Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wee-wind Wednesday

When the little crack is very scary. 

We Bought a Farm: Mulberry for Scrubs

Fall means a lot of things on a farm. But one of the biggest things we do here in the fall is plant trees! They've been going in all over the farm thanks to Anni and Jacob who are helping with that. (Jacob, one of our long-term wwoofers is back on our farm for a time and we are so glad to have him! And Anni comes whenever she can on the weekends to just get a bit of vacation time.)

John had a great idea: plant a tree by Scrubs' grave. But Sidge, ever the practical animal lover, insisted that it needed to be a tree with meaning. JB told him that it was going to be a Mulberry Tree since we had those in Turkey, and he thought that would tie all of our memories of Scrubs and trees together. 

Sidge was quite satisfied with that.

Oh Sidge. He loves so fiercely and fully. He can still tear up when talking about his Dalmatian. He will tear up when petting our Ritter or Arabelle as well. He'll say, "Aren't these guys the best dogs ever. I mean, next to Scrubs that is."

So we went out as a family and planted a tree by Scrubs' grave. I can still get emotional by his grave. I think of him so often, and I also find myself thinking: "It's been awhile since I've thought about him." While he wasn't a person, I imagine the grief travels in some of the same ways it does when you lose anyone in your life. It isn't a straight line. There are times I am fine and then times when I'll surprise myself with a happy or sad memory. Mostly, I don't cry for him anymore. Mostly, we tell funny stories and look back over funny pictures. Hard to believe it's been two and a half years since we said good bye to him here at the Bauernhof.

The thing about Scrubs is that I truly believe he was an angel. Okay, not exactly, but I really believe God breathed life into him just so he could get me through the last year of infertility and into motherhood. I really believe that as soon as he got to the farm he felt like: "I did it. My job is done."

Here are some photos of our time by the grave. Just so happened that the Egg-mobile is close to the grave right now so there was a lot of time with chickens as well.

I love this picture. I love how there's a chicken there totally unaware of a serene moment. It is such an accurate representation of what life on a farm and with a lot of kids is like.

And here's a video I took. I actually told Isaac I was taking a picture so you could hear him just being his serious dry self. You'll also see a cameo from Talula our very favorite Polish chicken.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Life Renovation

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

Decisions, decisions. Our lives are the result of constant decision making, so what governs you? 

Fear? Hope? 

Over the past 5 years specifically, it seems that both of these have had a hand in governing me. As a result I have taken a sledge hammer to my life, demolishing everything that seemed like a solid foundation; the concrete walls, the strong roof, the solid exterior—it’s all gone. The renovation of my life has come and it has definitely uncovered much more than I expected. 

When you’re getting ready to deconstruct something it can be exhilarating or daunting. Very rarely is it emotionless. I am at the start of a deconstruction, whose end is not in sight, and I am settled in that. So let’s talk about what that has looked like for me. 

Metaphorically speaking, my house (my life) was built. I was ready to furnish the inside, pick out the beautiful decor, sit back and enjoy the fruit of my 26 years of labor. My furnishings included a few kids, a great job where I made enough to live generously, a rock star marriage, and an amazing community. A noble desire it was.

When the tools arrived on my front porch, I brought them inside, set them aside, and didn’t think much of them. Then, little by the little, the tools began to be used. A hammer to the wall here, a door off the hinge there, a broken appliance, a water leak, and before I knew it, I was living in a house I didn’t even recognize. Cracked, broken, dirty, and unlivable. But where was I supposed to go? I LIVED IN THIS HOUSE. As far as I knew, I loved this house. And it was everything I wanted, until it wasn’t. 

Over time, the residence of my soul needed to be gutted. These beliefs that I held onto dearly were not proving themselves to be true. Not because they weren’t—rather, because I wasn’t. They were truth because they had been told to me, not because I had experienced them. So began the gutting… And here’s a few of those truths:
  • Just have faith and it will happen. 
  • Give your money here, and you’ll benefit there.
  • Marriage is great. Hahahaha. (This one makes me laugh.) 

Stay with me, here, I am not being cynical. Remember, some of my foundation was built on these truths. And they were truth because “I said so,” and I needed them to be truth because “I experienced so." 

“Just have faith and it will happen,” is easier said than done. I feel like faith gets a bad rep in religious circles. It’s easy to tell someone to have faith when they need encouragement and you don’t know what else to say. But coming from a girl who has sat at the base of a mountain that seems impossible to scale for 10 years, please don’t tell me to have faith, because it implies that I don’t. Instead, tell me that I am strong enough. Tell me that no matter what, this doesn’t define me. Tell me that it neither adds or subtracts from my value. Tell me those things, or stay silent. Experientially, here is why this is a truth to me now: Because having faith is not about scaling the mountain. Whether I sit at the base or make it to the peak, my satisfaction is stable. 

