Friday, February 23, 2018

How a city girl, gone country grieves (and raises cows): Shootin' From the Hip!

 How a city girl, gone country grieves 
(and raises cows)

 I met Kimberly through farming. She, like me, has been dropped into this life and is learning to love it just like me. She is a Christian, however, our pasts are nothing alike. I've asked her to share her story on my Blog over the next weeks or months or however long it takes. It is filled with much grief and loss but will hopefully make you laugh and smile and grow and grieve along with her.

I struggled on what message I wanted to put out this week. I had my own personal dealings, the crises in our nation, farm-life antics, marriage dribbles, even faith-walk testimonies. I'm shooting from the hip this week with a collection of sayings to encourage thought and inspire joy:

Thank God He's not finished with me yet!

  • In the midst of all the pain and anguish of day to day battles, the sun is still shining somewhere. 
  • The view of earth from space is spectacular. It looks like we all get along.
  • Harmony requires different tones, pitches, shades, shapes and volumes. 
  • Live today as if it's your last; your priorities will look a whole lot different.
  • There is no statute of limitation on grief.
  • Fewer things speak louder than the silence of a peaceful gesture. 
  • There is no freedom in dependence on man. 
  • The devil is a liar.
  • Scars remind us where we've been; they don't dictate where we're going.
  • Life is not a test. If it was, I'd be cheating off a millionaire
  • Keep the faith; at the end of the rope that's about the only thing left.
  • Wear muck boots in the pasture, dress boots to church and flip flops to the grocery. Not the reverse. 
  • Food tastes better with friends & family. Wine tastes better chilled.
  • There are no safe zones in the world; there are only safe people. Be one. 
  • Peter sank on the water when he took his eyes off Jesus. Learn from Peter.
  • The greatest gift one can ever give is their time. You can always make more money, you can never make more time.
  • Death rewrites your address book, your pocketbook and your datebook. 
  • Love is an action word. 
  • Everyone has a fart story. Yes, even you.
  • Disconnect to reconnect. It makes sense. 
  • Mother always said, 'sooner or later it all comes home to roost.'
  • You are created with passion, purpose and power; be you!!!
  • There are no social issues more pressing than loving our neighbor. Everything else gets solved when this is accomplished.
  • Last but not least (and there are more!) Chocolate is a vegetable. Look it up. :) 
Until next time,


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Reliable Building Services

I canNOT say enough good things about the contractor we went with for our renovation. I am out of town right now, but they just sent me the following choices for our upstairs bathroom, shower, floor, etc. I LOVE IT! RELIABLE BUILDING SERVICES in Greeneville, TN. Seriously. Amazing!!!!!!!

Tribe Life Tuesday: The Voyage

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Happy TribeLife Tuesday!

Today is an exceptionally special day. Today, I am privileged to invite you to sit down at the vast banquet table where there is more than enough. The plate I am bringing to the table overflows with honor, gratitude, some pain, joy, sorrow, and an immeasurable amount of love and I am so excited to share.

I believe the greatest gift humanity can share with one another is relationship. We get to experience the highs, lows, and middles of this gift together and we do this out of our own free will. Being known, accepted, and loved freely by someone is a priceless treasure we are fortunate to give and receive. I had the privilege of receiving such a treasure from an incredible human who recently passed away, and it’s my pleasure to share a small bit about him today.

His family and ours have been intricately woven together over 25 years. The relationship our families share is as rich as it is delicate. Their family had 2 amazingly stellar girls and ours had what seemed like a million children, but it all worked. My perception tells me it was really TribeLife: it was late nights, long talks, loud laughs, deep hurts, hard conversations, and family vacations. It was beautiful. As I write this, I’m realizing how hard it is to just tell you about him alone without telling you about them all. Because that’s just who he was: The Family Man. And he didn’t just include those who carried his DNA, he was the "all are welcome to the table" man. He was everyone’s adopted dad, the selfless, give 1,000% fellow.

