To start thinking about this next school year. We are starting later than usual this year. We usually start after our Family camp trip. But then came the fair. Then came horse lessons and painting class. Then came robotics and then co-op classes. The weeks get away from me. But I’ve been snatching up used books, going through my own shelves, putting together an idea of what I’d like to study this year. Finding books for subjects the kids want to study this year. Oh, it will be a fun year! Public speaking! Pre-calc! Uncle Eric! Evangelism! Do I homeschool because I love learning or do I love learning because I homeschool??!!
We are back from Family Camp 2016. As always it was an epic adventure. Full of good times, laughter, fires and hugs. Every year I am stretched as I visit with friends, old and new, and we toss around ideas and experiences and wisdom. Last year it seemed the focus was building intentional community. This year I came away with this admonition on my heart. Wait On The Lord. My, how I can get busy planning and ordering my days, my life. My children’s days, my children’s lives. But oh, how sweet it is to know that my days are already planned. That my life is already ordered. That God has a good future in store for my children. That He has a plan when I only have questions. All too often I am in a rush to “get to the next thing”. To execute my well-ordered plan. But God doesn’t work that way. If I force things, I will miss the beautiful things He has for me. I can rest easy. I don’t need to stress college plans. Or career paths. Or finding a spouse. Wait on the Lord.
Jeremie and Tommy welded some posts onto the 4 wheeler to hold fencing supplies. This makes it so much easier when stepping in posts and running wire through the fields. And the 4 wheeler makes it so they are not walking miles back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. An engineer’s mind is always working!
T-Dot has been spending some time at the end of our driveway digging up our old culvert and laying down a much longer one. The boys have been out there watching them with interest. Big machines, loud noises and fresh brownies. What a fun time! And the new entrance is so nice! It will be much easier for Jeremie to maneuver our camper and stock trailer in and out of the driveway now.
Here are a few of our favorite craft items this year. I like to post pictures so next year the kids can look back and remember what they made so there are no duplicates! And I didn’t get a picture of it, but James made an awesome walking stick. He sanded, stained and poly U’d it all by himself. And Tommy made lego robot that solves the rubix cube, but unfortunately the rubix cube we ordered from Walmart was the wrong size, so he didn’t get to enter it.
What a fabulous time we’ve had at the fair this week. What we’ve learned…
How have we learned and cultivated all these character traits? Well, these pictures here just show the culmination of months of hard work, diligence and planning. The kids raising the hogs have had to monitor their weight gain, deal with worms and parasites, feeding and watering issues, work out duty assignments, pay a surrogate caretaker. The lamb girls have had to research diet and nutrition, plan and prepare for multiple shows and expos, establish and maintain a relationship with a show feed distributor, exercise and groom their animals, learn to give their animals shots, trim hooves, set up temporary pens and bedding. And the crafts! Such a fun activity, but a learning experience as well. And I think they really stretched their creativity this year with the neat items they entered. Here’s what I love about this experience. All my kids helped each other. Mia is diligent and would remind the others to feed the hogs and check their water. Tommy is brilliant and hooked up an automatic water nozzle for them. Susie is sweet and does whatever is needed and has an eye for what will make things easier. Katie showed Charlotte all she knows about caring for a show lamb that is rather high-maintenance. Charlotte cared for and exercised the lambs while Katie traveled and was away. They all worked on different crafts, but each of the girls took the time to help a younger sibling do a craft so that they would have something to enter into the fair as well. And when it came time to fill out record books, well that was a team effort as well. Tommy did the trouble shooting when the computers and printers would act up. Katie came up with creative wording about their goals and experience. Mia kept meticulous records of purchases and expenses. This was a family endeavor and all those kids are champions, in my opinion!
