Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Homeschooling with Hannah

Homeschooling with Hannah.

Big sigh.

Not actually homeschooling Hannah.

But homeschooling the other four children with three-year-old Hannah here.

That is what this post is about. 

I'd spoken previously on the Blog about how to homeschool BIGS with LITTLES.  But with Abigail it was pretty easy. And when Hannah was a baby, it was not so hard. But then Hannah turned two, and it just kept getting harder.

The reasons are numerous, but I'll list a few:
  1. Hannah doesn't nap. All my other kiddos napped until at least 4. She has stopped napping before 3. IF she naps, she is usually in her bed tossing and turning until at least 10pm. No nap has eliminated any afternoon break I had with time to focus on homeschooling or time to just focus on me.
  2. Hannah doesn't have many things she likes to do for more than about 3 minutes. Any activity is very short and not always very sweet. (Our house is not large. Activities must be cleaned up right away to make room for new activities.) The only thing she will do for more than 3 minutes is watch a show. Ipad apps don't impress her. Recently she has started doing puzzles, and a bit of play dough but mostly
  3. Hannah is mischievous. When not watched she can actually get into big trouble by eating things she shouldn't, sticking things up her nose, wandering away to do something dangerous. (My other three kids never did this type of thing.)
So a few weeks I reached out to my Facebook homeschool group. (We are called Homeschool Hugs if you are interested in joining.) I posed my dilemma. And I was presented with some great ideas. I have recently begun implementing them and wanted to share how they are working for me:
  1. Let her watch more than 2 shows a day. I was surprised at how many veteran moms let me off the hook on this one! (Two 30-min shows a day is our house rule.) It isn't ideal, but it is the fact. I need the shows. I need help sometimes if I am going to work with the BIGS on school work. I have realized that years from now I won't regret extra show, but I will regret losing my mind. So I am trying to use more educational shows like:
    • LeapFrog
    • SuperWhy
    • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
    • Bible videos
    • Magic School Bus
    • Odd Squad
  2. Find things she can do to earn her shows. She has gotten on board with this and is doing puzzles to earn another show!
  3. Know that this is a phase. It will pass (way too fast in all actuality.) But for now, do my best.
  4. Continue (and do more) independent work with other three. I am totally doing this. Nearly 90% of the schooling my kids do is stuff they can do without my interference. This is especially true with the boys (2nd grade). Abigail (pre-K) isn't quite there yet.
  5. Many people also suggested day-care and/or preschool. We decided this was not a good fit for us primarily due to our distance from town. (It would take me two hours a day driving to take her to something.)
  6. Ask in-laws and JB to focus on spending time with just Hannah. Try to find time myself to spend just with her as well. She needs more of me, but me is schooling three other kiddos.
  7. Assign the older kids "time with Hannah" as part of their daily school assignments. In our house, we use a daily checklist like the one pictured below. Check it out. I now have Hannah time scheduled in for the other kids to do during their day. (They also have 15 minutes of playing with dog time too.)

What about you? How do you homeschool your bigs with a little in tow?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Truth

Lesson Learned

Lesson learned today.

If you drive to the dump to drop off your garbage and you put your three-year-old in her car seat and you let one of your dogs come, don't leave your keys, wallet, and phone on the front seat and get out to dump garbage.

Because if you do, your dog will jump up and lock you out of your truck.

And then you'll have a three-year-old in her carseat and a dog in the front seat. And you won't have a phone to call anyone. And you won't have keys to unlock the door.

You will stand on your head and turn in circles to try to explain to three-year-old how to undo her car seat straps. She can get the top straps off. But not the bottom strap. And you know that if there wasn't a need for her to get it undone, she'd be able to do it without a problem. "Hold up this hand. Okay put this hand on the red button. Now take other hand and pull strap. No. Not that hand. Put that hand on the button."

She starts crying harder. And she's no closer to undoing her belt.

