Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Every now and then, it all just starts to feel like too much ... again.

I repeat this cycle often. I love my life. I want this life. 

But it’s ... BIG. 

It’s a BIG life. 

BIG dreams.

A BIG farm. 

A BIG family. 

Mostly I feel this way when John is gone ... so much. He’s working .... so much. I just want time with him. I want him home. I want him around more. 

The number of shifts he’s doing feels ... BIG.

He doesn’t want to be doing this much work. But the choice has been taken from him. It’s hard to understand because technically he’s a contract worker, and he is only supposed to have to do the number of shifts he’s contracted for. But they are a team. And he’s a team player. There are only five full-time docs for the ER. If someone is out, someone else has to cover. And cover. And cover. 

But then when he’s working, it’s not easy work. It’s too much busy. Too much. He comes home with his eyes so heavy and so tired. 

And I’m tired too. 

But how do you complain about being mommied-out when he’s saving lives in an Emergency Room.

Of course we are both facing a different type of hard, but ... 

But it’s hard.

SO many blessings.

SO many BIG blessings.

He has work. Good work.

But we miss him.

And if he does have time, I give that time to the kids to spend with him because I feel they need it even more than I do. He and I will be fine. We’ve been a team for a really long time. 

But I miss him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

We are all humans

This is my husband at home. He is a real person with a real family. He has lots of things he likes to do. Outside of spending time with his family, he loves anything that has to do with nature: farming and birding being the top two. He likes reading and cooking. He is a huge fam of movies. He's a real person. With a real life. And a real family.

Yesterday I ran into our neighbors Jeremy and Shelley in the grocery store. Jeremy is still on oxygen, but is expected to make a full recovery. (And thanks to wonderful people, I have a check for $1,500 for them from YOUR donations!)

Jeremy spoke to me about John and how John coming into his hospital room to talk to him was such an important part of his COVID journey. John explained things to him and helped him understand the battle waging in his body. 

John is a human. He grew up in a lower middle class family in South Florida. He does not consider himself anything more than a human being who was given a brain to be a doctor. He is not "in a different league."

He told a story of a conversation he had with a trucker he was treating. When John took the time to explain things, the man said: "Thanks for dumbing it down."

John stopped him. It isn't about dumbing it down. "If I was in your truck and needed to understand how to drive it, you wouldn't use big words. You would stop and really explain things to me in a way I could understand. I am not necessarily smarter than you. I'm simply smarter in medicine. You are way smarter than me in truck mechanics."

(Incidently, did you know that they say the education to become a doctor is the equivalent of learning four languages? Geezie peezie. No wonder John let me do the Turkish learning.)

So when John comes home from work last night with only 11 hours before he has to be back in the hospital and shares about patients who were cursing at him, threatening him, being rude to nurses, it makes me very sad. My husband is kind. He strives to treat every patient like he would treat his own family member.

I understand tempers are high right now. This is a scary time in our world. But remember that we are all on the same team, and need to work together to get through this pandemic. While for many people, they've put a lot of this behind them, John's everyday continues to involve COVID and people sick with other things. 


The greatest commandment.

No matter what color. No matter what class. No matter what they believe. No matter the behaviors they involve themselves in. Even if they are cursing at you and being unkind. Be kind BACK.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Homesteading Mama: Field trip with the littles

On Mondays, the "littles" come over to my house while Aunt Hannah schools "the bigs." Last Monday, I decided to take a field trip to our local Amish store: Yoders with them. I gave them each a ziplock bag with change so that they could pay for their own "peppermint sticks." It was super cute, and they did a great job. I think they were the highlight of all the employee's morning. 

We took Arabelle to Yoder's with us. More and more, each time I leave the house, this dog gives me the most pitiful eyes, and I feel talked into taking her with us. She is an "okay" car traveler, but she is a SUPER good listener, so when one of the kids called her into their seat, she decided to come as you can see in the video below.

I was doing a Marco Polo video with my wonderful friend, Debbie, when all chaos took over. I had to pull over to deal with the situation. It was QUITE funny. You have to watch Eoin's face nearly smashed by the Arabelle:

Sunday, September 27, 2020

We Bought a Farm: Birds of our Farm (Pictures taken by our kids)

Red-Eyed Vireo (Abigail 9/27)

Pine Warbler (Abigail 9/27)

Ovenbird (Abigail 9/27)

Scarlet Tanager (Abigail 9/27)

Red Breasted Nuthatch (Abigail 9/27)
Farm bird #109

White-Eyed Vireo (Abigail 9/27)

Black-and-White Warbler (Abigail 9/27)

American Redstart (Abigail 9/27)

Gray Catbird (Abigail 9/27)

Cape May Warbler (Abigail 9/27)

Eastern Towhee (female) (Abigail 9/23)
Farmbird #107

Common Yellowthroat (Abigail 9/23)
Farmbird #108

Eastern Towehee; Sidge (6/20)

Red-Bellied Woodpecker; Sidge (6/20)

Tufted Titmouse; Sidge (6/20)

Female Blue Grosbeak; Sidge (6/20)

Scarlet Tanager; Sidge (6/20)

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo; Sidge (6/20)

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher: Sidge

Tree Swallow: Sidge

Great-Crested Flycatcher: Abigail

Downy Woodpecker: Elijah

Brown Thrasher: Elijah

White-Breasted Nuthatch: Abigail

Yellow-Breasted Chat: Elijah

Farm bird #107:
Farm Bird #107

Double-Crested Cormorant
Northwest Greene County
East Tennessee

My 8 year old daughter came running up to me with the camera...
“Dad! Dad! I saw a bird that I thought was a duck but then I saw it’s neck, and then I thought it was a Great a Blue Heron but it was too small, so I thought maybe an Anhinga but they don’t come here (right?), so it’s gotta be a Double-Crested Cormorant!”


It was still circling for a few minutes, so we all got to see a new farm bird. We don’t have any large bodies of water nearby, so we won’t see them often here.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Homesteading Mama: Things you don't want to hear at 3:30 in the morning

Don't let this innocent ball of fluff fool you. He is NOT innocent.

Let me back up.

We have a new puppy because, goodness knows I needed that like about as much as a hole in the head. 

Weather is getting colder so new puppy has been sleeping inside. I decided to give Arabelle and new puppy our under-the-stairs kennel as pictured here:  

I didn't include three dogs in the kennel because I figured the dynamics would be better with just two. I thought Ritter might be old enough to just "be out" in the house. (I'm very cautious about leaving dogs out unattended in their younger years.)

Four nights ago, I found out I was wrong. At 3:30 in the morning, Hannah came downstairs to tell me Ritter had pooped in her room. I went upstairs to see that he did much more than that. He had the runs in her room. 

So at 3:30 in the morning I am scrubbing the girls' floor. Their carpet of course. Dogs always throw-up and poop on carpet. It's a fact.

The next morning Isaac informed me that Ritter had left the same type of surprise on the carpet in the boys' room. While I was cleaning that up, John discovered Ritter did the same thing in front of the mud room door. (That one seeped into a crack in-between the door and the door tread. Fun stuff.)

Okay so four nights later is last night. Instead of leaving Ritter out, I put him in the laundry room with a wooden gate blocking the door. Arabelle and Raven are in their under-the-stairs kennel, and all is well with the world. 

John is doing two more nights than he was scheduled to, and I am FRIED. As is often the case, everyone is out of sorts when Dad is gone. Especially when he's been gone  a lot and at night and more than expected. The girls were sleeping on the couches because that's what they do when Dad is gone, and I was lying in bed reading as kid after kid after kid came in to tell me "one more thing" or ask me "one more thing" or confess "one more thing" or share what was causing them sadness or what world problem they had solved as they got more and more tired. Right before bed, I actually was laughing at this picture and finding the completely TRUTH in the statement:

I normally go to bed around 9:30pm. For whatever reason, when JB is on nights, I end up staying up to closer to 10 or 10:30. I just can't sleep as well. This particular night, I couldn't sleep AT ALL. (It may have been that I have FOUR books, I am currently in love with, and was actually rotating reading a chapter in each.) 

Around 11:30, I took a Benadryl just to try and fall asleep. 

I finally drift off and then ...

Around 12:30, Isaac comes into the room. He has a migraine. Poor kid. This happens to him every now and then. If it hits while he is asleep, he often gets behind it. If he starts throwing up, it is often hard to get him to stop because he can't keep any pain or anti-nausea meds down. We really think it has to do with sinuses/allergies. 

Anyways, his head is throbbing, and he is on the verge of throwing up. 

I give him a dissolvable Zofran and get him situated in front of the toilet. As he slides onto the floor he says: "Oh, and Mama? Something smelled funny out there."

Oh no.

I race out of my room and look into the laundry room. There is no Ritter! He is not in the laundry room. Oh, the gate is still up as if he is in there. But he's not. 

I turn around. He's looking at me like this, which is never a good sign:

I can smell what Isaac was talking about, and I immediately start scouring the house trying to find where the odor is coming from. It's like a game of "hotter" and "colder." As I get farther away from the girls' room upstairs, it smells better. The closer I get, the worse the odor is.

I finally head upstairs and into the girls' room and there it is. Diarrhea again right on the SAME SPOT he had don't it on before.

The first time I felt bad for him. Poor dog had a belly ache and no idea where he could go to the bathroom. This time I don't. This time I'm mad. I go back downstairs. Isaac is yelling for me from the bathroom because the nausea is getting worse. Both girls are awake. And now Arabelle and Raven under the stairs are wide awake and want out to join the party.

I check on Isaac. He's getting sicker. So I call JB. He's at work, and it takes everything in me not to say: "I'm so exhausted! They woke me up!" when he is working overnight. That just wouldn't be appropriate, I know. But I really still want to say it.

John instructs me to give Isaac a different anti-nausea medicine. I do. I leave him by the toilet and go back out to the living room. I resettle both wide-awake daughters and then turn to the dogs.

I decide to let them ALL out to go to the bathroom. 

I do.

Arabelle and Ritter come back immediately after they go, and I put them under the stairs together, resting assured that Ritter can't get out of there, and I won't have to clean up more poop.

Raven, however, decides not to come back.

So now it is nearing the early hours of the morning, and I am running around in my barefeet and long t-shirt dodging playground equipment and items left over form the kids' "store" that they had made, trying to catch a black puppy. My only light is whatever is shining from inside our house. There is NO moon, and I can barely see anything.

I finally catch her, and opt. to put her in her little kennel which we currently have in our bathroom. I return to Isaac. He is feeling a little bit better so I relocate him to the empty side of my bed, and he curls up -- still moaning but hopeful he can make it through the night without throwing up. I put a huge bowl in-between him and I and silently hope I won't have to clean up throw-up sometime in the next five hours before I need to get up to take eggs and chickens to the farmers' market.

He didn't ... praise God.

One thing went right.

I hope ya'll had a better night than I did. Tonight, John is off of work and hopefully our house can flip back into a regular routine. We get very off when he is gone. We are glad to have him back for two days before he returns to work some more days.

Hopefully tonight will be free of any bodily fluids!!!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Covid strikes again

Covid continues to leave me in different places emotionally. Today, I feel sad. Tomorrow evening, JB and I were supposed to attend an outdoor wedding. I am not sure if we'd get to " do" much as we are incredibly careful regarding COVID. But we'd get to drive there together and spend some time together. Honestly, it's been months since we've done anything together just the two of us.

But one of the five docs who works in the ER is sick, and the other docs have been scrambling to fill her shifts. This meant John picking up another shift this week. He is currently scheduled to do 16 shifts this month. (He normally does 12.)

Specifically, he has to do another night shift tonight, the night before the wedding date. John will have to sleep most of the day. We discussed still attending the wedding, but as we did, Isaac's eyes filled up with tears -- literally. He has barely seen his Dad, and while all of our kiddos love their Daddy, Isaac always seems to have the most visceral response to not having enough time with him. 

So we will skip our date. And miss the wedding of one of his nurses that JB actually wanted to attend. (Like most men, he isn't really big on weddings.)

But more than that, we are watching John do an extra 48-hours of work this month. An entire extra week of work. It's too much. And we are all feeling it.

And we are feeling just wanting COVID to be ... over.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Corona Virus Books

I'm hoping to be able to get some extra reading in during this time of quarantine. There are no libraries open at this time, but I used my cousin Hannah's as a library and got a hold of some great recommendations! 

My friend LaShea suggested that for my reading list, I try to find an African American author. She recommended THE HELP which remains one of my favorite books AND favorite movies of all time. I'd already read it, so I did a little searching myself and stumbled upon March Forward, Girl. The writing in this book was a little "young" for me, but I actually think that's great. I think this would be a FANTASTIC book for high schoolers to read to understand what was happening in the South in the 60's. Melba Pattillo Beals gives a great understanding of how, while the rest of the country had "moved away" from outright segregation, the south was still alive and well. The frustration of a black woman in Little Rock not being able to take their own food off the shelves (because they were dirty) or for them to have to step aside ANYTIME a white person got into the line is just absolutely unimaginable. Also, the idea that the KKK could come into your church (which they did at one point) and hang a member of your church right in front of women and children? It was so difficult to read. In another scene, she barely escapes a rape situation with KKK when she finds herself on the wrong side of town after dark. One of the "Little Rock 9", you can truly FEEL the strength this young woman would have had to have during this time. OUTSTANDING, EASY read that will REALLY open your eyes to what the south was like during this time.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile. MANnnn do I wish I could have read these kind of books when I was in school for history. This was part of our SONLIGHT World History Curriculum, and it was just OUTstanding. Beautiful book. Clean enough for anyone to read Although it is written at a high school level, my sixth graders handled it without too much trouble. Fantastic read! An awesome look at while life in Egypt with the Pharaohs may have been like. 

The Golden Goblet is an easier read than Mara (listed above) but an equally outstanding look into life in Ancient Egypt. My kids loved this. Middle schoolers can easily handle it. Used this for our history curriculum, and I strongly recommend it.

Quarantine Book 16 / Vacation Book 2: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. THIS was an incredible book that I could not stop myself from reading. But mannn was it painful. It really puts a "face" to the sex trafficking and stealing of children that can go on in the USA and the world. It was written incredibly well, and did a fantastic job jumping back and forth between the past and present. I was incredibly impressed with the writing but this book IS a downer despite some love and happy moments. 

Quarantine Book 16 / Vacation Book 2: Wow! Wow! Wow! I was really shocked when I jumped over to Amazon by how mixed the reviews were for this book. It was INCREDIBLY well-written, and I was unable to put it down and read way too late into the night last night. It is a mostly "sad" book -- not a feel good book. It also does have enough sex in it that I wouldn't recommend it for non-adults. Some people who left negative reviews said she didn't get some of the "facts" right about life in that era. I am not sure about all of that, but I thought it was really interesting. I thought that "natural" side of it was incredibly well-done. Owens is an AMAZING writer. Even if you didn't love the story, the writing is simply amazing. A strong recommendation fro me.

Quarantine Book 15 / Vacation Book 1: I am really torn about how I feel about this book. It was an incredibly inventive and interesting idea. The cover made me pick it up. It is written well. As far as "young adult" literature (of which this is), it is pretty clean. Nothing too much to shy away from. I did feel that the author was trying to "preach" a little about her politics through some of what she was writing. The ending also falls a little flat for me. But as a "Little House" fan, this was interesting and an easy read.
Quarantine Book 14: I am really enjoying the GREGOR books. Just finished Book #3 and brining book #4 on my trip with me! This is a FANTASTIC middle school book. Very clean. Nothing for a parent to be worried about other than some very typical battle scenes. I think boys would like it a bit more than girls, but I am falling in love with the main character in this book. Well done!

Quarantine Book 13: My friend Anni's Mom gave me this book as a "teaser" for this author. I wish I would have realized it would end with a cliff hanger. I need to get a hold of the whole story now! I haven't read Dee Henderson before -- Christian author. I enjoyed her! I will definitely give a longer of her works a good chance.

Quarantine Book 12: This book was DARLING! "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be" by Farley Mowat was superbly written and incredibly uplifting and funny! A great one for your middle school aged kid on up. (Or you can do a read-aloud with younger kiddos.) Very clean and appropriate book for a middle-schooler. The story of a boy and his hilarious, almost-human dog.

Quarantine Book 11: I decided to read a favorite series of my son Elijah's (Sidge). This was the first time he had "fallen in love" with a series. I'll never forget, when the series was over, he started crying -- like he was losing an old friend. He said to me: "Why couldn't the author have written more books?!" Clean. PERFECT for middle schoolers.
Quarantine Book 10: I decided to browse our own library for our next read. I found this book. I had always loved the movie as a child, so decided to give this a try. It was GREAT. Maybe a little bit "long" on the different animals they meet and encounter but really fascinating. It was similar to the movie with a few big changes including the book has four sons not three and they have multiple houses in the book, not just the famous tree house. I was also surprised with how many memorable quotes I took from this book. Here's one of my favorites: "What can be more delightful than to find harmony of opinion in those we love, when a great and momentous decision has to be taken?" Here's another one that I think is REALLY good for this time: “If it be the will of God,” said my wife, “to leave us alone on this solitary place, let us be content; and rejoice that we are all together in safety.”

Quarantine Book 9: This was a simple read. The author was an incredibly sarcastic writer which mostly worked but sometimes didn't. It was a fascinating look at living as a missionary kid in the jungle. My Aunt and Uncle gave this to me YEARS ago. I don't think I ever read it. But I read it now. Good read. Apparently it is Book 2 in the series. Oh well!

Quarantine Book 8: Ohhhhh, HOW had I had NOT heard of this book before now?! The Scarlet Pimpernel is truly one of the best books I have read in recent memory. Written in 1905, it took a few chapters to really get into and the language makes it possibly a little too hard for middle-schoolers but HOLY COW I did NOT want to put this daring story of love and adventure down. Set during the French Revolution, it will remain one of my all-time favorites.

Quarantine Book 7: Savvy by Ingrid Law was a very fun read. It's a middle school level book. Has a bit of growing up/relationship stuff that would make a bit "old" for kids under 12 I think. It's the first in the series so I am hoping I can get my hands on the rest of the books in the series sometime soon. I am constantly amazed at the CREATIVITY of authors. How do they come up with these new ideas that have never been thunk of before?! (And yes I know "thunk" isn't a word. I wrote it for effect.)

Quarantine Book 5: Not sure how I have gone so long in my life not having read this 1993 Dystopian-style novel. I did a little research and discovered it is the 4th ranked Children's novel of all time. I'm a little confused by that. I thought it was a GREAT book and really made me think, but I'm not sure I would call it a "Children's Book." It has some really heavy topics. I would let my Isaac read it, but I think kids under 10 would probably struggle with the concepts.

Quarantine Book 4: Third book in the series. Well done. Amazing artwork. Kept me reading despite being totally out of character for me to read.
Quarantine Book 3: This was book two in Westerfield's Leviathan series. Again, these shocked me. I was not intending to like them. But I really did. I would let my young boys read this even though there is an underlying love story that feels a little too old for them. 
Quarantine Book 2: I NEVER read books like this but what a fun first try at the genre of "Steam Punk." A young adult book that a grown woman really enjoyed. So creative. And the drawings were AMAZING. The only "Questionable" content is reference to "breasts" being as there is a girl who is disguised as a boy and needing to make sure no one notices she is a girl.
Quarantine Book 1: I Loved this book! A great read for kiddos age 8 and up. A little bit of a crush sprinkled in which might be "too much" for some kids.