Sunday, May 31, 2020


Today ... I am mad. Or is sad? Or maybe frustrated. Disheartened? I'm not sure.

It's on a local level for me. And then on a National level too.

There are so many things that I want to write on this Blog. Often I sit down to pour my heart out and realize that the things I want to pour out are things that I cannot share.I can't say everything swirling around the recesses of my heart, our life, our farm.

There are things that are private. Things that would incriminate other people. As my kids get older, there are things they don't want people to know. I will often dog on myself for something stupid I say or do. But it won't work so well to dog on someone else for their stupidity. 

Here's the thing: One person can make ONE choice that can affect so many people. It can affect a family. It can affect a community. It can affect the country. It can affect the world. In my case, it is a family member whose monumental betrayal has left a huge boulder sitting on top of us. We are left to pick up the pieces while they go on their merry way, seemingly unaffected by their horrid decisions. 

But my (former) family member's egregious decisions are just one example of a bad judgment: "stinkin' thinkin'" as my Dad used to call it when I was younger. 

If you let a thought fester long enough, it becomes "okay" in your mind. It's stinkin' thinkin'. If you are taught that it is okay to treat people differently based on the color of their skin, it will become a part of you. If you decide you don't love your spouse anymore and dwell on all the things they do wrong, it will eventually push you over the top and cause you to make decisions of terrible significance. 

A policeman in Minnesota made a horrible decision. His comrades made a decision. And now the world is watching protests erupt because people didn't behave the way they were supposed to behave. And now people are continuing to making decisions -- some bad and some good -- based on the initial domino that began the whole thing. Looting. Rioting. They are never a good response. 

This is how I feel about a family member making this horrid decision. How do you hurt people so badly? And what do you do as you try to help pick up the pieces? What do you do with that anger? How do you channel it? 

Of course: these are just two examples. One very small and the domino not causing nearly as many ripples. Another incredibly large ... so large that it is leading to protests in other countries

But these aren't the only examples. They are just two. To everyone I love dealing with the ripples of one sin that has lead to such incredible pain and heartache, I hear you.

And to my friends who are ANGRY today, I grieve with you. I stand with you. I will use my voice to teach my children to LOVE EVERYONE. I will not be silenced. One sin has such big ripples. But one act of goodness can ripple as well,

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Glorious Table: You Have the Power

You Have the Power

“The basis of world peace is the teaching which runs through almost all the great religions of the world. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Christ, some of the other great Jewish teachers, Buddha, all preached it. Their followers forgot it. What is the trouble between capital and labor, what is the trouble in many of our communities, but rather a universal forgetting that this teaching is one of our first obligations.” 
~Eleanor Roosevelt
 We are a country and a world with immense power for good. However, when a few bad things happen, the good doesn’t feel nearly good enough.
That’s where I sit right now. You are likely sitting there, too.
We watch videos of people being killed. We know that racism exists. We see protestors striking back. We are outraged. But we feel helpless.
We feel helpless not just about what’s happening in our country, but about what’s happening in the broader world, too. Wars. Famines. Human trafficking. There is so much bad.
To read the rest of this post, jump over to THE GLORIOUS TABLE. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Wild Mint

Big mounds of wild mint in the low, wet spots in the pastures. Oxeye Daisy for size comparison. 

Quaratine Update

I want to remember what nearly three months of COVID-19 looks like when we read this decades from now. This is something nearly no one alive has ever had to deal with. And the hope is: we won't have to live with it again. 

Our grandchildren will ask us "about the quarantine." And I want to remember what it looked like.

For a solid two months nearly everything that wasn't "essential" was closed. As of today, things are opening more, in different ways but it depends on where you live -- how strict your government is and how bad the virus is where you are. Mostly ... the world is trying to avoid big groups and limiting indoor activities. 

We've done everything with the Kotysnki family, and we've decided to take another month before doing any real emerging. We are taking kids to the stores more often just so that they don't get too "afraid." We are wearing masks when we go out. The kids are too. But a lot of people aren't. When you go into stores now, there is always hand sanitizer and masks available.

