Saturday, June 24, 2017

We Bought a Farm: My Saturday

Shane and Linda are in town for the weekend. It is so wonderful to see them as always. But it was also very fun because I had an opportunity to spend some girl time with Linda and a friend she introduced me to, LaShea. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and and we just hit it off online and were all able to meet today. Today, LaShea was home visiting family about an hour from here so Linda drove in and the three of us got to have a bit of girl time -- thanks to Shane who volunteered to babysit. Here is a photo of the three of us:


Today was a busy day for me because Jacob was off, my in-laws were under the weather, JB was at work, and we have a new WWOOFer that needed to be trained in. But I managed to get it all done including:
  • Lunch with Linda and LaShea at Yoders
  • Three animal runs -- a.m,, noon, and p.m. with new WWOOFer
  • Making dinner
  • Taking care of four children :)
Of course Shane and Linda helped a ton too and together we pulled it off.

I also wanted to share two pictures that I really love. Here is Abigail and Sidge who went to run some farm chores two mornings ago and had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. I just think they look so old and grown-up here. I can't believe how fast childhood goes:



And then I took this picture today. This is so Abigail. Wearing a dress, boots on, riding her bike down the hills on our farm. She is such a combo of princess and tomboy. She is just such a precious little girl:


Friday, June 23, 2017

Erica's story



My cousin Josh has a wife named Sarah. I consider her my cousin. We are super close. Years ago, her cousin came down with bacterial meningitis. This is her story. You will want to watch this. She says she is not an inspiration, but I think she is!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Moments of our Life

Life on the farm has been very busy, and to be honest, we've been doing some reevaluating. Like all families, there is a constant battle between what we want to do and what we should do. We want to live a slow life, but even though we are on the farm, and the life can look a bit idyllic, the reality of striving for that slow life is not as easy as it seems. I will write more about this, but I will say briefly that we are going to be scaling back a little and focusing on the things that we truly love and that truly bring us joy. We've tried a lot of things, and feel we have the ability to make good judgments on what is working for us and not working for us. We are stretched too thin here on the farm, and are going to work on scaling back. 

In the meantime though, life keeps going and there are great memories scattered amongst a busy life. Here are a few that have stuck out to me in the last few days:

I love this photo -- Isaac needs to have a shoe on to play the piano pedal well. I often will find just one shoe perched by the piano so he can pull it on when he is playing. I don't think I will ever tire of listening to this boy play piano. Bri recently shared with us that his adoptive family had a musical background -- the cello. There is definitely something inside of him that God placed there, and it is fun to witness.

Our geese have been having little goslings. A few of them have struggled a bit, so we've pulled them out and let them hang with the ducks until they get stronger. Then we've put them back with the geese with good success. It's been very fun to watch the little ducks and geese grow. 

Here's my Hannah drinking some of my smoothie for lunch. This kid constantly makes us smile. 



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Baby Ducks

We are enjoying the four baby ducks we've incubated. I got some videos today of the kids in the garage. Our intern, Jacob, came up with a nice play area for the kids and ducks. We also have two baby geese who are hanging out with the ducks now while they get a little stronger.





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

19th Anniversary


Today is the 19th anniversary of being married to the greatest man in the world. I don't say that just to say it. I truly mean it. I love my husband so much. I am so blessed that we still love each other so much.

However, we are busy, and we were so busy that we BOTH forgot it was our anniversary until my Mom posted a congratulatory note on Facebook about an hour ago.

Here is a look back at our previous anniversaries that we have celebrated since I started this Blog:

18th anniversary
17th anniversary
16th anniversary
15th anniversary
14th anniversary
13th anniversary
12th anniversary
11th anniversary
10th anniversary
9th anniversary
8th anniversary

I am truly immensely blessed that I found JB so long ago. We truly are soulmates. I love our crazy life and our crazy adventures. I love being his wife. I love that he is my best friend. 

TribeLife Tuesday: Heart Flex

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Happy TribeLife Tuesday!!! 

First things first, thank you for your faithfulness in spending time with me each each week! I am so grateful for you.

Today I want to discuss a familiar topic, but first, wherever you are, take a deep breath. Take in the deepest breath you’ve taken all day. Ready yourself to journey with the tribe. 

What is the posture of your heart? It’s a loaded question, I know, but lean into this reflective space and take a moment to examine your heart. I think this precious time of self-evaluation is imperative for our heart health. It’s vital that we look into ourselves and make sure we are actively becoming who we want to be. For me, I know I don’t nail this as often as I would like. I would even love to be even my semi-best me more often than I am, but I am on my way there and it is not without challenges. 

