Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Get Real :: Marriage

This is the last of our six week series, and oh... this is a hard topic for me to write about and one I was thinking about just not doing.

Mike and I have been married for almost 21 years now.  There have been many ups and downs throughout the years.  The highlights have been the joy we both have in parenting.  The most incredible feelings of joy with the birth of each of our seven children was something we have both shared together.  What gifts each of them have been created out of our love.

Generally Mike and I really enjoy being with one another - going for walks, going to  treasure/consignment shops together, clipping the goats hooves together - this is one Mike has told me he likes doing with me:)

There have also been many struggles and many times I really wasn't sure if we should stay together. 
To be honest, we did not start our relationship on the right foot - having met in college and being drawn together by attraction without building a solid friendship first.  I am so grateful that, only by the grace of God, that our children, thus far, share the belief of waiting until they are older (16/17) to have a girlfriend and then setting guidelines for themselves within their relationship for physical contact.  

Both Mike and I come from divorced parents and perhaps part of our struggles are because we are learning how to build a relationship on our own, without positive models.  But regardless, I think that building a good marriage is a process that goes on throughout the entire marriage.

We are both thankful that individually we have both grown our faith in the Lord and that alone has brought us closer.

God made each of us as unique, beautiful people with our own separate gifts, strengths and weaknesses.  But the thing is, as human beings, we are continually growing and changing throughout our lives.  I am not the same person Mike met 25 years ago and neither is Mike the same person he used to be.  So as we change, the challenge is to continue to grow together while still honoring each of our unique selves.

I am the forever energizer bunny that comes up with idea after new idea and wakes up each morning excited about the new day.  Mike, on the other hand, is the steady that really isn't able to formulate his own dreams and desires.  I  find myself often frustrated  because I would love to have a partner to share my enthusiasm for life and I know Mike gets frustrated with me because I have such high expectations for life.  (Really, though, how blessed am I that I have a supportive husband that will usually help me bring some of these ideas to fruition.) I know that God brought us together to compliment one another and to learn from one another.   It is probably good for me to have somebody by my side that keeps me grounded at times.

We have recently been going through this book, Finding Ever After, by Dr. Robert S. Paul.  Yes, the title is corny but it is excellent once you get past that.

This is the first Christian marriage book the resonated with me.  It does not just comment how the wife should submit to her husband and the husband be the leader.  The author actually never says either of these things and instead focuses on the fact that the two, husband and wife, each have their own dreams and the  job as partner is to be curious about the other, wanting to get to know and learn more about him/her.  It also focuses on being selfless and using language with one another that is consistently kind and affirming.  

Marriage is a work that will continue until one of us dies.  I truly believe, though, that it is a work that brings rewards beyond measure.

Please visit these other inspiring but real women as they share their stories ~

Monday, April 29, 2013


We have four little Bantam ducklings.  
Ember, Shadow, River and Thunder.  
They are about a week old and came from an older woman that raises ducks and chickens.  Do you see those little holes in their feet?  She punches holes to sex them and to keep track of their breeding lines. (Not sure I like this idea....)

  She gave us two males and two females with no cross breeding so that we can raise duckling ourselves.  They do lay eggs but are not considered a top layer by any means.
They will stay small as like Bantam chickens.

We were hoping to get good layers, but these were all that we could come across this late in the spring without ordering from a mail order source.  And selling little ducklings may be a nice little side business for one of the children.

The primary reason we wanted to get ducks (well, really their cuteness is a major attraction!) but from a homesteading point of view, was to help get our pond in a more natural balance.   Right now we have huge populations of frogs with clumps of frog eggs all over.  And do you know who likes frog eggs?  Leeches!  Yeck!!  
So, ducks will eat small frogs and I am guessing the little tadpoles too.
I also read duck droppings encourage microscopic pond life that hold back algae.   How cool is that? 

They also forage in gardens, at least that is what I have read, and eat slugs and bugs.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

These Days

Hoping the days of hats and boots are just about over.

I brought these five to Johnson State yesterday to see their oldest brother play Jack in the musical, 
Into the Woods. (of course I thought he was terrific)

The view from the campus of Johnson State...

This large plastic tube has seen so many uses.  The newest has been rolling golf balls around the interior - physics right?

