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Week One Uncluttered

In week one of a renewed minimizing effort through the Joshua Becker course ‘Uncluttered’ I established my purpose statement and began the unloading of the superfluous. I started with Me.

  • My wardrobe… among the too large and too small, maternity, postpartum and just in case, I also got rid of really gorgeous pair of heels that inflict so much pain, I’d need an epidural to wear them again. Two trash bags gone!
  • Kids clothes and extras. Just asking them to bring down what they weren’t using was surprisingly successful! One entire bin was eliminated from our home.

Two trash bags and one bin, that’s not too bad.

In case you are thinking about joining me, a couple tips for you.

  • Some stuff- it’s just trash. The t-shirt with too many holes in it, or the kids pants with so many stains you thought they were camo. It’s just trash.
  • That thing you haven’t worn or used in over a year… but somehow when you look at it, you are filled with regret or even renewed hope (THIS Year you WILL use it!!). Just give it away. You will not remember it, and someone else could make good use of it. I promise, you won’t regret it

My purpose statement is:

“I desire to own less so that I can have more mental and physical room for the projects that we enjoy as a family.”

When we left the house Saturday, it felt lighter, I felt lighter.

And what is the project at hand?

to Relax.

Yes, thank you, I will.

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‘Uncluttered’ a further step into minimalism

5 years ago when we moved back from France, we moved into a home with 17 bins and the clothes on our backs.

We walked into a home. No, not a house, a home… Friends and family had furnished and provided for almost every single thing we needed, and more.

We began to unpack the bins… I think back now on what we brought back with us, and what we didn’t. I shouldn’t have included as much memorabilia from the kids French preschool. I definitely should have packed more foi gras and wine.

As we settled into our new home and increased space, we sought to further furnish our home with the things we felt we needed. However, we also had the items that had been given to us. I felt overcome with the goodness that had been shown to us, but the things also overwhelmed me. A sorter by nature, I was paralyzed, just stuck. I didn’t know where everything had come from, who had given it to us? Would they be offended if we no longer needed it? What if they saw it at the consignment shop we both shop at? What if it was missing when they stopped in next time? If I got rid of the things that reminded me of France, was I letting go of France?

Stuck and completely emotionally underwater, I articulated these things to my sister and she introduced me to the Minimalists. Suddenly, I had a paradigm from which to act. If my items did not bring me joy, or no longer added value to my life, I would release them.

Whew!

I opened the linen closet that I had sealed with emotional nails and began the process of removing the stuff and making room, not just on my shelves, but in my mind.

Since then, I have progressed step by step further into the minimalist lifetsyle. There have been setbacks… Sometimes, life might sneak up on you and shazam a few speed bumps at your here and there.

I am currently in the process of decluttering, yet again, for the umpteenth time (and it will not be the last, I’m sure). I started a 12 week course called ‘Uncluttered’ by Joshua Becker as a companion to his book The More of Less. 

I will be updating my blog weekly with my progress. I enjoy the accountability and I plan to look back after the 12 weeks and be quite content with my progress. This isn’t an all or nothing, it’s a change of mind, a step forward, a way to increase my daily joy and decrease my daily stress.

In the meantime I want to leave you with a few little nuggets that have been huge game changers for me.

1. Set your reasons for change. Mine:

I desire to own less so that I can have more mental and physical room for the projects that we enjoy as a family.

We will never reduce to nothing. It turns out that we are a houseful of creators, we love to make things! (And we love to give them away as well).

2. Start with me. I started by reducing my wardrobe (I’ll never go back!). Then, I worked on the kids clothing. Start with you, then with your sphere of influence. (Although, I would not suggest minimizing any teen or adults clothing for them! Yikes-o-rama!)

3. Realize that minimalism doesn’t look the same for everyone. We have a micro farm… there is only so much downsizing we can do it we desire to continue to enjoy this. We also have 5 kids, it’s just not going to look the same as it does for a smaller family.

How about you? Have you ever felt underwater in your home? Do you have a sense of having too much junk?

Do you want to be set free?  (If so, I would encourage you to start reading those two blogs I mentioned… it might just change your life).

