Saturday, April 30, 2016

Scrubby .... I miss him.

They will not go quietly,
the dogs who've shared our lives.
In subtle ways, they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still can make us 
think we hear them at the door
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And sometimes, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our heart
belongs to them ... and always will.

Thank you to my friend Shannon who sent me these words in the mail. She is an online friend who lost Dals within days of each other.

I am amazed at how other people can capture what my heart feels. I cannot tell you how many times I think I heard Scrubby's whine indicating he wants something I'm not giving him. And I continue to drop something on the floor and think, "Scrubby will get it. Oh wait. No he won't." And I get out the vacuum with tears nearly each time.

Our new pups are great, and for the most part, the intense pain has dissipated. I don't cry every day now. I don't stop and cry by his grave every time I pass it.

But I think of him all the time, and I keep wondering how it can be that he isn't here with us anymore.

I started this blog in 2005. Scrubby joined us in 2007. He has been in the Blog nearly since it began. His whole life has been documented in posts.

Whatta boy.

Man I miss him.

Friday, April 29, 2016

We Bought a Farm: New WWOOFer and lotsa eggs!

Life around Bauernhof Kitsteiner finally slowed a bit the last few days as JB finally had a bit of a break from work. He had just started under new management at the hospital and there were a LOT of hours, A LOT of overtime, and A LOT of learning pains. But we got through it!

We've had a lot of nice dinners at our home the last few nights. We eat outside on the front porch with the mild temperatures, and just can't get enough of the beautiful view the Lord has blessed us with. With JB's parents out of town for this past month, it is just our family of six and the current volunteer. Daniel was great, and now we are throughly enjoying Jordan. He is awesome with the kids. They love him! He made a cake with Abigail and plays all kinds of games with them and involves them in work around the farm. 

As always, we are VERY cautious and are always present when "strangers" are hanging out with our kids. We have strict rules in place that keep the kids always in view of one of their parenst. But we feel if we can be cautious, the trade-off is amazing. Jordan spent half his life in France and half his life in Quebec. The exchange of culture and life stories is so interesting! The majority of people in the world are good people, and we hope that opening our home and sharing Christ's love with people who love permaculture and farming continues to work for us. 

We find our volunteers through three different places:
  1. WWOOF: Stands for world-wide opportunities on organic farms and pairs people interested in what we are doing with people who are doing what we are doing. 
  2. WORKAWAY: This is not limited to farming/gardening. People from all over the world offer up places in their home and room and board in exchange for help.
  3. People that hear of us through JB's blog or people who know us.
Abigail and Mr. Jordan making a carrot cake.

Today Jordan and I attempted to sell our eggs at a small Farmer's market. Sales weren't good, but we met some wonderful people. I continue to try to research and investigate the best way to get our product out. We are going to give the market one more try next week, but it truly seems that direct sales to people who hear of our eggs is the best bet for us. 

Legally, you are supposed to have labels if you sell eggs. So JB designed labels for us. Don't they look great? I especially love that Scrubs is in them -- tucked off on the right side.

A close up of our labels. We put them on previously used cartons.

Here is a view of our table at the market.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I share this video. Our friends Shane and Linda Jones put this video together. Ironically, they are also battling infertility now.

I'm amazed at how far infertility has come. When I first started this Blog, I did it because I felt no one was talking about this, and I wanted to start a dialogue. I began writing for an infertility newsletter (Stepping Stones.) This past month, they emailed me to tell me that they were closing down their newsletter. They felt that they had achieved their goal. People were talking and they weren't really needed.

That's really something!

But while people are talking about it, the pain is still the same pain for those traveling this road. Please take the time to share this video with others. Let's keep people talking about this devastating disease.

P.S. And seeing Scrubs lying on my lap really makes my heart "happy-sad."

Did you know ...

.... that a 2.5 year old little sister can put a 4 year old big sister's entire roll of Bubble tape in her mouth in less than 1 second?

