Sunday, March 31, 2019

We Bought a Farm: 266 Trees

"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." Warren Buffett

Today we got out and planted 266 trees! Our friend Anni happened upon a guy giving away hundreds of trees, and she snagged 700 of them for us. Woah! Today, we got about one-third of those in the ground. They included:
  • Pecan
  • White oak
  • Red oak
  • Shag bark hickory
  • Chinquapin oak
  • Black gym
  • Swamp chestnut

We had our friend Anni there, Jacob, some of the Kotynski family, and our friend Jessica and her daughter Bailee. Bailee dances with Abigail. While planting, the kids happened upon a bunch of toads that were hopping through the creek.They were all "double toads" which I guess means it is mating season. Here is Eoin "Owen" showing me two and telling me, "They're mating." I replied, "Currently?" And he confirmed that yes, it was current. 

This picture below makes me laugh so hard. Jessica put this on her Facebook wall with her daughter, Bailee, Abigail, and Eoin. Can you guess which kid hasn't grown up on a farm? Bailee was in the photo but kept her hands deep in her pockets. This really made me smile!

Here's Hannah being all crabby about having to plant trees:

These two guys were champs! They probably planted about 150 trees themselves:

Here's all 700 trees laid out and ready to go:

This picture is a little lopsided, but it shows Anni and Jacob and Gabe and our trees and the little run by the creek we were planting on each side of. 


Saturday, March 30, 2019

The gifts of our children

"Every child is a different kind of flower. All together they make this world a beautiful garden." 

Hannah Joy Pomegranate
Hannah is now reading. My parents sent her a card so she could read it all by herself. She was so proud! It was actually one of the first things she said to me when she started reading: "If someone sends something in the mail to me, I can read it by myself!" Hannah is still little and I can't tell exactly where God is taking her, but my prayer is that she uses her zest and personality and love of life to make others feel the love of Jesus everyday. 

Abigail Grace
Abigail is going to be competing in ballet this year -- her teacher has never let a seven-year-old do it before so we are super proud of her. She's doing a solo to Jamie Grace's Beautiful Day and will also be competing in a trio where she will be the evil villain Poison Ivy. We simply can't help but smile when we watch her body work so well for her. We really believe that her gift lies in MOVEMENT and we look forward to watching the Lord lead her to bring honor to him through her athleticism, strength, and like her middle name ... GRACE.

Elijah Luke (aka "Sidge")
Sidge is our "passionate" child. He is like his mom in that things are either AMAZING or HORRIBLE. He loves nature and animals and lately, he's become obsessed with obstacle courses. His body is getting sooooo strong as he gets better and better at pushing himself to new limits. He is going to be a big man, and we pray this his heart is as strong as his body.

Isaac John
 To see this young man speak music as a first language is simply something I can't even put into words. I could listen to him play all day long. We are continually asking the Lord to give him a selfless heart that wants to bring joy to others through his gifts -- especially his gift of music.

Friday, March 29, 2019

We Bought a Farm: A Nap in the Sun

"I want treats, cuddles, naps, & exercise. I'm basically a puppy." 

I'm going on close to two weeks here of just not feeling up-to-snuff. When I ask JB what I have, he says: "A virus." When I ask him it's normal to still feel this crummy after almost two weeks he says, "Yep. It's normal." He isn't concerned. So I am not concerned right now. I haven't had a cold. I haven't had a fever. I've simply not had the "umph" that I usually have. I liken it to operating at 50% most of the time. I'm sleeping a lot, waking up later, and going to bed earlier and just hoping that tomorrow I will start to feel better.

Our friend Cali came over to visit on Thursday. It was an amazing spring day here. Right under 70 degrees with the sun shining and wind just slightly blowing. We spent nearly the entire day outside. Cali simply loves the animals here and she especially fell for one particular chicken (that Mr. Jacob and Sidge helped put a pink marker on so she can remember which one is her's.)

I took the opportunity to just lay in the grass and relax. Abigail got a hold of my camera and took some photos. I absolutely love this weather and love being outside of my home listening to nothing but the sound of animals rustling in the grass. 

I know that I can never live anywere else. I am home. Even if I don't feel good.

You can't read my shirt in this picture but it says: "I'm silently correctly your grammar."


