Thursday, March 29, 2012


Today Lydie and I were shopping for Easter shoes. As we approached the check out line she motioned for me to lean down to her level and listen to a secret. She whispered, "Could you tell those two ladies that I think they are beautiful?" I looked at who she was referring to and saw the most lovely, white-haired, elderly ladies. I hesitated because, well, I was a stranger telling two ladies they were beautiful. It felt a little awkard!

We were asked to move to the other check out line and I began trying to come up with the right words. I finally decided I was being silly. I should just say, "My daughter asked me to tell you that she thinks you are both beautiful." But I turned around and they were gone. I was mad at myself all day long. I wonder how long it had been since someone had told them how beautiful they are. I wish I would have told them right away.

I love the perspective of a little, innocent girl. I know that soon enough society will try to redefine her idea of beauty. It might not be long before artificial, shallow beauty appeals to her. I will do all that I can to fight that possibility. Praying God will guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus and enable her to see the world and other people as He does! Praying she will prize a gentle and "quiet" spirit, a servant heart, and a beautiful, inquisitive mind more than the things that are passing away.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break

Last week was our Spring Break. It left us rejuvenated and refreshed. We spent most of the time sleeping late and playing outside, and trying really hard to balance resting with catching up around here. I got a few areas organized- the hutch (pantry), the frig, and the closets. I also took all of the kids' clothes to the consignment store. And one day I mulched and planted flowers in the beds in the yard. But these things only required a small part of each day to be filled with work.
The children spent dozens of hours with the dog, on the trampoline, in the sprinkler, exploring outside. I bought them a new Wii game that we played most evenings (Mario 2012 Olympics game). We also rented a movie one night and I let them each pick out their favorite dinner and served it one night last week.

We chose two special activities for the week. The boys wanted to tour Vulcan Park. I was so thrilled that the museum actually provided an educational field trip for us that pertained to what we are learning in history. There were beautiful pictures and plaques about the Great Depression, the World Wars, and the New Deal and how that affected the city of Birmingham. I very much enjoyed studying the history of my birthplace with the kids, and sharing a love for Alabama with them. Loved those unplanned learning opportunities! And then we went to sweet Homewood to eat lunch at O'Carrs, one of my favorite places to eat when I was in high school and summers that I was home in college. Sharing these places with my own children never gets old!
Later in the week we had our second fun outing, playing mini golf together (again the boys' request). We finished golfing with only minutes to spare before a huge rainstorm hit the area. I was so thankful to be able to fulfill their second wish for the week without having the rain spoil their fun.
This past weekend my parents came to the farm and watched the kids while Andy and I went to Atlanta. Our friends have been renting our house there and we were doing yard work and repairs in order to put the house on the market next month. We really enjoyed our time together, even though most of it was spent working. Just the time in the car and the evenings at dinner and the hotel, which provided hours of uninterrupted conversation, was such a treat. We are going back this weekend to try and finish a huge check list. I am excited.

We are trying to accept the fact that we will probably have to bring a big check to PAY the bank when we sell our house. Even though we put down the standard 20% on our home, we will be "upside down" on the sell price. We took out a loan when our basement flooded in 2008, which is part of the problem. Also, even though our house is so sweet and in a nice neighborhood, we can probably expect to receive an offer for $35,000-$40,000 less than we paid for it. For a couple with three kids who have lived on one income for 12 years, this is a huge financial blow. But we have also been given huge financial gifts. So we have to cut our losses and look forward. We are certain it will be okay.

There are big things happening around here this week! Can't wait to write more. Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One year on the farm

Yesterday, March 12th, marked our one year anniversary of living on our farm. This year has held many joys and trials that were very monumental, and had nothing at all to do with our living here. For one, my Mom was diagnosed, treated, and consequently found free of cancer. All in 365 days- cancer cells prevalent, cancer cells removed, cancer cells gone. Amazing.

All three of my children have almost completed another grade. They have each found new hobbies, and acquired new skills. My husband has learned how to farm and start a farming business. We have another year of parenting and marriage under our belts, which includes so much!

But truly, this year has been about learning to be content. And, much to my dismay, I often feel like I am no closer today than I was 365 days ago. This year has not only been about learning contentment, but also about learning to compromise, understanding myself better, learning how to give deeply of myself , how to draw boundaries when I am stretched too far, and learning how to deal with my own anger. I have never been so angry in my life as I have been while working through the areas listed above. It's hard, confusing, and frustrating trying to fight my flesh and listen to God. I love Frederick Buechner's words on anger and find them to be perfectly true:

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."

from Wishful Thinking

I have learned that waiting on God can be absolutely infuriating if I mean for it to be. And I think in the throws of helplessness, I have often been "the skeleton at the feast." I have learned that although sometimes decisions and actions need to be made, often my fretting over the future is unnecessary and paralyzing. And I often do not have the discernment to know when to act (my tendency) and when to wait (my husband's). I hope I will have more understanding in this area on our second anniversary of farm living!