His name was Eli. I had tried avoiding writing his name because it makes it that much more tangible, but you deserve to know the name of this incredible man. I loved so much about him, but there’s not enough time to share all of that, so I’ll share my top few favorite things.
  • I love that he knew no orphan. He was a father to all who needed one.
  • He was a jokester and I have been embarrassed by his jokes and outlandish behavior in public far too many times to remember.
  • He was an avid Star Trek fan and you were going to know it.
  • I loved that he wore joy like no man I’ve ever met. It was fiercely masculine yet incredibly gentle.
  • His skills were rich and varied: he could be performing stand-up comedy while simultaneously conducting a private investigation and be great at both. He was special.
  • He loved well, gave big, and deposited all he could in the legends he leaves behind, his family.
 A poignant man whose influence is yet to be fully felt has moved on to the best place there is!

A life well lived indeed.

Thank you for reading!

See you next Tuesday,


P.S. I also knew this wonderful man. Carrie's words only scratch the surface. May we all go home to our savior with people saying, "Wow. Now THAT was a great human being." -- Wendi

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our vaulted ceiling is gone!!!

Check it out! Our vaulted ceiling is gone and we now have our upstairs family room!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Here we go!!!

Wow!!!! This won't even be the same house!!!! 

Review: Ultrakey Online Family Subscription

UltraKey Bytes of Learning

UltraKey Online Family Edition

This was a fantastic surprise for my family! Bytes of Learning presents an Ultrakey Online Family Subscription which provided an opportunity to teach typing skills to people of all ages -- from young children to adults.   

As some of you who read my Blog may know, I am a huge fan of typing skills. It was actually a hobby I developed as a young child. I loved typing like other kids might want to play an instrument, and I practiced it regularly. One of my first and most favorite "toys" was an old manual typewriter I had at my house. I have tested my typing speed a few times and I usually fall between the 110-130 words per minute category. And that has been a huge benefit for me. 

Being able to type well has helped me in many aspects of my life. I have used it for my jobs even doing some dictating when I worked as an Editorial Assistant. I am able to type my Blog posts incredibly fast which allows me to keep up when I might otherwise fall behind. As a teacher the skills allowed me to create tests and quizzes in record time and shoot off emails rapidly. With the introduction of texting, I think the true skill of typing has been forgotten. And it is something I really want my kids to have. We need more than our thumbs in this age of technology!

Enter the Ultrakey Online Family Subscription. This is an incredibly affordable option for a family.  You can choose a 3-user, 5-user, or an 8-user option ranging in price from $30 to $50 for an entire year. 

I decided to use this program for my three oldest kids -- my sons Isaac and Sidge who are 9 and my daughter Abigail is 6. I also worked through many pages as well. My 4-year-old Hannah was a bit too young to use this yet. All three were able to easily use the program, however, you could definitely see that it was a bit more challenging for Abigail then it was for the boys. I absolutely think that anyone from about kindergarten through adult would benefit from this program.
Here is a picture of Sidge working his way through one of the sections. Look at his fingers on the right keys! I love it!!!

And here are some other screen shots (with descriptions of what you are seeing below each picture)

This is a screen where the the student can work through different passages.

Here is the layout of lessons. You can see that my son Isaac is on #5. 

Once he clicks into #5, he has various "lesson steps" to work through. 

Here is a screen shot of my daughter Abigail's progress as she works through the program. You can check your progress at any time. 

You can take an assessment at anytime and set goals for yourself on how good you will do on each lesson. Here is my practice passage for an assessment. 

They gave me my typing speed, and I was excited to see I was still up around 110wpm! Yeah!!!! It then sets a goal for me on the right. 

Here is where I can choose to take another assessment or just keep on with what I am doing. You can change your goals at any time. 

These are just a few examples of some of the screen shots throughout the program. 

Here's the bottom line: this is a GREAT and an incredibly AFFORDABLE program to learn how to type. Each of my kids enjoyed working through it. Whenever I find a homeschool "thing" that none of my kids complain about doing, I know I have found a good one! They did get a little frustrated some times because learning to type is challenging. However, when they did, they'd take a little break, and be ready to go the next day.

