First Day of School, But First….

Today was it. The first day of the 12th year of homeschool. Where in tarnation did all of the years GO???

But before school, there was the end of summer vacation – and canning.

We had a wonderful time in Michigan: no salt, no sharks, no problems. Sigh.  Before we left Kristen & Kurt cleaned my van. The interior looked just as bad as the exterior (translate: I forgot to take before pictures)


When I went to the car wash, the water jets pushed my new driver magnet right off the van. I walked behind the van at the cheese store and about freaked out. Kristen was planning to drive to Michigan and we needed the magnet. I went back to the car wash and looked everywhere – of course there was a car in the bay that I had used so I’m standing on my head trying to see in while they got their car washed. I can only imagine what they were thinking! I couldn’t see it anywhere, so I called the phone number and a really nice man told me to wait until the other car left and I would find it on the floor – and sure enough there it was, getting the magnet side washed, too. Huge sigh of relief.

When the kids were finished, the interior looked amazing!


They pulled it into the garage where I couldn’t get really good pictures, but I assure you, my van was a night and day transformation!

While we were chilling at Grandma and Grandpa’s the kids did a lot of reading of “Calvin and Hobbes” books. It keeps them occupied and they have a great time laughing at our family favorite comic strip. Even Present got in on the fun.

Of course, Present also got her nose into Kristen’s cereal bowl and fresh blueberries – I’m not sure where the picture is. We both got yelled at for that one ūüėÄ

Once we were back home, we had to deal with the garden. There are no pictures of the bounty because the task before us was extremely daunting. 88 tomatoes on the first picking. For 3 days straight (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) Kristen and I chopped, diced, peeled, sliced, stirred and canned. She brought up all of the frozen broth from the freezers so that we could pressure can that and get it out of the freezer to make room for the beef next month. We put up tomato paste, sauce, and diced tomatoes; more pickle relish, peaches and peach jam. Plus lamb and chicken broth. AND Kristen thawed and ground about 12 lbs. of lamb to make sausage. The corn we blanched and froze, but it was past its prime and will probably end up in chicken feed over the winter. I came home to 5 club sized zucchini in the garden and promptly pulled the plants. I also pulled the cucumbers because we have 6 on the counter from before vacation and an overflowing 1/2 bushel since we came home. NO ONE wants that much pickle relish for Christmas!  We still have salsa on the list and that will use some cukes as well.

By the end of the canning session it was obvious that our leaking kitchen faucet had to go; okay, it was obvious before we left on vacation, but Hubby got a real dose of it while we were gone and that was enough! So,late on Saturday, Kristen and I decided the time had come and we would go get the new faucet. Before that could happen, while she was trying to heat water to put in the diced tomatoes – the microwave died! 5 minutes on high, for tap water temperature. Not good. So, we were looking for a microwave as well. I found one I liked at Home Depot.

Off to the store, to find out that they don’t stock their microwaves at Home Depot. They didn’t have the one I found on line, but Kristen found one she liked better. We went to order that. Guess what, that will be $15 to remove the old one and $60 to have the new one delivered-to the store! Are you kidding me? Sorry, fella, that’s too much added on to the price. Lowe’s had absolutely nothing, so I checked Menard’s on my handy dandy smart phone. Well, soil¬†my britches and call me a Gronkel’s auntie, there was my Maytag microwave in stock! Oh, wait, in stock with a stainless steel handle. I just bought a bronze finish faucet for the kitchen, don’t really want stainless steel right there. Ah, here’s the all black option – two weeks to get it in. But, hold the presses! -ships to store for FREE!!! Oh, how I love that word!! ¬†FREE ¬†FREE FREE!! ¬†Order that puppy up and we’ll live with out a microwave for 2 weeks. It

Sunday rolls around and we’re at Menard’s to get a piece of steel that Joel needs for the trailer. I showed him the new microwave with the nice metal handle – no plastic! – he was impressed. ¬†Back home we came to nap and relax and then Kristen decided that she could install that faucet by herself. You Go Girl!!


Daddy was blown away when he got up from his nap. And you know what the hardest part of the whole process was? Figuring out how to turn the dump thing on!!! We rolled the lever back and forth and back and forth and checked all of the connections twice. No water. Kristen had pulled the hose out and was looking into it when she bumped the handle away from the faucet and got sprayed in the face!! Apparently, it turns on by pushing the lever away from the faucet and then adjust for hot and cold by rolling front or back. I’m telling you, folks, I’m not going gray, I’m going blonde!

Which brings us to today. The first day of school.


I can’t tell you how precious these pictures are and how much my kids have grown up every year. To see all of the pictures together on Karra’s board for graduation, was something else.

We had a couple of firsts on this first day of school – Kristen threw up, never had that happen before. I recommended that she NOT take her vitamins on an empty stomach in the future. We started at 8 (another first) and both kids were done at 12:00. ALL done, not just sort of done. And I sat in the school room and worked on stuff right along with them. Amazing.