So you will fret for a time, and then a nice lady will let you use her phone. You know your husband's number by heart, but he still has his "do not disturb" on from the overnight, and so he won't pick up.

So then you'll fret some more. It's about 60 degrees outside -- not too hot and not too cold. Would a police officer consider it an emergency? Do you call a locksmith? You'll wonder who you should call. Someone else offers you a phone to borrow, and you realize: you don't have a single phone number other than your husband's stored in your brain. They are all stored in that tiny blue phone of your's which is now being trampled on by the dog bounding around the front seat of the truck.

Oh and there he goes chewing on the gear shift. Of course he is. You try to distract him. Yes, eat the M&M wrapper in the side door. Go for it Ritter.

You are now pacing. And fretting. And thinking. And praying. And you have no idea what to do. A nice couple offer to drive you to your house. But you can't leave the baby and the dog. Finally you swallow and say to nice couple: "Will you drive to my house and knock on the door and tell my husband I am trapped at the dump so he can come and save me with another key?"

And nice couple will tell you they have five kids of their own and they totally understand and they will not only drive to tell your husband but they will drive back to tell you he is on his way.

You will think about laughing. And crying. And screaming. And your body won't know which one to do so you will just stand next to the truck and keep dog from chewing or peeing and baby from crying or freaking out or eating twine (which she tried.)

And then your ride will come.

And you will unlock the door.

And you will learn a lesson that you probably should have learned somewhere in the eight years of parenthood preceding this moment: don't live a child and keys in a vehicle simultaneously.

The end.

We Bought a Farm: Smoke and Wind and Rain and Fire

If you think of it, please say a prayer for Eastern Tennessee. We've been dealing with smoke warnings for weeks now due to fires raging around us. Some days it isn't that noticeable. Other days it is really bad. Isaac, who struggles with allergies, has to remain inside on those days. They are starting to evacuate just an hour from us due to fires. We currently aren't concerned about our farm, but we really want to see an end to the fires.

What would help is RAIN!

We are also dealing with an incredible drought. Locals tell us this is the worst they ever remember it being. (The monthly total for September was .63 in our area. October was .50 and November was .50.) Our area averages 42.8 inches a year to help you see how little rain we've had. Honestly, throughout the summer and fall, we only remember a few times that it rained. We lost many of the new trees we planted and had to water all our vegetables by hand.

Schools are cancelled today due to intense wind last night that knocked down trees and power lines -- up to 80mph gusts were rumored. We are anxious for the sun to come up this morning so we can see how our animal enclosures faired overnight. Of the most concern is our "Egg mobile" which is illustrated in this video below. While it is tied down extensively, it is not designed to withstand hurricane force winds.

Wee-wind Wednesday

Flashing back to November of 2007. Scrubs was about seven months old, and believe it or not this was one of the first times in our nine years of marriage that JB and I had really decorated our own house for Christmas. Every year since before we were married in 1998, we had travelled home to South Florida for Christmas. But this particular year, JB had to work on the 26th so our visit was going to be short and sweet and we decided to decorate our own home. 

This would also be the last Christmas childless. The next year, we would have Isaac and be a month away from Sidge being born!

Monday, November 28, 2016

When your day just sucks

You know the day. Your's may not have looked just like mine, but you've had it.

I could give all the details. I could tell you about the fact that our puppies have been sleeping inside each evening due to outsmarting their new porch enclosure. I could tell you how excited I was when I heard them crying -- "supposedly" needing to go out to potty at 2:30am. Typical Wendi can't fall back to sleep after a major middle-of-the-night-wakening so she tossed and turned herself onto the couch.

At some point, Hannah joined me on the other couch and randomly called my name to wake me up at 4:30am. Then the light came on as JB made his eggs to go into work around 5:30am. I relocated back to my bedroom only to find Hannah playing Magnatiles instead of sleeping. Into time-out she goes.

I could tell you how cold it was as I let the dogs out to run and quickly jumped into the shower. JB was gone. My in-laws were still out of town. And we don't have a WWOOFer so it was just me needing to get everything done before I did the thing every mother loves to do -- take all four kids with her to the doctor.

