Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Funnies

Hannah has decided that her birthday is going to change every year. I did this video so she could explain:


Me: "There were some geese out of their paddock this morning."
Abigail: "Yes, I saw two out."
Me: "No. There were two over there and two over on this side."
Hannah: "And two plus two equals four."


Hannah: "What is that you are putting on your eyes Mommy?"
Me: "It is called mascara."
Hannah: "Is it like lipstick for your eyes?"


Hannah: "When I grow up, I want to live here so that I can wear that shirt you are wearing."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Infertility in the news

Jana Kramer recently shared her miscarriage online "1-3 Today I am 1-3. I debated posting this for the exact reason why it’s a silent struggle. I don’t want I’m sorry or sympathy. I just don’t want to feel alone. And I know I’m not. This unfortunately isn’t my first loss. When I first found out I was pregnant I wanted to shout it from the rooftop but I know for reasons like this we have to wait. So because we don’t tell many, we have to suffer silently...and suffering silently was my thing in the past, but it’s not now. For the women out there who have miscarried in the past and need support and a place to grieve their little one lost or to those in the thick of it like me who are currently grieving and in pain, let us all be there for each other. You don’t need to feel alone and maybe that’s me talking to myself but if you need a place to share, I’m here for you...and all of us are (and guys too. We sometimes silence your voice because you feel bad to express how it’s made u feel so let this be a safe place for you too). And because I don’t have all the words to say because I’m knee deep in crying and trying to listen to God, my girlfriend @alittlebitfancy says them for me. But in her Words and her story on her loss. It’s powerful and strong and those who have suffered a loss I truly feel u can heal reading her blog. I know for me it helped. Head over to her page. Her link is in the bio and also in my bio. I love you guys. #yourenotalone"

Here is the blog post she encouraged others to read as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: To Trust or Not to Trust

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

OMG does this quality get me! 

Trust is… well, it’s good, its hard, its uncomfortable. Its one of those etherial qualities and is profoundly layered. This is all well and good, but the mere definition of trust doesn’t answer two important questions: 

How do you gain someone’s trust?

How do you know who to trust? 

These questions are where we begin our conversation today. 

I used to think their were two types of people: 
  1. the trust everyone type 
  2. and the trust no one type. 
I was wrong; there is one other type and it’s the sagacious (perceptive) kind. These are the ones who are aware of and follow their "gut instincts”. And I think we can all learn from this sagacious kind. 

Things so often seem to have to be black and white or yes or no but, my oh my, there is so much gray in the world, and I like to stay in that space on some subjects, including this one. The side of trust everyone, can be a bit naive, and we can land ourselves in a world of hurt if we are not careful. At the same time, the trust no one types can be a bit antagonistic. 

The sagacious types seem to be the ones who can embrace you and yet keep you at arms length, which is quite a skill. These are the ones who balance giving someone a place to be accepted while keeping awareness and healthily guarding themselves. 

So ... to trust or not to trust? 

Trust is a weighty, multi-faceted thing. It is so much more than a word; it’s, to some degree, a characteristic and there is still so much more to it than even this. 

I love this definition of trust by Charles Feltman, who says: “trust is choosing to make something important to me, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” He goes on to say that distrust is when “what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.” 

That challenges me so deeply. I have so much more to share with you on this topic, but I want to reflect on all of this first. 

Before we part, I want to leave you with these two final questions:  
  1. Are you someone who can be trusted? 
  2. Would your friends and family call you trustworthy?

Thank you for reading.

See you next Tuesday,

First snow

Well the cold finally made its way to our Eastern Tennessee neck-of-the-woods. 

Speaking of that, did you know in Dutch, they don't have a good phrase for "in the middle of nowhere" so they use the American phrase "in the middle of nowhere?" I know this because I heard Tymen talking to someone on the phone in Dutch about our farm. :)

But that's neither here nor there. What did come is the snow. And while it wasn't a lot and it was gone before we could blink, we were ecstatic to get to sled. In the past it has snowed when JB is working. But this time he was home! What FUN!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Hannah Clothing Update

Hannah with her recent creation -- three skirts on top of each other. This is ALL her.