So, let’s talk heart posture; while I’m primarily talking about the attitude of our hearts, I do think it is very interesting how our hearts are strategically postured in our bodies. It’s almost as if your heart is floating inside you. You see, there is a double-walled sac called the pericardium that encases the heart, which serves to protect and anchor it inside the chest. This pericardium fixes the heart in place and limits its motion due to its attachment to the diaphragm, the sternum and the tunica adventitia (outer layer) of the great vessels (Click here for more on that). Needless to say, our hearts are a phenomenon and how we care for them is deeply imperative. 

The heart is also considered a muscle, and when we flex it, we show the world what’s what’s going on inside of us. While this flexing isn’t seen, it can be felt in how we treat others, the way we care for people, the way we talk to them and especially how we love those who seemingly can offer nothing in return. I think it is safe to say that how we flex our heart is our character and, as we build our character, it’s like doing weight training for our hearts. I certainly want my heart flex to say more about me than my words or anyone else's ever could. I want my actions to reflect a heart that is kind and loving and strong. So I pose this: how beautiful and defined is your flex? Are you caring for your heart well?

Did you know that the heart and mind are intricately connected? Funnily enough, before I started writing today’s blog, I said to myself that the brain and heart are different and unrelated; the brain or mind is for logic and the heart is for feeling. And, boy was I wrong about that! The effect of heart activity on brain function has been researched extensively over the past 40 years and here are some of the things we’ve found out:
  • Heart signals have a significant effect on brain function— influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving.
  • During stress and negative emotions, the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered and inhibit higher cognitive functions, limiting our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. (This helps explain why we may often act impulsively and unwisely when we’re under stress.) The heart’s input to the brain during stressful times also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes, actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress.
  • In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect—it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.
  • Scientists have discovered that the heart possesses its own intrinsic and highly sophisticated nervous system.
  • Lastly, we now understand that the heart not only responds to emotion, but that the signals generated by its rhythmic activity actually play a major part in determining the quality of our emotional experience from moment to moment. 
Click here for more info about your amazing heart.

How amazing is your heart! And how imperative it is for us to take care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. My hope is that you are pursuing your best life with the best tribe. I hope you are finding ways every day to flex your heart muscle and love and honor others well. Here is a reminder for us all- let’s never get so caught up in our lives that we lose our sense of purpose or our zeal for what truly matters to us. Let’s take care of our hearts and our brains, let’s guard them, and be intentional with what we allow in and what we allow out. You are a gift to this world and I especially look forward to you thriving in your best life. 

Thank you for reading!

See you next Tuesday.

Carrie

*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wow -- JUST WOW!

Wow. I really don't know what else to say about this infertility video. Prepare to cry. Want to know what infertility feels like? This nails it. I honestly don't even know what else to say. Sunny Sweeney in "Bottle by My Bed" ... this was my life before we adopted Isaac. How much I wished back then I could explain what it felt like. I love that social media has made this such a talked-about topic.

Braces x 2


Back in December, Sidge got braces, and then two weeks ago, Isaac got braces too. Two kids in braces! Now that's pretty cheap. (NOT!) Isaac was not excited about braces being as he already has a long list of foods he can't eat due to his egg allergy, and the orthodontist eliminated corn on the cob, popcorn, skittles, and jelly beans -- all some of Isaac's FAVORITE foods. But he's handling it pretty well. 

How are my boys old enough for braces?!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We Bought a Farm: One little goose

This morning, our intern, Jacob, showed up at the house with a gosling in a box. Our geese appear to have finished their laying/hatching for the season and they had seven little goslings to show for it. But one little gosling was having a bit of a hard time walking so Jacob thought he might stand a better chance in a different home. When he took it out of the box, Abigail immediately took to it, and Leeann captured one of the cutest pictures EVER:


We took a little time to play with the goose on the floor:


And then we decided to put the goose in with our new baby ducks. Four of our six duck eggs hatched, and we are raising four little ducks in a small brooder. We have added the gosling to the mix, and it seems to be going well. No one seems to care that he isn't a duck and that they aren't goslings. We'll keep you posted on how this little gang continues to do!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Second Conference

We are holding our second conference here at BAUERNHOF KITSTEINER. It is just a day conference and is an "Introduction to Permaculture." We have about 15 people in attendance, and are having a blast! Here's a shot of how we turn our garage into a conference room:


Our friends: Leeann and Pete drove in for the conference and to see our farm. Leeann was the nurse who was on during my delivery of Sidge. My mother and mother-in-law remember her running down the hall to find epi when things went south so quickly. Sidge and her really have a special bond! It's fun to see. She is a city girl at heart, so it is SO FUN to watch her learning about the farm:


She even got to hold one of our new rams:


Ritter and Arabelle both love them:


I already showed this picture once, but I just LOVE IT. Leeann reminds us of our Joni. I have a feeling, she'll have to be returning to the farm regularly:


Leeann snagged a picture of our meat chickens growing away in our chicken tractors. We are running THREE chicken tractors this year with about 90-100 birds in each one:


Abigail has been working on her cartwheel, but Leeann, who was a gymnast, gave her a few tips, and suddenly she was flying!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Ballet Camp

The girls participated in a week of ballet camp Monday thru Friday this week. Hannah did the little "Princess Camp" for the first time. And Abigail completed her third summer ballet week. I'm not sure Hannah is going to take ballet, yet, but she did great during camp. And Abigail just absolutely LOVES ballet. Here are a few pictures, courtesy as always, of my friend Kristin -- photographer extraordinaire. 

Abigail's class was two hours long. They would do ballet for the first hour and then work on a play for the second hour that they presented to the parents. Even better is the fact that they didn't want parents to be there for the rehearsal, and Abigail told me it was okay I didn't stay with her! This might have been the first time I have ever left her for ANYTHING!

With her fellow princesses in the play.

Hannah's princess group. (She is third from the left.)

Hannah's class working on their craft.

During Hannah's class, Abigail walked with Ms. Kristen and Eliza to get a snack. Eliza and Abigail are nearly the same age and will most likely be homeschooled together all the way through. It is so fun to see Abigail feel comfortable enough with them to leave me and go do things!

This girl. She is growing up soooooo fast. SLOW DOWN!

Abigail with some of her ballet friends.

Abigail and Eliza reading during a break.

The awesome Kristin. I LOVE THIS GIRL!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Friendship


This is a big weekend for us here at the farm. We are hosting an "Introduction to Permaculture" Conference on Saturday. JB is working three nights in a row, has one day to sleep, and then the conference. After that he has another three days to work in a row. In addition, the girls are in ballet camp. Whew. It's a big one here!

Even better? Our friend Leeann and her husband Pete are here for the conference. Leeann was my nurse when I delivered Sidge on Eglin AFB, and she and her husband both worked with JB at Eglin. We have stayed in touch since our military paths separated, and truly, social media, in this case, left us both feeling like we were living closer than we were.

My kiddos have only had here for day 1 of 3, but they are head over heels for her (and her husband is a keeper too!). It is truly like they have known her forever. What FUN!!!

We Bought a Farm: They are Hatching


I wrote previously about how we decided to incubate six duck eggs here on the farm. I had a wonderful friend who had an incubator we could use, and we thought we'd give it a shot and see how it went. We put six ducks eggs in (that's all that fit) and waited and waited and about 30 days later, the first little duckling came out. We now have FOUR little baby ducks. One eggs appears to be a "dud" but we are waiting to see if the fifth egg hatches. They are currently in a little brooder out in our feed shed. You can see a video of how this looks from the last time we got baby birds in the mail!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned 40 on May 22. Just a few weeks later, I had the opportunity to celebrate on a CRUISE with three amazingly awesome and beautiful women. 

I am honestly not sure exactly how this trip came down to me and these three gals. The Lord really. I knew I wanted to go on a cruise to get a break and celebrate my birthday. Due to JB having just gone to his brother's wedding, he couldn't go. I started praying and asking the Lord to show and bring me the perfect partners for this trip. And boy oh boy, did he.

Danielle is my sister-in-law. She is married to JB's brother, Matt. She is a decade younger than me, but during the last few years she has truly become one of my very best friends. 

Angelica was my friend in Turkey. Our husbands were stationed there together. She is truly one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met. 

And Adrienne, last but definitely not least, is my brother's wife, Adrienne or "AD" as I call her. I truly could not ask for my only sibling to marry a better woman.

What I love most about these ladies is that we are all very similar: we like to eat good food and like to take naps and relax. We are low maintenance and very go-with-the-flow. Even though I knew all these ladies, they didn't know each other. (My sister-in-laws knew each other a little but not incredibly.) So this was a bit of a gamble for me. 

Don't get me wrong: I have a LOT of wonderful women in my life. These three women are not my "exclusive" friends. But due to availability and time and location and where they are in life, these are the three that were able to join me for this long weekend. And it was EXACTLY who was supposed to be with me. 

WE 
HAD
A
BLAST!

