Sunday, March 29, 2020

Facing a Pandemic Together


Nearly no one alive today remembers ever facing anything like we are facing now. 

A pandemic.

There are so many things I could say. But they are all things everyone else is saying too. Unlike so many events in the four decades of my life, this event is shared by everyone

I have faced moved and hurricanes and infertility and things that I wanted to explain to people. 

But this one? 

This thing I do not need to explain.

Because we are all living it ... together.

So together, we go on, and we face the unknown. Our Isaac has a fever and a cough right now and it has us concerned. John's job, has us concerned. 

For others: the lack of a job has them concerned. The loneliness of life has them concerned. The inability to completely quarantine because you have to go to work. How to school your kids.

We all have concerns centering on the same theme.

One of the things interesting me the most right now is that this life we have chosen to live: homesteading and homeschooling ... suddenly it makes more sense to people. I've also felt we were on the fringe. I think the fridge may be shifting to the mainstream.

Either way, we will travel it as a country and a world and a community and a city and a family ...


Friday, March 27, 2020

The Glorious Table: Are You Living by the Peter Principle?

Are You Living by the Peter Principle?

The Peter Principle is a concept which asserts that people will rise to their greatest level of incompetence.
My husband, who was in the military for seven years, has seen this demonstrated often. It is a common occurrence within hierarchical organizations. An employee continues to be promoted because of their success at past jobs. Promotion keeps occurring until, ultimately, they find themselves at a level they just aren’t good at. Once they reach incompetence, the promotions stop, but they are allowed to remain incompetent one level beyond where they would be successful.
An example: I was a high school basketball coach. I coached freshmen. Then I coached junior varsity. Then the head coach left, and I was expected to take the job.
Only I didn’t want it.
Actually, I refused to take it.
To read the rest of this article, click here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What he looks like

JB has a day off yesterday. He’s worked 10 of 12 days (12-hour shifts). We tried to jam in as many things as we could during that day. John moved from one kid to another doing something they’d enjoy. The girls wanted to go for a drive so they rolled down the car windows and just drove around our country town. 

During dinner we ate outside. How nice to finally get good weather. A quarantine with stinky weather ... has stunk. While eating dinner together, the kids started asking question about COVID19. John did a lot of explaining. He also told the kids he would take a picture the next day to show them what he wears to keep him and us safe. 

This is the picture he sent me today. This is my husband. I pray for him continually. Praying he can continue to take care of the people of this community and that things don’t get out of control. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


My eleven-year-old son Elijah (also known as "Sidge") has fallen in LOVE with photography and birding! It is SO fun to see. What is even more fun is that JB says this is something he WISHES he could have done when he was a kid but living in the city, he couldn't do it. Here, he can go out ANYTIME.

We had a conversation about whether he could go out BEFORE I woke up. He decided to prepare a note the night before about whether he was out birding when I woke up. Here is the note and the Facebook post that goes with it.

I love that during such a trying time, we are blessed with over 100 acres to just BE!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Eggs During Corona

My husband is bringing eggs each day to work. We put them in a cooler and people come by and pick them up! I am selling my eggs even MORE consistently now then I did before this quarantine. That is SO cool to me.

I love that people are looking to support us during this time. People are trying to take care of each other. They don't want to buy their eggs from the store. They want to support our farm. 

There is so much goodness right now despite the absolute INSANITY of what is going on in our country and our world. 

Wee-Wind Wednesday

Six years ago, my husband was driving across Tennessee. I was back in the Azores with the children. He was making a 1300 mile trip around TN to see where we might want to live. 

He's been planning this farm in his mind for twenty years. Six years ago we were preparing to move back to the USA to begin this journey.

Today we are on our farm during this quarantine. Exactly where JB always hoped we would be during a crisis.

I love my home. 

Just some pics

A few fun pics of our life:
Arabelle on a car ride with me!

Arabelle is NOT happy with this quarantine!
Cousin Grace painting with my girls!

