Sunday, July 31, 2022

Happy Birthday Mr. Lloyd

We did a very quick drive-over to say Happy Birthday to Mr. Lloyd. He is the "older gentleman" who owned the land that Anni bought (he sold her his back 7.) He is not married and does not have children of his own, and he has totally adopted Tristan and Anni!

Colorado Trip

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Greene County Derby

My friend, Meredith (along with her husband Daniel and her kiddos: Lilly, Hosea, and Janesa), invited me and the kids to the Greene County Fair. Sidge wasn't feeling well so I went with the other three kiddos. We were specifically there for the "Powder Puff Derby" (women's derby). 

It was incredibly loud. Incredibly. I will wear ear plugs the next time. Here are some pictures from our evening:

To be fair, we only did one portion of the Greene County Fair, and there are many different types of events that we could have participated in. But holy cow ... this felt like another planet. 

I have always wanted to spend more time with the animals at the County Fair. (I did spend time at the Minnesota State Fair which is a step up from the County Fair many moons ago.)

Firstly, we were the only people with our hand's over their ears. Are these people deaf?!

Secondly, JB saw many of the people that I saw at the fair later in his ER after fights and what-not that occur at the fair. 

Thirdly, I think I felt more out of place at this event than I did living in Turkey and the Azores. Truly this is a completely different sub-set of our county. Not saying that this is bad or good ... just different.

Fourthly, I let Isaac and Hannah (and Gabe and Eoin who joined us later) do one ride at the fair: The Graviton. Gabe actually passed out on this ride! I kid you not. And fair rides scare me. I don't think I am going to do that again.

I really love the Scraders 


Friday, July 29, 2022


Wow! Just WOW! This was 8 years ago. 2014. John had just separated from the military. We we were leaving Turkey and then the Azores and moving back to the USA.

We went to Olive Garden, and my kids asked what the cold stuff blowing from the ceiling onto their back was. They had been in a house without heat or a/c for two years and didn't remember what that cold stuff was. 

We also had no cell phones. The world had ERUPTED with smart phones while we were gone. And it was like the Twilight Zone for us. Everywhere we went, people were glancing at these little rectangular devices. What was so important? After realizing that every place we went, people required a number to text you on, we decided to bite the bullet and buy these little gadgets. The lady at the cell phone store asked us what our last cell phone was. When we said a Razor flip phone, she said: "Were you missionaries?"

We were living in Spring Hill, TN. It was the six of us, Scrubs, and my in-laws. The home was gigantic with two master bedrooms, and the rent at the time was $1800 a month. (I imagine it would be $2,800 today.) We randomly picked this place because it was near Nashville (a city we were familiar with from our time living above the border in Kentucky) and JB had gotten a job at an ER in Lewisburg, TN.  

This picture below was the moment of truth. Our stuff had been "lost at sea" for about four months, and other people on our ship were getting back shipments completely covered in mold. Would our stuff be a total loss too? The truck unloaded and only about 20% was damaged so we called it a win. 

We'd spend the next year living in this beautiful neighborhood with sidewalks and a community pool and an HOA that meant we couldn't hang our clothes to dry and had to lower basketball hoops after each use before we began our forever move to Bulls Gap, TN. 

It was a place of good memories for me as we looked for our farm and began to return to being Americans. I actually miss that cute little neighborhood and the library down the road. So many adventures!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Turkey Time

Raising poultry is NOT easy. And it is NOT clean. Even doing them at the top end of wonderful (rotationally grazing with fresh grass and sunshine) results in a lot of poop. Birds poop a lot. It's everywhere. If a hose is running through the middle of a paddock (like the ones pictured above) and you need to move that house, you are going to get poop all over yourself. It's just how it is going to be. Mix that with the heat and the humidity and the feed they eat which is dusty, and you just feel disgusting each and every time you service them. 

It is because of this that I will never be able to eat turkey that is not my turkey ever again. I don't want to be a snob. But I can't help it. I just cannot bear to imagine how disgusting the conditions are for a turkey being sold at 99cents a pound. It would have to be just horrendous. Chicken is the same way for me. While I can eat chicken from Chik-fil-A still, I cannot eat it if it is purchased from the grocery store. (I know that doesn't make sense, but seeing the pieces and seeing the price mans I see how cheaply they must have had to raise these birds.)

Sidge continues to think that raising turkeys might be his "golden ticket" on the farm. I think it is possible. If we can get the farm paid off and pass it to him without a mortgage (Isaac has already exercised his right-of-refusal to the land), he might be able to make a living doing turkeys. 

