Friday, May 22, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Scrubs

JB's mom sent this picture last night. This is our Scrubby obediently staying out of a room he is not allowed in. Leave it to Scrubs to put his paws as very far into that room as he can so that he is "technically" obeying.

We are so excited to get our Scrubby back into our daily lives. We made the decision to let him join Grampa and Grama ahead of us at the farm for two reasons. Firstly, we knew he loves the farm and loves Grampa and that he'd have a blast. When Grampa is around, he stops following me around and immediately trails Grampa. They are a real pair.

But secondly, our landlord was trying to sell our house here in Spring Hill meaning I had to be prepared for last-minute showings. Having Scrubs here what have been very stressful and difficult for him. I would have to kennel him in the garage while strangers came traipsing through our home. Going to the farm made the most sense.

So in the weeks Scrubs has been gone, I have decided that I have absolutely not missed:
  • Dog hair everywhere.
  • Putting food away perfectly so as to remove temptation from our "counter surfer".
  • Covering all furniture when we go to bed or leave the house.
But I have greatly missed his presence in our home. I miss his excitement and full-body tail wagging the moment we return from anywhere. I miss having him out in the backyard while the kids are playing for an extra level of safety. (Which does work against me when they try to play with a ball and he wants to get in the midst of it and ends up knocking one of them done in his excitement.) I miss his love of walking through my legs anytime he wants attention.

There is no doubt that Scrubs is a bigger-than-life part of our family. He belongs with us. He's been with us longer than any of our children. I have difficulty contemplating the fact that he is entering middle age. (He turned EIGHT this week.) What will we do when this dog is no longer here?

Okay, so that's turning this post into a downer.

For now, we are preparing to pack up our big moving truck so that we can be back together as a family. Imagine my surprise last night when U-haul called and said they don't have the 26-foot truck we reserved a month ago! What is it with moving that lends itself to glitches? So instead we are getting a 20-foot truck and a trailer. Hopefully that will do the trick.

Also, I'd love if you could add my kiddos to your prayer list, specifically Sidge, who seems to really react to any big event in our family. He is exhibiting signs of stress again. We have been equipped and prepared for this during the months of counseling we have done with him. We understand that this behavior is a result of a very smart mind trapped in a very little boy's body, and we feel that we have the tools to help him maneuver this necessary life event and come out glowing on the other side, but we would still appreciate the prayers.

It's amazing how kids feel stress. Isaac's stuttering has picked up as well, and Abigail has seemed much more sensitive and emotional. Moving IS a big deal, and we need to acknowledge that.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Daddy ...

.... we have a patient for you.

The boys brought Sidge's white bear (who needs some stuffing added and stitches given) on a stretcher to JB and asked him to fix the patient.

Gave us all a good laugh!

Mother's Day Sermon

My cousin Josh is a pastor in Tennessee. He gave an OUTSTANDING Mother's Day sermon surrounding the life of Hannah. He also mentions our infertility story as well! I encourage you to give this a listen and be encouraged -- whether you have or have not been touched by infertility like Hannah was. You can listen to it or watch it by clicking here. 

Homeschool: Addition & Subtraction Practice

My boys basically loathe practicing addition and subtraction. Put them in front of a worksheet with facts and watch them fall into huge body-wide convulsions. But make it a game and they are totally into it.

I've started trying to find fun ways for my boys to do Math. Here are some fun activities for making practicing addition and subtraction not so boring!
Computer Apps
  • Reflex Math (An outstanding computer program that you must purchase. We LOVE this program and it is truly the major way we currently practice math.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A letter to infertility

Dear Infertility,

I am so tired of you. I am tired of hearing your name. I am tired of thinking about you. I am tired of even hearing about you.

I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the truth. You have a lot of nerve, and I've decided to let you have a piece of my mind.

I always knew about you. But in 2003 you decided to insert your big, obtrusive self into my life. Not only my life but my husband's life. And you know, while we are it, I'll go even farther and blame you for messing with every single person we knew!

