Like starting school every day at 7:30.
or adding an actually art LESSON to our curriculum.
Truthfully, this has been such a crazy flippin' year that I don't want anything huge. I just want some peace, structure and quiet.
We're still moving forward with the farm, but if the house doesn't sell I don't think I'll spend too much time crying about it. I just can't.
I love my friend Karie who I met in NY. I just read a post from last month by her and it said, "It's been a little difficult letting the past go. Realizing that not all people are going to hurt you, the sky doesn't always fall on your face, the people I love are not all going to drop dead and sometimes things are just meant to be...quiet...and that's ok." Of course, like everyone we walk this path of life with, Karie's story is different than mine. But we have a couple things in common: we've both had a huge loss and a rough year. Personally I think she's doing a better job handling her loss than I am, but I am feeling her on that quiet thing because of some promises I've been made.
I dunno how much I ever shared about my pregnancy, but I really didn't want to have another baby. Hence the vasectomy, eh? But the surgery fell through the first time and then on June 7th I clearly heard the voice of the Lord tell me, "you will become pregnant." Yeah, I'm nuts. But I've listened to my inner voices enough to know that wasn't mine. And I was terrified. But by the time we got the positive test I was elated. I mean, I *know* God has a plan for me all the time, but when He flat out tells you about it?! How cool is that? I spend most of my prayer life saying, "if you'd just tell me what you want..." haha
So when the Dr thought it was a blighted ovum I knew he was wrong. And I laughed. And of course, I prayed like crazy. I doubted myself and I wondered if I was nuts. But then 2 weeks later we saw a sweet little baby and a precious heartbeat. I strutted around like a peacock, so proud of my God and what He had done. And then 2 weeks after that...well, that you all know. Now it all seems so pathetic. What on earth is 10 weeks? What amount of time is that? It's not even 1/4 of a year. But it was a whole lifetime to me...
Every promise I made myself during that time has fallen through. I don't run anymore; there's no more money for a trip in March; I haven't spent more time with God. I'm just so tired of failing myself that I can only do 1 thing in this coming year: cling to the promises I've been made by the only One who has never ever failed me.
Since the day I found out the baby was dead and kept asking "WHY?" this verse has popped up a lot:
Mark 4:22-"For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light."
and then yesterday, for the first time studying in over a week, this popped up at me:
Psalm 112: 7,8-"They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts will be steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."
I still don't know why. But I know that no truth is hidden from me, except one that will be revealed in due time. And I can say that this whole year has made me honestly able to look at our future without much fear. This month we did a budget with 1/4 of the money we normally have. I'm not worried. I can promise you that comes from the Lord, because I am always panicked about not having enough. There is no news worse than losing one of your children. And we've done it. And we've survived it. And I'm ready for a NEW year. A year without any expectations or any broken promises. I'm ready to see what the Lord has in store and I'm okay if it involves serious moving and shaking or if it's just some quiet.
I'm sure as time moves on, (especially once we move past March), I'll have some loftier goals, but for now I'll be happy if I manage to get up the same time most mornings and open my bible. What better way to find a new me in the new year?
Being so squeaky clean made it real easy to just pick up and leave to Wisconsin on Sunday night when we decided we'd like to see snow. We packed a couple day's worth of clothes and got out of dodge. While we were there it snowed real good the first day and then on the way home we had to stop and get a room because it was snowing so furiously in Missouri. Awesomeness! My camera was MIA (the Nikon is DEAD again, but neverfear...my Christmas present was a P100, so we'll be back in business soon!) so I don't have any pix from our trip. My mom took lots, though and those are on Facebook.
Can my little man catch a break? I was chanting to myself over and over and over again, "I will not be angry." Notice it's the top...since the bottom pocket is blocked by the stinking plastic catheter. I called the surgeon's cell phone and he has no clue who Corbin is. Doesn't remember us from Adam. We were told to go to Children's, so up to Dallas we went. Thank God our friends watched the girls so Allan could go with me. We were so stunned we were literally silent the whole way up. Let me assure you, I rarely have NOTHING to say, so that was...strange. When we got there they told us it looked like a skin infection and gave him benedryl. I asked for a referral to the opthamologist and we left. No one wanted to listen to me tell about my son's history; after all, how could a lowly stay-at-home-mom know what's wrong with her child? Surely the Dr would know better. Too bad the benedryl did nothing. *sigh* Oh yeah..."I will NOT be angry."