It is 18-weeks of hard work. But then it is done. And it is incredibly rewarding when you see all the meat waiting for you. 

But for now, back to the paddock I go. :)

Monday, July 25, 2022

Happy Birthday Abigail


At some "pointe" I'll move this post back to July 16th. The day my oldest daughter turned eleven. But for now, since I am WAY late in wishing her a happy birthday, I'll leave it here. 

She is eleven and the picture above truly captures her biggest passion: BALLET. She also likes birds/nature some but mostly, nearly everything she wants to do surrounds ballet. 

The picture above is her fourth grade picture at homeschooling co-op. She will enter FIFTH grade this fall.

Abigail Turns Ten

Abigail Turns Nine

Abigail Turns Eight
Abigail Turns Seven
Abigail Turns Six
Abigail Turns Five
Abigail Turns Four
Abigail Turns Three
Abigail Turns Two
Abigail Turns One

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Teenagers can be hard H-A-R-D. 

I never, ever, ever dreamed that I would say: "Hannah is my easy one."

But she is. 

I don't want to dog my kids on social media and act like they aren't amazing little humans. Because, well, they are amazing little humans. 

I don't want to act like I don't appreciate their uniqueness and wonderfulness and amazingness. Because, well, I do appreciate those things.

But sometimes, I simply feel SO unappreciated. I feel like they really, truly, don't care a lick about me. And that I am simply here to make sure their lives go as smoothly as possible.

An example: I woke up at about 7:30am. I got a text from John (at work in the ER) saying that the turkeys probably needed moving sometime today. It's Sunday. I was planning on going to the late service (start time 10:30). Upon receipt of my husband's text, I decided that it might be smarter to go to the first service, get home, and do the turkey moving. I knew if we tried to do it before church, a lot can go wrong and we may not make it to church.

So I rolled over to a snuggling-with-me Abigail and told her to go get everyone getting ready for church. It's now nearing 8am. We have to be out the door by 8:30am for 9:00am start time. And I'm gonna go do ALL the animal chores while the kiddos eat and get dressed.

Somehow I did it. I did the super-fast-cheating-but-it-will-work way of caring for animals knowing that we could do a secondary-welfare check upon return home. 

  • I raced out to the turkeys who are down in the forest garden and just made sure they had food and water to last a few hours (they did.) While out there, I was moving their shade shelter and the rope broke. I went flopping down on my back side. I then went around to the front to try and push it and the wood broke. I kid you not. One of those days. 
  • I dumped a half-scoop of feed for each of our paddocks of big ducks (due to predation and newcomers to the farm we currently have one paddock with a male and female in it and one paddock with a male duck and a goose. Long story.)
  • I half-way moved the Suskovitch-style style chicken tractor that is housing our new baby ducks and just topped off their water. This meant I didn't climb in and move everything around. I totally cheated, but it was good enough. I raced to the brooder to get them some food and yeast (ducks need this) and gave that to them too.
  • I jumped in the four-wheeler with ol' Ritter along with me. He needed some exercise. We zipped over along the front road (we've had to give up using our back road due to erosion issues) to the chickens where I gave them four scoops of feed and opened them up for today.
I arrived back at home at 8:15 and managed to jump in the shower, throw on one of my quick Prana dressesand even manage to put on a bit of mascara (the only make-up I find necessary). 

Okay so then we go to church. After church we stop to see JB (two of the kiddos are feeling a tad under the weather), and then get gas. We get home, and I now have to go BACK through all the animals and do them "better" then we left earlier.

Since one of the boys is not feeling great, the other boy and I go out to the turkeys. We decide not to officially "move" the turkeys, but instead get their next paddock ready and shrink down the size of their current paddock so they start hammering a new area. Turkeys are creatures of habit, and even though we've moved their shade shelter, they are still hanging out in the same area beating it down more and more.

I walk back to the house and begin working on cleaning the kitchen. As I walk back to the house, I tell boy that I am doing turkeys with that I will turn on the water for him as I head out. And I do.

In the midst of cleaning the kitchen, he comes back inside ... angry. And he's angry with me. I left him there and one of the lines to the electric wire snapped and it took longer to post the posts in then he thought. So he comes in the house mad at ME. Mad at me that I wasn't down there with him doing the job that his job that I am only helping him with because his brother doesn't feel good. Upset with me when I was outside doing all of the chores for everyone this morning.

