Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Interiorista: The love seal

My house is under construction at the moment. A few months back we had a leak in our living room that ruined part of our wood floors. Our home insurance checked the damage and decided to cover the expenses for a new floor. So what once was a disappointment has now become excitement. Brand new, free floors is something worth doing a happy dance for, right?

However, reality is always somewhere different than the fantasy we create in our heads. In my mind I was going to have beautiful floors in 7 days, but like in almost any project you tackle, hiccups come up that lengthen the process and leave you sour inside. Moving every single piece of furniture around, having exposed subfloors, lovely nails, dust everywhere, and workers in your home all day, doesn't sound that glamorous when you find yourself in the midst of the project. And then... a delay happens. A pause. A stop. And you are left with... A MESS! I'm telling you, when this occurs, impatience arises and kindness transitions to pointing fingers.

Yep! That was me a few days ago. I'm not proud of it, friends, but I want to be real. However, I also want to praise God for his patience with me and his teaching hand. During my devotional time, I came along this well-known bible verse:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." 1 Cor. 13:4-5

Just at the right time! The Holy Spirit was getting a hold of me! Am I truly loving? It's easy to love when things go your way, when people are nice and when you feel good. But what about when things are difficult? Am I loving in word, deed and in truth? Ouch! Guilty! I want my relationships with others to be MARKED BY LOVE. I want to have the kind of love that is slow to anger. A love that is capable to bear with other's imperfections and give them time to change without coming hard on them. A loves that gives without a need for repayment. A love that has the ability to soothe hurt feelings. A love that has good manners. A love that doesn't need all the attention and doesn't make others jealous of what it has. A love that is not touchy nor seeks its own glory. A love that forgives.

LOVE IS WHAT LOVE DOES. All our good intentions go down the drain when our actions and thoughts don't match our words.

Father, help me to see my own imperfections. I mess up all the time. In no way am I better than my neighbor, yet you love me so deeply and have mercy on me. Help me to love others in this way. Help me to display the fruit of your Spirit so others can see YOU in me.

Having a rough week? Having difficulty loving others? You are not alone! We are imperfect people but serve a perfect God that knows our hearts and forgives our mistakes. Tomorrow you and I are given a new opportunity to love well, to marked our interactions with love, to impress a love seal because we are being loved with excellency by a loving God. Do over? Absolutely! Because at the end of the day, I care way more about having a pretty heart than having pretty floors! ;)



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We Bought a Farm: Bauernhof Kitsteiner daily videos (VLOG) UPDATED!!!

JB has started a daily video of life on the farm. I've been told this is called a VLOG. We will be doing one of these almost everyday so stay tuned!

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
  • Episode 36 (An animal update: sheep, pigs, ducks, and geese)
  • Episode 37 (New mobile shelter for sheep and pigs)
  • Episode 38 (Feeding fermented grains to the pigs and sheep)
  • Episode 39 (Abigail feeding ducks)
  • Episode 40 (Laying chicks arrive!)
  • Episode 41 (166 new chicken sin our brooder: 101 broiler and 65 egg layers)
September 2015
October 2015
  • Episode 44 (Repairing degraded land using sheep, pigs, and chicken)
  • Episode 45 (Repairing Arrowhead Pond)
November 2015
  • Episode 46 (Making chicken stock)
  • Episode 47 (Our 9 week old Cornish Rock Cross chickens are ready for processing!)
  • Episode 48 (Processing day for the broiler chickens)
  • Episode 49 (The scalder and plucker in action)
  • Episode 50 (Finishing a long day of processing chickens)
  • Episode 51 (An update on, and closer look at, our layer chickens.)
  • Episode 52 (Introducing a ram to our ewes)
  • Episode 53 (Pig update)
  • Episode 54 (Using sheep against brambles)
  • Episode 55 (Our portable pig/sheep shelter)
  • Episode 56 (Pasture improvement with sheep, pigs, and chickens)
December 2015
  • Episode 57 (Introducing 3 new pigs to the farm!)
  • Episode 58 (Combining the geese and ducks into one family)
  • Episode 59 (A video Grampa shot showing the overflow from our pond after a long, hard rain. If we had not fixed the damn wall, we may have lost the pond. The repair was just in time.)
  • Episode 60 (Another video shot by Grampa after a long, hard rain. This video shows our sill working as designed when the volume exceeded the capacity of our main drain.)
  • Episode 61 (Sheep playing follow the leader!)
  • Episode 62 (Flooding of the duck and goose paddock.)
  • Episode 63 (The geese and ducks enjoying the flooded paddock.)
  • Episode 64 (A pond in need of repair. Getting dangerously close to some big problems.)
  • Episode 65 (Quick fix of our pond in danger.)
  • Episode 66 (More water management issues -- A cut back erosion channel in a valley.)
  • Episode 67 (Feeding fermented grains to our sheep and pigs.)
  • Episode 68 (Our birds sleeping after having their wings clipped.)
  • Episode 69 (Dead ducks! Ugh!)
January 2016
February 2016
  • Episode 72 (Checking for eggs at our new EggMobile) 
March 2016
April 2016
  • Episode 77 (Twins! The first lambs born on the farm!)
  • Episode 78 (The first lambs on the farm, enjoying Spring on the first day of life!)
  • Episode 79 (Four geese lost in one night. One goose sitting on a nest.)
  • Episode 80 (Spring lamb update.)
  • Episode 81 (Tree planting preparation.)
  • Episode 82 (Tree planting preparation, Part 2.)
  • Episode 83 (Getting our first tress in the ground!)
  • Episode 84 (Heeling in some of our bare-root trees that we couldn't plan right away.)
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
  • Episode 107 (Moving the Egg Mobile means we need to retrain the flock)
  • Episode 108 (Maximilian Sunflowers popping up all over the farm)
  • Episode 109 (Getting started on our garden ... finally!)
  • Episode 110 (Our mobile livestock shade shelters)
John's Farm/Permaculture Blog Posts
To read all of my past posts about our farm, click here. 

Articles for my daughter

I've decided to start compiling a post that has articles and photos and quotes that I think I would one day want my daughters to read -- pieces that I believe will make them into better women. Here they begin.
And for Moms about parenting daughters:

Dear Pre-Mom Self: It’s Time To Let You Go

I really like this piece discussing who we were before and after we became a mom.

Review: Kwik Stix

I was recently contacted by Kwik Stix again with an opportunity to write another review for them. And I was happy to do it.

You know that there are certain things in your house that just cause you to cringe when your kiddos bring it up. Painting is one of those things for me. So many kids. So many projects. So many messes.

And then there are these awesome paint "sticks." These are solid tempera paint sticks that you just uncap, twist, and paint! They dry in 90 seconds, but the painting dries looking like paint. You don't add water. You don't need paint brushes. You just uncap and color!

They are AP certified (meaning they are non-toxic and perfectly safe for young kiddos!)

And they work beautifully on paper, wood, canvas, cardboard, and many other crafting mediums!

For a mom with four kiddos, this is nothing short of a painting miracle!
Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Review
I love being able to use these and put them right back in the box for easy storage.

Abigail just LOVES these paints.

This chick is a painting machine!

So where can you buy these? You can get them at Target (as of November 1), or FatBrain Toys. 

The Kwik Stix 6 packs of Basic and Metalix colors will be available in Target stores. will have a bigger selection, and FatBrain will have all the paints available.

We Bought a Farm: Enjoying our Duck!

I love when my husband cooks. Because he doesn't just cook. It is like art to him. He puts together amazing things and makes them taste and look just .... amazing.

Unfortunately, becoming an ER doc meant he couldn't cook every meal in our house anymore. When he works, he works until 7pm. And when he is home, the farm takes a lot of time. So he now cooks maybe once a week. But each time he cooks, it is just so, so, yum!

Yesterday JB decided that the nine ducks we have had in our freezer for half a year needed to be used. So he defrosted all of them and used all the breasts for the meal above! (This is only half of it as with two WWOOFers and Grampa and Grampa we have 10 at dinner right now.) Now he is using the rest for some stock. There's a huge pot on the stove doing some sort of magic. JB said the pot will be going for about a week. Seriously!

