March 2011

Oh my goodness, life has been a whirlwind for the last 2 weeks!  A quick recap:

I spent several days doing laundry, packing, and cooking for the freezer, then prepared everyone for our quick cross-country trip back to Red Gate Farm.  We left for Red Gate on Friday afternoon, drove through the night, arrived Saturday morning, and immediately set to work on our planned projects.  We moved a large raised bed, cut down a faltering tree in the orchard, mapped out and flagged where the trees and bushes were going to be planted, and S and his brother, Uncle M, spent the day digging holes for the orchard.  I installed an electric gate to keep the sheep out and complete that section of fence.  On Sunday, we went to church, rested, and made our usual trip to a friend’s farm so the kids could play with the animals.  On Monday, S’s other brother came in, so while S, Uncle M, and all the kids drove up to pick up his middle brother, I stayed at the house and installed our window blinds that had arrived the month prior.  Monday night, the orchard plants arrived, and the entire family–us, as well as S’s mom and both brothers–spent the evening getting the trees, grapes, and berries into the ground.  Due to some paperwork with our CO housing situation not going through as planned, we then had to cut our trip even shorter.  We spent Tuesday morning wrapping up the orchard stuff, and then we all loaded up and headed back to CO.  We arrived early Wednesday morning, grabbed a couple hours sleep, then went to our final closing on Wednesday.  That was a nightmare of a whole different story, but God provided, and we walked away with a key.  I made a trip to Home Depot to pick up some necessary items in preparation for the next day.  Thursday morning, we dropped off the children at a church friend’s house, and S and I went to the new house to set up for the volunteer “cleaning crews” of the day.  With the help of over 30 volunteers in different shifts, we spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning cleaning and painting the new house.  Saturday, S had a seperate crew come to the old house to help with the actual move.  Saturday night, we spent our first night in the new house.  Sunday, we decided to focus more on resting after our exhausting 2 weeks, so I left to pick up the goats (I had to drive about 2 hours one-way for one, and 1/2 hour for the other), and S led a family worship time with the kids. Sunday night was my first milking session.  Since then, I have been working on getting unpacked and settled in.

Because the house was a foreclosure, we have had our fair share of challenges along the way.  We had no water for most of the weekend as new leaks were discovered and repaired, then we had a power outage on Monday (which reminded me that no power equals no water when you are on a well!).  We finally got our phone and internet hooked up after more issues, just to discover the main phone line for the upstairs (main part of the house) was severed–probably during the water line repairs.  We still have no phone on the main floor.  We’ll figure that out later. I also had the challenge of milking a goat twice a day and having no fridge.  They weren’t able to deliver until Tuesday (yesterday), so I had to get really creative.  All I can say is the Lord provided and sent snow for the two days we were without the fridge.  It was literally the perfect temperature outside for us to store milk (and other perishables) in a cooler on the back deck, and it to be cold, but not freeze. 

All in all, though, it has been a great couple of weeks.  If anyone feels sleep deprived, just join us for a bit, as you are guaranteed to sleep well after a day or two with us! We are thrilled to be in our new house, taking the next huge steps toward our big goals.  Despite the stresses that have been involved, this time has just been full of elation as we begin living our dreams, watching our children play outside on the 4 wooded acres, being able to let my dog in and out at will with no leash, and, of course, starting our animal projects.

….and I’m not talking about Jesus’ return, although that is getting closer too. 

In this case, I am talking about our time living in this house that almost seems to be deteriorating around us.  This has been such a whirlwind, and it has been fascinating to see God working at every step of the way.  Just about one month ago, we weren’t even considering buying, but we were so tired of the problems with this house we live in.  Then one day, S suggested I research area houses to see what was available.  I found a few and we drove by them that evening, then we went back with a realtor the next day to look inside.  The one S liked best turned out to be a foreclosure that had just gone on the market the evening before we found it!  We decided to put in an offer, but when we discovered it was bank-owned, we were warned the process could take 4-6 months, which is apparently quite common around here.  Our offer was accepted just 48 hours later.  Of course, there have been some rough and frustrating spots along the way, but all-in-all, it has been nothing short of miraculous to watch as things have just fallen into place.  As of yesterday, it looks like our final closing date will be early next week. 