(Side Note: I know money is a touchy subject, so if talking about money makes you uncomfortable you should skip the next paragraph. 🙂 I get it, no big deal!) 

I was raised in church and like everything else, especially non-profits, they need our support. I love that. I love supporting good people who are doing good work, including the church. However, the “give your money here and you will benefit there” concept in recent years has been hard for me to accept, if I am just being honest. So here is where I am at experientially: I feel better when I am generous. I know I am not that great on my own, and I am grateful for all the opportunities I have to make money, so giving a portion of that away is in part my way of saying thank you.

Marriage is great! Haha this is a funny one. Let’s start here: Marriage is great, just not on its own. Here is my experiential truth: Getting to live life with a significant other is seriously a gift. Marriage gives the gift of intimacy. Real closeness. You get to be known in a way that no other relationship can offer. At the same time, you get to be known—good and not so good. Marriage without accountability and community is not great. Isolation in marriage is not great. Facades in marriage are not great. The breakdown of who you really are in proximity to another human who loves and cares for you is great. How you accept love and belonging, which marriage brings out, is great. Marriage - Union - Covenant - Commitment - alone is hard. In the context of community, marriage is great. 

So let’s trek back to this Life Renovation. I say I am only at the beginning because I don’t want this process to stop. I want to continually demo the areas of my life that are moldy, cracked, and the likes thereof. So if you too find yourself in a life renovation, congrats and keep going. If you want to begin to break down the walls and jack hammer the floors, begin to ask yourself the why’s. Why do I believe that? Do I know (experience) it? And lastly, if you have no desire to renovate your life, I get that. It’s not easy. I would simply encourage you to live in a way that is always kind and generous—those are really good foundations to stand on. 

Follow the yes. Wade in the peace. Halt in the no. 


We Bought a Farm: Good morning Gobblers

This is what morning looks like on a farm.
The world is waking up.
There is frost on the ground.
The animals are SO ready to eat.
It's as if it is a brand new day.
Oh ... wait ...

P.S. And speaking of turkeys, we have sold nearly all of them! We "think" we have two more (you never want to sell everything you have since processing day may find some that are not sellable for various reasons.) If you are interested in one of our last two, let us know.

Technology and kiddos

Back in January, I wrote a blog post entitled: "Why my kids won't be on technology in public." 

I have found some additional blog posts which I have really enjoyed that sort of "back up" what I feel about technology.
And some articles discussing how technology can be used appropriately:
I want to make it clear that I do not think kids should not use electronics. My kids definitely use them in limited fashion and appropriately. I had a friend tell me that electronics were "in her tool bag" and I really liked how she put that. It is one tool that you can use for your children, but it shouldn't make up the entirety of their entertainment.

I also wanted to start a separate discussion on the internet  and my children. Here are some articles I am compiling. JB and I have carried things even farther in the time since I wrote this piece. We do not plan on allowing our children access to the Internet unsupervised for quite a number of years (possibly 18). I have heard parents tell me this is extreme. I get that, and I don't disagree. I also know I may not be able to do what I want to do now. I get that too. But for now, that is my plan. I think the stakes are way too high. I understand that kids who are in school are forced to have devices much more often than not. I do not disagree that we are able to do this more because we are homschooling.

    A Halloween Weekend

    On Friday, Aunt Anni came for a visit here on the farm. She was staying from Friday morning until Saturday night so we had lots of time for fun with her. Here she is trying to say hello to the dogs who think she is a big play toy:

    We were supposed to have a "Trunk or Treat" with our homeschool group that evening but bad weather forced it to be cancelled. We therefore decided to dress up with our TF Homeschool group here at the house:

    Sidge as Harry Potter
    Hannah had different costumes she rotated. This was her teacher costume.
    This is Abigail wearing Hannah's costume dress and Isaac's hamburger hat.
    Add caption
    Aunt Hannah as an old woman of some sort
    The three older girls in their costumes with gymnastics moves thrown in: Kari in Chinese-wear, Abigail in Hannah's Ariel costume, and Ana as a shiny girl. :)
    Silly gymnasts
    The boys in costumes.
    Another fun part of our Friday is Anni did a fun Math/Art project with our group. We made "tesselations". It was super fun!!!

    Stay tuned for pictures for Part II of our Halloween weekend.

