Friday, April 30, 2010

Consider This

Every now and then I like to give a plug for something that I really enjoy & that I think others will enjoy too.  I've shared some book recommendations and kids videos already.  I'd like to give another plug today, but this is a different kind of plug.

Many years ago a few of the youth from  our church teamed up with a group that was going to Kenya for a missions trip at a children's home.   First, Kenya has a special place in the hearts of my husband and I because before we were married he spent a year there working with a missionary family.  Also, the youth came back changed and inspired by the trip they took.

The group went with a ministry called Shalom Christian Missions.  Shalom is a small ministry that supports one particular children's home in Magunga, Kenya.  For us, it has a more personal feel than some of the other larger child sponsorship organizations.  And, we can see directly how our money is helping the children of that area.

If you have ever considered sponsoring a child I would strongly suggest you check out Shalom's sponsorship page.  There you will see the pictures of several children who are waiting for sponsors.  Several of them are urgent needs.  Thank you for prayerfully considering this.


On an entirely different note, I'm somewhat discouraged with my 40 by 40 goal.  I hesitantly shared my starting weight last week.  And, although, I THOUGHT I was eating in moderation this week, my weight went up by 2 pounds!!??  Trying not to let that get me down.  But, unfortunately I don't have much to share as far as an update goes other than that disappointing news.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tackling the Laundry Monster and Other Foul Foes

I am taking a breather from my day of laundry to sit down and write this.  It is after dinner & about an hour before the boy's bedtime.  To this point I have done no fewer than 9 loads of laundry...sorted, washed, dried, folded, and put away.  I still have 2 baskets that are folded but are waiting to be put away.  One load is still in the washer & 1 is still in the dryer.  There are still 2 loads waiting to be washed.

Whew!  I am exhausted!  But, I am determined to get it done today!  I had to force myself to focus just on the laundry today.  It was so tempting to be distracted by the many, many other household tasks which are just crying out to be done.  But, I knew if I started down that path, I would end up accomplishing very little.

Then of course there is the negative self-talk.  How did I let it get this bad?  I must be the only stay at home mom that is so undisciplined.  Why is my house always such a wreck?  And on and on and on.  My biggest temptation is to constantly compare myself to other women and what they get done (or what I think they get done).  It's a fact, I would not win any awards as the greatest housekeeper.  And, I end up berating myself.

Do you know what that is?  It's insecurity.   This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a simulcast at my church of Beth Moore speaking on that very topic.  Her talk was based on her book So Long Insecurity.  
I was looking back over my notes (I didn't have a whole lot of them because I brought baby Joseph with me, so my hands were full a lot of the time).  Here are a couple of the things I jotted down.

She said we can wait until we feel secure or we can claim the security we have in Christ now.  She also said that insecurity is actually unbelief.  We are more or less telling ourselves & God that we must not be 'good enough' because of....(fill in the blank).  It cheapens the depth of God's love for us and the worth we have in Him.

Then she shared this little acronym for what a SECURE woman looks like:

Saved from herself
Entitled to truth
Clothed with intention
Upended by grace
Rebounded by love
Exceptional in life

I still have a goal to eventually improve my time management skills and discipline myself.  But, more importantly, I want to be a SECURE woman.  And, I want to leave that foe, insecurity, behind.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Letting Go

These boxes may not look like much to you...

But these boxes represent a part of my life that I've held on to for a long time.

And, today I finally had the courage to let it go.

These boxes held miscellaneous teaching files & resources that I thought I might use again someday.  I graduated from college in 1992 with a degree in elementary and early childhood education.  Teaching jobs in our area aren't easy to come by because the college I graduated from is largely known as a teacher's college. The area is saturated with people with education degrees.

I was fortunate enough to have professors and other teachers that believed in me.  And, they put in good words for me.  I was offered a position for the school year right after I graduated.  That first position was teaching 6th grade.  It was a temporary position (no teaching contract) & I was considered a long term substitute.  But, I had that 6th grade class for the entire school year.

The following school year I was offered a position teaching 5th grade in the same district but a different elementary school.  Again, I was considered a long term substitute.  What I was hearing from my teaching colleagues is that this district often hired their teachers in this manner.  Usually, a teaching contract was offered in the third year.

