Photo Purge

I had quite a few photos on my phone and was running out of room.  So why not share them here.

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Lili and Naomi get a little help from Zoey

 

 

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Visit to the Gandhi Garden

 

This girl loves Snapchat and I have a lot more pictures to prove it.  Just don’t have the room here to post them all 🙂

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We went to the museum and found out that there will be a new exhibit soon.  Lili is VERY EXCITED!!!!  I’m guessing we will see this exhibit several times.  Good thing we have a family pass.

 

 

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Time for a selfie while waiting for our friends to arrive.

 

In looking at these photos, I think it’s pretty clear to tell which one likes to have her picture taken.

 

The Family Tree

For the last several years, I’ve had a growing interest in learning more about my family tree.  The internet makes finding that information easier than ever, so tonight I spent some time searching for information about my family.  Information, that was likely shared with me in my younger days, but since forgotten.

For example, I knew one of my grandmothers had given birth to 11 children.  What I didn’t know (or didn’t remember) is that this same grandmother was the oldest of 15 children.  Holy Smokes!!!!!  Those were some big families!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember hearing that my other grandmother had a baby who didn’t live long.  What I don’t remember ever hearing the name of that baby.  Tonight I discovered her name was Elsie and she was born on April 28th.  She was apparently names after my grandmother’s older sister.

In just an hour of searching I found names of great aunts and uncles, great-great grandparents, great-great-great grandparents as well as the names of their children.  Several Alfred’s and Mary’s.

History is amazing and I think I’ll continue to dig a little deeper.  I can only imagine what I’ll find growing on my family tree.

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Plans Change

We have had a lot of plans for our future and as is true for most of us in life, those plans sometimes need to change.

One thing our move to Texas has made me realize, is that I need to let go of some of those things I really had hoped to do in life. Like farming. Yes, I’ve had to let go of the farming dream. For a number of reasons, it’s just not feasible for us in the future.

Why?

For those of us who may not be familiar with the Dallas area, it’s a very large city that is growing in leaps and bounds right now.

Hubby recently heard that there were approximately 1000 people per day moving into the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area. Texas has made it easy and lucrative for businesses to move here and that is exactly what they are doing. Many large companies have pulled roots from other states and move or are moving to Texas. Dallas is a magnet for many of these companies who are building their offices here. This, of course, means building more houses, apartments, roads, schools, etc.   This also means buying up more farm land to expand and build on. Every day I pass fields with farm animals roaming around as shopping centers are being built across the street and roads expanded to carry the additional traffic thru that area.  The land that those buildings and road are now sitting on used to pasture for these farm animals, so there is less farm land available now.

While roads are being expanded and probably beyond, traffic becomes a problem. We’re fortunate to enjoy some farm scenery around the RV park, but this also means hubby is commuting to work. His commute can vary from 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic. While this is doable for the time being, it’s not something he wants to do his entire working career here and I don’t want him to. After all, any additional time he spends on the road is time he isn’t here with his family. That’s not a good trade-off.

The additional influx of businesses means the job market here is outstanding!!! It also means the real estate market is booming. As I’ve looked at real estate have discovered three things.

  1. The cost of buying land we can build on is more than we can afford.
  2. The cost of buying an existing farm is even more cost prohibitive.
  3. Hubby’s commute would be as far as, or possibly further than it is now.

Aside from the cost and commute, we have had to decide what is most important. Specifically, what are our priorities now that we live in the DFW area?

Ultimately, we decided that getting a farm down here is out of the question.  My hope is that we are able to find a home that sits on a large enough piece of property that I can do some gardening. That will be the extent of our farm life. A home with a pool and nice outdoor living space is what we will look for in our home down here. More travel seeing other parts of Texas, the U.S. and the world is what we desire.

Some of that travel will need to include visits to other’s farms so I can get my fill of the farm life I’m leaving behind.

Sometimes our priorities in life change and even though I would love to do all those things my heart desires, I have to pick and choose those things that are most important – spending time with family, seeing the world, enjoying life – those are the biggest desires of my heart so that is what I need to do.

We close on our home in Illinois next week and some have asked when we’ll be buying a house down here.