    Monday, October 29, 2018

    On Belay: Meanwhile

    I am incredibly excited to add a new Blogger to my rotation. I met Shelby Mathis while our husbands were stationed together in the Azores, and she has also come and worked on our farm! She will be posting on Mondays!

    I finished my first running race last weekend. It was a slow 10k, but I crossed the finish line at a dead sprint that would take longer to recover from than the mere seconds I shaved off my time.

    It's not like I had a PR or anything. I'm completely new to running.

    I have always thought I was a terrible runner. I was a strong ballet dancer when I was a young person, but otherwise I've never considered myself "athletic." Volleyball was hard. Basketball was harder. Climbing is hard. Running is harder.

    But I decided along the way that I'd run anyway. Run because I can. Run because it's simple and minimal, all I can handle some days. Run and remind myself of people who can't and wish they could. Run to prevent how sick stress made my body feel last winter and I never want to go back. Run to have the energy for the kind of life I want to live. Run because an hour pounding pavement with headphones in is the best place I have right now to escape from apathy and laziness. 

    It wasn't always this way.

    I've trained for a 5k before and not finished it. That's my baseline. That's where I come from.

    On July 4th this summer, I set out to accomplish a new goal. By the end of October, I wanted to be able to run 10k without stopping. Six miles is a long way for a non-runner. Especially one with a track record of slacking in training and taking walk breaks during low-pressure 5k races. Especially at 5,280' elevation.

    As I got deeper into my training, I began to learn I was never a terrible runner. Turns out, I was terrible at accepting the hard parts of running in exchange for the good. The rewarding stuff is on the other side of perseverance in all things worth doing or being.

    I was running farther, faster, and longer than I ever had in my life. And I'd worked so hard for it this time.

    Three nights a week and the occasional early morning, I could be found with headphones in making perimeter loops around the college campus and adjacent park and reservoir near my house.

    Along the way, you could find me peeling off layers when I got too warm, calling my sister to pass the time (even if she does get annoyed I'm half-panting through the conversation), finding a trash bin to spit my gum and fresh gum's wrapper, fishing chapstick out of my awkward rear end zipper pocket, making to-do lists in my head. Anything to distract me, even if only for a minute.

    Eventually I learned the physical aspect of running gets easier while the real challenge becomes occupying the mind.

    You could say I was bored enough to get to the bottom of some things. Like my to-do list, for example.

    One weekday evening, I was on the most boring stretch of sidewalk sandwiched between a construction site barrier of chain link fence panels and a section of road with traffic. The sidewalk here is uneven, so I have to watch my footing, but otherwise, there's not much to look at, and I'm utterly unaware of my legs turning over and over under me, as if my head sat atop a torso that sat atop a machine that resembled my legs wearing my shoes.

    It's not that I'd conquered running. It truly emptied me. I could handle the miles. What I couldn't handle was the quiet.

    I begin to mentally run through my to-do list for the rest of the evening:
    • invoices
    • dinner plans
    • submit photo assignment
    • go for a run
    I laugh audibly to no one. Really, it's blessing to forget the pain of miles 5 and 6. Because there was a time where miles 2 and 3 were uncharted territory. Impossible.

    I am on a run. And I am mentally so far removed from the work of it that I am found wondering when I'm going on my run today.

    One of the reasons I took up running was to be a good steward of the gift of health I've been given. I can run, so I should.

    I considered having run the worship, but I didn't know until then I'd watch my sheer boredom become the meditation.

    While keeping one eye on the concrete trip hazards and one on my phone, I crafted a new playlist, on the run. Music has always been a portal for me. This one became a compilation of songs that reminded me of someone or some place I could fixate on over the miles.

    From then on, before I left the house, I would pen turn-by-turn directions on my left hand, and a list on my right. Then I'd shuffle through a list of songs that meant someone or someplace to me. When songs didn't trigger a response, my inked hands would. It wasn't my to-do list. It was my to-be list.

    Be a runner.
    Be grateful.
    Be prayerful.

    I'd see it any time I finagled the cap off and back on the chapstick tube. Any time I wiped away the sweat that makes my glasses slip slowly down my nose. Any time I waved thanks to a yielding driver.

    You think you're training for a running race, and God has better ideas for the meanwhile.

    It was race day. I shivered at the start line as it was early and still very cold. I was way under-dressed to be idle, but I knew I'd warm up soon enough.

    As my corral got closer to the start line, I pressed play and entered the zone, the meanwhile.

