Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ballet Dress Rehearsal #1

Abigail is in her second Central Ballet Theatre play. Last year she was in a Sleeping Beauty: True Love's Kiss. This year the play is: Twelve Dancing Princesses. Yesterday was the first full dress rehearsal. I am attempting to take over the make-up responsibilities this year. The gal who has been doing it is definitely still in charge, but I'm trying to take pressure off of her in the years to come.

What's funny is that I don't do any make-up. Can't do it actually. John is the make-up genius. But I can organize people and help in that regard so that is what I am doing. I am also doing a bit of braiding. I can frank braid -- so I'm helping in that.

Here are some pictures from yesterday's first rehearsal. Here's something that is incredibly interesting: Abigail still battles intense shyness behind stage and sticks very close to me the entire time. As I am braiding hair and talking to people, she is wrapped to my leg or hiding her face in my hip. We were there for six hours yesterday and around hour five, she began to feel able to leave my side. What is amazing however is that as shy as she is behind the stage (even needing me to go into the backstage area with her every time she goes up for one of her four dances), the moment she walks onto that big stage in the big auditorium, she isn't shy or scared at all. It's as if she becomes a new kid. Truly it is something to behold.

I'm not just saying this because I'm her mom, but she has a gift for ballet. She moves and looks like a dancer ... and she just simply loves it. These productions are a lot of work and take up a lot of our January, but we do have a ton of fun with fantastic people and a great environment.

In addition, Sidge is helping behind stage this year! That's very fun for us as well.

With Sarai

Abigail and Eva -- one of the first times that day she would break from my side and take a photo.

Love these headpieces! They were made by a lady from many years past who is no longer alive, so the girls have been given strict instructions to treat them Kindly!

Ms. Kristin giving her some Slyph freckles. 

About to get her lips done. I did a little make-up at home but was informed I didn't come close to putting enough on. Ha! They also put eye liner on which is completely out of my abilities.

Eliza -- our homeschooling and ballet friend around hour five when Abigail finally came out of her shell and started doing jetes in the back hallway. Eliza's mom, Kristin, is one of my dear friends here in Greenville. She's one of those loyal ladies that just takes care of me and makes sure I am where I am supposed to be at the right time. 

One of the moms -- Jessica, got this photo of the girls performing taken from back stage. You can barely see Baylee (her daughter) and Abigail who are wearing the same costume.

The group of Sylphs getting ready to go on. 

And here is Sidge practicing his casting call. He's the youngest by far on the backstage crew but I'm so proud of him for doing this. I went up to the young man in the black shirt to tell him that Sidge is just learning and might be a little overly eager, and he looked at me and said "I have seven brothers and sisters. I'm not worried."

If It Feels Right

I have had many discussions recently with young adults who are spending most of their time in secular environments. These are the famous "millennials" and the ones I have interacted with are incredibly intelligent and well-read young people. For the record, these individuals are not Christians, and in fact, in their own words, not religious. Most have been volunteers on our farm. They came to our farm knowing we were a "religious" family even though they themselves are not, and I was amazed at how willing they were to dialogue with me about various moral and religious topics.

(I use the word "religious" in parenthesis because while I am a devout Christian, I consider my faith to be a relationship not a religion.)

Our discussions were incredibly upbeat and polite. There was no stress on either end. I wasn't judging them, and they weren't judging me. We were simply trying to understand each other and to reflect on society at large.

These are also not ignorant young people. They are attending prestigious universities and have been the top of their class for their whole life. They are a very good representation of our society as a whole and truly have a real understanding of what a millennial is and what it is like to be one.

And what they are telling me has been so interesting!

First, one of them shared an article with me that I found simply fascinating. Here it is:


I really encourage you to spend some time reading this short NYT op-ed by David Brooks. Here is a paragraph that really summarized Brooks' piece. If you don't want to take the time to read it, here are a few selections that will give you the gist of it:

During the summer of 2008, the eminent Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith led a research team that conducted in-depth interviews with 230 young adults from across America. The interviews were part of a larger study that Smith, Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson, Patricia Snell Herzog and others have been conducting on the state of America’s youth.

Smith and company asked about the young people’s moral lives, and the results are depressing.

“Not many of them have previously given much or any thought to many of the kinds of questions about morality that we asked,” Smith and his co-authors write. When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. “I don’t really deal with right and wrong that often,” is how one interviewee put it.

The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. “It’s personal,” the respondents typically said. “It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?”

