Divorce & The Holidays

christmas

As the holidays approach, life can really get complicated.  Add in blended families and divorced parents and it can be a real mine field.

So I am going to offer something that, I hope will make your holiday what you hope for.  Sit quietly and think about what memories you would like to make with your children and what you want them to remember when they are grown and look back on the holidays that they shared with you.  Frankly, this applies to any facet of life- what do you want your kids to remember when they look back and make that happen.

In regards to the holidays, don’t let all the voices pulling at you influence your dreams.  Just take a few minutes to dream about what you would like and what would be best for your children.  Now go do that.

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a friend.  Her children were all little and she was married to her original husband who was the father of all four kids.  The stress she was feeling was that both his and her parents were divorced and remarried- and all wanted them at their respective homes for the holidays.  She was exhausted and didn’t really want to make 5-6 stops in a 48 hour period with four small children in tow.  This was not what she thought was best for her kids or herself.  When asked what I thought I offered this:

“You did not create the problem.  It was not your decision or your husband’s for either of your parent’s to get a divorce.  The adults at the time made that decision.  Now, they have to live with the consequences.  Because they chose divorce, they now have to understand that they will not have all the children and grandchildren at every holiday.  And that is not your fault or your problem to fix.”

Now, will people get mad when you choose to stay home or only visit one or two homes?  Yes.

Will they get their feelings hurt?  Probably.

Will they be harmed? No.

The main thing is that you live and establish YOUR family in the way that is best for you and them.  Your  children are only little once, don’t let it pass by missing out on what you dream of by trying to make everyone else happy.

I hope this helps someone have a less stressful holiday.  The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration- but we have to be purposeful for that to happen.

 

Pumpkin Pickin' and Memory Makin'

This past July I sweated profusely as I put 30 pumpkin seedlings in the ground.  I didn’t mind the heat or the sweat because in my mind I could see my children, my nieces, and little cousins picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch not from a bin or pile at the store, but from a real live pumpkin patch.  Never mind that I had never grown a pumpkin before nor had I seen anyone around me do it, this was my goal.  I wasn’t shooting for Halloween as my target date, I was shooting for November- Thanksgiving.  That part turned out just about right, we did have pumpkins but we needed to pick them early as the cool wet rains we kept having were causing a problem with the powdery mildew.  As it happened, my nieces and my cousin, Luke -a preschooler, were around on Sunday so I hauled them all out and we picked pumpkins!  What fun!!

If you have never heard a child giggle or squeal with delight at the discovery in a garden- you, my friend, have not experienced one of the finer things in life.

new pumpkin patchThe pumpkin patch about a month old.  Growing strong and beautiful.

Searching for pumpkinsLooking for pumpkins amid all the large leaves.  These pumpkins did not turn orange as they should have.  Instead we had lovely molted green pumpkins with an orange splash.  No bother, it was still fun and the unusual pumpkins were pretty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKatie found a baby, the kids all like the babies just as well as the big ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARylie has found one, with a nice orange splotch.  She is twisting it to break the stem off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke has just discovered that the stem of a pumpkin is prickly!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJonathan totes the large pumpkin for Rylie, he was waiting with his trusty knife if the twisting did not work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUncle Tony and Katie.  Tony requested that we pick pumpkins when he could be around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke took to wrestling the pumpkins free and Sierra tried to help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKitchen shears to the rescue, Sierra helps Luke get his prize

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuccess!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA pile of cute kids and pumpkins!  We will do this again next year.  However, I plant to set a date and invite all the other cousins.  We will watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and eat something – maybe roasted pumpkin seeds that we harvest and roast ourselves.  I also plan to plant some “Mighty Max” pumpkins that reach weights of over 100 lbs as well as smaller pumpkins that can be handled by smaller pickers.  The seed order will be placed this Friday.  I just can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For The Love of Bunnies

jonthan and bunny

About a week ago, I rounded the house to find our dog, Duckie, sitting with purpose on the sidewalk giving me a look that said, “You need to deal with this.”  As I walked closer I spotted the littlest brown bit of furry cuteness sitting at her feet.  I picked it up and was surprised to the the baby rabbit was still alive.