Well now you do.

Many tears.

Sent Daddy to the gas station for an emergency stop after his shift at the emergency room.

Crisis averted.

P.S. Speaking of JB's work, he has been absolutely creamed at the hospital the last two weeks. They have made some changes and only have one doctor working now each shift instead of two, and JB not only worked 9 out of 12 days but barely had a free second during any of his shifts. Thank goodness we had the volunteers here, but even with help around the farm, we've been treading water rapidly here. Praising the Lord for three days off in a row to re-group as a family!

Review: My Little Bible

My Little Bible is just one in a series of the bestselling My Little® series. With more than 2 million copies sold, this series is a compact collection of books that will have a big impact on the hearts of your children. My Little Bible will help you introduce your children to key Bible stories while still being small enough to fit comfortably in their little hands. 
Included in this 5 x 8 tiny book are stories like: baby Moses, Noah, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ call to love and help others, and many more. 

This is a great book to tuck into an Easter basket or Christmas stocking! I'm very excited about introducing it to Hannah. She loves little books that can be HER Bible. 
Children will learn that this little book teaches big truths from the Bible!

The Interiorista: HOME LOVE

/hom/ The place where one lives permanently, especially as a 
noun  member of a family or household.

I don't know if you have given much thought to this before, but did you know that you spend the vast majority of your time at home? 90% of your experiences, your interactions with love ones, the creation of many memories,etc. happen in this structure called home.

Your home is holy ground; a place where your kids can feel loved and protected, learn about God, and grow into responsible and caring adults.

Your home is also a place that reflects your personality, the things you love, your style, your favorite colors and patterns, what beauty means to you.

Let me ask you something. When you look around your home, what do you see? How do you feel? Is your home a peaceful and cozy place or a source of discomfort and stress? Do you enjoy being at home or do you like to keep busy to stay away from it?

As a military wife who has lived in several different houses, I can tell you that no matter how big, small, new or old, luxurious or humble your house is, you can love your home. You can make any house your own. A special and unique place that portraits you and your family.

In the weeks to come, I'd like to partner with you in the exciting project of making your house, your home. Would love for you to stick around!



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Missing Scrubby

The doctor said we couldn't have kids. That we needed to put away our hopes and move on.

I tried.

But I couldn't.

I worked from home. My husband was a resident working insane hours. And I'd walk out of my house on our military base and see kids everywhere. 

Chubby arms around parents' necks. 
Softball tossing in the front yard.
A long line to board the school bus.
Bike riding. 

And in my house?


I felt completely and utterly alone. My house was clean. But quiet. Too quiet.

And then my husband, desperate to heal my hurting heart, sat me in front of the computer and went to youtube. A video of a tiny little pile of spots started dancing on the screen.

"Who is that?' I asked.

"Your dog," he said.

And I cried.

A week later I found myself at the airport, literally hopping from one foot to the other as I waited for the flight from Delaware to land. In the belly of a plane was my dog

My Scrubs.

We had a happy marriage. We loved each other deeply. But we were lonely. We were missing something that we had never met. Scrubs would never be a child. But he made us laugh. He filled our house with activity, and I instantly found myself happier.

I would go for walks with my big pile of spots and be mauled by young children wanting to pet the puppy. Every spare second during my work-from-home day would be spent exercising said puppy. I would collapse into bed at night so exhausted I wasn't even sure I wanted children.

I fell in love with a dog. He truly was my first child. And that child would go on to welcome each of my children into our home without hesitation.

First up. Isaac:

Next up! Sidge:
(This one really makes me laugh -- Sidge loved when Scrubs licked him in the mouth! Gross!)

And then Abigail:

Next up Hannah:

He was such a good dog. He loved his family. He welcomed each of these four crazy children into our home.

The new puppies are so nice and have helped my heart heal more than I thought they would. But I think about Scrubs everyday.

Yesterday, when we were driving up to our house, Sidge said, "You know what I wish? I wish Scrubby was going to fly down the driveway to greet us."

"So do I little buddy. So do I."

Introducing: The INTERIORISTA!

I am so excited to announce a new weekly column on my Blog from a guest blogger I know and love dearly.

Now I have had many people start a column and often it doesn't stick. Blogging is a big commitment and most people fizzle out. I don't blame them. It's what "trying it out" is all about.

But I am really, really, really hoping that this one sticks around because I think my readers will love this.

My dear friend Angelica is going to be doing a weekly post -- every Thursday! We are calling her The Interiorista which is a play off the fact that she is from Spain.

Here are a few pictures of Angelica so you can get to know her.

With her beautiful family: Rowan (6), Reese (4), and Noah (8) ... and Dan (30-something)

Angelica with her husband Dan


And me and Angelica after the week she spent at my house

Angelica just left from a week here at my home in Tennessee. I am going to show some video later, but let me just say that this chick REVOLUTIONIZED my home. I was truly feeling that this house would never feel like home to me. That I would never love it. I loved my farm. I loved the outdoors. But the inside was just "acceptable."

Until Angelica got a hold of it.

She helped make a few changes in the living that have left my husband and I loving our home! Simply amazing.

I met Angelica when we were stationed together in Turkey. I tell the story of how, truly, she is one of the few times in my life I have felt that I have almost audibly heard the Lord speak to me. I met her husband who was out pushing their two children in a stroller, and I truly felt the Lord say to me: "Listen up Wendi! You need to meet his wife."

The nudging was so intense that later that evening at church, when I saw Dan, I purposefully sought him out and asked him to introduce me to his wife. 

It was basically love at first sight. :)

All that to say, Angelica has been studying interior design and taking classes. She has a love for fashion and flare and decor and wants to use those gifts to help others. 

So every Thursday she is going to popping in here on the Blog to share her expertise! Please encourage her, leave comments, ask questions, and help to make this column great.

Stay tuned. Her first post will be here tomorrow!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: Devonian

Greemu Devonian Review

For the past several weeks, I have been trying out a great new vegan alternative to emu oil called GREEMU from Devonian. 

I have never used emu oil before. However, something I don't talk about on this Blog often is what a difficult time I have with my skin. I am allergic to something called balsam of peru which is basically a perfume in nearly every type of soap and shampoo known to man. In addition I have an atopic dermatitis which leaves me with very chapped and very itchy spots on my skin. These are always popping up in new places, but my hands have recently been horrible. 

My skin is so bad that I often have to sleep in rubber gloves filled with lotion to help ease the intense burning, chapping, and itching. 

I was therefore excited when this product came through on the Homeschool Review Crew. It isn't homeschool related, obviously, however, I knew I was a prime candidate to try this and see how it worked for my skin.

GREEMU is a beauty oil. It is made up of a blend of plant oils and butters. It is designed to replicate fatty acid composition, texture, and properties of emu oil. I could go into a soliloquy about what this product is, but I will instead direct you to a page on the Devonian website that can explain much better than I can.

So what is the bottom of the line? The bottom line was that this product felt great on my skin. Unfortunately, I can't be a fair judge of whether it took care of my chapped skin because I reviewed it right when the weather changed here in TN. My skin normally clears up when winter ends. Therefore, while using this product, my skin cleared up. But winter also ended. So I can't be sure which was "to blame."

I definitely plan to give this another try during winter next year and will definitely report back on my findings. In the meantime, I will continue using this product simply for the soothing affect. It felt so good on my skin, and I was incredibly impressed by it! And the fact that I had no allergic reaction to it is such a great feeling!

Please check them out on Facebook and Pinterest for even more information. 

