Monday, February 27, 2017

Tuesday Truth


 While Isaac was out-of--town with JB, we got to attend a Valentine's Day party for our homeschool co-op. Truly this co-op "has my back." When I am home and feel lonely or feel that I can't homeschool or that I'm the only one doing this, I think of all my wonderful Heritage Home Scholars peeps, and I just feel that I have an army behind me.

I especially love that my kids don't miss out on anything with this group in our corner. Anything a "real" school does, we do too -- like a Valentine's Party. So fun! Thank you to my friend Kristin for sharing these pictures with me. 

I love that older siblings will help out with younger kids without blinking an eye. The co-op goes all the way up to high school, and these are some of the nicest kids you can meet. You very rarely see one stuck in their phone. They are instead out and participating with the group.

Love this picture of my blondie.

Playing on the playground.

Taking turns dropping candy in each of our friends boxes.

Decorating their Valentine's boxes. I misunderstood the directions and thought we were supposed to decorate our boxes at home so we came with boxes already done -- actually made it a lot more peaceful for me.

Sidge loving the playground.

Hannah preparing to tackle the slide.

This kid really missed his brother! But he had a great time at the party.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Bookend kids

I often find difficulty in painting my children adequately for my Blog readers. Many of you know them in person, and therefore picturing them is easy. But if you have never met them, a mere set of words or photo doesn't necessarily sum this up.

This video below makes me smile so big every time I watch it. We have been talking to Isaac about the fact that his three little siblings really want to spend time with him. He is an introvert by nature and not in need of people nearly as much as they are. So he often turns their requests down. But after a long evening discussion with JB and I about the importance of giving people some of your time, we noticed him really attempting to spend time with each of his brother and sisters.

He took time yesterday to color with Abigail which is an activity they both enjoy. He also devoted some Lego time to playing with Sidge instead of just playing in the same room with him. I also thought it was an incredibly smooth move for him to offer to read about roller coasters to Hannah. Isaac loves coasters, and Hannah loves doing anything with you so this was perfect.

But this video so adequately portrays the different personalities of my two bookend kiddos (oldest and youngest.) Isaac is serious. He is an old soul. He only laughs and smiles when it has truly been earned.

Hannah is just silly. She is constantly goofing around and trying to make people laugh. The combo created this video of Isaac attempting to discuss roller coasters (a very serious topic) and Hannah trying to  be a goofball. As always.


Hannah's Preschool Class

The 3 & 4 year old class at co-op. Hannah will be in this class for two years.

I am not sure I can ever, adequately put into words how amazing our homeschool co-op is. Every week I go, I am just blown away by the quality of people and kids that fill its doors. We meet 10 Mondays in the fall and then another 10 Mondays after Christmas. It is simply such an incredible time for us. While last year, all of my kids were feeling some growing pains as they got used to the new environment, this year they cannot WAIT for Mondays, and when we aren't in session, are visibly sad about it. 

I am also really excited because Hannah's behavior has really leveled out both at church and co-op. All of her teachers say she is simply doing marvelously.

And yes, of course, she dressed herself int he picture above. A summer dress and blue jeans. Why not?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Military Moments (with Amanda!)

I am so excited about a new weekly Blog post from my Amanda. She is going to be doing a "Military Moments" post where she discusses and shares ideas and stories from military life. These posts will hopefully be running every Saturday. If you have something you are interested in sharing with her, please reach out!

Hello Everyone! My name is Amanda Feeser,and I’ll be bringing you a new weekly blog post.

First, a little about me and my family. My husband and I are both from Arkansas and we met at college there. We were married in 1999, and he started seminary in Memphis, TN. We were appointed to a church in Parkin, AR (near Memphis), and we lived there while he went to seminary.

Just before he graduated, we were appointed to a church circuit in Portland, Arkansas. He graduated from seminary while we lived in Portland, and both of our boys were born there. We have been plagued with infertility issues, and needed the assistance of medication to get pregnant with both boys. That’s a whole different story, and an ongoing issue in my life.

Also, while we were in Portland, he was approached by an Air Force chaplain who asked if he had considered the military as a career path. He talked to me about it and immediately we knew this was what God was calling us to do.

Just after our oldest son was born, Ron graduated seminary and we took a quick trip to Nashville so he could be endorsed by the United Methodist Church to be a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. He went to a lot of training and classes with the military and after almost the first week of his first training, he called and told me he was being led to go active duty. I was excited and pregnant for the second time. So he filled out the extra paperwork, we had the second baby in 2006, and moved to our first duty station in the summer of 2007.

We lived in Colorado Springs for over three years, and then got an emergency move to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey (where we met Wendi!). We were there just under two years, and then got an assignment to Fort Meade, Maryland. We stayed there for four years before receiving our current assignment, which is Moron, Spain. We will be leaving here at the end of the summer and we are awaiting word on our next assignment.