Actual Christmas Day was rather bland in our neck of the woods. We got up late and almost missed going to Dallas to pass out lunches and blankets to the homeless, but we made it. I would suggest to anyone trying that at least once...it will truly change your whole perspective! I love it and so does GraceAnne. Even Rhiya had an amazing time last year. This year she doesn't get here until tonight....in about 10 minutes....so we let the kids open 2 presents each when we got home yesterday and then we had an awesome ham dinner with some friends. Today we woke up to this:
So in the interest of saving the day we came home and got the girls and decided to go ahead and take them shopping as we had promised. They each got $20 and wanted to get something. I also had to pick up my camera from Best Buy, so we loaded up. But first we stopped by to see our new baby!!!! Clarabelle had her calf last Sunday so we dropped by to get some pictures this morning. Clarabelle wouldn't let us get too close, and I took these with the Kodak so they're not very good, but GraceAnne says "Holly is the cutest cow on EARTH!" and I must agree with her.
breakfast of champions! :)
I'm going to try to take pictures of him all day like I did Violet in this post here. I'll check back in later.
Follow the snowflakes to ICE! This year is Peanuts. Check out http://wefrozecharliebrown.com
So for the next 6 months we're piling up every penny we can get our hands on, which won't be much since Allan isn't working, but we're the king and queen of frugal, so I know we can get a small chunk together. We need a mortgage that is less than what we have here. We'll accomplish that with the equity we have built up and the cash we're putting away.
We're looking here in Texas, but also all over the country. Texas would be great because of the LOOOONG growing season, (think 3 crops a year) and of course all our friends are here, but Allan is desperate for a change of seasons, so we're looking in Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, etc. I have 3 requirements: 1. It must be a place that would naturally be farmed. We won't be living somewhere we have to import water or seriously amend soil 2. I want a long enough growing season to have a fall garden and 3. it must be a cheaper cost-of-living area so we can actually afford a house. The northwest coast almost perfectly fits all our ideals, but we could never afford a house and land up there.
We'll raise fruits and vegetables. Of course, the types will be location dependent, but we'll grow everything "naturally" (I don't want to deal with having to certify organic...it's too expensive for a small farm) and what we don't use we'll sell at the farm store on our property. We also want fruit and nut trees around the property, but not necessarily orchard style. That would be nice, but with the dollar amount we're looking at spending, we may not have enough property for that. With all that comes a big amount of canning and baking, but that's where I shine anyway. How cool would it be to need an "easy" meal in January and pull a jar of spaghetti sauce off the shelf that you raised and made on your own? Need nuts for holiday baking? There's a bag full of them in the freezer that you picked last fall.
The vegetables would all be garden-style with my boxes like I have here. I am going to change them up based on things we've learned over the year of doing this, but it will be "small." The only thing I really want a "crop" of is wheat. I am still looking into how much we'd need to offset most of our flour costs.
Everyone knows we want cows, chickens and turkeys to start with. Eventually I'd love if we could figure out how to expand into pigs and goats. Out at pasture we'll rotate the cows first, then chickens and turkeys in order to have fully pastured animals and help the soil build fertility. This will be so much easier in a warmer climate because we don't have to deal with much over-wintering, but if we move further north we'll just have semi-pastured animals. haha!
We'd like to have just a couple bee hives for honey.
We're looking into solar energy, geothermal and wind power. Our goal is to be as "off-grid" as possible. The bulk of our constant expenses are utilities and food, making up 2x what we currently spend on our mortgage. Since we don't have any debt, our focus to get expenses down has been the electricity, (far and away our greatest utility) and the food budget. Since we want to eat better, we've had a hard time cutting the food budget, (and I think if you knew what we spend, you'd say there's not much way to cut it for a family of 5/6 either. I am a really good shopper, even with buying locals and organics). Thanks to Allan's pension from the VA (there are some small benefits to losing your leg...LOL) if we can virtually eliminate our food and electricity expense and cut down on the mortgage, we will be free to do almost whatever we want. Now..."whatever we want" is relative...we won't be taking extravagant vacations or spending mass amounts of money on new toys or gadgets. By whatever we want, I mean, we won't have to bust our butts making sure that we sell X amount of whatever just to survive.