Thursday, March 28, 2019

We Bought a Farm: Wrangling Ducks

"If your woman picks your ducks and she cooks and carries her Bible ... now there's the complete package of womanhood." Phil Robertson

I am not sure if anything can provide more joy and frustration all rolled up into one on a farm than animals. They bring us so much happiness and are so much fun to watch and be around. We try to only have animals here that are peaceful and safe. We give them tons of sunlight and green grass and water. In exchange, could they just stay where they are supposed to be?

Last night. 8pm. Me. Arabelle. Trying to get chickens back in their fencing:

This morning. 8am. The saga continues:

I'll keep you posted on the ducks and whether we can figure out a way to keep them in. We are pretty positive they have "learned" how to nose the fencing up and slide out under it. I've tried putting in extra stakes to prevent this. But I'm not sure if they have gotten too savvy for even my best intentions,


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Ninja Time!!!!!!

"Just like reading and writing, children have to learn to move! Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood."

First it was Ultimate Beastmaster. Then the kids moved on to America Ninja Warrior

For his birthday in January, Sidge's "gift" was that we work on expanding a Ninja course in our front yard. Grampa and JB have been helping. Grampa did the "floating steps" a few months ago. But this week, JB completed a fantastic upper body section.

Here are some pictures (and a video) of the completed product:

This brings my heart such incredible joy for numerous reasons. The first is that just being outside, being active, is so very important to me. Other than Abigail in dance, my other kiddos haven't expressed a clear love for a certain activity -- but this let's them get outside and stay active right at home. (Sidge currently seems most impressed with karate and Isaac with tennis.)

The other reason I am super happy is Isaac. Isaac's "heart" is in sedentary activities like piano and reading and legos and Hotwheels. These are great activities, but they don't keep his body healthy. While my other three kids will go on jaunts into the woods and around the farm, Isaac isn't as likely to do that. But he LOVES LOVES LOVES the Ninja course!!!!

I am also excited that this will be something other kids can come here and visit and play with this as well. It's community for children, and I love it.

In general, we aren't a fan of television in our home. But if you want something to inspire your children, try these two fantastic shows. (Both have limited amounts available on Netflix.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Baby Girl

"A true friend leaves paw prints on your heart."

Our Dear Ritter. If you leave a stuffed animal where he can reach it, he will pick it up and bring it to his dog bed. If given long enough, he will begin chewing it and eventually, you will no longer have a stuffed animal.

This could have been the story of Abigail's "Baby Girl" except we found her halfway through her Ritter-chewing. Kari was there, and as Abigail cried, Kari, who is incredibly artistic and "handy" with sewing, told Abigail she would fix "Baby Girl." 

A week later, and here she is. With a little help from Kari's mom (our Aunt Hannah) and she's truly as good as new. I told Abigail that while she has some patches, we will always look at her and remember Ritter -- long after he is gone. The patches have actually created a stuffed animal that will be very difficult to get rid of.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Doing some girl hair

"She's the exclamation mark in the happiest sentence I would ever write."

Yesterday was a fun day. JB was off of work on a Sunday which is always exciting for us. We went to church together, lunch, and then went and saw "Broadway on Greeneville" where four gals we knew were performing with world-famous Broadway stars.

Hannah wanted to have a "very curly pony tail." She wanted the hair high enough that she could see it in the mirror. Abigail, as is often the case, doesn't have nearly the opinions of Hannah as to what she wants, but she is often very specific in what she doesn't want.

I say it often, but it's because it is so very true. Infertility robbed me of my dreams of having children. I quit dreaming of whether I would have boys or girls or how many children I would have. I just wanted to get to be a mom one time.

And somehow -- I have four. Two of each. And two beautiful girls that melt my heart regularly.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

We Bought a Farm: Breakin' Even

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield."Dwight D. Eisenhower

I've learned that farming isn't all neat and tidy with a bow on it. Farms that look like a million dollars probably cost a million dollars and aren't making a single penny. The real farms are ones where real stuff is happening. There are buckets outside. There is wood piled up. Sure, you can work hard to make sure it isn't junky. But in the end, it's truly all about what needs to get done. Sometimes you have wood chips in your hair. Sometimes you are working way longer than you planned. Sometimes you hit the bed at night thinking you've never been more tired in your life.

