A Real Life Thank You

September 10, 2015 · 1 comment

It’s been hard to know what to blog lately. In a way, I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say. And publishing the book sort of put a period on the whole thing. Taking a nap from the net (in my case, blogging) was, and is, both instructive and useful. Of course. The truth is that in order to blog, other things I like to do don’t get done. It’s a trade-off.


In the meantime, I want to THANK YOU for your ongoing support of my book, Present. I’ve been pretty humbled by the whole thing, and I don’t take for granted any of my readers and listeners taking time from their own real lives to read anything I write or listen to anything I have to say. My husband has been my biggest cheerleader; he thinks the whole world needs to hear this message. Here I am at his office, where you can come in for a chiropractic adjustment and then pick up a book for that adjustment between the ears, too :)




And, speaking of…did you know the audiobook is now available? I read the book, myself, and Tom added some fun sound effects that are sure to make you laugh out loud. Plus, there is bonus content at the end: an interview with Brenda. Yeah, *that* Brenda who looks into my closet and puts her hand to her head, shaking it in pity :)  Fun stuff!


PRESENT on Audible


And of course, I already let you know about the Journal. It’s a great tool if you want to take my story of attempting to cultivate a Real Life and make it your OWN story, too. Your life, your people, your dreams… What do YOU need to do? I really think this Journal will help you figure all of that out for yourself. You can scroll down and download some samples here.


Present Journal - print standing web


Now I’m going to have to be quick. Baby is babbling, playing with her toes. And I’m forgoing lunch with the children right now to update you all (it’s pretty funny listening to their conversations when Mom isn’t right there!).


THANK YOU for the Real Life LETTERS coming into my mailbox. Readers have been answering my Post Script at the end of my book and sharing their precious time with me. And oh my. Do I have mail. I have Real Mail. With real paper written by real people with real pens. I can’t tell you what a blessing that has been!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.




In other news, Tree Man showed up at our house and took down the tree that three times tried to kill us (and almost succeeded). He and his partner said they couldn’t believe how HEAVY the limbs were, very unusual for the type of tree it was. It was good entertainment for the kids and neighbors to watch, but every time a limb came down, my body acted like everything was falling (unintended) again. In retrospect, I should have taken a long, long walk.




Well, it’s ready for a treehouse, I guess.




And we thank the Lord for providing us with a new (new to us!) van. It came already decorated :)




Meanwhile, life goes on. We not only had eight ducklings hatch from under their mama, we had four chicks hatch from a hen we kept brooding by adding eggs to her clutch. It was quite the delight to actually SEE the chicks come out from the eggs! And I have to say…having animals raise their own young is wayyyyyy easier than trying to do that ourselves. Plus, it’s adorable, as you can see.




In the house, we’ve been preparing for winter. We’ve canned plenty of fruits and vegetables, filled our freezer with meat and more vegetables, and have a bulk wheat order coming in soon. My next projects revolve around preparing herbs for cold and flu season, not only to prevent any illness (always the best course!), but to treat if needed.




Life goes on when net time is on break. There are toddlers to nap, laundry to hang up and then fold, meals to prepare and spelling lists to go over. It is a delight to have a home to keep, babies to love, a husband to enjoy, and soup to stir on the stovetop.




Lastly, THANK YOU for reading my blog! I know you have a bazillion other places you can be, both on the net and in Real Life. Thank you for sharing a piece of both of those worlds with me.




{ 1 comment }

When nothing is sure, everything is possible.

Margaret Drabble


Downsizing isn’t finished around here and has become more difficult. What to keep? What to get rid of? I crave the space but cling to the craziest things…like my lesson plan books I used when I was teaching 17+ years ago! But they were so good, I think, it was so fun… But I have never used any of those things in homeschooling, and even if I were to go back to teaching in a public school (not likely), I would do things differently.


But there they were: notebooks of photos, lesson plans, schedules, etc. and etc. (and etc.) I thought about giving them to someone and I thought about making up some nifty ebook about *whatever* from it all, but I finally just chucked them. I’ve also been going through all of our homeschooling books and curriculum. I have used so many different approaches, different books, different work texts…it just made up for a lot of books and things that not only took up space, but collected dust (literally). A friend taught me how to sell books on Amazon and woo-whee have I been making a lot of trips to the post office to mail books! I tell you what: it doesn’t hurt as bad to get paid to downsize! Slowly, slowly, I am consolidating my books to the ones I reference often, or reread. I figure if it’s just attracting more dust, I am blessing my children ahead of time with less to deal with later when I die.


