Updates and things to come

First of all, there were over 1100 entries into the “I Love Alaska” giveaway, and the winner has been notified. Congrats to her!

Second, the ground is thawing! 17 bulbs were planted yesterday, with 12 more laid out in a bed in front. I’ve begun hardening off a couple hardier sets of seedlings from our dining room, which makes me nervous. I hate to lose a plant due to my incompetence. As soon as we are frost-free, I’ll be setting out the little bed of chamomile in the front yard near a tree. I think it’ll give a pretty and somewhat wild look, while softening the base of the tree of which they will sit. Bonus, chamomile tea is excellent.

Third, the brooding box is ready for our chicks! Rather than simply buy a kiddie pool or fold-out apparatus for our future chicks, hubby made what almost looks like a miniature coop, complete with linoleum tiles and a latch (no lid, yet). We will be picking up a couple different breeds over the coming wee, so watch for photos if you are interested in our new adventure. The building of the coop will come over the next month, and I warn you now, it will not be fancy. It will be functional, though, and safe, and that is the goal for our growing layers.

Fourth, can you believe the school year is almost finished? Not that the pursuit of knowledge and educational experiences should be placed within a specific timeframe, but in the sense of, “My, how quickly this year has sped by!”. I just about have our curriculum finalized for the fall. It is getting easier for me each year to decide on texts and publishers and such, as we try things out and see what does or doesn’t meet each of our needs and goals. Of increasing concern is the prolific number of texts sporting the “Common Core Aligned” badge across their covers. Ew. I get that they are trying to sell books, I appreciate that, I really do. The worst offenders are those who have actually re-done their texts so that they not only meet the requirements but ARE the requirements. Have some imagination.

Fifth, I begin running (I am using the term loosely) with my brother today. The MudFactor 5K is coming up in June, and I haven’t been running on a regular basis in too many years to try and count. I’m also carrying around an extra 10-12 pounds of NOT-muscle. He is a gracious man, though, and probably won’t laugh at my red face until we get back home. ūüėČ He is very patient with me though, and I struggle to imagine life without him. We were so far apart – on different planets for all practical purposes – for so long, and yet I talked to him in my thoughts every day. A piece of my heart has always been his. I couldn’t ask for a cooler sibling. Now that we live just minutes away from each other, I’m still adjusting to having another piece of my family so close, and grateful for the fact that they are just down the road. For the greater part of my adult life, J-Dub and I have been on our own with the kids, making friends here and there, but mostly just living independently from any real network of support. Our privacy and slower pace is still important to us, but over the past few years we have enjoyed being part of a local group of family and friends again. Our babes seem happier as well, knowing that friends they make are likely to be there for a long time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this amazing Alaska sunshine. Stay tuned for chick updates over the week, and coop and garden updates throughout April and May. If you are planting and homesteading and farming and experimenting at your place, I’d like to hear about it! Share your dabblings and ramblings in the comments below! Have a blessed Easter!

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How is it possible to be stressed as a stay-at-home mom?