Seriously? Do you think of yourself as that important that you had the right to reach your tentacles into the lives of nearly everyone we loved?

You messed with my parents. You told them that they may not be able to be grandparents. And while all their friends were celebrating being a grandparent, you thought it was okay to leave them in a state of limbo.

You even had the nerve to tell my only sibling he couldn't be an uncle. Maybe not ever. Really nice.

And your reach went farther than that. Your coming into my life meant that you even messed with my girlfriends. They had to dull their own celebrations to help ease my pain. They had to walk through this journey with me. They had to cry with me and grieve with me and try to say the right things when sometimes there just wasn't a right thing to say.

For five long years you inserted yourself into every ... single ... aspect of my life. You thrust yourself into the most private recesses of my relationship with my husband. Birthday parties. Baby showers. Church. Reunions. You were there. You not only thrust a disease onto our marriage but you brought huge words along with you:


You made me feel alone. You made me feel different. You made me feel left out. You made me feel afraid. You made me question every thing I had ever dreamed for my life. You made me question my relationship with God. With my husband. With my friends.

What right did you have?

And you know what? Even after five years of all that pain, I feel like I could have forgiven you if you would have left me alone as my story came to a close.

But you didn't.

Here I am twelve years after meeting you. Twelve years later, and I am still hurting because of you. This week I cried in my living room to hear of a miscarriage in a womb of a woman I loved dearly. Another friend shared with me that she has been given the final nail in her infertility coffin. No children. Not ever. Three others wait for a birth mother to choose them while still grieving their barren womb. Another
is in the midst of treatments and feeling helpless in the wait.

There are celebrations. You don't win nearly as often as you lose. One friend got news that her IVF was successful this week. Another prepares to deliver a baby over five years in the making. Yet another celebrates new life through a donor egg.

But in the midst of that joy, I find myself thinking about you all too often, and I have begun to realize that you will always be a part of me even though I no longer stare at negative pregnancy tests or allow my body to be a pin cushion of needles. I do not answer questions about myself or cry on a table while doctors attempt to fix an unknown problem. But yet I think of you.

All the time.

And I hate that about you.

I am changed forever because of you.

Anytime I hear a pregnancy announcement, I think of all the people who are pained by these words. Pained because you are living in their home.

Every single time I walk into the baby department of a store, I think of women who speed by that aisle -- fighting back a lump in their throat. Wondering if it will ever be their turn.

I want to wear a shirt that says: WAIT! YOU DON'T KNOW MY STORY! I don't want anyone to look at me and feel like something came easy for me. I don't want to cause anyone pain.

I still have trouble with Mother's Day. Even though I have reason to celebrate the mothers in my life and the mother I have become in very non-traditional ways. And I blame you for those mixed emotions.

But despite my grave dislike for you ... despite how much I loathe having to listen to a woman whisper your name ... despite how my heart hurts each time I stand alongside a woman doing battle against you, I must admit that you have made me a better person.

I am stronger.
I am more compassionate.
I am more resilient.
I am less afraid.

And because of that, my fear of you has lessened. So much so that I am not afraid to stand alongside another woman as they fight you. I will do battle by her side as she fights an unseen enemy. I will cry with her. I will encourage her. I will push her to fight you with everything she has. I will educate myself and her and anyone who will listen.

I will explain what this disease called infertility does to a woman's heart. What it does to a woman's body. What it does to her relationships.

I will never stop doing battle against you and against what you bring into homes and lives. You have no right in doing what you do.


I hate you.



-- Wendi Kitsteiner

The Clean Van

Before we had kids, JB and I had many years to observe our friends and acquaintances having kids. JB is the second oldest of six children, and I had grown up babysitting and surrounded by children continually. We were not strangers to parenthood or how things could go down.