But, for me that didn't happen.  Near the end of that second school year I met with the superintendent of the district and the school principal and they let me know that they would not be hiring me the following year.  I was devastated and my confidence as a teacher was completely shaken.  

Looking back through those files today I came across some evaluations that had been done on my teaching performance.  There was many positive things said, along with some constructive criticism.  But, overall my evaluations were good.  So, why wasn't I offered a contract?

 I know for one thing, I was very young.  I didn't apply myself as well as I could have.  Also, my early 20's marked the beginning of a period of rebellion.  I made huge mistakes and poor choices in the way I was living.  And, perhaps that was evident to those in supervision over me.

I never went back to teaching in the public school system.  I stayed in the education field working in various day cares & preschools in various capacities.  I even taught Kindergarten in one day care where I worked and went on to become the Assistant Director & then the Director of that center.  But, my confidence was so shaken that I didn't even try to apply to other schools for teaching positions.  And, now so much time has passed that I would need to take quite a few college credits to renew my teaching certificate. 

Still I kept those boxes filled with all my teaching stuff all these years.  I thought that maybe I'd teach again someday.  Or, perhaps I'd homeschool and could use them as resources.  And, they've sat in my attic untouched, unopened for years and years.

I've been trying to slowly purge my house of things that are of no use to me.  I'm not sure what prompted me to think of all those teaching boxes.  But, last week I posted a note on Facebook asking if any homeschoolers out there could use these things.  I knew I couldn't throw them away,  but there didn't seem to be any reason to keep them anymore.    I hoped that they would be useful for someone else.  Sure enough, a relative of ours has a homeschooling friend who was interested in taking the resources.

I looked through the boxes briefly today before they were picked up.  It was bittersweet.  There were reminders in there of how much fun I had in my classes.  Yet, it also brought up those lingering feelings of failure.  As I was closing the boxes, I was praying that God would help me forgive myself and to help me get over lost opportunties.

At that moment, my son Charlie came downstairs crying.  There had been some altercation between him and his brother upstairs.  And, as I was hugging him & comforting him I felt as though God was saying to me very clearly, 'This is your opportunity now.  The past is the past.  Nothing can change that.  Live in these moments I've given you now & be the mother I am calling you to be.'

I can honestly say that I feel a sense of relief & freedom since the boxes are no longer in my house.  I feel like I can move forward and stop looking backward.  And, I am challenged to live my life today in such a way that is pleasing to God.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Adult ADD? and 40 by 40 Kickoff

I have a really, really difficult time staying focused on anything these days.  I can't seem to concentrate & I'm easily overwhelmed.  I've been attributing it to the fact that I have 4 small boys who require constant attention thereby making it difficult to give attention to other things.  But, yesterday I half-jokingly posted on Facebook that I think I have adult ADD.

I got some humorous responses & several people commiserated with me saying that they too have similar symptoms since having children.  But then one of my friends sent me this link which is an article about ADHD children as adults.  Now, I've never been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.  Truth be told, I think they are both widely overdiagnosed & overmedicated.  But, then I read the following paragraph in the article & it was like they were describing me (emphasis mine):

"People with ADHD are easily distracted and can’t control their attention. They have an inordinate amount of difficulty with tasks that involve planning and organization. They lose anything that isn’t tied down. They procrastinate. They lack follow-through. They’re restless and impulsive. They’re extremely forgetful. They tend to overlook details, leading to mistakes. They interrupt. They’re chronically late. They’re easily bored, thriving on novelty and instant gratification."

I bold-faced the ones that describe me.  Granted, it's not all of them.  But, it's quite a few!  It's just very interesting to me.  I'm not sure what to do with this information.  I'm certainly not going to run to the doctor with article in hand requesting medication.  I do, however, think that I need to make some adjustments in my life to give me some better coping skills.

1.   I do much better when I'm operating within a schedule.  When things are left open-ended I tend to piddle away time.  

2.  Also, I feel like I need to give myself small, achievable goals.  One of the most frustrating things to me as a Stay at home Mom is that I never seem to be able to finish anything.  And, I thrive on a sense of accomplishment!  So, meeting small goals can be key. 