This is me with a very special young girl in my life. I am sad because during the quarantine I won't be able to see them. Honestly not having them with us every Sunday might be the hardest part of this whole thing for me. 

Because I have four children, I really don't have a "need" to love on other kids. But for some reason, this little girl  just LOVES me!
A picture of JB on a conference call earlier this week, trying to prepare for what is coming to his hospital. 
We are SO blessed to have surrogate family member Jacob here with us during this time. With JB working a ton, he is helping keep the farm running. What a blessing he is. We have another wwoofer, Jake, here right now too who is also a great blessing.

A closing picture of our Ritter who is the same-old goofy big bear despite being quarantined! 

Friday, March 20, 2020


And the people stayed home

In the Time of Pandemic

And the people stayed home.
And read books and listened, and rested and exercised,
and made art and played games,
and learned new ways of being and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
Katy O'Meara

Being a survivalist

Our problems and pain are universal and increasing, and the solutions to the problems are and always will be based upon universal, timeless, self-evident principles common to ever enduring, prospering society throughout history.
Stephen R. Cowey 

I want to start this post by saying my husband is a very wise man. 

For years he has been talking to me about survivalism. Many would call him a prepper but due to negative connotations, he liked to call himself a survivalist. He said preppers were a bit fanatical. He was reasonable. He just wanted to have the things on hand that you might need if things in our world went south. 

I honestly mostly avoided the conversations. Or tried to change the topic. They were too negative for me. I liked optimistic thinking. Let's just think nothing bad will ever happen. Be Pollyanna. What's wrong with Pollyanna?

And so my husband did most of his "preparing" in quiet. He'd talk to his Dad about it or a few of his like-minded friends. But he only gave me the important information. He respected the fact that I supported him but didn't want to know everything. 

I asked my husband one time if he really, truly thought something could happen to bring our country and maybe even our world to its knees. He said the only thing he thought could really do it was a pandemic. 

Last night as I sat on my couch while my husband took his post-work contamination-shower and put the kids to bed, I had a moment.

I realized that my husband had created, with this farm, exactly what he had hoped. It was a happy place for us to live. But it was also a place that could take care of us if things weren't happy. If the world was falling apart around us, we could go on living. 

We have everything we need here on this farm to live for a long time comfortably. John has created that. And he did it with my help. Even though I didn't really realize I was actually helping him in achieving some of these goals, I was.

And now I GET IT!

And my hope is that the world will GET IT! I hope that this will change us. And that we will be a better people because of this. And we will be more prepared. 

John shared a video series with me that I thought might interest folks. It's called Wartime Farm and it was produced by the BBC and is available on youtube. 

I will be writing more about this, but for now, I write that my husband is wise. He bought this farm with this pandemic tucked away in the back of his mind. And I am so thankful he did. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020


I have an INCREDIBLE offer for ya'll! I did a review a few months for LitWits Kits. Please click that previous bold word to read my review. These are designed for kiddos ages 8-12. You can choose from a large smattering of stories and get a "package" to go with your book. 

They are so good!

And I just received an offer from them. Due to the pandemic sweeping our nation, they are offering any one of their products for FREE!!!

All you have to do is click here and then enter THIS code: 


This code is unique to me, and I want to provide a ton of responses to this company so PLEASE take advantage of this offer. Even if you don't use it now, you can save it for future use.


Monday, March 16, 2020

Infertility in the media

Last night while I was falling asleep, Julie & Julia was playing. I loved this movie because it combined blogging (something I love) with cooking (something my husband loves) while also so perfectly including infertility and living life as a tall woman. Only her being an athlete would have made this movie more fitting for me.

I had written previously about this movie on my blog here. And while I could not find a copy of the exact two infertility clips that really moved me in Julie & Julia, I was able to find a video on youtube that did have the clip, albeit no dialouge can be hard.