As I sit here typing this, holding my bundled baby in my arms, being cautious not to touch her skin with my hands because they are freezing,  and all but shivering from the draftiness of this house, I can’t help but remember standing in the living room of the new house, with no heat on, and the sun streaming through the numerous open windows of the home on a chilly day.  I looked at S and exclaimed, “Do you have any idea how nice this feels, to just be WARM?”  I felt no drafts coming through, and I could have stood there all day soaking up the sun.  It was so wonderful!!  Shortly after we got back to our current house, S tried to open a faulty drawer that constantly sticks, and he frustratedly exclaimed something like, “It will be so nice to be able to just properly fix any issues at our new house!”

Alas, time is short.  At this point, I have less than 2 days to pack my house, and I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in it.  Our lease ends on April 8, so we have to be totally cleared out and inspected by then.  Here’s the clincher, though…we were unable to postpone our trip back to Red Gate Farm, as we have 15 orchard trees, some grapevines, and some random berry bushes arriving on Monday, and they have to get planted in the ground somehow!  So, in the middle of all this, I am also cooking for the move, cooking for the trip, packing for the trip, and we are going to drive 30 hours (round trip) to stay 2-3 days, just to get everything planted.  We have to have the entire house packed and ready to move before we leave.  As soon as we return, we have to focus on getting the new house cleaned top-to-bottom and painted before we can move in.  We hope, with help, to get that done in about 2 days.  Then, that weekend, we will be moving in.  Once we get moved out of this house, we also have to get it cleaned for inspection.  In case you lost track, all that is happening in the next 11 days! 

As a bonus, we have all agreed we want to get the critters started as soon as possible–both to save money and to take advantage of the spring weather.  So, Saturday, S took us all up north to look at another goat I had found.  She is due to kid in May.  We liked her and put a down-payment on her, and they agreed to hold her until we come get her.  S also wanted to use up some scrap lumber in our garage, so he has started building necessities for our new animals.  He needed to accurately measure a few things, so he sent me to the local farm store for supplies.  JR and I had so much fun shopping for our incoming critters–goat collars, feed bowls, rabbit sifter-feeders, trace-mineral blocks, chick brooder lamps and supplies, and more.  I was willing to wait another week or so to actually get the animals, so S wouldn’t be rushed on his projects, but he told me this morning to schedule with the owners to go pick up the goats next Sunday (the 27th)!  YIPPEE!  He also wants me to order the chicks ASAP.  I offered to just go to the local feedstore and buy some for cheaper, but since there is no guarantee on what breed they are, he wants me to go ahead and order for the actual purposes we need them–meat and eggs.  Oh, these are the things that we have dreamed of and planned and discussed for years, and they are finally coming to fruition, and it is sooooooo exciting!! 

God is so good, his blessings are limitless, and his grace and mercy are never-ending!

We have agreed to an open adoption with R’s birthfamily, and it is our first experience with that.  So far, it has been wonderful!  We got together with her birthfamily this past weekend, for the first time since she was born.  We all met at a little restaurant about half-way between our homes, and enjoyed a lovely brunch together.  R got passed around the family, everyone taking their turn admiring, cuddling, feeding — though they did happily give her back once she pooped in her diaper.  Even after we had finished eating, we hung around outside the restaurant, letting the kids play in the yard and scramble on the rocks while they loved on her some more.  We spent a grand total of about 2 hours together.  I was curious as to how easy they would be able to let her leave this time, but it really wasn’t too bad.  I think the joy of the day’s visit, combined with the anticipation of another meeting in the future made it easier for them.  It was so neat to see the love this family felt for her once again, and to know that one day in the future, I will be able to honestly tell her of that love.  Of course, we took lots of pictures for the scrapbook, but with everything else going on in life right now, there is no way I will have time to post them.  So, I decided to quit waiting for an opportunity and just post the story for my records.