Greemu Devonian Review

Greemu Devonian Review

Crew Disclaimer

We Bought a Farm: Changing of the Guard

So yesterday, a new volunteer joined our "family" here at Bauernhof Kitsteiner. Jordan is a french-Canadian who spent half his life in France and half his life in Canada. He is traveling the USA for a little while, trying out life on farms. He seems like a fantastic guy so far.

Also, today our current volunteer, Daniel, moved on with his adventures. We had a wonderful time with him here. The kids learned chess, a bit of Spanish, and he was an incredibly hard and independent worker.

A few people have asked me about having "strangers" here at our home. Firstly I will say that these individuals don't stay IN our house. We have a separate apartment that they stay in. Secondly I will also say that we do a lot of background references on these people as well.

We recognize that allowing people to come visit our home puts us slightly at risk, but we truly find the cultural exchange just so rewarding and fantastic. We put some stringent rules in place. (An example: they may never be anywhere alone with a child at any time.) And so far, we've been blown away by what we've gotten in return.

Also, I said good bye to Angelica today. I'm going to write a separate post on her and her family and her departure and how much I love her ... tomorrow. I also have some exciting news about her presence on my Blog! So tune in!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: YWAM Publishing

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
Since we live just minutes from Davy Crockett State Park, I was SO EXCITED when our family was assigned to review the book by YWAM Publishing: Heroes of History - Davy Crockett. Coupled with this book was a Digital Unit Study.  I love coming up with ways to bring history to life, and while we didn't get to visit the park during this unit (like I had planned!), we are hoping to go in the next few weeks.

Heroes of History is a biography series featuring influential people in our country's history. Here is the book we received from YWAM Publishing:

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

The book is told like a story -- not like a history book. We loved this! The kids (all of them -- not just my first grade boys who this was designed for) loved listening to me read. They were really too young to read this themselves, but reading it together was at on of fun, and I loved learning about Davy Crockett as well.
So a few days a week, we'd take some time to read a chapter in this book. Then we'd discuss it. Then, I would log on to the Digital Unit Study and we'd do some of the work in the study.

This is what the download looked like when you opened the link:

There all kinds of ideas and things to do with the Digital Unit Study and truly you can pick and choose what you want to use or not use. The guide allows the homeschooling parent to guide their student/s in learning things about history, geography, essay writing, creative writing, reading comprehension, public speaking, vocabulary, drama or art.

As the guide explains, "As there are more ideas than could possibly be used in one unit, it is the parent/teacher's job to sift through the ideas and select those that best fit the needs of the student or students."

They have a section featuring key quotes, another sections including collection of items related to that time period and create a display. There are also questions for each chapter. There is vocabulary. There are ways to incorporate what you are learning into your community. There are options for ways to learn about maps and locations as well. There is truly SO much within this 72-page guide.

We decided to color a picture after reading one of the chapters based on the books' suggestion of using art to represent what we were reading. (Note that this wasn't a direct suggestion, but after reading all the great ideas, we decided that this would fit into the arts and craft section.) This is Sidge's interpretation of Davy playing by the river with his brothers:

The Digital Unit Study includes so many incredible ideas. Honestly, there is no way we could possibly even come close to covering all of these items during one unit. The idea is to give you a great story to read with incredible ideas of what to do to reinforce that learning.

I strongly encourage you to consider purchasing a book/study guide combo. These are true biographies of heroes from history. They are Christian heroes that will fit perfectly (and inexpensively!) into the Christian homeschool curriculum. They are priced at an incredibly reasonable amount. (Heroes of History - Davy Crockett is just $7.50 and the Digital Unit Study downloads are nearly the same price.) There are an incredible number of heroes to choose from. You can read about C.S. Lewis, Corrie ten Boom, William Penn, George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, Orville Wright or even study more recent individuals like Ronald Reagan or Billy Graham.

Take some time to visit the YWAM Publishing website. Or check them out on Facebook or Pinterest to find out more. There is even a Blog that can give you more information.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Good times!

Angelica and Hannah. My heart is happy.