No, seriously, the pot is big. Look.

Wee-wind Wednesday

I really want to make it a point to do more wee-winding on my Blog and not forget my Wee-wind Wednesday post. So today, I jump back to September 2010. Isaac was just over two years old. My little man. He's growing up so fast. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Heirloom Audio Productions ~ Cat of Bubastes

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

I consider my family incredibly lucky to get to review The Cat of Bubastes -- another one of Heirloom Audio Productions amazing pieces of audio theater. Back in July we were able to review Beric the Briton. We loved that one, and we loved this one just as much. If you have children in middle elementary and into high school grades -- and heck, even if YOU just love good stories -- you will want to pay attention to this review.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of BubastesFeaturing over two hours of absolutely incredible acting, this is a story of perseverance, responsibility, and God's providence. It is a story which presents Christian heroes for kids of all ages. 

The exact ages they note are ages 6 and up. To be fair, we listened to this with our four children (aged 3-8). Our youngest didn't really follow at all. But our 5-year-old daughter was actually following and asking questions. And the boys (ages 7 and 8) were right in on the action. However, if I was going to place the ideal age on this performance I would probably say at least 7 and probably closer to 10 as the bottom end of the age bracket.

Here are some photos of our family taking in the performance:

Here's my youngest daughter (not paying attention as expected) hanging out with her big brothers during our evening adventure. We listened to this for about 30 minutes four nights in a row.

To be fair, my husband did have to stop the production at regular intervals to help the kiddos follow along. With his explanations, my 5-year-old daughter (shown in picture above) was really able to participate and enjoyed the story a lot.

This audio production was done by veteran actors -- names and faces you would recognize from movies you have seen. Some of the top names include:
  • Brian Blessed (Star Wars, Tarzan, Robin Hood)
  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO from Star Wars!)
  • Sylvester McCoy (Dr. Who, The Hobbit)
  • Elizabeth Counsell (The Chronicles of Narnia)
  • Russell Boulter (Ben Hur)
  • John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones)
There are many "levels" of purchase. The lowest level is $19.97 and includes two free bonuses. However, if you purchase the top level (which I was given access to), you receive some incredible bonuses including:
  • The complete The Cat of Bubastes eStudy Guide and Discussion Starter. This is 47 pages and includes discussion points, history-learning guides and story-related bible study. It was designed by Christian educators as a complete story curriculum to complement the audio adventure. This is a little too old for my kiddos to use right now. However, we truly plan to reintroduce this when our children are in more upper elementary/middle/high school grades and have them work through this guide. It is very detailed and very, very well done. A fantastic addition to a homeschool curriculum. This is an incredible product and a great addition to the purchase!
  • Printable copy of the inspirational verse found in 1 Chronicles 17:20 "Oh Jehovah, there is none like Thee, neither is there any god besides Thee."
  • Official Sountrack MP3 download. This contains all the original music by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell!
  • Unlimited access to the Live the Adventure Letter E-Newsletter. 
  • G.A. Henty's original The Cat of Bubastes E-Book with all new colorful graphics. This looks awesome and I have definitely saved this so we can use it when the kiddos are a bit older. (It's 350 pages!) This is the other really high level inclusion in the bonus features.
  • Printable promotion poster
  • A behind-the-scenes documentary. We watched this! We loved it! It was so neat to see the characters that you had only heard on the soundtrack. We learned a lot about what goes into producing something like this. Very interesting!
This is simply an amazingly well-done and powerful story. You can actually listen to a summary of it on the website by clicking here. You can also check them out on Facebook, and Twitter.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Crew Disclaimer

Tribe Life Tuesdays: Relationship Status

“Bring your heart and watch it inspire people around you!” – Danny Silk

Let’s talk relationships. This topic is one of favorites because it is constantly stretching me and what I think I know about it. Take a minute and think about a time when you were the most satisfied or fulfilled. Did it involve other people?

Hopefully, you said yes!