 

Moving Forward

img_5022-2The other night I tucked my little, red headed, 4 yr old into his bed. We sang the songs, prayed the prayers and finished little chats about things running through his mind at the end of his busy day. Every day is busy for him. His little body barely stops moving, his mind seems to process at 10,000 miles a minute, coming up with new ideas, stories and questions, firing one after the other.

But, that night he lay in his bed and after meticulously fixing his covers, he merely sighed.

“Mom” he started slowly

“Why aren’t things the way they are supposed to be?”

Lights out, I paused at his door… that question hit me in the gut, but I simply asked,

“What do you mean?”

He continued “I just want things to be the way I want them.”

Ahhhhhhhh….. Yes.
He gets something, he understands something about life. I explained to him about the brokenness of the world, about how things don’t always happen or work the way they are supposed to, how we must try our best to deal with it, how we must be patient.

He understands the very core of our human situation, he feels the frustration of imperfection and hardship (whatever that may be at his 4 yr old level).

The past year has been a foggy bog of health problems that I never anticipated. The list is long and some are here to stay… and the basic struggle my 4 year old has is also alive and real for me.

Time and time again, the thought passes through
“This is not how it’s supposed to be.”
It’s just not, and I have had a hard time accepting it. But…

IT IS NOT THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE- BUT it is.

It has kicked me in the shins, pushed me down, and held me there.

The fact is, this IS life, but there is only moving forward, there is no undoing, no sense in resentment or bitterness, just moving forward.

Thankfully, God has given me this 4 year old to empathize with. Somehow, it helps.

I’m coming out of something, or maybe just muddling my way through it, but in any case I’m moving forward.

I think often about the phrase ‘God’s kingdom is now and yet to come’. While I am here now, I am in and working for His kingdom, it’s in the daily ‘not how it’s supposed to be’ that I am to bring His kingdom.
But, one day there will be His kingdom that is yet to come! Then, we will will no longer ask that question, we will no longer feel that angst, it will be…
Perfection.

I anticipate it more now, but am also somehow more content that I have been in a long time.

Dear Jude,

Hey Jude, Don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. (Remember when a group of 5 women sang this to you on new years eve to help you sleep?)

No seriously my little love, this is what your life has been since you were born.

At two weeks we took you to see Dr. Durtest, the singing, wild eye-browed pediatrician who talks with his eyes closed. We mentioned the funny noises you were making, the wet hiccups, the difficulty getting to sleep and the total lack of intestinal movement (poor little guy). He prescribed something for you that had to be taken to cut the acid off in your stomach. Boy did it help! We were so thankful that when you took your medicine you could eat and sleep, even if it was upright on me.

Sometimes I would forget your dose and when I did you would scream and cry. It hurt so bad. You cried a lot. You slept little and you cuddled as much as you could.  When you nursed you would often begin to weeze and gasp, it scared me. We found out that it was probably just you aspirating small amounts while trying to breathe and nurse at the same time from the reflux. It sounded horrible.

I tried everything to make you happy, but you weren’t like the other babies. Your older sister Ana had something similar, but if I fed her twice as often and half as much she did just fine. She was a happy and joyful baby.

Not you… you were tired and sad. We propped your bed up, we fed you less, we fed you more, we fed you less acidic food, I even quit coffee. Yes I did. (I have since taken that up again, unfortunately).

When you were a couple months old a friend of ours (remember Gretta? you were born in the same hospital just a day apart!) gave us an Ergo baby carrier. You lived in that miracle from heaven, you took your naps in it and you nursed in it. When you weren’t in the Ergo you were in your bouncy seat, sometimes you would fall asleep in it and wake up, and keep on bouncing. You were hilarious.

You leaned on me, you leaned hard. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it. You had such a hard time sleeping that you woke up every two hours for comfort. You needed me to care for you, to comfort you, to love you, to provide for you to be patient with you. Sometimes I cried. I was exhausted and beside myself.

But, I don’t want you to think that this is a letter to you telling you about how hard you were, or how crazy I was. Not at all. This letter is to tell you that I am so thankful for you. The things in life that we do not plan, do not expect, do not prepare for are sometimes the biggest blessings of all.

Every time you leaned into me as your mom, I had to lean somewhere… and I did. I learned to lean into my Father, I leaned and leaned and sometimes I collapsed, just the way you fell asleep, heavy and secure in my arms because I could hold you upright. I became broken and shattered, my heart was wet with tears, fatigue buried deep inside at a level that could not be easily be excavated.

But because of you, I leaned into prayer, I leaned into the Spirit. I became less self sufficient, more flexible, more bendable, more bent maybe, but reliant. Together, you and I learned something.

Together we learned to Trust.

I am so thankful for you Jude… that because of your beautiful arrival in my life, I have walked a little further on a path of trust.

I am so thankful for you Mc Noodle and I can’t wait to see who you develop into.
With much love,
Mamon

Summer spending money game

  Today I am trying something new. 

1. Write out a chore (this is an extra chore, not on the list of everyday chores).

2. Wrap it up in a dollar bill 

3. Allow the child to pick the dollar randomly. 

4. Child must accept the chore as written and accomplish. After all, they have already been paid! 

All cash earned this way is free to spend, saving not required! (We usually have a pretty strict saving/spending/giving policy!)

Maybe I’m nesting, or maybe it’s just pre baby panic… But this is one way to have a little fun while getting some extra things done around the house! 

Farmelette update June

The critters around here are just getting cuter and cuter! 

Little Baby emerged from under the shed with 12 sweet babies! We will sell 8 and keep 4. Each child can pick one to keep. I’m tempted to keep one myself!

 

Our sweet goat Martha had her babies yesterday. She gave birth to a doeling and a buckling. They both look healthy. That doeling looks just like her mother, and the buckling looks just like his dad. We are all so taken with them. Martha is absolutely in love, is that a smile on her face?

  

   
 

The roosters are coming along and will be ready for processing at the end of the month. This guy did us the favor of catching and eating a mole. That made my day!

 

We found this little nest of eggs in the goat pen. Can’t wait to see what kind of bird is hatching these out!
  

 
My garden is coming along after a nice week of rain. The potatoes are blooming, we have harvested some green beans, the tomato plants are setting fruit, I’m excited to see where it will be in a month.   

 We use manure soup to fertilize the plants. We have plenty of that around here!

    

Elijah has a project going. He hatched out some sex linked chickens and will be selling those as his small business. 

  

Our favorite reading incentive programs for this year.

Earn money for reading with TD Bank.

Earn pizza for reading with the  Book It program.

If your kids are feeling philanthropic…. Try the Read To Feed program. 

One of my children is an avid reader, the other needs some encouragement. This is a great way to motivate them to continue!



Dates and more dates…

IMG_2327.JPG  The first date… July 14, the day little guy is supposed to be done cooking.

I don’t mind going a little over, it seems to be my M.O.

However, three times I’ve been over enough to have that nasty ‘induction’ word spoken… Which is very stressful for me. Once my babies hear that word, they seem to stay put on principle. The wait is killer.

So, now, MORE dates! Yes! DATES! I’m talking about eating about 1lb a week. According to this study dates could help… So among all the things one could be doing, (and there are tons of crazy things out there!!!) eating dates seems like a pretty great idea.

So, have any great date recipes??

RFarmlette Update

 The best thing on our property is the presence of our happy children. Digging in the dirt and playing in their fort keeps them going for hours. 

 Our duck Daisy hatched out 18 beautiful ducklings.  What a joy!
 Within two days a predator got 15 of them within an hour. We don’t know what, but it made us all so sad. 

  Our meat chickens are growing fat and hopefully quite tasty.

 My friend Hilary has been helping me in the garden. She is a gift!

  I’ve been putting in seedlings. This is a mystery pack I got… Any idea what it is??

Homemade mayo hack

This was super cool and it worked! And it is so, so good!!  Super fresh and tasty. I used a guinea egg, lemon, salt and half olive oil, half grape seed oil.  

 

Here is the original link

‘I’m so glad I watched 7,000 movies.”

What would you do with $1,000? or 1,000 hours?
There are so so many good things to do! I’ve been thinking about this since I watched this by Francis Chan. I never ever hear guilt in his exhortation, I hear a mindfulness of living in eternity with a King. I hear Life.

Are we living for the red part of the rope? This is a question I am having to ask myself every day.  I ask it in my marriage, in my relationships, in my parenting, in how I spend my time.

It’s a question worth asking, again and again.

Have you asked it lately?

Farmlette update

We are so excited that spring has sprung!

I have put in about 1/4 of our total garden space and have planted

Asparagus

Strawberries

Kale

Turnips

Spinach

Peas

Swiss chard

I have started tomatoes and peppers and it looks like I have a volunteer squash plant from last year. I’ll put in russet potatoes this week.
Elijah has started his own bed of carrots. 

In addition we are a excited to have a broody muscovy duck. Her babies should hatch May 4, 5. 

Our milk goat Martha should be delivering the first week of June. 

I’ve been hatching and selling black sex linked chickens and Elijah has quite the business selling his Rhode Island Red pulets. He only has 3 left out of 50!

We are also growing out 25 roosters for the freezer. They will be ready in June.

We have the guineas working to keep our yard tick free and the hens providing delicious eggs. 

I may have gone overboard with the lavender… I think I’ve put in over 20 plants and of course had to add some climbing roses to the front of the house. I love beauty and fruitfullness, so there seems to be no way around growing edibles and ornamentals. 

I love spring, it’s my favorite!

What are you growing?

Every day…

I awake with the best of intentions.

I set my priorities.

I practice my disciplines,

Hope for retention.

Not every day.

Somedays I flounder,

And flop.

More like a drag than a hop.

Eyes at half mast,

Coffee on tap. 

Honesty,

Integrity,

Dictate that I must state,

Every day is the same,

Truthfully,

They are all…

Holy and profane.

Kind Thoughts: an open letter to my critics

Dear Critics,
This letter has been years in the making. It is finally time to give some perspective to the accusations, criticisms, ill feelings and unkind words that have been spoken over the years. To tell you the truth, they have at times devastated me, and sometimes have left me all but undone. I’ve spent days in a funk, I’ve cried, and in an effort to salvage my pathetic injured self I’ve allowed distance to form between you and I. I’ve reduced transparency in an effort to defend myself against the threat of accusation. I have learned more about creating healthy boundaries through this process though, but I admit that I have also created massive walls built of boulders of self protection and hurt.

I am writing now to tell you that I’m changing. I’m writing to tell you that you were probably right. Or maybe you weren’t…. Your assumptions about my motives, actions, relational dynamics or decisions I’ve made might have been right. Or maybe they weren’t. But well, let’s move on…

Yesterday I thought about you, and I thought about how to move on through this muck… How I get so stuck on and in what you’ve said about me (and even stuck in what I say about me). A small voice spoke to me faintly and gently, it shined a light on this grey, fuzzy, brain cloud of a spot in my mind. It revealed the truth and I now want to share that with you, because it’s actually worse than you ever thought!

Yes, that’s right. I am way, waaaay worse than you ever thought, or said! Whatever unkindness you shared with me, your accusations don’t even come close to describing the real darkness inside. If I even told you, you would be totally creeped out, you would ask me to stop. (I hope this isn’t making you uncomfortable, maybe I should stick with garden updates and pictures of cute fuzzy animals… but this is BIG for me, so I hope you will read on).

Your ill feelings, actions or words about me cannot even begin to express the depth of what is really in there! It is so bad that I cannot even judge myself! I can’t see straight enough into my own heart to begin to make sense of it. But, I will tell you, even the part I’m aware of… it’s an ugly beast. U.G.L.Y.

You might be wondering how I could possibly be writing this… How could I be confessing to this evil, and publicly?!? How could I possibly have received a whisper of this nature to be gentle?

Because I follow Jesus and He says that I am loved! He says that He loves me and because of that I can really love others. So, all this darkness in me can be made to light as He transforms me with His love and through expressing His love to others. In giving and receiving his love the darkness can be turned into light! So ummmmm, I sorta forgot about what your issue was with me, your unkind words faded into the distance, they got blurry when I tried to think about them… and I felt free. Freeeeeeeeeeeee!

And so I leave you with this song…. Which I am internalizing, I am receiving into my soul, even to the darkest parts, the creepy bits, and hoping that as I do so my Hallelujahs will be indeed multiplied. This miraculous gentle voice speaks still… And as He does I hope that you also will listen.

Most Sincerely,
Anita the Imperfect (though perfectly loved)

PS I promise that the next several blog posts will be much cuter.

More updates

This years school schedule has been heavier than normal. South Carolina requires five subjects, which I am keeping simple, BUT 4th and 6th grade is still a heavier load than last year.
So, we are doing a lot of this….

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And here is Jude doing his ‘school’ which usually has something to do with planes, trains or automobiles.

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We bought a turkey for Thanksgiving. The people who raised him didn’t have the heart to kill him. I on the other hand, have no heart…(mmwahahahaha!).

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You wouldn’t believe his size… Neil says he weighs as much as the little kids. So thats around 30-35 lbs. He is eating everyone’s food and the other fowl aren’t too happy. I put the food under the grape vine where he wouldn’t fit.

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That didn’t work.

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A friend of mine came down last week for a few days and we worked on the garden. Neil will help me haul more compost tonight. I’m thankful for this help. Many hands make light work! Hopefully you can catch the vision here….
The garden will be a large square with pathways that lead into a circle in the middle, several smaller paths or stepping stones will be put into place for harvesting. I need to buy some kale seeds and other winter veg and get them planted asap.

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Elijah and Ana have been busy taking care of the neighbors animals in addition to ours. This sick chicken Dusty has been in rough shape and Elijah is trying to nurse her back to health. If she were mine, I would put her out of her misery, she is in rough shape.

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Good news for Evangeline! Her recent trip to the doc showed that i successfully increased her iron levels from 10,9 to 12,7. I was ecstatic because I’ve been working so hard on her to do this through diet. I’ll do a post later on increasing iron levels in children through diet, maybe my experience can be helpful for someone.
Oh!!! And she lost her first tooth too!!!
So that’s our update from South Carolina, the latest stop on our travels.

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Garden update

We have been laying cardboard for a large lasagna garden (also known as sheet composting). This past week we took a day off school and Elijah and I hauled some compost from our neighbors massive compost pile and planted beets, cilantro, spinach and radishes. I added some chard and kale that i tore out of my garden in VA. All are doing surprisingly well! You can see in the foreground of the picture what I hope my whole garden will look like one day, covered in black gold and sprouting life. Neil hopes to add the rest of the compost this week using his truck. This will significantly reduce our white trash appeal by hiding all that cardboard and making it worm food.
I love gardening. If only I could do it more!

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This is far from perfect, but definitely shows progress!

Easy Icecream Cake

Today is Neilsters birthday.
The kids and I made him an ice cream cake.

This is how it works…
1 -12 count box ice cream sandwiches
1 tub chocolate frosting
1 tub cool whip, vanilla frosting OR real whipped cream (use the later I implore you!)
1 package oreos
Milk (to give the kids with the leftover oreos)

Stack the sandwiches like so and add a layer of chocolate frosting.

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Stack and build.

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Frost the top with your choice of topping.

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Glue the Oreos on the side and crumble some on top.
Work quickly before it melts!

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Hide in the freezer for
two days and bring out at just the right moment!
Happy Birthday Neil!

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(My disclaimer… This is NOT a healthy recipe, in fact, I did not even have a peice, however, sometimes you make monstrous, sugar-filled dessert atrocities for the ones you love and well, I love Neil and Neil loves frosting. ;) Eat at your own risk! Personally I’d rather have a homemade low sugar, dark chocolate mousse, an avocado milkshake or a low sugar cheesecake. Mmmmmm.)

Persimmon Bread

Our lovely new neighbors have been bringing us foraged persimmons in exchange for fresh goat milk. I decided to make some bread and used this recipe as a base…. Of course, I couldn’t follow it EXACTLY, I didn’t have vegetable oil…. So, here is my version.

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Persimmon Spice Quick Bread
3.5 c flour
1c brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamum
3 eggs
3/4 c coconut oil
2 c persimmon puree
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Mix wet, then add dry ingredients. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Makes two loaves. Smells fantastic!

Theme song!

This year we have a theme song for our day…
Here it is, enjoy.
10,000 Reasons
This is what Jude calls, ‘Bless the Lord oh my sword’. :)

Our Home Before / After

Before

After