Unfortunately, because the housing market hasn’t bounced back in Central Illinois like it has here in the DFW area, we won’t be putting any money in the bank from the sale of our house. We refinanced our house when the market was really good and used the additional funds toward the adoption of our girls. In essence, we received the proceeds several years ago and now we’ll be in the position of trying to save enough money to buy a house down here.

All the changes in our life are good though. These changes are life experiences and life experiences are what keeps life interesting.

So we’ll continue to enjoy RV living. We’ll enjoy some travel. We’ll spend time with family. Hopefully one day we’ll buy a house. Along the way, we’ll do our best to enjoy life and make memories.

 

 

Adventures, The End

After our drive thru the Garden of the Gods, we headed south to Texas.

The drive thru Colorado a mixture of beauty and just okay.  Then we hit New Mexico.  Holy Cow!!!  What beautiful country.

The girls and I were excited to see something other than deer crossing signs.  Like bear crossings.  Elk crossings.  I think we even saw Moose crossing signs.

Of course seeing the signs was exciting.  Not quite sure how I would have felt actually seeing any of these animals in front of my vehicle.

Then we hit Texas.

Ummm!!!!  The drive across the border to Amarillo was not exciting.  There is nothingness there.  Some homes scattered about.  A few hills.  Some farms.  But mostly nothingness.  Miles and miles and miles of nowhere to stop.  That’s really not fun when a bathroom is needed.

We finally hit Amarillo and checked into our hotel.  A short time later my stomach began feeling rough.  Hubby took the 3 oldest to the pool and I stayed in the room, at times doubled over with severe stomach upset.  Was it something I ate?  Had I managed to contract the flu?  I didn’t know and really didn’t care.  I just wanted to feel better.

By morning I was feeling better and we were on the road again.  Destination – the Dallas area.

We spent 2 1/2 days with hubby’s sister, her husband and their granddaughter.  She has two kids in the area and her youngest son flew in from New York to spend the holiday weekend with family.  It was a wonderful time.

The day after Thanksgiving we avoided all shopping and headed to the Dallas Zoo.  After all the times we’ve spent in Dallas, this was our first visit to the zoo.  Hubby and our brother-in-law stayed home while the rest of us spent a few hours in the sunshine taking in the sights and sounds of the zoo.

When taking 7 kids, ages 7 and younger to the zoo, there is bound to be fun, tears, laughter, and a meltdown.  Mostly, it was fun and a nice day out.

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Then it was time to head home.  We had an overnight stop in Springfield, MO where we met up with some dear friends for dinner and visit.  Then our 10 days of travel were over and we were home.

Our trip was met with some challenges.  Traveling with 4 kids isn’t necessarily easy, but mostly we came home with good memories and are glad we hit the road for a few days.

Life’s Challenges

Life is challenging right now.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just challenging.

Every day we see improvements in the boys, but every day we have challenges, especially with FS1.  As foster kids do, he came with baggage.  Every day we preach kindness and respect.  Every day we see him trying to demonstrate those things in little ways.  Knowing a little about the environment he came from, I have no doubt it’s a challenge for him, but he is putting forth great effort.

Kindness and respect is also something that Naomi is hearing a lot about these days.  She has been displaced as the youngest child in the family and while she was very excited about it at first, she isn’t always handling her new role in the best way.  Jealously has reared its ugly head more than a few times and time-out has become a popular past-time for both Naomi and FS1.  It’s one of the many challenges right now, but there are little signs that it’s improving.

FS2 has done remarkably well.  I recently found out that he was a co-sleeper.  I had a strong suspicion that was the case, but he wasn’t sleeping soundly with me the first few nights and has since become a pretty good crib sleeper.  We’ve learned that he HATES being covered up, so warm jammies take the place of a blanket and most nights now he sleeps thru the night.

Teething has been another challenge we’ve been facing.  FS2 came to us with 4 bottom teeth and a ton of drool.  This week his first top tooth emerged and 3 others on trying to work their way thru.  He has had some rough moments with the teeth since being here, but overall he has proven to be a pretty happy little guy and is attaching and bonding well.  He has made it clear that he prefers me and will whip his head around when he hears my voice.  He also cries when I walk in the room and immediately wants me to pick him up.  He craves that attention and it’s challenging.  With 3 other kids to care for, I can’t give him all the attention he wants and probably needs, so we’re trying to find a good balance.  We’ll get there.