We Bought a Farm: Trees

We are planting. Well not me. Daniel (our volunteer) and John. I believe there at least 300 trees in the ground right now. I'm going to try and get the tree details from JB to share with all of you!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Devotion: Waiting through Unanswered Prayers

A great post from one of my fellow writers at The Glorious Table about waiting. This one focuses on waiting for a spouse. But to any of you waiting, I am here with you.

Dollywood with Old friends

We have season passes to Dollywood and from April 20-May 20, I have free "take a friend" passes that we can use. Since Angelica was here during this time, we decided to go for it.

I admit, the idea of seven children with two moms in a theme park was slightly daunting. However, I always do Dollywood with strategy. We always go during the week when school is in session. We get there at 9:15. While the park opens at 10am, you can get in and get everything done before that. From 9-11, even on a crowded day, the park is empty and you can walk on any ride. Then, if the crowds do pick up around lunchtime, we leave. I also avoid days that are too hot.

Well it was a totally empty park day. We stayed until close to 4 and never waited in a single line. The kids were so good, and we had a BLAST! No stress at all. So glad we decided to do this.

All kiddos minus Hannah!

With Noah there, who was a year older, Isaac's courage jumped up a level. He decided to try his second roller coaster: Flying Eagle and LOVED it!

A favorite of my boys is this ride.

What would a day at Dollywood be without a ride on the Bees! Here is Reese (my goddaughter) and Abigail.


Hannah in the Pigs.

The closest we came to all seven kiddos in one picture!

Angelica showing off the awesome cinnamon bread that I get every time I go to Dollywood!

The olders.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: The Princess Twins and the Birthday Party

Another review of one of Mona Hodgson's books: The Princess Twins and the Birthday Party. An "I Can Read" level 1 book, the story is simple. It's the day of the twins' birthday and one of their party guests doesn't feel beautiful. The book reminds young girls that it is what is inside that counts. God sees what is inside and that is what we want to be beautiful.

A good message. A simple story. But once again I was impressed by the fact that the party attendees were girls of all races and nationalities. This makes me go from just recommending it to strongly recommending this book.

Friday Funnies

Recently in our home, JB has jokingly been telling the kids that he used to be a pirate. He even took a picture of himself (with some photoshop help) to prove his story. It's become a really fun thing in our home. 

Isaac: "Who still thinks Daddy is a pirate?"
Sidge: "I don't."
Abigail: "I do."
Isaac: "He has to have a treasure chest and a ship. Without those, he has no evidence."
Abigail: "But how could he get it here? We have no water."
Isaac: "Pirates are smart. He would have to figure it out."
Abigail: "But all we have are ponds and creeks. Ships can't fit in there."
Isaac: "Excuse me Abigail. Daddy said his ship got sunk in a hurricane or a tornado so we have no evidence."
Abigail: "Daddy double promised me that he was a pirate."
Isaac: "But Daddy could be joking."
Abigail: "He never jokes. Only if we have never heard of that. But we have heard of what Daddy said that time."
Isaac: "Me and Sidgey still don't believe. And almost nothing is going to make us change our mind."
Sidge: "Yep. He is right."
Abigail: "Well, he is still a pirate."
Sidge: "Suit yourself."
Abigail: "What does teach yourself mean? I'm not a teacher. Mama is a teacher."
Sidge: "I said suit yourself."
Abigail: "What does that mean?"
Isaac: "It means go ahead. Be silly if you want to."
Abigail: "But he's still a pirate."


Abigail prayer before bedtime:

"Dear God. Fank you for being the best God in the whole world. And fanks for letting Scrubby come up there and live with you. And fanks for our new puppies. And fanks that we had a new baby lamb tonight that's a girl so we don't have to process her. And fanks that we will get new chickens. And there will be some roosters that we will process but we won't process the hens. Amen."

Some Snaps of Pups & Friends

Our friend Rowan