I got out of the shower as fast as humanly possible and went to call the dogs. They usually come pretty quickly (especially Arabelle who is proving smart as a whip) so I was a bit confused when I couldn't hear or see them in the black of the morning. I went from door to door in my robe urging them to come in.

Here comes Arabelle. Good girl. And, well, why not ... she's covered in blood.

I put her in her kennel, and quickly changed into farm wear and boots to go and find Ritter. I find him covered in blood as well with a deer skin lying in front of him. Somehow they had gotten into one of the garbage cans with things needing to go to the dump today from JB's weekend hunting expedition.

So now I'm seriously livid.

I have no idea what to do with the dogs as there is no way I have time to add dog baths to my already-way-too-full morning. I check the temperature. It's warm enough for them to be outside so I place them in a secure gated area we have near the end of our driveway. They will have to wait until I get back from the doctor to assess.

Back into the house. Glance at the clock. Set all kids up with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so that I can go out and do animals. Ewes watered. Rams watered. Chickens fed. Chickens watered. Chickens counted. Ducks fed. Ducks watered. Pigs fed. Pigs watered.

(Did I mention that I am doing most of this one-handed? I've developed a pretty intense case of tennis elbow. Not sure from what, but it has left me pretty lopsided in what I can do on the farm.)

Back to house.

Undress. Redress in clothes suitable for public consumption. A bit of mascara. Call for kids to do get dressed. Hannah comes down in outfit pictured at right. (Temperature is 41 degrees outside.) I head upstairs to pick something a bit more ... warm. Socks for everyone. Shoes. Teeth. Water bottles.  Let's go.

And out the door we go.

So now the story of our pediatrician. We have not been seen at a doctor since we moved to the farm a little over a year ago. With JB at home, we don't have much need. All I really wanted was to make sure my kiddos are up-to-date on their vaccines. The nurse who I talked to on the phone told me that they would all have to have a well-visit/physical before we could get vaccines at this office since we have never been seen there.

So I got four appointments for well visits. But by the time we show up, I have two boys who are showing signs of strep throat.

I walk up to the counter. The nice lady asks me how I am going to pay. I tell them we are self-pay. She tells me that each physical will be $400.

I multiply. Fast. $400 x 4 = $1,600.

She looks at my face and says: "I'd just go to the health department and get vaccines if I were you."

"But I want to have a pediatrician," I say. "We need a doctor."

She understands and decides to change our appointment to two sick-little-boy visits. She tells me to ask the doctor if we can just have this count as a visit for the girls too.

We do the wait-in-the-room-for-a-long-time thing. I'm answering a million questions about bad diseases you can get without vaccines due to a chart on the wall featuring all kinds of scary diseases. Sidge will not stop. I keep saying, "Dad will explain that when he gets home," but it isn't working. "What is tetanus? I can die? That one looks bad. Oh man. I don't want that one."

Our nice doctor is the husband of one of my co-op friends. He readily agrees to get all kids into system without physicals. Oh Praise the Lord for small miracles on a day like today.

Tests boys. Isaac gags when swabbed and throws up. This sends next-to-be-swabbed-Sidge into a crying mess as he watches his brother go down for the count. Somehow he gets swabbed without throwing up himself.

Test comes back.

Both have Strep.

That evens out my day quite nicely.

Prescriptions written, we move onto vaccines. All kids are up-to-date. Very good news. But he offers the flu vaccine for all of them. I agree, but tell him that Isaac is allergic to eggs and can't have the flu vaccine. He informs me that the rumor I had heard is true. These vaccines are now safe for egg-allergy patients.

This leaves Isaac in tears. He always had a free pass on flu shot day. Now he is trying not to cry. The other kids are feeling things are finally fair. I'm just thinking I have one more kid to try to get through a shot.