I honestly think typing skills are overlooked in this era, and I am not sure why. It is probably more important than ever to equip our kids with good typing skills. This is a program that we will be continuing to use even after the review period ends. 

A strong recommendation from our house to yours!

You can visit Bytes of Learning on Facebook by clicking here. 
UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
 Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, February 18, 2018

We Bought a Farm: An Empty Farm House

I wasn't sure how we would do it but somehow we did it. Our upstairs is totally empty and now, so is the downstairs.

Well, you will notice the one big Turkish desk in this picture above. Actually we plan to put that upstairs in the new room that will eliminate the vaulted ceiling in our house. But it won't fit up the stairs. So the plan is to pull it up over the landing and "build it in" to the room upstairs. This means it can never leave, but we are prepared for that as we don't plan to leave either. And if we do? Well someone will inherit a wonderful desk. 

Our kitchen is still intact and our bedroom is stuffed to the brim. But otherwise, everything has found a home in the garage. Wow has it been an adventure to get to this point. We are blessed with a WWOOFing couple here that have helped carry the farm load while I carried the inside load. 

More pictures and updates to come. 

Stay tuned to see how this house finally becomes our HOME!

Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio Productions
I can't believe we were LUCKY enough to get to review WULF THE SAXON from Heirloom Audio Productions. I have reviewed for this amazing production team before. In fact, this is our fifth time getting to listen and share about one of their audio productions. We love them so much that we jump up and down with our hand high in the air anytime an opportunity to listen to one of these comes up!

You can read my past reviews here for Heirloom Audio Productions here.
Wulf the Saxon

This time WULF THE SAXON my husband actually loves these audio productions best of all so he always asks to listen on the way to or from somewhere with the kiddos. And this time was no different. So the "details" about what this production were about will come straight from his mouth below. While I was home on a "Mom Break", my husband took a short day trip with the kids and listened to the production on the way there and back.

The story is about Wulf who is a young thane (landowner) in 1065 England. It follows his adventures and rise to trusted confident to the King of England. There were shipwrecks and battles and arrests and dungeons and escapes and sword fights and injuries -- everything our nine-year-old boys loved -- but there were also more than one romantic story to follow as well which intrigued our younger girls. The story culminates in the Battle of Hastings -- one of the most famous events in Western Civilization/History. 

G.A. Henty was masterfully able to take a seemingly inconsequential character in history, while fictional, and provide a backstory which culminated in this well-known historic event. However, in typical Henty style, he gives an amazingly personal and human story to this historical event. It is definitely a story of faith and devotion and honor and duty. While Wulf is technically a fictional character, he is an excellent example of a role model for our children.

While the audio shares the necessities of battles and war, it doesn't glamorize them. And it shows that events can lead to disfigurement and death even for main characters. (We don't want to ruin anything so we won't say more than that.) It clearly shows the realities of war. And even though they are necessary, they aren't good.

As is the case with history, there are a lot of bad things that happen and this story shares double-crossing, deception, assassination attempts, families turning on each other, and love that cannot be acted upon. And it gave our family a lot of opportunities to talk about these topics in a way that seemed natural because they were questions during the story. They weren't forced conversations. 

G.A. Henty does a great job in taking events that have a lot of negative aspects and bringing out happy endings and finding the good in these seemingly bleak events. Personally, it made me want to go back and read some of the history behind the story to find out more of th people that lead to these events -- contributed to these events.

P.S. Oh, did I mention there are secret passageways too?!

Heirloom Audio Adventure Club
I can't give a review from Heirloom Audio Productions without mentioning the Live the Adventure Club. This club provides subscribers with:
  • Three 2-CD sets shipped to you each year
  • Stream over 500 old-time radio shows
  • Hundreds of fun activities and games
  • Listen and learn read-along program
  • Daily inspiration and devotionals
  • Education treasures and teaching resources
  • Full access to "Live the Adventure Radio"
  • Community forum to exchange ideas and tips
You can find out more about Heirloom Audio Productions by visiting them on the following social media sites:
Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
 Crew Disclaimer