We got some great news as we prepared our taxes this year. Our little family farm almost broke even. That was our first goal when we bought this place. We just wanted to break even financially. We wanted to eat our meat and vegetables and fruits for free. And we are close. Thank you to all of you who have bought the eggs and meat we have worked so hard for and served them at your own table. You allow us to keep this dream a reality.

I realize how much my kids are farm kids when I see other kids come to our farm, and my kids take teaching them the ropes in such easy strides. My kiddos, they are farm kids now. While they weren't necessarily born with it, they have it in them now. They know how to get the job done even if they don't really feel like doing it sometimes.

I'm so proud to raise children this way. It brings JB and I such joy to see our kids so comfortable with dirt and animals and nature. It's our life now, and I love it,


We Bought a Farm: Sheep in Spring

JB hasn't been doing as good a job doing daily videos as he once did, so I have decided to try and take over. Here is a video on our sheep. You can learn a lot about what we do by watching this so have fun!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

We Bought a Farm: Are Eggs Bad for You?

There's been an article floating around in regards to a new article in JAMA saying that eggs are bad for you ... again. Seems they are always going back and forth on this topic.

Here's a discussion of the article.

I asked John to respond, and here's what he says. And I quote. "The research is definitely not compelling enough to change my diet.

Also, one huge thing (for me) that was not addressed at all... what kind of eggs were people eating?

Mass-produced chicken eggs are COMPLETELY different than our organic-fed, pasture-raised laying hens that get sunshine, fresh air, bugs, grass, and freedom."

The one thing I will BEG of you ... stop buying mass-produced eggs like the ones shown in the picture above. There is no excuse for it. BUY GOOD EGGS! Find a farmer who does it. Trust me, they are out there. Get eggs done right!!!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Parenting isn't for sissies

 "Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do." Matt Walsh 

Abigail stretching in her age-appropriate class on Mondays.
There are parenthood moments that work you over. 

Abigail has been taking a ballet class on Tuesdays with much older kids for about half a year. She made the decision after an invitation from the ballet director, Lori Ann, to participate in this class and she has been thoroughly enjoying it.

There is one young girl, Sophie, who has been there every single week. She's probably the closest to Abigail in age and while all the older girls are wonderful to her, Sophie is Abigail's security blanket in the class.

I didn't realize how much though until last night.

Last night, Sophie wasn't there.

And Abigail LOST it.

She was sobbing. Hyperventilating. I considered just letting her go home, but I instantly knew that I couldn't do this. Abigail has come so far with her shyness and introverted self. I knew that if I let her "quit" because of this change, it would happen again. 

We had to get through it.

So after about 15-20 minutes of her sobbing, and me trying to get her to calm down, and her going back out, but then someone seeing her crying and asking her about it which would send her into crying again, Lori Ann, the ballet director, stepped in. I told her what was going on, and she said she agreed with my decision not to let Abigail out of class. 

When Abigail could not calm herself down, I decided to hand her over to LoriAnn and simply leave the studio.

I stood downstairs just crying and pacing. It is so incredible how much your heart walks around outside of your body when you are a parent. You love these little people so much, but you know that tough love is part of that love.

Abigail ended up succeeding in the class. She made it through the rest of the class. When I came in at the very end, she looked like nothing had even gone wrong. LoriAnn told me later that she paired her with Elizabeth Bosse who Abigail knows well, and purposefully did combinations that Abigail would feel success with.

It was truly one of my hardest parenting nights I've ever had. But truly one of the most rewarding. I'm so appreciative of another quality adult (Lori Ann) who had my back. I'm proud of myself for sticking to my guns. And I'm proud of Abigail. She's come soooo far. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Meet Esther

“I’ve named my new pet shark, Esther.”
“Oh that’s a great name for her.”
“Esther is a boy.”

And yes she knows Esther is a good name. It’s the same reason she named her favorite tiger “garbage can.” 

Because she’s Hannah.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Review: Drive Thru History®

Arabelle showing off the cool case that this program arrives in!
My love for Drive Thru History® is no secret. It is truly one of my very items in my homeschooling arsenal. This time I had the opportunity to review Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation". 

The program arrived at my house in a really neat little "case" complete with 3 DVD's and a full-color Study Guide. Here are a few snapshots of what came in the mail to my house:

My niece, Ana (who is in 6th grade) working on her Study Guide questions. (I simply copied them from the book for the kids to do them.)
This package includes 18 episodes and over nine hours of content for right around $90. This may seem like a lot until you realize it is actually $5 an episode with the questions built right in. Not bad for a full day's history lesson.

