now is resting solely on my shoulders.

I will continue to build and rebuild.  And if you ask me tomorrow how I am I will answer you with “I am fine.”  I will likely say it with a smile and some witty or sarcastic remark to follow.  Not because it is true, but because like so many of us who say it, I need to believe it.


I think it is time to sit down and type once again.  There have been a lot of changes around here lately, the latest being the laptop I am typing this on… A couple weeks ago I think the little’s finally killed my previous with the “Baby Shark” and other mind numbing songs.  It was less expensive to replace than to fix, and my photos were lost either way, so I decided to make this post my first struggle with learning a new computer

While the laptop is of minor consequence in the scheme of the farm, we have had many larger changes, that have been taking much of the energy I typically spend here.  We have added three new horses in the form of boarders to our home so welcome to Sally, Ruckus and Chief and also three new boarding cattle, Hershey, Applesauce and Sky.  Hershey and Applesauce are very temporary residents as they need only make market weight before they depart.

In addition these new residents have brought their respective families, which means A LOT of kiddos running around the farm at any given moment. My kids adore having a constant stream of friends to play with, cuddle cows with and ride horses.  We have also made good headway in many of the farm projects that have been pushed to the back burner long enough.  Many hands have made the work go faster for sure.

We have been learning new things with a new riding coach, learning about Tupperware sales and getting ready for the end of the school years.  There have been dog obedience classes and end of school preparations.  And lots and lots and lots of trips to the parts store…. did I mention hay season has begun?

But tonight as usual, Tuesday dinners are there waiting for us.  Tonight we celebrated two birthdays!

Happy Birthday Chuck and Happy Birthday Linda!

There were 11 adults, 1 tween and 4 little ones enjoying each other’s company tonight.  It has been fun watching the 4 little girls start to really play with each other and even start a little mischief.   OK so mostly my kids are mischief, but they are good teachers!

For dinner we had a grilled pork roast, fresh corn off the cob, salad, oatmeal honey bread, and loaded baked potatoes.  And after a couple renditions of Happy Birthday (everyone missed the Cha Cha chas this week) we had pineapple upside down cake!

We talked about job searches, new jobs and training employees.  We talked about trying teenagers (and possibly debated the fact that I might have given my parents a bit of a headache).  We talked about less than stellar teachers and a few that really made a difference.  We discussed the difficulties of having a degree, but not just the right one.  We admired new glasses and tattoos and got signed up for summer reading programs.  We talked about tiny new babies and refurbishing pianos.  And when the kids finally played themselves out we said goodnight!

Happy Birthday Tillie!

It doesn’t seem possible my oldest is 11 already!  She is pretty good at keeping us on our toes for her birthday, and this year she was all about the cheeseburger.  I don’t know if she was feeling nostalgic about her first birthday, as a 1-year-old she was in love with hambaburgers, but we had them at least twice this week in celebration of her birthday.

To accompany her cheeseburger buffet, we also had milkshakes (made to order vanilla, strawberry or chocolate), oven roasted potatoes and a new dessert, Lemon Chiffon cake.  The cake was light and fluffy with a rich lemon pudding in the middle.  This kiddo loves her lemons too!

Joining us in birthday celebration there were; 15 adults, one tween (the birthday girl), one 3- year -old, one 2-year-old and two 1-year-olds.

And as you might have noticed my photographer was back in action this Tuesday, we talked about her current magazine projects and up coming ones.

We talked about the young man who was on mission work, was headed home due to safety issues in the country he was in.

We talked about excessive underwear, and when it’s time for pajama pants to go…

We talked about painting turkey and goose feathers, and some cool examples of what my aunt has done. And we talked about how yet again I forgot her goose eggs, and syringe for cleaning them.

We talked about the first horse show of the season (which we didn’t make it to in case you were wondering since we got like two inches of ice…)

We talked about the new jobs in the family. And hockey seasons that ended and games that were coming up.

And our Puerto Rican sisters’ upcoming wedding!

Did you know that they visited?


Oh, well, we won’t tell you they were here then, but your twin says hello!

My kids argued about who’s milkshake was whos, and no they didn’t need apple juice instead.

The littles all ran around and played together with balls and books and other goodies.

Name tags were found and soap was remembered.

Happy Birthday Nikki and Dani!