Just before moving to Spain, we took custody of Ron’s cousin and she came to live with us. She was 16 at the time and we’ve loved getting to know her better and having her become a part of our family.

That is our last ten years in a nutshell.

The most significant thing I left out is that we are foster parents with a huge heart for foster children. We have fostered seven children in Colorado and Maryland, and our plan is to move back to the states and adopt a sibling group from foster care. We don’t have anyone in mind, but there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and that is just horrible. So we will get our home study done again as soon as we have a home and begin the process for what will be the third time getting certified as foster parents.

That’s enough about me for now … let’s talk about the weekly blog post. I have a few ideas already about topics I’m interested in related to the military, but if there are things you want to know about, don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll do my best to research and write about what I find.

Have a great week and I’ll meet you back here next Military Monday!

*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Girl Hair Cuts

***This post contains pregnancy talk.

The girls and I got hair cuts yesterday. My friend from church, Rachel, was giving the cuts. She has a small shop in her house. After years of infertility, Rachel and her husband adopted an amazing little African American infant boy named Bryce. This last year they decided to try embryo adoption. Rachel is about 17 weeks pregnant with TRIPLETS. And TODAY they are announcing the sex and ethnicity of their three babies on Facebook. Can't wait to find out. 

As is always the case, I am encouraging Rachel to be allowed to complain or be overwhelmed with pregnancy with me. No matter how much she wanted these babies, some people have tough pregnancies, and Rachel has been really sick. But she's hanging in there. Would you join me in praying that these babies stick around until 34 weeks and are born healthy with few complications?

First up for her haircut? Abigail. The girls had to stand up for their cuts because their hair has gotten so long. This isn't really on purpose. I just haven't gotten around to getting their hair cut. Abigail has had her hair cut many times, butt his was only Hannah's second cut.

And next up? Hannah Joy!

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to homeschool bigs when you have littles

When it comes to homeschooling, if you are going to decide to get on this merry-go-round, you have to be prepared to answer questions from the public on the topic. One of the most frequent questions I get goes something like this:

"I only have three kids, and I'm not homeschooling and already, I have difficulty playing or teaching one or two of the kids while still supervising the others on the days I am home with the kids on my own. Do you just schedule school time when the girls are napping? Or have something else that occupies them? I just can't envision it."

This is a great question and a very valid one. And it touches on one of the most challenging parts about homeschooling. If all I had were two first graders, it would be easy (in comparison), but managing the younger siblings is what challenges me the most. I have these two boys plus a four-year-old and a toddler which honestly means, the biggest part of what I am trying to do is crowd control and crowd management. Oh wait, I'm also supposed to be educating? How in the world can I do that to?

So without further ado, here are the things you need to remember if you are going to homeschool kiddos with other littles. 

Always remember that ... 

1. ... the hard time is now. Once they are all self-sufficient, the great difficulty in management will be lessened. So this is a season. This is a tough season because I have a two-year-old that is only entertained by things for 67 23 seconds at a time. 

2. ... they ARE getting enough of you. I read a statistic once that the average kindergartener in public/private school gets 17 minutes a day of one-on-one time with a teacher. I try to remember that while I am "teaching" my kiddos each day. They may be doing mostly independent work. They may not have me to themselves. But they are getting enough.

3. ... help is a good thing. I am so blessed that my husband's parents live on our farm with us. They can provide a spell for one of the children, especially one of my littles. This helps tremendously. If you have family or close friends willing to give you a break, take advantage of that break. 

4. ... you will let someone down. I tell my husband that my hardest thing I feel as a Mom is that I feel like I am constantly letting someone down. Someone is always needing me. And I can't be there for everyone. There are many times that it is just me. And how does that work?

4. ... small bursts equals a full day. You don't have to get all of school completed in one fell swoop. Here are some of the things I do to get lots of little bursts of education into one day (which equals one full day of homeschooling!)  
  • If Hannah is awake, I will have the boys do something that they can do independently (like their iPAD apps.) When she is asleep, we try to maximize this time -- especially with subjects that require me to be right with them.
  • If Hannah is in a good mood, I will have us all sit down and do something (like me reading to everyone) while she is hanging out with us. 
  • In order to motivate the boys to get some of their work done, I will set a timer at the start of a lesson for 60 minutes. I tell them that as soon as the lesson is done well, they have the rest of that hour to play. It is great motivation. And it also reminds me that when I am done with them, I will have time with the girls.
  • We don't have TV, but we do use Right Now Media and Netflix. I use the girls' favorite shows for when I really need them. 
  • I am constantly trying to multitask. For instance, if the boys are writing their letters, I may stand up while they are really "on task" and put away some dishes or sweep the floor while I can watch what they are doing. 
  • I have the kids help with nearly everything I can. Laundry, dishes, dogs, vacuuming, etc. They are involved. This allows me to have them "stay busy" while I am working with another kid. 
  • I'll often swap how we do things depending on how crazy it is. For instance, generally the boys read with me each day for 15 minutes each. But if it is just too crazy, I will tell them that this particular day they are going to do their reading themselves. 
5. ... you need to do do what it takes. If you feel you need to be in a co-op, get in a co-op. need a tutorial? Try that. Having trouble keeping up on your house? Skip eating out a meal a week and get a housekeeper instead. Hire a teenager to come in for a few hours a week to help babysit. You get the idea. We are all in survival mode.