    A friend and victim of Hurricane Michael.
    A school shooting at the junior high were my church meets.
    A friend's family struggling with their recent adoptions.
    A friend fighting for joy in the midst of horrific illness.
    A friend wrestling and recovering from infertility treatments.
    Another serving her heart out and needing poured into.
    Another losing a best friend to cancer.

    I endured the 10k and I get the medal to prove it. I put my head down and got through the months of training, but they persevered the course with me.

    I think this is the real race.

    Meanwhile, I rise in the morning to achy knees. Ligaments groan and revolt as I warm up to walking. Physiologically, yeah, it's likely the running. 

    But maybe it's the gold medal of meanwhile.

    Climb on,

    I'm Trying

    This is what I am striving to do.

    I'm striving to be purposeful.

    With my time.
    With my friends.
    With my farm.
    With my stuff.
    With my children.
    With my spouse.

    It's a daily challenge. A weekly challenge. A monthly challenge. We must look around and decide what is superfluous. And what is not.

    Sunday, October 28, 2018

    Friday Funnies

    Tuesday Truth

    This actually happened. My two girls, sitting with a seat in-between them, got into a fight over who could put their foot on the middle seat. 

    "But I always sit like this," Hannah said.



    A gym rat grows up

    My senior basketball picture
    I was a gym rat.

    1. gym rat - someone who spends all leisure time playing sports or working out in a gymnasium or health spa. addict, freak, junkie, junky, nut - someone who is so ardently devoted to something that it resembles an addiction; "a golf addict"; "a car nut"; "a bodybuilding freak"; "a news junkie"

    I was a gym rat.

    I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in a gymnasium. While I, of course, could not do an accurate estimate, I have decided, for estimation's sake, to assume I was in a gym at least 250 days of every year.

    (I honestly think this number is low, but I don't want to go to hog wild.)

    This means that out of 9,125 days of the first quarter century of my life, I was in a gym for 6,250 of those days.

    And then it was over.

    The gym of my childhood: Fort Lauderdale Christian
    After being the daughter of a coach and an athletic director, a die-hard volleyball and basketball player throughout all of my middle- and high-school years, playing college basketball, and then coaching for five years, I walked away.

    And have never been back.

    From the time I was 25 until today (I'm 41! Egads!), I have rarely stepped foot in a gymnasium. I stepped away from coaching and teaching when I was in the midst of infertility treatments to pursue a less stressful job that would work better with the myriad of doctor's appointments I was required to attend.

    Then I had kids. Four of them. In five years. (That'll do a little something to your free time. Take it from me.) My husband joined the Air Force. Life took over. And the gym was a thing of the past.

    Yesterday, my family had lunch on a college campus. One of the kids needed to go to the bathroom, and the bathroom was shared with the lobby of the gym.

    The moment I swung open that door, I was transported.

    I cannot explain this to you unless you have experienced it, but I am sure most of us have "that thing" that is so firmly a part of our very DNA that we can't even put it into words. A place or a feeling or a moment that sits so deeply inside of you. Sometimes, you don't even know it is there until it comes welling up at the most unassuming moment.

    Me jump serving in a volleyball game warm-up

    Hanging out in the bleachers with two dear friends: Kelly and Megan
    There is something about a gym that moves me.

    I realized, as I stood there a bit dumbfounded as to how hard the environment had affected me, that I had been transported. In a flash, memories came flying back at me. One after another I remembered. I felt. I thought. I smelled.

    There is something about hearing tennis shoes on the court that feels so familiar to me. The lighting is very distinct. It's a bright light and a yellow light and it glares off of things at spots only an athlete can recognize. The people walking in and out of gyms are dressed a certain way. They move a certain way. They talk a certain way. The sub-culture is real and intense. And the smells ... while sweat factors in, the smell isn't one of sweat that I most remember. It's more one of rubber balls and tennis shoes and concessions that conjures something up within me.

    My junior year final four basketball team
    As I stood there, a bit awe-struck as to how a mere gymnasium lobby could affect me, I watched six-foot volleyball players walk by. How did I know they were volleyball players? Oh you just know. A volleyball player looks and acts and dresses very different than a basketball player. I can spot a coach a mile away, and I can tell you which sport they coach in a mere second.

    The thing was, I had this intense desire to be back in that gym playing and coaching again mingled with the incredible distinction that the life I am living now is actually the life God wants me to be living. During the first twenty-five years of my life, I never stepped on a farm outside of an occasional visit to a great Aunt's home in rural Illinois. I couldn't have told you the difference between a sheep and a goat, and I certainly didn't know anything about moving a paddock or collecting an egg.