Rejecting blind deference to authority, many of the young people have gone off to the other extreme: “I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt. I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”

Many were quick to talk about their moral feelings but hesitant to link these feelings to any broader thinking about a shared moral framework or obligation. As one put it, “I mean, I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it. But different people feel different ways, so I couldn’t speak on behalf of anyone else as to what’s right and wrong.”

This has been a fear of mine and many other "religious" people I know who do feel that we have been given a moral code to follow. We feel that our society has been growing more and more secular. And as more things that we consider to be incredibly immoral are "approved" by society, those of us with a moral code are wondering when it will stop.

What these young people have been telling me has been incredibly eye-opening.

For example, while the word "tolerance" is thrown around repeatedly, the truth is, that these young people feel completely unable to share a viewpoint that is not approved by their peers. I'll use the example of abortion for example. One millennial told me that there is almost a commandment at their University. "Thou shall not ever mention pro-life as you are infringing on a woman's rights." This particular individual wasn't even saying he/she was pro-life. However, they were simple explaining that they felt incredibly frustrated that they couldn't even discuss the possibility that the pro-life side had valid points. One young man said anything outside of pro-choice would label him a "male pig." But his peers continued to preach "tolerance."

While some of these individuals were more willing to put themselves out there and say what they felt even if it countered the mainstream, most agreed that there is a code among young people that you cannot break or you are immediately labeled a racist or a pig. And in fact, it was one of these young individuals who shared this link with me to David Brooks' op ed.

The short summary is this: unless you are "religious", there is no moral vocabulary permitted. Parents and teachers don't want to tell anyone what to believe and so we've actually removed the ability to talk about morality. "Sin" and "Grace" could be words used even in a non-religious sense ... couldn't they? But we can't do that because we are then infringing and not "tolerant" of how someone else feels.

There are a few things that people agree are wrong, but outside of those, to share any viewpoint is simply labeled "intolerant." It isn't as much that you are silenced as that you are afraid to speak in the first place. 

I continue to be amazed that it is young adults that I currently feel "called" to. I still feel like one myself, when in fact, I am realizing that I am now old enough to have parented these particular young people. (Wow is that crazy!) I am learning so much from them, and I hope they are learning from me as well.

What I am most seeing is truly encouraging me. All of these young people agree that they wish their minds could accept religion, and they continue searching in hopes that they one day might find something they can believe in. They all concur that atheistic societies have proved incredibly dangerous in the history of our world. Religion would answer many of their questions and permits a moral code that society is telling them they may not have. 


Friday, January 19, 2018

Dear Scrubby,


Dear Scrubby,

We are coming up on the second anniversary of saying good bye to you. And I thought it was a good time to write you a letter and tell you how we are doing.

We are doing well. We did as you told us and brought another dog into our lives. In fact, we actually brought two dogs to the farm join our craziness. Their names are Arabelle and Ritter. Arabelle is the girl, and Ritter is the boy. You would like them well enough but be frustrated that they ate your food and stole your attention. Don't worry though. They are smart dogs and they are treating your four little people very well. Arabelle helps us on the farm, and Ritter mostly waits for belly rubs. They let all the kids crawl all over them just like you did. (Oh, and we don't let them sleep on any furniture either! We promise!)

We got the new dogs a week after we buried you on the farm. You probably already know this, but we picked a fantastic spot for you to watch out for us. It's between our big house and the grandparents' house. We thought you would like that since you loved Grandpa as much as you loved me. You can see the whole farm from that spot, but mostly, you can see our house. You can keep an eye on us and make sure we are doing well.

We talk of you often and now, instead of crying, we mostly laugh. We picture you in heaven swallowing as many socks as you want with no consequences. We always say that in heaven, they don't make you throw up. We talk about all the peanut butter you are eating. And we continually talk about how you are waiting for all of us. We can't wait to see you again. We say that if we are wrong, and you aren't in heaven, well, we will be so happy to be in heaven that we won't care at that point. But here on Earth, it brings us great comfort. We know there's a Frisbee in heaven and someone is tossing it to you. You can jump for it just like old times.

We still occasionally find one of your white hairs intertwined into the fibers of something in our house. And I still tell everyone that you saved my life. I tell them about how you arrived right after I was told we couldn't have children and that you got me through the hardest year of my life. And then we talk about all the places you went with us -- Florida, Turkey, Portugal, and finally Tennessee. 

What we especially remember is that you got us to our farm. You saw us through many countries and many homes and many children and stood patiently by us -- protecting us and loving us. You arrived at our farm having never been a farm dog and took to the life nearly immediately. You ran around these hills like you had been waiting for them all your life. You ran among the chickens and sheep as if you belonged there, and other than the one time you put a duck in your mouth and John had to explain to you why we don't do that, you acted like you understand what a farm dog does even though you had never been one.