Yesterday, we had our inspection on the new home.  All in all, it went well.  There were a few little issues, but for the most part, we hope the expenses will be minimal, as it generally appears to be just needing lots of elbow grease.  The inspector was happy with it, we were happy with it, and we decided to proceed to the next step, which should be the last before closing.  We have already received all title and covenant clearances, and everything looks good to go.  The anitcipation and excitement has set in. 

S has been praying about how to best be a steward of our finances through this.  We have to give 30 day’s notice on the base house we currently live in, and there is a chance we will have to pay an early termination penalty.  S felt like waiting until after the inspection would be safe.  Today, he felt it was a good time to give our notice.  He went in to the office, and, once again, God seemed to just line things all up for the best.  We have been listening to a CD on bibilical family economics, and it just “happened” that as he drove over, the sermon topic was about having piety and humility in our daily dealings.  He vowed then and there, he was going to be as nice as he possibly could, no matter what happened.  When he arrived, one of the difficult ladies that we have had to deal with in the past had been moved from the front desk to a back office, and replaced with a very sweet, easy to work with lady.  It also just “happened” that a very understanding manager who is familiar with our situation was standing out front when S walked in.  She asked how things were going, and S simply shook his head and replied, “aaaah, not very good.”  Long story short, he humbly answered her questions about the current housing issues.  I think he really got her attention when he mentioned that our one-month-old was having to sleep in the bathroom because it was the warmest room in the house (even with her full sleeper and a double-layer swaddle blanket on, she just stays comfortable in there).  As the impromptu meeting went on, they filled out the paperwork for terminating the lease, and when the subject of the penalty fee came up, S kindly requested that they consider not charging it due to all we have been put through here.  He explained that he knew what the contract said, and that they were under no obligation to wave the fee, but hoped, out of the goodness of their hearts, they would consider the circumstances.  The manager kind of smiled, said she couldn’t make the decision herself, but would absolutely contact the home office and talk to them about it.  She then went on to explain that we were known around their company as the “the roofing fiasco family,” due to the numerous sequence of issues we had last year.  Thus, when things come up with our house now, everyone in the company has accepted the house has major issues.  She hesitantly offered to put us on a waiting list for a new house, but kind of laughed and agreed when S shook his head and explained it was kind of important to ensure his family’s peace and sanity in whatever house they lived in.  So will see what they decide. 

What we do know is that our lease is over and we must be out by April 8.  We also know that we now own a goat.  We decided to go ahead and take advantage of what I believe to be a great deal on a goat.  So, yes, thankfully, the owner was willing to hang onto her and keep milking her until we are set up.  She wasn’t going to sell her, but since we met, I guess she liked us, and the more research I did on the goat, the more I liked her!  I think she could be a bit of a gold mine–not that I know much about dairy goats!  So, I guess worst-case scenario, something goes horribly wrong with the closing (not likely) and we have no CO home.  But, at least we’ll have fresh goat’s milk, and we could always move back to Red Gate if we had to.  Best case and most likely scenario–we’ll soon be living in a beautiful home in the country, and taking the grand next steps toward fulfilling the calling we feel God has given us in being stewards of our land.

Why do we homeschool?  Are our children keeping up with their public school peers?  Are we making the right choice?  Are we using the right curriculum?  Are we using the best homeschool method?  Why don’t they enjoy learning as much as I want them to?  Why aren’t they grasping this concept faster?  Is it OK to break the traditional 8-3, M-F school day?  Will we finish our school year on time?  And what is “on time” exactly? 

N, 2 yrs., built some sort of "train track" (as he calls it) for his cars to drive on. My son, who is *statistically* supposed to be way behind in fine motor skill development due to his CP, did it by completely by himself one day, while I was working with the other children in the next room.