Generally, most all of the things we promised we would do when we had kids have come to pass. We vowed things like:

  • We will raise our children to serve and love the Lord ... For sure.
  • We will not be late all the time because we had kids ... We are not.
  • We will feed our children pretty healthy food ... We do.
  • We will not be afraid to spend time away from our kiddos ... Want to babysit?
  • We will be consistent in our discipline ... We are.
  • We will not lavish things on our children ... They wish we did.
  • We will expose our children to other cultures and places ... Yep.
  • We will not let our children think they run the universe ... No way.
I could go on and on but you could get the idea. We created a lot of guidelines for how we would do it when we had children. Some of these were established when we saw our friends and family getting it right. And some were established when we saw people who were, in our opinion, doing it wrong. 

Okay so fast forward ten years. Our list is established and through a variety of miracles, we have four children.

Time to enact our list of vows.

Generally, we found that the list was going well. We were sticking pretty tightly to our goals for raising children.

However, there were two areas that we found ourselves lacking. The first is in the area of toys. We had vowed that:
  1. Our kids would only have a few toys ... Not.
This is one area that we have changed our minds. We still really try to limit what we have in the house. I am constantly moving things out for something else to be moved in. However, we have really come to realize that in order to instill the values that we want for our family -- namely no TV or video games -- having educational options around our house was very needed. Legos, board games, Magnatiles, a doll house ... we think these toys fit that bill.

But we also vowed that:

     2. We would NOT have one of those disgusting mini-vans ... Ugh!

You know what I am talking about! I am talking about the mom-vehicle. The one that when you open the door you can smell a combination of old apple juice, cheerios, and gold fish before your nose even meets with the air. The kind of vehicle that just screams KIDS!!

Not us.

Or so we vowed.

A few months ago, JB climbed into our mini-van and scrunched up his nose. We had finally gotten a second vehicle so he hadn't been in the van in quite some time.

JB: "Wendi?"
Me: "Yes?"
JB: "I smell it."
Me: "I know."
JB: "We vowed it."
Me: "I know."
JB: "We must fix it."
Me: "Go ahead."

And so he did. I told my husband that I just didn't feel capable. There were too many other things on my plate. While I could keep our mini-van basically clean on a daily basis by making sure the kids brought their books and trash and drinks out, getting in there and cleaning the car seats and vacuuming was just not something I had in me. 

My dear husband made a promise that he would be personally responsible for our vehicle from that moment forward. 

He would keep our vow!

And he has. After each long trip we take, while I am putting away clothes and doing laundry, he is out in the van, vacuuming and scrubbing. He does it immediately so it doesn't get put off.

Isn't he awesome?

The other day my cousin Sarah climbed into my van and looked around. She kind of started giggling and in a very surprised voice, remarked, "Wendi. This van is clean. This doesn't look like you have four kids at all!"

I felt like she had given me one of the highest compliments known to mom!

Thanks husband of mine. You and I make a great team.

Summer is coming: Help me beat the heat!

I'd love to start compiling a post with all the great ideas you have for fun summer-time activities. Please leave a comment or email me at to start compiling a fun list!

10 free ways to beat the heat with kids

Summer boredom Busters for Kids

Wee-wind Wednesday

Today, just a few days before my 38th birthday, I'd like to flashback to where I was at this same time in 1997. Click here to read our engagement story and see an engagement picture I have kept hidden ... until now.

This was eighteen years ago! How time flies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We Bought a Farm: More New Residents

More new residents are on their way to Bauernhof Kitsteiner. We have purchased two little girl pigs. They're Kune Kune -- American Guinea Hog Hybrids. They will be breeding stock meaning they should be around for awhile. The plan is that these two females will be the mommies for many other piglets. In other words, we won't eat them for quite some time.

Their babies? Can't say as much for them.

These moms and their babies will be pasture-fed meaning that they will be fed off the land, as God would have originally intended. We will end up using the pork for our own table but will also sell the pork to other people who want to eat meat raised right.

These pigs were born to a farmer that my husband is friends with. He only lives a few hours from us. They will be ready to join the farm sometime in July.

That means we have: Guinea fowl, Geese, ducks, pigs, and cows. (Although the cows don't belong to us for this season at least.)