I want to make for ourselves and sell these things eventually, (we will start small and figure out how best to utilize our time/resources and then work to this and possibly more)
milk and cheese
Allan's prosthetics--a shop on the property that he will open a few days per week
The baking and the classes are the most exciting to me, the rest is just natural. I want to build a certified kitchen on the property to bake and sell baked goods. I love to bake and I have been told I make some pretty rockin' stuff. I'd love to open our home and property to teach people how to do these things we're doing. I think a lot of my generation is ignorant to how to care for themselves or "live off the land" if you will. Sheesh, until a few years ago, if some catastrophe had struck I'd have been the biggest victim around...I didn't know how to do squat for myself. I had always thought it was a novel idea, but never looked into it. It was the first year of making and canning our own apple butter as a way to save money on Christmas presents that sparked my interest and we've come a long way since.
Obviously we'll still homeschool, (provided it continues to work out as well as it has...I'm going to guess we'll only get better at it as we go) and the kids will help us A LOT. They won't be slaves, my ultimate goal is to make this life as enjoyable as possible. We will all be working our tails off but we'll be doing it together. There will be no nights without daddy because of being called in or long days where nothing can get done because mom has to take sole care of the kids and they are fussy that day. Allan has been home for almost a month now and it has been amazing. We have gotten so much done and the kids are so happy to have him here. I know this isn't reality for everyone, but we're Blessed enough to have this option now. If we had waited a few more years, we'd be in an even prettier position, (the house would have been completely paid for in about 5 more years) but we'd also be even more used to the big income and the shiny stuff that commands our attention. It was getting hard to walk away from, so now was the time.
There is so much more to it than this...but this is a good start and hopefully makes it a little clearer. I know I've been so vague and crazy lately. My brain feels like it's humming most days. I will be more than happy to step away from some of this "noise" and find a more peaceful, fulfilling place where we can do what we believe is God's work for us and share that with others.
The Banks' party is one I want to always go to for a few reasons:
1. Their house is AMAZING and the kids love to run around in the 50's diner room
2. We always see lots of good friends
3. Livia makes the most amazing Christmas treats and there's only 1x/year to get them!
I really wouldn't have posted this, but I wanted to share with you all one super amazing thing from the party...
Ralin was born 2 months before Corbin. They play together in the nursery at church, but I don't know to what extent because I'm never in there. When Ralin and his parents walked into the party, Corbin got really excited. I put him down and he walked right over to Ralin and gave him a HUG and a KISS! I couldn't even believe how gentle he was. All night long he'd find Ralin wherever he was and hug him. He was even leaning his head to the side to lay on his friend's shoulder and patting his back. Who knows what Ralin thought, but I was ecstatic. My little man is a LOVER and he's precious as all get out :)
We laughed pretty hard at the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard and the Hazzard County Sheriff
Here are some ways that we personally try to take the stress and commercialism out of this holiday. Some have been successful and others we're not so good at yet, but we try and usually have a lot of laughs to go along with it:
-we don't buy a lot of presents. The kids get 3 each, (they are well thought out) and for extended family we try to do something handmade. Since we have 3 huge pecan trees in our back yard, we love to pick the pecans, get them shelled and mail them for Christmas. They are a hit with our northern families who don't get fresh pecans.
-the kids make Christmas crafts, at home. Yeah, they always bring cute stuff back from school, but our kids make cookies, paper trees and homemade bird feeders, (pincones slathered in PB and rolled in birdseed) at home.
-we play and sing (loudly and terribly) Christmas music. All of it. Sometimes the thoughtful stuff and sometimes the hilariously stupid ones. We even sing to that God-awful "Last Christmas" by Wham! and usually we make up new words.
-we read LOTS of Christmas books. We have a whole huge Pampered Chef box full that doesn't come out until the day after Thanksgiving.
-we budget whatever kinds of things will put our family in the holiday spirit so that we can feel more at "home." It's expensive to go home for the holidays and a hassle with so many kids, so we do stuff in the hopes that we are making happy memories for our kids that they can take with them. I can't explain this the way I want, except that maybe instead of "it's not Christmas without snow" they'll be able to take Christmas with them wherever they are...
So this December I think I might try to post some pictures of some of the things we do to make it Christmas to our hearts.
December 2nd we went to one of those drive-through lights exhibits. It was actually nice and chilly and it SNOWED inside the tent where they showed the holiday movie. Okay...they used a snow machine, but we'll take what we can get, especially when the following day was 75 degrees.
we put them in their new Christmas jammies and packed up to head an hour north.
we sang like fools all the way there
And we stood in line to watch the Christmas show.
The walkthrough lights were very cool, too.
These snowflakes were lighting in succession, so the girls kept pretending it was snowing on them. Corbin thought it was all pretty awesome.