Baby rabbits need help to keep warm, so is took this little guy in, wrapped him in a wash cloth and tucked it in bed with Jonathan.  Jonathan fed this baby every hour with kitten formula.  Rabbit milk is extremely hard to replicate and all the information I have found (this is not our first bottle baby rabbit) says to use kitten formula.  The rabbit, named Spock, would lick the formula off of Jonathan’s finger and snuggled up to him during the night. It was just so sweet.

Then the other morning, he woke up to find that the bunny had died.  Yes, he cried.  His heart was broke and I just hate it.  One of the hardest lessons I have to learned as a mother is to let my children grieve loss- whatever that loss may be.   My first urge is to make it better, to get a new pet, or sweep it aside as if it doesn’t matter just so I don’t have to feel heart broke as well but none of that benefits my child in the long run. Like it or not, as long as we are on this side of heaven we will experience loss.  One of the best things I can do for my children is to walk with them through it and show them how to feel real feelings and then deal with them in a healthy way.  It is hard.

I must say that the farm has provided many opportunities to deal with grief and death.  When we began this journey of homesteading, I had no idea how much death would be a part of our lives.  But, never have we experienced the joy of life in the way that we have in our everyday lives on the farm.  If we refuse things like the baby bunny to save ourselves from hurt, we would miss the days of joy and fun that was brought by the bunny.  To love is to risk hurt, but love is worth the risk.

The afternoon the Jonathan’s bunny died our kitten ran up with another baby rabbit.  What did I do?  Handed it to Jonathan.  Some might think I am crazy to provide my son with another opportunity to feel loss and hurt, but I think I provided him with another chance to love.

That rabbit died, too but before Jonathan had gotten attached.  To be honest, we have never bottle-fed a rabbit and had it live.  But hope springs eternal on a farm and we will keep trying should the opportunity present itself.

bunny

Pardon Me, But What State Are We In?

A state of dismay?  Or a state of confusion? Maybe a state of denial, but this can’t be the state of Texas!  We set a new record last week of the coldest nights we have had since the early 1900’s.  That my friend, is a record I do not care to repeat.  My tomatoes and squash are very confused and are not growing at  all, waiting on the warm days and nights that are supposed to be the norm in May. However, when you live in Texas and you know what is coming in one of our Texas summers, you hate to complain about cool weather.

But, that is Texas.  The weather is very unpredictable and you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it.  I have been keeping the peppers and eggplants in the greenhouse until this week.  Surely, this was the last cool snap we will have- but I have said that every week since Easter.  There are watermelons, cantaloupes, and bush beans waiting to come out as well, so this week will be planting week.  The new chicken house should also be completed by the end of the week.

Rain, cold, and wind did not stop a great bunch of gardeners from coming out to buy herbs and roses on Thursday.  We had a good time chatting about herbs, container gardens and vertical gardening.   Master Gardeners are just great people.

Friday the inside of the house is got some much needed attention and then I met Tony in Tyler for some R&R.  We went to the Tyler Rose Garden- yes, even my down time revolves around gardening- and truly stopped to smell the roses.  This was his idea and I am so grateful for his ability to but on the brakes and un-plug.  When I mention how busy the farm is during the spring, do not mistake that for a complaint or a cross to bare- I love it.  But, that said, no matter what your profession or job you must take time off to just enjoy something with no deadlines or demands.  Even when mothering was my primary job and all the kids were little, we took time off.  Not necessarily without the children, we would go camping or a day trip to the river anywhere where the kids could run and explore and I could just enjoy them and God’s creation.  This will feed your soul and enable you to give more when you get back.  We must take care of our hearts, life is futile if we do not tend to our hearts.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And do something, anything, that will feed your soul and your heart.

One of the many wonderful roses I smelled. The Dark Lady Rose

One of the many wonderful roses I smelled.
The Dark Lady Rose

The Most Powerful Woman In America

time coverAs I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, Time magazine caught my eye.  An attractive woman was on the cover with the line “Don’t hate her because she is successful” and under it was her name and claim that she had “a mission to reboot Feminism”  I guess being the top dog at Facebook gives her that authority.

I am struggling to order my thoughts as I am writing even though I have written this blog in my head a hundred times.  The problem I am having is that this cover stirs up so much in me I can’t decide which dog to turn lose first.  So I think I will just start with the first thought that popped into my head.  Those of you who know me might have just cringed.

Thought # 1– Why does feminism need a reboot?  It seems to being going strong, every day I see angry women raging on the news with their tight lips, unhappy eyes, and scowling faces telling me that I would be happier if I put myself first and through off the out of date ideas that children need a mother and that I need a husband.  (Which I do need him, he is my rock and I am not ashamed to admit that I am happily dependent on him).  I really can’t understand why they think that smart, intelligent women who are happy with their lives of raising their babies, have happy marriages, and are content to be busy making a home would want to trade that kind of contentment for raging, angry tirades.  This particular woman was thought to be a shinning example because she is running facebook, really- what eternal value does facebook have?  I’ll take Mother Teresa any day.

Maybe it is not a reboot that feminism needs it is a revamp- to embrace those traits that are truly feminine.

Thought #2– Where do they get the term “feminism” anyway?  I mean really- to be considered feminine is have certain traits about you.  To be soft ( not weak, picture a fist of steel wrapped in velvet and satin) and kind, to be smart, and attractive (not just in looks, but in your demeanor, people want to be around you), to be dignified and refined, to be fierce- like a mamma bear when her cubs are threatened.  All of these traits I see in Godly women I would like to emulate, not in the forerunners of this movement who demand this and that, who are angry and fierce- the scary kind of fierce that won’t tolerate anyone who thinks differently than they do.  These women who demand the right to kill their unborn children because they have a “Choice”- yes, you do have a choice to wait until you are married to have sex, simple as that- are not examples of what I want to be as a woman.

These women are not feminine- they are the very opposite of what we females were designed to be.

Thought #3– What exactly is their problem and why do they think feminism needs a reboot?  I think many of their issues rest in the fact that women still make up a small percentage of the “high up” positions in the work force.  Have they ever stopped to consider that maybe the numbers are what they are not because women “can’t get the jobs because they are female” but because women as a whole will not sacrifice their families for their career.  This thought will greatly chap the hides of a lot of  the “feminist” movers and shakers but it seems to me that there are too many women who have achieved their goals of getting to the top for it to be an impossibility.

“”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

The Bible is full of references to sacrifice, dying to your own desires and then finding fulfillment on the other side.

 

Thought #4– Who is the most powerful woman in America? or the World?  It is that woman who lays down her life to nurture, raise, and guide the next generation.

Society is a fabric- each thread woven together is a human life, each human thread is spun at home.  When society has the awful problems with school shootings, teen pregnancy,  greed, abuse and violence the problem is not with society in itself, but a breakdown in the home.  So the women that are choosing to put the next generation first whether that be by staying at home full time to be a wife and a mother or being that teacher that gives of herself above and beyond against the odds, or the working mother who turns down a promotion so that she won’t have to sacrifice her time with her children, or in any other facet where she finds the ability to make a difference- these are the most powerful women in America and the World.

I do not reject the idea that women are capable of great things outside the home, that they have the abilities to work at the highest levels or even that some women are called to do so.  I reject the idea that if I choose to lay down my own pursuits to put my husband and children first in my priority list that I have some how fallen short of what I was designed to be as a woman.  It takes a very strong woman to be secure in herself, to take on the challenges of building a healthy marriage and raising the next generation and to stand against the current that is telling her to abandon her post, and to trust her God to take care of all the things that she cannot control- that is femininity at it’s highest.

I know I sound a bit angry in this post, but that would be because this issue does make me angry. The home has been in large part abandoned and children are left to parent themselves with the help of “Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant” while both parents pursue their own lives and we then wonder why there is a breakdown in society.  The home is worth fighting for and I am tired of listening to those that are wrong say they are right.  Instead of looking at it as an unfair yoke, being the gender that was trusted with bringing forth the next generation and having the fate of society & the world rest in your hands should be revered as the highest honor on the planet.

 

“The Talk”

What a cutie, sweet with a will of iron.

What a cutie, sweet with a will of iron.

It seems that it is time for “The Talk” once again at my house.  For many of you, you probably assume that from the title this talk will be about the birds and the bees.  Not so.  When you live on the farm topics like reproduction and various anatomical differences between male and females come up with everyday life.   As a matter of fact, most non-farm orientated folk would be deeply disturbed by what is discussed at the dinner table amongst the farm family. Then the kids just sort of put things together, if you will, and then the topic of human reproduction comes pretty easily and just moves on by.

