Sunday, February 17, 2019

Where the Green Grass Grows

 "What is a farm but a mute gospel?"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am continually amazed at how farming and rural life has just seeped into every fiber of my being. I go from thinking: "This is too hard. I cannot keep up" To feeling: "How could I possibly do anything but this?" 

I did not want to be a farmer. I did not want to live rural. But I loved my husband. And this is the life he dreamed of. And so we discussed and compromised and planned and prayed. 

And suddenly his dreams became my dreams. His dreams because our dreams.

And I ended up forty-five minutes away from a town with a Target.

One thing I know now for sure. There is no way after living rural I could ever live un-rural. 


We belong here. 

Raising my kids where the green grass grows. 

This is my home.

I flashback to some words from a favorite book of mine: 

"As much as you transform the land by farming, farming transforms you. 
 It seeps into your skin along with the dirt that abides permanently in the creases of your thickened hands, the beds of your nails ... farming takes root in you and crowds out other endeavors, makes them seem paltry. Your acres become a world. And maybe you realize that it is beyond those acres or in your distant past, back in the ream of TiVo and cublicles, of take-out food and central heat and air, in that country where discomfort has nearly disappeared, that you were deprived. Deprived of the pleasure of desire, of effort and difficulty and meaningful accomplishment. A farm asks, and if you don't give enough, the primordial forces of death and wilderness will overrun you. So naturally you give, and then you give some more, and then you give to the point of breaking, and then and only then it gives back, so bountifully it overfills not only your root cellar but also that parched and weedy little patch we call the soul . . . How was it possible that this abundance had always existed, and I had not known it? I felt, of all damn things, safe. Anything could happen in the world. Planes could crash into buildings, jobs could disappear, people could be thrown out of their apartments, oil could run dry, but here, at least, we would eat." Kristin Kimball

This video below is the ringtone on my phone. This is my life. And I love it.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Some Images of our Lives

 "Love the life you live. Live the life you love.Bob Marley 

It's been super busy around these parts but super, super FULL. Here are some photos that share what's been going on in these parts: 

We affectionately call these three kiddos "the littles." Hannah (5), Genevieve (5) , and Eoin (5). They are technically in pre-k, pre-k, and kindergarten respectively.

Hannah put this outfit together for Valentine's Day.

This was Dill's daughter which we have named DIAMOND. All of the sheep on born in this "batch" will be named after a mineral. We really thought Dill was having multiples but that was because this baby was really, really tall!!!

Oh do I love eggs. We are getting around 60 a day now (and also getting 5-7 duck eggs as well!) I love what a perfect food they are. I love selling them to people who love what they are getting. I love eating them. I just love eggs. (The only thing that would make them a perfect food would be if Isaac weren't allergic to them and Abigail liked them.)
Our little artist! (Pretty sure she's got her dad's drawing gene.)
I love this picture of my cousin's wife, Hannah. Hannah is really this beautiful of a person. You can simply see her niceness all over her.

Here's "the littles" performing for the older kids during our homeschool day on Friday. I just LOVE homeschooling together!!

Abigail did a cartwheel on the balance beam for the firs time this week!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review: Heirloom Audio

Heirloom Audio Productions
Well I think you can figure out that a family LOVES a product when we have now reviewed it SIX times! This time we were fortunate enough to be chosen to review For the Temple from Heirloom Audio. This was the sixth time that our family was able to listen and share about one of their audio productions. We love them so much that we jump up and down with our hand high in the air anytime an opportunity to listen to one of these comes up!

You can read my past reviews here for Heirloom Audio below. All of these are incredibly well done and worth every second of time you give them!
Sidge with the two-disk DVD system
Mom takes the reigns
Normally, my husband is the main "facilitator" of these reviews. However, his work schedule has completely clobbered him the last few weeks, and we couldn't find a time that he could listen to it with the kids. So instead, I used it in our Two-Family Homeschooling. I presented it to the six older children and myself over the period of three different days. (We listened to it for about 45 minutes to 1 hour on three different days.)

Here is a video of all the listeners. The kiddos in this video are ages 7, 9, 10, 10, 11, and 13. (I let them draw things they were thinking of while we listened.)

Why Heirloom Audio exists
Executive Producer Bill Heid writes on their website:

I have invested my life savings and over 4500 working hours in the future of our children by producing this program. But you need only invest less than it costs for one family night at the movies to try it out ... 

Here's one of my favorite quotes, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." It's by Frederick Douglass and I think it embodies what I'm trying to say to you here. That is, it's my belief that if we take the role of active parenting during "the critical years" we can grow strong children with godly moral compasses. 

And that is exactly what these audio productions strive to do. I really dislike when "religious" products aren't up-to-par with secular productions. But this product is so good that you don't feel like you've compromised quality in order to get something wholesome. I mean, just take a look at the actors that make up this performance's team:

  • Brian Blessed: Star Wars, Tarzan
  • Chris Larkin: Master and Commander
  • Jolyon Coy: Beauty and the Beast
  • Julian Rhind-Tutt: Oliver Twist
  • Cathy Sara: Downton Abbey
  • George Blagden: Les Mise'rables
History meets fiction
The story itself is one that is shared between Mr. George and Peter Brockhaus. They meet fairly randomly and begin talking. Mr. George shares with Peter about a story he is writing. When Peter says he would love to hear the story, Mr. George kindly obliges and jumps into the young love story of John and Mary -- just teenagers as they are taking a walk along the sea. A quick decision to jump into a boat for a little alone time changes John's destiny.

John ends up connecting with Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish scholars. And this is where fiction meets with history. Josephus was a real person who initially fought against the Romans but then found himself a slave and ultimately received his freedom. We loved that true history was wound into the love story between these two young people. John often returns home in between battles. You can't help but wonder how hard it would be for people in this age to simply sit and wait to hear if their loved one is alive or dead.

John ends up in a many-years war to save the temple from the Romans. He also gets to meet some of the first "Christians" -- people who actually saw Jesus Christ die and saw him after his crucifixion. Ultimately, the temple is destroyed, but the readers gets to meet Nero, Vespasian, Titus and other historical names in the meantime.

Study Guide
The production comes with a downloadable study guide. It is designed to be used by
  • Parents who want help talking their younger children through the storyline and lessons.
  • Older students to use as written assignments.
Each set of questions begin and end as the narrative takes new turns which is approximately four to eight minutes in length. Each set of questions comes with:
  • The Listening Well questions: These questions ask your child what he has heard or what he remembers.
  • The Thinking Further questions: These questions require more thinking. Your child may need to look something up. There can be more than right answers.
  • The Defining Words section: These words can give your child an opportunity to enhance her vocabulary and understanding of the story.
At the end of the Study Guide there is a recommended reading list for parents and older children who want to know more about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There are also a section of brief Bible Studies that can be used in conjunction with the audio drama.

Don't miss these audio dramas!
These audio dramas would be GREAT for long car rides. They are also fantastic for your homeschool family. Non-homeschool families can just use them for a fun "night at home" without TV or devices.  For the Temple from Heirloom Audio was completely up-to-par with the previous dramas we've gotten to review. Just awesome.

In our case, we listened to the drama one time together. We then went through it a second time with the questions to work on listening closely and being able to answer questions as you go.

Heirloom Audio Adventure Club
I can't give a review from Heirloom Audio Productions without mentioning the Live the Adventure Club. This club provides subscribers with:
  • Three 2-CD sets shipped to you each year
  • Stream over 500 old-time radio shows
  • Hundreds of fun activities and games
  • Listen and learn read-along program
  • Daily inspiration and devotionals
  • Education treasures and teaching resources
  • Full access to "Live the Adventure Radio"
  • Community forum to exchange ideas and tips
You can find out more about Heirloom Audio by visiting them on the following social media sites:
For The Temple {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
 Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Fashion Designer Lives On

This kid! I just never feel like this Blog does who she is justice. My cousin's family passed down a few items of clothing. This is always a big deal to Hannah. It's like Christmas. Only better. 

One of these items was a Christmas pajama dress? That's what I think it is. I'm honestly not sure. 

First, Hannah asked if her Daddy could cut holes in the sleeves since they were a little long so she could wear them like gloves.

He obliged.

But then she decided that instead of it being "long" she wanted it to be short like a shirt.

I told her that you can't just go around cutting dresses to make shirts. (Even my non-sewing self knows this won't work.) Thinking I would dissuade her from the idea I said: "If you wanted to do that, we'd have to take it to Ms. Faye, and pay her to make you a shirt."

"How much would it cost?" Hannah asked.

"At least five dollars," I said, knowing that Ms. Faye always undercharges us for her amazing seamstress work. 

"Okay," Hannah said. "I got five dollars from the tooth fairy!" 

(The tooth fairy always give a $5 bill for the very first tooth a kid loses. After that it drops to $1. Unless you have to get a tooth pulled. Then she leaves $2. Although, none of my kids believe in the tooth fairy anyways.)

"You want to use all your tooth fairy money to get this dress made into a shirt? Instead of a toy?" I'm not sure if that's a good idea. We will have to talk to Daddy."

She did. She ran out of the room to find him and tell him her plan. I couldn't believe she really wanted to spend money to see one of her "fashion visions" come true.

I'm more convinced than ever that one of the greatest gifts I can give this child ...

is a sewing machine.

(And good lessons. From someone that is not me.)


Here is Abigail the human with Abigail the dog just before we handed her off to his forever home. Abigail the dog went home on Tuesday, June 12. Abigail the dog is spirited and appears to have the most energy of all the pups! She is a feisty and fun bundle of fur!

Abigail's new family has become an incredible special one to us. Toni and I became friends through ballet. Her granddaughter Cali was getting a dog. And then, while visiting the pups at our house, this happened. Please continue to pray earnestly for John and if you can, donate to a gofundme we have set up in Cali's honor.

I plan to keep one Blog page going for each of our seven pups so that we can see what they are up to and doing. We are excited these are ALL going to families we know so that we can stay in touch with them through photos and maybe even in person. New pictures will go under these words with a date below each picture so that our family can watch these little beauties grow.

I must tell you that doing these puppies has been one of the funnest and finest things we have done on our farm. Not only has it been a financial help to the farm, but it has brought us immeasurable joy. We DO plan to do another litter in the spring and are already compiling a list of people interested. 

Cali picking up her puppy on Tuesday, June 11.

Me giving little Abigail a last little look over. 

June 18, 2018

July 16, 2018

October 2018 
Abigail with her Dad Ritter

January 2019 (Abigail is with a new family in Texas now! This is her big brother dog!)

If you'd like to follow with more pics of this fun dog, you can do so at: abigailthefrogdog on INSTAGRAM.