Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quick Breakfast Ideas

Keeping breakfasts quick and simple is one way I save myself time and frustration on busy mornings. Many of these ideas are very adaptable to use whatever you have on hand or to change to your family's tastes and preferences. Many of these can be made ahead of time to keep mornings easier.

Here are some breakfast meals I incorporate into our routines:

  • Eggs, fruit, and toast 75% of our breakfasts include eggs and lots of them. I buy the 15 dozen boxes of eggs from Sam's Club.
  • Crock pot oatmeal cooks overnight-many different variations of this online
  • Breakfast casseroles I buy the 50# box of potatoes and shred my own hashbrowns in under three minutes with this powerful food processor. I make more than one casserole at a time so I can keep put one or two in my freezer for later. I get up to turn it on in the middle of the night if in the crock pot, or thaw it the day before and cook it in the oven first thing in the morning. Our family likes the Mexican version.
  • Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, or sausage patty and cheese, or egg, etc.
  • Breakfast tortilla pizzas many variations, quick if prep work is done the night before
  • Egg muffin cups 
  • Peanut butter on toast served with fresh fruit
  • Grits
  • Pumpkin or Sweet Potato pancakes/waffles precooked and ready to heat and serve
  • Fruit Smoothies with whey protein
  • Breakfast tortilla wraps roll up your favorite foods in a tortilla
  • Breakfast muffins cooked ahead of time makes it quick and easy
  • Yogurt with fruit (make your own in a crock pot or cooler far cheaper)
  • Sausage gravy over canned biscuits I admit this is not my idea of healthy, but we only make it a couple of times a year. This is super fast and easy for those hectic mornings when nothing has gone well, nothing is prepared ahead of time, and your time and patience are limited. I add 2 pounds of frozen pre-cooked Jimmy Dean Sausage to satisfy our children longer.
We cook bacon in cookie trays in the oven. It works great!

One thing our family really enjoys is having a "Big Breakfast." I make all of the traditional breakfast foods on Saturday. Sunday morning, we heat it up and invite everyone to come join us for a buffet style meal. The rest of the week, we finish up what is left over. I only mess up the kitchen once and we have a nice morning meal followed by very quick to serve meals later in the week. Our children request this quite often.

Note: A better sized slow cooker for a large family is a Nesco Classic Oven. This is similar to the one I use.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Goose Babysitting

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I have five sitting Toulouse geese with one gander. It was a surprise to me since I thought I had two ganders! This goose left to parent the goslings who are wandering around with the gander. She had four hatch. I've already sold two. The other sister geese took her five eggs into their nests so she could keep up with her toddlers with the gander!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Long Time Dream Come True

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When I was in my early 20s, I'd get the hatchery catalogs and dream of what I'd like to raise. Eventually, we moved to our farm. In 1995, I still couldn't afford the Sebastopol geese. Last year, I asked myself what was I waiting for? Bethany had just asked for swans, and we told her it was far too expensive for us to have them. (We'd have to put in a 1-2 acre pond and fence it for their safety.) I showed Bethany pictures and asked her if the Sebastopol were close enough. She said yes and was delighted by their curly feathers!

I sold off some extra birds to raise the money to buy three pair of them. I lost two of the goslings during a freak thing that happened in the brooder. I had no idea what genders we had left. Three female with one male, two pair, or three males with one female? I see now that we have two pair. Two geese are sitting on a clutch of eggs. The ganders are guarding over them. I wish I could include sound in this picture because it was very, very noisy!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sometimes Mom Gets Mothered!

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Years ago, prayed that if glass from something broken was on the floor for my feet to find it and not the children's. That was not a wise prayer. One, I had no idea how many children I'd have when I prayed that. Two, I had no idea how much stuff seven children would break! Three, I should have prayed the vacuum found it!

I had a tiny piece of glass in my foot for FIVE days. I could not get it out. I soaked my foot hoping the salt would pull it out, but it didn't. Amanda found out about the glass when I was limping. She ordered me to, "Sit! Then, she tried her best to remove it for me. I love how she loves me!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Clean Hog Auto Waterer

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This is how we made our automatic pig waterer for our American Guinea Hogs. If you have swine, you know they push over anything they can, and this makes it hard to give them clean water. We took two 55 gallon barrels that cost $10 each. Clint drilled a hole and then used a 1/2" tap to put threads in the barrel. We have 110 gallons of clean water available for them all of the time. We will soon hook this up to a gutter on our barn that will top the barrels off when it rains. This can be modified to make sheep and goat waterers also. I've seen a few online saying they use them for cows and horses. It is important especially in hot weather to make sure the animals know how to get the water before you take their original water source away. We had one pig who took to it instantly, and our others learned within a day from watching him.

Friday, April 22, 2016

He Made Me Look at That Shirt All Day

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I went to Brandon's to help him do some yard work. As I was watching him use the chainsaw, I reflected on how much he moves and works like Clint does. I also wondered where the time went. Twenty four years ago, my heartfelt prayers were answered and I was waiting to be a mama. Blink! He's a grown man working in an excellent job and working on his very own home with 3 acres.

I use to look at mothers who had grown children and my heart would seize up knowing my children would grow up too. As I expected, I miss what was, but NOW is just as beautiful in its own way. I honestly would not go back to an earlier time in my life. Enjoy each season for all it's worth while it is here for they all pass very quickly.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Little Joys Return-Barn Swallows

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They flew high circling wherever I was in the yard when they returned last week.
They do this every year since I helped Chip survive. If I go outside, I soon see them chirping over me. If I sit on the deck, they usually come to sit on the line for a little while and chirp, chirp, chirp at me. They are already building a nest under the awning which we moved from the house to a building. They successfully raised two nests there last year.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Time to Be Silent

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Hannah learned to ride her bike!

I saw she was making progress so I quieted myself from reminding her to put on her helmet...and she rode it!! If I had interrupted her progress and personal boost in confidence with my worries for her safety, would it have thrown her off and kept her from reaching a goal she wanted?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 7 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Young Guns for God's Glory

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Joshua, 16, and Caleb, 14

We grow them big and strong on the farm!

Strength is a gift from God which enables us to help the weak. I hope they always see their abilities as a gift God gives that allows them to help others.

 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:6-8

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Looking for Daffodil Bulbs?

Brent and Becky's offers a beautiful catalog with so many choices! I highly recommend them!

Joshua is Driving

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Joshua finished the classroom portion a few months ago and is driving with Clint beside him in our homeschooled Driver's Ed. We use a very rigorous and lengthy state approved program with parental additions. Please say a prayer for their safety. Thank you!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Labor On!

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My three sons worked together without words to clear Brandon's back yard. I am so thankful to the Lord for leading me to homeschool and have a large family. I am so thankful He provided strength, as promised when called upon, to persist so I could see this fruit of my labor! Even though I am in the middle of the job, there are blessings in every day now. It encourages me to "Labor On!" and finish this race. There is much to do still, but I glimpse a bit more where we the Shepherd is leading His sheep. It is good; it is very good!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Dog Bark Controller

I bought one of these. It works consistently with the dogs that have deeper barks. It does not seem to work as well with dogs who have a higher pitched bark. I have several dogs that live outside. When a chicken or cat walk by, one of them will set to barking which gets all of them barking. This has been helpful in training them not to bark every time something goes by their area. According to the comments, a lot of people are buying these to stop their neighbor's dogs from barking!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Our Little Pony Rumble

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He is waiting for her to come down and pet him.

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Every time Joshua walks by, he stops to pet the pony.

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Carrots are disappearing from the fridge at an alarming rate!

Horses become such a big part of the family. When we saw Hot Shot wasn't going to be around much longer, we wanted to soften the blow to the children as much as we could. So, we found this little guy in November. You might have seen him in some of the pictures or remember the Because It Fit? post. Yes, we brought him home in the back of our suburban with lots of tarps and some straw. 

Since Emily and Hannah have loved the My Little Pony toys, we named our miniature pony, Rumble, after one of those characters. Rumble has worked his way into all of our hearts already. He is an affectionate and fun little guy who likes to be a part of whatever we are doing. He is only two years old so he should be here with us for a long time to come.

Amanda is really pushing for us to find a mare for him. Will she get what she wants? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Goodbye Hot Shot

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After battling illnesses over the winter, we had to say goodbye to our long time farm buddy, Hot Shot. He was very old and had lived a good, long life. We are very thankful God provided Him as a birthday present for Amanda. I can remember her sitting on him backwards getting her homeschool assignments done and keeping him company. This simple pony gave our family a lot of joy. We will miss having his presence on our farm but are so thankful God allowed us to know him.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Praise Report

Clint is almost pain free this morning. This is a reason to rejoice and give thanks! There are more details I can't share just yet. I am hoping I will be free to share openly and in detail eventually. Please continue to pray. 

Feeling Overwhelmed as a Mother?

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Caleb was working outside. He had his thick soled boots on but took them off when he came back inside to measure something. We don't wear shoes inside our house because nine very active people in and out of the house on a farm would make for very unsanitary living conditions. I draw the line at mopping more than twice a week. 

Since he was just going out onto the deck, he felt it was OK to go barefoot. He stepped on this piece of glass someone picked up out of the yard but left on the deck. It was tucked in an out of the way spot which is right where Caleb had to step to get around a board on saw horses! Caleb found it..the hard way! 

In my younger years, I'd internally beat myself up for:
  • not knowing something had been broken
  • not getting it out of the yard before someone else found it
  • not knowing it was on the deck
  • not knowing Caleb was barefoot
  • Caleb having cut his foot
I am a Christian who seeks the Lord for wisdom and guidance daily. I try very hard to keep everyone safe, healthy, and ultimately happy. I say ultimately because discipline and correction make children unhappy temporarily. I want to do the very best job Wendy can do in this wife/mothering calling. I am very competitive with SELF. I want to excel for God's glory and my family's benefit! My expectations of myself are set very high..much higher than I would expect of anyone else.

I am also human who is weak and fallible and so much less than what I desire to be. I am outnumbered. There are eight other people who share our home/farm. They are very active all day long. Like their very human mother/wife, they are all weak and fallible people too. They forget instructions, leave things behind, don't think things through, make messes, etc. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to keep up with every move they make. 

Setting goals and competing with self is a good thing. It keeps us trying to do better. Limitations and failures are a part of reality. I am not going to catch every ball in this super sized juggling act. Sometimes people are going to have to make a sandwich because a meal wasn't cooked. Sometimes they are going to have to clean up a mess I made so I can work on something important no one else can do. Sometimes children don't listen to instruction. Sometimes a barefoot someone is going to get hurt because someone broke glass I didn't know about and didn't see to pick up. I am going to drop some balls.

Beating myself up isn't going to do anything except weigh me down with guilt. Because of the heavy criticism in my early childhood, it took me a long time to learn this important concept: I wouldn't talk to a friend, much less a stranger, like that, so I shouldn't talk to myself like that either. I want to help my best friend succeed, then why not encourage myself in a manner that helps me succeed? You, tired and worn out mother, should do the same! 

My to do list this spring is very long! Even if I don a cape and tiara, I can't do it all! What I can do is seek the Lord minute by minute in the midst of the constant chaos of busy family life. 

I can seek Him to lead me to the most important tasks of the day while keeping the attitude that I am serving Him first by serving my family second. I can acknowledge my weakness and limitations. Then, and only then, I can seek ways to improve my performance within those limitations. 

Be nice to yourselves, mamas. This calling is a big responsibility, and it isn't for sissies! The more people you have to care for and keep up with and the more activities participated in-the harder it gets! To succeed, we have to face some hard facts about ourselves, seek Help, and work to improve within our limitations. Then, we have to trust the Lord to fill in the many gaps and take care of our family. 

Caleb was cut, but it was shallow and closed up within a day. He learned his mother was right about wearing shoes every time he went outside to protect his feet. He learned his whole family is there to help him when he is hurt. I was blessed to witness my children tenderly care for each other. I forgave myself for not seeing it all and not doing it all. I once again accepted my limitations. I tried to improve the situation by discussing with my family the importance of putting broken glass in the trash immediately and how placing it on the deck does not solve the problem. I thanked the Lord for keeping Caleb from cutting himself deeper and asked Him to please keep helping me in my role as a mother.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Let Your Light So Shine

We sing the song "This Little Light of Mine" as children. It's based on verses from Scripture.  It's about living so the world can see Jesus in our lives. When the lamp is "under a bowl," its light is incapable of giving light and then it becomes useless. If we hide our lives or only show off the "glittery parts" of them, how can others see the Light that is working within us? If we don't share, how will they know the blessings of having a personal relationship with Jesus? How will they know how much God is offering them? If we act like our lives are perfect and easy, how can we effectively reach someone who is struggling? 

Are you hiding your light under a bush by keeping it hidden where it is useless and ineffective? Fellow Christian, will you share the life you gave Jesus or will you keep silent? Will love for another motivate you to reach out, or will the fear someone will have thoughts you don't like keep you silent? 

Luke 11:33 No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Love How They Love Each Other

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Caleb cut his foot. It bled quite a bit, so they called for me. He was sitting on the floor in a hallway when I got to him. Since I didn't know how bad it was, I asked them to help him up thinking they'd lift him from his shoulders to a standing position. Amanda and Joshua picked him up and carried him to the den! I was going to take care of his foot, but they kind of pushed me out of the way and took over caring for their brother. I sat there a little hurt at first. Then I realized: THIS is what I've been working for all of these years. This is the fruit of that labor. It is very good to see! They love each other, work together, and have each other's best interest at heart. I pray they never stop having a servant's heart towards each other. Any mother, who is truly close to the Lord, is going to want and actively encourage her children to get along with each other. One of the ways to honor a mother is to show love to your siblings. This also brings honor and glory to the Father.

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New Barn Walls

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The barn is 30x40. We purchased the roof through Clint's brother. The children and I did the first three rows of the walls ourselves. Clint and the children finished the fourth row. Since he is still battling something, Clint paid for it with an increase in pain for a couple of days. Our goal is to get the barn wrapped and vinyl sided before next winter.

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Amanda was just looking and was hanging on to the cross beam.

Shipping pallets that are rained on cannot be used in the food industry. That is how we obtained free, brand new, hardwood pallets to use for the walls. Clint used a variety of methods to add support and strength to the walls. The results are very sturdy walls!

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Our barn sits on railroad ties that are anchored into the ground. On top of that is salt treated lumber. This shed will eventually house goats and more. We intend to add a second level in the future.

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Monday, March 14, 2016


These images are owned and copyrighted by Wendy Asbell.
This post is basically a re-run of one of our most popular posts with new pictures.

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round guinea fowl egg next to a normal guinea egg

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soft duck egg aka Egg Drop Syndrome
This is usually due to a calcium deficiency or an andenovirus.
This duck carries the andenovirus and will be culled which means "to collect" as in "setting aside something inferior."  Culling on a farm can mean: sold, given away, made as a pet, rendered infertile, or killed.

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double yolked chicken egg
I put it in the incubator, but it was infertile.
People have had double yolked eggs hatch. (see Youtube)

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The two pictures above are of a malformed chicken egg also caused by "Egg Drop Syndrome." My poultry gets a free choice calcium supplement, is on a layer formula, and is fed back nearly all of the egg shells from what they produce and what we buy from the store. We aren't where we can produce enough for our needs and the incubator yet. Our shells are thicker than store bought. This only happened once in one very young hen, so I think it was just because of her young age. First eggs can be smaller and unusual. 

Update 7/27/2015:

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Pictured first is a normal egg where the yolk is clearly visible. The second photo shows a small egg without a yolk. This is called a "fairy egg" among other names. It happens when a bird's reproductive system is out of synch and is mostly seen in new layer or older birds.

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Update 3/14/16: egg assembly line
Learn more about how eggs form here, here, and here. Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Good Day

We had our first "normal" day in a long while today. Clint was able to help with the outdoor project we have been working on this week. His feet hurt, but he was able to work on the ladder for several hours. He says he feels he has improved more from when he went to the doctor on Friday. The children enjoyed having their Dad back, and I was thankful to be able to watch them interact. I will try to post some pictures in a day or two. Thank you again to those who have been faithfully praying for Clint and our family. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Prayer Needs

As I shared last summer in this post, I can identify who visits the blog. I see a lot of you visiting hoping for news of what is going on with Clint. I haven't been able to share much about this. We are having to handle this situation carefully for a few good reasons. I will share what I can.

Clint is feeling better and has been for about a week now. He only took the Rx meds for nine days although he was given a month's worth. He had immediate relief on the day stopped taking it and started taking something natural. 

Today was his doctor's visit. 

The doctor wants to wait four months and see how things go before he gives a final diagnosis. So, there isn't a quick resolution to this situation as we were hoping. Hopefully, Clint will be fully healed, and we will get good news in July.

Prayer Needs:

  • Healing for Clint's body, he's been through a rough time

  • No more episodes of fever, crippling pain, chills, sweats, headaches, back pain, etc
  • that he receives the good diagnosis and not the other

These kind of situations always give good insight to the hearts of your friends and family. It teaches you who will be there for you. Many people my husband helped by giving them free time and labor while they were healthy did not offer to do the same for him while he was nearly crippled. That sharply contrasted with a disabled neighbor, who is so limited in what he can do, came and did all he could to the point it wore him out. While my children were asking, "Where is Xxxxxxx?," I was able to point out the self sacrifice of this wonderful neighbor who gave us all he had to give. 

Thank you for the cards, texts, emails, phone calls, etc. Thank you for the love and especially for the intercession you have given us. The place we are in has been overwhelming and frightening, but we know Who to seek for help.

Allergy Remedy

After hearing my friends complain about seasonal allergies, I wanted to share this in hopes it helps someone. For the past few years, every spring and fall, I had horrible season allergies that lasted months. I believe my immune system took a big hit with the emotional strain of my pregnancies and subsequent miscarriages/stillbirths and other events. 

Once the allergies started, I'd get sinus and ear infections. Seizing the opportunity, the EBV would flare up giving me swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, daily fevers, headaches, fatigue, etc. I had about six good months of the year and six I just pushed through. Last fall, after exhausting herbal medicine I had to go on antibiotics for the first time in nearly 20 years. I was not happy about it, but it showed how weakened my system had become. Frustrated with the pattern, I decided I needed to slow down and take care of me for a change. I looked for answers and a way to help myself.

I took the following herbal protocol I found on Stephen Buhner's website exactly as stated for one week. Life was chaotic the second week, so I doubled a single dose and took that once a day. I could see changes during the second week. Seven drops of the four herbs filled approximately 1/4 tsp. Ten drops of the set of three filled approximately 1/4 tsp. All except one of the tinctures I purchased were alcohol based. 

When I doubled them, I mixed them in a plastic bottle cap and took them all at once. I think if all of them were glycerin based tinctures, it would cling and coat the cap too much. A spoon would be a better choice in that situation. 

My friends are complaining about allergies this week due to an early spring. I pulled my head up from work long enough to realize...I am allergy free! I am working outside every day with animals or in dusty conditions and have not had the problems I normally have. Through Amazon, it cost me about $70-90 to buy all of the herbs. It will last me at least two seasons if I take it a few weeks for each. This kind of relief was well worth the price! I am very thankful Mr. Buhner has this on his website free for anyone to use for their benefit. It has been a tremendous help to me, and I hope it helps someone else.

I would start with:
• Herbal tincture combination of: Chinese skullcap, licorice, isatis, and lomatium. Equal parts of each tincture mixed together, ¼ tsp 3x daily. AND
• Tincture combination of: rhodiola, reishi, kudzu. Same dosage AND
• Cordyceps 2000 mg 3x daily or tincture: ¼ tsp 3x daily 
And do this for 60 days and see if it helps. From:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Visit with the Doctor Went

The visit with the doctor today went well. We felt listened to and our concerns were addressed. Clint has been tested for quite a few things. Results should be in soon. He was given a prescription to help him with the swelling and pain for the next thirty days while we wait for a diagnosis and treatment plan. We thank you for the prayers you lift on our behalf.

Update 2/25: Clint's pain has diminished a lot with the medication, but the pain in his feet is still there with swelling. He still has the fatigue.

Update 3/8: The prescribed medication stopped working as well as it had initially. Clint had more pain and swelling return early last week. While he was told he could increase dosage, he decided to try a remedy he read about online that would address all of the theories....garlic. Yep, garlic! And, it worked to help him with the pain and swelling! Noticeably! In fact, he has steadily improved since the weekend. He says 90-95% of the joint pain has left as of this morning. The other symptoms he was having have disappeared or have also diminished. He is taking a big spoonful of raw, minced garlic morning, noon, and night. We have our theories of what has happened, but that's all they are...theories. Clint goes to the doctor Friday and will go over what has happened since he last was seen. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Prayers Appreciated

Tomorrow is the appointment with the rheumatologists. We are hoping he can shed some light on what is going on with Clint. Reading the stories of others online is not very encouraging. It seems a lot of the things we are looking at take a great deal of time and tests to diagnose accurately. Wrong diagnoses in the early stages are very common. Prayers for answers are appreciated. 

Clint had a very bad day last Friday. I asked Clint last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and early Saturday to go to the ER to be examined. Late Saturday through yesterday were better probably because of the rest and care at home. Today, he is heading back downhill. He is at work, but his right knee is very painful. This is his call in week which means he has to be available 24/7 to handle calls. He has taken 800 mg ibuprofen almost every day and many times twice a day. I have moved his parking place next to our deck to make it easier on him. The children and I are doing all we can to make this easier on him. 

I have been staying up late researching and looking for ways to minimize his pain. The children and I are almost finished with the dining room rennovation, or the parts of it that we can do. Brandon has come over and wired up lights. Saturday, Clint wanted to move around and was able to get three small pieces of molding up before pain and exhaustion knocked him back down. I am hoping to have the dining room put back together to minimize the stress on all of us by Thursday. Clint will be able to rest better without tarps, sheetrock pieces, paint trays, etc all around. 

