Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Ewe Down

I'm stuck in the house with the four kiddos while JB and Dad and Dan are out on the field. Apparently a sheep went down from some sort of bloat. JB came running into the house to grab all sorts of surgical stuff. Apparently he is going to try and relieve the bloat. Praying he can save the Ewe's life.

This farm stuff is not easy.

I've gotten used to losing chickens. They can die fairly easily. But our other animals are sort of part of our family and when they die before their time, it really gets me down deep.

Praying he can pull of a miracle for one of our 10 ewes.

*****Updated***** JB had to put the lamb down. Bummer. Looks like it may have been a mineral deficiency. As of right now, the kitchen has been converted to a meat processing center. :(

Published Piece

I had another article published on the website: Check it out: 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We Bought a Farm: What the Animals Teach Me

My favorite animals on the farm rotate regularly. One day, I find myself admiring the sheep -- so in love with the way they "baaaa" so sweetly when we come to feed the pigs. (They steal a lot of the pigs food so they consider it their feeding time as well.) Another day, I'll stand and watch our baby chickens for a long stretch of minutes, just amazed at how fast they are growing and how cute they are when they are this small. 

This afternoon, it was the ducks. As I was doing my afternoon watering, I watched as one of the ducks exuberantly jumped in for a premature bath. Pellets of water leapt up around him, and quite a few landed on his back. I watched, amazed, as they rolled off without even getting the duck wet.

Once again I was reminded of how many things I am learning every day in these hills. The expression, "like water off a duck's back" has been in my repertoire for years. But only as I watched this duck take a bath did I really understand what it means.

Why do we worry about all the little things? Just let it roll off of you, literally, like water off a duck's back.

Imagery really does bring a point to life.

I am praying, continually, that the decision to live with nature, in a more real sense, will gift my children with precious knowledge unlike anything I've ever experienced. I pray that they grow up seeing in their mind what this expression means and choosing, often, to be just like a duck!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fun Family Fotos

JB's brother Matt and his wife Danielle, joined us for the Conference at the farm. Matt wanted to attend, and Danielle was wonderful enough to join him and help us with the kiddos during the event. What a Godsend she was. Mom and I were doing so much with the food and care of the attendees and the animals that having her to help was integral to my survival.

They left early this morning. Last night we went to my new favorite restaurant. It is called Amis Mill Eatery and is 30 minutes from our house along an amazingly, beautiful road that while two lanes in theories, is often only big enough to fit one car. 

Here are a few pictures we took after dinner:

And after returning home, we finished up the evening with some Spoons with Matt, Danielle, and our Intern, Dan.

I absolutely adore this beautiful couple and am so blessed to have them in our family. Danielle has become one of my very dearest friends. And her husband is pretty okay too. They love our kiddos so much, and I'm excited that the next time I see them, they'll have a baby of their own to love too.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

We Bought a Farm: The Conference is done dude!

That's it.

It's over.

40 people here.

9 meals.

So much fun.

So exhausting.

Time to attempt recovery from sheer exhaustion!

Friday, September 25, 2015

We Bought a Farm: First Bauernhof Kitsteiner Conference

Well after months of planning and spending the last few weeks nearly going out of all of our ever loving minds preparing, the "Risk Free Ranching" Conference launched on Thursday evening without a glitch in our barn/garage. 30 people from all over the USA and Canada have come in for the two-day course.

People have asked why JB is doing this Conference. The reason is actually three-fold:
  1. To contribute to Permaculture education -- JB is passionate about teaching people about Permaculture, and eventually hopes that we will be able to do this for missionaries and people going to other countries to help people grow their own food and create a self-sustaining life.
  2. Help the farm generate income -- We aren't sure how much we will make on this first Conference since there was a lot of overhead to get this going. But subsequent conferences will help the farm generate an income. Our hope is that the more the money the farm generates, the more JB will be able to balance his medical and home farm work.
  3. Have Greg Judy, a leading individual in this field, out to our farm, for a consult. Following the two-day course, Greg will be spending a day here helping us with ideas and thoughts for our land.

Mom did a lasagna dinner on Thursday evening. This morning she did a french toast and egg casserole which also went off seamlessly. We are getting sandwiches for lunch from our local Amish store for lunch, and dinner is going to be catered by "Abigail's" -- a great little BBQ stand one town over.

It's very rainy here today, but it didn't deter ten people from camping on our property. It did, however, contribute to one of our fences falling over and JB and I trying to corral our two dozen ducks back into their pen with a flashlight before the sun came up.

During the Conference, I am over in our house with the kiddos and Aunt Danielle, who drove in with JB's brother Matt for the Conference. She is helping me in the main house with the kids so I can help with food and general errands that need to be run.

