Friday, September 04, 2015

Hannah is Two!

When I look at Hannah I am instantly inundated with a myriad of emotions. 

They stem from the fact that she is our IVF baby -- the only surviving embryo of five years worth of pain and heartache. 

She was conceived sometime in 2005 -- years before her brothers and sisters were ever even thought about.

We call her our fifty-thousand dollar baby.

And for good reason.

(We truly have no idea how much our infertility treatments cost, but we know it was in the tens of thousands.)

My emotions regarding Hannah also stem from the incredibly difficult pregnancy I had -- an entire pregnancy of depression and intense illness that left me as near to the bottom as I have ever been.

And then I get to meet her.

From the moment she was born, she rocked our world. She is spunky and spirited and opinionated and snuggly and determined and really, really smart. She constantly leaves us shaking our head in exasperation, amazement, or a combination of both. She is not shy. She gives her big flirty smile to anyone who is kind to her. She is coy and cute and gives the BEST hugs.

Here are just a few of the current Hannah highlights:
  • She talks like a crazy person. She literally talks in full paragraphs and can have back and forth conversations with you easily. 
  • Not shy AT ALL. Doesn't cry when we leave her in the nursery. 
  • Loves her parents and Grampa and Grama K. quite equally. Can be easily left with any of them without hesitation. 
  • A great traveler -- does great in the car and in grocery carts making her a good "out and about" companion. 
  • She sleeps from about 7pm-7am and takes one nap (from about 1pm-4pm). She very rarely cries in her bed. She is happy to be in her crib and doesn't try to climb out (often). 
  • She is probably my worst eater of the four kiddos. Just very particular about what she wants. 
  • She will do whatever her big siblings tell/ask her to do.
  • She can count to 10 with very little help.
  • She loves to dance, run, and ride her bike and scooter. 
  • She loves to play with her siblings and let them teach her things.
  • She really loves books. She will read them herself and loves for anyone who will read to her to read to her. 
  • She can easily recognize friends and family from photos and tell you who they are.
  • She loves to play outside.
  • Since birth she has had a lot of hair. She continues to have very long and quite curly hair that is a knotted mess a lot of the time!
  • She loves the farm animals.
  • She is constantly imitating her brothers and sister. 
  • She has just gotten into Backyardigans. She also will occasionally watch a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Baby Einstein. 
  • She likes to find trouble, get into things, and mess with things that she isn't supposed to often and with great gusto!
Man, do we love this little girl. She is BY FAR the hardest of my four children in all ways, but she is also a whole lot of fun! Happy 2nd birthday little Hannah Joy Pomegranate Kitsteiner.

Here is a look back at what her siblings were doing when they turned two:

Isaac at two
Elijah at two
Abigail at two

Friday Funnies

Isaac: "Mommy, how did they decide what shape and size countries would be?"
Me: "Well, that's a complicated question. We could do some research but basically it had a lot do with who founded a place and what wars ensued and rivers and natural geography and stuff like that."
Isaac: "Well that is an okay answer. It's not great. But it's okay."

Facebook's Favorite Books: Updated

I recently posted on Facebook asking for people's SINGLE FAVORITE BOOK (other than the Bible.) I took what my friends gave me and split them into two groups.

The first category is favorite books that I have read. People's favorite book (which I have already read). I have decided to star them according to how much I liked them.

  • The Outsiders ***
  • The Shack * (Just couldn't finish this.)
  • Mark of the Lion series ***
  • Redeeming Love ***
  • This Present Darkness **
  • Chronicles of Narnia series **
  • And the Shofar Blew **
  • To Kill a Mockingbird ***
  • Zion Chronicles (Brock and Bodie Thoene) **
  • My Utmost for His Highest **
  • A Walk to Remember ***
  • The Kite Runner ***
  • Catcher in the Rye **
  • The Hunger Games ***
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain ***
  • Little House Books ***
  • A Bend in the Road **
  • The Help ***
Next I have a list of books that you listed that interested in me in going onto a "To Be Read" list. Please note that I have left some recommended books off of this list because I didn't think they would interest me. I am going to work my way through these books and then rate them as I go. (I may, after reviewing more closely later, decide to exclude some of these books.) I am bolding them once I read them and rating them as well. But for now, my list includes:
  • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
  • Snow Falling on Cedars**
  • The Giver (Lois Lowry) 
  • Sherlock Homes (Original by Sir Arthur Conan)
  • Winds of War
  • War and Remembrance
  • The Time Traveler's Wife**
  • Stepping Heavenward
  • Gone with the Wind
  • The Devil in Pew Number Seven
  • Wish me Well
  • Sense & Sensibility
  • Jane Eyre
  • Like a Driven Leaf
  • Works of Love
  • Yada Yada Prayer Group series
  • Undaunted (Christine Caine)
  • Cross and Switchblade
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Kisses from Katie (Katie Davis)**
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)***
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • Enders Game
  • My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • The Last Plea Bargain
  • A Lantern in Her Hand
  • Freedoms Holy Light Series
  • The Double Blind
  • Calm my Anxious Heart (Linda Dillow)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • Cold Mountain
  • The Rule of Four
  • Les Miserables
  • Kitchen Table Wisdom
  • My Grandfather's Blessings
  • How I came to Spark Again
  • P.S. I Love You (Cecelia Ahern)
  • Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
Anything I have missed? Leave a comment if your favorite book isn't on the list.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

What was I thinking?

There are days where I
and utterly


how I ever ...
EVER ...
EVER ... 
thought that I could be a homeschooling mom.


There are FOUR of them.
There is ONE of me.
I am outnumbered.
And definitely out energy-ed.
(And often out smarte-ed too.)

Days like today I truly think:

I can't do this.
I will fail.
I am not capable.
I will not meet their needs.
I should quit now.

My wonderful husband encourages me.
Tells me it was just an off day.
And I know, deep down, he is right.
We did accomplish a lot today.

The kids and I all took our piano lessons.
We went swimming with a homeschool group at the YMCA.
I helped Dan water the animals.
We stopped at a store to pick out birthday presents to give to Hannah.
I did a load of laundry.
I made dinner.
And we got through almost everything on our school "to do" list.

But at one point, I had all four kids in time-out in a different spot in the house.
There was great whaling and gnashing of teeth from all four at different times today.
(And a few times the weeping came from all four of their voices simultaneously.)
And I'm pretty sure someone had a book thrown at their head.
And the response to the punishment was, "I didn't know I wasn't allowed to do that?"
Didn't know you couldn't throw a book at someone's head?
Oh, and another one fell down the stairs.
There was jelly completely coating an entire windowsill.
(Did you know you can paint a windowsill with jelly?)

Deep down I know I am doing okay.
But on days like today, I think, "I'm only really homeschooling half of them right now, and I already feel the walls caving in."
And the voices in my head sing, "Can I really do this?"

I don't know.
All I know is tomorrow.
Tomorrow I try again.

And tonight I am thankful I don't keep chocolate in the house.

Because I would eat it.

We Bought a Farm: Bauernhof Kitsteiner daily videos (VLOG)

JB has started a daily video of life on the farm. I've been told this is called a VLOG. We will be doing one of these almost everyday so stay tuned!

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
  • Episode 36 (An animal update: sheep, pigs, ducks, and geese)
  • Episode 37 (New mobile shelter for sheep and pigs)
  • Episode 38 (Feeding fermented grains to the pigs and sheep)
  • Episode 39 (Abigail feeding ducks)
  • Episode 40 (Laying chicks arrive!)
  • Episode 41 (166 new chicken sin our brooder: 101 broiler and 65 egg layers)
September 2015

Abigail Learns Letters

I have started the "Letter of the Week" with Abigail. I am amazed, at four, how much more interested she is in writing letters and coloring -- things that never really interested my boys.

I haven't really taught her to write any of her letters yet so I was pretty shocked today when she asked me how to spell BALLERINA and then she went and basically wrote it, herself, with no help at all. 

It is really neat to be able to school my children and watch these things up close! It is truly one of the things I love about homeschooling -- getting to see the learning occurring and watch as their brain catches on. 

This particular picture was a lot for me to see!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

My First "Home"

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.” ― William Faulkner

When I think of home, so many memories are conjured up for me, that the thoughts often get very jumbled.

Is where I am living right now ... home?

What makes a place feel like home?

Will I ever be able to say "I am from here."

All these things make me think of the home I spent most of my childhood in. It is the house I identify in when I am asked the question, "Where did you grow up?"

(The question: "Where are you from?" still leaves me not sure how to answer.)

My childhood home, from the time I was 5 until the day I left for college was a doublewide mobile home in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Prior to that we had lived in a few different places in South Florida. We had also spent one year in Chicago, Illinois where both my parents were from. My Dad had tried to make a go of an aluminum siding business with his four brothers, but in the end their hearts belonged in a warmer place.

I have vivid images of the day we went to the see this home in Florida for the first time, and my parents let me choose which room would be mine. I bopped back and forth between the two bedrooms over and over again before I chose one -- feeling the weight of such a big decision. Over the years, my younger brother and I would get bored and switch rooms frequently and so, in that house, my bedroom blurs between the two sides of the house.

I remember Christmas when my dad's parents came to visit. I was probably 10 or 11 years old. It was so cold in South Florida that year that the electric company couldn't keep up with the demand and the heat went out in homes all over the coast -- our's included. We spent the holiday moving from room to room -- whichever was currently facing the sun.

Except my Grampa. He stayed in the living room -- his Chicago blood running strong -- wearing his hat and gloves and jacket and shoes -- reading the paper as if it wasn't cold at all.

I can remember getting our first microwave oven in that house.

I remember our first remote control was attached via cord to the TV.

I remember my Dad borrowing a VCR from the school he worked at so we could rent a movie at Blockbuster for the weekend.

I know my mom wasn't proud of that house. She didn't like living in a trailer. Especially one that had been put in backwards which meant you hard to enter the house through the laundry room.

But I didn't understand why she didn't like it. It was our home, and I didn't see it as different from anyone else's home.

(Until I was a grown-up and began to comprehend what a stigma was and how it was difficult to not be put under one. People make a lot of jokes about people in trailer parks. I get that now. But it didn't feel that way to me as a child. It felt normal and okay and comfortable.)

I remember getting my first bike. It was a boy's bike, but I didn't know the difference. I just knew how free I felt riding around the neighborhood streets with the boy twins (Nathan and Jesse) that lived down the road from me. I jumped speed bumps and fell more times than I could count.

There was a lake behind our house. You can just barely see it between my brother and I in this picture to the left. (Aren't our lunch boxes great?) We swam in that lake and fed a lot of ducks there. Back then, South Florida wasn't the booming metropolis that it is today. There were places of peace and respite. (Something that I feel is seriously lacking there now.) Our neighborhood was peaceful and that lake contributed to that.

I got my first kiss in this house from my now-husband.

We evacuated that house in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew blew through. We cautiously drove back home not sure if the trailer had survived the Category 5 storm. In the end, a slight turn at the very last minute meant that Miami took the hardest hit and only one house in our neighborhood was destroyed.

I had numerous Division I basketball coaches sit in my living room and eat my mother's dessert and try to sell me on why their school was the best for me.

(Paul Sanderford and Western Kentucky University closely edged out Georgia, NC State, Appalachian State, and Florida State University.)

Today, this mobile home park doesn't even exist anymore. It has been torn down and replaced by a series of picture-perfect apartment buildings. I doubt the lake is there either.

But for me, that will always be home.

Home has changed many times since I left that trailer park in 1995.

I would spend the next 20 years in a variety of places:
  • 1995-1997 Dorm room in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • 1997-1998 Apartment with four girlfriends in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • 1998-2000 Townhouse with my husband in Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • 2000-2003 Duplex in Franklin, Kentucky with my husband
  • 2003-2004 Mother-in-law apartment in a house in Rochester, Minnesota
  • 2004-2007 Condo in Rochester, Minnesota (our first purchase!)
  • 2007-2010 Base housing on Eglin Air Force Base where we added a dog, one boy, and two boys!
  • 2010-2012 One of my favorite houses on Incirlik Air Base in Turkey
  • 2012-2014 Massive "palace" on the island of Terceira in the Azores, Portugal
  • 2014-2015 Rental house in Spring Hill, TN
  • 2015-? Our final resting spot: Farm in Eastern, TN
But when I think of my childhood home, this is what I think of. 

And I think happy thoughts!

Hunting for chocolate easter eggs on Easter Sunday, watching the Bulls win their championships and subsequently watching my father do a headstand in the living room, and typing away on my very first typewriter: a non-electric gem that solidified my love of words and typing.

Little memories.

All pushed together.

THAT was home.

And I pray my children will be able to look at what we are building here for them as the same thing when they flashback decades from now.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy (Early) Birthday Hannah!

So, in sticking with our new family birthday plan of avoiding birthday parties, we decided to choose somewhere fun to go to as a family for Hannah's 2nd birthday. Her birthday isn't until September 4th, but Friday worked out best for us to head as a family to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. This aquarium is voted Top 3 on nearly every site you can find and being as we are only 90 minutes from Gatlinburg, we decided to give it a try.

Here are a few snaps from our outting:

Abigail has started asking me to take her picture when she thinks it's  a good time. :)

We went through an entire exhibit about "schooling" animals. These fish like to eat dead skin off human hands.

Sidge and Abigail both gave it a try, but Sidge really stuck with it and let them nibble away.

A picture of all the kiddos, looking at the camera. A small miracle.

So overall our review on the aquarium was that it was very nice and very fun but it was a little overpriced for the outing. I don't think it is a place we will go to yearly, but every few years it might be a nice thing to add to our homeschool agenda.

We followed up the Aquarium in typical-Kitsteiner style by finding a restaurant that is ranked high on Trip Advisor and isn't your "normal" place to eat. We like to find non-chain restaurants that offer unique experiences. We also love when a place reminds us of the traveling we have done.

We found an awesome British Pub a few minutes from the Aquarium that was very fun! It was called The Fox and Parrot Tavern.  It is a family-friendly restaurant that had really good food! I would definitely recommend it to anyone, but especially those of you who have spent time frequenting pubs in England. 

Hard to believe my baby is turning 2 in just a few shorts days. What a piece of work she is. I'll be writing more about her very soon.

We Bought a Farm: I think we found our church

We think we have found a church that fits our family very nicely.
  • JB needed an intellectual pastor. Check
  • We wanted a really great kids program. Check. 
  • I really wanted to find a church that had a heart for the widows and orphans. Check. 
  • I wanted to find a place that I could easily take all four kids by myself and feel like they were being smothered with love and teaching for the hour. Check. 
  • We all wanted to find a church that seemed like we could contribute to the body. Check.
We aren't writing our decision in stone yet, but we do feel like the Lord has lead us to the right place. I'm excited to get involved, get to know people, and find a church home

Slowly but surely I am releasing the past places I have lived and the previous churches I have worshipped in .... releasing them into the past and looking to the future. I am not really sure how to phrase this, but it is important, when you move as much as we have during the first two decades of our married life, to embrace the new place, and realize that any place can become home.

If you let it be.

Finding a church is part of that. It won't feel the same for a long time. You'll grieve for the church homes of your past. But your present is where you are now. And it's time to move on and look forward.