My heart hurts so seeing him hurting like this. I pray with all my heart this is something curable like a virus in his joints. My mind races to the many what ifs wondering what will happen to husband and my family. I constantly remind myself to "...not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 I have placed Clint, myself, and our family in God's Hands. Please intercede for us.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Good Stewardship: Eliminate Waste

Frugal homemake tip: One of the biggest ways to save money in a household is to eliminate waste. 

One of the biggest things in the household that goes to waste is food. I buy most of our vegetables in bulk. If I see I am not going to use all 50 lbs of the potatoes before they spoil, I preserve them to keep from losing the investment of money I have in them. Eliminate waste with long term storage techniques like canning and dehydrating and watch your pantry fill. Use what you have to get every bit of flavor out of it. 

I even work to eliminate waste in the canner. If I have extra room for jars, I can carrots, beans, or something in that spot. In other words, I do my best to make sure the canner is running with a full load.

Clothes that are beyond passing down or giving away, I cut up and use as cleaning rags. 

Old containers become storage containers in Clint's tool shed. 

Our arts and crafts materials are the same as public schools ask people to donate: toilet paper tubes, milk jugs, juice cartons, metal caps from glass juice jars, etc.

If you can reuse what you have already invested your money into instead of buying new, you are ahead of the crowd who takes every opportunity to spend, spend, spend.

As a young wife, I received a lot of valuable tips on how to run a home with good stewardship from learning about how people lived during The Great Depression. I also read a lot of titles on personal finance like Rich Dad Poor DadThe Tightwad Gazette, and The Cheapskate Monthly. I also listened carefully to how stay at home mothers of many children did things so I could take what would work in my situation and apply it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Our Focus in Life's Upheavals

God gives all of His children challenges. Those challenges can look different, but they are all geared to grow us more into His image and to give us a testimony for Him. We might not want the assignment and may even feel like running away from it. God often provides them in such a way that there is no escape. We have to go straight forward through the hills and valleys. Growing closer or further from Him is our choice, but the challenge isn't.

Right now, something awful is happening with the other, more beautiful, half of me. Clint is experiencing some of the weirdest set of symptoms I've ever seen. Every part of his body has been affected. My once healthy and active husband is so riddled with pain in so many places that it is all he can do to get through his workday. My heart is in anguish at his suffering. He is sleeping so much, that I miss his companionship. With tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart, I admit I am afraid I'll lose him sooner than either of us ever imagined. 

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Whatever this is has hit him fast and hard. We have a few theories about what is going on with his body. However, there is no need to explore them publicly because that is all they are, just theories. The testing he receives next week will, hopefully, give us some insight around the first of March into what is going on and how we can best help him. I will say that nearly everything we are looking at is very serious and presents a life long challenge. While I pray whatever is curable or at the least very treatable, I do not think life as we knew it will return.

We've already seen some big changes, but I sense more drastic ones are to come. Whether those changes are in the next days, weeks, months, or in a few years from now, I don't know. I don't know if these changes will come all at once or be gradual. In the midst of so much uncertainty, and there is a lot swirling around in my head, I do know that God has a plan for us. He will not abandon us. I also know God will give us the strength to push past the fear, uncertainties, and frustrations to enable us to keep our focus on Him and not the challenge. 

This life is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming. Whatever challenges you are facing, I encourage you to put God front and center. Let the situation that threatens to consume you shrink in your view as you focus on the Father. Seeking a remedy or resolution is worthwhile, but let growing closer to the One Who is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present be your ultimate goal.

"When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing.…" Psalms 37:24-26

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Way I Cut Food Costs

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a tiny sampling from our pantry

"Wendy, what in the world are you canning in the winter?" 

Even when life happens, people still need to eat. A lot of women, including myself, prepare "freezer meals." These made ahead meals are ready to cook or reheat so they can feed their families during busy days or illness. 

I love having meals ready to go in the freezer, but I like having them on the shelf in pressure canned jars even more. Pressure canned foods are good for a longer period of time and do not need electricity to keep them. The quart jars only need to be heated while the frozen foods need to be thawed and cooked. The time from when I pull a meal from storage to when I set it on the table is considerably less. 

I bought the canning jars to preserve food to save our family money on groceries. If the jars are sitting empty on the shelf, they are not working. As the jars empty in the spring and summer, they get refilled with produce from our garden. This keeps them in constant use which means I am continually benefiting from the investment I made in them.

I can chilis, soups, roast beef, many types of beans, vegetables, meat, and gourmet quality bone broth (stock). Pressure canning the dried beans saves me a tremendous amount of time and a good bit of money. I just pulled our farm produced pork and poultry from the freezer and canned it so I can make room for a side of beef we hope to purchase in an effort to further cut our grocery bill.

I can in both quart and pint sized jars. The pint sized jars are great for individual servings and are much better for my family than store bought canned foods. My husband and children take this size for lunches at work. It is very rewarding to see them carrying a box of my canned meals to their car for work.

People say canning takes a long time but most of that time is waiting. I 
easily fit in many other things while I am pressure canning. I enjoy it because I challenge myself to get the chores done before the canner is finished. A canning day tends to be a very productive time for me! Then there is more time saved than spent when I simply pull the meals from the shelves. 

When a friend or family member is sick or going through difficulty, pulling jars from my storage is a great way to minister to them through a hot meal. The meal can be left in the jars for use when needed. This has always been well received.

Preparing meals ahead of time saves our family a lot of expense. Calling a pizza place for our family is a $80-130 without tip, and it is a meal I consider as "subtracting from our health." I have good, healthy meals without artificial colors, preservatives, or high sodium ready to go. Trying to avoid waste and making good use of what God has provided takes time and effort, but it has multiplied our foods stores and help to make having seven children very affordable. A little at a time adds up to a lot in the long run.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dining Room

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I wanted something that looked trendy and would work with our brown couches. I spent a lot of time looking at interior decorator sites for ideas. I found a few magazines/sites featuring blue walls, brown couches, and the same burgundy I have for my valances. I chose blue because it is soothing, calming, and welcoming. In a busy household, those things are important. For years, we made do with the painted paneling and ceiling tiles, so we are both thankful they are gone. It's such a great time in our family to be doing this! Our children are learning new skills and making memories right beside us. They are old enough now that the worst of the wear and tear years are behind us. We are having fun tucking time capsules in the walls too.

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Now to the dining room...

Article: The Verse You Need Taped to Your Refrigerator

Mothering young children full time is not easy. Add homeschooling and all of the many other hats a woman can wear, and it can be an overwhelming job that takes us to our limits. Be the wise woman and build your house. Don't tear it down with bad attitudes and angry words. Self-discipline your thoughts, and your words and attitudes will follow. Remember we are in a battle, and fight as Jesus did with the Word of God.

And then his voice got stronger. "Yeah, but you remember the first part? 'The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.' See, that's what the Enemy does. He's going to try to get you fighting with each other, to destroy your joy in this stage, to steal all the life out of it. Man, you don't want any of that. Just tell him no.' " read more here: The Verse That You Need Taped To Your Refrigerator 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Around Here February 2016

I thought I'd give an update while I took a minute to sit down. I realize I have not done one in a long time. We made added a lot and made many improvements on our farm in 2015. 

We have mostly finished our den. It took longer than we wanted because all of us caught a respiratory virus. Most of us are well and rolling along on the renovations. We finished enough of the den in time to put the furniture back so we could sit down and watch the Super Bowl. 

Today, we tore the dining room down to the wall framing, added 6,400 square feet to our pig pasture, made 20 quarts of soup, canned turkey in bone broth, canned gourmet stock, and canned some of our homemade dog food. 

I wrote "Most of us are well.." because Clint has had some mysterious symptoms that could be pointing to an autoimmune disorder. However, the thought right now is that the respiratory virus settled into his ankle joints and caused chills, swelling, tenderness, feverish joints, and severe pain. We were not aware that dozens of viruses can enter into the joints. Because Clint became dehydrated during a hard day at work, it is likely that the virus was forced into his joints.We are in the "wait and see" stage while he is on a course of low dose Prednisone. If the pain and swelling return, he will see a rheumatologists to proceed with a lot of testing.

I am staying very busy pressure canning food from our freezer so we can make room for a side of beef we hope to purchase soon to cut grocery costs. I have canned over 100 quarts in recent weeks. It is a blessing to have soups, roasts, meat, and vegetables cooked and waiting to be reheated and served. Clint has found me some storage space for over 100 jars in two interior walls to help accommodate the extra food. God blessed us with a great year in producing food on the farm last year. I am feeling great and getting so much accomplished.

Brandon is loving his new home. He has plans for a trip to Europe to visit a friend and do some sightseeing. He has a Christian homeschooling family of seven for neighbors. He has received another raise at work. I still get to feed him both meals at home and pressured canned foods. If I see he is low on something, I take it to his house since I can buy it cheaper in bulk. I do miss his hug and kiss every night when we call the children before bed time. 

Amanda is charging right through her college course. She is making money through her own little side business. She has taken over many of the weekly errands which is such a big blessing to our family. She has become a big advocate for me getting my rest and is coaching her sisters on modest dressing. Amanda has halfway completed her miniature house which I am enjoying. It was something I wanted to do at her age so it is giving us both a lot of enjoyment. 

Joshua has his first official job "where they take taxes out of (his) check and everything!" He was given one by Brandon's  neighbor. Our purchased state approved homeschooled driving course is rigorous and takes a long time to complete. Clint and I like that because it slows the process down a bit. Joshua has just finished his classroom portion. Clint has printed the certificate out and has sent it to the state to request permission to start the behind the wheel portion. After 45 hours of total driving time and another certificate submission, Joshua can take his road test at DMV.

Caleb has taken to computer technology just as easily as he did woodworking. He is often waiting on Brandon to get here daily so he can ask him a question or show him something he figured out. It is exciting to watch this dynamic between brothers.

Bethany has become my kitchen superhero. She has become a great baker! She has obtained new skills and has refined others. I am helping her collect swans for her bedroom which is fun for both of us. Bethany loves doing the errands with Amanda. 

Emily has really stepped up in helping around the house. She does a good job and doesn't have to be reminded as much to stay on task or to do a thorough job. She is doing well in school and has become such a sweet spirited young lady.

Hannah has developed a fun loving personality. She is forming opinions about the world around her and it is interesting to see what her thoughts about things are. It is such a great time to explore things deeper and learn why things are the way they are. She has been running ideas by me on things she would like to do. We talk about pros and cons of her tentative plans. She is learning what won't work, and I am learning who my little Hannah is on the inside while helping her develop critical thinking skills. I love this homeschooling lifestyle and how it gives my children so much more of me and how it gives me so much more of them.

We are working "full steam ahead" until our upcoming spring vacation. Then, we will kick back and relax in beautiful Corova, VA enjoying the ocean and wild horses. If you are reading this, I prayed for you today. May God bless you!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Used Up and Exhausted

"Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted--not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude because they feel such service is beneath their dignity. Are you willing to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others?" --Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayers for Clint Please

Clint needs prayer for a health condition that developed very suddenly in conjunction with a virus. The local doc says it is "mystifying." After a consult with a friend who is a PA, we were advised to see a orthopedic doc asap and have some tests run. The condition could be very serious. Thank you very much for the prayers you lift on Clint's behalf.

2/1: Clint got into see his PCP today. He ordered blood work and is testing for some serious things it could be. Results are due in Wednesday. He also has an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Thursday. Right now we are asking God for complete healing.

2/3: We were told one thing this morning and that was quite alarming warranting immediate, in depth, and expensive testing by a specialist. I did some research, and we asked some informed questions based on that research. The doctor then admitted these tests have a high rate of false positives, and he feels it is the respiratory virus Clint's had making the tests positive and causing the symptoms. He now says he feels it would be overkill to do additional testing at this time. Just a few informed questions took us from one drastic scenario to a possible simple answer. Please pray this is accurate and that Clint has complete healing. Thank you!

2/5: Clint's symptoms have spread to other joints and some pain has returned. We have requested a referral to a rheumatologist. Please keep praying for his pain and energy level.

Article: Why Ascribing Intent Is Making You Miserable

Why Ascribing Intent Is Making You Miserable

"The times when I’m most hurt by what I think other people did, are the times when I compare myself to others. ... Comparison and intent form a vicious cycle. But don’t despair, there is hope. Plenty of people have learned how to take things at face value, and nothing more. They do not ascribe intent, and live happier lives as a result. It comes with practice, maturity, and healthy boundaries."

This article is very good, but there is another side to it. Be very wary of people who are always telling you why someone else behaves the way they do because it will affect your relationships. Listening to them will harden your heart towards people who probably were doing the best they could. Be also wary of someone who tries to tell you how you feel. They will erode your self esteem and destroy your self confidence. Only God can judge motives and intentions. Only He sees into the heart and fully knows and understands. A mature Christian is going to have the wisdom and grace to give the benefit of the doubt and will seek to build relationships rather than tear them apart.