Here are some other areas I am consolidating. Consider this a “7 Tips To Downsize!” with “BONUS 3 more for free!” without the annoying ads or pleadings to join my email list. (You’re welcome. But do join my email list :))

  • recipes: I know I don’t need 50 cookbooks, but that is what I’ve downsized to at this point (I know…it’s a sickness…). Any cookbook I kept for only one or two recipes went buh-bye and those recipes got copied into my recipe box. Someday I will go through that recipe box and flick out every card that hasn’t seen the light of kitchen workspace into the garbage can. And someday I will then downsize my cookbooks again (and again) until I can happily have…I dunno…five? I am finding that the library has a bazillion cookbooks I can try out, so that’s my plan for fresh inspiration when I need it. And then–wouldn’t it be cool?–I can type up all of my consolidated recipes into a personal cookbook!
  • art/craft/sewing instructions: so.many.tutorials. All just waiting for the nebulous time I’ll get to it “later” but you know what? Whenever I get that “later” time, I always find something else I’d rather do. But just looking at all of this stuff makes me long to make this or create that and promise myself (again and again and again) that I will get to it. So now I *am* getting to it…by letting most of it get-to-gone.
  • art supplies: I love art journaling and have started my second book. But I find that I am using the same materials over and over again, and I have a whole lotta of maybe-someday-meh things that are pretty to look at but I’m tired of maintaining and organizing. In fact, I am sick of “organizing”. I don’t care how well I do it; it still means s.t.u.f.f. I’m tired of plastic bins, shelves, binders, and drawers. Most of my art things happily went to an artsy friend of mine.
  • herbal recipes: I am an herbalist and have scraps of paper everywhere with recipes and notes on them. I am consolidating them all into two books: one for recipes and my own materia medica, and one for lecture and class notes. Once my lectures notebook is full (it’s almost there), I will just use the other one for everything.
  • photographs: I love Shutterfly, and manage all of our photographs there. One day I’d like to consolidate all of the old photographs into a digital book, but spending time on the computer is definitely not my thing (I’ll forgo the rabbit trail of where I see this blog going for right now…). What I’ve done with my loose photographs is gone through various stacks and tossed the extras. For example, when I came across photos for a holiday event, I tossed all of the repetitive or otherwise unworthy-to-be-saved pictures. Do I need 15 photographs of a child in various poses in a single outfit? I think not.
  • clothing: I am terrible with my closet. It’s not that I have too many clothes; I have very little. I’ve been trying to gather clothes according to some mathematical number (have so-many shirts, etc.) but I’ve since decided that I need *outfits* for certain days. I need a “going out” outfit, a “gardening” outfit, a “clean the house” outfit, etc. This is easier for me to manage; I can just grab Monday’s clothes. Mathematically, I guess that means like “ten outfits”, giving some flexibility to the week.
  • time: I’m always trying to arrange my time to give priority to what I feel is most important, letting go of *extra* tasks and outings that are not fueling my main purpose at this season in my life.
  • homeschooling: From many different curriculums, to joining together as one group. Finally. My oldest is 17 and I feel like I’ve finally come to peace with how we homeschool. Combining grammar with Bible with reading with writing with history and so on. Everyone working at their own levels, and with time to pursue their own interests. I know….because you’ve been asking…I need to write a homeschooling post or do a podcast on it. But I’m too busy homeschooling 😉
  • gardening: Well, it’s certainly easier to consolidate my gardening when there isn’t much to do! The old house we were in had never-ending (although satisfying) garden work, and this current house has kept us so busy with repairs and upgrades that I haven’t been able to spend time OR money outside in the kitchen garden. The raised beds desperately need to be weeded of morning glory and buttercup, and it seems so daunting. Furthermore, I need dirt and compost but seriously cannot find anyone to bring me $50 worth of soil. So do I want a dump truck delivered with a tremendous amount of extra for $364? I am soooooo thankful for our CSA down the street and cannot wait for the first box this upcoming weekend.
  • kitchen: One drawer or shelf at a time, that’s how it’s done. Do I really use 12 wooden spoons? No, I use the same 3 all of the time. Do I use my soup tureen? No, I just use the pot, even with guests. And so on…

One thing we just consolidated was the time we spend on our hens. I get the great idea of a chicken tractor and we’ve used one for many, many years. But it is falling apart, and it is daily work that takes time. I was ready for a simple coop with access to the outside pasture. Thankfully, we were blessed with a gentleman that gave us his labor and time in exchange for playing with his baby (and such a sweet baby!). So, he put up some gates in our yards to keep our toddlers safe and then built us a small coop to put the hens in at night. He also relieved us of our wasted feed problem. I am immensely grateful to him and wish he could continue to work for us, but he has his own homestead to work on.