Lili has probably handled all the adjustments the best.  She went from the big sister of one to the big sister of three.  She has become a wonderful momma’s helper and enjoys caring for FS2 when my attention needs to be elsewhere.  She is learning how to feed him, will give him a bottle, but isn’t eager to jump in and change diapers yet.  Naomi, on the other hand, is all about the diapering.  She’s even willing to try changing dirty diapers.  Between the two of them, I’m just about set 🙂  Not too many challenges with Lili right now and that’s a good thing.

I took FS1 in for testing and he qualified for the pre-k program.  We now have the new challenge of sending him off to public school each day and getting our homeschooling done.  This is something new this week and we’ll find a good rhythm that works for us.  It’s just not going to happen this week.

Another challenge is the boy’s visits with mom and dad.  It’s part of the deal in foster care.  Parents need the opportunity to fix what was broken and kids need to continue their relationship with mom and dad while things are being fixed.  They’ve been with us 1 month on Sunday and they’ve had one visit with mom.  I really can’t go into detail, but I will say that punctuality doesn’t appear to be a strong trait of moms, so they’ve spent very little time with her and haven’t seen dad at all yet.  Getting regular weekly visits has been a challenge, but it’s much more a challenge for their case worker than it is for me.  My challenge comes in making sure they are ready and then sitting back and waiting to see if things will work out.  So far, it hasn’t worked out, but it’s early in the game.

Harvesting and preserving the harvest has also been a big challenge this year.  Getting sick really set me back and my energy level still hasn’t returned to normal.  I managed to pick tomatoes last weekend and canned 6 pints of tomato sauce, but that’s all I could handle.  I still have tomatoes that need to be canned and more tomatoes on the vine to be picked.  The weather has also hampered things.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer and it’s raining as I type this.  I’ll do my best to get everything done, but between the kids, school, activities, and my recovery, it’s not going even close to what I had planned.

Hubby begins a new job on Tuesday.  It’s with the same company, just a new position, but we had to making some scheduling changes.  One of those changes was cancelling our cross-country field trip.  The boys were another reason we had to cancel.  We could have taken them, although we aren’t sure we could have taken them for two full weeks, but the bigger problem was hubby getting started in the new job.  I can’t provide details other than to say that it was a slow process moving into this new role and the customer wanted him in the job weeks ago, so taking 1-2 weeks off right now really wouldn’t have been the best decision for his career.  So we cancelled for now and will work to reschedule it for a later date.  My challenge now is not focusing on the fact that we were to leave early tomorrow morning on this trip and instead we’ll be staying home.

Like I said, we have challenges, but they are manageable challenges and aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

There is one other challenge as well and that’s my computer.  It’s beginning to die a slow death and we’ll be replaced soon.  As such, I’m limiting my computer time and not uploading pictures until I have a new computer to use.  Of course I can’t share pictures of FS1 or FS2 and I do apologize for the lack of pictures on my blog.  For now, I’ll share some picture quotes which seem very applicable to my life right now.

Gone Fishin

Last year, hubby decided to try his hand at fishing.  Before long he had his rod, reel, tackle and was with a friend at a local pond learning how to fish.  He caught his first fish and discovered that he very much enjoyed fishing.  Then it became a family affair.  The girls and I got rods and reels for family fishing fun, but we didn’t get out much at all last year.  Then we went to Texas and spent a few hours at a pond with some of our family.  Hubby caught a fish, I caught a fish, and Lili reeled in another fish that hubby caught.

A few weeks ago, hubby took the girls out for a daddy daughter fishing trip.  Naomi caught her first fish.

 

A little blue gill that was only big enough for a photo-op and was then put back in the pond to grow.

By this point, Lili still hadn’t caught her first fish, so when we found out that Bass Pro Shop was having a catch-n-release event over the weekend, Lili wanted to go.  She was so excited about the possibility of snagging her first fish.  It didn’t matter that she would be fishing in a swimming pool.  It didn’t matter than she would not be using her own rod and reel.  She just wanted the experience of catching her first fish.

Success!!!

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She had almost caught one before this one, but the fish had managed to set himself free as she pulled him out of the water.  A short time later, she had her first fish on the line.
It was pure joy and excitement for all of us.