This homeschool year is our 3rd official year of homeschooling.  JR is in 1st grade, M is in K-4, and A and N do a little Montessori activity on the side.  It is our 2nd year using the Abeka curriculum.  This year has been a little rough.  Between the housing issues causing a lot of interruptions and delays in our schooling, holidays and vacations that resulted in us taking weeks at a time off, and the birth of our newest baby, I have really struggled to stay even close to “caught up” on our assignments and daily lesson plans.  The anticipated upcoming move only added to the pressure I was feeling.  After we re-started school after the Christmas holidays, I began having a lot of attitude problems with JR during certain school lessons.  It caused me to get a bit frustrated and I threatened to burn out for a short spell.  All the circumstances combined to make me start asking myself the questions above.  I really had to start praying and re-evaluating my reasons and choices.  S and I had a lot of discussion, and fortunately, even on my roughest days, he was the one that pushes me to continue because he so strongly believed in what we are doing.  In an attempt to really find some solutions to my problems, I started experimenting with our school day a bit.  I researched other curriculums and school methods again.  Then, recently, I talked to some fellow homeschool moms that attend our church.  Over the last couple weeks, I have had some HUGE light-bulb moments in regards to what our priorities are, and how they relate to our homeschooling in general. 

I realized that I was putting far to much pressure on myself to create a more traditional schooling experience for my children.  I was trying to document lessons, organize worksheets, keep good records, and train the children to act almost like they were among 30 other children in a classroom– they should sit still, with good posture, be quiet, focus on work, and ask questions only with permission. 

When I began to re-evaluate, I began to see why homeschooling was no fun for the kids!  We homeschool because we want MORE for our children than a standard school day!  Yet, I had become a bit of an ogre of a teacher, with my priorities completely mixed up!  I immediately backed off.  I lessened the seat work I was requiring, quit following the teacher’s manual so strictly, and waited to see what would happen.  I also began to watch the children.  I realized that my 4 and 6 yr. old children both read far better than their public-school friends and neighbors of the same age.  My 6 yr. old can read a traditional clock and tell me what time it is.  JR can count to 200 by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 25’s.  M can count almost to 100, and A can count to ten and identify many letters of the alphabet.  JR can add and subtract 2-digit numbers, and understands basic fractions like 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4.  He can count money to a point, understands basic sentence structure, can spell many words, and is starting to write multi-sentence stories in cursive.  Much more important than basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, our children can sing praise and worship to our Heavenly Father.  They can tell us what communion is, how the earth was created, and identify many people of the Bible.  They know Jesus loves them personally, and created each of them in their own special and unique ways. 

When I started to realize what they did know, I quit worrying so much about teaching them what they didn’t.  Amazingly, many of the bad attitudes and resistance disappeared, and were replaced by more willing attitudes in regards to completing schoolwork.  Formal learning, while perhaps not their favorite past-time, became more enjoyable.  I also began to realize that even though we had fallen a bit behind in some seat work areas, we had more than made up for it in real-life lessons.  We have visited the zoos where I have been able to use my extensive history in the animal field to teach my children all sorts of things about animals of our world.  We have gone inisde real working gold mines, panned for gold, attended rodeos, hiked to mountain tops, learned about our military, and so much more! We have been able to travel the country-side and give the children visual and personal experience in the states and places they have studied.  I have been able to turn on the news or and let them listen to and see images of things happening in our world today.  They have been able to watch the duties a president or a king or a dictator performs, and see how they treat their people differently.  They have watched the poverty that some people live in, and we have been able to discuss our blessings in detail.  We recently attended a Native American Indian festival, where they learned all about traditional Native American crafts, beliefs, dress, and more.  Where they were once a bit nervous at the idea of an “Indian,” they were able to mingle and talk to real Indians, and see that we were all the same in God’s eyes.  They have been able to participate in projects to help and serve others.  They have been able to witness daily the duties of being a husband/wife/father/mother, as S and I try diligently to include them in many of our household responsibilities.  JR has learned to prepare and even cook basic meals with no assistance.  The older children have been able assist us with their new baby sister, learning how to dress, bathe, feed, diaper, swaddle, soothe, etc.  Because they don’t just leave every morning and come home to a clean house every afternoon, they have experienced first hand the effort that it takes to clean and keep clean.  Oh, how the list could go on. 