    And yet, here I am, so far removed from the sights and sounds and feelings of the life I devoted so much time to.

    I have zero regrets about how I chose to spend my childhood. (My parents never required athletics from me. I did it because I loved it ... it was in me ... I wanted it with every fiber of my being and couldn't imagine doing anything else.)

    But I also have zero regrets about who I am today and where I am now. I would never want to miss a ballet or piano recital. Nor would I return to the real classroom over the one that I have in my own home.

    The memories are so real.

    And despite the fact that I would never want to be anywhere other than my farm, I must admit that there are times, when I am overwhelmed or feeling stressed, that I have purposely pulled a basketball game up on the computer just to listen to it. There is something so familiar and comforting in the life I lived.

    And then I turn it off ... and go and feed the chickens.

    Friday, October 26, 2018

    We Bought a Farm: My Day in poetic farming poetry

    A tactical error.
    Thirty-eighty ewes spread all over the pasture.

    One ram.
    Unhappy with narrow paddock decides to jump it.

    Fifty-four turkeys.
    Want more food.
    Knocked down a fence.
    Ran for it.
    (As fast as turkeys run.)

    One Wendi.
    On the run.
    Recruits gramps.
    Yelling instructions to six children.
    Trying to wrangle animals back home.

    One ram.
    Rammed the farmer's (wife).
    Wife sat down and cried.
    And threw back M&M's.
    Because she isn't drinking soda right now.
    And she doesn't like beer.
    And she wanted to throw back ...

    Thursday, October 25, 2018

    The Giggly Guide of How to Behave (Mind Your Manners)

    This book was HILARIOUS!!!

    Mind your manners! There's more to good manners than just saying "please" and "thank you"! With 44 simple rules on how to behave, and how not to behave, this giggly guidebook shows you exactly what it means to have good manners, and what happens when you don't follow the rules of good behavior... Kids and their parents will giggle their way through this clever and colorful guide on polite behavior, and are sure to want the companion book on how to behave at school, too!

    Here's a video of Hannah on a few of our favorite pages:

    I should make a little note. Some parents who are pretty strict in their humor, may find some of this "borderline." (Fore example, on one page, a hippo has her dress stolen and is standing there in her underwear.) However, we thought it was incredibly well-done, well-illustrated, and just a TON of fun. It will be a favorite in our library for years to come.


    Review: The Book of No Worries

    I recently received the book above as a free book to review. The Book of No Worries was written by Lizzie Cox who was the former editor of popular teen brand 

    I saw that this book was designed for kids ten and up. I therefore thought I'd be the perfect mom to review it as I have a nine and ten-year-old boy in my house. (I also have younger girls but they are five and seven so I knew this wouldn't be for them.)

    Folks, I have never been so appalled by a book in my life. I understand that we need to talk to our kids about tough things. But at ten years old, do you think the following topics should be worries for your child?

    This one was more that they would use the word "sucks." Come on!

    Listen, I don't want to start a raging war here, but this is simply NOT okay, and if you are a parent of a young child, you need be aware that literature like this exists. If this book was targeted toward fifteen and sixteen years old, I would actually not have nearly the issues with it. They have been exposed to things and are creating their own thoughts.

    But to throw things like this at a ten-year-old? it's not only inappropriate but it is wrong to step in right in front of a parent and tell their child things that some people in society preach but MANY families do not believe in.

    For example:

    1. I teach my children that abortion is WRONG. You may not agree with that, but we believe it is wrong. But this books says "hey if you had sex, quickly go to another adult -- not your parent --and they can get you help in making sure that baby doesn't stick around."
    2. While I understand that transgender is a fact of our society, I do not believe that confusing a child who has expressed no issues with their sex with the fact that maybe they do have an issue is simply so overboard. Why can't a kid be a kid? Are we seriously needing to tell them about this at TEN?!
    3. Honestly, I could go on and on, but I will just let the pictures above speak for themselves. Please understand me, I get that there are things going on in society. I get that we need to be there for our kids and they might end up growing up differently than we did or we planned. But that doesn't mean that parents want their young children doused in this from such a young age.
    The woman who wrote this is not a doctor. She is a journalist. She is sharing things that are absolutely her opinion and are clearly meant to brainwash children into thinking like she does. 

    My kids are farm kids. They probably understand sex better than most kids their age simply because they watch it on the farm all the time. My nine-year-old asks more questions than you can believe. But these are things that are NOT on their mind yet.

    And this is NOT because I homeschool. I have plenty of friends with kids in public and private schools that concur with this sentiment. We are dousing our kids in sexuality way too early.