The doctor leaves, and I am again left in the room with four kids -- trying to entertain them with only the one book they each brought in. We discuss the order of our shots while we wait for the nurse to return. Somehow, through very little discussion, we agree that it will go: Abigail, Sidge, Isaac, and then Hannah.

So after what-feels-like-an-eternity the nurse returns. Abigail is sitting next to Sidge on the big table. I hold her hands, and she gets the shot. She thinks about crying but doesn't and even smiles a bit -- proud of herself for persevering.

But then I look over at next-to-go Sidge. He is freaking out. Apparently he watched the whole thing while I was distracted with Abigail. "Mom did you see that?!" he is crying. "That needle goes all the way into your leg. I can't do that."

He sobs his way through until the shot goes in and then stops crying. "That didn't really hurt," he says.

I don't even say: "I told you so."

Isaac does well.

Hannah sobs.

And then we are in the waiting room "waiting" to be checked out and go home. It's only been two hours since we first arrived (said facetiously.) I'm usually not an overboard mom and am a recovered germ-a-phobe, but sitting in that waiting room with all these snotty kids really has me a bit overwhelmed. Maybe that's because Hannah is laying on the floor, and Abigail has her mouth on the back of a chair. Ugh!

I walk up to the window. If I can pay today, they can offer me 40% off. Well ... done. Yes. Please! In the end it was under $400! A far cry from the $1,600 I was originally quoted. Maybe that was their plan all along. To have me skipping for joy at only paying $400. Either way, if I wasn't so busy trying to keep my kids mouths off of germ-filled surfaces, I'd have been skipping.

We take prescriptions to Walgreens and decide to pass the time waiting for it at TCBY. This was a good mom move. I apologize during our ice cream outing for acting like a raving lunatic on numerous occasions that morning.

Morning? Yes! It is only 11am! Seriously. Isn't it bed time yet? While each of the kids is saying that they forgive me for my poor behavior (not that their's was stellar, but that's not the point. I'm a grown up) Hannah wanders off and creates a foot stool for herself.

I should have done that too. Great idea.

We pick up prescriptions and head home. I grab the mail out of the mail box, and get the kids set up with a Netflix Christmas movie so that I can go and do the noon animal chores.

First I check on dogs. Somehow, they have managed to clean themselves up. I won't ask how. At least they don't need an immediate bath. Good news.

Feed chickens. Water chickens. Collect eggs. Check ewes and rams. Feed and water crabby geese. Feed and water pigs. Discover I never watered the ducks that morning after all. Apologize to them and quickly give them a whole dish of nice fresh water. Let dogs out. Give them treats. Put them on leashes in front yard.

Back in the house. I feel like I have run a marathon and it is just 1pm. I sit down in front of my mail, and God gives me a tiny hug. It's the book I helped edit for Julie Lessman with a note included! I'm still exhausted. Overwhelmed that my husband won't be home until 7:30pm and that Isaac just threw up again.

But seeing this book in print is a good stopping point for my bad day.

Time to make lunch.

Monster Mash

Isaac is just so happy to only be a brace. He's having a blast being back on the piano at nearly full-capacity. His piano playing brings him such joy and subsequently, joy to us.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Bought a Farm: A Deer (and more)

Our good friends John and Becky Connors came to visit for a few days and spent Thanksgiving with us. (Dad and Mom went to stay with another one of their kids.) JB actually, without requesting it, got Thursday and the days that followed it off. A sweet blessing for our family.

One of the things JB was really hoping to accomplish during this break was to successfully hunt a deer. Our previous WWOOFer, Lane, had spent a lot of time scouting the woods for us, and JB felt he really knew where to hunt.

Hunting deer, for us, is truly about obtaining meat that we can eat (for free!) We are not doing it for sport. I'm not commenting here about people that do that whatsoever. I am simply explaining the reason that we would do it. The only two reasons we would ever hunt on our property are to eat the meat or to remove a problem predator.

(Speaking of predators, we have lost a few chickens over the last few days! Predators can really bug you!)

