Thursday, January 28, 2016

Piles, Piles, Everywhere!

I am typically a person who tries to keep my home picked up and organized.  I am not necessarily a clean freak, though I could easily fall into that if I let myself.  I love a tidy environment, and truly enjoy the process of organizing and creating systems.  The reality, though, is that my home is a shared place where life happens.  If I was the only person living here, it would be much easier to keep it just the way I like it.  But I am not.  I am so thankful to have my people here with me, and I try not to make big battles out of keeping the house perfect.  Sometimes, as life is happening at a fast pace, the piles begin to appear.  I'll have several projects going on at once, and without any extra space, it all happens in the common areas.  My living room and dining room become the office/warehouse/workroom.  That has happened this week.  AHHHHHH!  The truth is, the piles make me twitch.  I find it hard to relax when the mess surrounds me.  But I am working on what I can do each day, and trying to remind myself that it's not the most important thing ever to keep a perfectly clean home.  Messes happen, piles appear, and life goes on!  Just take a look at some of the piles around my home:

I cleaned out my closet and these hand-me-downs are going to a friend.

Items for one part of our business.

More business supplies.

Shipping supplies...boxes are everywhere!

Egg cartons from a co-worker, ready to be filled with eggs from our hens.

Only PART of my Dittos for Kiddos consignment inventory, needing to be entered and tagged and sorted and packed away for transport.

Sadly, these aren't even all of the piles!  Ha!  Yes, there is a lot going on here, but it is mostly good stuff.  Working together with my family on these projects is invaluable...we are learning great lessons by working together.  Hopefully, several of these projects will also yield a paycheck!  Ha!

Okay, I'm off to homeschool coop, then back to tackle some more piles!  I have a feeling the piles will get worse before they get better, but that's okay.  Work is good for us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


January 27, 2001 was the day I became a Mrs. to my very favorite Mr.  Nathaniel and I made a commitment to God and to each other that day.  Every single day since then, we have gotten up in the morning and made the decision to keep that commitment.  This morning he texted me that he would choose me all over again, and I told him that he already does.  Every single day he chooses me, and I am so, so thankful!

We've packed lots of things in these last 15 years.  Some good, some not-so-good.  Some sickness and some health.  Some really, really HARD things, and some really, really GREAT things.  We've had two beautiful children, and also had to release two beautiful babies to Heaven.  We are living our dream homeschooling and homesteading on our little farm.  We have laughed 'til our sides hurt, and cried 'til there were no more tears.  We have driven a granny car, a mini-van, and a farm truck.  We've rented apartments, condos, and houses, and we've owned a couple of houses, too.  We've made every single one into a HOME.  We have chased kids, dogs, and chickens.  We been angry, happy, sad, frustrated, elated, and ecstatic.  We have apologized, asked for forgiveness, and forgiven.  We love.  Yes, we love.

Happy 15th Anniversary to my Mr.  I love you!

The BIG Day!  January 27, 2001.

My Mr. Holding Natalie and Levi on the day Levi was born.

Mr. and Mrs. in December 2015.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Hello friends!  Another week of January has come and gone.  It happens so quickly.  I tell my children often that the days are long, but the years are short.  They like to complain that the days are way too long, especially when they are having to work, or when they are bored and I won't let them rot their brains in front of the TV.  Don't think we never watch TV, but I do try to keep it limited.  That box would draw my kids like a magnet all.the.time. if I would let them.  Sigh.

In an effort to continue the habit of posting here frequently, I thought I would hop on for a little update, complete with a few pictures (which are my favorite).

The last week was spent working on homeschool, procuring inventory for our business, chores, and some fun!  We sent well-wishes to my cousin for her birthday, and also celebrated my step-grandma Kathryn's 89th birthday with some yummy Mexican food.  El Fenix is her favorite, so El Fenix it was! I also reached my 14-year-cancer-free day!  WooHoo!  I'm so thankful for the early detection of that ovarian cancer, and for the team of God-selected doctors who cared for me through diagnosis and surgery, as well as afterwards.  I truly could NOT have had a better team on my side, and I have no doubts that it was the hand of God at work in my life.

Here are a few photos from the week!

I love this...except for the grammar mistake!  Ha!

This is me 14 years cancer free!

Nathaniel took Natalie and Levi to see the new Star Wars movie.  They LOVED it!

Precious Grandma Kathryn...looking good at 89 years young!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cleaning Out, Cleaning Up

It's that time of year!  The time when everyone takes an interest in cleaning out their homes, de-cluttering and organizing for the year ahead.  As someone who used to be a professional organizer, I think about these things often throughout the year.  As the Christmas decor is packed away, the more open and clean feel definitely sparks me on to more and more cleaning, though.  So, that's what I have been working on around here.  Some of the projects have been large, and some of them small.  Some of them are complete and marked off the to-do list, while others will be on-going.  Here's a look at some of the cleaning out and cleaning up that has been happening around the homestead.