So for March and April, here is what we have been doing:
  • Church: We watched at our house in the beginning but the last few weeks, we've been going to the Kotysnki's house and watching the 10:40 service live online. The church has done a lot of "fun" things to make this incredibly unique thing ... feel less isolating. For example: each week there are videos of fellow congregation members reading the memory verse and things like that.
  • Ballet: Abigail and her cousins (Kari and Ana) have been taking online classes. I actually helped the director, LoriAnn, set up a quick Facebook page where they could record classes live. The girls have done a lot of those, but they actually really missed the interaction that classes offer. So the last month, we've been doing "Zoom" classes with our friend Elizabeth, who just graduated from high school and Central Ballet a year ago. The ballet studio has opened for small classes (under 10 people), but we've chosen not to do any indoor activities for another month.
  • Karate: I've tried to keep the boys doing stuff at home, but it's hard. So this past week, we've started doing private classes with our friend Ky-Le (a second-degree black belt) is coming to the Kotynskis and leading a class outside.
  • Homeschool Co-op: Like all schools, it was cancelled for the rest of the year. We are hopeful we can go again in September, but right now, no one knows.
  • JB Work: JB has continued to work as normal. 
  • Shopping: We try to avoid shopping too often and to be very deliberate when we shop -- getting what we need in a "safe" way. 
  • Restaurants: We have not eaten in a restaurant since all this happened.
  • Take-out: A lot of people have continued to eat take-out. Living out in the country, this isn't really possible. In the last few weeks, we've grabbed some pizzas a few times, but otherwise, we are mostly still just eating at home.
  • Trips: We had a LOT of things planned for the last few months. Ballet camps, conferences for JB, getaways for John and me. But everything has been cancelled. We are hopeful we can go to Vermont this summer (our happy place) but we are taking it week by week.
The one thing that really "sticks out" to me during this time is the fact that the only way to not worry about getting behind or having a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is to have everyone feeling the same way at the same time. And that's what this quarantine has done. It's made EVERYONE stop. I mean, the Olympics were cancelled. There was NO March Madness. All major sports teams are on hiatus. When else has anyone witnessed an entire country (and a LOT of the world) shutting down ALTOGETHER! It's just crazy. 

It's odd. It's surreal. But it hasn't been bad. In a lot of ways it's been nice. I've tried to get a lot of cleaning up done and organizing and things that have been put off. 

We are doing well. I miss my friends and seeing them, but overall, most of us here on the farm don't feel in a hurry to get "back to normal" anytime soon ... we miss a few things but we actually have enjoyed just BEING.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Guest Post: Meeme's Garden

This is a picture of my friends: Daniel and Meredith and Meredith's parents. As an only child, she was very close with her parents. I so enjoyed her youthful Mama and our conversations when she'd help take Lilly to ballet. 

A few days into the new year, I ran into Meredith's Mama, Jan, in Walmart. She was her usual self: youthful and bopping from one kid in the toy aisle to the other. 

A few days later, Jan went in for routine back surgery and while in recovery, after eating a meal and chatting with her husband, she coded. They revived her, but her brain had already died. 

Daniel (a local pastor and missionary) and Meredith had been busy working on a farm "venue" site. A few days ago, Meredith shared the following picture and words about her losses this year. 

With her permission, I share them with you here:

I remember the first few days of 2020. Do you? There was an excitement to what the year would hold: a dream realized, a trip to take, and growing children to marvel at. But then 2 weeks into the year it all crashed down: my mother passed away suddenly and tragically: I lost a job I enjoyed, and our son was diagnosed with hearing loss (all in the same week). Then we entered a pandemic and the world stopped. 

When life takes a hard right turn. it can be easy to just want to pack it all up and quit, to walk away, throw in the towel on everything, even your dreams. And yet, hope remains, good remains, if we have eyes and a heart to see it.

This is “Meeme’s Garden” which we just finished in the front of our venue at the farm. My mom, Meeme, loved flowers of all kinds and she was so excited about watching Greenwood Oaks take form. She also loved birds and birdbaths. We planted this garden in her memory and to honor her. As the flowers grow this summer it will look like a rainbow blanket as they fill the space between them. I hope it reminds all who visit that there is a rainbow after the storm, always hope and good and beautiful things in life, even in the midst of hard and uncertain times. 

We Bought a Farm: Nanking Cherry

Nanking Cherries are ripe and delicious!!

From Wikipedia:

The Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is a species of Prunus native to northern and western China (including Tibet), Korea, Mongolia, and possibly northern India (Jammu and Kashmir.