Native American tipi

Learning the different meanings of different Indian dances.

An Indian child, who is learning the art of the dances.

My point in this once-again-too-lengthy post is that I am learning that in order to be most effective, homeschooling has to be integrated as a way of life.  In order to work through those rough days, it must be about so much more than the seatwork, formal curriculum, and daily lesson plans.  It must be about earning our children’s hearts, showing our children the world, allowing them to experience as much as we can about the world around them.  Rather than focusing on teaching basic arithmetic, I can show them why we need arithmetic to cook, mix cleaners, and build things around the house.  It is my job to teach them how learning can be fun through these experiences.  As part of this, I am learning it is OK to mix-and-match homeschool methods and curriculums so it suits us and our children.  I can tailor and customize to each child, so JR can learn by hands-on experience, M can read about adventures, I can use activities to help A with his focus, and allow N to always be improving his fine motor skill development.  It is OK to not limit JR to his one lesson per day, but rather, to allow and reward him for taking initiative to work ahead on future lessons when he finds them easy and understands.  When I do feel a bit behind, it is perfectly acceptable to do school on the weekends, or to do the minimum needed for that day.  And through it all, because I am there, I can better ensure that godly, bibilical seeds are being planted so that they can grow spiritually as well as physically and mentally.   After all, isn’t “raising the next generation for Christ” the foundational basis of true Christian parenting?

Who in their right mind would actually PAY money to go milk someone’s goat for them, and then make their cheese? 

Probably no one in their right mind, but that is exactly what I spent my Saturday doing!  And, if I might add, I had an absolute BLAST doing it!!!

I have been watching Craigslist and researching goat farms, looking for goats for sale in the area.  In the process, I came across a lady who owned a few goats just south of us, and she offered classes in milking and making goat cheese.  I did a little research on her and found she has developed quite a good reputation in this area.  So, I signed up to take a class.  I figured I would learn to make a few cheeses and learn that final dairy-goat step of hand-milking, in the hopes of being as prepared as possible before I start milking (later this month, hopefully). 

We started the day by helping with morning barn chores.  We would have collected eggs, but the chickens had decided not to lay since it was so chilly last night.  The goats, however, were more than ready to be milked out.  So, we all crowded into the little milking room, she set everything up, and invited the first goat.  A very experienced Nubian named Lucy walked in, hopped up on the stand, stuck her head through the head-gate, and started munching her grain.  The host proceeded to clean her teats and explain what we were to do.  We 3 students then took turns milking her.  Despite the fact that she had a near perfect udder, with long, easy-to-grab teats, I was truly surprised at how difficult it was to find the correct amount of pressure and the right rhythm to get those faucets to turn on!  I think it took a good 15-20 minutes of us inexperienced handlers to get that poor, patient goat milked out (with a bit of help from the host, of course!) 

Lucy, a not-so-attractive Nubian, but great goat for newbies like me!

Lucy was excused, and then an adorable little Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf named Lilac was invited in.  Everything worked about the same, except that Lilac was a first freshener (her first season being milked), and her teats were only about 2 inches long.  What a difference that made!  She was a lot harder to milk, although, I am proud I was one of the 2 students that was able to get the faucets flowing.  She was a bit squirmier, but still as sweet as she could be.  I think she is just a more active goat in general.  I also found it interesting that even though she was only 2/3 the size of Lucy, she produced about twice as much milk. 

Lilac, the Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf cross.

