This post was most recently updated on May 18th, 2015

The flu struck our house again a couple of weeks ago and we are still trying to recover. I’m not positive where we picked up the nasty bug since we, literally, never leave the farm. But it doesn’t really matter – it’s put us very far behind on our farm tasks and spring projects. So far behind, in fact, that any hope of a family vacation (our first ever since the six year old was a baby) or a romantic Mama/Daddy weekend is now just a faint, fond memory. Boo. But instead of wallowing in self-pity (a sport at which I excel when I’m disappointed), I’ve decided to try something new … looking forward.

After a strange and unpredictable winter, spring is finally showing some signs of arrival. And with the warmer temperatures and extra sunshine, I can start looking forward to planting flowers and herbs – brightening the appearance of our little corner of the world. It’s time to get the garden planted, too, so I’m looking forward (past the hard work of prepping the beds and hauling soil) to the days of fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon filling my counter tops and my family’s happy mouths. We finished up the brick patio last fall and now I get to look forward to decorating it with containers of shade-loving plants, brightly cushioned lawn chairs and some very cute bug repelling candle holders I saw on Pinterest. I’m looking forward to relaxing with a glass of wine or sweet tea and watching my little Blondie Bear play on his colorful jungle gym this summer – he’s finally old enough and steady enough on his feet to have some big outdoor fun with his siblings.

My husband has had some sort of epiphany over the past couple of months and he’s shown a huge burst of creative and constructive energy around the house. This has translated to the initiation and completion of a host of projects previously relegated to the “when I get around to it” list. Which basically means he’s finally getting around to doing a lot of the things I’ve been bugging him about for the past six years. And it’s so wonderful! Moving the playhouse to the front yard; installing a new, larger clothesline; setting up a permanent place for the swimming pool and building a deck for summer fun; removing the cracked and dangerous front porch to replace with a bigger, sturdier one … I love hearing him tell me what he’s going out to work on instead of a litany of excuses as to why he needs to wait a while longer to tackle a project. (I just find him so much sexier when he’s making progress on The List, you know?) I’m definitely looking forward to enjoying these newly completed projects and looking forward to the completion of even more!

After six years of faithful, loyal and hardworking service, our family SUV is showing some serious wear and tear. So even though we love it and it suits our family perfectly, we’ve decided to trade it off for something a bit newer and with a bit better fuel efficiency (and something that falls into a lower insurance tier) when we get our tax refund. This is not a popular decision with our kids. Our 6’ tall 13 year old is worried that we’re not going to find something as roomy and comfortable for his ever extending frame. And the girls are sad because they think there will never be a vehicle that allows them to have the entire third row to themselves with plenty of room on the seat for a Pony roundup or an Equestria Girls’ Prom reenactment. They have, in fact, started hugging Big Blue when disembarking, while sending baleful looks in my direction. But even so, I’m really starting to look forward to driving something that doesn’t rumble like a monster truck because the muffler is shot. And knowing that the vehicle is actually in Park when I set it on P, rather than taking my chances that when I come out of the grocery store I’ll find it rolling toward the street will be a great relief. I’m really looking forward to a back hatch that will stay open by itself so I don’t have to try to hold up the back glass with one hand while struggling to load groceries into the car with the other. Also, while considerably diminished over the past few months, the dead mouse smell is still slightly noticeable on very warm days, so I’m looking forward to a car with a better … aromatic atmosphere. And the lower insurance premiums that will come from owning a vehicle that isn’t the most expensive thing on Earth to repair (according to every insurance company we’ve talked to over the years) will be a welcome boost to our tired budget.

Everything at The Keep is not perfect. We still struggle with fiscal famine, home school doldrums, sibling squabbles and all other manner of family drama. But my choice to start looking forward instead of backward has changed my attitude in a very real and profound way. I’m finding more joy in my days and more reasons to smile than I have in a while and that’s a lovely feeling. It’s also contagious. But unlike the flu that made its way through our ranks a few weeks ago, the positive attitude that’s spreading now is building us up and strengthening our family so we can meet whatever challenges lie ahead without fear or panic. And that is definitely something I can look forward to.


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