Friday, April 30, 2021

Sweet friends and (almost) the end of COVID

Moments ...

Not crafty at all

I have many good qualities ... but craftiness is NOT one of them. (I emphasize the word NOT!) So when the day before Abigail's ballet competition her ballet director says she wants Abigail and her duet partner, Remi, to have something "yellow" in their hair, and Remi's Mama is super busy, I volunteer to "come up with something" and truly think: Wendi, what in the world are you doing? You are not capable of this whatsoever. Have you confused yourself with a craft person who can DO this?!

I did my best to sound very confident when speaking to Abigail about this topic. We don't live near a big city. Running to a bunch of stores to find the perfect thing just isn't really possible. So, this morning, Abigail and I went to the Dollar Store (because it's not as far as going all the way to Greeneville) and we put our heads together, and we found a lei and some other flowers and some clips and for six dollars and a hot glue gun, we got to work:


Patting myself on the back today,


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Day at Dollywood

Our family buys season passes to Dollywood (which is about an hour away from our house) every OTHER year. They aren't cheap, and this has been our way to enjoy it but not be clobbered by the expense. 

Like many people, COVID messed that up. We bought the tickets and used them one time right before COVID hit. Then, we were a year out of all activities.

I called Dollywood and explained our situation. I told them that with my husband's job working in the Emergency Room we could not risk exposure and wouldn't be able to visit for a year. I asked them if they'd consider rolling our tickets over into the next year. They agreed to do it -- although I lost our "Big-a-Friend" passes which we really love. (We get two passes each to be used at various times of the year.)

However, we were SO thankful that they extended our passes for us. And yesterday, we finally went back. There were some mask policies in place, but otherwise, it felt like a little bit of "normal life" again for us. 

We took: Grama Joni, Jacob, and our friend Katy who homeschools with us for the day. It was a beautiful day (right under 80 degrees) and there were not really any lines the WHOLE day. We ended up staying from 10a-6p, when the park closed.

Here are some pictures we captured of our day. JB was sleeping because he was on nights, but we wanted to take an advantage of a Wednesday park opening when we were hoping the crowds would be low!

Katy with Hannah -- right before Hannah rode "The Eagle" for the first time. Hannah, who is finally the mandatory 50" to ride every ride at the park, tried every single ride! And she loved them all! In fact, she only stopped when she just started feeling too sick to ride anymore.

My boys

Jacob made the tea cups go SO FAST. I have no idea how these gals didn't barf.

Our group (with picture taken by Jacob)

And our group (with picture taken by Joni)

Thank GOODNESS we had Jacob with us to ride the "scrambler" with Hannah. She has to go with someone over 16, and every time I ride it and nearly throw up!!

Katy is a fellow dancer (INCREDIBLY talented!) and such a great role model for my young Abigail!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Quick trip to Nashville

This weekend, I quickly put-together a last minute trip. My friend, Kelsey, who stretches back our days at the Mayo Clinic beginning in 2003, was going to be in the area. My mother-in-law, wanted to see my niece Grace for her prom. So she and I popped in the car for a whirlwind of hugs and hello's!

One of my dearest friends, Kelsey -- a fellow blonde, six footer who also played college basketball (for Notre Dame!)

My niece before she put on her dress.


In her dress. How lovely!

Kelsey is a fellow Wingpsan lover. We played five games and I squeaked out a 3-2 victory winning the last game by just 1 point!

I also got to see two other women very dear to my heart: my cousin Josh's wife, Sarah, and my college teammate, Shea. I did not get a picture with them, but I was able to spend some short but sweet time loving and being loved by both of them. 

Sarah lost her Dad to a three-week whirlwind of pancreatic cancer in September. Shea recently lost her Mama -- her best friend -- to a cancer they thought she had beaten. It was so emotional to get to be with them, but also to sit with them in their thick bout of grief. 

It makes me thankful for the grief others have sat through with me, and even two very grief-filled roads I traveled with Kelsey in the last fifteen years.

Life is NOT easy. There is great sadness. There is hard things. There are moments when you truly feel like your life is not able to be lived ... but JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!

Please pray for my friend Shea if you are reading this today. Many of you sent her a card during her grief, but please don't forget her. Her heart is so, so wounded and in pain right now, and she needs the Lord to help guide her through this grief.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Mish Mash

I continue to use coloring as a peaceful activity for me. I especially like to do it during the kids’ ballet lessons. This keeps me off my phone. And I also just can’t read during lessons — too many distractions. 

also continue to crack up at the things I find on my phone .... I have no idea what this is but there you have it. 

Look how long her hair is getting!!!

I’m not  sure if it would count as a real farm week if JB didn’t send me one of these. It’s an aerial view of our farm and where the sheep paddocks need to be next set up. Today, the boys got number 1 done and part of number 2. 