6. ... you need to use your tool box. I try to keep a lot of aces up my sleeves. Coloring on the table in the kitchen. Play dough on the floor in the living room. Some music to dance to in the bedroom. Bikes in the driveway. Helping mom cook in the kitchen. I am continually herding cats. I move one girl to do build with blocks so she stops bugging brother who is trying to do his math. I move another to the table to cut pieces of paper so I can focus on math with one of the boys. I don't have a huge house, but I try to have lots of little nooks and crannies so that people can find their own place with their own things. I have a tool box with a lot of things in it, and I try to use them as I need them.

6. ... it's okay to seek other advice.  Here are some articles that have been helpful to me:

What about you? Have a tip? Please share how you make things work in your house with lotsa littles!

Quick Glimpse

Isaac has warmed up to the idea of me recording him playing piano. Here is a song that I've enjoyed listening to him play.

He's now been playing for about 1.5 years and simply gets more in love with the piano every single day! We are so thankful for his teacher and how wonderful she is. She has put Sidge on a different book track so that he doesn't feel he is "behind." And it is also works better with his more analytical brain. In addition, Abigail is now taking beginning lessons, and she is just so stinkin' cute learning to play.

Oh, and just because I want to prove I'm "doing it", this second video is me playing Swan Lake. I am actually going to play at the kid's recital this year. I feel that if I am making them do it, I should do it too! I also think it is a good way to show that our teacher can teach an old grown-up like me.

Speaking of old, I turn 40 in May. Forty!

I think nearly every day that I should just quit because I don't have time to learn piano, but then I remember that this is good for my brain and that it is also helping me to "stay with" the kiddos a bit as they practice. Isaac has WAY left me behind at this point, and Sidge is on his way.

Tooth #19

So somewhere along the line, I missed posting about Abigail losing tooth #2. So I am skipping to tooth #3 and the 19th lost in our house. Here she is with her dollar. This tooth was loose for awhile and was actually knocked out in a wrestling match with Isaac last night.

Me: "Abigail isn't that great. The tooth fairy brought you $1."
Abigail: "I don't know."
Me: "Don't know what."
Abigail: "I think you left the dollar."
Me: "I most certainly did not."
Isaac: "That's because Dad did."

We Bought a Farm: First Goose Egg of the Season

Two duck eggs (back row), goose egg, and then chicken eggs in front rows.

Check out how big that egg is!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Friday Funnies

Hannah: "I'm going to sleep with my new big tiger because he is a really, really handsome guy."


JB: "Isaac do you want to ...." (Paused because of distraction)
Isaac: "Build a snowman? No Dad. I don't want to build a snowman."


JB: "Hannah what did you do while I was gone?"
Hannah: "Ate a croissant for breakfast."


Me: "You and Sidge can empty the dishwasher."
Hannah: "I don't want to do that."
Me: "Yes but you have to. I'm the mom."
Hannah: "Oh. Yeah. I forgot about that part."

Style be-YOU-tiful

I really enjoy interviewing my friends! I'm so grateful that they, without hesitation, are willing to open their homes for you and me, so we can take a peek at their decorating sense and also gather ideas!

One of these friends is Jessica.

Jessica is a fellow military wife and a mom of two. We met in Japan two years ago, but unfortunately as Jessica was arriving to Okinawa, I was getting ready to move again. So even though we didn't get to hang out much, I really enjoyed meeting her. She is one of those people that make you feel comfortable right away, really down to earth and easy to talk to.

Jessica is an interior decorator, so let me share her contact info with you so you can hire her! She is a fantastic person to work with. If you would like to acquire her services, please contact her at:

I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I do!

1. What makes your house a home?
I would have to say that my home for me could be anywhere as long as I have my kids and my husband. Being a military family we have travelled a lot, and honestly, the one thing I miss most is my bed. I know it sounds corny, or maybe I'm just getting old, but there have been 2-3 month stretches of living out of suitcases and you learn you really don't need all the other stuff.