Facebook is funny. A few times in my parental journey, I've put out a plea. When I have, I can't help but think: I doubt anyone else will come up with something. We've tried everything. What else is there? 

But nearly every time I am pleasantly surprised. Here was my plea:

Parental Advice Requested: We have a four-year-old whose FAVORITE activity is changing her clothes. We require her to do all the clean-up that is required of this past-time. She must put her clothes in a basket when she is done using them and at the end of the week, she has to sort and help put all those clothes away. But still it is a daily MOUNTAIN. Yes she is responsible but I still have to guide her in cleaning up, putting away, etc. It takes a lot of time for me. JB and I cannot figure out what to do. This activity burns calories, occupies her, and really helps with her gross motor skills. (She's better at buttons and zippers and ties than any of her older siblings.) But it drives me BONKERS despite all these things. And part of that is that her closet in our room since our flood occurred. What do we do? (And note that while limiting would be a great idea, this still means I have to try to monitor which is impossible while running a farm and homeschooling four kids.)
P.S. Here's a link to a post I wrote just one week ago. And the closet now looks just like it did one week ago. 
This time it was my sister-in-law, AD who really figured it out for me. She asked:

Exactly what is the part that makes you crazy. Very specifically? I would get a big basket. All her clothes go in the basket. Like the one you got us for Christmas for blankets. She can wardrobe change as much as she likes, but all the clothes need to go back in the basket. Don't sort the basket. Pull clothes off of her that look dirty. Maybe keep 2-4 outfits/church dresses out of reach that you want to look nice or be easily found. Do they need to be sorted. Maybe limit the amount of clothes to 35 instead of 50.

Lots of people had some good ideas, but this really made sense to me. The part that bugged me was hanging all the clothes up again and getting them back to where they were before. If I eliminated that need, would the problem be solved?

So I came up with a basket for her dresses/shirts, one for skirts, one for pajamas, and one for dress-up clothes. I also hung up a few things that I wanted to keep nice (like church dresses). And now, anytime something is on my floor, I just tell her to come in and put it away.

It seems soooo simple. But it truly has made things so much better around here. And to think: the solution came from my sister-in-law who I text everyday.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Parental Peer Pressure

I have been doing a daily devotional with a few ladies on the app. It's been really fantastic. The requirements are short. Read a devotional. Read a few scriptures. And share. That's it. If you miss a day? Oh well. Perfect bite-sized nugget of truth for me each day. 

Yesterday's devotional really stood out to me. So much so, that I want to share it below. If you'd like to read it as it was originally printed, you can do so here. (I've highlighted the statements that meant the most to me.)

Parental Peer Pressure

Our world is changing rapidly. Social media has given us the ability to exchange ideas faster than ever before. In the time that it once took to have a conversation with one person, we can now engage with multitudes.
But connectivity comes with a price. For all of its benefits, social media has created an arena for peer pressure unlike any we have seen before. Our actions used to be judged by a handful of people in close proximity to us; now they are being judged by the masses.
In this environment, it doesn’t take long to learn which topics are safe to discuss and which we should keep to ourselves. Post the wrong thing and you can quickly find yourself in the center of a storm of controversy. The cacophony of likes, swipes, shares, and comments all serve to muddle the truth and confuse our convictions.
This is important for many reasons, but is especially important when it comes to parenting.
If we are unsure of our beliefs, then we will be unable to teach them to our children. The good news is that God’s truth doesn’t change. He is not swayed by public opinion or the number of likes He gets. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If we embrace the truths found in His Word, then our lives will show consistency. This is crucial because our kids learn more from watching our behaviors than they do from listening to our words.
If they see us behaving differently in different situations, they will learn that morality is flexible. If we attempt to hold them to a standard that we ourselves are not willing to adhere to, they will see Scripture as a source of confinement and control and not a source of freedom.
It is what we show them that sticks.
The smaller the world becomes, the more important it is to develop convictions which are rooted in the unchanging truth found in God’s Word. The more we saturate ourselves in Scripture, the easier it will be for us to resist peer pressure and live lives that reflect our true beliefs.
Are you spending as much time reading God’s truth as you are the opinions found on social media?
Ask God to show you His ways so you can model a life based on His truth to your children.

We Bought a Farm: Success!

Today, Duygu left us. :( We hope she will come back and visit us again in the Spring, but I am currently wwoofer-less. JB had to sleep. And his dad and mom had to go to town unexpectedly. That left me and four rams. Moving animals solo is never suggested. Two people is way better. But my housekeeper, Robin, was here for the day, so I decided to leave the kiddos with her and take my hand at it. Here goes nothing:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What are you expecting?

Our pastor has been doing a series entitled "What are you expecting?" Today he spoke from the passage with Abraham and Sarah and the promise of a son. Pastor Scott reminded me that they were promised a son twenty-five years before he actually came. Can you imagine?

This flashed me back to early on in our infertility struggle. I was in a bad place and suffering quite a bit. I came home, and my uber practical and logical husband had set up a visual illustration for me (since I am a visual learner of course.) He used pennies to symbolize how long some famous people in the Bible had been waiting for their promises. Take a look at this for some perspective:

There's piddly ol' me over there on the right having waited 18 months. (Of course, by the time we adopted Isaac we would be at the five year mark.) And there is Sarah. Really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

What are you waiting for? Don't lose hope. God is present. He hears you. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep hoping. Keep ... waiting.

Saturday, December 09, 2017


Not sure which JENNY is the winner, but she is. Send me an email at with your address.

Time for a GIVEAWAY of Magic Stix! 
Leave a comment on this post and in three days, I will randomly choose a winner!

No odor! 
Bright Bold Colors!
Vented Safety cap!
And now you can buy these on Amazon!!
P.S. The 12-pack makes a great stocking stuffer. 

We Bought a Farm: I Love the food we are making!

Our friend Michelle K. recently bought two of our turkeys and some of our lamb. This week she sent us a comment on our Facebook page thanking us for our meat. I love that people recognize it is about TASTE and the treatment of the animals. Both are hugely important to us. We truly like to say that our animals will only have one bad second in their life. (P.S. as always, I greatly respect you if you choose to be a vegetarian, but being as we are raising meat on our farm, I won't get into a debate about it!)

Here's the note from Michelle:

I love cooking this time of year. Mostly because the hard work is done and all I have to do is get creative with the leftovers. Last night was left over Turkey PotPie. Tonight we was Lamb Pie with leftover potatoes and veggies. I’m also love that I’m cooking with meat from John Kitsteiner and Wendi Kitsteiner.

On Thanksgiving as I was preparing the bird Alli was watching and asking questions, “What’s that?” Why are you doing that?” And as she puzzled she came to the big question. “How did it die?”

Now I won’t argue with anyone who choses not to eat meat because it is always a question of humane treatment. But for me it was so amazing in that moment to know beyond a doubt that this animal was treated well it’s whole life. That it was raised in the fresh air with children running around and when the came time it was respected. It was wonderful to answer her honestly about how it lived and died. Thanks guys. What you are doing is so very important.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Baklava day!!!

Today, Duygu taught mom how to make Turkish baklava!!! It is so fun having Duygu here and getting all this fantastic culture and reminders of the life we lived in Turkey. My favorite place to get baklava there was in Tarsus. Yum!!!

It's also fun because Duygu doesn't cook much at home. She lives in Istanbul, and her mother does all the cooking. So while she has watched this cooked a lot, this was her first attempt herself! 

We are found to be freezing batches for guests. So if you come to the farm, maybe you'll get lucky and eat some baklava with us. 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Sometimes when it rains ...

... it pours.

I consider myself a healthy person. And I rarely get sick. But I have found myself clobbered this last month.

First I had what appeared to be the flu (although we passed on a test since it was going to cost about $160 to know for sure.) Then I had a four day period of hormonal migraines followed by a really tough cold.

But the cold finished, and I thought I could finally pick myself up. But then I had these really swollen lymph nodes that knocked me on my tail. And this morning, when I asked JB to check them out he said, "I am pretty sure you have abscess!" In my neck!