Stretching, now reaching
Not enough time, space, or me
Need to re-focus

How in the world is it possible for someone who spends the majority of their time at home, gets a full night’s sleep most nights of the week, steals moments each day to take care of themselves, and is doing what they deeply love, to become incredibly stressed? How could she possibly develop stress headaches that spread down into her shoulders? What could she be doing so wrong and inefficiently that at the end of the day, her brain seems to cease working and she becomes clumsier than normal? She is exhausted from the inside-out. Why? With such a comfortable situation, how dare she feign a tired mind and body?! I’m not a doctor of any sort, and so will not venture into understanding or explaining things from a technical angle. I will briefly share how she has arrived at this place, and how she imagines pulling out of it.
Homeschooling should be considered a full-time job. If an employed, certified and paid teacher is working “full-time”, then a non-ceritfied, unpaid homeschool mom should consider such her employment. She will spend summer mornings working her garden and caring for her home and having adventures with her family. She will spend summer afternoons carefully scheduling curriculum into a lesson planner, leaving room for life to happen along the way. The school year will begin with great excitement as new supplies are dipped into and new books explored! P.E. and art classes and the occasional field trip will be slipped into those open spaces the homeschool mom saw a need to leave room for as she scribbled away over the summer weeks. There will be appointments and disruptions to the well-laid plans (illnesses, surprise visitors, work schedule changes, etc). With a deep breath and an eraser, homeschooling mom adapts quickly and quietly, trying to roll with the bumps and jostles, keeping things running as smoothly as she can. You may thinking that she is a naturally organized person, but she isn’t. She struggles like a young child just trying to keep her own room orderly. She has joined up as a member of parents and teachers within the local school program, and enjoys the shared purpose of the monthly meetings.
On top of her homeschooling job (which she deeply loves!), she has a greater love – Jesus Christ. Her Savior, the Lover of her soul, her Redeemer, He who she longs to know better and grow to become more like, deserves her very best. She slips scripture into her students’ lessons so they can discuss, apply, and memorize God’ word. She sneaks peeks at her sermon journal and sits quietly with her Bible and coffee most mornings of the week. She longs to become a servant in the church body, and berates herself for not doing more for her Christian brothers and sisters or serving within the various ministries.
Homeschool mom believes that a healthy marriage is the top priority after her relationship with Jesus, and strives to put her husband’s needs and desires ahead of all others. His health and needs weigh heavily on the heart and mind of his wife. While she doesn’t worry – worrying being a lack of faith – she does have him on her mind constantly.
Next on her list of priorities are her children. Three personalities, three groups of strengths and challenges. Three unique individuals who all need a wise and loving mama. If one were to couple the tasks of “home economist” and “caregiver” which generally include all of a mom’s responsibilities, you would have another full-time job. What are we up to now – two full-time jobs? People do that and survive every day, no big deal, right? Well…maybe.
Now for the extra tasks and outside pressure. Here we include the business(es) the homeschooling mama dreams of putting more time into, though these endeavors require a cash infusion of which there is little each month. Money aside, one business requires focused chunks of time on the computer and eventually at shows. The other requires time in development, time in construction, and more of both in the future.
So, at the end of it all, where does she draw the line? At one full-time job? Two? Cut out activities for the children? Give up on her joint dream with her husband on operating a mini-homestead? Give up on her personal businesses? Perhaps forego those stolen moments of personal development and rest she finds in writing, reading, and outdoor adventures? She has tried different ways of juggling all that is asked of her over the years, and only one thing has worked. Prayer coupled with re-focusing priorities. There are only so many hours in a day, in a week, in a year. When using the Bible as her guidebook, she is able to prayerfully decide what will benefit her relationships with Jesus and her family. Perhaps, that is what she needs to do again.

~V

Today’s Moments of Happy in List Form.

Morning nap was refreshing, to my surprise. ¬†Didn’t feel even the slightest twinge of guilt. ¬†Wow.

Was inspired by Dave Ramsey and provoked to thought by Matt Walsh.

Completed all errands, without rushing, with time left to spare.

Found partially used gift cards buried in wallet.  Used gift cards to buy treats and hand cream.

Shared chocolate with an incredibly¬†darling little girl, and was repaid a hundredfold by her chocolate grin and her signing, “thank you”.

Son grilled for the first time.  Did VERY well.

Sun shined brightly РALL DAY LONG.  Stood on the porch with my face toward the setting sun, closed my eyes, stretched out my arms, and thanked the Lord for sunshine with my entire being.

Managed to be kind whilst firm in all necessary corrections.  For those who know the kind of brat I can be, this was a huge win, especially as a mom to three fantastic young people who deserve only the best of me.

Clipped pine and spruce branches to simmer on stove for their therapeutic properties.

Took time to blog.

Budgeted for next month, and will meet all bills despite huge change of salary.

God is good, ALL THE TIME, and all the time, GOD IS GOOD!

 

~V

The coffee is still warm, but my brain hasn’t caught up

Pinterest and French press are my companions this morning now that J-Dub has ventured off to work. ¬†Em and Chase are always laying about, so if I don’t mention them, one can safely assume that one is begging for food or attention while the other is flopped somewhere in near-death boredom. ¬†They take turns at these activities. ¬†My blessings, my charges, my God-given character-builders are still slumbering away, and I am half-listening for footsteps as I type. ¬†Now that the scene has been set, I have a question for you. ¬†Why on earth have styled bookshelves become a thing? ¬†The obvious answer would be related to decor and personal style, but still, I wonder, why do we not have enough books in our homes to fill one small case? ¬†Must we fill in those empty spaces with coordinated knickknacks instead? ¬†Frames and empty vases and collections galore? ¬†Here is another question – how in the world have all of these women convinced their husbands that having well-styled rooms is a worthwhile endeavor? ¬†I’m jealous. ¬†Plain and simple. ¬†Pinterest, you are both my friend and foe.