Relationships are one of the hardest and most rewarding feats you’ll endeavor on. They require every emotional component: you have the ability to feel love, fear, emptiness, and fulfillment. Healthy relationships, community, and finding your tribe are all interchangeable for me right now and they are one of life’s greatest accomplishments. I believe we were created for community. There is an innate void in each of us that can only be filled by meaningful relationships.

Research shows that relationships can improve health in a variety of ways: by helping us manage stress, improve the functioning of the immune system, and by giving meaning to people’s lives.  (Time, 2015)

It is a profound life statement when YOU step into community and choose to pursue connection with people. The experience of letting someone in and learning their story places value on them and on yourself. It’s there that vulnerability demolishes the walls of competition.

You and I can probably list all the pros and cons of relationships (why they do and don’t work, etc.), but today, let’s focus on their importance in our lives and all the positives.

Straight-a-way, let’s clarify what I’m talking about when I say, "relationship". This means, anyone you relate with in life! HA! From acquaintances to your most intimate relationships. Those you live everyday life with to those you don’t see very often. All of our relationships hold unique places in our lives and I want to expand that thought for a moment… 

ACCESS: One of my favorite books that has helped me countless times over the years is, Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. I highly recommend it. Below is an incredible excerpt that sums up the levels of access people should have in our life through a diagram Danny Silk created to communicate the necessity of having levels of relationships in our lives: 

“This is a little diagram I created to illustrate the levels of intimacy we need to cultivate and protect with boundaries.

The innermost circle is your core. Some people like to call this the, 'God Spot' because nobody else deserves your heart's primary allegiance and worship and nobody should hold the place of influence He holds in your life.

The next level of intimacy is for your most intimate human relationship, your deepest soul tie. Only one person is going to fit into that spot. If you are married, this should be your spouse. If you are unmarried, this person could be a friend, a parent, a sibling, or even a business partner.

The further out we go in the circles of intimacy; the more people can fit in them. The next circle contains people like your kids and grandkids, followed by your closest friends. Heading out further, you have good friends, then co-workers, and then acquaintances. Keep going and you find people in the same geographic location, and finally the rest of the human race.”

And so Danny unravels this further in real life terms:

“The level of intimacy people have in my life determines how much of myself I will offer them when they pull on the relationship.

If I am chatting with someone from church for the first time and he tells me that the engine in his car blew up, I am probably going to give my sympathies and offer to pray with him for provision.

If I have interacted with the person a few times and know him a little, I will probably say, “Oh I am so sorry. Here is the number to my mechanic.

If one of my good friends comes to me with the woes of an exploding engine, I may toss him my keys and say, “Here, borrow my car until you can get your car fixed. Take your time.”

If my daughter or one of my sons comes to me and says, 'Dad, my engine just blew up.' I will pull out my checkbook to cover the repairs. And finally, if my wife, Sheri, comes to me, there is no doubt in my mind that I am talking with the person who will be picking out the color of our next car. Because she is my most intimate human relationship, I am willing to put all my time, money, energy, and resources toward helping her with her problem. After Jesus, she is my greatest priority, and has greatest access to my life.”

Building our relationships on choice is our most powerful tool. A healthy relationship can only be built between two people who continually choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice.

I recently had a “come to Jesus” moment with one of my relationships. This is one of my intimate relationships and I forgot that I chose them. Honestly, all my relationships are valuable -- and this one is, especially. Through gradual ignorance I began to grow apart from them. My friend would graciously keep me accountable and I graciously ignored the accountability. I still wanted their friendship, but in part. 

Then, not to surprisingly, the day came and unbeknownst to me our relationship had changed, drastically. What an onslaught of emotions I felt -- shattered, responsible, selfish, dismayed, and grieved. How could I have treated this friend so carelessly? I couldn't get to them quick enough to beg for their forgiveness not because I had to beg but because begging wasn't enough ... I needed them to know how much I loved them even though my actions many times did not display that. Of course over much crying there was resolve and celebration. It just reminded me that being aware of others -- of humanity -- is a necessity.  

Let’s not be afraid to trust our inner circle with fragile parts of our lives. Authentic and vulnerable living is a gift to be shared. So bring your heart and watch it inspire people around you!

See you next Tuesday.