We have had record rains these last few weeks. Morningside farmers market has closed down for the season because of the water. Plants are scorching, or drowning. The wood chips in the garden keep my ground very easy to work with, though! The bugs are terrible because of the water though. We have mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds. And squash bugs the size of beetles. But I also have a beautiful green canopy of southern calico peas. New zuchini coming up. Hundreds of luffa gourds. My flowers are just about done for the season, so if it ever dries out I’ll go and collect all the seeds for next year. Zinnia’s are the gift that keeps on giving. All these plants were volunteers from last year. I didn’t really even want them there. I’ll have to be ruthless next year and pull them up. Jeremie says he’ll do it. He doesn’t like my jungle, lol. Tomatoes are just about done as well. Perhaps they would still put on a lot of fruit. So I guess it’s more accurate to say that I’m done with the tomatoes. I’ve got new cukes coming up for the fall. Some nice looking birdhouse gourds growing on the deck in containers. And in related garden news I’ve bought some guinea keets. Jeremie tells me guinea’s won’t scratch up the garden. Hmmmm….I’m not sure I believe him. But I’ve got to do something about the squash bugs. They keep overwintering in the mulch and come back worse each year. So I plan to put them in a tractor over bug-infested areas and let them do their work. I’ve also been sprinkling D.E. but with the heavy rains it just washes away every day. I’ve started some seeds for the fall garden and hope to put the plants in the ground soon. And in other related news, Jeremie got the stuff to make a vermicompost harvester! So I’ll be able to lay down a nice layer of worm castings over the wood chips for the fall. Hurray for fall gardening!
The girls and Jeremie recently attended a Daddy Daughter Tea party. They had so much fun. There was a photo booth with lots of fun accessories. Speakers and singers. Elegant tea party food. And a special keepsake tea cup for all the girls. It’s so important for father’s to “date” their daughters! It really shows them how special they are to him. Special enough for him to travel a distance. Dress up. Stop working. Have fun with them. This bond ties their hearts together until the fateful day they give their heart to another man that we pray will treat it so tenderly as well.
A circle of girlfriends. Fancy coffee. Warm bagels. No babies. Good conversation. The topic of “what is your passion?” came up amongst us. I stumbled and fumbled for an answer. A mom is so wrapped up in her kids, she can quite easily lose herself. I’ve not really had the chance to deeply reflect upon myself lately. Words of loving to do hair came tumbling out of my mouth. But upon reflection, I am not the same 15 year old girl who would cut, color or clip anything attached to a head. I met my husband young, married young, and started a family young. The passions I had as a youth are not the same things that stir my heart in these adult years. But what? In quiet moments I would analyze my actions. My reactions. What got my heart racing? What topic made me prattle on for hours to anyone who would listen? What do I make time for, no matter how busy things are? I guess I discovered that I am selfish to the core. I think we all are, when the layers of pretension are peeled away. If I am passionate about something I will make time for it. I will carve out a moment to indulge my passions each and every day. So this is what I came away with. I am passionate about being intentional with my children. Not a day goes by that I don’t intentionally pour all of myself into them. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell my bigger kids why I do what I do. What it means to cherish God’s blessings. And I am passionate about homesteading. Raising our own meat. Yes, I guess that means I am passionate about running fence lines. Passionate about castrating pigs. I am passionate about growing and preserving all we can from our land. These are the things that ignite a fire within me. Somewhere along the line, somewhere between babies and butchering, I had lost sight of that. The children, the intention, the homesteading, the fences, the butchering, the preserving…it had become drudgery for me. I resented having to feed and water. I resented having to chase loose animals. I resented having to discipline kids. I resented having to get up to nurse. I resented living with the mess of 12 people in a double wide trailer. But when I realized my passion for these things, BAM! I got my joy back! That was another topic of our girlfriend talk..where had my joy gone? Acknowledging and claiming my passions has given me such happiness and peace, I cannot even tell you. Discipline issues? Yep, love it. Because being intentional with my kids is my passion. Loose pigs? Love it. Cause raising food is my passion. Interrupted sleep for 18 years running? Yep, love it. Because I love nursing my children. Squash bugs? Well….let’s not get carried away. Still don’t love them. But every day I feel so thankful, so incredibly blessed that I get to live out my passions. I’m not pining away, wishing I could do or be something else. Like someone once told me, I’m “living the dream, baby!”