I tell you what, I am very cautious with things I call painful. I had a dry socket which was 10 out of 10 pain for me. I also hemorrhaged after Sidge's birth and had to have the doctor climb on top of me to stop the bleeding after just having a c-section. That was definitely 10 out of 10 as well. So I don't easily give away high numbers for pain.

I remember when I had my appendicitis, and they asked me for a number. I told them 5. Maybe 6. John said, "Wendi, you are in a lot of pain!" and I said, "I know. But I've felt a 10. This is not a 10."

If John gets a patient in who claims their pain is a "10" ... well they better not have gone through a drive-thru or be texting on their phone. The number 10 means you are begging God for help. You are writhing. You can't see straight. And you are trying to figure out ways to end the madness.

Anyways, this abscess. I will actually say I hit an 8 a few mornings ago. I couldn't function at all. It was horrible. It also explains why I have still wanted to rest a lot and been exhausted. I had an infection! Ugh!

So I skipped our homeschool Christmas party this evening and am laying low with my family. The pain is now very manageable, and I opted to start on a course of antibiotics instead of subjecting myself to the radiation and cost of a CT-scan. We therefore can't be positive that it is an abscess.

I'm really hoping after this run, things slow down. I don't find it a coincidence that this corresponds with a new Bible study I have been doing with some other moms online. I've been really reconnecting with God, and I believe in spiritual battles. Just hanging on and trusting!

Your prayers are appreciated!

P.S. The post below: "Hannah's Clothes" fell off my radar during all this. So I'll try to follow her with a camera another day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A day in Hannah's clothes changes

I have tried to do this a few times without success. So I am trying it again today. I decided to take a photo every single time Hannah changes clothes throughout the day. Here we go:

7:30am She gets out of bed (where she sleeps in just underwear) and puts on this pajama dress. I took this picture in the dark so that's as good as you are going to get.

7:45am She changes into this outfit. I think that is a headband going around her waist. She will not look at the camera because she is very upset by how the pants are fitting. They aren't hitting her leg the way she wants.

7:46am She decides to go find a different pair of pants. She comes up with this pair which make her equally unhappy because they are too baggy. I make her take this picture, and she is really upset with me about it.

7:47am She finds these grey pants which were the ones she wanted from the beginning. They hit her leg exactly like she likes. (I think the trick is that they have to be "legging" style and hit her leg right at the ankle.)

11:30am Hannah goes and changes into this outfit because she was "too hot."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Permission to Discover

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

Let's go on an adventure today! Will you join me?

My favorite adventures ALWAYS involve road trips. The desire to be on the road in the fall is overwhelming and at times excitingly suffocating. I love to travel, I love to be in new places, and I love going back to old favorites. For years I thought that adventure and fun were tied to locations, instead of being embedded deep -- within the journey. But now I know better: beauty is found in the excitement of going and the joy of being there. You see, on an adventure it’s all about being present and letting go!

Let go of mental limitations, let go of the NEED to be, the NEED to do, and give yourself permission to discover. When you allow yourself to dig deep into you, you’ll find you are more incredible than you give yourself credit for. There is so much that life is offering you, it's just waiting for you to accept the invitation. 

Jon Levy, a behavioral scientist and the author or The 2am Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure, says “adventure is an experience that is exciting and remarkable, presents a perceived risk, and leads to personal growth. The true gift of adventure is not in achieving some goal, but in the person you become in the process.” 

I don’t think I could agree with Mr. Levy any more. The process is glorious, it’s messy, it’s revealing, but it is oh so worth it. Looking into yourself and choosing to cultivate what is already inside of you, is the best gift you can give to yourself. Why? Because you will be able offer your best, most authentic self to the world, and that is the point. We don’t want a counterfeit you. This is absolutely possible with commitment and willingness.

So it begs the questions: who is walking your process with you? Who is around you, cheering you on? Who is in the trenches and on the mountaintops with you? 

Process is a wonder all its own, but process with your people is vital. Journeying with others adds gusto to your life and zest to your experiences. They help our perspectives stay accurate. Tribe helps us remember who we are. Your tribe can be thought of as life support — they’re that big of a deal!