On the video below, check out the fourth and sixth scenes that come up in the montage. The fourth scene shows Julia and her husband, married many years, receiving news that Julia's sister, who had just married, was expecting a baby. Julia Childs (played by Meryl Streep) so perfectly demonstartes how it feels to be not have children and watch those around you receive that gift. I don't know who wrote this scene or how Meryl did it, but I felt someone had been spying in my own living room when I received pregnancy news over and over again while our own womb stayed empty. Julia is happy for her sister but finds herself crying out of sadness. An incredible mixture of emotions done unbelievably well.

In the sixth scene, Julia and her husband are walking down the sidewalk. They pass a baby carriage, and she glances back and then tries to compose herself. Her husband pats her hand without a word shared between them. Again, the movie portrayed the feeling of infertility perfectly.

After watching these scenes again last night, I realized how beneficial they were to the cause of childlessness. These scenes educate the public on how infertility feels. I decided that I wanted to try and compile a list of positive media sources for infertility and adoption. This can be "famous" people who struggled with infertility or shared their journey. This can be books or movies that portrayed this part of life positively. I really don't want to put up limits as to what I am hoping to compile. Adoption can be included as well -- although I would really like to focus more on the infertility aspect as it is a lot easier to find positive adoption language and concepts than it is infertility.

Can you help? Please leave a comment, or, if you feel more comfortable, you can email me at Thanks everyone! I look forward to developing this list with help from you and research of my own.


  • UP: Recommended by many readers for the opening montage about life without children.
  • Baby Mama: Has many references to infertility although there is a surprise pregnancy at the end that can be difficult for those in the midst of infertility
  • Meet the Robinsons: Older child adoption
  • Immediate Family: Some harsh language but an infertility movie
  • Maybe Baby:
  • Funny about Love:
  • Serious Moonlight: Dark comedy with frustrating ending but good infertility plotline.
  • Did You Hear About the Morgans:
  • Facing the Giants: Infertility storyline, although ending was a little bothersome.
TV Shows
  • Giuliana and Bill: features E host Guliana and Apprentice winner Bill's journey through IVF including their subsequent miscarriage.
  • The Little Couple: Chronicles fertility journey including IVF and surrogacy. Click here or here or here for video clips of their struggle.
  • Grey's Anatomy: About 4.5 minutes into this scene, you see Meredith have a conversation with her husband in the elevator showing, quite accurately, the feelings of jealousy that often accompany infertility.
  • Friends: Chandler and Monica's infertility and adoption
  • King of Queens: Infertility
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Brothers and Sisters: Contains an IF storyline
  • Celion Dion
  • Nicole Kidman: "I had tried and failed and failed," she said. "Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, 'What?' The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life."
  • Nia Vardalos
  • Renee Elise Goldsberry: She wins a TONY and discusses infertility in her acceptance speech. You can view the video here.  

Other stories of note

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Ideas during coronovirus quarantine

Access Great Courses Plus for FREE for one month! Just click here and then use the code FREEMO when checking out. (Mine automatically applied the code.)

Thank you Lee for apprising me of this fantastic opportunity. Every day at 3pm, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is going to do a Safari Facebook Live where they will highlight one of their animals and include an activity you can do from home!
Stuck at home? These 12 Museums Offer virtual tours you can take from your couch!
I am going to be compiling ideas on this Blog post for things you can do yourself or with your children during extra time at home. Please check back regularly for all kinds of fun ideas and updates on what we are doing on the farm!

From the wife of an ER doctor

My husband is the director of a rural ER in East Tennessee. He recently posted this on Facebook and also told our family that he is going to ask we start quarantining us on the farm.

I have honestly stopped reading much of what is floating around online about the coronavirus because truthfully, it is just a bit too much for me to inundate my emotions with. I have learned that I am better off praying and choosing my sources than opening the floodgates of information. 

I am trying to stick strictly to the facts. My husband, Dr. John Kitsteiner, is truly one of the wisest/calmest/steadies people I know. He is not a people-pleaser nor is he anyone's "pocket." (His job is thru a separate staffing company and he gets ZERO kickbacks for sick patients.) I've been having a lot of people asking me what his take on this virus and so I am asking him about fifty times a day what he thinks. 

