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Grateful and Thankful

It's 7:30pm on a beautiful Wisconsin evening the day before Mother's Day. I decided to grab my laptop and head outside to my hammock swing that gives me a 360 degree view of our property. It's a beautiful evening. The temperature is perfect; a hoodie and leggings are just enough to keep me comfortable. It's relatively peaceful - the only sounds I hear are the birds chirping and the chickens entering the coop for bed, squawking as they remind each other of the pecking order as they pick their roosts. Then of course there are the goats who watched me get snug in the hammock and are now bleating loudly for attention because they deserve constant animal crackers, petting, more animal crackers and oh by the way, just one more animal cracker. They are spoiled rotten. (And I 100% know I am the root cause. Don't tell my husband I've admitted to it.)

As I sit here and look around at the paradise I call home I can't help but think about how grateful and thankful I am. There are many culminating factors that led me to exactly where I am right now - and let me first clarify my "paradise." The term is misleading. I am not on a secluded beach with a fruity drink in my hand like I'm always living a vacationer's dream without a single care in the world. Our paradise takes about 80% work in order to enjoy the other 20%. And it's not easy work. With 15 goats and sheep and 30+ chickens, no matter how the wind blows there is always a faint smell of poop. I personally find it endearing - other's may not. During the spring and summer months mowing 5+ acres is a twice a week job, cleaning out the coop and the goat pen happens at least every other week, feeding, hay and water takes place daily and it doesn't matter if it hot, stormy or rainy. We pick up broken sticks and tree limbs on a DAILY basis -it is literally never-ending. We are constantly fighting off predators who try (often times succeed) killing our flock. Every year more projects come up not because we want to but because we have finally reached the point where it needs to be taken care of. We can't vacation or leave town (even for an entire day) unless we have a plan on how the animals will be taken care of - that includes our 3 large dogs and 2 barn cats. Don't even get me started on the fall and winter months.... But as I sit here and look around - even after I wrote about all the hard work that it takes just to enjoy a few moments of paradise - there is no where else I would rather be. And there is no one else I would rather spend my life with than Jason and the kids.

Today we got together with all of our kids, their significant others, and my father-in-law for Jason's birthday lunch. I honestly cannot remember the last time we were all together. With three adult kids who have very different lives it is rare we ever see more than two at a time. And we're lucky if they bring their significant other's around us for more than a quick Hi-Bye. I didn't realize how much it would mean to me until I was sitting in the restaurant with all of them. I know moments like today will continue to be rare in the future but I consider our family lucky for having found each other 5 years ago.

For the sake of time - and to keep this blog positive and upbeat - I will cut to the chase and say that for once in our kid's lives they've had two present parents who pushed them to be great, watched them grow, punished them when they deserved it, taught them hard lessons, gave them endless chores and tasks they absolutely hated (but will appreciate when they are older -they just don't know it yet) and sacrificed so much that they will never know, see or realize the cost associated with being their biggest cheerleaders and role models. We didn't do everything right and being a blended family wasn't (still isn't) always easy. And we still have a lifetime to go. But I hope they know we will always be there for them.

So, as I sit (more like swing) here in my paradise - the temperature has dropped significantly - I'm taking this moment to be grateful and thankful for the life I am living with the family I get to live it with. Ask my husband, I tend to dwell on future tasks and things we need to do and rarely take the time to sit back and just enjoy what is in front of me but after today I knew I needed to take this moment and be grateful not for what I have, but who I have in my life.

family picture


Coffee Break

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

There is no telling what we'll blog about next.  Whatever it is, I can assure you we will be giving you genuine Van Family anecdotes on life, marriage, fitness, raising kids, hobby farming and more.  We don't claim to be experts in any of the topics... but we do hope you get to know us, see that we have faults, make mistakes and disagree.  But we also have fun, try new things, come up with wild ideas and eat sushi 3x a week.  

Grab your favorite beverage and join us in our adventures as you read along. 

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