What does it look like to do such a thing? To see the glory of adventure 

For me, it looks like searching out the beauty in the everyday. I don’t get live my life on year-round geographical adventures yet, but I feel like this moment in my life is offering me a lesson that will resound in my heart forever. I am being taught to see the glory in everyday things. 

Here is my hope for you: 
  • That you embrace becoming the realest, rawest you!
  • That, if you haven’t already, you would find your tribe and embrace them fully.
  • That you would never be afraid to adventure. 
  • And that you would give yourself permission to discover the beauty, thewonder in everyday.

Thank you for reading.

See you next Tuesday.



We Bought a Farm: Hatin' the Predators

If a predator were to eat what it killed, I'd be a lot better than one that comes up and kills twelve ducks and leaves most of them there dead. How awful! Our wwoofer, Tymen, sat on the porch overnight to try to hunt the predator but to no avail. Now we are installing some game cams to see who we are up against. But why does this always happen when our animals just started consistently contributing. We were getting a good number of duck eggs and then BAM ... the eggs are gone.

Grrrrrrr ....

My neck ...

... I have strained my neck something awful. Man oh man this hurts!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Good bye Mr. Tymen

Today we said good bye to Mr. Tymen. I love this picture of him with Veronica and all my kiddos -- even our dogs. Opportunities for good photos like this don't happen very often in our crazy casa!

Tymen first came to us from the Netherlands in January of 2017 for a month. He then came and spent another week with us before leaving for home. We thought that was the last we would see of him, but he had the opportunity to come back at the end of August. His initial plan was to visit other farms too while he was here, but we were so glad he decided to just stay with us for his entire three month visit.

It feels very weird to have both Jacob and Tymen leave us. We have had one of these two guys with us nearly non-stop since exactly this time last year. They were a "constant" wwoofer -- a bit different from the usual flux of one month visitors that we have had previously. While it can be more challenging to have people long-term in some ways, it is always really wonderful in other ways. It's nice to have people who know the system and know what needs to be done and who want to treat your farm just like their own.

The girls absolutely adored Tymen. He was only 19 but seemed a lot older in maturity and attitude. The kids loved to play games with him, and I enjoyed our ping pong competitions. He got along fabulously with all the members of our family. I truly hope that my boys can grow up to have the attitude and outlook that Tymen has. His parents should be proud.

We are blessed that Jacob is now staying just 90 minutes from here and can come visit us now and then. And we are hopeful that Tymen might have another opportunity to come visit us again (or many times in the future!) These individuals truly become like family to us.

This weekend as I left on Saturday to take Abigail to ballet, there were actually five different volunteers hanging out on the farm. Veronica who spends most weekends with us, Jacob (who was back visiting), Tymen, our Turkish wwoofer Duygu, and Annie who lives in Knoxville and often comes to help us on the weekends. It was amazing that all these people like to be at our house. 

I've spoken about this previously, but I want to say it again. I am done with worrying about our big world. I will vote and pray and write my congressmen if I think I should, but in the end, I don't feel that that is where I should spend my energy. I can't control the big world. But I can control my small world. I can raise quality humans, and I can invite individuals here to see how one family is doing life together. We can share our home and our faith and our culture and our love for all people and for the Lord. We can recycle. We can take care of our land. We can treat animals with respect. We can raise meat and vegetables the way we think they should be raised. 

That is what I am going to spend my energy doing. I don't watch the news anymore. I don't comment on people's opinions about what our president is doing right or wrong. I really don't care. When I need to, I check into a story to educate myself. But I am done with worrying about things that are out of my control. It doesn't bring me joy or peace. Instead I am focusing on my small life here and how I can make a difference here. I know that we've only had about two dozen people here for visits. I know this isn't a tremendous a lot of people. But I think it matters. I think they know they are family now. And that they always have a home in Tennessee. I'm honored to have met them and loved them and broken bread with them. 

I digress ... as I often do.

We were so blessed with Tymen. (It's nice to have a guy here when JB is gone to help with big emergencies that require strong people!) I still have Duygu here for another week, and then we'll be taking a short WWOOFer break until January. 

Please keep Tymen in your prayers as he travels back. I really think God has great plans for this young man's life!