Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Marriage Advice


Toby and Fez

While Anni was out of town for Christmas, Hannah and I went over each day to feed her goats and two big dogs (her third big dog, Zuey went with her).

All of Annie’s dogs are rescues, and Toby on the left was probably abused by men because he won’t go anywhere near a man. His second least favorite people are tall women like me. (Anni is okay, obviously, and if I am over long enough he loosens up for me.) But he lovessss kids. Especially girl kids like Hannah. 

(Poor Sidge was a favorite of Toby’s until he started growing like a man.)

So Hannah did chores with me everyday so Toby could feel safe!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Tuesday Truth

Missing scissors

We can NEVER find scissors in my house! I even buy more, and they are constantly toy gone. 

During this break, JB has been helping the girls clean their room. (Hannah, particularly, has trouble getting rid of things, and she seems to do better working with JB on this “problem”.)

While cleaning out their room he found SEVEN pairs of scissors! Seven!!

Truth for my children

Christmas truth

This is how I feel! Thus the reason we love the reusable bags that my sister-in-law AD’s family makes and we use year after year after year!


I can’t believe I take pictures of poop. What is come of me in my life? But if I’m out on the farm and I see unusual scat, I want to know what it is. So a picture to JB it is …

Our teammates

I loved watching as the Kotynskis returned from their out of town vacation and Hannah and Genevieve jumped into each other’s arms. These family members are my homeschooling teammates. 


We got Sidge an aquarium for Christmas. We also got some books to go with it. Now he and JB are busy planning the whole setup. Sidge LOVES the idea. I absolutely love watching how excited Sidge is about all things nature and outdoors. 

He’s also been working on getting woodpeckers closer to the house. And they are coming. He could care less about things and money. He loves nature and animals and is just the sweetest kid you’ve ever met. 

I hope that his 13th birthday next month doesn’t usher in teen-dom. I want him to be like this forever!

Look how old Sidge is looking! 

Time to process some deer!

On Christmas Eve (which was our Christmas Day, Shane and Linda, staying at their own house down the road, had an unexpected opportunity to hunt a deer.

For us, the opportunity to have free organic meat is an incredible blessing. This was a large buck, and the deer around here don’t eat anything but organic food. (We don’t have big farming around here that uses a lot of chemicals.)

So, Shane and JB processed a very beautiful buck. Today we finished the process by grinding all the meat. Deer meat, especially from an older buck, is incredibly lean. But if you combine it with beef or lamb, it’ll work wonderfully. 

So today, JB and I finished with the help of our child who loves cooking, Hannah. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

A Good Reminder


My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don't think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won't notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
By Elena Mikhalkova
(Image of Tasha Tudor, American Illustrator 1915-2008)

How Infertility and the military connects humans


Yesterday, I got to have lunch with a now-dear friend: LaShea (pictured at left with our mutual friend Linda and her little baby, Eli.) We forgot to take a picture which, for a Blogger, almost feels like we didn't meet at all. But we did, and it was great. LaShea has been an encouragement to me to keep using my voice to show Christ's love online. Two different times when I thought about getting off of social media entirely, she encouraged me to keep talking. She is a person who helps assure that I am not living in an echo chamber. She reminds me of important things that I need to keep in mind.

We were stationed in Turkey with Linda and her husband Shane from 2010-2012. After Turkey, Shane and Linda went to Germany. They met LaShea. We moved to the Azores. LaShea lives in Germany also. LaShea met Linda. 

Connected with Crystal Bowman, I got involved with an infertility book: Mothers in Waiting! Linda connected me with LaShea. LaShea wrote a chapter for the book too. We became friends. 

I love how the military and infertility and the military connects people who otherwise may never have met.

Four years ago, we had the opportunity to meet in person. Yesterday, we finally had our second lunch!

Last few days

It has been a fantastic week here on the farm. JB was off of work through December 24. He returned for two full days on the 25th and 26th. It is now the 27th, and he is off for two more days. My dear friend Kelsey will be coming in tomorrow evening. 

I cannot put into words what it felt like to be on the farm, the six of us, without any major outside things pulling at us. There was no family visiting. No people to cook for. No COVID clobbering my husband. My in-laws were gone, Erin and her kids were gone, the Kotynski family was out of town, and Anni was gone. Only Shane and Linda were in town for the week. While we did, inadvertently, end up processing a deer on Christmas Eve (thanks to a very stellar buck that would provide great meat for our family), we mostly just laid low

That's not to say I don't love the people we do have in our lives. The in-laws being gone makes a lot of things harder. Erin and the kids bring so much joy. Jacob was a tremendous help. The Kotynski family and Anni are our teammates. 

But still . . . just being with us, felt so NICE!

Here are some pictures from the last few days:

Here is Sidge laying low with two of our three doggies. Sidge is ecstatically about animals and nature of all sorts ... just like his Daddy.

On the 26th, I decided to take the kiddos over to my Uncle Ed and Aunt Janet's new home halfway to Greeneville. We rarely get to visit with them just us. They have their own grandkids in town, and so often, if we are with them, it's a large cacophony of children. But this evening, we were simply able to just play some games and have some Indonesia-inspired fruit and dip (which I need to get the name of.) I also had lunch with a dear infertility friend, LaShea, earlier that day, but I failed to get a picture of it.

On Christmas Day, we had to get a paddock run for the animals. Farming is interesting. There is no opportunity, at least not a very large one, to put off things that have to be done. If the sheep need a new paddock on Christmas Day, if you don't get it setup, there will be a catastrophe at some point. Animals need what animals need no matter how you are feeling or what your holiday is. It's a big commitment, and we take these animals giving us meat seriously. Unfortunately, I had to try and run the paddock with the four kiddos which is a BIG exercise in patience. I took this picture of Hannah to remember that while I'm barking instructions for paddock set up, kids are still just looking around at the flowers. 