Another season passes...
 maybe this is morbid but I sometimes get sad when a seasonal ritual is over - wondering how many more I will be blessed to witness and share in.

How are things these day with you?
Warm wishes,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I am starting the final color of my blanket - a deep purple, Porterfield Plum, from Peace Fleece.  Hoping to get it done while the weather is still cool.

I borrowed this book from the library and am really enjoying it - short essays from quilters- some nostalgic and some funny but all make me want to learn more about quilting and do it.

Joining in with Ginny today and looking forward to finding out what you are knitting and reading.

Warm wishes,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Get Real - Learning at Home

(All of the above were a result of self-directed activities, not assignments.)

A blogging friend, Adrie, and I happened to both be wondering how the other "did it all".  This conversation led to this six-week series, "Get Real".   Seven women (all of us mothers) from different parts of the United States with different views and beliefs, but with so much more in common, are sharing our voices each week.  This week we share about work and creativity.

We have learned at home together now for over 19 years - since the day our oldest was born:)

Our learning has looked differently throughout the years, but one underlying belief remains - that children don't actually learn unless they are interested, engaged, and preferably intrinsically motivated. 

Do I always follow my unschooling instincts?  No --- far too often I let fear creep in.  You would think after doing this for so long I would be confident that children learn what they need to when they need to.  (I really do believe this!)     I worry that they won't develop self-discipline if I don't set daily expectations, or if they choose to go to college I need to at least present them with the basics.  I worry that if I don't meet the state's expectations, we will get into trouble.

So, I compromise my beliefs.  We have an abbreviated more formal home learning that can be completed in a short amount of time and then the rest of the day is filled with self-directed, interest-led learning, fun, play, etc. and some around the home expectations such as gather firewood and a couple of chores.

I desire each of our children to develop a love of learning,  a passion for utilizing the gifts God has given them.   For the most part I can see this happening but then there are days where I will hear, "I hate school work," and I just want to throw that part of our day out the window because deep down I know that isn't how it should be because learning should never be misery.

One of my favorite home learning inspirations is Renee at Fimby.  

Joining in today with ~

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mom, I Had a Really Good Dream Last Night....

"I dreamed that Nolan gave me his laptop and I changed the password to Abe," said five year old Abraham this morning, referring to his 17 year old brother.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

At Last... Spring

So thankful for a day filled with ~

community-building at the Peaceful Parenting class
duck house planning
observing sweet toddler moments
reflecting on simple living
bouquets of coltsfoot

Wishing you a wonderful weekend where peace and joy replaces sadness and fear as enjoy this beautiful season of rebirth.
Warm wishes,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Get Real Series - Work and Creativity

A blogging friend, Adrie, and I happened to both be wondering how the other "did it all".  This conversation led to this six-week series, "Get Real".   Seven women (all of us mothers) from different parts of the United States with different views and beliefs, but with so much more in common, are sharing our voices each week.  This week we share about work and creativity.

I have always enjoyed being creative and would make family and friends gifts from as far back as I can remember.

This has carried through to the present and I am consistently drawn to creative endeavors and wanting to grow artistically and also to learn "old fashioned" skills of making for ourselves and for others, such as soap and rugs.

As our home business has grown to full-time,  I have less time than ever (or maybe it also has something to do with being a mother of 7 as well)  to be fully engaged in the creative process.  Our business requires me to spend quite a bit of time on the computer, packaging orders and wood burning. 

Wood burning began as a creative process, but now I can find it repetitive and am working on challenging myself to stay positive, get through what needs to be done, and then challenge myself to come up with new ideas.

(This was a collaboration to encourage a mom.  All the pieces were put on a key chain for her to carry with her.)

It isn't always easy to get to all of our business needs while meeting the needs of the children, the home, the baking and cooking, the homeschooling, and time to be creative.
But, our home business is an integral part of our life, it is our income that we need to live in this society, in this country.  
We are fortunate to be able to work with our hands on our little homestead making products to bless others and feel good about using wool, wood or organic cotton which can all be returned safely to the earth.

So, figuring out ways to incorporate this gracefully into our days is a constant challenge and work in progress and something that I strive to do gracefully but so often fail.  