Here are a few pictures of the set up and the Conference which is underway!

Friday Funnies

Here is Abigail at a sushi restaurant, eating Octopus (which she loves!) This chick will eat ANYTHING. You can almost see and hear how uncomfortable Joni is in the background.


Sidge: "Mom you look Beautiful."
Me: "Thanks Sidge!"
Sidge: "Does that mean the same thing as colorful?"


My kids have been very into "not bragging". They are constantly tattling that someone is bragging about ... anything. 
Sidge: "I think I have a sore in my mouth."
Isaac: "I had one of those last week."
Sidge: "Well, I have one now."
Abigail: "Sidgey ... stop BRAGGING!"

We Bought a Farm: The trucks line up!

Check out our driveway -- lined with vehicles as attendees file in for the two-day conference. Definitely a lot of trucks in this ranching/farming group!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

We Bought a Farm: A Bauernhof Kitsteiner Update

Here is a great update on what has been going on here at the farm -- written by my husband on his Permaculture blog. 

6 things you can do to support a friend who is hoping to adopt a child

Click here to read the full article.

  1. Listen more than you talk.  It is better to hear what your friend is going through as opposed to offering your opinion all of the time. Sometimes, people listen only with the intent of being able to give their opinions. Although most conversations are led with concern and love, it is best to just be still and listen to your friend as he or she is processing the idea of adoption.
  2. Encourage your friend.  Instead of giving directives such as “You should check out this agency,” or “I’m not sure if you should consider that country or foster care,” you can offer encouragement by letting your friend know that you trust his or her opinion about what is best for their lives. Give hopeful and positive thoughts and let your friend know that you are thankful they are sharing a bit of their journey with you.
  3. Offer to be a personal reference for the adoptive home study, or present during an important part of the process, if needed. People who are hoping to adopt are often asked to attend meetings and provide personal references. By agreeing to be a support person at meetings, or writing a personal reference, you can positively impact your friend’s experience.
  4. Be comfortable with your friend’s fears—and tears. Adoption is an emotional journey filled with many ups and downs. During my own experience, the best way a good friend of mine supported me was by just allowing me to cry to her and “get out” the overwhelming feelings of fear and sadness I was dealing with. She did not offer suggestions about how I could get over the feelings; instead, she listened, and at times, cried with me. Her presence was worth more than any words she could have spoken.
  5. Accept and embrace the child. If your friend has already been selected for a child, or has a child in his or her home that is placed for adoption, then accept and embrace that child just like you would for a new baby that is born into the family. Offer to bring over meals, help with laundry, or sit with the child while the new parents are getting some rest or a much-needed break. Prospective adoptive parents sometimes worry about whether or not a child will be accepted into their family or circle of friends. Ease their fears by loving on and being present in the life of their child.
  6. Throw an adoption shower! It may sound odd, but people who have experienced infertility may be saddened that they are not having a traditional baby shower. This was one of the things I longed for during my own experience. Having adoption showers of my own was wonderful, and made me realize that the adoption of my children meant something to my family and friends. Adoption showers can be creative, fun, and affirming to adoptive parents. If one does not know the gender of the child just yet, then there are plenty of ways to do gender-neutral showers. Adoptive parents need all of the “baby/child essentials,” so being able to register for gifts is an exciting part of the process.

We Bought a Farm: It's time for the conference

We are working our tails off in preparation for this Conference. The first of the 30 guests will arrive this evening. Attendees are camping here on the farm, getting a hotel, or driving locally back and forth. We'll have our first dinner this evening and finish up with breakfast on Sunday morning!

JB was so busy on the farm that he had to send me to pick up the rental chairs -- which we were so blessed to get from a local church. Loading 33 chairs into the back of a pick-up with just me and Hannah there to watch -- whew! I'm tired.

Speaking of Hannah, she doesn't seem to be phased at all by everything going on. She had time to show us her "naked cowboy" look!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Stars

I don't think I'll ever tire in seeing the endless array of stars in our farm sky. With no light to be seen, the stars are so dense, I can't help but wonder how I didn't know what I was missing living in suburbia.

P.S. We are preparing for our first conference! Mannnn, are we tired!

Wee-Wind Wednesday

You can't get much cuter than this. The day before we left Turkey forever, we needed somewhere for Scrubs to play for the afternoon. If he stayed in our hotel room, he had to go into his kennel, and since he'd be in his kennel for two straight days travelling, we wanted to avoid that. So he went over to our friend Christina's house. Her son Braden is obsessed with Scrubby. Take a look at this picture Christina sent me soon after our departure from Incirlik.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

13 Helpful Phrases You Can Say to Calm an Anxious Child

As I have mentioned on my blog before, my outlook on emotions in children, specifically my little Abigail and Sidge, was revolutionized when I read the book: The Highly Sensitive Child. I found this article really helpful in providing help when my kiddos are a little overwhelmed with their environment.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Auction unveiled TODAY!