On Christmas Day, Shane took the boys to see Spider Man, and I took the girls to see SING2. I'm not sure I've ever been to a movie on Christmas Day, but with John working, I wanted to make it fun for us all.

Christmas Eve, I got out to do some paddock work. It was 56 degrees with no wind. It was HOT for Christmas. Last year, we had a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas Day wonderland of snow. This year, we have yet to see anything close to snow yet. It's actually one of the reasons I love Tennessee. After living in places that were always hot and NEVER snowed, and then living in places that were always cold and snowed a lot, it's the perfect mixture for me.

We had Gabe's dog Bronco in with us for the week. He's such a piece of work and still a big puppy. I also took care of Anni's animals this week. I had the opportunity to discuss with the kids how having community means "helping the team" even if you don't feel like it. It is an honor to have these amazing people in our "family" here in East TN. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday Funnies

I stumbled upon this old video of my kids -- from April 2015. (Time, please SLOW DOWN!) I am not sure what makes me laugh harder: Sidge doing ballet, Hannah yelling: "SEE!" over and over and over again, or little Abigail coming in with a "PHOTO BOMB!" What a crazy life I get the privilege of having.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Some of my favorite Christmas videos from year's past

Christmas in Istanbul, Turkey, 2010: Pregnant with Abigail

Christmas in Adana, Turkey, Incirlik Air Base, 2011: Santa video for Isaac

Christmas in Adana, Turkey, Incirlik Air Base, 2011: Decorating with boys for first time

Christmas in Adana, Turkey, Incirlik Air Base, 2011: Christmas Eve

Christmas in Adana, Turkey, Incirlik Air Base, 2011: Christmas Day

Christmas in the Azores, Portugal, 2012: Santa visits Sidge

Christmas in the Azores, Portugal, 2013: Boys discuss Christmas play

Spring Hill, TN 2014: Receiving Advent Calendars from Shane and Linda in Germany

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Farm friends

See this? This is me doing the animals at Anni's farm (she's out of town for Christmas) on my way to a neurologist appointment. (Trying to get to the root of all my migraines.) I had to be very careful to not get so dirty I had to go BACK home and change again. So I wore these boots, pulled my jeans up, and then switched boots in the car.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Good Bye Jacob

Today is a tough on here at the Bauernhof. Jacob, who has been with us as a wwoofer on and off for five years, but consistently the last three years is leaving us for new adventures. 

Jacob is a very private guy so I won't share a lot about him with "strangers" but I will tell you that Erin and her kids left for a three-week trip today. Grama Joni went home. And Jacob packed up his car and moved westward. Grampa and Grama are also currently out of town as well. So it really is just the six of us here on the farm.

Jacob promises we will see him again, but he's heading many states away, and we wonder when that could possibly be.

Abigail and Hannah and I had a good hard cry together as he drove away. It just won't be the same around here without Jacob.

That being said, we are looking forward as a family to new adventures. We will not be hosting farm volunteers anymore and are going to make a point to not have anyone live with us for the foreseeable future. We really feel that the age of our children is ushering in a new era for us. We've had someone living with us from 2010-2021, and now, it will be just us. We plan on this being the case for the remainder of our children's childhood. But we will see.

The Lord called us to this ministry. First Veronica from 2010-2012 and then my Aunt Connie for year in the Azores. John's parents moved in with us for two years before they had their own home again, and over the last 7 seven years, we've hosted dozens of volunteers for months (or years) at a time.

My boys are staying home alone now. We want them to not have "strangers" here when we leave them on the farm. So it is time to shut down visitors for awhile. We do hope Tijmen will be returning to us, and hopefully Jacob for visits. Erin and the kids will also be with us for 1-2 more months. But as this era moves on, we are going to hunker down and just BE ... the six of us.

Bittersweet today for sure.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Nutcracker Performance

It’s the Nutcracker!!! So much to write about what is going on in our lives this weekend. 

Joni is here! But on Sunday, the show will be over. Grama Joni will go back to Florida. Erin and her kiddos are going to spend three weeks with family for Christmas. And Jacob is leaving. For good. His five year adventure at the Bauernhof has come to an end. 

That will require many posts to digest …. 

In the meantime we are preparing for our final show this evening. 

All beauty you may observe on me is a result of my friend Erin. More on that too ….

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Christmas all alone and a visit to Elijah's Harbor

Christmas will be here soon. The Dunhams will not be here. My in-laws will be gone. Everyone will be gone. It will only be the six of us. I'm genuinely looking forward to this alone time at our house and being able to spend the holiday with our little family. Well, it's not little exactly. But you know what I mean. 

In the meantime, here are some pictures of our current life. Grama Joni arrived yesterday and so you'll be getting more on that VERY soon!

In the meantime, here are two pictures of our "Trouble Twins" (Zach and Hannah):
And here are some pictures from our adventure at Elijah's Harbor with the Heritage Home Scholars "Girls' Club". It was so wonderful for Betty Ann to organize this for us!


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

A trip into the woods (Part 2)

I finally got Erin's pictures (always better than mine) for our hike into the woods and wanted to share them with you. We took three of my kids (Isaac didn't go), Erin's two kids, and Genevieve and Eoin on a 2 hour hike in the woods. Jacob joined us, although you will have to look closely to spot him in the pictures.

My hiking boots broke a few months ago, and I haven't replaced them. I had a blister from my boots so I tried to wear tennis shoes. BIG BIG mistake. It was so slippery that I had a hard time maneuvering with all the leaves on the floor of the woods.

Here are some pictures of our adventures: