City Girl, Country Woman ~ Living the Homesteading Dream

I grew up as a city girl, but I always longed for the country. My mother was a city girl who married my father, a country boy, and I’m an equal mix of them both.

Childhood Memories
Aerial View of My Grandparents’ Farm

My Dad grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas and I was always fascinated when we visited his parents at his boyhood home. They had a beautiful farmhouse, which seemed enormous to me as a child. It was surrounded by cornfields, and there were usually some animals, although they varied over the years. At times they had chickens, pigs, or cows, and there was usually at least one dog and some skittish cats. Trying to lure and catch them would keep my sister and I entertained for the better part of our visit.

I was always enthralled by the animals. I remember once when I was very young, for some reason I ventured into the muddy pig lot. I guess I wanted to pet them, but the mud was so deep that I sunk up to my thighs and I couldn’t get out. As the pigs ran frenzied circles around me, my Grandpa ran to my rescue. My mother was hysterical, fearing for my safety. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about, or why the pigs didn’t want to be petted.

My Grandma had a vegetable garden beside her house, and if we were visiting at the right time I got to tag along as she did some harvesting. It seemed like such a treat to eat foods raised right there on their farm. They really did seem to taste better.

Homesteading Dream

Those are some of the childhood memories I had of country life, and I wanted to experience more of it. My husband is kind of a mix, too. He grew up on his parents’ farm where they raised cows. Shortly after he graduated college he left for Houston and that’s where we met. He couldn’t wait to leave the farm and go to a big city, but after we married and started our family, we started to dream together about living in the country and being more self-sufficient.

My Green Thumb Sprouts
Homegrown Lettuces

My family moved around a lot while I was growing up. Scott and I have also moved quite a bit during our marriage, but it seemed each time it was to a house with a little more land, and a little further out of town. When our kids were young I kept busy with them, but I started dabbling with gardening in containers. I don’t remember being all that successful, but, hey, even a little bit of lettuce can be pretty exciting!

A Garden of My Own
Basket of Goodies from the Garden

When we made our big move to “the middle of nowhere” in southwest Missouri, that’s when my green thumb really grew. Scott helped me make some raised beds because we live on a hilltop with rocky soil. He even built a fence to protect it from marauding critters. I love spending time in there. It’s so peaceful. I have a bluebird house that my dad made mounted on one of the fence posts, and bluebirds flit in and out while I’m working. What could be better than keeping company with the Bluebirds of Happiness?! I like the smell of the dirt. I love seeing my seeds sprout and grow into (hopefully) fruitful plants.

A Melon Growing in the Garden

Harvesting the produce makes me feel thankful for God’s provision, and I marvel at His creativity. I think of it as my own little church because I do a lot of praying and singing out there.

The Orchard
Apples!

Over the years we’ve gradually planted our orchard. At the moment we have two peach trees, four apple trees, two pear trees, four cherry trees, and three blueberry bushes. It’s so exciting when they start blossoming and bearing fruit.

It’s challenging to protect them from insects and diseases organically, but I keep trying and learning. For nine years now I’ve grown more and more plants, and increased my experience with organic gardening.

God Provides
A Basket of Foraged Gooseberries

In addition to the plants I cultivate and nurture, I enjoy foraging on our 200+ acre farm. I collect raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, and mushrooms. Occasionally, we’ll get something like persimmons, pawpaws, or possum grapes. I feel gleeful like a kid when I’m able to prepare a meal with foods that we’ve raised and foraged ourselves. It’s a great feeling to be self-sufficient in that way. I’m overwhelmed at how much God provides for us.

Morel Mushrooms
Animal Tales

One of my ideas about country life is that you can have as many animals as you want, so we’ve also had fun raising an assortment of animals. We used to have a dog named Hattie, and she once had a litter of thirteen puppies. It seems like we also had a litter of kittens around the same time.