3.   I'm also easily overwhelmed.  I'll start straightening things in one room, notice something that goes to another room, and then get distracted by things that need done there, and on and on.  I'll end up wandering through the house seeing thing after thing that needs done & become so overwhelmed I just give up.  Forcing myself to focus on the task at hand may be hard but it so important.

4.  Accept that while my children are small there will be constant interruptions (actually, I should learn not to view my children as interruptions!) and that it will take longer to accomplish the small goals.  And, some of the big projects (like painting my kitchen cabinets) may just have to stay on hold.

And, speaking of is my first weigh-in day for my 40 by 40 project.  In case you missed the post where I first wrote about this, my goal is to lose 40 pounds by the time I turn 40 in November.  I will weigh-in and give updates on Fridays.  I considered  posting a full-length picture of myself so that you (and me) can see the changes as time goes on.  But, I'm not sure I'm quite that brave just yet.  Giving you my starting weight is taking enough nerve.  But, here it is...

Day 1 (April 23, 2010) Weight (in the morning, no clothes, after peeing):    190.5 pounds

I'm sorry.  Did I make you squint?  Ugh.  I'm SO not happy about those numbers, but that's the whole point of 40 by 40.  So, here we go! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kitchen cabinet dilemna

I really need some advice.  I think I've mentioned before that our kitchen cabinets don't match.

There are the orignal cabinets (house was built around 1930) which are stained a cherry wood color.   Although, as you can see in the pictures below, even those cabinets seem to have different color stains.

The other set of cabinets are circa 1970 and my husband got them for free.  He added them when he added extra counter space & a peninsula in our kitchen.  These are more of a brownish color.  Notice the grooves in the cabinets.

The surface on both sets of these cabinets is pretty worn.  They could both use a facelift.  The cabinets themselves are still pretty solid.  And, we can't afford to put in new cabinetry anyway.  In our 5-year plan, we hope to purchase another home & keep our current home as a rental property.  So, the objective is to give them a fairly economical facelift.  And, while we live in our home I'd love for our kitchen to have a brighter, more uniform look.  I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen.  Happy kitchen.  Happy me.

This is where my need for advice comes in.  Which of these folowing options should I pursue?
1.  Paint the cabinetry.  I love the look of white or off-white cabinets.  I think they look bright, clean, and crisp.  Paint would be a good option too because we could use wood filler in the grooves of that second set of cabinets.  Then, when painted over they would look like a solid piece of wood, thereby making them like the first set of cabinets.  Add some new hardware on both sets and they would almost look like they go together.
   Drawbacks to painting?  Once you paint wood, it's pretty much going to stay painted without a huge amount of work to reveal the wood grain again.  Also, as  much as I love white cabinetry, I know my house & my family.  I'm afraid it would show a LOT of dirt.  Can this be avoided by using a certain kind of paint?

2.  Sand, and restain the cabinetry, plus new hardware.  The wood filler trick wouldn't work here, so I'd still have 2 different style cabinets, I'd just be making the wood color more uniform.

3.  Continue to ignore it for 5 more years and hope that future renters wouldn't care.

I would love to get your thoughts on this project.  And, if you have any other options I haven't thought of, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

40 by 40

Yesterday, I mentioned that today I would reveal a personal goal of mine...a little project I'm calling 40 by 40. So, are you just dying to know what it's all about? Well, even if you aren't necessarily chomping at the bit, I'll fill you in anyway.

My goal is to lose 40 pounds by the time I turn (ahem) 40....hereafter to be referred to as 40 by 40. There are several things I might not normally want you to know that I am revealing by sharing this information with you. The first is that (YIKES!) I'm turning 40 this year...on November 13 to be exact. The other is that I have at least 40 pounds to lose. (It is no accident that you will only see head shots of me in my blog.)

I am going to take it a step further and reveal my actual weight on Friday. I will make Fridays my weigh-in day (no clothes, first thing in the morning, after I've husband always laughs at me for that). Until Friday, let's just say that 40 pounds will bring me back down to a healthy weight. 50 would probably be even better. And, 60 would put me at the thinnest I ever was as an adult.