Cleaning up our eating habits!  Hello green smoothies :)

Cleaning up and organizing work areas...making space for the new business stuff.

Cleaning out old teaching supplies.  I'm not teaching Pre-K anymore, so these are outta here.

Cleaning out closets, mine and the kid's. 

After cleaning up in the garden, my sweet helper looked like this!  Her partner-in-grime was just as bad.  Lots of cleaning up laundry for me!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Encouragement

I recently read a fantastic book by Nancy Ortberg titled Seeing in the Dark:  Finding God's Light in the Most Unexpected Places.  It is a fantastic read, and one that I highly recommend.  If ever you've felt distant from the Lord, you'll find great encouragement in the pages Nancy writes.  As a bonus, it is a fairly short book, which makes it a quick read, though you will find yourself thinking about it long after you've turned the last page.  If you are like me, you will read through, highlighter in hand, and re-visit the book often.  Yes, I liked it.

In the book, Nancy writes this:  "Perhaps this is where the spiritual life is so at odds with the rest of life:  in the pace.  Eternity has already begun. yet we race around as though our time is limited.  God acts slowly over time, in exquisite mystery.  We are restless, anxious, driven, and consumed...often by all the wrong things."

This passage struck me. I often find myself trying desperately to keep up.  I'm often bound by a crazy schedule, running from place to place, tending to a hundred things all of the time. My heart is anxious and consumed...but with what?  Seeing the world flying by, and feeling the pull of all.the.things that the world has to offer me and my family is difficult.  Wanting to fit in, look normal, and be a part of all the great things out there is a struggle we all face.  We are constantly bombarded with messages like "Today is the day!"  and "Act NOW!"  It is a constant unsettled feeling.  It is as though if we don't hurry up and (insert anything here) then we will miss out.  If we don't hurry up, we will be sorry.

I am a worrier. I have extreme anxiety and spend much wasted time worrying about things I cannot control.  It's not my finest quality.  I'm ashamed of it.  I am fully aware that my sin of worry does not add one day to my life.  (The truth is, the worrying just may take away days from my life!)  But her words, "We are restless, anxious, driven, and consumed...often by all the wrong things."  Yes, this.  I worry about all of the wrong things.  I waste energy and time being restless, anxious.  Though my heart craves the calm, the worry wins out.  I am a mess.

The perspective change came when she said, "Eternity has already begin."  Let that sink in.  We are promised forever with Jesus Christ.  AND IT HAS ALREADY STARTED.  I do not have to wait in order to rest in the peace of Jesus.  I can slow the frantic pace of life, and rest in Him.  The debt has been paid.  I don't have to wait until Heaven to walk with Jesus...I walk with Him now.

The God of Heaven, with whom I will spend eternity, is the VERY SAME God of my life today.  He is Lord of these days, hours, minutes, and moments, just as He is Lord of the Heavens.  And I trust Him.  I can slow down, savor Him, and watch Him unfold each day as an exquisite mystery.  In His time, not mine.  No hurry, just trust.

No hurry, just trust.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Snapshots from our days

WOWZERS!  Look at me, posting twice in one week.  I'd say we are off to a good start around these parts.  I don't know about you, but I love pictures, and since my last post was all words and no photos, I thought I would put a few up today.  I'll comment here and there, but I'll try to let the pictures do most of the talking.

Natalie - 12   Levi - 9

Levi's 'Back-to-homeschool' picture.  My vintage boy.

Natalie is self-teaching the guitar, and she sounds awesome!

Pa and Ma from Hen Hollow Homestead

A beautiful sunset over our by Natalie

Nathaniel and Levi working on his shave horse.

After building the shave horse from scratch, Levi enjoys his new tool.

A little chicken coop clean-out.

New Year's Eve fun with my parents and Aunt Kellye!

Digging trenches to cover the garden.  My favorite work-mates!

Covers on the garden, trying to permanently kill off the weeds.

Another gorgeous sunset picture by Natalie.

Apple Puff...think egg custard with apples.  Lower carb and delicious!

Egg shells drying...useful for composting and fertilizing in the garden.

Hope these pictures bring a smile.  They are a teeny-tiny representation of all the fun and hard work we have here on the homestead.  Life isn't perfect, but we are extremely blessed, and so grateful.

**Quiz:  How many photos have someone wearing overalls?  Hint:  It is a different person in each picture!
You might be a homesteader if...overalls!  HAHA!

Friday, January 15, 2016

A New Year

Happy New Year from the homestead!

How can it be that so many months have passed since I last updated this blog?  I suppose the time has passed by quickly since it really seems only days since I last wrote here.  Can I even begin to update you all on the happenings since last April?  I am not sure my memory is that good, but I can certainly try to get us all caught up, in hopes that 2016 will be the year I do a better job of managing this little corner of the internet.

 We finished off April with lots of planting in our garden.  We had over 2000 square feet of fruits and vegetables planted, and were happy with the layout and the many many seeds we had sown together!  We were looking forward to a bountiful harvest, with plenty for now, and some to can and preserve for later.

May brought rain.  Lot, and lots of rain.  I learned long ago, as the daughter of a farmer, that you NEVER complain about rain.  So we didn't.  But boy oh boy did we see lots of rain.  It rained practically the entire month of May.  When it was all said and done, though, our garden was a total loss...well except for the tomato plants.  The hundreds of onions that we had planted were nowhere to be found, and all of the beets, carrots, okra, green beans, zucchini squash, yellow squash, and cucumbers had been washed away as well.  I looked and looked, dug and dug, but could not find a single beet, and I had planted hundreds of them.  It was all gone, with not a trace of vegetation left...only mud puddles.  The rain that was usually such a blessing, had washed away everything.  We were able to salvage the tomato plants, and they ended up producing well, thanks to our bees.  Yes, there are still thousands of bees working and living under the floor of our barn.  We have plans to get them to move out and into a honey cow, but so far we haven't been able to do that.

June, July and August brought the summertime.  The kids were thrilled to be off of school for a bit, and we spent our days doing chores, keeping up with the grass, and trying to stay cool wherever there was some air conditioning.

September came quickly, and it was back to school time.  We broke out the new curriculum for the year, and tried to find a new routine for our days.  As the kids get older, their workload increases.  Finding a new schedule that worked well was not easy, but we figured it out!  Natalie is now in seventh grade, and Levi is in fourth grade.  We have also finally found a COOP in a neighboring town, so once per week we all enjoy some fun classes with fellow home educators!  Natalie has classes like Cupcake Decorating and Drama, while Levi prefers Zoology and a Knights and Castles Class to go along with his Bible With Legos class.   It is always hard to be the new kid, but the kids adjusted and made a few friends, which was nice.  We are blessed that this COOP keeps Christ at the center of everything!

October brought the fall, though not necessarily fall like weather.  We continued to work away on our education and tried to get along as best we could.  I don't know about other families, but around here, things aren't always as peaceful as I would like them to be.  We are learning and growing together, though.  I just keep praying for Natalie and Levi to be best day at a time, right?

In November, we finished up COOP for the semester.  There was an Expo on the last day, where all of the children's work was on display, and Natalie's drama class performed a cute play.  Natalie was Dr. D. Little, and of course, she was awesome!  Levi's work was fun to see, and they were both proud to wrap up the semester.  No more being the new kids, as next semester, they will be veterans. 

We enjoyed a family Thanksgiving and were able to host this year.  It is always fun to get together with family and talk and laugh together.  We truly have so very much to be thankful for.  We also enjoyed the annual Thanksmas celebration with Nathaniel's family...the one day of the year that everyone is together.

December finally brought some cooler temperatures, though it never really felt like winter.  Natalie had her piano recital, and played WONDERFULLY!  She really is amazing and is picking up the instrument so quickly.  She is also self-teaching the guitar, and rocks that instrument as well.  I think she has quite a bit of musical talent, which makes this singer-mama very very happy!  We sang Christmas carols, sat under the lights of the tree, drank hot cocoa, and watched plenty of Christmas movies on Netflix.  We love the Christmas Season, and the opportunity to slow down and focus a bit more on the birth of Jesus, when the rest of the world is actually thinking about the same things.  We once again enjoyed time with family, and the days off from school.  It was super warm on Christmas Day, but soon began to turn cool.  Hello winter!

Here we are, halfway through January 2016!  Nathaniel is still enjoying his job at Baylor.  The kids and I have eased back into homeschool, and Nathaniel and I are beginning a new sideline business to try to bring in a little more income to help us out around here.  We are praying God will bless our efforts and our new little business.  We are working hard to get things started and are hoping it will be a successful venture for us  .I am enjoying the chance to get organized and I am trying to do a better job of meal planning each week.  New file folders, pens, and my label maker mean this girl is one happy lady!  Crazy, I know, but I love it!

I'm hoping I will do a better job of updating here this year.  It's gonna be a big year around here including Natalie's 13th birthday, Levi leaving single digits as he turns 10, Nathaniel and I both hit the big 4-0, I celebrate 14 years cancer-free, and we celebrate 15 years of marriage.  Like I said, big year for us, and that doesn't even include all of the blessings we don't even know about yet.  We trust Jesus, and we know that there are blessings for us in the year ahead.  We are already thankful for the ways God will guide and provide for our little family.  He is a good, good Father.

Blessings on you and yours in 2016!