The first part of my trip took place a week before -- when Danielle got me a pedicure for my birthday! I got the toes painted and bought some sandals from Payless! I was so excited to go on this trip with these ladies. I have four kids, Angelica has four, AD has three, and Danielle is a new mom to Peyton. Twelve children had to be cared for at home to make this weekend work!

Next up: I flew from Knoxville and Angelica flew from Boston. After some intense worry on my part that my flight wasn't going to arrive in time, I made it to Fort Lauderdale. I was bummed that due to my late flight, I didn't get to have dinner with my parents and stay at their house as planned. But it was so great to board this ship on Friday morning! Angelica and I ended up staying at Joan's house by the airport on Thursday evening, and we caught up with AD and Danielle (who live in Fort Lauderdale) the next morning. A huge thank you to Joan for being so flexible at the last minute!

First up? Finding that they decorated my room for my birthday! Our room was tiny but perfect. I was so amazingly impressed with Jamieson who was our room attendant. (Not sure if that is what you call it?) He was so incredible. The employees on this ship were simply AMAZING!!!

Dinner the first evening with Angelica, Danielle, me and Adrienne. We had Clinton and Mario for our waiters. They were simply stellar. This is my third cruise, and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the experience. I am always so impressed with the quality of the employees on the ship. The precision of what it takes to take 2700 people out on the water for three days with 800 employees is not lost on me!

The next morning, our ship docked at CocoCay, an island owned by Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed just sitting on beach chairs, taking naps under the cloudy skies, chatting, and eating of course! We truly laid low the entire weekend. We didn't do a lot of on-board activities. We simply took it easy, relaxed, and hung out. We LOVED not having access to technology! That truly made the trip all the better. We didn't take our phones anywhere. (But soon realized that without a phone, no one had a watch!)

On Sunday morning we docked at Nassau in the Bahamas. We opted to take an air conditioned guided tour of the island. Angelica had never been to the Bahamas so we wanted to make sure to show her this beautiful culture that is very familiar to us as South Floridians. 

On our last evening, AD splurged and bought me lobster for my birthday dinner. (It was an extra charge on the menu!) I loved watching AD the mom return to her crazy self as the days went on. 

Danielle did NOT want Fudge on her dessert. The waited painted this "NO FUDGE" on her plate just to be silly. Man did we all love to eat good food!

On Monday morning, we docked our ship for the last time, and Matt picked us up from the Port of Miami. He dropped Angelica and I off at Joan's house, took Danielle home to her little girl, and Adrienne got in her car and drove home. Joan and I took Angelica to lunch and then to the airport to catch her flight. And then, I got to have lunch with my Dad and Mom -- a wonderful ending to my trip as I had been so bummed I didn't get to see them before my cruise.

I want to say a special thank you to my wonderful husband who encourages me to take breaks and recoop. I also want to thank my in-laws who helped JB tremendously at home so that I could go. It was truly a fantastic celebration of four decades of my life!!!

I love each of these gals so much. THANK YOU for taking the time to celebrate with me. We were a great team!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted



A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!


Happy TribeLife Tuesday. 

We have all been given this amazing gift of feeling. We get to feel lots of exhilarating emotions such as joy, happiness, love, gratitude, and more. At the same time, we must face the kryptonite to those emotions like sorrow, pain, grief, hurt, and disappointment.

Growing up, I certainly had no problem expressing my feelings, but once life started happening to me I began to reel my expression in a bit, and the more life happened the less I wanted to feel. The desire to feel was replaced by the longing to guard myself. So how do we balance the need to protect ourselves with our right to express our feelings?

It’s human nature to deflect pain; we do our best to avoid getting hurt. There is a place of safety we all wish we could stay in, sheltering ourselves from the shrapnel that life has a way of throwing at us. Unfortunately, authentic relationships cannot happen if we stay in that place. Truthfully, safety doesn’t always mean healthy. When we shield ourselves from pain we shield ourselves from joy.

At my core I want to do well with this life I’ve been given. I earnestly seek to do as much as I can to keep my heart and soul healthy. This is a continual pursuit for me and it’s often a struggle. It’s an unsteady bridge I must cross. On one side, the side I am on, is the kryptonite, on the other side is the antidote, and what’s in between is a rickety, crumbly, old bridge, and it’s the only option to get to freedom. 

So here are some things to consider this week:

  • When something great happens to me, what is my first response
  • When something hard happens to me, what is my first response? 
  • Who is the first person I call when I receive great news? Bad news
  • Do I have a deep, meaningful relationship with someone in my family? 
  • Outside my family?
  • Am I happy? If not, why?
Below is a beautiful manifesto that I keep with me. I invite you to partake:


MANIFESTO OF THE BRAVE AND BROKENHEARTED 

There is no greater threat to the critics 
and cynics and fearmongers 
Than those of us who are willing to fall 
Because we have learned how to rise. 

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; 
We choose owning our stories of struggle, 
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. 

When we deny our stories, they define us. 
When we run from struggle, we are never free. 
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye. 

We will not be characters in our stories. 
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes. 

We are the authors of our lives. 
We write our own daring endings. 

We craft love from heartbreak, 
Compassion from shame, 
Grace from disappointment, 
Courage from failure. 

Showing up is our power. 
Story is our way home. Truth is our song. 
We are the brave and brokenhearted. 
We are rising strong.

--Brene Brown

Thank you for reading. 

See you next Tuesday!

Carrie
*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Review: Whistlefritz -- Educator's Spanish Collection

My husband and I felt very strongly that we wanted to include a foreign language in our homeschooling curriculum. I therefore was very excited that I had the opportunity to review the Educator's Spanish Collection from Whistlefritz. This is a great company, and they offer a great product. I really encourage you to take the time to read my review, and then to go and check them out at their website or at:
First of all, I should tell you that this is an immersion program which means that the entire program is in Spanish. Our Educator's Spanish Collection included:
  • A Lesson Plans Book
  • 5 videos
  • 3 music CD's
  • Matching Cards game
Matching Cards game
Here is a picture of my second son, Sidge after getting a match in the card game! We really enjoyed playing with this card game and getting to match different Spanish words:


Lesson Plans Book
The Lesson Book includes 40 reproducible lessons provided in a hard copy book. One of the lessons that my kids most enjoyed was Lesson 14: My family (Mi familia). I did this lesson with all four of my children (ages 3, 5, 8, and 9) but it was my oldest three who most "got it". (My three-year-old just loved being with us and trying!)

The lesson is written out very clearly for me. It includes:
  • Description of lesson: This particular lesson teaches students vocabulary for the names of family members.
  • Goal: This lesson was to teach students the names of family members.
  • Objective: For students to be able to identify family members.
  • Vocabulary: The words that they are trying to learn during this lesson.
  • Materials: This includes materials that are provided by Whistlefritz and lists anything you might need yourself.
  • Time: This particular lesson was 30-40 minutes.
It then breaks down the lesson into easy-to-follow bite-sized-nuggets. This one included:
    Whistlefritz Spanish
  • Focus and Review: This section provided an opportunity to prepare for this lesson by saying in Spanish who we are, where we live, and who are family members are. 
  • Teacher Input: This is where I have students repeat different things after me about family members.
  • Guided Practice: We looked at a photo album of family members, and I would ask the students "Who is this?" in Spanish. They would then answer in Spanish.
  • Independent Practice: For the "Independent Practice" we  created family member puppets. We printed out colored pictures of people in our family (like Dad, Grampa, or Grama) and glued them to a popsicle stick. Then my kiddos would hold one of the popsicle sticks and role play conversations. 
  • Closure: For the "Closure" we held up the popsicle sticks and identified individual family members. 
  • Extension Activities: The suggested activity was to create a memory game with pictures of family members. We did this with our popsicle sticks!
Each one of the above-listed items is broken down clearly for me to go through with my children. It tells me what to say and what I should have the students do in each lesson. 

DVD's & CD's
In addition to the workbook filled with 40 lessons, my package included DVD's that my kids just loved. We actually set them up on the portable DVD player in our van and would watch them on the way to and from town.

There are also music CD's that we listened to as well. They had some great songs and music.

Here is a short clip to give you an idea what the videos are like:


Conclusion
Here's my overall take on the Educator's Spanish Collection from Whistlefritz: It's really great. The videos are very well done. My kids definitely enjoyed them. The Lesson Book is incredibly detailed and provides fantastic materials and ideas.

The only slight "note" I want to make about this program is the fact that it requires me (the teacher) to speak in Spanish as I go through the Lesson Book with my kids. This can be challenging if you are not at all familiar with the language. I think if you have some familiarity or have taken that language yourself, you'll be able to do it, but if you don't know anything about the language, it will be very challenging. I took many years of Spanish and also grew up in South Florida so I felt I had a good enough handle on the language to do a good job teaching my kids.

Overall, we were very pleased with the program, and think you will be too. As always, take the time to email me if you have more questions or want me to expand on my thoughts further!

Spanish and French {Whistlefritz Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My kiddos

About this time on my cruise, I imagine I'll be really missing my kids. What will I be missing?

Isaac: I love Isaac's passion for piano, rollercoasters, and geography. I love that he only smiles when I have really earned a smile. I love that he still has his favorite stuffed animals he sleeps with. I love that he accepts his adoption as just the way his story was written. I love his introspection and sweet hugs.

Sidge: I love Sidge's passion. He is passionate about everything he does. Everything is either the best or the worst (which is typical of me). I love how much he loves animals, and how fervently he loves his current dogs and the dog he lost. I love that he is so smart, and yet he has no idea that he is. I love how caring and sensitive he is.

Abigail: My blondie. This girl can melt you in one look, and she knows she has that power. I so enjoy watching her do ballet, and I love seeing her shyness conflicting with her want to not be shy anymore. I love that despite how shy she is, when she steps on a stage, all shyness is gone. I love how beautiful she is both on the inside and outside, and the sweet tears that she can turn on at a moment's notice.

Hannah: Hannah will always hold a very special section of my heart. I love how incredibly difficult and challenging, and determined, and outgoing, and intelligent she is. I love that she was born last but conceived first as so much of her acts like a firstborn. She loves hugs and kisses and just being with her family. She is truly a world-changer.

I miss them! But I still have one more day to cruise!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Reflecting

I have been unable to get the image of the four-wheeler accident out of my mind. I hope that this time on the cruise will clear my mind a bit. Every second of what happened is seared into my memory, and yet there are so many details that I can't make sense of in my mind.

Hannah has since told me that when the four-wheeler flipped, she was lying on her stomach and was under the seat. Abigail said her feet were stuck, and she was right next to me. I felt like I was incredibly stuck, and yet, somehow, after a matter of minutes, I wasn't stuck anymore. I can't figure out how that happened. While the seconds are imprinted, the exact details are very foggy.

I remember hearing my girls screaming. And I remember being absolutely helpless to help them. I remember thinking that one of them must have been seriously injured. That there was no way the machine hadn't landed on them and injured them significantly. I remember thinking that if I couldn't get out and get help, they could die where they were, and I was so stuck, I had no way to help them. I remember wanting to lift the four-wheeler but being absolutely unable to make it move.

And then it moved. Suddenly I was climbing out. And I have no idea how I went from totally stuck to totally unstuck. My mind doesn't have that answer.

Here's what I do know: I am not blaming myself for what happened. It happened. It was my fault. But I'm not going to spend time dwelling on that if I can help it. But in the end, I was STUPID! It was an incredibly stupid idea to have my kids on a four-wheeler at all since I barely knew what I was doing. It was stupid to not have helmets. It was stupid to go down into the field. I was uneducated and just didn't understand the power of the machine I was on. I am so blessed that I am able to learn the lesson with only some bruising and soreness.

JB took a lot from the accident too. He said that he wants to take some time to let the newness of what happened wear off, but we want to reevaluate the decisions we are making on the farm. Our lives are not worth this new lifestyle. And we will not forget that.

Yesterday I watched my two little girls walk together to Grama's house. They were both wearing a dress and had their hair down, and as Abigail started walking too fast, Hannah yelled: "Hey wait for the little sister." I thought: I could have lost them both. Or I could have lost one and they wouldn't have a sister. The thought is unbearable to me.

I feel some guilt that we were spared and other families have instead faced loss and grief. I do not pretend to understand the ways of life. I only know to trust God and keep walking forward.

But instead of dwelling on what I did wrong on that Sunday, I am using what happened to remind myself that I must be vigilant, prayerful, thoughtful, and listen to the Holy Spirit. When I am driving my car, when I am crossing a street, when I am working on the farm, I need to have my eyes open more, think before I act, and be more deliberate in the decisions I make.

As always, by keeping it real on this Blog, I pray that you can use what happened to me in your own life.

THINK.
PRAY.
PAUSE.
LISTEN.
LIVE.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Cruisin'

I'm writing this post two days early. Today, as this post goes live, I am on my cruise with three wonderful women: my sister-in-law, Danielle (who is married to JB's brother Matt), and my other sister-in-law, Adrienne (who is married to my brother Keith), as well as my friend Angelica. Angelica and I lived in Turkey together and have been friends ever since.

Of course there are many more wonderful women in my life, and this trip is not designed to exclude those women from my life or to make them feel less than wonderful. The circumstances just all came together for the four of us to do this to celebrate my 40th birthday, and so we are doing it.

I am so blessed to have a husband who encourages me to take breaks. I needed this break sooooo bad. We are cruisin' to the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean. And honestly, I could care less about any other detail. The only detail I care about is RELAXING!

I'll be posting a short post every day I am gone, but otherwise, wait for my return for this place to get hoppin' again.

(Can you tell I am GIDDY!)

Friday Funnies

While at the church playground, our friend Peter, who is a bigtime daredevil, made a running jump into a baby swing and then did some sort of tricky spin to land back on the ground. Hannah's jaw dropped to the ground and she announced to everyone: "Did you all see what Peter did? He jumped up in that swing and out and he didn't even die!"

*****

We've been working with Hannah on her lying. Here is a "funny" example of one 'bout this week:
Hannah: "Mommy, Ritter (our boy dog) ate the earrings that were on your end table."
Me: "He ate them?"
Hannah: "Yes, they went into his mouth and then he walked into the bathroom and jumped up on the sink and spit them out and they went down the drain."
Me: "Hannah, that isn't possible. Those were big earrings."
Hannah: "But I just sawed him do it."
Me: "Are you lying?"
Hannah: "No, I sawed it."
Me: "Hannah, you will not get in trouble if you tell the truth. Can you tell me the truth about where my earrings are?"
Hannah: "Yes. They fell behind your bed."
Sure enough, that's where they were when I looked! Little stinker came up with a whole story because the earrings fell where she couldn't reach them. Sigh ....

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Contest Announcement

Are you ready for some summer fun and a chance to win prizes? 

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has just launched their first ever Reading Program, Outdoor Activity Program, Writing Contest, and Photography Contest! Get all the details and enter to win one of several $25 Amazon gift cards this summer! Hurry - contests end July 31, 2017. 

  • Summer is an excellent time for diving deep into good books! SchoolhouseTeachers.com's Summer Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to read every day, plus they can enter to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards.  The contest ends July 31, 2017. The more weeks you participate, the more chances you have to win. Come join the fun! See site for details.
  • Summer is a fun time, but it can also be a hard time to keep kids entertained, especially when it’s too hot outside. It’s difficult to continually find new ideas for activities on top of everything else you do as a mom! Our outdoor activity program is here to help! Come grab our downloadable activity logs for fun ideas to do each day and enter to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards.  The contest ends July 31, 2017. The more weeks you participate, the more chances you have to win. Come join the fun! See site for details.
  • Send us your best writing composition! SchoolhouseTeachers.com is holding a writing contest for students between the ages of 6 and 18. Submissions can be fiction, non-fiction, or essay. Come join us and enter to win of of two $25 Amazon gift cards. We want to read what you create! Get the details and enter.
  • Send us your best photograph! We want to see one moment or memory that stirs up the feelings of summertime. SchoolhouseTeachers.com is holding a photography contest for students between the ages of 6 and 18. Submissions can be any family-friendly subject matter. Come join us and enter to win of of two $25 Amazon gift cards. We want to see the moments you capture! Get the details and enter.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

We Bought a Farm: All Alone

I wrote this before our four-wheeler accident. I had been keeping a daily journal of my experience running the farm for myself. I was pretty proud of myself before the big crash!

Wednesday
So here's how this has gone down.

JB's brother, Rob, is getting married in Mexico this weekend. It is at a very fancy resort and children were not invited to the wedding. (Which I get -- really!) After much discussions, it was determined that, obviously JB's parents needed to attend. (Duh!) And obviously, JB would attend. However, leaving all the kids and the farm to someone else just felt too stressful to us. We've left the kids many times. We've left the farm many times. But finding someone to watch all of those things was just too complicated for us. I wouldn't have been able to relax with so much going on back home. So, we opted for me to stay home with farm and kids and instead go on a cruise (next week!)

I knew this would be tough, but I didn't think about it too much until the day was upon us. Jacob, our intern, is here with me, but he is taking a holiday from Friday evening until Monday morning. This was arranged long ago and was incredibly important to him and unavoidable. This meant that I would be on my own for much of the weekend.

My main babysitter is on a two month mission trip which I, stupidly (ha ha!) encouraged her to go on. And my back-up sitter was booked.

So here I am.
  • 1 mom
  • 4 kids
  • 2 dogs
  • 7 ducks
  • 5 geese
  • 25 pigs
  • 68 laying hens
  • 250 new chicks
  • 2 rams
  • 14 ewes
  • 12 baby lambs
  • And a partridge in a pear tree
John was amazing. He tryied to get things set up for me as much as he could before he left. Jacob was equally helpful -- getting animals that needed moving in place before he took off. 

But in the end, no one could prepare me for the facts. I needed to keep all children and animals (less important but still valuable) alive for the weekend by myself.

A quick note: I had many people offer to help. However, they all had kids and families of their own. I really didn't feel like inconveniencing them was in my best interest. I also just didn't think that someone coming to help and having to bring their own children would be to my advantage. I instead decided to tackle this on my own.