I'm thinking 40 pounds is realistic. After all, I've had four children. My metabolism is slowing down a little more each year. And, I want this to be something doable. Plus, we're looking at about 6 1/2 months between now and my birthday so that would be 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week which is considered average & healthy.

I promise this will not become a dieting blog. I will have my weigh-in and updates on Fridays, mostly because I need some sense of accountability. I'm not sure how many of you are actually out there reading this. But, the idea that there are some people who know my goal will hopefully help motivate me & help me stick to it. I may also write about some healthy eating/living tips I discover along the way.

Mostly, I want to feel good about myself again. I know that my self-worth is not based on physical appearance. But, I also know that carrying extra weight is uncomfortable & unhealthy. I want to be active with my children as they grow up. And, I want to pass along healthy habits to them.

So, will you stand alongside me as I start this process? I've mentioned before that I have some real issues with food. I know that the biggest thing that I can do is to pray and rely on God's strength to help me. I can't do it on my own.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Recommendations

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile.  If there is one thing I love, it's a good book!  And, when I find a good one I want to share it with everyone I know.  So, I've got a bunch to let you know about today!  Some I've recently read & some I'm still in the process of reading.  Here goes...

If you are the mother of boys, run...don't walk, to get a copy of this book (or zoom over to Amazon).  I have been following Rachel's blog, Testosterhome for a long time.  As a matter of fact, hers is the very first blog I ever discovered.  She is a mom to 5 boys and her stories are both hilarious and touching.  Oh, and as a side note, she & her family welcomed a 6th child a couple weeks ago...a GIRL!

This book gives some great ideas of how to bless your husband.  I have to admit, I finished reading the book but haven't started my '21 days of loving' yet.  

I'm still working on this book.  It takes a biblical look at parenthood, examines ways that we stress ourselves as parents and what God's true purpose for us as parents is.

This is not your typical declutter and organize book.  In this book the author takes a closer look at WHY we hold on to things and helps to change our thinking about our 'stuff'.  

Sugar, Fat, and Salt makes us want more sugar, fat, and salt.  I've only just started reading this book, but in it the author explores ways that the food industry has designed food products to increase our appetites.  If anything can convince you it's time to get back to whole foods, this is it.

So there you have current book recommendations.  Let me know if you check any of them out and what YOU think about them. 
 I'm also excited to share a personal goal of mine with you.  I'm calling it 40 by 40.  I'll explain that one tomorrow.  Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Less Guilt, More Joy

Today I am choosing
not to feel guilty that...

- I'm buying sticky buns instead of baking them for tomorrow morning's meeting.

- I still use the dryer sometimes on sunny days instead of hanging out all my laundry.

- I have not been pumping & freezing breastmilk to save for future use in the event I need to be away from my breastfed baby.

- I alone (over the course of time) ate almost the entire bag of M&M's.

- My floors are sticky again.

- I haven't finished weeding & mulching my flowerbeds & I haven't even looked at my garden yet since my hubby planted some things a couple weeks ago.

Today I am taking joy in this...

- I get to pack lunch for my oldest son to take to school. I remember when I was single & childless and I was having lunch with a group of Kindergarten children who were part of a before & after school program I worked at. I specifically remember a little boy named Tommy opening the lunch his mother had packed for him. And, I remember thinking how much I longed to have a child to pack a lunch for. And now I do.

- Watching my husband mow the yard last night as I sat on the deck with the baby and the other boys ran through the mowed areas.

- Looking at the mess in my house and knowing it is there because my house if filled with loved ones.

- Even though we live right up against a road that is too busy for my comfort, when I look out the back my view is of fields, trees, and meadows.

- My dog who always lays right at my feet whenever I sit down. I've never had a pet so loyal and loving as Abbey-dog.

- God's provision...each and every day. He is faithful!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Words of Wisdom

This past Friday at our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, we had a panel of mentor moms answer questions that we had about parenting.  These experienced moms (some now parenting teenagers, and some with adult children and now grandmothers) are with our MOPS group each week and are a wonderful encouragement and support.  But, this was a special time for us to pick their brains, so to speak.  