Last, but not least, Lilac was eventually excused and another Nubian (whose name I forgot) came in for her turn.  After all the goats were milked, we were introduced to the other farm critters, including several meat rabbits free-ranging with the goats, a pile of chickens, a couple of pregnant goats (one of which was due to pop any day), and finally, we walked into the nursery and got to visit with first-freshener Star, a perfect Nubian specimen, and her new twin doelings (girls). 

Star and her twins

After the grand tour, we all went into the house and learned about goat milk and cheese.  We got to filter the milk, sample the fresh goat’s milk (still warm from their udders), and then divide it up between the 3 of us students.  Over the next couple hours, we learned to make garlic-and-herb chevre, mozzerella, and ricotta.  The cheese making was followed up by a delicious farm-fresh brunch, using a portion of our cheeses and some cool goat’s milk to drink. 

It was an absolutely great morning, I had a terrific time, and it was wonderful moving from strictly book-knowledge to some hands-on experience.  I know how to make 4 types of cheeses now (I learned how to make cheddar some time ago), and I’ve learned the basics of hand-milking.  I must admit though, that milking will obviously take some practice to become proficient at.  I’m barely coordinated enough to walk and chew gum at the same time, so trying to remember the finger rhythm necessary to milk, in addition to aiming those hoses into the bucket was a bit challenging.  I squirted myself at least once with each goat, and with one goat, I thought I wasn’t getting any milk out of the far teat, but soon realized that I was squirting the milk straight out the side, and over the edge of the bucket onto the wall.  Oh well, you live and learn, I guess!

Between having 5 children, homeschooling, cooking from scratch and raw ingredients, and still trying to maintain a home and be a good wife, one of the most frequent questions I receive is “How do you find time to do it all?”

Although there are several ways, I have to say, the greatest decision we ever made in regards to our time was getting rid of our TV.  We actually got rid of it after JR was born, were without for about 2 years, then got a new one with the intent of entertaining the kids through approved videos only.  Over the next 2 years though, we realized that we used the TV, and watched the videos just because they were there.  We also began to see that, no matter how wholesome a show we chose, there was always something negative that entered our children’s minds through that show.  One video was just wonderful, but then we realized there were a few instances of a negative, disrespectful attitude from a child toward an adult, and toward the end of the show, they slipped in one single curse word.  Another show was about as wholesome, moral, and upright as it got, yet, our children still saw smoking and drinking as a part of the background story–and worse, they began to act it out.  Thus, we got rid of the TV again. 

I have to tell you, the hardest part of getting rid of the television was taking the actual step to do it.  As a nation, we have become so incredibly dependent on TV.  We get our news from it (half of which is not entirely truthful anyway), and we seek our entertainment and “me-time” from it.  We often seek our children’s education from it (Dora teaches Spanish, Sesame Street teaches alphabet, Barney teaches good morals, and Discovery/TLC teaches all sorts of great things, are all reasons I have been given in support of a TV).  If you really think about it though, are we using the TV truly to teach our children, or are we really using it as an excuse to keep our children occupied, with the hopes they’ll learn something from it in order to justify the decision? 

This was the question I was forced to ask myself, and I realized that, although some good lessons were being learned, overall, the children were being exposed to more negative than I desired, and these negative things were planting “weed seeds” in the little minds I was trying so hard to cultivate properly with seeds of Godly purity and wisdom.  Furthermore, I had to ask myself, “Did I really want TLC/Discovery/cartoons teaching my children those critical life lessons in ethics, morals, and foundational skills?”  When I put it that way, of course the answer was a resounding “NO!”  I began to observe TV in a different light.  We would go to a restaurant or doctor’s office with a TV in the background, and I would observe the messages contained in the commercials that were influencing my children.  I began to see how the girls on the shows dressed very provacatively and inappropriately, according to what we were trying to teach our children about modesty.  I began to witness the way the actors interacted with each other, and what it said about healthy relationships.  And I realized that my desire for the children to be educated and entertained by television was a very unwise choice. 

