Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This and That

     It's spring again!  One of my favorite times of year.  Everything looks promising in the spring, doesn't it? 
     Last week we just picked up our first successfully raised steer, Sir Loin, from the butcher.  It is so nice to have a freezer FULL of meat again.  But it is sad to no longer have Sir Loin's company.  We look forward to raising another steer again sometime in the near future, we hope.
     Our garden is only partially planted, but I'm OK with what we have so far.  We have lettuce, onions, garlic, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, and bell peppers.  I tend to want to plant too much, and then once the summer heat hits, have a hard time keeping up with all the weeding/watering/harvesting/preserving. 
     I'm excited to have a bunch of new chickens as well!  We have 10 hens currently laying and one rooster with a lovely crow - that flock is already established.  But we ordered another 26 chickens in February to help boost our egg supply.  I think we are down to about 20 (after losing a few, and giving some away), but they are growing so fast.  I'm expecting them to start laying around July.  It'll be wonderful to have all those eggs!
     Our youngest child, Charity, is 6 months old now, and such a pleasant baby.  She is army-crawling around the house, faster everyday, and keeping us on our toes with all the things she likes to find and put in her mouth.  The children all love taking care of her.  What a blessing she is!
     This winter my husband repaired the barn out back so we have a place to store some tools.  It is so nice to be able to clear some things out of our shed, which was already over-crowded.  He has recently been busy building a new coop for our new flock of chickens.  They are quickly outgrowing the one they are in now.  We are hoping this new one will be easier to move.
     I am in the process of switching out everyone's wardrobe.  I'm also reorganizing our files, which is so overwhelming and time consuming, but I'm betting it will be worth it. The children are finishing up their year of homeschool.  The 8 year old should be finished by the time of the homeschool bookfair, Mother's Day weekend, the 6 year old has finished first grade and eagerly began working on some second grade work, 4 year old is working through her Bob books and reading so well.  I'm planning to do ACE kindergarten with both the 3 year old and the 4 year old, starting this summer.  I have great memories of doing kindergarten with both boys a few years back, and I'm looking forward to that special time with the girls.  It is a busy time, since the kindergarten work requires my full attention, so I'm hoping that things won't get too behind around here.  I'll just have to take breaks as necessary to keep the ship running. :)  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Homeschool Bookfair and other news

This weekend was my fifth year of attending the Homeschool Bookfair, and I just love, love going!  It is so neat to see so many friends, meet new ones, listen to encouraging speakers, and look at all the books and other homeschool goodies.  It is the one place I go shopping where I actually want to buy everything.  So far, I've gotten supplies to do Life of Fred Math, Right Start Math, Etiquette Factory lessons, Pathway readers, some leftover ACE paces from last year, lots of library books for science/history, etc. and preschool workbooks for my 3 (almost 4!) year old.  We are also going to try Accountable Kids system again, but this time tailoring it to our family.  It is always exciting to start a new year of homeschooling.  In the past, we have schooled all through the summer, but we are going to just do so lightly or sporadically, just to give us a break and so that we can focus on our garden.

We now have a cat and a dog, both strays, both so friendly!  Our dog is a sweet little border Collie named Socks, and boy, does that dog have energy!  If I had half his energy, oh, the things I could accomplish! The cat is just called Kitty for now, but she is very lovable and snuggly.  They, along with our chickens, are our only animals so far.

Thanks to my husband's hard work, the front of our yard is now fenced in.  AND we have an automatic gate, which is great!  No more of the neighbor's horses and dogs constantly on our front lawn.  Our kids can play with (almost) no worries.  Speaking of the almost part, one side of our yard is still the four strand wire (some slick, some barbed), so we can't let 2 year old play outside without Mom or Dad as she tends to want to wander out into the pasture, where the neighbor's mule and cow are.  But my husband and the boys are working on that side of the fence, to enclose it in horse fencing and to expand the back yard a bit.  Hopefully it will keep the dog in (right now he is in a makeshift kennel by the old, falling apart barn).

