Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: Learning Dynamics

We have three young emerging readers in our homeschool community. We decided to try Learning Dynamics and their Learning Dynamics Reading Program with the two oldest of these kiddos.

In the video above, you can hear all about this fantastic program which comes with strong accolades from both my cousin Hannah and myself.
Please take a moment to check out the reviews from my fellow crew members by clicking on the link below: 

Learning Dynamics Reading Program  {Learning Dynamics Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ballet Intensive Week #1

This past week we had week #1 of ballet camps for Abigail. She'll do one more week next week as well. She and her friend Sarai are the youngest at the camp, and it is incredibly challenging for her. But she loves it, and I so enjoy getting to watch her dance. 

Her cousin Gabe helped with some basic partnering skills this week that they did. That was really fun as well!

Here are a few videos from camp. I never would have dreamed of being a ballet mom. And I especially wouldn't have dreamed that I would love it. 

But I do.


We Bought a Farm: Eating from our land

"His love of food was part of what eventually led him to farming. The only way he'd be able to afford the quality of food he craved, he said, was to become a banker or grow it himself, and he couldn't sit still long enough to be a banker." Kristin Kimbally

The whole point of this farm was to raise food that we could eat. Food raised the way we thought it should be raised. I love this farm. I love our food. 

And I love that I married a man who can cook. 

Tonight he made a meal for us and these ingredients came from right outside our door:

Heritage Pork Tenderloins
Homemade Chicken Stock
Homemade Turkey Stock
Swiss Chard
Bush Cherries
Clove Currants
Lemon Squash
Pattypan Squash
Music Garlic
Red French Shallots
Genoese Basil
Lemon Thyme


Friday, June 28, 2019

God Believes You Are a Capable Mother

Flashback: I’m twenty-one and in my first semester of teaching high school English. I show my mentor teacher my senior English roster, and she scrunches up her nose and takes a deep breath before telling me this is the most incomprehensible combination of students she’s ever seen. “If I had to pick twenty of the most difficult seniors from the two hundred or so we have at this school,” she said, “you’d have them all in this one room.”


These students were single moms and dads, drug addicts, criminals, and drop-outs who were returning to give education one more chance, and I was only a year or two older than many of them. But I came up with a plan:

To read the rest of my post, please jump over to THE GLORIOUS TABLE. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

We Bought a Farm: An Introduction to Chiggers

I'll be honest. Maybe it's the country-way the word rolls off the tongue. But for some reason I sort of always believed that chiggers were sort of a made up thing. 

I mean, I never formally thought about it. But I'd never had them. You couldn't see the bugs. I'd never seen the product of what the bug did either. So maybe I figured, it's just one of these words country-folks say that really isn't a word at all. 

(Like when they use "whelp" to indicate a red mark on their leg when they mean "welt" or when they call a bedroom "suite" a "suit." Those are my two top-level frustrations.)

But I was wrong. About the chiggers at least. They are real. VERY REAL.

Isaac got a nasty case of them after blackberry picking with his cousin Ana. She got a nasty case too. Frustrates me so much because Isaac, by nature, doesn't always embrace the outdoors. And yet the things he loves (like picking berries) always seem to conspire against him. Why can't the darned bugs just leave us all alone and let us enjoy God's beautiful Earth!?!?

These little invisible creatures climb under your clothes. In Isaac's case, they bit him all over where boxer shorts would cover. Poor little guy. Ana, too, got hammered!

Chiggers. Real word. Nasty bug. Them and ticks. In heaven, I'm gonna ask God why he made them. And roaches. Those too,

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

We Bought a Farm: More from the Dirty Life

“It’s never the way you think it’ll be .... not as perfect as you hope or as scary as you fear. A man we know bought up a big piece of good land nearby, a second home, and once, at a dinner, I heard him say, ‘In my retirement, I just want to be a simple farmer. I want ... tranquility.’ What you really want is a garden, I thought to myself. A very, very small one. In my experience, tranquil and simple are two things farming is not. Nor is it lucrative, stable, safe, or easy. Sometimes the work is enough to make you weep. But most days I wake up grateful that I found it — tripped over it, really — and that I’m married to someone who feels the same way.” — The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball 

Man this book. This gal writes out all of my emotions about this life we live so perfectly. 

Review: Matific Galaxy

Matific Galaxy is an award-winning fun and engaging online learning program which features fun online math games for your child. It is for grades K-6, and it is perfect for homeschooling and to support learning in the classroom. You can access it through any desktop, iOS, or Android smartphones and tablets. It is a self-guided learning journey, where children can learn and explore on their own. 

You can read more about them here:
I also encourage you to read the reviews from my fellow crew members by clicking below:

Grow Your Math Skills with Matific Galaxy {Matific Galaxy Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Isaac took these pics at church last Sunday in their "photo booth." I love that they got him to take photos. (He's usually not into those.) And that they managed to capture him. These pics are so Isaac. I love him so much. I love being his mom. I can't imagine my life without him. I can't even fathom that we waited ten years to be HIS mother. He's such a cool kid. Love him to pieces.

Monday, June 24, 2019

We Bought a Farm: Year 2 Ballet-cation

This book. Mannnnnn .... I keep thinking “Why do I need to write a book about our farm? This lady has done it for me.”

Another truth: I love to read. But I rarely read a book twice. 

This is the second time thru this book for me. Armed with a highlighter, I am capturing all the times this book says exactly what is on my heart. 

Like this paragraph: 

“I had come to the farm with the unarticulated belief that concrete things were for dumb people and abstract things were for smart people. I thought the physical world — the trades — was the place you ended up if you weren’t bright enough or ambitious enough to handle a white-collar job. Did I really think that a person with a genius for fixing engines, or for building, or for husbanding cows, was less brilliant than a person who writes ad copy or interprets the law? Apparently I did, though it amazes me now.”

Or this one:

“I thought about how the devil is supposed to have a cloven foot, just like the pig.”

Or another: 

“In one week, two people knocked on the door of our rental house bearing actual welcome baskets, and three others came by to invite us to the Tuesday-night potluck at St. John’s Episcopal Church. I didn’t know what to make of such friendliness. In the city, the only reason neighbors knocked on your door was to complain about the noise you were making. It occurred to me that there is more distance between rural and the urban in the same county — the same state! — then there is beteeen cities on different continents. I would have felt more at home in Istanbul, Rome, or Yangon. Here, I was a true foreigner, making it up ad I went along.”

(Oh and I have written about The Dirty Life on my blog previously where I included a whole lot of other quotes. 

I can’t say enough about this book. I want every friend I have to read it so they can hear my heart clearly. 

Okay but why am I reading in the middle of the day? It’s ballet-cation time! Abigail is taking two weeks of ballet intensives. The first week is 3.5 hours a day. Week two is 6 hours a day. I bring a camping chair, a cooler, some books, fun food, and I put my feet up and I chill out!! 

(Of course it takes a ton of planning to have all other kids and farm covered, but it’s worth it!!)

Here’s a quick video from her at her camp with Nanako Yamamoto with the American Repiratory Ballet. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

We Bought a Farm

I forget who I am and that it is not the way the world is sometimes. As I pulled into a gas station to use the bathroom, the looks I got were quite interesting — even out here in rural Tennessee. 

“What kind of animal is that?” I was asked repeatedly. 

“A ram.”

Their faces would still look confused. 

“That means a boy sheep,” I would say. 

They’d ask why were traveling, and I’d try to explain why you can’t keep the same Daddy ram on your farm forever. I kept it short and sweet because they looked confused almost as soon as I started speaking. 

Five years ago did I know the answers to those questions? 

Five years ago had I ever driven a truck? Had I ever sold a four-legged animal? 

To answer another popular question: “Yes, it is sad to say good bye to animals.” However, it is also simply a fact on a farm. They have roles. You try to know those roles and prepare yourselves for them from the beginning. 

There is a hierarchy to life on a farm. 

1. Humans 
2. Dogs 
3. Sheep (and these are layered by popularity too!)
4. Geese 
5. Laying chickens 
6. Ducks
7. Other poultry 

The farther up the line you go, the harder a good bye is .... the more money and time you are willing to spend on that animal should one get sick or need to be sold. 

That’s farming. 