Here is our easier chicken work load; isn’t it pretty? The duck house is in front of it; we brought that from our old house. The ducks free range, too. Having a livestock guardian dog is a very nice way to keep predators away.




The inside has crates for the nest boxes which will be far easier to clean than the wooden ones we had in the tractor. And there is PVC pipe for a continuous, clean, non-waste feed source, and branches for the roosts. We still need to set up a watering system, reinforce the bottom to discourage digging varmints, and put in bedding for the bottom.




I can’t say I love downsizing. The *idea* is great, but the work is hard. It’s not the difficulty of taking stuff out, although there is work in that. It is more of a mind and heart work, and a very stimulating and provoking challenge to where my treasures really are. I’m keeping my eye on the prize.




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Post-Due Date Waiting

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Raising (and Butchering!) Your Own Meat Animals

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Every now and again I wonder what everyone is rushing all about life for. Usually I think of this while watching traffic, knowing that each multi-thousand steel encasement has at least one person in it with places to go and things to do. And because of the stainless bubble surrounding said person, there is opportunity […]

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Opening Day at the Farmer’s Market

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Babies on the Farm-ette

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Well, trying to breed our doe milk goats twice in the past year has resulted in nothing more than a couple of contented goats making our pasture picturesque. After weighing our options, we decided that what we would add a buck to our small herd to avoid yet another trip to the breeders across a […]

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Possess and Dwell

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1 Corinthians 11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? I’m a homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling wife and mother of six who, even with all of the work that goes on around here, sometimes wonders at the end of the day, “Where did my day go?!” And I admit that when I […]

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Naturally Reared Animals

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Nothing in human nature is so God-like as the disposition to do good to our fellow-creatures.Samuel Richardson I am so thankful to the Lord for the privilege of keeping and raising a variety of animals. It is hard work, but the pleasure of being around them is but a partial return that includes meat, milk […]

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More Homemade Seasonings

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After my stint of garlic powder making, I was totally hooked on making our own seasonings. Never mind that most of our garlic powder now comes from China (and this writer makes some interesting observations about that); the color, smell and flavor of freshly made seasonings is out of this world. This only matters if […]

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Meet Our New Puppy

November 25, 2009

We have a new puppy and he is keeping me very busy! He was 8 1/2 weeks old when we picked him up, and he is settling in nicely. We never even had one night of whining from him, amazingly. I love the feel of his fur; it is so wooly! And dirt just dries […]

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Making Soap

November 17, 2009

I’m really not opposed to buying soap from the store, but I get satisfaction in understanding the process of how to make it and also in doing it “my way”. Also, I get an amazing amount of soap from a short stint in the kitchen! I like just following directions and recipes rather than trying […]

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Harvesting Honey

October 31, 2009

Well, I waited long enough to do this. First of all, I’ve never done any of this before. Second, I was so in awe over the whole process I didn’t want anyone to miss how beautiful the frames looked. And to harvest the first year! What joy! I showed the frames to everyone who visited, […]

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Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

October 7, 2009

I believe it was Matthew Henry who said something akin to when God sends mouths, He sends meat. We have seen this time and again in terms of provision in all things, and are so thankful for every bit of it. Lately, we’ve been drowning in bananas of all things. A friend of ours works […]

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Rewards of the County Fair

September 5, 2009

We participated once again in the annual county fair. It was a week of long hours, daily driving, and hard work. Every day I packed up six children and spent long periods of time on the fairgrounds, keeping my baby happy and my toddler corralled while the older children swept barns, greeted guests, and showed […]

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Barn Building

August 16, 2009

We’re currently building a small barn for our dairy goats. My husband has never built a barn before, but is doing very well using his knowledge of construction to make it happen. And me? I’ve never milked a goat in my life and although I’m enjoying the animals themselves (they’re so sweet!), my confidence isn’t […]

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