I truly feel that I cannot win with teenagers. I am doing something wrong all the time. At least with toddlers, they thought I hung the moon just for sitting on the floor reading to them. Now, I am the bad guy even when I am not the bad guy.

It's hard!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Organizing the "stuff"

We are going to restart homeschool on August 15th. This year I will be doing the following:

British Literature
Teaching this to 16 students from our Heritage Home Scholars group including the following students:
  1. My Isaac (going into 8th grade)
  2. My Sidge (going into 8th grade)
  3. My "niece" Ana (going into 10th grade)
  4. My "niece" Kari (going into 8th grade)
  5. Annabelle (my childhood BFF's daughter who lives in North Carolina but will zoom in with us; she's going into 8th grade)
  6. Walker (a friend of our's through homeschool/church/ballet going into 9th grade.)
  7. Micah (a friend of our's through homeschool/church) who is going into 9th grade
  8. Malachi (Maryah (Gabe's girlfriend)'s younger brother going into 10th grade)
  9. Sara (a rising 10th grader and daughter of my friend Catherine who is associated with me through homeschool/ballet/co-op.)
All of the kiddos above (except Annabelle) will also be taking:
  • "History of the Christian Church" through Sunlight with me. This is a Bible/history combo. 
  • A Logic class
In addition, Micah will be joining John for a Physical Science class. He is going to teach that just to three boys.

Whew, that's a lot.

I didn't plan on helping homeschool a lot of other children, but to be quite frank, their presence helps curbs the costs of our schooling, I enjoy it, and, teaching writing to kids is intimidating. So, enter, me! :)

The "QUAD SQUAD" is comprised of:
  • Abigail (entering 5th)
  • Nephew Eoin "Owen" (entering 4th)
  • Hannah (entering 3rd)
  • Niece Genevieve (entering 3rd)
Will be doing the following:
  • Sonlight Bible (with Aunt Hannah)
  • Sonlight Language Arts (with me)
  • Sonlight History (with Aunt Hannah)
  • Sunlight Science (with me/John)
  • CTC Math (online)
  • Crafts/Art (Grama)
  • Piano
  • Various electives through the co-op
  • Typing (online through Keyboarding without Tears.)
  • Extra Math (an online program to help reinforce facts)
My boys (entering 8th grade) will take the following:
  • Sonlight History
  • Sonlight Language Arts
  • Sonlight Bible
  • Logic
  • CTC Math (online)
  • Physical Science (with Dad at home)
  • Karate
  • Isaac only: 
    • Theater (at the homeschool co-op)
    • French (through Great Courses online)
  • Sidge only: 
    • Spanish I (at homeschool co-op)
    • PE (at homeschool co-op)
Getting ready for schooling is a BIG undertaking but I am excited about all the cool stuff they get to do this year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Family Fun

John's brother Matt and his wife Dani are here staying with Grampa and Grama K. for a week. They are some of my favorite people. My sister-in-law Danielle is truly a sister to me, and her daughters: Peyton (6) and Cami (4) are so stinkin' cute! We've gotten to spend quite a bit of time with them this week. Here are some adorable pictures:

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

My boys

This is SO my boys. 

Isaac playing piano.

Sidge working on his fish tank. 

I love them. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Returning to the Farm

I am back on the farm after TWO WHOLE WEEKS away. I don't know that I have ever been gone for that long. In fact, JB and I realized that we hadn't been away from each other for that long since Hannah was born, and I "stork-nested" in America with the three other kiddos, and he had to remain on the island of Terceira. It was a long time. We don't enjoy being a part for that long, but because I took Hannah, it gave us some opportunities as a family. He got to be WITH the boys and have "guy time", and I got to take a break from the demands of life as a homeschooling Mama of 4 kiddos. 

My days were very simple. This camp had over 300 girls, and most of them stayed on the Belhaven University Campus. However, because Abigail was THE youngest girl there, and her friend Bailee was the fourth-youngest, we decided that we would have them be "off-campus" attendees. 

However, they were still there from 8am-9p minimum six of the seven days each week. I would pick them up LATE and drop them off EARLY. We'd wake them up, feed them breakfast, get their ballet buns securely in place, and send them on their way. 

Jessica and I stayed in an AirB&B about five minutes away from the college. Our days were filled with the game Wingspan (I got Jessica addicted), walking Arabelle, napping, and relaxing. Jessica also had to do a little work for her job, and I watched a large amount of Wimbledon during week one. 