Captain came to us about two years ago. He was the Daddy ram for one full season on the farm and got to bat back-up for another. But we can’t keep him breeding his daughters and granddaughters so a new farm is going to take him and love him. We will add a new ram in the fall as well. 

A ram has a fantastic life as long as he doesn’t screw it up by getting overly aggressive with his handlers. Just mate the ladies and ear your grass and you are golden. Captain has done just that wonderfully. 

“Cap” did a great job. 

Onto green pastures. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Puppies Update

We now have three of our doggies sold and one "probably" sold. So half sold within the first week! I had about that many "interested" before they were born. But you never know who will back out or make the jump. A puppy is not a little choice. 

Right now, Arabelle is still with the puppies nearly non-stop nursing and keeping them warm. They are still little blobs of fluff with no real distinctions in their personality. 

We look forward to spending the next eight weeks help preparing them for their forever families!!


Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday Funnies

"I don’t go anywhere without my secret service detail. They may look small, but don’t underestimate them... especially that one with the cornrows... she’ll spring on you like a spider monkey." -- John Kitsteiner

Thursday, June 20, 2019

21 years

Today is our 21st anniversary. I asked JB not to buy me flowers but to collect flowers that were growing ON our farm. This is what he brought me (with the help of Abigail.) Aren't they great?

We actually went out to dinner on the evening before our anniversary. Anni was at the farm and could watch the kids so it was a good opportunity to get away.

Twenty-one years ago today we were married in Bowling Green, Kentucky by our Pastor: Mike Wilson. I've been keeping track of our anniversaries ever since I started this Blog back in 2005. Here are the past posts:

Puppies, puppies everywhere!!

Arabelle had her puppies yesterday. She had nine. They all appeared to be doing well, but this morning when we took them to the vet, we noticed we had lost one. So eight awesome pups. Vet says this just happens sometimes. Sort of "nature's way." But we were still sad. In the end though we have:
  • 2 girl black tri: these will look like Arabelle!
  • 2 boy red merle: these will look like Ritter!
  • 2 boy blue merle: these will be beautiful just like Finn from the last litter. 
  • 2 girl liver/red-tri: these will look like Meli or Ruby from last litter. 
If you are interested a puppy, let me know! Don't worry about where you live. We can always seem to work that out. :)

We Bought a Farm: Tools!

I never thought a TOOL could excite me so much. One "little thing" can make work on the farm soooo much easier. We purchased this cart to pull behind the four-wheeler. This means we can load up many bales of hay to go to the garden. The garden is inaccessible via truck so usually we have to walk things down with a wheelbarrow. This would mean that seven bales of hay would take SEVEN trips. This time we were able to carry seven bales at one time!

I was giddy as Jacob and I used it for the first time. Who knew a four-wheeler cart could make me this happy,


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Fun Hairdo

Our friend Anni braided the girls' hair. We left Hannah's in for a week, and this was what she was left with. We loved it!!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tuesday Truth

"“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

We Bought a Farm: Making Pesto

While I still don't understand gardening much at all, and I'm still fairly lame in the kitchen, I love the challenge of trying to use everything that comes off of our land positively.

We had to harvest a TON of basil this morning. It had gone a little too far and needed to be thinned. Jacob taught me and the kids how to: 

  1. Harvest the basil
  2. Wash the basil
  3. Sort the basil
JB happened to be in town so he grabbed the ingredients to make pesto. Then Jacob took over and made pesto. He turned it into a delicious pesto pizza that was truly some of the best homemade pizza I have ever had.

I love eating our own stuff and learning how to do it!!!


Monday, June 17, 2019

We Bought a Farm: Waiting for Puppies

Ritter giving Anni some levin' while she braids Abigail's hair and Arabelle waits nearby. 

We are anxiously awaiting for the arrival of Arabelle's puppies. She is due anytime now. We officially put the due date on June 20th. We'll keep you posted. And if you are interested in a pure bread Australian Shepherd, we still have a few for sale!!!


Sunday, June 16, 2019

We Bought a Farm: A Barrel of Fun

I put Anni and the girls in charge of cleaning out grain barrels today. I am not sure if they got any work done at all, but they sure had a "barrel of fun."