Once we tossed the TV, DVD’s, and videos, we suddenly had a great deal more free time available.  Although we honestly believed that we watched “very little” television during the week, it was amazing how my time was freed up without out.  Obviously, we watched more than we realized.  Of course, it meant I suddenly had to get more creative about keeping the children busy throughout the day, and I became pretty solely responsible for their education, but I was OK with that.  As time went on, I got better at that. 

That all being said, I do not think any and all TV is a sin persay.  I do think it is possible to find educational and informative things to watch, and ways in which you can enjoy the movies together.  I believe the sin part develops as the dependence develops.  Once we had been without it for a while, we subscribed to a very basic online-only Netflix program.   For a very minimal fee, we are able to access some excellent documentaries and learning shows.  Prior to watching something, I can review everything about that show, why it is rated the way it is, and what other viewers have to say about it.  While I have certainly had times of desperation when I put the toddlers in front of an episode of Thomas the train, this is quiet rare and generally reserved for those “bad” days when I just absolutely need to focus on something else for a short spell.  While most of our evening family time involves playing a game together, reading a book, or physically playing, about once every month or two, we might sit down as a family and watch a good family movie together.  If something negative should pop up, because we are right there with them, we are able to either turn the movie off and/or discuss what is going on.  Even then, we must use great caution. 

I recently looked through a catalog from a Christian bookstore, and they offered several DVD’s for sale.  Since it was in their catalog, I assumed they were relatively wholesome, so I went into my Netflix account, and reserved a couple titles that sounded good.  One evening, after the kids were in bed, S and I decided to curl up on the couch and watch one.  I was absolutely shocked to find that this Christian-book-store-recommended movie contained messages of divorce, pre-marital sex, curse words, bad attitudes, and seriously mis-guided perspectives on relationships.  You must always be on your guard!

Besides the time savings, we have also witnessed many other benefits.   They used to have a tendency to beg for TV everytime they were bored.  Now, they know life does not revolve around the TV, and rarely ask to watch anything.  They have learned to be much more imaginative and creative in their play, and play outdoors regularly.  They can also play independently, for hours in some cases, without the constant need to be entertained by someone or something.  They are not exposed to advertisements, which means we can easily walk through a toy store without them begging for every item they saw on television commercials.  Our decision has helped develop children that are quite content in the life they have, which is absolutely priceless!  It also makes it much easier for us as parents to be the primary influence on their beliefs and development, without the distraction or mixed messages received from the TV.  At the same time, they know that some shows can be used as a tool to learn.  For example, if we are studying some type of animal in science, I can look up an educational film about that animal so the kids can see it in action on the screen.   

So there you have it.  I encourage everyone–especially Christians–to toss the secular messages of the TV, and just get rid of it.  We are called to protect our minds, and more importantly, the minds of our children.  Obviously, the older children are, the more difficult that step might be, but then again, the more difficult it is, the more obvious your family’s dependence on the TV will be.  If nothing else, I encourage you to take a few TV periods and sit down and watch with your children.  But, this time, observe what you are seeing from a Biblical, Christ-standard perspective.  Watch for the subliminal messages being passed to your children through behaviors, dress, jokes, and comments.  I dare say, you will be very astounded and disheartened at what you find.

If you are interested in more insight, or a more Bible-based perspective on this issue, read a post I wrote some time ago about contaminating our lives.

 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”   Philippians 4:8

Just for my written records, here is a totally random update on life around our household:

  • The baby rabbits are doing great.  Although I have seen almost no interaction between the doe and kits, they are absolutely thriving at this point.  I expect them to come bouncing out of that nest box around this weekend.  I tried to get some good photos this morning, but they are so lively, they refused to hold still long enough for a good shot.  They just kept crawling all over the place faster than my camera flash could re-charge.  I am letting JR and M hold and love on them for about 15-20 minutes a day, gradually increasing the total time throughout the day.  The kids are absolutely loving it!