It appears I have once again fallen behind in my Tuesday Dinner posts.  I will blame it on picking up hours over spring break so my co-workers can have a vacation… and the remodeling that has the house in pieces.

These two lovely ladies could not have picked taster menus!

March 20th:

We had an amazing dish that I guess you would have to call Roast Beef Lasagna.  Layers of lasagna noodles filled with tender shredded roast beef, caramelized onions and loads of gruyere cheese.

We also had a Fruited Salad and Oatmeal Honey Bread.   And for dessert, nothing would do for Nikki except Sin Cake (with extra caramel)!


We skipped the 27th.

April 3rd:

Dani typically manages to choose some of my comfort favorites and this year was no exception, Cheesy potatoes and Ham (with a cranberry and ginger glaze).  A salad and corn.  And for dessert Black Forest Cake (and a “plain” chocolate cake for the non-cherry eaters)


Holy Moly, where did the week go?

If I had to title this past dinner I would call it “Happy Birthday Mollie, Take 2,” as she was in a much better mood this week.  Actually, it should have been Russel’s birthday dinner, but he wasn’t there so…

There were two types of fish, baked cod, and baked salmon.  There was a mustard cream sauce that was deemed to compliment both.  We also had oven fried potatoes with the skins on, bread and I honestly can’t remember what the veggie was!

We had 11 adults,  1 tweenager, and three toddlers.  We arrived a little early since my husband gets home much earlier from his new job, and we are trying to get new flooring put into our house, and needed Dad’s table saw.  So as people were filing in, he was busily cutting floorboards in the basement.

Since my oldest has been busy after school trying to get her horse (and herself) in shape for show season, she was busily doing homework as people arrived.

This left the three little cousins rampaging around the living room.  The smallest two taking turns screaming and crying as Grandma unfairly would pick one up and not the other, or one found a pretzel on the floor… the competition is intense between those two!  Meanwhile, my middle girl and the puppy, who are soul mates were tearing back and forth and wrestling like the feral critters they can be.

We talked about how hard it is to find people that want to work in dependent care, both daycare type and older children and dependent adults.  Even scarier some of those working in the system that are neglectful at best and dangerous at worst.

We talked about composting, and the fate of the worms from last year.  They were set free to discover the wide backyard since they weren’t doing well in their in-house home.  We discussed some conventional methods and some that were a little different.  Like an old family friend (who grew THE BEST raspberries) and composted simply by putting all his scraps into a paper bag and burying it in the garden.  Then, of course, we have to mention the large manure compost piles that a prone to catching on fire.

The not so great rose wine could possibly make a decent soap as it really wasn’t worth drinking.

In an attempt to fight Michigans third or fourth winter this year (I am not sure which one we are on) mom made an Angel Food Cake with fresh berries and peaches soaked in blackcurrant syrup.

And then, my littlest had her moment.  Standing on a chair as everyone finished their dessert, she started clapping.  And soon a few people started clapping with her.  Then EVERYONE was clapping along Simon-Says style with her.  Then it evolved to touching her nose or cheeks as everyone mimicked her.  That little girl held her audience captive for at least 10 minutes!  Once she was assured her cult following was solid she went on to other business, such as dethroning her older sister who so often declares her self Queen.

Coffee soap was requested, and mentions of a possible new cow were quietly mentioned.

We had to usher off our kiddos to bed, but the party continued after we left, there was still a little wine left over after all!

Happy Birthday Mollie!

This week we celebrated my youngest’s 2nd birthday!  She isn’t much of a talker but we all know that noodles are her favorite.

For dinner, we had Crispy Baked Chicken, Neighbor Chef’s Mac and Cheese (can we say bacon and smoked gouda!), homemade bread and sauteed broccoli (which the birthday girl doesn’t eat but her dad was thrilled).  For dessert, we had Blueberry Cream cheese Coffee Cake and Nutella Coffee Cake.

Partying with Mollie were 11 adults, her two big sisters, and two little cousins.

We talked about babysitting CPR classes (hard to believe my oldest is that age already!)

And goose eggs, as my geese think that its spring…

Get down from there and Don’t push her!

Where are you sitting and I have to go potty!

How’s school going?

Does the kid you watch do any athletics? My group is doing a presentation on the Paralympics.

And then roll out the Chuck Norris jokes.

“Chuck Norris made a mistake once when he thought he was wrong.”

You do know she doesn’t even really know who Chuck Norris is right?

That makes it all the more funny!

So, how do you make this Mac and Cheese?

Well first you use Cavatappi (I am indeed looking at the box to spell that correctly).  Then to make your rue you add butter and bacon grease, then equal parts half and half and cream.  So there are your calories for the day.  Then a little whole milk.

To thin it out?


Who’s ready for dessert?

Is that a Nutella cake?

It is, figured it would be worth a try since the girls like it so much.

That they do!

Ready Mollie (as she fights to escape)

Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Mollie, Happy birthday to you!

YAY!! (Tries to eat the candles)

Two of my three left the party asleep 🙂


Happy Birthday Beth!

This birthday dinner featured a few tried and true family favorites, Lasagna and Chocolate Cake most notably.  We also had Caesar Salad (with homemade dressing complete with anchovy paste) and homemade bread.

Between three certain young men, there was concern one pan of lasagna would not be enough, but rest assured, this “one” pan of pasta I am sure weighed at least 10 pounds.  There were even a few pieces left.  The smallest of those sitting at the table feasted on mini-meatballs and peas also.

In all, there were 10 adults, 1 tweenager and 3 toddlers enjoying this birthday meal.

Would you like to say a short prayer?

Me? Sure, why not.

I do mean short now!

As our plates got passed down to be filled with lasanga, the other bowls and plates made their way around the table.

There were a few residual hokey jokes that carried over from last weeks joke fest.

We talked about how to make re-useable “plastic” wrap from cotton cloth and bee’s wax and catching up about the people we’ve seen recently and the places we have been.

And then my mom remembered she had done my oldest daughter’s DNA testing through and the results had finally come in!  While the results were slightly surprising, they did make sense and resulted in a great conversation about where different countries are located and where families originated from.  It was fun for my daughter to compare her results against her grandparents too!

Which lead to a discussion about genetics and how they work and what DNA looks like and all sorts of fun nerdy things.  No one has come up with Neanderthal DNA that we know of so far.

And then the birthday came out!  Perfectly chocolate, and my three year old who was devastated it wasn’t her birthday cake, happily sang Happy Birthday to her friend Beth (although when we got to the Dear “insert name here”, it got a little muddled between the names!)

So Happy Birthday Beth! And thanks for a great dinner menu!









A small group this last week, 8 adults, 1 tweenager and three toddlers.  In celebration of Valentines Day, we had an apple cider pork roast, heart-shaped roasted butternut squash, roasted potatoes and of course delicious homemade bread. And the pièce de résistance individual Neopolitan Napoleons.

It was determined early on in the conversation that we are not big individual celebrators of Valentines Day.

(But the girls all got their Valentines socks and the oldest got a how to draw horses book.)

Because if they do it because they have to get you something does it even count?

My littles actually ate their way through their dinner… and a few other peoples plates, they weren’t picky whos lap they were sitting on.

So can you tell what I did differently with the roast?  I’m looking for feedback.

Well, it would make terrible stew, but probably amazing BBQ sandwiches.

We talked about job interviews, hockey games, puppy classes and farm animals.

Hey, do you want to take the sled and go off the roof?

Umm, no…

Don’t ask the other one,

She’ll do it.

Dessert was presented, my oldest passing out the confections Mom was creating, and everyone waiting quietly in awe for theirs.

What do you call these?


Well technically they are Napoleons

Because they are small?

I guess they are actually Neopolitan Napoleons, they are strawberry, chocolate, and the vanilla pudding.

Which is the most amazing pastry cream.

About this time my husband showed up… as the baby was helping herself to his potatoes.

Better fluff that up so it looks like there is more food there.

Hey, I tried!

What happened?

Dad got stranded on the side of the road, had to go rescue him.

Meanwhile, over in the living room, my middle girl is literally standing on a pedestal declaring herself THE BEST QUEEN EVER! While her little sister was doing her best to dethrone the self-proclaimed queen.

Which of course inspired conversation of the Royal family’s pending wedding, the succession of royalty, Mary Queen of Scots and various other royal considerations.

It also resulted in my little Queen knighting the neighbor in order to fight dragons.  He wisely declared fidelity to her and was spared being slain with the lincoln log.

And yes Mom, we all loved the strawberry roses!!!