Every so often, I do set aside a specific time allotment for a project, such as dyeing yarn or basket making.  

The rest of my creative expression comes in little bits here and there by picking up some knitting needles while reading aloud or sewing some more patchwork while nursing.

(Abby's first knit vest.)

I am grateful, though, that the creative bug has been contagious and most of our children enjoy various forms of handwork and art.  

"It would be well if we were all good hand-craftsmen in some craft and the dishonor of manual labor be done away with." - John Ruskin

"If I buy one necessity of life-
I cheat myself to some extent." - Henry David Thoreau

Please visit the others joining in today ~

Monday, April 15, 2013

Opening Season

Fishing that is - but not a big surprise that the brook trout were not biting yesterday.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Yesterday, Sarah turned 9.  
Our sweet, loud, animal-loving, strong-willed, compassionate, activity-director, homemaking-assistant, leader.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I have been enjoying crocheting granny squares lately and have one blanket that I am working on using Peace Fleece wool in some rustic colors.   The other blanket I am using hand dyed yarns in subtle tones.

After finishing up my "light" read which I actually ended up not really enjoying that much, I am back to some my more usual nonfiction type of selections.

The book, Unconditional Parenting book is to go along with the Peaceful Parenting classes I am taking and it continues to affirm what has always been in my heart.
An Everlasting Meal is a really excellent book that I am reading through again and taking notes this time for different meal ideas and cooking techniques.

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Get Real - Housework

A blogging friend, Adrie, and I happened to both be wondering how the other "did it all".  This conversation led to this six-week series, "Get Real".   Seven women from different parts of the United States with different views and beliefs, but with so much more in common, are sharing our voices each week.  This week we share about keeping up with the house work.

Well, I have a hard time functioning when things get too cluttered or too dirty.  So upon walking into our home at 4:00 in the afternoon and finding the house in disorder, I know that before I do anything else, I need to get the dishes done and the counters cleared and the floors swept.  What at first can seem really overwhelming actually only ends up taking 20 minutes or so.  If I am really short of time I will give a shout out and call everyone down for a 4:00 tidy and give each child something to do so we can get it done even faster.

(We don't have a drier - so hang our clothes on a line in the bathroom and the rest on a hanger by the woodstove and then outside in the nice weather.  I fold the clothes and put piles for each child on a bureau that is in the bathroom which holds Isaac's and Abraham's clothes.)

Much of the housework does fall on my shoulders but we do have a regular weekly and daily rhythm where everyone helps.  

Dishes are divided among the older children so Mike or I just have a couple of nights each week that we do them.  (We don't have a dish washer.)   I still do them several times during the day as they sure do pile up with 8 - 9 people living in one house and making most of our food from scratch.  I try to practice gratitude, however, while washing - to be thankful for the food we had to eat.  I also remember to be grateful for the convenience of the running hot water.  We lived two years carrying water and heating it before each wash.   To just be able to turn on the water - wow, I still think that probably the majority of the people in our world do not have that convenience.

I don't have a fancy cleaning spreadsheet - I am just not that kind of a person.  The only regularity to my week is giving the bathroom a thorough cleaning on Tuesdays.  Other than that, I will take note of a larger cleaning job that needs to be done and when the timing works out, tackle it, such as cleaning the top of the refrigerator.  Other times, I may just wash a window or two if everyone is happily busy. 

Part of my early morning routine is making my bed.  So much more peaceful when done.

The children each have some regular chores that have become routine.  Isaac vacuums the living room rug each day, Abby the stairs.  Nolan sweeps the front porch twice per week.  Sarah clears and washes the table after dinner.  Three of the children are responsible each for cleaning out, vacuuming and wiping down the car each week. 

Mike is really good about helping out with the laundry and the dishes or sweeping when he notices the dirt piling up.

(Our entry area by late afternoon)

I love cleaning with Emily now.  Every time someone is washing the dishes she says, "dish, dish" and grabs a chair to bring it up to the sink.
When I am scrubbing the floor, I give her a sponge and spray bottle.  Sometimes water can get out of hand, but it is nothing a towel can't wipe up.
We have a child size mop and dust pan.  Whenever I am sweeping, Emmy is sure to get them out and "help".    Sometimes it takes more time as dirt may be spilled on the way to the trash can but I think it all worth it.  