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” ― Robin HobbFool's Fate

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: The Good Samaritan

I am loving getting to review all these awesome I Can Read books for Booklook Bloggers. (They provide me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.)

The Good Samaritan retells the familiar parable of an injured man who is helped by the most unlikely of strangers. Written in the I Can Read level two standards, with age-appropriate vocabulary and concepts, young readers read about The Good Samaritan, who does what the Biblical scholars before him failed to do: stop what he was doing to help a person who needed help, no matter what his race or tribe. 

This I Can Read! series of Bible stories makes use of the unique features found in the NIV Adventure Bible such as “People in Bible Times” and “Did You Know ”.

This particular story has great pictures and vocabulary appropriate for level 2. I have already really enjoyed listening to my boys reading it to me.

How I feel ...

... when Hannah doesn't fall asleep during nap time.

(Three hour break turns into one hour.)

(I'm currently grieving.)

(I'll get over it soon.)

(In theory bed time will come a bit earlier.)

(But it doesn't always correlate.)

Superhero & Lego Homeschool ***UPDATED ***

I am working at collecting any and all superhero-based homeschooling activities for my five-year-old six and seven year old boys. If anyone has any additional ones, I'd be most obliged to you sharing them with me! I plan to return to this page and update it to oblivion! UPDATED!!!


Homeschool packets:
Superhero Mini Unit
Superhero Pre-K Pack
Superhero Kindergarten Math Pack
Batman Preschool Pack
Spiderman Unit (Biblically Based)
Superhero Unit Study: Lesson Ideas that Pack a Punch!
Superheroes Kindergarten Pack
Superhero Unit

Marvel Heroes: Second Grade (Math Made Easy)
Math Made Easy: Superman: Third Grade
Math made Easy: Marvel Heroes: Fourth Grade
Math Made Easy: Batman: Fifth Grade
Extended Superhero booklist

Coloring sheets & Activity Packets
Captain America Printables 

The Physics of Superheroes


Pre-K Math
What ninja is missing?
Lego alphabet cards (Thanks Leina!)


We are down to our LAST 24 hours to shop!!! Please take a moment to check out these books and see if you'd like to make a purchase for the little person in your life. Christmas gifts galore!!!

My neighbor from Eglin AFB has created a fundraiser opportunity for Because of Isaac through Usborne books. Please take a moment to visit the page for this fundraiser: Link to shop! 

If you are a mother or an aunt or a grandmother, this would be a GREAT opportunity for you to buy some books for your special little person for Christmas and at the same time, giving 17% of your purchase directly to Because of Isaac!

Here is the formal invite:

Welcome to our Because of Isaac Fundraiser with Kristin Loves Usborne! I'm Kristin, the "Book Lady" for this event. I sell Usborne Books & More. I just love that Because of Isaac makes growing families possible through adoption! And what better way to support growing families than with a children’s book fundraiser?! 

For every $100 in books purchased, a MINIMUM of $17 will be donated to Because of Isaac to help a family adopt a child! 
Usborne Books & More is a strong supporter of childhood literacy! They offer almost 2,000 educational books and activities for all ages and interests, fiction and non-fiction. Many of the books are interactive to get even the most reluctant readers to begin enjoying books! 

The percentage of donation will increase the more you purchase! No matter what Because of Isaac will receive 17% of your purchase. Once we reach $750 in sales, that goes up to 20%. At $2000 we will be able to donate 25%. Once we reach $3,000 in sales, 30% of your purchase goes to Because of Isaac!! 

I want to raise lots and lots of money for Because of Isaac and I need YOUR help, so if you have any questions or need any recommendations, please feel free to message me! The fundraiser will stay open until MIDNIGHT on August 31. 

To learn more about Because of Isaac, go to 

(Sorry our books can only be shipped to US and military addresses. If you live outside the US, please consider donating directly to Because of Isaac or have your gift mailed to someone within the USA or APO address!)

Sunday Sermon