Jackson can be a bit concerning crime-wise, and it can change block to block. On one block, there are million dollar homes. And on another block, there are stray dogs and dilapidated houses. I decided to bring Raven with because I wasn't sure how safe the actual area was that we rented our place, and we were just females traveling alone. She was a ROCK STAR and so fun to have on the trip. I've decided that she could totally be an apartment dog in New York City. She does not require a farm like Arabelle does. And Ritter? He's just too BIG for a little apartment. 

All in all, I was impressed by the employees and people I met in Jackson. While it did feel a little unsafe in spots, generally, I felt very comfortable there. The heat, however, was oppressive. I couldn't help but think about cotton slaves who would have been forced to work every single day in those temperatures and then returned to homes without any air conditioning. It's actually unimaginable, and their strength really resonated with me on the trip. (I grew up in South Florida, and it was hot there. But this southern heat felt even worse. I think it was the absence of a breeze?)

I truly fell unable to adequately write about this camp and the experience it was for me, for Abigail, for Bailee, for Bailee's mom Jessica, and for Ana Kotynski who stayed in the dorms. We were SO affected by this place. We were CHANGED by this place. It was simply one of the most HOLY things I've ever done, and I know it was the most holy thing my young daughter has ever done. She came to Mississippi, truly, a Christian because her parents were. But while there, she FOUND the Lord. She came to understand him for herself, and she made a decision to follow Him because she wanted to. The worship. The ballet. The Lord. Unbelievable. Truly. 

There is no question that Abigail wants to go back. Ana was as good of a dancer as everyone has told her she was. She was placed in Level 9 (11 is the highest before the PPL or pre-professional) with only three years of dance experience. She is just that talented. Abigail was in the lowest level (4) with Bailee. We knew this would be the case strictly based on her age. Truly the level didn't matter for the experience, but Ana getting 9 was a huge confidence boost. 

I encourage anyone whose daughter has ANY love of dance to look into Ballet Magnificat! Spend some time on their website and look into what they do. They have managed to combine dancing with true purpose. And it was simply ... awe-inspiring.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Closing pics

Jessica and I truly were a FANTASTIC team. I am not sure I could get along with someone better than I get along with her. We had an AMAZING two weeks ... she also does LOVE her tacos :)

We met former Central Ballet dancer-turned Ballet Mag trainee, Sarah Bosse, for a brunch. It was a beautiful outdoor mall, and that's Hannah smiling under there!

My pancakes were uh-mazing, but I have to be honest, I cannot eat eggs that aren't from my farm ... they just don't taste right.

Here we are on one of our last mornings. We'd get up at 6:30 every morning. Jessica would make the girls breakfast while I did their hair to hold up to 12 hours of dancing/hanging-out, etc. Then I'd drive them to Belhaven for their camp day. 

Finishing the braids!

Hannah at our brunch enjoying a not-so-hot-chocolate!

This little girl is SOOO fun. She's up for ANY adventure and truly goes with the flow.

A quick snap of the "Ballet Magnificat!" campus. The girls danced here as well as at Belhaven each day.

Ana rehearsing for her dance at the Gala which was held on the last evening. 

I saw a Cinnabon, and took Hannah for her first cinnamon roll from them!

Jessica totally got addicted to WINGSPAN with me. This was her first "real" win against me! Had to show it off!

Good bye Jackson

Tomorrow morning, we will leave Jackson, Mississippi and head back to good ol’ Tennessee. It’s been a long and wonderful two weeks. The growth in Abigail and Ana and Bailee both spiritually and ballet-wise has been incredible. For me, to have two weeks of no responsibility, is something I never get. 

We celebrated today with a Cinnabon and will now pack and prepare to watch our girls perform in the closing-ceremony-gala. They will then get a few hours to get some closure with their friends (it’s Abigail’s birthday tomorrow so she especially wants to “celebrate” with her group) before I pick Abigail and Bailee and we get one more night sleep. Then, tomorrow, I’ll get Ana from her dorm, and we will make the eight-hour drive back to Bulls Gap. 

I miss John sooo much. He and I haven’t been a part for more than a week since Hannah was born. And my boys are so “not in need” of Mama anymore which feels so weird. 

Time to return to the real world!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Hannah and me

Hannah and I have spent two weeks (with Jessica!) hanging out and just being buddies around our airB&B in Jackson. What a fun time we’ve had. We’ve watched the show: No Demo Reno and we’ve done lots of games and coloring and Wimbledon and walks and talks and loving on Raven (who we call Butso also). It’s been an amazing two weeks. Saturday we will return to the real world and real life. 

More people need to take vacations where they just ARE. No activities. Just Be.