Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Doing well

I am doing well.

I am forty now. In case you didn't read my previous posts. I can't believe I am forty. I can't believe I started this Blog in my 20's, and now, I am 40 years old. It actually seems impossible to me. How in the world have I lived four decades?

But age aside, I am also doing very well emotionally. I sincerely appreciate all of you who reached out to me, encouraged me, and prayed for when I hit a wall a few weeks ago.

I continue to seek to be REAL. That is my biggest goal with this Blog. To present myself as I truly am so that no one feels less than they really are.

I learned a lot these last few weeks. Mostly I learned that I have spent my life people-pleasing, and I really feel like God had to get my attention. He wanted to be clear that this was not okay with Him. That I needed to put HIM first. So He got my attention through some intense anxiety that overtook me. (I am not getting into a philosophical discussion over who caused the anxiety in my life. All I am saying is that God used it to wake me up.)

I have decided that I am not going to wait for these rushes of anxiety to take over to deal with what needs to be dealt with. I am working to get a handle on this NOW. God has to come first. He must. People are wonderful, but they will let me down, and I will let them down. I can't become so upset about those situations that I forget my first love.

I have found some really great resources that I plan to share in the upcoming weeks and months. But for now, I will tell you that I am starting to read a new book:

Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. 

If you are interested in reading it with me, let me know, as I plan to start reading it next week with another friend!

Review: And Still She Laughs (and giveaway!)


And Still She Laughs is a book by Kate Merrick. Kate was the author of a popular blog detailing the cancer battle of her young daughter. When her daughter died, it was time for Kate to keep living. But how? How could she live when her daughter had died?

Kate chooses to do this by diving into stories in the Bible. These are the stories of real women like Bathsheba and Sarah who have found joy no matter what the circumstances.

I'll be honest with you. This is a tough read. The sadness of a mother losing their child isn't really something you can compare to much else. However, if you are in the valley, Merrick's words will help encourage you that you are not in that valley by yourself. She has been in it, and she is clawing her way out of it.

But there is also humor. And happy times. And laughter. It is all mixed together.

I actually want to give away this book to a reader who needs it for herself or for someone she knows. So if you leave a comment, I will be sending this book to a random winner!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Birding with Sidge

FROM JB: 


My second son (8-years-old) and I went out into our woods this morning. We found a breeding pair of Scarlet Tanagers (Piranga olivacea) and their nest!
He got to taste Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea) for the first time... a bit too sour for him!
Here is the list of birds he saw today:

1. American Goldfinch
2. Blue Jay
3. Canada Goose
4. Common (European) Starling
5. Eastern Pheobe
6. Field Sparrow
7. Northern Cardinal
8. Northern Mockingbird
9. Pileated Woodpecker (First time spotting!)
10. Red-Winged Blackbird
11. Scarlet Tanager (First time spotting!)
12. Song Sparrow
13. Tufted Titmouse
14. Wild Turkey
15. Wood Thrush (First time spotting!)


Our dancer

I LOVE how much Abigail loves to dance. 
She absolutely LOVES ballet. 
It is such a fun part of our lives to watch her dance!

Their ballet company performed for two nursing homes this week.

I just love to watch Abigail dance.

Our sweet girl (at left)

At rehearsal 

With her friend Eliza

Review: The Pencil Grip, Inc.


The Pencil Grip, Inc

Thin Stix by KwikStix
Thin Stix by KwikStix
Folks, I have done reviews for this product before. And I wish I could say different things. But I keep saying the same thing because: Oh boy do we have fun with this product! My kids loved the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  They have loved them from the beginning, and they KEEP LOVING THEM!

You know how it is. You want to do crafts with your kids and get out art projects and have tons of fun doing all those Pinterest things you see all the other moms on Facebook doing. But the thought of getting all the stuff out and cleaning it all up. Man, it is just TOUGH to have a good attitude about it. I want my kids to paint and color, but the work involved. And honestly, I feel like just as I finish setting up, the first kid is done and moving on, and I am left with tons of mess to clean up.

(And then tomorrow comes and the same scene is repeated in various formats.)

As I have said on previous posts about this product: I try to be a good sport. I try to say YES many more times than I say NO, but I just can't help it sometimes. Set up and clean up ... it can break one down.

But take a look at this video of my kids painting with Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors  from The Pencil Grip, Inc. I open the package, they paint, it is dry in a matter of minutes and clean up requires me to put the sticks away! That's it!


Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  are basically painting sticks! They are solid tempera paint sticks that you just uncap, twist, and paint! They dry in 90 seconds, but the painting dries looking like paint. You don't add water. You don't need paint brushes. You just uncap and color!

For a mom with four kiddos, this is nothing short of a painting miracle!

So first, I would like to show you some pictures we have done in the past with these products. (You will notice how much smaller the kiddos look in these pictures because they are almost a year old!)

Sidge with his bald eagle.

Isaac with a bird house.

Abigail painting rocks outside with her friend Jonah as we prepared to lay Scrubs to rest.

Isaac helping with the rock painting.

Look at Abigail! She just kept painting and painting. She looks so much chubbier here! Man she has grown up a lot since we initially did a review for The Pencil Grip, Inc.


Okay and now let me show you some of the painting we did this time around:

Eight-year-old Sidge who is often not a fan of art projects. I love this picture!

Three-year-old Hannah (see the big "H" for her name on the corner?) She didn't want her face shown for this review. (She was having an attitude.)

More proof of the attitude. 

Isaac and his painting project. I love this one!

By the time I took photos, Abigail (who is our biggest lover of this product) was outside helping Daddy on the farm. So I got a photo of the finished project without her in it. 

We had a blast with these sticks yet again! And you will too. Truly. This is a great product which is completely affordable. Check these out! Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. is easy and just plain fun!

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 22, 2017

We Bought a Farm: In the Thicket

FROM JB: 

While clearing a overgrown wild blackberry thicket, we came across this nest. 

It belongs to a Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum). We've been seeing, and hearing, them quite a bit over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, their numbers are declining due in large part to people not leaving suitable nest sites... such as the small area we were clearing! 

Needless to say, we left the rest of the thicket in place!


Today I turned 40


My good girlfriends from our days in Turkey sent me this shirt -- along with videos, an amazing Snapfish book, and a necklace. Truly, it made my birthday. To be remembered by people you love and receive hugs and cards from your kids, and be told that you matter -- truly, isn't that the only thing we really need on our birthdays?

It was fun to turn 40 because it wasn't just another birthday. It was a BIG day. I have been alive for four decades. And I have four amazing children (and of COURSE an amazing husband) to show for it.

(It was also fun because I have been doing a LOT better emotionally. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!)

I will be going on a cruise with three great friends in a few short weeks to celebrate my big day. But today, I worked the farm. I actually made a big mistake today and as a result, I spent THREE HOURS unwinding some twine form one of our fencing reels. Not exactly great birthday material.

But I was reminded that this was QUITE a decade for me. During the last ten years, I:
  • Had four children.
  • Moved to northern Florida.
  • Moved to Turkey.
  • Spent a quarter of a year in Germany having Abigail.
  • Moved to Portugal.
  • Moved back to the States.
  • Bought our farm.
  • Started homeschooling.
  • Said good bye to an amazing dog and added two wonderful dogs to our family.
  • Had our in-laws join our life. 
  • And of course, got to spend another decade with the love of my life.
Truly, it was a great ten years. It has been a great life. I look forward to this being merely a halfway point (and hopefully not even quite halfway) to the rest of my life. 

Thank you to all of you who remembered me today. It was fun to have a "big deal" birthday today and be remembered by so many people.

Thank you to everyone! Truly I am a blessed woman to have such a wonderful tribe of people surrounding me.

We Bought a Farm: We Be Incubating!


My friend Erin loaned us a small incubator, and we decided to give a go at incubating our duck eggs. No idea if it will work, but we figured: what's it hurt to try. If they actually do hatch, we are going to move them to a small brooder in the garage, and the kids are going to help raise them until they can join our seven current ducks. We just LOVE our ducks. They bring us all joy. And we have six in here we are hoping will grow and crack those eggs. Stay tuned. Twenty-eight days until the finish line!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Knowledge is the antidote to fear

FROM JB: 
Love teaching my kids about nature... respecting wildlife in all its forms!
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pretty sure this is a Northern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) ready to molt/shed. They can get a little irritable when shedding due to decreased vision; that's why the kids aren't holding it by themselves right now.






The last day of my 30's

I started this Blog in 2005. 
I was 28 years old. 
This was the very first picture I ever put on the Blog of myself: 


Today is the very last day of my 30's.
Tomorrow I will be 40.
I'd like to say that it is "just another age" but that would not be truthful.
It feels CRAZY to me that I am turning 40.
I do not feel 40 on the inside.
On the inside I am 25.
Maybe 30.
But on the outside, I will celebrate a monumental birthday tomorrow.

INSANE!

We Bought a Farm: Dumb Idea


If you have to run out and do the animals, do NOT throw your rain/mud boots on without socks and think: "It'll be okay for just this one time." Because you'll get a DOOZIE of a blister and pay for it for days. Farm lesson learned. Stop and put your socks on Wendi!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: My Lift-the-Flap Bible Stories


The Creation, Noah's Amazing Ark, The Exodus, Daniel, Jonah, Jesus' birth, The wedding in Cana, Through the Roof to Jesus, Jesus Feeds Five Thousand, Jesus Walks on Water, The Last Meal of Jesus, Jesus is Alive!, The Big Catch of Fish .... thirteen stories with more than thirty corresponding lift-the-flaps. 

My Lift-the-Flap Bible Stories includes short stories and fun flaps teach kids about the Bible. A sturdy board book style and a great price ($7.46!) make this a fantastic gift book for that special child in your life. 

I think this book is perfect for children in the 2-7 age range. Take the time to check this adorable book out for yourself.


This chick

This little girl is continually making us smile. As a non-girly-girl myself, I am truly mesmerized by both my daughters who naturally, with no example set by their mother, like to primp and get dressed up. They want me to wear more dresses and skirts. This past week, Abigail did her own hair. She was so proud of it. She even did hairspray herself. This picture really captures her sweet and serene personality:


In addition, while at our friends David & Natalie's house for weekly "Life Group", Abigail taught herself how to swing on their little playground. (This may have come after I complained a bit about how much I didn't enjoy kid-pushing, and why didn't any of my kiddos pump themselves yet?!) 

What was even more fun was that Natalie had told Abigail she was going to become friends with her at a previous meeting, and Abigail looked at me like: "Mom, this woman has no idea how shy of a kid I am! I don't let anyone be my friend without a fight!" 

But she and Natalie bonded during Abigail's swinging, and they are now fast friends. It's so fun! Last night at Life Group, she was having a conversation with Natalie! Abigail doesn't chat with adults unless she has to or they have worked their way into her club!

Yesterday, I helped set up a group of us from our homeschooling group to meet at a really awesome park about 45 minutes from our house. Abigail kept asking: "Do they have swings?" I couldn't remember, but was pretty sure they did. We were at the park for three hours, and Abigail occupied this swing for nearly the entire period. She only got off for quick snack breaks. She is absolutely loving the power she now has!

Now if she can just teach her older brothers. :)

Prayer to Memorize

I am working to memorize the following prayer. If you'd like to join me, let me know. I plan to have this in my heart -- chocked full of scriptures -- to recited when anxiety and fear grip me.

You can read the entire Blog post I got this from here. 

Father, who lives and rules in Heaven, let your Kingdom come to earth and be established through me (Matthew 6:10). There is no fear, no anxiety, and no panic in Heaven. Establish your Kingdom in my heart, that I may walk in peace, in confidence and in strength. Open the eyes of my heart (Luke 24:31) to see all that you have for me. Show me how I have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Help me to receive all that you have for me.
Angels are all around me, ministering to me (Hebrews 1:14). They will guard me according to your word and your command (Psalms 103:20-21). You will not let my foot stumble (Proverbs 3:23).I trust in you, Father, and in you alone. I am your child, and you are my Father (Matthew 23:9). I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). I am at rest in your arms.
Father, I look to you as my Source of hope and of peace. You cover me with your wings (Psalm 91:4) and you are constantly fighting for me (2 Chronicles 20:17). Show me that I need not fight, but that I can just rest in you and rest in the promises of your protection (Exodus 14:13). There is no need for me to stress or worry. You will provide everything I need for life, for peace and for protection (Matthew 6:33).
Today, I will not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6), but I will pray to you about everything, casting my cares upon you because you care for me (1 Peter 5:7). You will guide me along the best pathway for me life. You will advise me and counsel me (Psalm 32:8). You will never leave me alone (Hebrews 13:5). You are always with me. Always. Sin cannot separate us (Romans 8:38-39), because in Christ, you remember our sins no more (Romans 10:17).
Thank you, Father, that you have begun a good work in me and that you’ll be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). I will listen with my heart for you are constantly speaking peace over me (Psalm 85:8). You have the word of life! Father, live in me and through me. I put all my trust in you.

Saturday Smiles


I love stories of people doing good! There is good in our world and good people!