I’ve loved seeing my kids with all the kittens and puppies, chicks and rabbits. What child doesn’t like animals?!

When we first moved up here our daughter, Margaret, had a couple of rabbits. They actually rode in the back of the suburban with a cat (separate carriers) on the trip from Texas to Missouri. She raised several litters of baby rabbits before tiring of it.

Scott and his father built a nice chicken house soon after we moved here. I was so anxious to have our own fresh eggs. We enjoyed the chickens, and it wasn’t long before we added turkeys, ducks, geese and guineas.

Scott and Piglet

My husband and a neighbor worked together to raise some pigs for a few years. I wasn’t very involved in the caregiving, but I appreciated the pork in the freezer.

Mammoth Donkeys

For awhile we had horses, mules, and mammoth donkeys. I made the hard decision last year to give them up. Our daughter was leaving home, and my husband didn’t really share that interest with me. As much as I enjoyed them, it was time to go a different direction. Those are cherished memories, though, and I’m so grateful that I got to experience them. I’ve never taken more selfies than I did with those donkeys. They made me laugh.

Gypsy

Of course, I loved my horse, Gypsy, too. She was sweet and beautiful, and I learned a lot from her. In giving them up, I needed to feel like I had done everything possible to find them good homes. I prayed about it, and it took awhile, but God provided.

Many years ago we visited some friends in Seattle. While shopping there I bought this beautiful painting by artist Sarah Clementson Yeager. I had it framed and it has always hung where I could see it in the dining room – every dining room we’ve had since then. Although I didn’t think of it as a goal, I think it was kind of my dream in art form. I wanted the elements in that picture – the apple tree, the beautiful country setting, the cats and chickens peacefully co-habitating, even the table and chairs in the shade of a tree. I realized that I’ve attained that dream. There’s nothing I like more than looking over my shoulder out the patio door to see a mix of dogs, cats, and poultry, as well as our young cherry trees. Or some goofy guineas peeking in the window.

Goofy Guineas Peeking in the Back Door

I’m so grateful to God and my husband for this beautiful country life!

This post has been shared on some of my favorite blog hops.

 

City Girl, Country Woman

Homeschooling as a Ministry

Have you believed the enemy’s lie that if you stay home with your children that you’re not doing anything important? The truth is quite the opposite, you know – there is nothing more important that you could be doing. Even some of us who know better can find ourselves succumbing to his lies without realizing it. I hope to reveal the importance of the attitude we hold towards our job as homeschool moms.

What Difference Does it Make?

If you view homeschooling as a ministry, you’re more likely to protect it and give it the priority that it deserves. In contrast, if you don’t consider it that important, then you’re much more likely to feel guilty if you say “no” when asked to help with other ministries. If you’ve ever kept a change jar, you know how small change can add up to a surprising amount. It’s the same way with seemingly small obligations. By taking on too much, you’ll spread yourself too thin. You won’t feel like you’re doing anything well enough, and that leads to a frazzled mom and wife. That, in turn, leads to a home that is anything but the restful refuge that it is meant to be. You could even find yourself feeling like a failure and debating about putting your kids in school.

Seasons

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 niv)

There will be seasons of life when you will be able to help with other ministries and organizations, but while homeschooling your children, you need to make sure that you don’t whittle away your focus. While guiding our children is an amazing blessing, it is also very draining and can cause a whole range of tiring emotions. How much you commit to outside of your home should be carefully weighed.

Protect time and energy

People outside of homeschooling have no idea of the time and energy it requires. Your husband probably has the best viewpoint, and part of his role as the Principal is not only to support you in your teaching efforts by disciplining the children, but also to help protect your time and energy. When someone asks you to help with something, try not to give an immediate answer. Instead, tell them that you are going to pray about it and talk to your husband, and that you’ll get back to them. Then do both of those things. Give your husband a chance to help you evaluate the new opportunity and weigh the potential cost to your family responsibilities. If you both come to the conclusion that you should say “no” this time, then politely decline.