I have learned one more thing, which may be the most important, or at least the most beautiful. I have learned that God has gifted me with an undying love for my husband. I knew this before, but I know it on a deeper level as it has been put to the test. Like no one else on earth, I long for restoration when we are at odds, affection when we are apart, and compassion when I feel sad or defeated. Even in the midst of utter disagreement, there is this unwavering pull or connection that triumphs. It is unfathomable how God has so closely knit together two hearts, especially when our personalities and interests are polar opposites. I am so thankful to experience this type of intimacy with my Andy.

Even though I am not where I want to be, by a long stretch, I feel differently now than I did a year ago. This beautiful, stinking farm, with the loud chickens, messy yard, always-dirty floors, endless work, and inconvenient location has made me feel more desperate for Christ. I am so small and He is so big. Maybe a larger view of one's own weakness and frailty is often a good thing.

"Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me...unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love."

Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sleep vs. Sanity

My sleep pattern is off. Such a shame because I normally feel so energetic and vibrant, and this week I feel so sluggish and dissatisfied. I have family members who pride themselves on only sleeping 4 or less hours a night. I did not inherit those genetics. I need 7-8 hours of sleep for optimal health, like the average person, according to all the articles have read on the subject.
This past few weeks we have had many interruptions to our sleep. Nightmares, colds, loud or loose chickens. The children are welcomed to wake me up when they need me. But I am literally about to kill the chickens. Just spend six months with their "Cock-a-doodle-doos", especially when you have always been a city girl who is not a morning person, and you will daydream of wringing their necks. Savage, but true. Or am I just tired and crazy?
Here is the irony of it all. I have been staying up LATER this week. And here is why: I NEED TIME ALONE. My children (one or more) are with me 24/7. And then from 8:30-10:00 is time to be with my husband. And then he falls asleep and the house is SO QUIET. I cannot bear to leave the beautiful peacefulness of it all and go to sleep! I need to exist in quiet! So I read, use the computer, or watch television until I cannot bear to stay awake any more. Sometimes I light a candle and turn on music. It fuels me!! That is, until 5:30 when the rooster screams.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Spring madness!!!

There is a lot going on around here. I am about to list the craziness that is our spring. This post is probably a little silly and very boring.
March...We are anticipating some changes around here this fall. But I am not certain they will work out, so I can't elaborate yet. I have been up all hours of the night with paperwork and the like. If it all works out, there will be much prep time required this spring! In addition, our house in Marietta is about to go back on the market (we have been renting it). Getting the house ready will require a couple of work weekends in Atlanta for Andy and me. Also, I can not forget that I have a pile of clothes to take to the kids' consignment store to sell because I literally forgot about the sale I signed up for until a day later!
Spring break is in two weeks and I have been very careful to not give the children high hopes. I have promised a trip to the Vulcan in Birmingham, and that is it! But I hope we can go to a movie and do another fun thing or two. We all need a break! That week needs to be spent on some projects around the house and planting my sunflowers for the markets this summer.
Also in March we may be beginning an addition to the house, which is so needed. We are adding a sunroom beside the kitchen and I am so excited. The kids and I have celebrated St. Patrick's day for a couple of years since the year we studied him in history. I have my eye on a rainbow cake that I would like to make that day. Besides this stuff, Lydie has her first gymnastics meet and my darling nieces are dancing in Sleeping Beauty and Lydie and I are going to cheer them on. Oh, I need to decide if the kids' will go to any local summer camps and get them signed up. Then there's the usual stuff that already fills up my days!! I am SO thankful that Josh wants to play golf with Jackson and not baseball this year. March will be a doozy.

April...Lydia Joy and Andy are in a friend's wedding. Andy will spend a camping weekend away for a "bachelor party" and then we will travel another weekend to Atlanta for the wedding festivities. Some time around the beginning of April my Mom will have reconstructive surgery. She is so excited to get this over with and complete the last step of her recovery from breast cancer. But I am dreading the amount of pain it will bring her. We will need to travel to Birmingham a lot in April to help her. Easter is coming! Andy's parents very generously bought outfits for the kids already. We just need to buy new shoes and Easter treats. Looking forward to our Easter tree and devotions. I will volunteer to throw an Easter party at the boys' hybrid school. In addition, both Mom and Dad have birthdays in April, and I am planning to celebrate them well this year. We are also having three kids from our youth group in Atlanta come to visit for a weekend in April. So excited to see them before they head off to college in the fall!

May...Ballet recital, Gymnastics Meet, End-of-the-Year party at the boys' hybrid school, finishing school, standardized testing, and our annual "Goodbye Spring, Hello Summer" party. I am hoping to have the entire family at our farm for a day of family olympics, grilling, and homemade ice cream. Then it's summer time!