One of the things we noticed with the leaky kitchen faucet and all of the canning was a funny smell in the laundry room and kitchen. We thought it was under the sink, or something from the canning. Turns out it’s the washing machine. THAT is all I need right now. But, Kristen and I did look at them at Home Depot and decided I’d like a stacking set, to maximize room in my laundry. That will be a post for another day and another time (I have a baby blanket to make today!)

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

I CAN Do It All!

As I was scurrying through life yesterday doing laundry, making bread, cutting a pile of old t-shirts into rags (they had cluttered my bedroom and then my laundry room long enough!), and thinking about the school I needed to do with Kurt and things I needed to check for Kristen, and the 1st quarter grades I needed to get together, I realized that I had bought a lie.

The lie that “you can have it all” really is a lie. ¬†And honestly, if we had it all, would we even want it all? ¬†You can’t have it. ¬†Choices have to be made. ¬†Paths diverge in life and you have to take one or the other. ¬†Getting lost in the wilderness between paths only leads to confusion and guilt. ¬†You’re not really sure which path you belong on (or which one is more important) and running between the two leads to neither path being as fulfilling as it could and should have been. ¬†I made my choice of which path to follow and I’ve never regretted it. ¬†I’m doing what I wanted to do.

The opposite of “you can have it all” is the lie that “you can’t DO it all.” ¬†Hmmm. ¬†I’ve listened to that one. ¬†That one has led me down the slow path to depression. ¬†I felt so overwhelmed by everything I couldn’t do. ¬†“You can’t homeschool your kids AND keep your house clean AND cook for your family, too.” ¬†“Something has to give.” ¬†“You have to take time for yourself and just let things go.” ¬†“You can’t garden and raise animals and can and bake . . . . .” ¬†And the list of “you can’ts” goes on and on.

And as the lie built inside of me, it started coming out of my mouth!

“I’m too tired. ¬†I’ll do it later, tomorrow, never.”

“I just don’t have the energy.”

“I’m so tired of this. ¬†I just want to be their Mom.”

“I can do school or I can be Mom . . . I can’t do both.”

Wait a minute! ¬†Who says I can’t? ¬†I’ve been so caught up believing the lie that “I can’t” that I quit even TRYING to do SOMETHING! ¬†I gave in to lazy and undisciplined under the guise of “I can’t do everything.”

But I chose this life. ¬†I desired this life. ¬†I asked for this life. ¬†Granted, I jumped into parenthood, homeschooling and hobby farming completely unprepared for reality, but it’s still what I want to do. ¬†By buying the lie, I totally ignored the Source¬† of my strength.

“I can do all things through Christ who give me¬†strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

“He who began a good work in you will complete it until the Day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

“My God shall supply¬†all your¬†needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

HE called me to be a Mom.

HE called me to teach my children at home.

HE placed in my selfish heart the desire for the farm and the animals and a garden and orchard.

HE gave me the desire to feed my family well.

And if HE brought me to it, HE will see me through it.  HE will sustain me in my infirmity (tiredness, weakness and lack of energy).

My Source, my Strength, my Energy, my Life. ¬†And He’s not a cosmic force watching from afar. ¬†HE LOVES ME! ¬†He’s right here beside me folding clothes, washing dishes, baking bread, readings books, sweeping floors and cleaning stalls! ¬†I’m free in Him to be me and I can DO IT ALL because HE says I can. ¬†“Whatsoever you do shall prosper.” ¬†(Ps. 1:3b) ¬†I have HIS word on it!

And yesterday I got the school done, the laundry started, the food cooked, the floor swept, the bread made and still had time to paint the chalkboards on the pantry door (DIMS Day!) and the energy for church in the evening!

It’s all in my perspective: ¬†believing the lie or believing the truth.

And That’s What’s Reflecting on the Pond.



It’s been a long week that went really fast – is that an oxymoron? ¬†Long but fast?

Kurt had swim lessons this week, so we were up and out of the house at 10am Monday – Thursday. ¬†You would think that 10am wouldn’t be a problem – especially if you’re laughing yourself silly because you leave at 6 or 7am every morning. ¬†Let’s just say that I’m 17 years out of practice at leaving the house every morning looking presentable to the world. ¬†And then there is the warm, cozy pool atmosphere that makes me very sleepy. ¬†So, here I am nodding over Winston Churchill at 11am! ¬†Good grief. ¬†Or was it good night?

We survived and this morning found me out the door at 10am to grocery shop. ¬†Why is it when you cut back to regular weekly shopping from the once-a-month monster shop that it still took 4 hours? ¬†I did take Kristen’s pretty blue guitar in to be re-strung and the nice fella said to give her a hard time about not wiping the finger prints and smudges off the guitar EVERY time she uses it. ¬†He was good natured about it really – they like her there since she took lessons from one of their staff.