If you are a single homeschooling mother then you can still tell them that you will get back to them. Pray about it and seek God’s guidance in the matter. It may also be helpful to discuss it with a fellow homeschooling mother, or other supporter. You have even more on your shoulders, so its even more important for you to be deliberate in your commitments.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 niv)

The Mission Field at Home

How does your thinking change if you view your home as a mission field? By teaching your children from a Christian perspective, they will learn that history is really His-story. It’s the story of the spread of the Good News. You will probably learn many new things yourself as you learn the whole truth, not just the part someone wanted you to learn. You’ll be able to study the Bible, memorize scripture, and use it for writing practice. It can be woven throughout every facet of your homeschool, and your children’s lives. What can be more important than teaching your children God’s word and helping them build their faith on solid rock? You can read about one homeschooled young lady’s experience in her article, “How Homeschooling Protected My Faith.”

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 kjv)

When talking to other homeschool moms, I was surprised to learn that some of them had become Christians themselves as a result of homeschooling. An unbelieving husband may be positively influenced.

“How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16 niv)

Now can you see why Satan doesn’t want you to homeschool? And if you’re determined to homeschool, then how he might try a different tactic by playing on your guilt from “staying home and doing nothing” to cause you to overcommit outside your home? To do so will undermine your homeschool, and possibly even your marriage.

Hindsight

From my viewpoint, I can tell you that your homeschooling years will go quickly. Before you know it you’ll be standing where I am, wondering where the time went. You won’t regret focusing your time and energy on your children for that period. When they are grown, you will still have plenty of time for new mission fields. In fact, as your children become more independent, I recommend you start some new pursuits to help you transition from Homeschool Mom to Empty Nester for when that time comes. Homeschooling is a ministry – a commitment you have made to God and your family. Protect it as such and don’t let anyone weaken it.

Related Reading

7 Lessons I Learned from The Animal School and How They Shaped Our Homeschool

Learning How to Learn…And Loving It!

How Homeschooling Protected My Faith

This post has been shared on some of my favorite blog hops.


Homeschooling as a Ministry

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in Review

The new year is a time when many people make “New Year’s Resolutions,” but I quit doing that a long time ago. For me, that term has become synonymous with “January goal,” because not many of them make it past the end of the month. They’ve become a bit of a joke, don’t you think? However, My husband and I are big believers in goal-setting. I actually take goals pretty seriously, so I make them carefully.

Looking Back

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in ReviewHomeschooling was a huge goal. I believed that God asked me to homeschool our kids and that helped me to be committed to the very end. When our daughter graduated high school and that huge goal was met, I found myself thinking, “Now what?” Homeschooling had been all-consuming for fourteen years, so suddenly it was like I had a blank slate in front of me and I wondered how I’d fill it.Affiliate Links - Mid-Life Blogger

When I started blogging back in May, I chose the name “Mid-Life Blogger” because it seemed to perfectly describe where I was, and what I thought I’d be writing about. I spend some time looking back, sharing my experiences and memories. I also look forward to what the future might hold. As this year comes to an end I’m thinking back over my first seven months of blogging. I’ve learned a lot of new things and had new experiences. I learned that there’s a lot more to blogging than I’d ever imagined. In fact, writing may be the least of it. I’ve learned terminology, the technical aspect of putting a blog together and publishing posts, a little coding, how frustrating “algorithms” can be, and made a bunch of new blogging friends.

Highlights from 2016

I’ve published about sixty posts so far. If you found my blog recently, then I invite you to explore my past posts by skimming the categories or archives. Here are some highlights from this past year:

Looking Forward

I’ve set a goal to improve my photography skills this next year, and my husband helped by giving me a camera for Christmas. I’m learning how to use it and hope I’ll be able to add better pictures to my posts. I found a free online course that looks like a fun way to learn. If you’re also interested, it’s at http://ayearwithmycamera.com/. The course is free, but there’s an optional workbook that you can order from Amazon that goes with it. Be sure to let me know if you join, too. We can learn together.