We pass your grave nearly every day, and we talk to you almost every time we pass. 

(Ritter may have peed on your grave once or twice. We are sorry about that. He didn't seem to understand what we meant when we talked about a lack of respect!)

When we pass the spot you are resting at, we tell you that you were a good dog. We thank you for getting us to the farm. I personally thank you for being my first child and helping me survive my final year of infertility. I will never forget all the jogs you took me on, all the cheese you ate, the twenty-four cupcakes you ate off the counter, and the mouse you helped John catch. We also think about all the nipples you ate off of bottles to drink the milk inside. That drove me crazy then, but now it makes me smile.

I miss you Scrubs, but we are doing well. We will always talk of you and miss you and love you, but you did your job. You were a good dog.  

Eat a sock for us!

Your person (Wendi) and the rest of the family

They will not go quietly,
the dogs who've shared our lives.
In subtle ways, they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still can make us 
think we hear them at the door
Or step back when we drop
a tasty morsel on the floor.
Our feet still go around the place
the food dish used to be,
And sometimes, coming home at night,
we miss them terribly.
And although time may bring new friends
and a new food dish to fill,
That one place in our heart
belongs to them ... and always will.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lovin' this beanbag

As with most parents of young children, stuffed animals procreate in your home. With us trying to empty our upstairs and begin renovations, the problem is even more fierce.

For Christmas I bought one of these bean bags for the girls and one for the boys. While Isaac had some issues with sitting on his beloved animals, generally it's been incredibly well received!

I know these are available in a lot of places, but I ordered mine off Amazon. Remember to use:

We Bought A Farm: Psyching myself up

I am trying, without success, to get myself ready for animals chores. Ughhhhh!!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tribe Life Tuesday: Create Good Things

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! 

Last week we asked the question: what does it look like to live fully and be present? It looks like living powerfully in my strengths, recognizing my limitations, and being able to admire and celebrate the gifts in those around me. Living fully looks like embracing who I am and surrounding myself with people who are strong where I am weak. This is who I want to be without giving it a thought. I want this to flow out of me, I am working on it. 

We all have this innate desire to live purposefully; we hope and believe that within our purpose is where well find our fullness. But how do we get to that place where were walking in our purpose? I used to believe it was when I found (or created) my dream job, or married my dream man, or lived in the house I always wanted, but I have found that it is so much more. We can be living purposefully in what we are doing today, in who we are married to, in the kids we are raising, in the home we are in right now. It just takes perspective. You are right where you need to be today, do you believe that? Finding the beauty and purpose in the everyday is like searching for a buried treasure. We have the privilege to search for it!  

Sometimes good, purposeful things just happen to us; we don't work for them or earn them, they are freely given. Other times we go create good things and this is the space that I want to hunker down in for a while. What does it look like to create good things? And how can you adopt a fullness perspective? You have access to everything you need, now, lets dive in!  

1 - Create Good Things. This is something each of us can do. Whether big or small, you can create good things and make someones day better.  Here are some ideas:  
  • Surprise a co-worker with a card filled with kind words and maybe a gift card to buy a cup of coffee on you 
  • Create a memory with your kiddos 
I, personally, love watching the planes fly overhead. As I stare up at the sky, I dream about where I would be coming from or I journal about what my future will look like. In this quiet space, I reflect on what I am grateful for, the little and big things along the journey that got me exactly where I am in this moment.  

Bottom line, do for others what you wish someone would do for you. You have the power to create good things.  

2 - Adopt the fullness perspective. Taking action is the most effective way of doing this; you will never know what you are fully capable of until you push past your comfort and punch fear in the face by taking action. A great way to adopt this fullness perspective is through saying affirmations and journaling. Yes gentlemen, this is for you too. Get the feelings, the thoughts, everything, out on paper, sit in it, then leave it there. Its weird at first, but you get to know yourself in a very powerful way. When it comes to the affirmations, put them up somewhere you will see them every day and at the start of the day (i.e. the wall you see when sit up in bed, the bathroom mirror, etc.) and say them out loud every morning. Here they are:  
  • My heart is overflowing with joy.
  • I am happy and enthusiastic about life.
  • I easily find solutions to challenges and roadblocks and move past them quickly.
  • I see fear as the fuel for my success and take bold action in spite of fear.
  • I live in the present and am confident of the future.
  • I have integrity. I am totally reliable. I do what I say.
  • I approve of myself and love myself deeply and completely.
  • I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.
  • My body is healing and I feel better and better every day.
  • I pay attention and listen to what my body needs for health and vitality.    