Our coordinator, Alisha, facilitated the question and answer time.  She opened the morning with this question for all the mentor moms to answer:  'What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a young mom?'  I'm sure that was a tough one for them to answer...after all how do you decide on just one piece of advice?  I think our mentor moms did a wonderful job.  And, here is a summary of each of their answers to this question.

1.  Let praise outweigh correction.  When you look at your child, let him see that you are pleased with him.

2.  Maintain your authority as the parent.  Love your child, but don't try to be his friend.

3.  Spend time with your child.  It goes quickly, so don't take these moments for granted.  If you have multiple children, be sure to spend one on one time with each of them.

4.  Have a family devotional time.  Make it fun and make it part of your regular routine.

5.  Respect their father.  Our children watch our attitudes very closely, so guard how you speak and act toward their father.  

Each of these pieces of wisdom are so valuable and true.  For myself?  

 I'm working on #1.  With four boys, I feel like I spend a lot of time correcting them.  I have to make a conscious effort to be aware of when they have been obedient and to praise them for it.  I know it's good for my spirit when someone praises me, and I can see the lift in my own children's spirits when I praise them.  

I'd also like to take more opportunities for one on one time with my children.  Right now the baby gets a lot of my individual attention, but I know the other boys are hungry for it too.  Even if it's just 5 minutes here or there, it makes a world of difference.

We don't have a regular family devotional time and that's something I'd like to incorporate.  We will sometimes include Bible stories in story time before bed, but lately bedtime seems to get so crazy that story time doesn't always happen.  I'd like to plan a specific time for family devotions. 

Finally, #5 really hits home to me.  I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  My husband and I don't really argue or fight in front of our children and I guess I always thought that was the most important thing.  But, when I am upset or irritated with my husband, it definitely comes out in my attitude.    And, it is SO important for my children to see us, their parents, treat each other with respect.  So, that is one that I also need to make a conscious effort to work on.  

We had a missionary couple who serve in Jamaica visit our church on Sunday.  They pointed out that in Jamaica probably 90% of the children come from broken homes, and perhaps 50% of the children either don't know who their father is or where he is.  They said that just by modeling a stable marriage full of love & respect they were accomplishing a huge amount of their missionary work.

The statistics might not be as grim here in the U.S., but they are certainly headed in that direction.  I am challenged to help model marriage as God intended it not only to my own children, but to others around us.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I Need to Stop Watching HGTV

I orginally wrote this as a note on my facebook page.  I've been thinking a lot lately about contentment & went back to reread what I had written.  I thought I'd share it with you here.

I need to stop watching shows like House Hunters, My First Place, and Property Virgins on HGTV. I've become convinced that these shows exist for one reason and one reason only...and that is to breed discontent in the heart of their viewers. People walk in with sky high budgets and a laundry list of 'must-haves' - master suites, walk-in closets, 'updated' kitchens and bathrooms, etc., etc. The word 'updates' is so overused in these shows it makes me want to gag every time I hear it. If anything is older than 5 years then it needs to be 'updated'.

There are many times that I've sat and watched one of these shows and my mouth just drops at the materialism that has so inundated our society. Last night I was watching one about a first time homebuyer in Mississippi. She actually had a reasonable budget of $120,000. The first home they looked at was a smaller, older home at a great price of $114,000. When they showed the inside of this home I fell in love with it! It had original hardwood floors & wood trim and interior wooden shutters. It had a beautiful wood beams exposed on the ceiling & an original wood mantelpiece in a stone fireplace. The one bathroom had bad wallpaper & most of the walls needed some fresh paint. The back yard was small & the decking was in some disrepair. And, the kitchen was small but had good, solid cabinetry and decent countertops. But, the woman's lack of enthusiasm as she toured this home was astounding. And, the real estate agent kept referring to the home as a fixer-upper. It needed paint! That is all!