Abigail’s solo “Brave” and her duet with Remi “Try” are really coming along nicely. This is Abigail waiting for her turn to work on her performance. 

This girl. She’s always coming up with something. I hope she always loves life as much as she does now. 

Hanging out together at ballet.

Our friend Katy has FINALLY got to be WITH us for homeschooling days instead of just zooming because of covid. 

Kari (left), Katy, and Ana schooling in the Kotynski yard oon a beautiful day 

Monday, April 19, 2021


  • “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate." – Linda Grayson

Beautiful weather. 

The slowing down of COVID. 

New baby goats. 

Visits with old lambs. 

Even some time to make funny videos.

These are my people. 

We do life together. 

I long for visits not marked by thoughts of pandemics. 

They are almost here,


Sunday, April 18, 2021

We Bought a Farm: Having Oxen

  • “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox." – Proverbs 14:4

Today, kicked my butt. 

  • Our "puppy", Raven got into the girl's new playhouse and destroyed a bunch of the girls toys.
  • Due to a miscommunication, she got in there a second time. 
  • A wild animal (Bear? Coyote?) ate the head off of one of our bottle-fed lambs. It was awful.
  • Raven is in heat but shouldn't be bred during her first heat. So we have to keep Ritter away from her. Easy enough, except he managed to get spooked by shooting and climb OUT of our outdoor kennel through a hot tin the fence he should have never been able to fit through.
  • We had to repair the fence. 
And that's just the farming side. Honestly, the kid side felt nearly as bad. Lots of bad behavior. Complaining. Disrespect. Frustrations. Arguments. 

Did I tell you John is working three 12-hours shifts in a row? That he had to squeeze an entire month of work into three weeks in order to take the vacation with us?

And then a farming friend shared the scripture I posted above with me. And it really hit home. Things happen on the farm because our farm is ALIVE. Our house is crazy because there are CHILDREN in it. Life is hard because we are living it. And it's real. Animals die. Children misbehave. But without these dogs, we'd lose the joy of raising Australian Shepherds. And without the sheep, we couldn't manage our pastures or eat delicious meat. Without my children? Well, enough said. 

To those of you who had a day like I did, remember. It's crazy because there ARE oxen! What a great thing.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Covid coming out of

  • “I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”– Oscar Wilde

Everyone faced different COVID battles. Some people's lives were touched only minimally. Other people lost someone they loved. Some quarantined very hard based on high-risk factors. Others were able to be more flexible. 

I truly cannot judge everyone's decisions. Truly. This was a pandemic. And there is not a handbook on pandemic. There is no one alive who can remember a past pandemic ... and life was quite different 100+ years ago. 

Ironically, just about the time this pandemic hit, we were reading the book Fever. Man, to watch the reality of that come into reality just a few weeks later was an incredible coincidence.

For my immediate family (John and me and the kids), life got a lot easier once COVID hit our family. We were able to make choices that we would not have made had we not gotten the virus. This resulted in a lot of survivor's guilt for me. But it was our reality. (And again, no handbook for this pandemic.)

Either way, our deep quarantine continued on because of the amazing family we do life with: The Koytnski's. Eddie (the dad) is my first cousin and through a bunch of divine interventions, they ended up moving five miles down the road from us nearly three years ago. They are the ONE thing that had been missing from my life here at The Bauernhof prior to their arrival ... that close-by family that you could count on for anything at any minute. They ARE our people. They have made my life SO much richer and have truly "completed" our home here. 

John was exposed to COVID on a Tuesday evening in the hospital. We spent an entire day with the Kotynski family on Wednesday. Thursday was Thanksgiving. We were with our in-laws that entire day. And Anni and her foster daughter. We believe John "became contagious" on Friday morning. He and Jacob went to do hay together, and Jacob was the second person to come down with the virus. (Anni would also get COVID from us. Ironic since we had been quarantining from here for quite some time.)

Gabe (the eldest Kotynski child) was with us all of Friday, but he wasn't with John, and none of us were contagious yet. So somehow, in the end, their entire family, AND John's parents, were spared from COVID. 

So quarantine sort of "ended" for us, but for them, it was still at least+ six months from ending. Now, Eddie's parents (who live across the street from him) and both he and his wife have obtained the vaccine. We are therefore, slowly lifting the quarantine. Their vaccines aren't "solid" until May 6th so we are doing small things right now.

The beauty of this is .... breathtaking. On Thursday evening, for the first time in over a year, Kari and Ana were at a ballet lesson with Abigail. We have continued doing only private lessons this entire year to protect us all. But the girls are in a showcase on May 1, and so they had an opportunity to perform in front of their fellow dancers. 

These two pictures make me SO happy. I watched them dance, sobbing ....