2. What is your decorating style and why do you like it?
My style is Traditional with an eclectic twist. I like the formality and structure of Traditional style, but spice it up with unexpected eclectic pieces. I feel it adds interest and personalizes the spaces.
I like for my furniture to be centered off the focal point of the room and for everything to feel balanced. If it is not, I feel uneasy until I correct it.

3. What decorating accessories are a "must" in your home?
I have several "must" accessories in my home. I always start with a cute rug; from the rug I can build my color palette. Next, window treatments in all the windows to add warmth to the room. I almost always go with floor length treatments in the living areas. As I said, I do like Traditional. Mirror and lamps to follow. These two together really open up a space and make it feel larger. Last but not least, is layering with large down throw pillows and art. This is when I have to be very careful not to go overboard. We live in a small base house with an open floor plan and it doesn't take much to feel cluttered.

4. What are your go-to places to find unique decorative items?
My favorite places to find unique items is by far second-hand stores. whether it be our local antique mall, thrift store, or Goodwill, you just never know what you're going to find, and it's an added bonus that its affordable. I love finding old furniture with good bones and bringing it back to life. it's not just furniture; you can find amazing vintage lamps, dishes, table linens, brass pieces, the list goes on and on. Doing this with my mom and sisters pretty much sums up a perfect day for me.

Thanks Jessica for sharing your home with us! Until next Thursday friends, keep making your home be-YOU-tiful!


We Bought a Farm: It Isn't All About the Farming

There are a lot of animals and vegetables on this farm. But there are also a lot of things that don't look quite like farming at all. For example, one thing that I am constantly working on here on the farm is our freezer situation. We really hope to get a walk-in freezer sometime in the near future. But right now, we actually have ... wait for it ... nine freezers on our property. We have them numbered so that we can quickly tell someone where something is. 

But see, when you process, chickens for instance, you can't put them all in the same freezer. It is too much "warm meat" and they wouldn't freeze fast enough. So you have to spread them all out. So then you have chickens in one of nine freezers and you can't find the chicken when you need it. Then you go and process a pig and the same thing happens, and before you know it, you don't even want to cook because you can't find anything.

After we received this freezer below as a hand-me-down gift from our family in middle Tennessee, I felt I could finally do some organizing. We now have different meat in each of our freezers, and I can immediately go and grab ground turkey) top shelf or ground pork (third shelf). It's brilliant and so incredibly exciting for an organized person like me: 

Next project? The tool shed. When my in-laws joined our "family" here on the farm, they brought something incredibly valuable: forty years of Grampa's work collection. This includes more parts and gadgets and things than you could ever imagine. The money we can save by shopping at our own "store" cannot be over emphasized! This collection of valuable work tools and equipment is a huge asset for us!

However, the issue was that when Dad and Mom arrived, all of this "stuff" was simply put inside a shed on the side of our garage. We all had grand hopes of getting it organized, but then real life took over. We all had so much stuff we had to do that this "extra project" just kept getting put off.

Enter Jacob. Our current WWOOFer. Jacob has been here since December. He is taking off March and April but will be returning to spend six months with us in May. He is an incredibly intelligent and hard-working guy who wants to learn everything he can about permaculture in preparation for his own farm someday. 

So Jacob saw our shed and told us he'd like to help us tackle our organization issue in some of his free time. This was an over and above offer as he already is doing more work than we "require" of our volunteers. The shed organization was hard for Dad to let go of, but he admitted it was for the best as he has been very busy renovating mom and his house (they haven't had an indoor shower in it since we got here a year and a half ago!) Between those renovations and the gazillions of other things Dad helps with on the farm, this project may have never gotten done. With a promise that he would not throw anything away without Dad's permission, Jacob got underway.

He started by moving everything out of the shed and into the garage. This is about half the stuff below:

After he did a lot of the preliminary work, he recruited me to help. Mom watched the kiddos yesterday so that I could devote myself on a sunny and dry day to help Jacob get over the hump. He and I worked very well together and actually had a good time! Here is a photo of our driveway skills:

And here is just a sampling of our progress:

The stuff pictured above is probably about one-fourth of the total things that have to be organized, but we feel really good about our start. I'll make sure to include a picture of the completely finished project. Basically we just need a system to find things needed for farm projects. Dad had some metal shelving that he put up for us. It will line all the walls of this shed. 

We are well on our way!

I realized that these things aren't very "farmish" at all, but they are definitely a significant part of my life. I am an incredibly organized person and staying that way is very important to me. I've been very proud to hear, when WWOOFers come to visit how "clean" our farm is. It is actually incredibly important to me that our farm is not junky. (We also don't want it to be one of those fake farms that is so clean and immaculate that it isn't actually functioning as a farm.) But our farm looks nice. Junk is put away. Garbage is thrown away. 

And while there will always be organizing to keep on, getting this project done will be one of the final organizational things from our move completed. So excited!