But, to so many people, the idea of living without granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, freshly tiled bathrooms, and brand new cabinets is unthinkable. This woman even said she would probably tear out the original mantelpiece & replace it to make it more 'modern'. Ugh! If it sounds like these kinds of attitiudes really make me upset, you'd be right! It makes me downright angry! John & I have been living in a small, honest-to-goodness fixer upper for 8 years. Having children along with the time & money they require, plus living on one income has forced us to put so many renovations on hold. I live with linoleum that is cracking, stained, and probably as old as our house is (which is 80+ years by the way). There is also linoleum on the walls going up our stairs & on the walls of our stairwell. The sunroom areas are completely unfinished and not really very liveable...we use them basically for storage. And, the ceiling has been collapsing bit by bit in that area. There is still unfinished, exposed heating ductwork upstairs. My kitchen has 2 different kinds of original to the house & a second set (circa 1970's) that John added in when we added an island area to our ktichen. Neither are all that appealing. Our downstairs bathroom is a thorn in my side. It really needs help...we'll just leave it at that. We actually added an upstairs bathroom, losing one of the 4 bedrooms we originally had. This bathroom is probably the nicest part of the house & one of the only completed projects. We make 3 bedrooms work for the  6 of us. John & I have a room. The 2 big boys share a room, and Charlie has a room...although we'll probably move him in with his big brothers soon.  The baby is outgrowing his bassinet which is in our room & needs to move to the crib.  When I feel cramped, I try to remind myself that the family that originally built and lived in this house raised 9 children here!

I could go on and on about the ways our house needs to be improved. There is a lot that is started & not completed. And, right now, it's just not feasible. Sure, we could take out loans, hire people to do the work for us, etc. etc. But, with the exception of our mortgage, we have no debt and we want to keep it this way. We believe in living within our means, and this requires sacrifice, saving, and planning. We can't have what we want right now without spending money that isn't really ours. So, we wait. And, I guess that's where HGTV really irks me. It showcases how much our society demands instant gratification, how we are never really satisfied unless we have the latest and the greatest. We are always hungry for more, more, more. And, I'll admit, I struggle with the issue of contentment a lot! I would love to have bigger home, a more attractive home, more land, etc. But, I don't and so I need to be grateful for what I do have...which is a warm, dry house filled with love and family. And, isn't that what a home is really all about?

I also have to admit I struggle with what my proper response is when and if John & I can afford that bigger, better house. Do we really NEED it? When we live in luxury, cracked linoleum and all, in comparison to so much of the world, do we really need to strive for more? I don't know the right answer to this. In my heart there are seeds of hope and desire planted for 'my dream house'. My dream house is still relatively conservative based on what so many others seem to desire. I would love to have an old, (preferably stone) farmhouse that is respectably restored (wood floors, large eat-in kitchen, plenty of rooms for boys to spread out & for entertaining) on 10+ acres. Stream, meadow, and mature trees a plus. That's where I can picture myself and feeling like it was my 'forever house'. But, when it comes down to it, am I just as poorly motivated as I feel the 'perfection seekers' are? I don't know. Where does 'enough' really begin? Maybe I'm living it now.

And, if you have any doubt that the majority of us here in America truly do live in luxury, you need to watch this short video on Hong Kong's cage homes.  Watching this video puts it in perspective.

"There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more.  The other is to desire less."   - G.K. Chesterton

I want to make a conscious effort to be grateful each and every day for how truly blessed we are.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog Mania

I'll admit it. I've become a bit obsessed with the blog world. In the past, I read a few blogs here and there. But, it wasn't until I started my own that I became aware of what a community of bloggers there is. And, it's really fascinating to me.

I love reading about the lives of other people, hearing their tips or reading about their interests. If there is a topic you can think of, there are people who blog about it. For me, I'm drawn to blogs by other moms.

And, once you find a blog you like, you can find more that may be similar by 'blog surfing' clicking on links, followers, blogs they follow, commenters, etc. I could spend hours on my computer doing just that.

So, here I am, about 3 months into blogging, and I am realizing it's yet another area that could become a time-consumer if I'm not careful. However, writing my blog & reading other blogs is such a pleasure for me. Once again, moderation is the key. And I need to remember the reason I started blogging (which I wrote about in my very first blog post).

For those of you out there reading this, how did you get into blogging? What has been your take on the blog world? And, what are your favorite blogs?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Outside Work

I continued working outside on my rhubarb patch today. I had a ton of weeds to pull out yet (actually, I had to get the shovel & dig most of them out). And, it's hot out there today! So, I am beat. I think I'm going to keep this post short and try to take a nap today while the children are sleeping.