On another note, I picked up a book at the library yesterday (more than one, actually, but that’s beside the point) by an apparent author and somewhat-famous interior designer. ¬†I seem to have caught the annual “spring cleaning and nesting” bug, so here I am in all a rage to clear out our home and make it more livable. ¬†I admit that as things accumulate, even simple housekeeping becomes a grand frustration. ¬†This book,¬†Seven Layers of Organization by Christopher Lowell, caught my eye, as doing things in chunks and in an orderly fashion appeals to me. ¬†The first two “layers” that Mr. Lowell addresses deal with assessing the what/where/why/how of the extra junk and clutter in our homes, then separating our emotions from our stuff so we can purge the extra and create space for living. ¬†Often times, I don’t think we realize how connected we can become to things. ¬†We hold on for dear life to these things that can be burned down in a day, broken in seconds, lost in a moment and never seen again! ¬†The relationships in our lives should be of greatest importance, and having a home conducive to nurturing those relationships is one of the goals I have for my life. ¬†Might I encourage you to make it one of yours as well?

~V

Babbling on about relationships and somesuch

“Sometimes relationships grow stronger through conflict. But other times relationships end. Because I can‚Äôt control the other person, I must keep focusing on the good God is working out in me through this and leave the outcome with Him.” ¬†-Lysa TerKeurst

Would you agree with Mrs. TerKeurst? ¬†I do, and suppose I always would have. ¬†I especially agree with the first word in her statement – SOMETIMES. ¬†Discussing relationships in this way has most people referencing romantic or familial types, but let’s put all other relationships on the table as well. ¬†Some statements I’ve heard/read recently, followed by some thoughts off the top of my head, are below. ¬†Feel free to chime in.

Every relationship is worthy of a saving effort. ¬†Eh, that’s gonna’ be a big “no” from me. ¬†There will be some relationships that shouldn’t have begun forming in the first place. ¬†End those toxic ones and reflect on them, but try not to dwell on any mistakes made. ¬†Now for those relationships that aren’t exactly wrong, perhaps you and others need to put forth effort to create healthy communication, etc.

Every person you enjoy being around is capable of having a healthy relationship with you. ¬†Let’s not be naive. ¬†Whether through a series of choices or an inability to move beyond past events, we aren’t all in a position to contribute to every kind of relationship in the way we should. ¬†Some folks need some serious therapy, others may need to forgive and let go of the past, and still others may choose to live a lifestyle that will never mesh with your own (even if they are the jolliest fellows around).

We are products of our childhoods, and cannot veer too far from the relational course set for us by whomever was responsible for our upbringing. ¬†Again, therapy can be helpful here, but only if one wants it. ¬†Personally, my Lord and Savior pulled me out of my own mental mess. ¬†Over time I was able to forgive. ¬†I learned what true love really is (that’s another post for another day). ¬†I was able to accept the shortcomings of others due to becoming VERY aware of my own – that right there is a humbling experience. ¬†Not long ago, I began accepting myself as I am, in this moment. ¬†It is difficult to focus on and care deeply for others when one’s own insecurities are plaguing their minds. ¬†This is a good place to say that what some go through can only be described as hellish. ¬†Let’s not discount the long journey they may have as they learn to relate comfortably.

To feel fulfilled, we need a certain number of certain kinds of friends. ¬†The number of pals you have doesn’t define you. ¬†The kinds of friends you have? ¬†Well, that’s going to say something about you, but it’s not everything. ¬†The need for fulfillment in social settings can be telling, so look closely. ¬†Are you consistently cravings a “getaway”? ¬†Do you always feel the need to escape? ¬†Are all those same-gender nights out really a “need”, or just an excuse to make up for something you feel that you are lacking in your life? ¬†Is one of the primary goals in your life to be entertained and/or be entertaining? ¬†Do you use others to fill space and time in your life that you wouldn’t know what to do with otherwise? ¬†Lastly, if someone privately thought of you as a resource/time-filler/fun-bringer/gossip-sharer and not much else, how would it make you feel? ¬†Just something to consider.

Whatever relationships I seek out or find myself in, I hope to remember to examine my true intentions often. ¬†Nothing is allowed into my life that the Almighty doesn’t have full knowledge of, and I need to rest in that fact. ¬†Perhaps the hardest thing is to remember to love. ¬†When I am challenged in my convictions – love. ¬†When I feel put down and unworthy – love. ¬†When I feel superior – love. ¬†When I am hurting for others, or have been deliberately hurt – just love.

The Greatest Gift   1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(emphasis mine)