No, in our house dominated by strong-willed females “The Talk” is a different sort of beast.  Really, it is more of a speech- talking involves conversation and by the time “The Talk” is needed I am not interested in conversing- I am interested in laying the law down.  With each of the girls- all three being ahead of the boy- as age 14 rolls around they have just about decided that I don’t really know what I am doing.  And possibly, they have confused the fact that I treat them with respect and as intelligent individuals instead of just dumb kids  with the presumption that they are equal to me.  Big Mistake.  My authority does not come from the fact that I am more intelligent than my children- the fact is that they are just as if not more intelligent than I am and they arrived in this world that smart.  My authority comes from that fact that God made me their mother and I am in charge until they are adults and out of the house.  Until that day, I am the Alpha Female.

Well, the youngest daughter just turned 14 and just like her sisters before her, she has gotten a little too big for her britches.

 

To her I will say:

“You have four years left here in this house.  These years can be years of peace and fun or they can be 4 years of fighting and unhappiness for you.  It is your choice.  The rules haven’t changed and they will not.  You will treat me with respect, treat your siblings with kindness and respect or we can fight about all these things and you will lose.  I am still the mother and I am not budging.  The boundaries that have been in place since you were born will not change, test them as you may, test them if you must- but they will not change.  If you are looking for a fight, I am game.  However, I hope you choose peace.  What will it be?”

Because I have laid the ground work for 14 years of their lives- I don’t make idle threats, if I tell you I will take away all your books because you keep reading instead of doing what you are supposed to, I will.  They know I mean what I say and they also know from whom they inherited the strong will and have decided it’s best not to tangle with me.  Now when I speak of boundaries, I am speaking of basic tenants of obeying our guidelines and treating one another with love and respect.  I am not a mother who had ideas of what her children should be and then forces them into the box I have created.  My children are free to be and to become what God has intended.  I simply create an environment in our home in which they can hear God.  The Bible is the final word in our home, therefore, if you do not like what it says don’t blame me take it to God.  Until He changes, I am not.

This all sounds pretty harsh, but really it isn’t.   Also, these are strong willed kids- you have to have a will of granite to stand your ground or they will eat you alive. We all need to know where the boundaries are in our lives.  I want my children to learn that inside the boundaries are freedom and peace.  If they learn that in our home boundaries mean good things for them then when they are own their own they will know that living within the boundaries that God sets are for their good and protection.  So far so good, the 19 and 17 year-old have not given us one moment of grief and I can truly say I love having teenagers.

So, here it goes for the third time.  I am not sure there will be a forth- will Jonathan challenge me or his dad when the time comes?  I don’t know- I hope he challenges his dad…  Why should I get to have all the fun!

What have been the most challenging seasons of raising you children?

My Monday

Fixing the truck together.

Fixing the truck together.

Monday was spent mostly in Athens fixing Cheyenne’s truck.  Her alternator went out so daddy was called.  I really enjoyed getting to see her.  Jonathan tagged along, he was missing his sister and he was curious as to where she is living now.  Of course, being a boy he enjoyed all the things a ranch has to offer- plenty of places to climb, explore, and empty wasp nests to take down and examine.    We all had fun eating lunch and catching up with Cheyenne.  She had just got back from the Fort Worth Stock Show where she and the rest of the Trinity Valley Show Team had been showing cattle.  I just love the fact that now that she is on the college show team, the college picks up the tab for everything and we are no longer footing the bill!  However, I consider every dollar we spent on 4h, show animals, livestock shows, and more well spent.  We made lots of great memories and the kids learned so much.

Over the weekend, it was First Monday- a really huge 100 acre flea market in our little town.  It brings folks from all walks of life and all sorts of things to buy.  Tony and I only bought gloves this time around.  Usually, we are set up selling herbs and such but our herbs weren’t quite ready and one lady bought all our antique doors (55) the week before.  So, we took the weekend off and enjoyed it!  Next month, we will enjoy selling herbs as they will be ready.

There were no seedlings bumped into cups today.  Now, I am anxious to get going in the greenhouse.  There is still much to do and the clock is ticking.  I plan to bump Holy Basil and Mullein next.  So, my goal on Tuesday morning is to have 15 flats done by 10 am so we can head to the library and grocery shopping.  Bumping starts just as soon as I have finished blogging, my quiet time, yoga and feeding the calves.  The human children are on their own for breakfast.

Dinner on Monday evening was simple- soup and sandwiches.  In honor of Duck Dynasty we had “ham samiches”!  We love that show.  Now, off to feed the calves.

Our Favorite Pancake

We can now eat out without any tears.

We can now eat out without any tears.

I love traveling with our kids.

I love traveling with our kids.

There was a time when Tony and I gave up eating breakfast out while traveling with our children.  The night before we left on vacation I would make up a batch of sausage & biscuits, pigs in a blanket, and breakfast burritos.  Most trips began before dawn and we would pile our four children, my nephew, and often times my cousin- Stephanie, aka the nanny- into the Excursion and a way we would go.  Then we drove and ate as we wanted.

This sounds crazy given how much Tony & I love to eat breakfast, but when the kids were little it was a bad experience.  The problem was that they always wanted to order pancakes.  I would tell them, “Now , these won’t taste exactly like mine.”  They would then swear up and down that they wanted pancakes.  So, Tony would order them pancakes and the food would come.  Then, they would take a bite and cry, “These don’t taste like yours!”  Refuse to eat anymore and drive Tony crazy.  Therefore, we gave up breakfast on the road.  Once at our vacation destination which was usually a house or cabin rental, I would resume cooking breakfast and all would be good.  I guess I should take it as a compliment that no one ever measured up to me.

Below is the recipe for our favorite pancakes.  When Cheyenne, now 19, was a preschooler she would know what I was cooking by the ingredients that I got out.  If I varied the recipes she got very upset.  One morning I decided to add vanilla to the batter and pour the pancake batter over a super then apple slice that I had browned in the pan.  She had a fit and went without breakfast that morning- a very good breakfast I might add.  I never tried to change up the pancakes again.  With her will of granite and flair for drama, there were plenty of battles to fight and the pancake recipe was simply not a battle I cared to fight.

Our Favorite Pancake

1 1/4 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoon of olive oil

1 egg

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix the liquid ingredients in a smaller bowl, beat slightly.  Add liquid to the dry mixture and mix.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.

Heat large skillet over medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil to pan, once hot pour in batter to make the size of pancake you want.  Once there are lots of bubbles popping on the pancake and the bottom is browned, flip pancake over.  Cook another 1-2 minutes- until center is cooked through.  Repeat until batter is gone.

The batter above make for a thin pancake.  I like them thin so that I can have nice crispy edges that are golden brown.  If you like a thicker pancake, reduce the amount of milk and cook over lower heat.

That is it.  So simple and so good.

Our Food For Thought…

As we homeschool, great emphasis is place on character and knowing God.  One of the best ways to get to know God is to read the book He wrote.  Each week I choose a verse that the Sierra and Jonathan will use as their copy work and handwriting lessons.  This takes care of two things- scripture memory and handwriting.  Most weeks, the verse comes from Proverbs.  Proverbs is a book filled with simple, one line instructions on how to live, treat each other, and relate to God.  The best way to change nasty attitudes is to change the stinking thinking with the truth.  Proverbs has lots to say about the heart and the mouth.

I have always been able to find a scripture to address any problem that I have ever faced in training my children.  Lately, bickering has been a problem so this weeks scripture is about bickering.  Now, when ever they start in on each other I can say “What does the Bible say about that?”  Then, they can quote this back to me and the bad activity is quelled.  Does this mean that once we learn this we never have to go back and re-teach it?  No, kids brains leak out of their ears while they sleep, so you have to put back what they lost the next day.  For this reason, we stay on one scripture for one to two weeks.  In this way, their minds are renewed and filled with truth.  Then later on in life, when their Spirit wants to do what is right and their flesh wants to do what is wrong and it is up to their souls to break the tie, there will be truth stored up in the heart for them to chose what is right.  If there is no truth on file, the flesh will win out.  I have seen very good fruit in my older two children who are now in college and a senior in high school and I know that the Word of God made all the difference.

I painted the end of my kitchen island with chalkboard paint. This is a perfect place to put our Scripture of the Week.