  • Homeschool is coming along.  M has absolutely taken off in her reading.  JR is becoming a great reader as well, but M has already developed a true passion for reading, and spends several HOURS every day just locked in a room, or sitting in a private area, reading aloud to herself.  She is only 4, and it is amazing to watch!  We were going through the “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons” book as part of her school day, but at this point, we reached lesson 85, and I basically have put it away.  She is reading books far more advanced than that now.  Thanks to the work M does with the little boys, and what they observe during M’s lessons, A and N are both learning their colors, numbers, and alphabet.  Bless his heart, poor JR has started having to do school most weekends as well as weekdays.  We fell a bit a behind early on with all our house issues, and I know we risk falling behind with the impending move, so we are cramming in as much as possible now.  By my estimate, we are only about 2 weeks behind where we should be now, so it isn’t a big deal, and I think we will still finish up by late May at this point.  I just want some flexibility to relax a little as we adapt to farm life.  We also have a trip back to Red Gate planned in there somewhere.  Thus, we keep plugging along.

JR loves reading his little Bible most, which thrills this momma's heart to no end!

M currently enjoys the adventures found in her storybooks most.

  • R is doing great.  I can’t believe she is over a month old already!  She is over 10 lbs now, and all her measured growth data puts her in the 50-80th percentiles.  A big girl!  We had a bit of a scare when the docs could never seem to get her SAT’s (blood oxygen levels) to register over 90 (should be 96-100) for several weeks, so we had to have a bit of testing done to check out her heart and lungs.  The general consensus wound up being that she was just growing so fast, her heart and lungs may have needed to catch up a bit.  She’s fine now.  She is on a 3-3.5 hour eating schedule throughout the day, eating 4-5 ounces on average, at each feeding, and she is on the verge of sleeping through the night. 

R, 1 month old


  • You may have noticed a lack of postings regarding Nana.  My mom returned home to my dad the first week of February.  Not to go into too much detail, but there were a lot of things that didn’t make sense during her stay here.  We were all praying for guidance and direction as she tried to figure out what she needed to do.  Around the end of January, she received a jury summons requiring her to return to her home state.  Although disappointing at the time, it was a bit humorous that it seemed God was going to use a judge and a court, and the threat of arrest to get her to return.  Nonetheless, she packed her things, returned home, was selected for the jury, served her time in the juror’s box, and then tried to formulate her next plan.  Last week, after some debate, she decided to keep her annual physical at the reknowned Mayo Clinic.  I was informed a couple days ago that it was discovered she had breast cancer.  It is in the early stages, and we are all awaiting more info as to the next step.  However, it is so easy to see things coming together now–how her time alone out here made her stronger, built her faith, and then how God called her back to her home where she could receive treatment at one of the best clinics in the nation.  Prayers would be appreciated in this area.
  • And, to end on a good note, we are still awaiting the next step for our new house.  We have an amazing realtor that highly encouraged us to require the bank-owner of the house to make repairs to the plumbing system since they had neglected to properly winterize the place.  We are so thankful she did that!  As of Monday, they had discovered and repaired over 70 — yes 70!!!!– cracks, holes, and leaks in the copper piping, all throughout the house.  It had also damaged all 3 toilets and several of the showers.  So, we will be not only saving many thousands of dollars through this, but also getting a whole new plumbing system, new toilets, and possibly new parts in our showers.  That is the hold up at this point.  We can’t have the inspections done (2 that I know of) until the plumber is finished.  We are hoping that will be any time.  Once the inspections happen, we should be able to give notice to our property management company.  In the mean time, we have collected some free lumber we found on Craigslist to help out with some of the needed projects, and we are all dreaming and planning.  I have a good idea on the chickens, rabbit, and all supplies, and pretty good plan of action once we get a closing date, but am still a little hung up on the goat part.  I can’t seem to find one that will meet our needs.  It seems like mostly what’s available is wethers, kids, or dry does.  I’ll keep looking. 

My fun-loving little tomboy has already made her loud-and-clear request for a tire swing at the new house.