It is a deciduous shrub, irregular in shape, 0.3–3 m (rarely 4 m) high and possibly somewhat wider.
The fruit is a sweet but slightly tart drupe 5–12 mm (rarely to 25 mm) in diameter, scarlet, ripening in early summer, with a large seed. Though often called a "cherry" and superficially resembling them, Nanking cherry is closer related to plums than true cherries.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Happy Birthday to Me

JB gave me a full day off. It ended up, I only really took a half day, but it was still wonderful. Grama let me go to her house. I watched a show I love but am very behind on (This is Us) and took a nap. It was wonderful. Then he cooked me Indian for dinner. 

I suppose I'm old. Over 40 always seemed super old. And I'm 43. My heart used to always feel 25. But now it definitely feels 30. 

Either way, I'm nearly middle-age. Which is CRAZY! Here are some pictures from me in my younger years.

We Bought a Farm: Beehives

We Bought a Farm: Do You Wanna Build a Treehouse?

We LOVE our farm. But even perfect places aren't really perfect. This farm doesn't have a lot of good trees to climb that are not in the forest. While the kids like the woods, they are far from the house and a little "scary" to go in all by themselves. 

Yesterday, Sidge discovered the Mulberry trees on the backside of a place we call the "Thunder Dome" have gotten large enough to e great climbing trees. John helped him get the beginnings of a Tree House set up. He's so excited about this adventure. 

All four kids (and the Kotysnki kids) have been out there quite a bit ... we are so grateful for this farm and all the adventures it provides right outside our house.

Here's a few pictures Grama took today of the kids in the trees:

Friday Funnies

Today was a DAY. A bad day. Three of my four kids were bad. Bad behavior. Unkind words. Disobedience. In addition, many things just went wrong for me. I dropped a goose egg on the middle of the floor. I got a reel tangled out in the paddock. The wwoofers were off and JB was working, and it was just a lot of things going wrong. 

At 4:00pm, I kicked all four of my offspring out of the house and locked all the doors. 

(Not kidding. I did that.)

I told them they couldn't come in for one hour.)

Sidge thought it would be hilarious to figure out that my bathroom door was not locked. 

(I did not find it funny.)

So while eating dinner, I told all four kids that immediately after dinner, we were going on a drive. I told them to get a piece of paper, a pencil, something to write on, and get into "Midge." (That's the name of my Expedition.) Oh if you could have been a fly on the wall as the kids debated during dinner where I was taking them.

In the end, I took them on a drive to Wendy's for a Frosty. 

(Sidenote: The first time I got a Frosty for Sidge, he was about five since we had lived overseas until then. He remarked: "This is delicious Mom. These things should be famous."

Uhhhh ... they kinda are.

Anyways ...

On the way to Wendy's, I had them write down how their behavior was for the day and what their punishment should be for that bad behavior. Then we talked about GRACE and MERCY and how I was going to show them both by forgiving them and giving them something they didn't deserve.

I had to share what Hannah wrote. (I told her I was not going to help with spelling.)

"My behavior was bad. I think my punishment should be not going to the Kotysnki's for two weeks. ... Grace being forgiven when you do not deserve it."

And then, here is what Sidge had to say: 


Here's one final "Friday Funny" to round out the day: Me: "You are spending WAY too long in the bathroom pooping."
Child: "I think I get distracted reading."
Me: "Okay so from now on, you must set a timer. Ten minutes. You have ten minutes to get the job done. It's not good to sit on a toilet that long."
Child: "Does that count wiping?"
Me: "Huh?"
Child: "I mean can I wipe after the ten minutes expires? Or do I have to wipe before the ten minutes are up?"

Seriously. I just had THAT conversation. 

The boys were out looking at fireflies and talking about how they light up to attract a mate. Isaac said: "Pick me! Pick me! My butt's the brightest."

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wee-Wind Wednesday

Today I wee-wind back to April 9, 2015 when we were in the process of moving into our new house on the forever farm we call home, and Abigail spotted a desk her Uncle Ray had gotten her. It was supposed to be a surprise, but she discovered it amidst the move, and was ecstatic to see HER desk. 

And now .... now she's way too big to sit at that desk. 

Oh, the growing you see your kids do. You just want time to slow down. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Sheep Hiding

JB posted this on Facebook: "Went to go check on our sheep when there was a slight drizzle, but it turned into a solid rain once I got out there, of course. We have almost 70 sheep hiding among the trees in this paddock!"

Guest Post: Big Red House

By: Kristin Girton (Ballet and homeschooling friend of Wendi) and local actress/photographer/personal trainer extraordinaire. 

This post from last year popped up on my time=hop today. It read “stealing away precious moments with my family lately. Life is so busy right now but these little moments together are priceless.”

I was in one of the busiest seasons of my life last year. We were in the process of boxing up our Walnut Grove home ... where we had brought home our babies and we had loved our neighbors so fiercely.

We had just wrapped up the ballet Ruth and a theater production of Little Shop of Horrors.

We were in the middle of the process of buying our Big Red House.

We had lost the building that we had really thought would be our next adventure ... and I was mourning that adventure more than anyone around me knew. It is still too painful to talk about most days.

We were winding down the school year, the ballet classes, our homeschool co-op ....

We were in the midst of Bright Star Rehearsals and voice lessons. (That i went to 6 nights a week.)

I was still trying to maintain some kind of personal training schedule, but by this time I had cut back to only one ... my first client -- my friend.

I was also really sick.

I had strep for over a month in a half. It got so bad, and I kept it a secret for so long because I didn’t want it to affect Bright Star. So instead, I pushed and pushed my body until it collapsed, and I fell asleep for a spti second while driving and realized I needed to go to the doctor.

My family and I were tired.

But after Bright Star came Matilda, and then Pollyannna, more lessons, more gymnastics, more birthday parties, more camps ...

Just more busy.

I swore after Pollyanna I would take a break, but then the opportunity to play Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein came. I took it. I was so tired, but how could I pass up the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people I have ever met?

I knew when I walked into the rehearsals for the Bright Star Reunion and Laura pulled me aside and said “You need a break. You are running yourself weary,” that she was right.

But I powered through.

And don’t get me wrong. I was weary, but I was loved. My family and friends were amazing. My new theatre family had embraced me. I loved every moment and there were many amazing, joyous, even brilliant moments! I loved them. I soaked them all in.

My husband was amazing. For months he worked full time, took care of the girls and was coaching soccer.

All while I stayed busy.

And then exactly two weeks after Young Frankenstein wrapped  -- the world stopped.

My family stopped.

I stopped.

And for 9 weeks we have stayed home. We have taken a break. We have spent time focusing on loving each other fiercely. We have focused on school, on reading, on drawing, on playing together, on just being a family. Just the simple moments. Like cooking together, or watching all the Marvel movies in order. We have been scared together. We have prayed together. Because these are the moments that I longed for, when i was “stealing away” time for them.

I guess I am posting this for my future self.

Don’t let the “busy” get in the way of these simple moments.

Be active, be creative, but always remember what is the most is within the walls of this Big Red House.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Apple Tree

My goal had been to take a picture of this tree (with kids beside it) every year. I haven't done a good job. However, it is still fun to see how much they (and the kiddos) have grown. I'm going to try to do it more regularly!

April 7, 2015
May 26, 2015
May 17, 2020

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Happy 29th Birthday to Joni!

I found this video of my kiddos singing "Happy Birthday" to Joni two years ago. Man have they changed a lot in two years. 

Here are a few other special pictures I have found of our Joni:

There's my Mom. There's my mother-in-law. And there is my Joni. These three women will all be "my Mamas" forever. 

She has held a special place in my heart since I was a tiny little baby and they lived next door to my parents. I babysat her son. I stood by when they buried him at seven years old. Then I started babysitting Bri. She was in my wedding. And then she had Isaac, and we became his parents. 

And Joni became a grandparents to my kiddos.

I have learned that there is no problem with extra people who love your kiddos. I'm so honored my kids have three Grama's and that my Mom and mother-in-law have allowed the three of them to equally pour out love on our family.

Happy Birthday Joni. I am so blessed to have you in my life and in the life of my kiddos. I love you!

Friday, May 15, 2020

We Bought a Farm: And so it BEEeee-gins!

How many of ya'll could make the following statement:  

"We've spoken about raising bees often in the course of our marriage."

I mean, could you even write it without the word often in the statement.

"We've spoken about raising bees in the course of our marriage."

I mean, seriously. Don't we all have long candlelight conversation about ... BEES?

Perhaps not. 

But then, my life isn't like most lives I've come to realize.

My husband has read many, many, many books on bees. I'd like to say dozens, but I'm famous for over or underestimating so I'll just leave it at that. 

(My husband calls it the "Wendi's double or half rule." If I meant it to be a lot, I'll double it. If I meant it to sound like a little, I'll half it."

But I digress ...

He's read a lot of books on bees. He's always wanted bees. 

So the other day, we were talking about bees, and I said: "Yeah, I'm actually surprised we haven't gotten the stuff to do bees yet."