Some people have asked how we think Mr. Scrubs will do with all these animals. We aren't sure. He's done find with the cows but all these little birds might be a different story. So we'll be training him to act dignified -- just like we did with our four human babies. 

Five days until we live on the farm forever!

Letter of the week

Prior to my kids starting Kindergarten, we do a "Letter of the Week" for the Pre-K year. I wrote about this previously here. Abigail is going to be 4 in July. This next year, I will start a "Letter of the Week" with her and so I really want to get all my resources in one place. I am going to start compiling all the cool resources I have found to implement of the letter of the week. 

As a refresher, I go through the alphabet -- one letter each week. We watch videos, do crafts, and learn a Bible verse for that letter. I really hope to implement more crafts this year with her since she has much more interest in those than the boys ever did.

Letter A
Letter B
Letter C
Letter D
Letter E
Letter F
Letter G
Letter H
Letter I
Letter J
Letter K
Letter L
Letter M
Letter N
Letter O
Letter P
Letter Q
Letter R
Letter S
Letter T
Letter U
Letter V
Letter W
Letter X
Letter Y
Letter Z

Letter N: Alice and Shawn the Train (includes counting to 9)

Letter Z: ABC Mouse (includes "Zombie" reference)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Things Hannah is saying

Hannah is the best talked of my four kiddos. She says everything! This is so different to me after Abigail who signed like a crazy person but barely said a word until she was 2.5.

Here are a couple of fun things she has been saying:

"Purple flowers."
"Brush my hair."
"Shoes on."
"Baby Jesus."
"Pink birdie."
"Flip-flops outside." (I want to put on these flip-flops so you'll let me go outside.)

I actually had the following conversation with her this morning:

Me: "Where is Abigail?"
Hannah: "Room."
Me: "Where is Sidge?"
Hannah: "Couch. Game." (He's sitting on the couch playing a game.)
Me: "What is that?"
Hannah: "Daddy's shirt."
Me: "Let's go get a granola bar."
Hannah: "Okay."

In addition, she has started saying "high five." It is so stinkin' cute, and I have tried, without fail to catch her on video saying it. However, this little stinker! Every time I turn on the video, she refuses to do it.

But the video below demonstrates Hannah's personality on so many levels. She knows exactly what I am asking of her and refuses until I offer a substantial bribe. And you'll get to see her continued obsession with shoes. (You will also hear her say all her grandparents names. We have no idea why, but she calls JB's mom My-no even though she can clearly pronounce Grampy for JB's dad.)

It Must Be Nice

My friend from Mayo Clinic, Erica, recently had an article featured on Physician Family entitled It Must Be Nice

Erica's piece circles around the words: "It must be nice" and how much she dislikes hearing those words. She disliked hearing people talk about her pastor father and using this phrase when discussing the flexibility of his schedule. My cousin Josh is a pastor, and his wife Sarah has often talked about how blessed they are by the flexibility of his schedule. But there is also SO much involved in the life and family of a minister that I is very far from "It must be nice." I would never couple a pastor's job with, "It must be nice."

And now Erica dislikes hearing those same words surrounding the fact that her husband is a doctor.

Erica's husband is an orthopedic surgeon. Erica writes:

"Physicians and physicians’ families are certainly not immune to this phrase or this attitude towards our lives. This is partly due to the fact that our life advantages are public knowledge; a quick internet search will provide an accurate salary average for any physician specialty. People know what our income will be even before we are close to making it. However, there is a larger disparity amongst, for example, business salaries and perks, which makes it a little more of a guessing game than for physicians. People see what they want to see, and for physicians’ families, it is often big houses, nice cars and fancy vacations. Nobody focuses on the years of training, the monstrous amounts of debt or the long hours that are continuously maintained even when you are “done” with training."

Since moving back to the USA, I have found myself keeping the fact that my husband is a doctor a secret. We both grew up as far away from a physician and this lifestyle as you can get, and I had preconceived notions about doctors. I am not a doctor's wife in the stereotypical sense. And my husband doesn't fit the doctor stereotype either. Goodness knows I don't want anyone to have those preconceived notions that I once had about doctors ... about me ... about my husband ... about us.