Host Dave Stotts is incredibly engaging and super funny too. In fact, my kids will often be found repeating some line he used in an episode. (Their favorite is when he talked about wishing his high school PE teacher had used a Roman mile instead of a "normal" mile because it was shorter. If the mile wouldn't have been so long, Dave may not have had to listen to all kinds of name-calling. He then went through a bunch of names he was called, the funniest one being "Cheesecake McJiggle Shorts.")

I truly couldn't come up with a bad thing to say about this program if I tried, and we have watched many other sections of the curriculum since I reviewed for them last year. (As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I have reviewed for Drive Thru History® before. You can read my review from last year by clicking here.) There are four main sections of curriculum available for purchase. Here are the four. (I'll get to how to buy them later in the review.)
  • Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation"
  • Bible History: 18-week trip through Israel, exploring the life of Jesus as covered in the Gospels.
  • American History: 12-week trip through early American history, from Columbus to the Consitution
  • Ancient History: 12-week trip through the empires of Greece, Rome, and Asia Minor
A few notes:
  1. The course curriculum is designed for ages 12 and above. This means that the information in the Study Guide is for kids in middle and high school. I think this is accurate. I tried it with my ten-year-olds, and it was a little too difficult. However, if I went through the questions with them, they could totally follow and answer.
  2. The videos themselves have an age of 5 and up on them. I have let Hannah (age 5) watch them. She can focus for a little bit, but usually doesn't make it through a whole episode. Abigail (age 7) always joins in however. 
  3. One important note is that this program is most definitely taught with a Christian perspective. There are some curriculums that are overlapping, however, this is not one of them. If you are not a Christian and not raising your child with a Christian-world-view, then this is just not the program for you as you can see from Dave's note on the website:

Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation"focuses on the events that sparked the dramatic spread of the Gospel in the first century. Stotts is exploring the lives of the very first Christians. He begins in Jerusalem and then sees the Book of Acts as his roadmap, traveling the Mediterranean region to share the people, places, and events that launched the Christian faith.

Episodes include:

Now, here is why this program was especially exciting for us. We lived in Turkey for two years. Numerous times, Dave was in a location that we have been. Check it out:
See Isaac here at the Mosiac museum? This museum is a grouping over 300 mosaic floors created around the 3rd century AD and discovered around 1932. Most are housed in Antioch/Antakya.
Now check out Dave Stotts in the same spot that Isaac is in in the museum! (I stole this screen shot from the video.)
I stole this one from the video as well. This is the Church of Saint Peter. Check out the shapes above the door!
John took this picture. Check it out. That's from the inside of the Church! We visited there as well.
Here is the video that I took of us watching this section. It was seriously SO exciting to see somewhere I've been like this in a video:

Check out my friend Becky by St. Paul's Well in Tarsus (one of my very favorite cities to go to!) And then, watch the video below of Dave standing in the same spot!

I could go on and on with my love of this program. Please take them up on the 7-day free trial. (And this is a REAL free trial. No credit cards! Honest!)

Please check Drive Thru History® out on:

Want to watch an episode for yourself? You can do that totally for free by clicking on the following link: Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation".  and entering your email address.

So how do you purchase this? Well, you actually have four choices:
  • JUST THIS PROGRAM: For $89.99 you can receive this DVD set of
    Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation".
  • FREE: Free 7-day trial of the 3 Curriculum Courses (Bible, American, and Ancient History). NO CREDIT CARD REQUIRED TO TRY!
  •  MONTHLY: for $12.99 a month you get access to the three courses (Bible, American, and Ancient History) as well as free month-to-month subscription rites to "Adventures TV" which provides access to full epsidoes and new weekly content, special, and behind the scenes.
  • YEARLY: For $124.99 a year you get access to the three courses, the "Adventure TV" and you receive the DVD set of Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation". 
I'll be very honest with you. (And you can email or message me directly and discuss with me if you'd like.) If I hadn't received free copies for reviewing, there is no question that I would buy the YEARLY curriculum and just get everything. It will be your entire curriculum for at least a year. It's fantastic. You will not regret this purchase. Ever. It's amazing.

Don't believe me? Click the link below and read some reviews from others who will definitely concur with me!

Drive Thru History®

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