That pun is in honor of my father on Father's Day today. 

And to my husband who had to sleep all day to prepare to work tonight, thanks for being the best daddy farmer we ever did have. I love you JB,


Saturday, June 15, 2019

We Bought a Farm: In Full Swing

There is an ebb and a flow to farming. A slow time. With short days. And the longer summer days that seem to go on forever. 

Winter can be slow. 

Summer never is. 

We currently have about eighty little turkeys growing in our brooder. We had quite a hard time with them the first week and lost twenty. They seemed to be dying from seemingly unknown reasons. We did a lot of research and attributed it to a "flip-over" disease that just seems to affect some turkeys. But losing twenty just takes the wind out of your sails. 

My girls have been very into the show Little House on the Prairie. I kept thinking about the time the hail destroyed their wheat crop. Pa got so upset he was just going to up and move and start over somewhere else. He felt beaten down. We aren't reliant on our farm for our livelihood like Pa and Ma and their three girls. And yet, man ... loss just really gets you. Especially when you can't fix it. 

The life of a farmer is so dependent on things completely out of his/her control.

We need rain. But not too much. We need sun. But not too much. We need cold. But not too much. We need predators to not find our farm. We need the electric fencing to be firing. We need the animals to survive and thrive. But too many births and we will have to sell some of the animals because we don't have enough space to carry them. It's such a delicate balancing act. Constantly.

Never in my life did I find myself checking the weather so often. It hasn't rained in six days. Now it's raining. Now it's raining too much. Stop raining. 

In fact, the first night we had the turkeys, we forgot to check the weather. At six p.m. we checked on the turkeys. Then Jacob and John and I came in the house to relax and have dinner. When we went back out at 9:30pm we all looked at each other with panic spread on each of our faces. When did it get so cold. We ran to the turkeys. The weather had dropped from 91 to 65 in just a few hours. They were freezing! Another hour or two and half would have been dead. We went into panic mode. Setting up extra heaters. Racing around. Even sitting in the brooder to keep them from piling on top of each other.

(Turkeys have a death wish if you didn't know that.)

It isn't just the turkeys keeping us busy. We have sixteen new baby guinea fowl in their own little brooder now. The garden is thriving (and failing.) Some things make it. Some things don't. We are eating what comes out. Salads for days in a row. Then no greens for a few days and cabbage galore.

It's the nature of life. Of farming. So many beautiful moments. And many hard ones too. I'm learning to ride the waves and trying to be affected less by the highs and the lows. 

It's a beautiful life. 

And a hard one. 

P.S. I stumbled upon this article posted by an old friend on Facebook the other day. (Thanks Gil!) I've realized that even those this is life is hard, I think the gift we are giving to our children is worth every piece of difficulty.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

21 Pilots Concert

Our family of six drove to Charlotte yesterday for a 21 Pilots concert. I stayed at the hotel with little Hannah. But JB and the oldest three went to the concert a few blocks away from the hotel. They had a BLAST and didn't return to the hotel until 11pm!

Hannah and I had a good time too. We stopped at Amelie's French Bakery & Cafe' to pick up some fun dessert, and then we watched the movie Bedtime Stories (with Adam Sandler). It's on Netflix and was mostly clean and just a lot of fun. We both had a good time watching it.

We stopped at our friends: The Kramers on the way to the concert. She recommended I stop at this bakery which was right by our hotel. So I did!
Hannah got a chocolate eclair with chocolate filling. I got a chocolate mousse with a chocolate strawberry and chocolate container to eat too!
One of the things I love about living where we do is how quickly we can get to big cities to do things that are a bit more "suburban" than we are. Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Asheville, Knoxville -- all super close to us. It's really great!

And we had a GREAT time as a family. It was a quick 24-hours trip, but it's always good to get away and regroup together. As I mentioned above, we stopped at the Kramer home -- they live about an hour from Charlotte. We were bringing them lamb meat, and we had so much fun meeting their new puppy and touring the amazing 100+ year old home they are renovating.

We also got to see a "coffin piano" for the first time. These are very unusual and weren't made for very long. They also didn't have the best sound. However, they've had it restored, and Isaac jumped on for a quick song: