Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Perfect Spring Morning

A crisp sunny morning.

Laundry on the line.

The rustle of the wind in the trees, and the hens in the leaves. 

Taking an extra minute to watch 12 piglets and their momma munch on grass. Then watching the whole group race for the barn when they hear the feed bucket.

Seedlings popping through the ground, and strawberries in bloom.

I love this life!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lessons from the Hen House

Carol Alexander is a fellow homeschooler and homesteader. She has asked me to review her e-book, Lessons from the Hen House. What a pleasure.

Inside this little book you'll find lesson plans to use for your homeschool based on the homesteading (in this case raising chickens) you are already doing. I am a big fan of unit studies and what could be more relevant to a homesteader than a unit study on chickens?

There are lessons for all ages. Math lessons have students figuring sales tax. Science lessons range from dissection to the pecking order. There are language lessons, art lessons, geography, and home economics.

Carol is working on a series of books for homesteading homeschooling lessons. In addition to this ebook, Lessons from the Seed Catalog is also available. These are available at Lessons from the Homestead. She also has a free newsletter available.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Creativity and Inpiration

Once upon a time we lived in a city with smooth concrete places to ride bikes on. We had easy access to flat, well maintained bike paths that once served as tow paths for the Erie Canal. In that other life, bike riding was a frequent extended family event. We'd go out with my parents, my brother's family, and a slew of preteen and teen foster kids. We were all working as house parents at the time.  We were a mixed bag of ethnic groups and ages ranging from toddlers to grandparents. We attracted a little attention when we went out.

Now, we have lots of space, but the paths and roads are far from well maintained, flat or smooth. Learning to ride here has been a challenge for the kids. The adults in the family prefer to get exercise via farm chores, and the oldest child here does not get too excited about riding, as a result the adult bikes are rarely used. They show the neglect.

The middle children love to ride. They take the 3/4 mile trek to the barn as frequently as they can. The youngest child has yet to conquer balance, the gravel and hills. She is often left in tears in the dust of the middle children. Sometimes they do slow down enough so she can run along side of them, but they soon tire of that. I can't blame them.

We still have the trailer and the tandem from that other life, and Vivian would beg Lydia to take her out on those. Lydia's bike however, can not tow the trailer or the tandem. The adult bikes that can were out of commission, and the trailer and tandem need some work themselves. Lydia came up with a creative idea. She just needed the wagon and some bailing twine.

Then yesterday we attended an event where Stacy from A Simple Six brought her cargo bike. Wow what a set up! Be sure to click on the link to her blog for some pictures. She can carry four kids on that bike!

Then this morning all (and I do mean all) the kids wanted to ride bikes. Kellen went out and fixed one of the smaller bikes so Vivian can learn to ride. Then he went to work on one of the adult bikes because he wanted to ride. He and Nolan have been riding all morning, and the three older kids just left for a ride to the barn. Now if we could just get Vivian riding, or talk Kellen into hooking the tandem up to his bike.

I love to see what a little creativity, a little inspiration, and some beautiful spring weather can accomplish.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Worth Getting Up For

I tend to be a morning person, but feel free to share that I was less than thrilled when I woke up at a quarter to six this morning. I was just a bit frustrated when the combination of thinking about a 100 things on my to do list and a chilly house kept me awake at the hour. So, I gave up and set about working on that to do list.

About an hour later, I just happened to glance out the window and was greeted with this sight.

The picture doesn't do it justice. A beautiful sunrise this morning; that is worth getting up for!

Monday, April 09, 2012

I'm Getting Sappy

I saw this picture today, and got a little choked up. Oh my goodness look how adorable and little those kids were! But that isn't what got me choked up. That picture was taken December of 2006. You know, less than six years ago! It seems like yesterday. Six years from now the oldest will likely be off in college somewhere far from home. The youngest will be teetering on the edge of the teenage years. How can life change so fast? Pass the Kleenex. I'm tearing up again.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Enjoying the Journey

Parenting, marriage, life, it is ever changing. I remember in my early twenties thinking how nice it would be when we were finished with school, and settled into our careers and family life. Settled? Does that ever really happen?

Almost twenty years later, and I realize that just when I think I have things figured out, that is when something comes and shakes the things I thought I knew. Sometimes the shaking is devastating, sometimes it is joyous, but it always makes me stop, reevaluate, and realize that I really don't have anything figured out. I think that is by design. Because really if I could figure it all out and control it why would I ever need to depend on God?

The last two years have brought some major shaking, the devastating kind. There have been times that I've been down right angry about everything that has happened. There are other times when I've been completely blessed by the love of friends and family during our grief and pain. Occasionally, I've caught a glimpse of the peace that can only be found in Christ during these trials. Mostly, I've been the walking wounded plowing ahead with the tasks and responsibilities before me.

It seems as though we may have finally come to a turning point. Things seem a little lighter. I don't feel as if I'm taking a punch at every turn. Things aren't they way I might want them in my perfect world, but we're ok. Dad is missed daily. Things will never be the same in our hearts or here on the farm, but we are through the rockiest and saddest of times.

There has been no change in Kellen's eye. We've tried everything the experts thought might help. It didn't help. He still only has peripheral vision in one eye. But we are looking to the bright side. It could have been a lot worse, and he does have full vision with both eyes.

Tim is almost done with his chemo treatments; twenty nine more, I think. While they still give him flu like symptoms, the dosage has been decreased to a level where the symptoms have been tolerable. He has had a couple questionable spots removed. None were melanoma. He is being careful in the sun. He is seeing his dermatologist regularly. By summer he'll be done with the chemo, and back to himself again.

Will life get back to normal now? Well sort of. It won't be the normal we knew two years ago, but it will be our new normal. It won't be the end of pain and hard times, but hopefully it will be a reprieve from them.  More shaking will come. I hope the next time they will be of the joyous variety, but if it isn't we will be alright. We have family. We have friends. Most importantly we have Christ.

I am not looking for a settled life anymore. I don't think there really is such a thing. This life is a journey with ups, downs, and occasionally some smooth spots. All we can do is enjoy it.

Or as my dad might have said, " Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 2:2-3.