We also drove up the road to a nearby roadside stand where I know the lady always sells different flowers & plants. I wanted a few things for an outside planter I have...and I felt like the boys needed a change of scenery.

Edison saw that she was selling strawberry plants 3 for $1. He BEGGED me to buy some. Edison is my garden boy. He always has been fascinated with planting things and watching them grow. He especially loves strawberries. My father in law has strawberries in his garden and we always have to keep a close eye on Edison because he will pick them as soon as he sees them...when they are still green.

I guess I'll need to figure out a spot where we can start our own strawberry patch. I didn't buy the plants for him today but at that price I can buy a dozen and let him tend his little patch. Now, how to explain to him that he won't actually have any strawberries until next summer!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


About 2 miles from our house, there is a property for sale by owner. I've driven by this place at least 3 times now because it is pretty close to being my dream property. It is 4 1/2 acres which include a fenced meadow, a stream, a long driveway, plenty of outbuildings (for hubby), and area for the children to run. While I've only seen the house from outside, it appears to be well-maintained & has a huge deck for entertaining.

However, it is way out of our price range. I know this because I was curious and called to get the information. The owner called us back last night and talked to my husband. He has an asking price, but is taking bids until Friday. The best offer will take it.

1. The asking price is already well out of our range
2. I'm pretty sure it will get bid up even higher. We live in a largely Old Order Mennonite community. Some don't use electricity, and many still use horse & buggy. This kind of property is right up their alley. And, the Mennonite families pool their resources when someone is ready to buy a home. Many contribute to make it possible.

Still, it's nice to dream. My husband and I have a 5 year plan. We hope to be able to purchase a property similar to this one by that time. In the meantime, we save and dream. Since I'm talking about it, can I tell you what my dream home is?
1. Acreage - Our home right now is on a very small piece of land. It feels bigger because we have a field behind us & our in-laws own the 2 properties to the right of us. So, our kids have run of lots of space. But, we would love to have a place with lots of land (at least 5 acres) of our own. A meadow & a stream would be pluses!
2. An older home - We love the character of older homes. We'd especially love to have an old stone farmhouse. But, even if it's not stone, we still love the feel of old farmhouses...they just feel homey.
3. A large, bright eat-in kitchen. We have a large eat-in kitchen now, but no separate formal dining room (which I'd also like to have). And, our kitchen now isn't very bright, has old (50+ years) linoleum, & mismatching cabinetry. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so I'd love to have a nice one.
4. Hardwood floors. 'nuff said.
5. A large mud-room. With four very active boys & a very outdoorsy husband, I would love to have a place to catch all the dirt & paraphenalia that makes it's way inside.
6. At least 4 bedrooms. We don't have to have separate bedrooms for all the boys. As a matter of fact I think it's good for them to share bedrooms. But, it would be nice to have the option of separating some of them if we need to.
7. Outbuildings/ barns. My husband wants a workspace for his tinkering, fixing his motorcycle, working on tractors, etc.
8. A large living or family room to make it easy to entertain. Our living room right now is teeny. If more than 4 people are in it at one time you start to feel claustrophobic. Space to spread out would be great.
9. Space for a piano. I took lessons as a child and although I can't really play anymore, I'd still love to have one to fiddle with.
10. Quiet, secluded with a long driveway.

So, there you have my dream. What is yours?

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm Loving the Signs of Spring

The view from our back deck

Our cherry tree in bloom

I was working in our rhubarb patch today.  I dug out a lot of weeds, but I still have a lot more to go!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Plug for the Day

If you have children who love farming, you must check out the videos available at We discovered the series at the library when Wyatt was just a toddler and my boys have loved each and every one.

I thought of it today because right now, Charlie (who's 2) is obsessed with the Dairy Farming one. There are 4 total in the series....Farming for Kids, Dairy Farming, Apple Farming, and Citrus farming. The videos are older (made in the mid-'90's), but they are some of the best farming videos for kids I've ever seen. They are very informative too & could easily be incorporated into a home-school curriculum.

Anyway, that's my plug for the day. We have just enjoyed these so much, I thought I'd pass on the information.
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