And it was like I said the magic words. As I got engrossed in dealings with two fighting little girls, John wandered over to the computer and ten minutes later wandered back and said:

"It's done."

"What's done?" I asked, totally clueless as to what he was referring to.

"Bees. I ordered everything to start doing bees."

And that's that. 

I'd like to complain about the bees. Maybe at some point I will. 

But I love honey.

So I will just eat my honey in silence and let my husband deal with the bees. 

Will I end up in a "bee costume" like Abigail above?



The Discomfort You are Feeling is Grief

Years from now. Maybe decades. I hope this Blog is still here. I hope I am still writing in it. It's been my goal to never let it waste away -- even if my posts become further and farther between. I've been going since 2005! I can keep going. This will be a record for all of the little people that will come out of the life John and I have made together. (Little people that will someday become big people and hopefully make their own little people.)

COVID-19 makes me want to make sure to keep writing. Years from now we will be "the people" who lived through this pandemic. It will be in our history just like the other pandemics. We will speak of it with our grandchildren. We want them to read about it. We want them to learn of it. And learn from it.

It is hard to believe that someday, this will be a BLIP on our radar. But it will. Just a BLIP. A small "pause" in the way we normally live.

Right now, this is not comfortable. Whatever your view about what is happening and how it is being handled, we have no reference for this event, and it doesn't feel good. 

Oh sure, the extra family time can be good. So much good will come out of this. Of that I have no doubt. Just the fact that God promises he will use ALL things for good is enough for me. 

But still. Not hugging people isn't right. Avoiding people in the stores. Wearing a mask. Heck, tonight I am going to a drive-in graduation party. None of this feels ... right. 

My life, like all of your's has changed. But if I am being honest, my life has changed much less than most people. We were already living a life on our farm. A slow life. (Or trying to.) We have our own meat and our eggs and our own places to hike and walk and BE. 

And yet, this doesn't feel good. I want it to be over. I want it to be a dream. 

The article linked below really spoke to me. We are grieving. We are grieving loss. Don't be alone in this grief. We are doing this pandemic with technology and the ability to not be alone. So let's make sure we do this together.
Click here to read: That Discomfort You are Feeling is Grief

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Happy Birthday Cali

Today was a hard day for me. There was a lot of farm "stuff." A lot of "family" stuff. A lot of Mama "stuff." I held back tears most of the day. 

But I tell you what: when you are having a bad day, if you can reach out and do something for SOMEONE ELSE, it can brighten everything up. 

I had the great honor of helping coordinate this event. It truly took very little work on my part, but gave me so much in return!

We participated in our first "Birthday Drive-by Parade" for Cali today. As an only child, this whole quarantine has been especially hard. How wonderful to brighten her day just a little bit!

When you are struggling ... REACH OUT! Do something for someone else. It will help you,

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Baby Sheep

We try to have a "hands-off" approach with our sheep. They birth in the pasture, and we usually just show up to see them happily nursing away -- born without any trouble. 

Moms can reject babies. This can happen for a wide number of reasons. Sometimes they know something is wrong with the baby. Sometimes it is due to not having a good mother. Other times it is just a random bit of confusion. Many times you don't know why they made the choice to leave one baby. Sometimes they have multiples and tend to 1 or 2 but leave another. 

We really try to not raise bottle babies and not breed bottle-babies in the hopes to prevent future Mamas from not being good mamas and rejecting their young. 

We've had very good success during the five years we have raised sheep. We rarely have a Mama reject a baby. Unfortunately, sometimes when farming, you get disheartened. You have a string of bad luck, and you start questioning everything you are doing. 

We had a bottle baby born a few days ago that Anni took. And today we had a Mama decided she didn't want to feed her baby. We tried a few things, but just couldn't get her to accept this little guy. So we decided to pull him off the Mama. Anni and I have decided to share the care of both sheep. We will keep them together and probably rotate who they are "living" with. 

So .... I'm bottle-feeding our first baby lamb. Here's a video Hannah took of me feeding the lamb:

And here is Sidge playing with little May (the girl lamb.) We've named the boy "Iggy."


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thank you from Isaac

My wall so far.
 srt viper gts r
 Roborace Robocar
 69 corvette racer
indy 500 oval
 70 ford escort RS1600
 Dodge Charger stock car
 64 nova wagon gasser
  porshce 917 LH
 16 cadillac ats r
 16 Mercedes amp g13 
 chill mill
quick bite
 areo pod