So that's about it - I keep things simple by picking up here and there, doing a small cleaning project when I find a few minutes and by enlisting the help of our children and my husband.

Please visit these other inspiring women that are sharing their Get Real stories today ~

Warm wishes,

Monday, April 8, 2013


Browns are starting to overtake white here - yeah!

We had a nice weekend, alternating with doing homesteading chores (cleaning up the yard, the barn), handwork, baking and cooking, walks, and a trip to town for food shopping and a library visit (Downton Abbey Season 3, Disc 1 was in!), church,and a choral concert.

Enjoying having Thomas home for spring break.  There is nothing like having a full house.

This week we are concentrating on making our little homestead presentable as spring finally, ever so slowly, but steadily begins to make her appearance.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Emmy at 18 Months

trying on her big brother's  shoes

waiting her turn to use the toilet (she is not trained yet but loves to sit and try)

rolling out some play dough

It is just amazing how at 18 months she is such a little person. 

We are enjoying every moment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Finger Knitting

 Abby and Sarah have been knitting up a storm this past week.  
(yes, the weather has still been very wintry here)

Abraham asked me to teach him this morning.

I suggested that he start with finger knitting and took out a ball of hand dyed wool in rainbow colors.

He caught on right away and was happy with himself when he handed me a finger knitted rainbow necklace 
to wear today!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lots of Fluff

no not of the little chick kind
but of the reading and knitting of late
 a simple Plain Vest for a new little baby girl born to some dear friends
a super easy reading, fluffy, before sleep that pulled me right in

Looking forward to all of the sharing today at Ginny's.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Get Real

This week we are all sharing what homesteading/gardening looks like at our homes.

Slowly, steadily, generally moving forward but occasionally taking one step backward, our family has been gardening and engaging in some aspects of homesteading.

"When a man can have light or heat without a fire, or can eat without a garden, then folks will forget that there is a God."
(I don't know where this quote came from, I just found that I had written it in one of my notebooks. 
 If you know, please share.)

Oh, this can be hard, but at the same time it can be so rewarding  to work with what the earth has to offer us – God’s gift of creation.   Digging in the soil, picking blueberries, making an apple pie from apples from our old apple trees, gathering fresh eggs and using the manure in next year’s garden.  There is nothing like the feeling of having a nearly all homegrown meal, such as quiche with eggs from your chickens and with salad and potatoes from the garden – it is just so satisfying.  Not to mention so good for the earth.  Think of the transportation miles saved, the packaging, the driving to the store, etc…when you eat home grown food.

So many disappointments as well, such as only harvesting 5 – 8  winter squash from numerous prolific vines that simply did not bear fruit, raising two female goats from 6 weeks of age, but then realizing that I am probably not ready to raise a buck and commit to twice a day milking (fear or just not wanting to be tied down I am not sure).  But for now we are loving our two does and appreciating the fertilizer they produce.  One last mistake was that I planted garlic last fall and forgot about that when letting out the chickens so we lost quite a bit.

A wonderful aspect of homesteading is that it keeps the seasons real- each season brings a new set of activities:  tapping trees and preparing the soil in early spring, finishing the planting before true summer starts, the weeding and harvesting in the summer along with the blueberries.  Then late summer and early fall brings the rest of the harvest as well as apple picking.  During all of this is the firewood harvesting, splitting and stacking.

Our children are involved in helping around our small homestead.  The younger children help with the chickens, the older ones sometimes help with the watering of the gardens and the splitting of the wood, for example.  There are seasons  when I have been pregnant and feeling terrible and wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself to get the garden producing and then when there is a toddler, I have to lower my expectations a bit again as she will want to be digging with meJ

 Aren’t we blessed to have choices? Sometimes I am grateful for the local organic family farm if one of my crop’s fails or I did not get to planting something. 

There is so much more that I want to learn and do.  My goals this year here at our little homestead involve making our own yogurt and occasional soft cheeses as well as make our own soap.   I would like to include these new skills into our seasonal and daily homesteading routines.

Looking forward to all the sharing again with these inspiring (but real) women ~