In general, I plan to continue to learn and improve my blog. I like exploring and look forward to seeing where Mid-Life Blogger takes me, and what new people I meet. I have some fun ideas for the coming year, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on anything.

I wish you health and happiness in 2017!

Happy New Year!

Looking Back, Looking Forward ~ 2016 in Review

This post was shared in The Homeschool Nook Link-Up Party.

 

The Greatest Gift of All ~ Jesus Christ

As I deck the halls and shop the malls, it’s a time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Even though we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, this is when we celebrate His birth, the greatest gift to mankind.

The stores are filled with Santa Claus as the symbol for Christmas, and I’m afraid that for many people that really is all there is. You may receive a gadget that you don’t need, or a sweater that’s too small, but the Greatest Gift perfectly fills the God-shaped hole within us all. Santa just can’t compete with that!

Will You Accept?

God desires a relationship with us, but none of us are holy enough to be in His presence, so He supplied the perfect lamb, His only son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins and wash us clean with his blood so that we would be fit for eternal life with Him. However, it’s up to us to accept this perfect gift, as it won’t be forced upon us. And whether we accept or refuse The Gift has eternal consequences.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

Jesus is the Reason

Scripture tells me to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within me.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Jesus is the reason for the hope that is within me. I accepted Him as my savior and was baptized many years ago. Without Him I would have no hope of eternal life in heaven. Without Him I would have nowhere to turn for peace and comfort. He is my compass that helps me make sense of all the nonsense, and helps me see through Satan’s lies.

His Story

My #1 reason for homeschooling our children was to teach them everything from a Christian perspective. Have you ever noticed that “history” is His-story? The underlying importance of history is the story of the Gospel, and it makes a huge difference to study it that way.

I endeavor to be a holy sacrifice to God, to be a willing tool for Him to work through. Whether it’s to reach my children, someone whose path I cross, or someone who stumbles upon my blog.

If you haven’t accepted the greatest gift of all, then I encourage you to do that today. None of us are guaranteed even one more day, so please don’t put it off.

Make Jesus the reason for your season!

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 (NIV)

Cranberry-Grape Salad ~ A Holiday Favorite

This is a recipe from my husband’s family. It’s a favorite that everyone in his family expects to find on the table for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I actually asked for my mother-in-law’s permission so that I could safely share it with you without fearing for my life. (Just kidding!)

It’s a pretty simple recipe, the main thing is that you will want to make this salad well ahead of time – the day before, if possible.

Prepping doesn’t take too long, especially with the help of a few small appliances. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours does!

Cranberry-Grape Salad ~ A Holiday Favorite
My KitchenAid food processor makes quick work of chopping the cranberries.
Each of the ingredients prepped (the grapes are underneath).
All of the ingredients mixed together before adding the whipped cream.
I whipped the cream with my KitchenAid mixer and added it to the rest of the ingredients. After folding it in, I covered it and put it in the refrigerator to meld overnight.
Cranberry-Grape Salad
The finished product, put into a pretty Christmas serving bowl.

 

Cranberry-Grape Salad ~ A Family Holiday Favorite

Ingredients

  • 16 oz cranberries, chopped finely
  • 16 oz red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped

Instructions

  • This salad needs to be made well ahead of time, preferably the day before. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Keep refrigerated until needed. Stir well before serving. This recipe makes a lot, so it's perfect for a large family gathering, or party. Enjoy!
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Cranberry-Grape Salad ~ A Holiday Favorite

 

A Special Christmas Announcement

In December of 1997, Scott and I had a special announcement to make. We had just found out that we were expecting. It was already going to be a special Christmas because it was the first one in a new home that we had just built. Both sides of our families were going to be gathered together, so we wanted to think of a fun way to share our news.

Back then, “Crystal Kids” necklaces were in style, so I had the idea for Scott to get one for me, but to put two kids on it. When our son, Hayden, was about three years old, he started to ask for a baby sister. Scott and I told him that he should pray about it. (Mom and Dad did, too.) Even though we didn’t know if the baby would be a boy or a girl, we decided to go with a girl since Hayden had been praying for a sister.

A Special Christmas Announcement - Mid-Life Blogger
Crystal Kids Necklace

Scott wrapped the gift and put it under the tree with the others. On Christmas morning when I opened it, I held it up for everyone to see and admire. Scott and I tried to contain ourselves while we waited for someone to notice the extra child on it. At last, Scott’s mother, Sue, gasped and asked if we were expecting. So then we got to tell everyone that we were expecting a baby in August.

A Special Christmas Announcement
Hayden was so excited about his new little sister!

 

It turned out to be a little sister afterall! Hayden was so excited to be a big brother!

That Christmas stands out in my mind as a very special one for those reasons. Do you have a special Christmas memory? You are welcome to share in the comments.

This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop and the Friday Frivolity Link-Up.

A Special Christmas Announcement ~ Mid-Life Blogger

Stitch Fix News ~ December 2016

Since December is the month for giving, rather than receiving, I just couldn’t schedule a Stitch Fix for myself. Instead, I purchased one of their gift certificates for someone special on my list. (Shh! It’s a secret!)Mid-Life Blogger Affiliate Links Their gift certificates are so easy. You can order and pay online, and then choose how and when you want it delivered. Perfect for last-minute shopping, too – you could even order it Christmas morning and still get it there in time!

Instead of just giving a gift, you can give an experience.


Shipping has gotten so expensive that I’d rather add that amount onto the gift certificate. It saves me time, gas, and guessing, and I know that my special person will love it! (You could even forward this to someone as a hint.) They get two surprises. The first is when they receive the gift certificate, and the second is when their personalized Stitch Fix arrives.

If you are unfamiliar with how Stitch Fix works, you can read about it here.

Stitch Fix News
    • This past Fall, Stitch Fix introduced Stitch Fix Men, so now your boyfriend, husband, or son, can have the benefit of a personal stylist, too.
    • Stitch Fix now offers styling for Petites, Misses, Men, and Maternity.
    • They just recently added exchanges, so if you receive something you love, but the fit isn’t quite right, you may be able to exchange it.


A Few of My Favorite (Stitch Fix) Things

I’m affiliated with Stitch Fix and have been using their service since January, although I didn’t start blogging until late May. You can see what they’ve sent me since then by choosing “Stitch Fix” from the categories in the sidebar. I will also post a few links at the bottom. I’ve been happy with both the quality of the clothing, and their customer service.

This Fall, I went on a quick trip with my mother and sister. I wanted to travel with only a carry-on, so I planned a “capsule wardrobe.” Included were several items I’d purchased from Stitch Fix, including this pink cardigan.

Winston Open Cardigan by Bobeau
Winston Open Cardigan by Bobeau

I wore it the entire weekend! It’s hard to explain, but it kept me both warm and cool at the same time – this cardigan kept me comfortable. I also took this polka dot top.

Curran Split Neck Blouse by Pixley
Curran Split Neck Blouse by Pixley

This shirt and vest combination that I got in my September Fix have also gotten a lot of wear. I’ve been happy with both.

Corinna Brushed Dolman Knit Top, Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest, Molly Ankle Zip Detail Legging, and Petite Ballet Flats
Corinna Brushed Dolman Knit Top, Lazarus Quilted Puffer Vest, Molly Ankle Zip Detail Legging, and Petite Ballet Flats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who do you know that would love to experience a personal stylist?

I wish you a very, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

This post was shared on the Friday Frivolity Link-Up.

Helpful Links

Stitch Fix July 2016

Stitch Fix August 2016

Stitch Fix September 2016