I've saved the best news for last: we are expecting a baby in October!  Our whole family is excited! 
We are working on floor plans for the new house we hope to build, to accommodate our expanding family, but for now, we will be just fine in our little mobile home. Planning a house is certainly a huge job, a little overwhelming really, but it is exciting to think of the possibilities. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Big Texas Shindig with No Greater Joy

The end of October, we loaded up the minivan to head to Big Sandy, TX for No Greater Joy's Big Texas Shindig.  We had an awesome weekend meeting lots of other "crazy" homeschooling families like us.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! 
If you listened to the media at all, you would get a very different picture of the Pearls than what we saw in the four days we were with them.  They portray him to be this Bible-thumping hillbilly who advocates abusing children and keeps his wife under his thumb.  What we saw was a very different picture.  I think they enjoyed meeting all of us just as much (or maybe more) as we enjoyed meeting them.  I think Debi Pearl is one of the happiest people I've ever seen.  Honestly, she is just always smiling and enjoying life.  She and Michael were cutting up together and having fun, and their kids (only Nathan, Shalom and Shoshanna and their families were there; Gabriel and Rebekah were not) were teasing them and each other.  I got to observe Nathan and his family, Shalom and her family, and Shoshanna and her family interact as husbands/wives and children.  The children didn't march in to their seats like soldiers, but they didn't run in and make noise either.  They obeyed their parents!  I watched as one of Nathan's sons came back with some cousins to his seat (from the restroom or somewhere?), and the son filed into the row with his cousins to sit with them.  Zephyr (the mother), very calmly snapped her fingers to get his attention and then pointed to a seat on her row.  The boy did not make a scowl or whine or even look upset.  He just went cheerfully to the spot she pointed to.  She did not have an angry look on her face or anything like.  After one of the meetings, as we were talking to Shoshanna and her husband, their little two year old was running around with the other kids, but she didn't stray too far from mom and dad (and they, of course, kept an eye on her the whole time we talked).  They didn't make her sit still while we talked; they let her be a kid.  But when they called her to go, she came.  What I saw were husbands and wives who really enjoyed each other's company, parents who enjoyed being with their children and didn't have an adversarial relationship with their children, and children who obeyed their parents, acted with common courtesy, and were smart and enjoyed life.  And there were more hundreds of children that sat in the meetings, coloring or playing with toys, but no fits or whining that I observed.  After the meetings, children played with each other on the playground and sandbox, peacefully - helping each other, not fighting or bullying or teasing one another.
If the Pearl's method of training your children with swatting really makes kids angry at their parents, you would expect to see either quiet, timid children who were afraid of upsetting their parents or anyone else, or you would expect to at least see children who didn't want to spend much time with their parents.  I didn't see any of that.  If wives submitting themselves to their husbands made wives doormats and husbands controlling ogres, I would expect to see quiet timid wives, and bossy, domineering husbands, but I didn't see that either.  There were happy.  And not a fake happy, either.
We loved getting to meet so many different families from all over the US (and some from Canada).  It was a wonderful experience, and we are hoping to get to go to the next event that they have!

Farm Projects in the Works

Right now we are working on building a new movable chicken coop, called a chicken tractor.  We modeled ours after the Joel Salatin design, with just a few modifications.  Our other chicken tractor is very sturdy, but VERY heavy!  In order to get the wheels out of a rut, we had to lift it way up off the ground, and out would run our flighty chickens, into never never land.  Have you ever tried to chase a chicken around 7 (no 14 acres, because they run to our neighbor's property, too!) acres?  What about 7 chickens? We bought a net to catch them with, but it is ridiculous!  They fly up high into the trees, too.  Well, at least we keep the neighbors entertained. :)  Well, the new chicken tractor will hopefully keep them confined so that we can actually get their eggs (and hopefully, add more chickens, so that we won't have to BUY eggs!).
Next on the list (well, MY list at least....) is a deck for our back door.  Currently, the sliding glass door opens up to a 4 foot drop - not very safe with little ones around!  Not to mention that if I want to hang laundry to dry, I have to go out the front door and walk all the way around to the back - with all that wet laundry!  A deck will be nice. But really, our front "porch" is very rickety and needs to be replaced as well. 
Fencing across our front yard would also be nice!  Right now our whole pasture is fenced, but our yard is not.  So anyone, along with their animals (horses! dogs, etc.) can just stroll in, and our children (though they know better) could just stroll out.  Our garden has hoof prints in it.  Not good.
Oh!  With us living in tornado alley, an underground storm cellar in also very high on the list to accompany our mobile home.  Preferably before the spring time.
Some friends of ours were at the Big Texas Shindig with us in Big Sandy, TX, (post to come about that trip) and they were talking about looking into building an earthbag home.  That got me researching them, and just finding out more about them.  I also liked that straw bale homes were COOL in the summer time, but they are made out of straw, and that just seems strange.  We just have lots to look into before building our home!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The importance of a life