Joel and I did our Chipotle and Sam’s Club date tonight and stopped at Home Depot (to look at little copper solar post tops for the deck that Joel is refinishing) and ended up buying two plum trees on clearance. ¬†We planted them in a gentle rain tonight and are really happy with the purchase.

I’ve been working on getting the schoolroom switched over for the new year – the kids decided they want to start on August 20th. ¬†Karra wants to finish at the end of May and I’d really like to actually wrap up the other two by June 12. ¬†It’s going to be a very full year and everyone is going to need Mom to be involved. ¬†Good thing I’m on the anti-depressant and feeling so much more in control and in the present. ¬†Tomorrow is the day to get the bookcase inside – the one my Grandpa built. ¬†I mopped (don’t faint) the schoolroom while I have all of the old bookshelves out. ¬†The room is so sparkly right now. ¬†I have two big boxes of books waiting to be unpacked and eager kids ready to see their cubbies full. ¬†Hard as it is, I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!

The animals are all doing well. ¬†We love listening to Brik in the mornings. ¬†A farm just isn’t a farm without a rooster crowing in the morning. ¬†He’s so gentle and calls to the girls and helps them find little treats in the grass. ¬†Sadly, two of Kristen’s three Ameracuana’s are roosters. ¬†One of them we’ve named Eaglet and he’s a reddish and white (really pretty, but not good tempered) and he is already getting rough with my Buff Orpingtons. ¬†The other is a pretty black and white and much calmer. ¬†Kristen wants to try to sell him before we take the two roosters and the geriatric chickens to the butcher in the fall. ¬†I can’t believe I’m going to give Sarah the ax, but I know that there will be other favorite chickens and it will be easier to save them if they’ve been part of the main flock all along. ¬†The old girls just aren’t giving enough eggs to justify continuing to feed them. ¬†I’m okay with it now, but the first morning I go out and there are no old chickens to feed and no Sarah to let out, I’m sure I’ll cry.

And I end my jumbles with the news that Karra’s BFF got married yesterday in Texas. ¬†Good old military planning/necessities canceled the pretty wedding and opportunity to be a maid-of-honor. ¬†The bride will be coming home on Monday and joining her groom in September – in Germany – once he’s out of tech school. ¬†It’s bad enough when your own kids grow up too fast, but do their friends have to do it too? ¬†I’ve known her since she was in her Mommy’s tummy! ¬†Despite the fact that they are young, it is a match made in Heaven. ¬†God has moved in so many ways and brought such growth to these young people in the last year. ¬†I know that they are going to have a truly wonderful life together.

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

I’m not perfect, and it’s okay

I was reading over at the Heavenly Homemakers today and she posted with this title:

I Haven’t Been a Perfect Homeschool Mom, and It Stinkin’ Doesn’t Matter

It was a great article. ¬†No one is going to be perfect at anything. ¬†Our kids are going to have gaps. ¬†The important thing is that they know HOW to learn. ¬†They know where to go to get information. ¬†I needed to hear it. ¬†I’ve been thinking for two years now that I’ve short-changed Karra in her education. ¬†There are so many things I haven’t done and now college is breathing in our face. ¬†I haven’t got a clue where to go to look for scholarships. ¬†I start a search and get brain-disease at the dizzying array of places to look and things to consider. ¬†She found on her own on the college boards website that she can type in her major and they bring up scholarship opportunities. ¬†What a girl!!

Anyway, I typed a reply to Laura’s post and then felt that it was more my own blogging than an appropriate response to her post. ¬†So, here it is. ¬†Not long, but my thoughts.

How do you always seem to know what I’m thinking?¬† Maybe because I also have a child whose life goes around in run-on sentences with no punctuation or capitalization and the most comical of spellings you have ever encountered.!

¬†I’m a little afraid of the upcoming SAT, yet my oldest is a bright and articulate girl.¬† College classes loom large – “Do we jump into an online class next semester? A campus class next summer? Wait until fall?¬† Will she REALLY get a scholarship and be able to go to college?¬† What about run-on sentence girl?¬† She wants to be a vet!¬† She’s not my brightest book learner.¬† Do you know what kind of grades you need to get into vet school??!!??¬† It’s harder than medical school.”¬†

¬†Ok, Fletch, just breathe deep.¬† Laura hit the nail on the head.¬† Everyone has gaps, but all of my children know how to learn.¬† Ultimately, God is in control of their education. ¬†“My children will be taught of the Lord and great will be the peace of my children.” – Isaiah 54:13

I thought it was some of my more articulate writing, so I didn’t want to loose it – lol. ¬†Anyway, everything she said in her article was right on. ¬†Just because we’ve chosen to educate our children ourselves doesn’t mean they will have a perfect education, no one can. ¬†There will always be people who do things better. ¬†People who have a better handle on HOW to do things. ¬†It doesn’t make me less of a parent; it just means I’m different than anyone else (something my oldest would attest to loud and clear!!).

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.