I have spoken with some friends who are or are married to a physician or lawyer, and I have realized that a lot of this is due to where you live in the country. In wealthier areas, I think it is much easier to blend. Here in Tennessee, especially in the city we live (and most likely the city we move to), I think bleeding is a bit tougher.

When we bought our farm, we did not disclose the fact that JB is a doctor. But it is a small town, and word travels fast. Already the neighbors are calling JB "Doc"! Word sure does travel fast.

Erica goes on to say:

"Please do not misunderstand – I wholeheartedly acknowledge and feel grateful for the perks of my husband’s job, and I know that in many ways our lives will benefit from his profession. I truly do not mind so much that people think we have a lot (or that we will have a lot, as my husband is still in training). What I do mind, though, is when I feel that there is a disconnect between the perks of any job and the sacrifice associated with that particular perk. My husband and my dad both chose their careers, not for the perks but rather, in spite of the shortcomings, for the greater goal, which was and continues to be – to help people. But thanks to both of these men that I love, I continue to learn that it doesn’t matter what we do, it matters that we are all people, and this mentality of 'it must be nice' is reflective of our human nature. And while I find this mentality irritating and share this openly as a commonality that we have all endured, it would be wise for us to not be unchanged by the knowledge."

I hope, as Erica reminds us in our piece, that we stop comparing ourselves to others and thinking "it might be nice" about anyone else. Everyone has their tough stuff to deal with. Money or prestige does not change that.

Secondly, though we cannot control others, let us make up our own minds here and now to think differently ourselves. We must abandon all thought, towards friends and strangers alike, of how 'it must be nice.' What one person has and often does not consider extraordinary, another person dreams of obtaining. Every one of us is in possession of some attribute, skill, or even a material “thing” that another person would greatly desire. Most of all, though, let us always remember to be grateful for what we do have and forget – or prepare ourselves for some seriously hard work – for that which we do not."

Thanks for a great reminder ol' friend!

We Bought a Farm: Newest Residents

JB has worked a ton this past week. It's the nature of ER work: feast or famine, and this week has not been very famine-like whatsoever. He is on a 7 of 9 day stretch. He has worked seven 12-hour shifts during a nine day period. (This is basically the equivalent of working nearly 2.5 weeks in just over a week.) We have both been on fumes and by the time he tucks the kids in and eats his leftover dinner, we plop into bed sharing only the necessities of our days.

Last night the conversation went something like this:

JB: "So I threw my hat over the fence."
Me: "Really? How?"
JB: "Ducks."
Me: "Ducks?"
JB: "Yeah. I bought some ducks.
Me: "Wow."
JB:  "And Guinea Fowl."
Me: "Seriously?"
JB: "Yeah. And some geese. Some really cool geese. Look at these things."
[Here he holds up a phone photo of some very interesting looking geese (top left corner)]
Wendi: "You just ... bought them?"
JB: "Yeah. Isn't that cool?"
Me: "I think so. How do you buy birds?"
JB: "Online. I've been researching this for a decade!"
Me: "And eggs just show up at your door?"
JB: "Not eggs. Babies. Real live babies."
Me: "They put them in the mail?"
JB: "Yeah."
Me: "And what do we do with them?"
JB: "We raise them. And eat the eggs. And eat them. Haven't you read my blog?"
Me: "Sort of. When did you buy these?"
JB: "Today."
Me: "On your lunch break?"
JB: "I don't get a lunch break."
Me: "Oh. Then just sometime today you got online and bought poultry?"
JB: "Something like that."
Me: "And you didn't think we needed to discuss this ahead of time?"
JB: "I thought I'd surprise you."
Me: "Oh."
JB: "Are you surprised?"
Me: "Not really. This is you we are talking about."
JB: "True. Good night."
Me: "Good night."

They arrive about two weeks after we get to the farm.

This is really happening!