Today I had the interesting experience of going into an imaging clinic to get a sonogram to check on our baby. I'm 10 weeks, 2 days, and I'd been having cramping for 3 days, some slight spotting, and a decrease in my pregnancy sickness. We wanted to see if the baby was OK and just to find out what all these symptoms mean. Our midwife is a little over an hour's drive from our house, and she doesn't have the equipment for sonograms anyway, so her office helped us find somewhere local where we could get it done. Once we arrived, we went in the room with the technician. The monitor was faced away from me, where I could not see what was happening. My husband and children were behind the technician, so they were able to see, but didn't know what they were looking at anyway! She said she would not be able to tell us anything until she talked to our doctor (midwife, she meant). She let us hear the sounds of blood flow to my ovaries, but never turned on the sound for the baby's heartbeat, nor talked about the baby at all. She left the room. A few moments later She returned and confirmed that the radiologist would not need any further pictures and I could get dressed and go back to the lobby. No visit with the radiologist. No news. Just sitting in the lobby. Eventually she came back and told us she left a message with the midwife and was waiting for the return call. She said we could leave if we wanted to (like we are going to drive 30 minutes to our home without someone telling us if our baby has a heartbeat!) My husband asked if the radiologist could at least tell us what is going on, and she said she would check. The midwife called (unbeknownst to me at the time), and the receptionist called my name. I asked if my husband should come, and she said, "No, just you." She handed me the phone which was right there by her desk, a seat in front of it, and two boxes of tissue, so, apparently, this was a common place to receive "news". It was my midwife. She said she'd never had a radiologist want her to give out the news. "They couldn't find a heartbeat. Your baby has died". Even though I was "prepared" to possibly receive this news, I really wasn't. I immediately wept, so much that it was a while before I could catch my breath enough to even give a reply. I then realized why the tissues were there. She said some more sweet words about God having a purpose for this baby and that the baby has fulfilled his or her purpose, about how she loved me, and to take time to grieve. After I hung up the phone, the lady at the front desk said, " You are finished here." I was so far from being able to compose myself to leave, and couldn't even catch a breath to tell her to call my husband over here. Now I had to walk directly into a lobby full of strangers, to see my husband, who doesn't even know. Another 5 or 10 minutes and the ability to see my husband would have given me some time to stop crying long enough to get to the car, but here I was alone. The lady at the front desk couldn't take it any more, I guess, and came over and gave me a hug. I had to finally walk to the lobby, my husband saw me and immediately knew the problem and we headed to the car. After getting home (a trip I hardly remember), I texted my midwife: how big was the baby? will I get a printout of the sonogram? What else do you know? The whole experience left me dumbfounded. Couldn't they have just left us in the private room? Couldn't the radiologist come talk to us? Didn't they know I'd want my husband there beside me? Couldn't they see I would need a moment, that I might respond the way I did over the news of my baby's death? Didn't they think I might want to see my baby on the screen, alive or not, and take home a picture to remember his or her precious, short, life? How would they like to walk, sobbing, into a roomful of strangers, to report the death of their child to their husband? It all seemed so cold, intentional or not. So, what makes a life important? For a baby, does it mean they have to make it past a certain age of gestation, or to be the first or second child (not the fifth)? What about the mother, what makes her life important? I didn't expect anyone there to grieve my baby, but shouldn't they expect me to grieve mine? I walked out of that place very grateful for my midwife, who has always treated our family with love and compassion, recognizing our babies, however short their lives, as gifts of our God. How you view a life is important. It isn't a blob of tissue - it is a baby, whose soul is back in the arms of our Heavenly Father, and whose body we will soon have to say goodbye to. We are never guaranteed a certain number of days at any point in our lives. I thank God for the 10 weeks I've had with this baby, for the joy that he or she brought, for the chance to be a mother, again. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be His name.

Sunday, May 20, 2012