Naomi also participated.  Due to her height, she needed a bit of assistance which included daddy holding her and mommy helping her with the rod, but she was successful too.

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Hopefully our next fishing trip will prove to be a great success for all of us.

A Visit to the Farmy (Long Post, Lots – o – Pictures)

When hubby and I first decided to switch direction and move to a more self-sufficient lifestyle in the country, I began searching for other like-minded folks. My search lead me to a blog, written by a woman who lives here in Central Illinois. Immediately, I knew I would enjoy following Cecilia’s blog posts over at The Kitchens Garden.  (If you’ve never visited The Kitchens Garden, I encourage you to hop over and follow along.)

I shared our desire to move to the country where we can raise our own food and Cecilia graciously invited us to take advantage of the space she has at her farmy, to begin raising some of our food.  The invitation was so very appreciated and the excitement of organic, humanely raised meat one day gracing our table was exciting.  We were being given the opportunity to experience just a small piece of the life we hope to one day live and we jumped at the opportunity.

After reading her blog for many, many months and then trading a few emails, we took a drive to meet Cecilia.

Having seen so many pictures of Cecilia’s home on The Kitchens Garden, I was sure I would recognize the house.  Then, as we turned off the main road, I saw it.  The farmy I had seen so many times in picture, was before my very eyes.  I spotted the Barn Across the Way and felt my excitement grow.

As we pulled onto the lane, I was again assured we were at the farmy.  Daisy, Queenie, the Bobbies and Marcel were grazing in the pasture.  Mama and her crew were enjoying a sunny graze further back in the pasture.  The Big Dog and Ton Ton greeted us as we pulled up in front of the house.  Boo was by the barn barking excitedly upon our arrival.

Cecilia came to the car to welcome us and she was just as I had expected and more.  A lovely woman who made us feel so very welcome at the farmy.

We were introduced to John, affectionately known as “Our John” on her blog and then we were off to meet our pig, Number Three.

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We were told that he’s growing fast and is certainly bigger than his pen companion.  He was more than happy to come see us and the girls were happy to give him some love and attention.  We had brought some food scraps from home for him.  It was just a little, but made me happy to know that we contributed just a little bit to his care.

 

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As I expected, Naomi asked what his name was and when she discovered he had no name she promptly called him Sasha.  Our attempts at teaching our girls to not name their food has been a complete failure.  One day Sasha will grace our dinner plates and my hope is that Naomi will be happy to know that she provided Sasha with some love and attention, which is certain to make the meal even more tasty 🙂

We then moved into the barn to see the Red Pig and just a few steps further were Sheila and Poppy.

Poppy very kindly gave me a muddy smile.

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And Sheila waited until we all moved outside before saying “cheese.”

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Lili loves animals and seems to have a way with them.  Boo absolutely enjoyed some Lili love.

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Later Ton Ton got lots of attention and exercise as the girls threw toys and sticks for him to fetch.

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Of course the girls fell head-over-hills for Tima.  Being such a cute and personable little pig, how could one not love Tima.

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We saw the baby chicks and ducks.

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And the girls were able to experience their first time holding a baby chick.

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We had a delicious lunch of homemade pizza and later Lili and I were able to churn butter!

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I really can’t express how thrilled I was about churning butter and Lili, full of concentration, did the majority of the churning.

Cecilia was a wonderful teacher as she walked me thru the final steps.

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As I listened and watched intently, I neglected to continue taking pictures of the process, but I’m sure I can remember to strain off the buttermilk (use for pancakes the next day), pour ice-cold water over the butter and using a wooden spatula, carefully push and separate the butter working the remaining buttermilk out of the butter.  Continue rinsing with ice-cold water until there is no more creamy white water left.  If desired, add a little Kosher salt, mold, wrap and refrigerate.

Now I want a dairy cow, a butter churn, and molds.

The girls collected eggs from the chickens, we met some newer farmy neighbors who stopped by and then met the Matriarch.

Four hours later we said our good-byes.  We left with fresh eggs, butter that we churned, new friendships, and wonderful memories.  A day that we very much-needed and I thank you Cecilia for your hospitality, the experiences, the wonderful food and the memories.  We look forward to our next visit, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.   And as Naomi said so eloquently, “Cecilia, your farm is amazing!!”

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