John and JB went hunting two days, and on the second day, JB got a buck. They didn't weigh it exactly but estimated that it was about 150 pounds. He had to spend the rest of the day butchering it, but we have quite a bit of meat to show for it. JB makes a point when butchering it to use nearly ever part of the animal. He believes we owe it to the animal.

"Once you knock an animal on the head it is only polite to eat the whole animal."-- Fergus Henderson

JB wrote on Facebook about how we "value" this animal. That has become an incredibly important thing for us on the farm. The more we process our own meat, the more we try to respect and value the animal that gave their life for us. We don't make jokes. We take it seriously. And sometimes we cry or get sad. We don't name the animals things like "bacon." We treat them as very important members of our community. We give them as much green grass, clean water, and warm sun as we possibly can.

Our most recent WWOOFer, Leah, made a note that you almost have to separate the animals' lives into separate sections. In this way, you can watch the little piglets enjoying this section of their life and not think about what they are here for in the future. That is what we attempt to do.

We used to say, "We only want our animals to have one bad day." We've changed that. Now we say, "We only want our animals to have one bad second." We truly want them to be treated kindly and to be living the very best they can for their entire life.

We really believe that people have become disconnected from their food. They don't want to eat anything that looks like the animal that it really is. When you see how we raise our meat, it will make you unable to eat meat that didn't get raised the right way. JB and I both believe we are on a path to become: "Our-own-farm-atarians." (Eating only the meat we raise ourselves.)

In other news, our turkeys were a huge success. We believe we will end up doing these again next year based on the reports from those who ate them. I'll write more about that later!

Sunday Sermon

Saturday, November 26, 2016


My boys (ages 7 and 8) absolutely love the app: Inventioneers on the iPAD. The website says it is for ages 9 and up, but both my boys are doing exceptionally well with the game. They beg to play it. We've started implementing a "read for 30 minutes to earn 30 minutes of Inventioneers policy.

Inventioneers is a fantastic tool for learning about physics and the science behind different features like air, fire, magnetism etc. You have to use provided tools to solve different puzzles. You can also get creative and create your own puzzles. 

There is a free version so that you can try this game for yourself. After that, you can make a one-time purchase.) (I am pretty sure it was 99 cents.) There are no other in-app purchases. 

If you have a child in grades 1 and up, this is a fantastic way to let them play a game that they don't even know they are learning doing.

Please note that this was NOT a product I was asked to review. I simply LOVE how much my boys LOVE it!

    Out of the cast!

    Isaac is out of his cast! He is loving the brace and the freedom he is on his piano. He's been busy writing a song and somehow, he agreed to let me record it:

    2016 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

    Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016

    I have just finished my first year of reviewing for the Homeschool Review Crew. I have absolutely loved working them. I receive products and review them. I get to use my Blog, my writing, and my love of free products to my advantage. This has allowed me to homeschool for free!

    This past week, they published their 2016 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards.  Click the link to see all the winners. However, below, I have clicked the winners that I personally reviewed on my Blog. You can click the product name to read more about it (and see all the Crew Reviews for that product.)

    You can click out all the products the team did by clicking here.

    In addition, I highlighted, in yellow, the products that we absolutely loved in our home and feel we can't live without.
    One other product that did not receive an award on the Crew site but that we use often is Essential Skills Advantage (ESA). 

    Please take a moment to view some of these products. All of thse products listed won popular votes with our review team. And the ones I highlighted in yellow are absolutely AMAZING. We use them everyday!

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Friday Funnies

    Hannah: I'm the mamma bear and you're the baby bear.
    JB: Okay. What are we going to do?
    Hannah: It's time to eat lunch.
    JB: Can you catch me a rabbit or squirrel? 
    Hannah: No! We are going to eat... pizza!
    JB: Pizza? Really?
    Hannah: No! Just kidding!
    JB: Okay, well what are we going to eat then?
    Hannah: Chicken!
    JB: Really? Bears eat chicken?
    Hannah: (rolls her eyes) Baby Bear, EVERYBODY, likes chicken!