John has been directing people to THIS page and telling them to use this as their base guide:

Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)

John is not greatly worried about how healthy people will fare with this disease. He is worried about those who battle secondary conditions. Our family has a son and Grama with asthma. That makes us take extra measures.

Remember to PRAY and ask the Lord for wisdom. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

There is a CHANCE that John could be quarantined. And while he takes every precaution, there is a chance we could be away from him. 

We are trusting, praying, waiting, reaching out, reaching in, reaching up, and staying calm. 

I hope this post provides you with some encouragement and answers some questions!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

I get more done than I realize

Honestly, most homeschool days, I find myself thinking: "We aren't getting enough done." or "We are behind." or "My list has so many more things on it than we are actually accomplishing." 

So today I actually decided to pause a bit and document some of the things we were getting done:

We are working through the book FEVER right now (a bit ironic I guess). Here is Gabe defining some of his words.
The littles worked on "fact families" today!

Ms. Leslie was here to do her amazing TEN piano lessons! At one point she called Isaac in to do a duet with Kari. 

All the kids do their CTC math on the computer. Here is Sidge working through dividing decimals. Today he told me: "This actually wasn't as hard as when I first learned about decimals."

The kids cooked a BLUE APRON lunch. (Our friend Edward is here with us this week.)

Jacob found a cardinal outside and brought it in. She demonstrated her beak power with a pencil.

We moved the sheep (and got to hold some lambs!)
And all of this was BEFORE I took the kids into town for their ballet and karate lessons. 

Not too shabby when I really break it down!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

I love this gal

This is my cousin’s wife, Hannah Grace. She has made my life a better one. Homeschooling together and especially having her around to help me with my little Pomegranate has made homeschooling a happier activity at our house. We do life together. We share kid load. I can drop four kids off at her house at the last minute. She’s kind and patient and loving and sweet. And I’m so blessed our lives have intersected so beautifully. 

Friday, March 06, 2020

Cousins a year later

My brother had two girls and THEN two boys. 

I had two boys and THEN two girls. 



Wednesday, March 04, 2020

From Bri

Not sure you can get a better thank you then one from your son’s birthmom thanking you for giving him a great life. 

Bri was nearly in heaven during the vacation. She spoiled all my kiddos rotten and got to have some fun time with Isaac riding crazy rides that no one else would ride. 

We are so blessed to have her and her husband Robert and Joan and Roy in our lives!!

Orlando vacation

What a wonderful trip we had in Orlando. We got an AirB&B with our friend Jessica and her daughter Bailee. My parents joined us for a night, Joan and Bri for two nights, and Bri’s mother-in-law Melody for one night. We also got to see our friend Yamil and Patty and their little guy Troy too. 

Instead of posting a ton of pictures, here is a link to a Facebook album with all the Photos: 

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Isaac and Bri

We are getting to spend a few wonderful days with the woman who gave our Isaac life and who chose our family for his forever home. 

My thanks for her and for her parents who helped guide her to place Isaac in our arms nearly twelve years ago cannot ever be put into words. 

Today we taught Bri WINGSPAN. Actually Isaac taught her. He did great, and she caught on super fast. 

Tomorrow we are spending a day at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. Our family, Grama Joni, birthmom Bri, our friends Jessica and Bailee, and local friends Patty and Yamil and Troy, and Bri’s mother-in-law, Melody, are joining us.

Due to the cost, we were going to only do one day. But Bri called the park and told them that she had always dreamed of getting to take her biological son, Isaac, to the Harry Potter exhibits. They both share a great love for the books and wanted to do this together. 

When she shared her story with the Universal Studios folks, they gave her THIRTEEN free passes for a second day and over two dozen single fast pass tickets. 

We are so excited to get to do this with Bri. She showed up at our AirB&B today with presents from the houses the kids are in. I think she may be more excited than the kids. 

I love our family. I love that we have all these extra people that adoption has unified for life. 

Here’s to Harry Potter adventures!!!!