Once you have spoken over yourself these amazing, powerful, and truthful words in the 1st person, transition into the 2nd person and tell yourself the YOU will, you are, etc. If you commit and stay consistent in doing this for just one month, the fullness perspective will organically show up in your speech and actions, I guarantee it. Doing this has sure changed my life!  

Remember that you can live fully, create good things for yourself and others, and live a purposeful life with a fullness perspective! 

Thank you for reading.

See you next Tuesday! 

We Bought a Farm: Baby it's cold outside!

Well, I heard it was a record in these parts ... early in January we dropped below freezing and stayed there for an entire week.

Now that isn't any big deal for people in Minnesota who are used to it. I mean, I lived there for four years, and it could go weeks without getting above freezing.

But around here, we aren't used to it. And even worse is the fact that our farm isn't equipped for it. It doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on preparing for this cold when it happens so rarely.

Anyways, that week passed, and we actually found ourselves in the 60's. It felt so hot we were working the fields in our tank tops, and at one point, the girls actually stripped down to their boots and underwear while helping me move the sheep.

And then, the cold came back!!! We are down in the single digits again, but this time, with the cold, we got some of the white stuff. So funnnnnnnn to actually have some snow if it is going to be that cold.

The kids actually went out sledding two times today. I dried all their clothes, they warmed up, and then they went out again. At one point, the four of them were out there by themselves just going up and down over and over again. I realized, it has been a decade of John or I having to be present for anything our kids did. And suddenly, they are getting old enough to do things themselves.

Sidge started crying two times today -- sad that the sledding may be over for the year. Firstly, we could very well have enough snow to sled tomorrow again. Secondly, I tried to explain to him how lucky he is! John and I grew up without snow. And many kids grow up without a good hill to sled on. How amazing to just walk outside of their house and SLED!!! That resonated with him.

We came inside to have dinner, and met a new WWOOFer. Sicong has joined us for a two week stint. I was planning on not hosting anyone for a few months, but when he contacted me, it was the perfect timing with a busy ballet season upon us.

After dinner, Grama made snow ice cream with the kids. Boy did they love that. And it was pretty good!!!!

Here are a couple of videos I took of our cold but fun-filled day!

Wee-wind Wednesday: "Popsicle"

Monday, January 15, 2018

We Bought a Farm: A fit over a fridge

If you could have been a fly on the wall on my farm today you may have seen me throwing a fit in the garage. Another one of our fridge/freezers had broken. I had been soooo close to having enough space to really organize our meat products and then KABOOM another one went down for the count.

(We have nine freezers on the property. Hard to believe but true. And one going down means so much adjusting. So much change.)

Change. Key word here. Stay with me on this.

I called my husband fairly hysterical. "Is this really about a freezer?" He asked.

I sat in the front seat of his big pick-up truck sobbing. No, it wasn't completely about the freezer. It was about freezing temperatures and his bad back and a huge farm and how I didn't think I was capable and how bad I am about things not going the way I had planned.

My loving husband talked me down off a cliff. I got off the phone, put our big truck in reverse, and backed up right into our camper.

Not joking.

Completely true story.

The good news is, after calling my in-laws in near-hysterics, they came rushing to my rescue. The camper was fine and the truck was not damaged badly. The light that popped off went back on and everything appeared to still be shining properly.

I had a truck full of feed and hay to unload, my kids hadn't been fed, and I needed to get back on the road to take Abigail to ballet. Sweet Mary fed the kids lunch. Sweet Ray worked on the truck. While their crazy daughter-in-law ...

took a shower.

and a short nap.

I'm not sure I have completely dissected all the emotions that made me lose my ever-living-mind in the garage today, but what I do know is that while farming is hard, it isn't the farming that's the problem.

It's life.

I mean, life isn't a problem, but chances are you lost your mind in the last few months about something as well. We all have our own version of crazy.

Wherever you are in your story of crazy, remember that you aren't alone. Someone like me may look like I have it altogether and like I am juggling a lot of balls fairly seamlessly. But you aren't in my garage today. You didn't see me possibly kick a big white appliance.

Things are tough. You are NOT alone.

Stay strong.


First up ... Ritter ... who willingly allows the kids to do whatever they want to him all day long. He is simply a big lug and a big lover. 

When the auditorium your daughter is practice ballet in is 42 degrees inside because the heater broke and you forgot your hat, you borrow a hat from whatever kid will share and wear it willingly.