    Abigail: "Mommy, you are such an ordinary mom." (I'm hoping she was trying to say extraordinary.)


    During the production of Little Women, Hannah turned to me and said: "Mom, I just want to be on that stage." 


    In 24 hours my Hannah has managed to drink mouthwash, eat toothpaste (yes we are relocating tooth-brushing station), snag and begin drinking a bottle of water at the grocery store while I wasn't looking, and then at home, pour that water bottle into the dog's water bowl. Seriously. I'm way out of my league.

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Thanksgiving 2016

    Thanksgiving 2005
    JB and I were heavy into infertility treatments and living in Rochester, Minnesota where JB was attending medical school. We went to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my Dad's family -- including my Grama Huisman.

    Thanksgiving 2006
    JB and I had just suffered another failed IVF attempt. We spent a low-key Thanksgiving with the Ray family while living in Minnesota.

    Thanksgiving 2007
    We were now living on Eglin AFB, Florida. We had just gotten word of our adoption of Isaac, and my parents and brother and his new wife had driven up from South Florida to spent the holiday with us.

    Thanksgiving 2008
    Thanksgiving at our house included, for the first time ever, one of our children. Isaac was just a few months old. We had dinner with my parents (who had driven up), our friends the Dooleys, and our good friends John and Becky Connors (who were traversing infertility along with us.) I was very pregnant as Elijah "Sidge" was due in January.

    Thanksgiving 2009
    JB's parents, his sister Elizabeth (and her husband Grant), and JB's brother Ray (and his wife Gabbi and kids Nate and Grace) joined us for Thanksgiving. We now had two little boys in our family!

    Thanksgiving 2010
    Our first time eating TURKEY in TURKEY! We had dinner with some great new friends (Yerrington, Jones, and Stebbins!) I think our friend Erin and the Beaudoins stopped by as well? I had just found I was pregnant with Abigail.

    Thanksgiving 2011
    We had a GIANT Thanksgiving outside in our carport with about 30 people in attendance!

    Thanksgiving 2012
    We now live in the Azores and I am going through IVF. Shane and Linda flew over from Germany to have Thanksgiving with us and the Seeligers also joined us. Aunt Connie was living with us at the time.

    Thanksgiving 2013
    Shane and Linda fly in again for our fourth-straight Thanksgiving together. Grampa and Grama Kit. lived there with us.

    Thanksgiving 2014
    Thanksgiving #10 on the Blog! My parents drove up from South Florida and JB's brother, Ray and his family joined us as well for our first of many Tennessee holidays!

    Thanksgiving 2015
    I don't have it on the Blog but Ray and Gabbi and family drove over and joined us for the day. Dad and Mom went to visit their daughter Elizabeth.

    And here we are today! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    John and Becky are here again! Here are our six children!

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Wee-wind Wednesday

    Today I flashback to a post I wrote about my little Isaac back in 2014: Adopted into my heart

    Review: Olive Drab Farm's Goat Milk Products

    I've made it no secret how much I have struggled with my skin. It was actually my skin that pushed my husband into medicine! (You can read that story by clicking here.) 

    One of my friends from the Azores is now living in the USA (Florida to be exact!) She and her husband own a goat farm. You can check them out by visiting here: Olive Drab Farm. They hand milk all of their goats and strive to feed and treat organically as much as possible. I encourage you to go and visit her Etsy shop by clicking here. She has a wide assortment of bar soaps and goat milk lotion as well as liquid soap.

    She recently sent me some of her product to try with my skin. Not only could I use the product (I can only use completely natural products with no perfumes) but I truly felt my skin was doing better while using it! I will be buying a lot from her in the future.

    Tamara will be offering a 25% off coupon on Black Friday! So this post is perfect for placing those orders. Use: ILOVEGOATS as your coupon code! 

    All of their soap and lotions are plant-based right down to the preservatives. No formaldehyde at all. If you have any questions, leave a comment on this post and Tamara will be sure to respond. Thanks all!

    We Bought a Farm: Piece and Peace from a WWOOFer

    Photo by Leah Pellegrini

    The day that a WWOOFer leaves our farm is always a bit emotional for me. This is someone that we have opened up our home to and have lived with for weeks or months at a time. I'm happy to see them go in that they are on to new adventures and have the opportunity to see and learn new things. I am happy that we will soon get to meet someone new as well, as it is so interesting to learn and meet new people. 

    But I am sad because they have started to nestle into my heart and life. They have started to fit me like a broken-in pair of tennis shoes or thosecomfy pajamas, and even though I know they may not be perfect, the thought of meeting someone new and waiting again until they fit .... well it stresses me out. 

    Each time a new WWOOFer comes to our farm, I feel anxious. I want them to be happy. I want them to feel welcome. I want them to ... well ... like us. Each time I go to pick one up or greet one at our door (I see "one" as if they are not human :) I think to myself: "This is the last time I am doing this. This is too much for my doesn't-like-spontaneity self."

    But then I meet them. And I like them. And I don't want them to go. All of them. Just incredible people with such varied life stories and experiences. They are male and female. Christian and atheist. American and Foreign. Liberal and Conservative. Shy and outgoing. 

    They are people.

    Leah was lucky #13 here at the Bauernhof, and she shared her experiences in the following post on her own website: A Story about Loss + Redemption. It's a little bit ironic that her post follows the life of a little spotted pig named Lucky

    Leah is from New York. We have a farm in Eastern TN. She is a vegetarian. We are raising meat to eat. We do not see the world the same. But we live in the same world. And we process and grieve like all human beings. 

    I hope you enjoy Leah's post. She won't tell you this in the post, but Leah was working a big-wig job in New York City. She was into fashion and style. And then, suddenly, she decided she wanted to see what farming was all about. She quit that job and is traveling around the USA. She is staying on different farms and not worrying about her make-up or hair as she did every day as she wrote and did big-wig things in the Big Apple


    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    Hannah sings the State Song

    Here is Hannah singing the "State Song." If you want to get a glimpse into who this girl is THIS is the video to show you. 
    (Never mind she is wearing a snowsuit after being told to put on pajamas.) 
    (Oh and please excuse my singing. I have zero skills.)

    Tribe Life Tuesday: The Pioneer

    New chickens are laying

    The eggs are tiny (as is normal from new layers), but our new chickens are laying! We have about 43 veterans who have been giving us about 2-3 dozen eggs a day. But we've had about 38 newbies that we've been waiting to come of age. In the last few days we have started getting the tiny eggs typical of our new layers. We still haven't seen any chocolate colored eggs typical of one of our new breeds. But still, we are pretty positive these are new layers! Since I don't sell really small eggs, we eat these, and of course they still taste fantastic. In the past two months, I've been having a nearly impossible time of keeping up on the demand for our eggs so I'm very excited that I will now be getting somewhere around 5-6 dozen a day. I've been waiting for this, and it's happening.

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    Great adoption video

    Surprise Ride Review

    I have written about Surprise Ride quite a few times previously on my Blog. My kids get SOOO excited when their box comes, and we just love see what is inside. This month we learned all about Polar Bears!

    There were so many fun things in this box including:
    • Materials to make a polar bear habitat (we all LOVED this! It was sooooo much fun!)
    • Materials to make a polar paw coaster
    • Polar Bears Past Bedtime book
    • Free dried ice cream snack (this was very yummy!)
    • On-the-go snowflake game
    Here are a few pictures of my girls working on the habitat and polar paw coaster:

    I think this was our favorite box! I continue to Blog about the fact that I think this is a GREAT gift for grandparents and aunts and uncles to send their special little people. Educational and lots of fun!!

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Bristol Theatre: Little Women

    We couldn't wait for today! Today was the day that we got to drive to Bristol (about an hour from our house) and see Theatre Bristol's production of Little Women!

    Here were are taking some pictures before the show. We just love how cozy this theatre is (probably 150 seats?) We were a tad nervous taking the four kiddos (ages 3-8) to such a long production (well over 2 hours) but decided to go for it. We are so glad we did!

    Daddy with his blondie (who told us afterward that she gives the play a 100%!)

    The boys (who weren't sure about seeing a "girly" play)

    My little Hannah (the one who makes us the most nervous when taking her to places where she is supposed to stay quiet!)

    Folks, we were excited to go, and we were NOT disappointed. This was an incredible play -- made even more incredible by the lead roll. The gal who played Jo was simply and unequivocally fantastic. She simply took over the stage and was such an immeasurable joy to watch. I hope she does great things in acting. She was SO good! Here is a picture from their Facebook page of Lorrie Anderson as Jo:

    And here is a picture of Marmee and her four daughters early on in the play:

    I truly hope that those of you who are local that read my Blog take the opportunity to go to this production. If you can't go to this one, visit the Theatre Bristol website and make plans to attend one of their future shows. This is the second time we have attended a play here (the first was Madeline!) We have been incredibly impressed with both productions and truly hope that we can attend many more of these productions in the future. This is a non-profit group. The tickets are very reasonably priced (and so are the concessions!)

    I love seeing people doing what they love and making themselves and others happy in the process. This cast obviously loved this play, and it was such fun to watch. And, believe it or not, all four kiddos did really well. Hannah got a little stir crazy, but otherwise did beautifully.

    Two funnies during the play:
    • My three-year-old Hannah (who, if one of my kids was going to be acting, it would be her) at one point during the play turned to me and said: "Mom. I just want to be on that stage." Later, at the end of the production while we were meeting the cast, I had to shoo her off of it! She really liked the idea of acting.
    • At one point, Jo and her fiancee kiss. This is near the end of the play, and by this time, Hannah was kneeling on the floor behind two young men in the row in front of us. She said a quick "Ew" and left the two guys absolutely in stitches.
    Well done Theatre Bristol. My boys, who were worried, both enjoyed the play and said it was not too girly after all. I certainly hope we will attend many more of your performances in the future!

    *My family and I received free tickets to this production in exchange for my honest and fair review!

    Our Tour of Greeneville

    Ruth Kross was my history teacher in middle school. And actually she was JB's teacher too. In fact, she went to high school with my Dad in Illinois so we go WAY back. She relocated to this area many years before I did. She wrote a darling book that I loved reading. You can check it out here: The Tree in the Courtyard.

    She helped started tours of this incredibly rich and historic area many years ago. And on Monday, my kiddos and I got to get an individual tour (shortened of course for young attention spans.)

    We visited:
    • Big Spring

    • Capital of the Lost State of Franklin

    • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
    • Old Jail

    • Courthouse Square

    • General Morgan Inn
    • Cannon Ball Church (Cumberland Presbyterian Church)

    I truly LOVE getting to see so much history! And I'm so blessed that Ruth took the time to show us. What a fun afternoon.

    Sunday Sermon

    Meeting puppies!

    One of my good friends from homeschool co-op has a farm about fifteen minutes from us. Her kids have become my kids bestest friends. Their Great Pyrenees had nine puppies, and we were excited to go to their farm and meet the little guys. Sooooo cute .....

    Sidge and his friend Joshua

    And with Jada

    There's the Mama and her nine little pups nursing away -- while Dad peers in.

    Hannah loved the pups!

    Sidge wanted to buy one of these SOOOO badly. He said he had enough money. Thank goodness they were all sold. 

    This little girl is wearing her shirt backwards because at the boys' tennis lesson that morning she wanted to take off her shirt entirely. I told her she could not. She then tried wearing it every single other way imaginable (including on her head and with her hands out one sleeve and finally backward) to show that she could still "keep it on" but do it her way.