I have decided to keep a diary of my time running The Bauernhof by myself since I don't post that I am living by myself before hand just for safety reasons.

Here we go.

Thursday
  • JB and his parents leave the farm and head to the Knoxville airport. 
  • JB and his parents take the mini van and leave me the more reliable Ford F-250.
  • Abigail loses her mind with sadness at the loss of her Daddy. 
  • One episode of Princess Sofia totally heals her sadness. 
  • Jacob is here to do animals for the entire day. Sweet blessings.
  • First up, Isaac is getting braces. 
  • Yes, I scheduled this on the first day everyone leaves.
  • No, I don't know why I did that.
  • And Sidge is getting his braces tightened. 
  • And I have to take all four kids to the orthodontist. 
  • At some point, a "reward" is offered if Isaac does a good job getting his braces on.
  • (This is after it is announced that Sidge was given a reward when his braces went on which I had completely forgotten about.)
  • I do an "egg exchange" with a regular egg-buying customer in orthodontist parking lot.
  • Isaac who has a very quick gag reflex, does a great job at the Orthodontist. 
  • Now we need a reward. 
  • I thought he'd want to pick out something online.
  • But he says he'd like to go to the store.
  • The only store in our town is ... Walmart.
  • Egads.
  • There is a gigantic lego set on sale for 50% off. 
  • This NEVER happens with Legos.
  • Isaac agrees to pay the difference to get this set.
  • We go to Ingles to get some groceries. 
  • Isaac swings open trucks door and dings up the door of a car next to us.
  • Lady who owns the car is incredibly kind. 
  • Whew!
  • Take kids to Dairy Queen for ice cream because I want some.
  • We stop at the Pharmacy to pick up Isaac's inhaler refill.
  • They accidentally give me nebulizer refill which I don't realize until the next morning.
  • Now off to tennis lessons.
  • Three older kids attempt tennis while Hannah and I pass the time.
  • Return home and make taco ring for the kiddos. 
  • Bed!
Friday 
I have an appointment with two fellow Heritage teachers on Friday morning. Jacob is still around to do animals. While at the meeting, I decide to let my friend Kim's son, Avery, come over and play for awhile so Kim can focus on preparing for VBS next week. The kids have a blast, and the day is really uneventful. I know Jacob is leaving at 3pm though and from then on, it is just me. I work to get emotionally prepared. After Avery leaves, I put an episode of Sofia the First on for Hannah and run out to do the animal chores. When I return, I do what it takes to get through the evening:
  • Dinner of champions: Dijorno pizza and macaroni and cheese with ice cream for dessert.
  • Eat in front of the computer watching: Queen of Katwe. (Great movie although there were a few things I probably should have researched before showing to kiddos.)
  • I manage to get kids into bed without crying. 
  • (And I mean me crying -- each of the kids took turns crying about something.)
  • Do a quick run to other side of property to put chickens to bed, only to discover they don't go to bed as early as I thought they did. I wait fifteen minutes until they go into egg-mobile, and I go home, shower, and collapse!
Saturday
This is going to be the day. It is just me on the farm with all kids for the whole day. I get out the four-wheeler and decide to do all my animal chores with four-wheeler to minimize time away from kids. Each time I leave, I get everyone occupied with something that will hopefully not allow them to fight with a sibling. (This always includes Princess Sofia for Hannah.) The animals are on the other side of the property right now (about a quarter mile away from the house) so I take a walkie-talkie with me and communicate with the kiddos the whole time I am gone. I take Hannah with me on one of the runs. (She loves riding on the four-wheeler.) I usually love doing animals on foot because I get a ton of exercise, but I have to go fast this day. 

While I am exhausted from taking care of the animals and the kiddos all day, the day truly goes perfectly. The only "glitch" was when I realized that carrying collected eggs on a four-wheeler does NOT work. (Just trust me on this.) But otherwise, I am a rock star. I zip around to get pigs and sheep and chickens fed and watered throughout the day. Everyone is alive, and everyone is happy. We even squeeze in a tennis "play day" and a quick trip to the grocery store to get Isaac (who is still uncomfortable in his braces) some more yogurt and jello. 

Around 4pm, our friends from Eglin, Philip and Kara and their two adorable children come into town. They are moving from Northern Florida to D.C. and make a quick stop at our farm on their way. I love to help out military families. I told Kara, "I don't know how you guys do this!" and she said, "Ummm, Wendi you did this with two overseas moves." Hmmmm .... I guess I did.

Sunday
I was never able to document anything. We said good bye to our friends, I loaded the girls up on the four-wheeler, and we took off. The rest was history ...