Friday, June 28, 2013


Myself and four of our children are at a resort type place on the islands of Lake Champlain in Vermont.   We met my Mom and step-father here.  For us, it is time to spend with them as they live in Connecticut and we don't get to see them too often.

Mike needed to stay home and get some wedding orders completed, care for our animals and transport our two oldest where they need to be.

Staying here among all of these giant RVs all crammed together makes me wonder even more about our world - I mean there are so many that have so little yet so many choose to spend their money on extra homes and spend their vacations sitting around in an environment much like their home - watching television, hooked up to wi-fi, showers, hot water, AC, and so much more in their own RV.  So strange to me - so very strange.

I am staying in one of the little cabins - one of three and one of the only ones that have to use the campground's bathrooms and showers.  But even these cute cabins are out in the open surrounded by so many others.  I feel uncomfortable here - surrounded by so many people is something I am not used to and I have a hard time trying to comprehend how this constitutes a vacation for so many.   An RV right near us put out their Beer Pong table (my 15 year old informed me).    Yes, I  can understand visiting a new area, exploring ,etc.  but so many of these RVs have Vermont plates and I have met many Vermonters that go "camp" in their who-knows-how-long RV just minutes from their home.

As I type this post it is 10:15, much later than I usually stay up but Emmy has just barely gone to sleep and the sounds of  "vacationers" is still loud.   I do long for home and to be with Mike - for the familiarity of daily life - the animal chores and the bread baking, the noise and chaos and occasional quiet times, the gardens to tend to and the knitting needles to knit with - the children to read to and to go on walks with.

But at the same time I need to be grateful for the time with my mother and step-father and the time with Emmy, Sarah, Abby and Isaac - and also for the time that I have to be alive - all we all have is right now - that is all.

Unlike so many others in our society, my life is how I would choose to live.  For me there really isn't such a thing as vacation.  Really my regular life is just as I would have it.   Vacation has become a word that isn't something I look forward to - work for - live my days for - my regular daily life is filled with joys, trials, hardships, celebrations, rewards and challenges - but above all, it is my first choice.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The sun was out here yesterday for a little bit... gathering berries to make a potion.

A little fairy play inspired by a blog post from Imagine Childhood.

a slingshot

She was a smart girl to want to put on her bathing suit first thing in the morning - she must have known she would need it later.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Simply Living Lately

Abby turned 13 - she chose a super unhealthy cake to make - once a year they get to choose a cake and most of the children decide to make it themselves.

I built a door for the barn.

This chrysalis was hanging from some lettuce I picked. Looking forward to seeing what it will become.

I am sure there are better ways to do this - but - what I do is when I clean the goat barn or chicken coops, I put it all in a pile (aka the compost pile).  When it gets about 2 - 2 1/2 feet tall I just start piling to the side of the first pile.  I use the oldest pile first in the garden.  
I apply the compost (which is really fun because it is soooo full of worms) in between my garden rows which actually will be more important for next year's gardens.  This allows me to do a bit here and some more there  - which is pretty much how I do everything around here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Duck House

The ducks' house is finished.  Some projects take awhile around here - a little bit one day and a little maybe a week later.  

Mike used the slide base (the slide is now in the side of hill) and rough cut pine seconds from a man down the road that we bought for, I think about $40.00 for a really big pile.

The hinges we had in our "maybe we will be able to use these for something someday" drawer.

There is space up above to store some things - maybe their food that we will need to buy in the winter.  
The house is right near the pond so we just open the door each morning and close them up at night.

These four are bantams and are supposed to be just ok egg layers -  duck eggs will be nice to use in baking recipes and  we are thinking it might be fun to raise and sell ducklings as well.  The woman we bought them from made sure we had two males and two females so they would pair off.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Tube Video Links - Alternative and Tiny House Living

Abraham's - age 5 - model of his house he hopes to build - two stories!

Abby and Sarah getting to work gathering "found" wood from around the homestead.

As requested, I am sharing the recent Youtube video links our family has been enjoying.  The theme being small house living and alternative building ideas.  It is so exciting watching our children going through their own individual process to each build something for themselves.

Tiny House for Family of Four

Family Lives in 168 Sq. Ft. House to Save Money

Micro Tiny Homes

School Bus Becomes Tiny Home


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Knitting, Reading, and Listening

I am working on another Simply Sweet Sweater - working the pattern in different sizes - using beautiful hand dyed yarn that I bartered from Springtree Road.

I finished $aved by Ben Hewitt from not so far from us, Cabot, Vermont, and now Mike is reading it.  We have been having dinner discussions around the central theme of one's relationship with money.   He was on VPR's noon edition yesterday.  If you get a chance, download it - good stuff. 

Joining in with Ginny.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Being Different is OK

(From packaging material, a marble run was assembled.)

As our family has taken a different path than most - home schooling, home business, large family, homesteading (growing and making), consuming less material/new "things", and working on caring for the earth - we sometimes feel like we are traveling alone.  

But lately I have been thinking that really we don't need to find people "like" us, but instead just need to be around people that are authentic and real.  Yes, it can be validating to be around people with similar ideals (like a family we were blessed to meet on Friday that we wished we lived closer to…) but it is also really fun to learn and listen to others that are passionate about how they are living their life.    That is what I want our children to get.

As a family we enjoy watching You Tube videos of families that have chosen to live outside the box - converting a bus into a home or living in a tiny home, etc..    I like to have our children watch them not so much because they are examples of how I think we or they should live, but because I like them to see that there ARE other ways to live  - and also so they don't think we are the only crazy ones and I guess that helps me to feel a little less alone as well.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Coming Home

We went down to central Vermont and camped at a state park for two nights.  Both days away were filled with visiting family.  A 50th birthday party for Mike's sister on Saturday and then, Sunday, the balloon festival where my father met us to spend father's day and Abby's birthday.

I think the best part about getting away is returning with a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for the place we call home.

Friday, June 14, 2013


It has been rainy - which means lots of mud!  I have been feeling terrible for our chickens because their fenced in area is much too muddy so I cut a very small hole in the adjacent goat fenced area so they can be among the grass.  I am thinking that having the chickens scratch and eat some of the nasties might be a good thing for the goats too.

Navigating the wet and muddy path.

This spring we have six new layers - 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Buff Orpingtons.  They should be laying by late summer which means we will have eggs this winter.

During the evening hours, the sun shines (yes it came out!) in such a way that makes everything look beautiful around our little homestead.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Knitting Sweaters

I am enjoying the simplicity of this sweater pattern that I am in the process of writing.

The first was done on larger needles with organic cotton yarn.
The second sweater that I am almost done with is knit using some wool yarn from my local yarn store - (Patons 100% wool in a light worsted weight in a beautiful color called seafoam)

I am also playing around with wood burning on our handmade buttons - hearts and stars!

Joining in with Ginny today for the Knit Along.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rewards and Punishments and Christianity

As I grow through my peaceful parenting group meetings, my way of thinking continues to shift.  I understand better how punishing may lead to compliance only to avoid the punishment or the behavior may still happen when the child knows he won't get caught.

Aren't bribes really the easy way not the right way?  If you don't hurt your brother today, we can go out for an icecream tonight, for example.   What is being learned - absolutely nothing good.

Rewards generally result in the child exhibiting the "wanted" behavior for the praise, the "A", or the money.
To love and support our children to become the person they can fully be and are intended to become requires parents reaching their children's hearts - unconditionally - even through the struggles, the "acting out", the disappointments.  

Isn't that really what Jesus is about?  That although we are sinners his grace and love are sufficient for ALL.    
I am working on applying this way of thinking to my role as mom. (and really to all relationships)

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Because we live in a town with a population of just 600 people and the nearest city has 5,000 (a 30 minute drive), and we live 4 miles down a dirt road - making time for community takes effort - time and resources.  
Having a family business can make making the time more difficult (there is always more we could do, right?)  - or if I look at it from the point of Ben Zander (you really should look up this man's videos on youtube - excellent!), because we have a family business we can make the time to build community.  
This is along the same lines of what I wrote about "saying yes".   When we said yes to going to a small homeschool gathering 35 minutes away - we knew that we would have to pay for gas for our gas guzzling old suburban and pollute the environment just a little more by doing so and leave our business and homestead for the afternoon.  

Yesterday morning, my peaceful parenting group met from 10:00 am - noon.  There are just five of us and it had been over a month since we last met.   It was wonderful to be supported and reminded and to reconnect.  Our facilitator reminded us how important it is to use our little community of 5 to share in the joys and frustrations during the in between times of our scheduled get togethers.   Why is it that we need to be reminded of this?  Do we too often think we should be able to handle things on our own or get worried that we will be bothering the other by taking up some of their time?

Yesterday afternoon we went back later in the afternoon to pick up Sarah because she had stayed to play with her friends after the peaceful parenting group.   (I bring Sarah with me because she gets to play around the farm we are meeting at with her homeschooled friend that was born the very same day and year.  The rest of the children stay home with Mike and I get to enjoy a couple of hours by myself.)  So when Mike and I went inside to get Sarah at about 4:30 that same afternoon, we joined our friends for a cup of tea and met their  farrier who also happens to be a blacksmith and enjoyed conversation and time visiting..  My thoughts kept going back to the time, though, that it was just about dinner time and while I did get the brown rice going before we left, I still had to make the rest.

One thing I appreciate about our farm friends is that although I am sure they have certain times of the day where the chores have to be done (milking, etc.), for the most part their lives are not dictated so much by the clock.  I have noticed that they are not alone in this "free of time constraint" that I seem to lack so completely.  

Around these parts when you run into someone you know on the dirt road and they start slowing down as their car approaches yours - that means you need to slow down too and start to roll down your window.  The talking begins - usually just general conversation - without any thought of having to be anywhere at any certain time - at least that is the way it seems.  I really like that - I like that it is about the connection - even if talk may only center on the weather.  "Have you had to start up your woodstove?"  By the way, yes we have.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In the Garden with a 20 Month Old

More often than not, Emmy joins me when I am working in the gardens.  

At 20 months old, she is pretty good about not being overly destructive, but I do have to occasionally overlook a trampled onion or a lettuce bunch being pulled out instead of a weed.

One part of helping that she seems to enjoy most is planting.   (Note:  This only works with larger seeds and should not be done with little ones that are still putting things in their mouths that they shouldn't be.)
For example, I will hand her one bean at a time and she will put it right in the little hole I have made with my finger.  

Then when the row is complete, we have a foot stomping time.  I love watching her little feet as she jumps up and down over where we have just planted.

Do you work with your children in the garden?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Simply Sweet Sweater

I just have to finish sewing up some seams and adding the buttons.
This sweater I knit using organic cotton yarn and I will be adding our own handmade hemlock buttons.  It came out to be a 2T or 3T.  
For the pattern, I took the basic concept from the Matinee Jacket.  I just loved the idea of working each of the parts separately on straight needles - right and left front, back, and each sleeve.  I knit each part in the order that they then go on circular needles and then knit a garter stitch yoke, with three button holes, back and forth on the circular needles.

I am thinking about actually working up a "real" pattern with different sizes and everything.

Last night I finished up Saved by Ben Hewitt.  -  Truly an excellent read, one that I will be sharing more about in another post.  

What are you knitting and reading?

(Joining in with Ginny today.)

Monday, June 3, 2013

To Say Yes

I was going to look up some really brilliant quote about living fully but didn't get around to it.
Instead I am sharing a goal I have for myself and our family this year - to live more, let go of fear and to experience life.

So often Mike and I, in the last several years, are full of reasons why we cannot do something, something as simple as going to the beach on a 90 degree Vermont day (because my goodness, how many of those are there?).   Mostly one or both of us will usually say we have too much work to do and/or that we really don't have enough money.

On Friday we went to the beach.

(If you look closely you can see the wind towers on the mountain ridge.)

It was great to be among other homeschool families, in particular to talk farming with one mom.  It was, as it always is, a joy to watch the children effortlessly play and hang out together like they've known each other forever (when we only seem to get to a homeschool gathering a few times each year).    

If we stop for one afternoon, the vegetables will still be harvested by the end of the growing season, the orders will still be shipped when they need to be shipped even if it means getting up a little earlier a day or two, and the house can be cleaned another day.   At 1:00 when I asked everyone if they wanted to go to the beach, and there was a loud chorus of yes - I then let everyone know what had to be done before we could go.  I think in that one hour more was accomplished than in the entire day.  Not sure if that is the right kind of motivation I am aiming for in our children - but it did the trick for that day:)

One of the reasons we began our home centered lifestyle and home based businesses was to be able to say yes more often - yes to a hike - yes to an overnight camp outing - yes to a festival.  We knew that this life wouldn't make us rich - that was never a goal of ours.    What is has done is given us freedom and it is only ourselves that have been holding us back.  No more!  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Moments from the Week

We went from this, this past Saturday


shorts and hot, hot weather!
(every season, though,  is firewood  gathering season around here)

 Our dandelions are just about gone, but next year we are going to make dandelion wine like Lisa made.

Mike and I celebrated 21 years of marriage.

Planting continues - potatoes, beans, summer squash, dill, basil and sunflower seeds. 

Girl Scout cookies sent up from Poppa.

So much goodness and fullness.