This journey called life is exhausting, isn’t it? Sometimes just waking up requires super-human strength. And on top of the daily list of unending to-dos, adding in educating 10 children??? Every year is we put in the time and effort to attend the Illinois Christian Home Educators convention. Because what we as home-educators do is important. It is the most important. And we need to be refreshed and revived and renewed! ICHE is special in the homeschooling world because they understand that home education is not about academics. It’s about home-discipleship. Now that’s a whole ‘nother ball game. With one, a simple scope and sequence will get you there. With the other, blisters on the knees as you kneel in prayer is how you spend your time. One is short-sighted. The other is a vision for multi-generational faithfulness. Teaching your child to read is exciting. Watching your child learn about the Greatness of God is beyond. Jeremie took the older kids to the convention this year. As the leader in our home, if his vision is cloudy, dreary or dying, so is ours. He is the one to ignite us, excite us and inspire us! There are just as many dads who attend convention as there are moms. This is no longer a denim jumper wearing mom’s movement! The keynote speaker was a man who encourages dads in the journey. It was precious time together. And it was wonderful for me to get to spend the week with my other children, focusing on them. Missing a few kids always changes the dynamics here at home and it was fun to witness. But I am glad that we are all back together after all that traveling.
There is always so much to do around the farm whenever we can kill two birds with one stone we go for it. The corn needed to be fertilized because it is such a heavy feeder. And because it is planted in an area that has sandy soil, which doesn’t hold nutrients very well. And the soil in this area had never been amended before. So what better material to use than the deep litter from our coop. Last fall I had layered a huge quantity of mulched leaves under the roosts in the coop. Because chickens poop a lot when they sleep, apparently. Then occasionally I would toss scraps in there for the chickens to feast on. In their clamor for the scraps, they would scratch around and turn over all that leaf matter and chicken doo-doo. Cleaning out the coop is one of the worst jobs on the farm, and this year I was so blessed that Jeremie volunteered to do it for me! So the task that normally takes me and the kids all day to accomplish was done in just a couple hours. The kids and I took wheelbarrows of that delicious, not-quite-finished compost and spread it on the rows of corn. The corn is a deep, dark green now. Full of weeds, yes. But full of nutrients as well, I’d say.
The first lamb show of the season was at the Calloway County fairgrounds. It was a warm day, but pleasant enough in the shade. There were very few people watching the show, which was surprising. Mostly just families of the kids involved. This was a great show, though, with quality animals and showmen. It is early in the year for spring-born lambs to be mature enough for market, but there were some finely finished animals being showed. First the girls showed their lambs, but they were the ones being judged. Judged on how well they braced their animals, controlled, their animals, knew about raising their animals. The judge spoke to each contestant, encouraging them, questioning them, and correcting them. She was a fabulous judge who gave lots of feedback and advice to the girls. Charlotte won first place in her age division for showmanship. I was so proud of her because I know how much time and effort she has been putting into her lamb this year. She even takes care of Katie’s lamb for her while she travels around. The girls placed lower in the market lamb category, simply because their animals were young, and not finished like the competition. My girls have their eye on the Henry County Fair, which is in September. So their lambs have a long time to go yet. This was a fun competition because the quality of the animals involved and because their friends were showing lambs as well.
Somewhere around 1985 we lived on Greentree in West Bend WI in a rental. I was in about 4th or 5th grade. Across the street was a big hill with a big open field at the top. My sister Melanie and I found some sheets of plywood laying up there and built a cool fort near a tree. We put all sorts of fallen branches and stuff around it to camo it from the neighborhood kids who were not very nice. One day we were up there working on it and Melanie was at the fort and I was out in the field looking for stuff to use. Some of the bullies that lived down the street that were probably about 8th grade found me and started beating me up. My sister Melanie who was two years older than me came and threw them off and would have beat them up if they had not run away. Later when we were at the street the kids yelled something about them beating me up and were making fun of me for getting saved by a girl. I yelled back, “yeah, but you got beat up by a girl!” They stopped taunting me after that.
The kids love stories from when I was a kid. I was at the chiropractor today for an adjustment. My hip is really out of whack and so I have been in some pain. When I got adjusted today I screamed pretty loudly. It reminded me of this memory when I was younger.
The year is 1993, my parents had moved to Indonesia to do missionary work the summer before. My brother Jason, my older sister Melanie, and I were going to Indonesia to visit our parents and two younger sisters. We were supposed to go get some shots before we went so we would not get sick when we got there.
My sister Melanie hated getting shots, as in deathly afraid. So she was stressing out. We all three went to the doctor’s office together. Jason being the kind brother that he was, went first to ease Melanie’s nerves and show her how easy it was. Jason goes inside and the door closes. Suddenly Jason starts screaming in pain. The nurse opens the door holding the needle and says “I have not even given him the shots yet.” Jason is in the background laughing.
I am sure Jason is very sorry Mel.
After competing at the regional level in livestock judging our girls committed the time to practice for the state competition. They had earned a spot on the team in previous years, but because the competition usually is the same weekend as the annual homeschool convention they have not been able to participate. This year, the contest was on a Tuesday. So after working at the convention in Naperville, Il Wednesday to Saturday, they headed across the state of Tennessee on Monday. While they were in Knoxville they got a tour of the Ag dept of UT, and enjoyed a fun night with the team. Games of spoons, spades, and speed; BBQ ribs, steak and more. They have really worked hard, putting in a lot of hours at the extension office and nearby farms. Their coaches have been fabulous. Putting in extra time. Staying at the office late. Meeting on the weekend. The girls have learned so much during the short, but intense period of preparing for this contest. We especially love to hear Katie give her oral reasons. After judging a certain species, sometimes the students have to speak to the judges, explaining why they placed the animals in a certain order. EPD’s are studied and analyzed. EPDs are the charted projected expected progeny differences for cattle. There are very specific terms to be used. Terms like boulder sprung, cleaner fronted, harshest handling. Katie likes to give her reasons with a southern drawl which gives us all fits of hysterics. We are so thankful for the resources of the UT extension office and our 4H agents and Melinda Perkins for coaching this fabulous team. They were excited to place third place in the state. One of the team members placed first overall in the state! Hopefully this team will stay together and move up in the placings!
Father’s day. A day to celebrate Dad’s in a way we should be celebrating them everyday. Taking the time to say, “Thanks”. Making the effort to show how much we appreciate all they do. And, man, do they do a lot! Jeremie has picked up all the slack from me having a fussy baby. He milks, mostly. He moves the broilers. He makes the money. He wipes butts. He does all of his jobs and some of mine. And cheerfully! Our family couldn’t survive without this special man. And y’all know what kind of fun he brings to the farm! All his special projects like the red-neck swing set and slip and slide into the pond. Four wheeling in the snow. Crazy games of spoons. When “Dad” is around, the very air sparks with excitement.
Our second born daughter has been bringing us joy and laughter since the day she was born! Such a sweet baby, hardly fussed. Slept through the night at an alarmingly young age. Sucked her thumb like a champ.
She and her big sister could most always be found playing together while holding hands.They would hold hands in the car. They would hold hands while they slept. They would hold hands sometimes while they ate. Katie has many special people in her life who adore her, Aunt Meg, Mitna, Bompa, Grandma and Grandpa, sisters and brothers. But none so much as her mom and dad who think she is just the cat’s pajamas! God has gifted Katie with an amazing ability to succeed at almost everything that catches her fancy.
My favorite picture EVER of Katie
We were just a little family back then