I am sure most Moms of mulitiple children have full calendars like mine this time of year. Isn't spring just crazy? This list did make my stomach churn a little. But it's also exciting. This is life! It's hard, but so rewarding. I just keep reminding myself, "I can do hard things (through Christ who strengthens me)!" And take it

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Celebrating my favorite person

We tried our best to spoil Andy for his birthday yesterday. He's pretty easy to please. We started the day with his favorite breakfast: biscuits::eggs::sausage::grits! The kids emptied their little penny banks into envelopes for Daddy. What love! I gave Andy a radio/I-pod player that is especially made for construction sites. He can use it on the tractor/in the barn (across the street) without worrying that it will break. And "the farm" gave him a mini refrigerator for the barn, too. Then we cheered on Joshua at his last basketball game, along with Mimi and Papa. On the way home, we stopped for lunch at a new deli that we have been curious about. Had a lunch of hot soup and sandwiches, along with good conversation with Andy's parents. (Mainly talk of politics. Good stuff.)

We had a few hours at home in the afternoon. Andy showed his Dad all that is going on around the farm. Mimi took a nap. And my parents came to hang out, too. I made a birthday cake for Andy. This cake is at its best when it is piping hot out of the oven. It's a homemade chocolate cake with homemade chocolate icing (the kind made from confectioner's sugar that is thin and sweet). You take the cake out of the oven, pour on the icing while it's warm, and throw on a scoop of ice cream. Then you eat it immediately. It's scrumptious.

For dinner we tried out a new restaurant. We liked it very much. These types of places are my favorite: old, renovated houses, jazz music, candlelight, beautiful artwork, good service, and yummy food. Andy's parents and mine joined our family for a really good meal. (Do you see a pattern here? They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. This is true for my husband. For sure.)

Finally, we came home, put the kids to bed, and talked on the sofa until I fell asleep. It was a sweet day. Happy 37th birthday, darling! We love you so much! You are a wonderful man and worth celebrating!!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Working hard

February has been a month of very full school days. This week has been packed with six hour school days- a long school day for homeschoolers. Considering homeschooling is like one-on-one tutoring, you can pack a TON in a 6 hour day!

Here what the boys are working very hard on right now:

Learning about the Holy Spirit and worldviews in theology

Learning how to drive a tractor, plant crops, nurture seedling in a greenhouse, train a dog, and cement posts in an orchard (Farming 101 :) )

Canadian geography

MASTERING multiplication/division (I want them to know the answers hesitation!)

Converting decimals to fractions, and vice versa

Fractions- adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing- reducing to lowest terms

Latin root words

Memorizing Bible verses and poetry

Drawing war items from WWI (mechanics of drawing)

Reading, reading, reading! (They read a chapter book each week, along with reading in almost every other subject. It is very stretching for my 3rd grader. But my 5th grade book-lover continues to read various other books each week, outside of school, for pleasure!)

Exploring/researching/reading about the Great Depression and the New Deal

Writing fictional accounts of life as a soldier in WWI (focus on using descriptive words and plot development)

Writing reports on Canadian geography (learning the mechanics of good paragraphs)

Memorizing the US Presidents

Memorizing the US capitals

Memorizing the prepositions song

Learning the difference between a direct object and a predicate noun/adjective

Using subject/verb agreement in sentences

The concept of "perspective" in art

Learning to use deductive reasoning to solve logic puzzles

And many, many character lessons (sharing, empathy, patience, etc.)

As their teacher, my goal is for them to become scholars. A scholar is defined as "one who loves to learn and is good at it." There are so many reasons this is important to me and I have chosen the avenue of classical Christian education to achieve this goal. I desire for my children to be leaders characterized by wisdom, virtue, and eloquence- for God's glory.

With the recent conversations I find myself in due to the current political climate, I am especially passionate about their education. During the last week alone, I have been asked by other adults "Do you believe the entire Bible is literally true?" "What do you believe about the origin of the earth?" "Should government be able to allow private companies to choose what medical procedures they will cover in insurance policies?" "How involved should America be in foreign affairs?" "Does faith play a role in politics?" "Is the world in worse condition spiritually than it was 100 years ago?" "Whose responsibility is it to take care of the poor?"

And these questions have humbled and challenged me. I have my opinions, but the answers are not simple. But I am so thankful for the amount I have learned while teaching my children. It has continually shaped my worldview. I would definitely consider the amount that I have learned in the last four years to be equal to my college education. And all of the questions that have come my way have encouraged and inspired me to want to know and teach more! I think it is glorifying to God when we seek to know the truth about this world He gave us to maintain. My children (and I) need to know what we believe and how to articulate it well. We need a thorough, liberal arts education in order to really know what is true and good. And with this goal in mind, we will push ahead and run hard with perseverance! There is so much to learn together!

"A good education is for shaping and cultivating our humanity."

~Christopher Perrin