I'm beyond excited to announce we are starting a NEW auction TODAY. This is a mini auction. Only 20 items are up for bid. We are using a new, online auction site, and are trying it out to see how user friendly it is. If we stay under 20 items, the auction is free, and 100% of monies can continue to go to couples raising money. Please take a moment to click here and view the 20 items up for bid!

Great Book Recommendation!

I just finished an outstanding book series. Julie Lessman's "The Daughters of Boston" series was a three-book series that absolutely BLEW me away.

Honestly, next to Francine Rivers, this is the BEST Christian fiction I have ever read. I am so excited to find out that there is a follow-up series to this one entitled, "Winds of Change." I have already started on the first book of the second series!

While I noticed a few writers on Amazon mentioning that Lessman was a little too heavy on the romance for a Christian fiction book, I have to disagree. Lessman is simply outstanding at painting incredible characters surrounding an Irish-Catholic family in Boston.

Absolutely outstanding! CanNOT recommend this enough!

Totally random and unrelated thoughts bellowing through my brain

Things are ... busy.

And my brain is ... busy.

The Conference is this weekend. JB has to work today and tomorrow, and then he has Wednesday and Thursday off (thank goodness!) to help prepare. The biggest thing left to do is get the garage totally ready for the seminar.

Life is still going on like normal in the midst of prepping to have 30 people on the farm on Friday morning. We went to Homeschool Co-op this morning. Neither one of the girls made it through all three periods. Both started crying and needing Mommy. I am so amazed at the organization of this group, as they were instantly able to help switch around my free period (1st) to last period (3rd) so that I would not be "working" when the melting down seems to occur. This gives me a great bit of relief. So now, I will aide in a PE class, teach a PE class, and have a free period to deal with the girls if they didn't make it through the entire morning! They also said that because the class I am teaching has 21 students in it (most of the classes don't surpass 11-15) I've already met my quota of help for the morning.

Following Co-op, I dropped Sidge and Hannah off at home with Grampa and Grama and took Isaac and Abigail to our "local" public school. We are trying to get the ball rolling on them getting speech services through the public school. This has been a big process, and our "local" public school is 25 minutes away ... in the next town. The woman in charge of it seems nice, but I'm just not sure they are going to get the same type of services we had in the Azores and in Central Tennessee. We will see. Time will tell.

Needless to say, by the time I got home around 2:30pm, I was clobbered. But there was still a ton of cleaning and prepping to do while still cooking dinner for our family of 9. So after a 30 minute rest on my bed while the three olders watched Clone Wars and Hannah napped, I was up and at 'em again.

Deep breaths ...

Oh! And completely unrelated! I am going to be having another piece published on the website! That's cool news.

I've also completely eliminated Caffeine from my diet.

I could really use a Mountain Dew right about now.

And, did I mention that Sundays are a tough day for me. Dan takes Sundays completely off. This means that if JB is working, I have to do all of the animals. Since adding the chickens, the morning and evening runs take an hour a piece now. This is not including the 2-3 water checks I need to do between those two feedings.

So by the time Monday rolls around?

Does anyone have any Mountain Dew?!?!?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

We Bought a Farm: Keeping it real

Whenever people comment on this blog or tell me why they read, their reason usually surrounds the fact that I keep it real.

I tell it how it is.

I don't pretend I am something I am not.

And that is mostly true.

This Blog is still, a picture that I paint. And I can choose to paint it however I want to paint it.

There are many things I leave out.

I don't, often, tell you about the huge fight my husband and I had over something that I can't even remember what it is right now.

I don't, often, tell you about the moments that I completely blew my cork with one of my children for something that I can't even remember what it is right now.

I choose the pictures I paint.

(My paint is words.)

But may I just say, with the words I paint with today, that sometimes, it just feels kinda hard.

The last few days, I have felt a little overwhelmed.

We are hosting a Conference at our farm next week. There are 30 strangers coming to hear a leading permaculture voice speak on some topic that I have little to no interest in but they care enough about that there is a waiting list and people are emailing JB and asking if they could please just stand for the entire two days in the back of our garage that we already think we have taken up every square inch of.

The Conference preparations are coming together well. Dad is handling construction. Mom and I are handling food. JB is handling everything else.

And each time I become overwhelmed, my loving husband, as he has done with me each time I get exasperated since he fell in love with me back in 1993, will say some things like these to me:

"We are getting that done. But that is done. Wait, you are worried about that? Honey, there really isn't anything to stress about. Sweetie we've got all that covered. Maybe you should just take a nap?"

And yet I stress.

I've realized that there are things we do well.

And things we don't do well.

And I do not do "events" well.

Looking back over my life, I realize I never have.

Oh people like my events well enough. And they come together well enough. And I can't think of any tragedy or travesty or tumultuous thing that has occurred during an event I have organized.

I just don't like to put them on.

Show up at one? Pay for one? Support one?

Rock on!

But plan one?

Find someone else.

But this Conference, I realized, represents what so many of us are doing and living every day. There are things that are just too hard. There are events that feel too big.

And we feel so small.


Not enough.

And after it is all said and done, what do we do about that fact?

I choose a lot of ways to cope. And I share my ways in hopes that maybe you can use them to be your ways in facing that thing that is looming over you -- bigger than you are and probably bigger in your mind than it really is.

I talk.
I rest.
I pray.
I run.

Talk: Yesterday I did a lot of talking. I talked to JB. I told him how I felt. He listened. I talked to my mother-in-law and went over all the food plans. I talked to a few close friends and shared how stressed I felt.

Rest: This morning, I woke up at 5am. I felt rested.

Pray: I prayed as I laid in bed, laying around far longer than I normally do.

Run: And then I went for a run.

I ran past our ducks and geese and guinea fowl and turned the corner where the cows were congregating. I heard the all-too-familiar sound of Scrubs' paws padding alongside me, and smiled down at him and said, "Good boy," and kept running as the cows stayed where they were or got out of my way depending on how they felt that morning.

A bunny shot across my path.

He had a cute little white tail.

Arrow Head pond looked so beautiful, a light mist rising just above it, reeds swaying just slightly in the breeze.

Red, the dog that "came with" the farm, but is fed by our neighbors and given treats by us and we don't really know for sure who he belongs to, walked over to greet me. He and Scrubs had a good sniff down.

And I ran home.

I didn't fix anything. I still feel a little overwhelmed today. But I feel a little more prepared to face something that I just know I'm not that good at.

And I'm accepting my skill set.

And pushing forward.

I hope you can do the same.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Funnies

Some Hannah chatter for Friday Funnies (including her abundance of eye expressions -- she says so much with her facial expression!)

The kiddos love when I go home on "roller coaster" road. It is one of the roads leading back to our farm. During the last ride Joni said, "Man! The van almost bottomed out." And Isaac replied: "Joni your bottom is definitely in the van."

Book Review: My Christmas Stocking

I absolutely LOVE Crystal Bowman's books! Crystal is actually a friend of our Joni, and when Isaac was born, Joni got an entire selection of her books for us, signed by the author.

What I especially love about her selection of holiday board books is that she touches on common, more pagan celebrations and spins them so that a Christian can use what may have been intended for bad and make it good.

An example is pumpkins. While not a Christian celebration in any sense of the word, Crystal wrote an entire book about pumpkins at halloween and compared them to God taking the "slop" out of us and putting his light inside. I have written about her book on my blog previously, and I am in love with them as much today as when I wrote about this in the past.

My Christmas Stocking is no different. Crystal illustrates the Christ-centered thoughts behind Christmas stockings. She tells the story of the origin of the stocking and how we can focus on Christ when thinking about putting gifts into a stocking for someone else. These were originally intended to illustrate the gift that God sent.

The books are sturdy and have withheld love from four different children in our family. You will never regret adding these to your library.

While Booklook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, I actually accepted the review to give this book as a gift! We already have one in our library.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Right on!

Our friend Linda found this sign and sent it to Hannah for her birthday. I absolutely LOVE it. Not only does it match my living room perfectly, but it so perfectly sums up this little fireball I get to have as my daughter. 

I just absolutely love this little girl. She is so exhausting and so much work but ohhh, how she makes me laugh. She is so snuggly and full of life. 

Never boring around these parts with Hannah here!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joni goes home

Oh what a fabulous week we had here with Joni. This was the first time she had been out to visit the farm so we had so much fun showing her everything. Joni has a special love for landscapes and stars. She will stop anything she is doing to check out a sunrise, sunset, or sky full of stars. So this was the perfect place for her.

The trip culminated yesterday when Joni took the boys to Dollywood for a fun-filled day before we took her to her hotel. She had a very early flight this morning, and being as we are about 1.5 hours from the airport, this was the best way to do it.

Here are some pictures of our fun-filled week. As usual, there were many tears from everyone as we said good bye. But at least we live only a few states away -- and not countries!

The boys taught her Chess while she was here!

Joni trying to fix Sidge's bike! (She didn't know I took this.)