Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Last week our family was able to fulfill a longtime dream of ours of purchasing livestock. Granted, Cara didn't come to us in the traditional way, but she is ours nonetheless. Well, at least 1/14th of her.

Meet Cara
Cara, blog readers. Blog readers, Cara.
She's a little camera shy. But isn't she beautiful?
We purchased what is known in the state of Indiana as a "cow share". You can also purchase a herd share, but at this particular farm there are only five such "Dairy Queens" so for now, a cow share it is. In purchasing a cow share we became legal owners of Cara, and we pay for her upkeep and boarding.

All five ladies, doing what the ladies were made to do. Cara is in the middle.

Cara comes to us from This Old Farm, located in the rolling countryside of Darlington, IN. Cara lives on a beautiful, expansive farm of 22 acres and is quite spoiled by farm owners, Erick and Jessica Smith. She thrives on acre after acre of beautiful, nutritious, fresh green grass. As you can see in the above pictures, she quite enjoys her feast. She is living the pampered life, as a cow's life goes. She has lots of freedom and plenty of room to move and live and breathe...and gestate. That's right, Cara is also going to be a mama come fall.

Entrance to "This Old Farm". I love how the robin so nicely posed for us.
Cara is a dairy cow and as her owners we are blessed to share in the bounty of her silky smooth, fresh, raw milk. We also enjoy skimming the cream off the top and making homemade butter and buttermilk. The taste is incredible, the health benefits are plentiful and it sure doesn't hurt that we know where our food comes
from and that we are supporting an incredible, local, sustainable farm and more importantly, farm family.

Yummy goodness.
A proud, raw milk family
Each Sunday, we travel to the farm, which is about 35 minutes one-way, to visit Cara and pick up our milk. Cara is milked Sunday morning for us and we like to go directly after church. This means there are approximately 2 hours, give or take a few minutes, between the time of her milking and the time we pick-up our milk. It doesn't get much fresher than that! In fact, this past week, we got there so close to her milking time that the milk was not even completely cold by the time we got it. We take it home immediately, put it in the coldest part of our refrigerator and it is ready for us to enjoy in just a few hours.

Enjoying a fresh cold one.
We are so thankful for the way God has provided this resource for our family. We are taking baby steps toward a more natural and healthful lifestyle and teaching life's valuable lessons along the way. This isn't necessarily how we saw the dream of livestock ownership taking shape, and as much as we would love to have Cara for our very own, we recognize and accept God's provision and blessing no matter the form it takes.

So long, Cara. See you next Sunday!
In future weeks I plan on sharing how we came into cow ownership and why we feel it is important to drink raw milk. In the meantime, share in the comments how God is blessing YOUR family these days? And I'm curious, have YOU ever had raw milk?

I'm linking up over at Raising Arrows' Simple Homemaking Link Up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Boy Crazy

I love my boys! So many people have assumed that we were disappointed when we found out our most recent child was going to be a boy. And while it is true that my heart longs for another daughter and a sister for Madison, I was thrilled to hear that we were expecting our third boy. We are truly outnumbered in this household and I wouldn't have it any other way.

But sometimes? The testosterone can be a bit overwhelming.

Take yesterday for instance. I was summoned outside by Madison shouting, "Come quick, Mom! You've got to see this!" And, as I've noted before, those are words every mother dreads. It can mean something very, very good, or something very, VERY bad.

If any of you have boys, I am sure you could just let your imagination run wild considering what Madison could possibly be so excited about. Instead of me telling you though, I think you can only truly appreciate this heart-stopping moment by seeing what I saw.

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a ... tree???
 Let's have a closer look, shall we?

Why, yes, that is a boy in that tree. Why do you ask?
Peek-a-boo, Mom
Well, that's not really all that big a deal is it? I mean, climbing trees is just a typical right-of-passage for any young lad, right? Well, let's get a little bit of perspective.

And now?
Hmm...he's kind of high up there. Uh, maybe you should think about climbing down now, my sweet!

Might it be a big deal now?
Am I allowed to get nervous now?

Something about seeing my first-born son dangling 12 feet in the air just makes me a little uncomfortable. Can you say HEART ATTACK??? Needless to say, I demanded he come down immediately. (But Mooooom, why do you always have to go and spoil our fun?) These boys are going to do me in! Testosterone, I tell you!

The harrowing descent
Yes, as a matter of fact, there was some serious, fervent prayer going on at that moment!

Wait a minute. How did he get in that tree to begin with?

Aha! Caught red-handed!
Tell me, who do you think is the bigger kid?

But Moooom, it was just a little afternoon workout!

Hey Mom, check out the gun show going on over here!
Oh my! What's a mom to do? Ah well, at least I have two younger boys, maybe I can correct my mistakes with them.

Wait a minute!
It's true. There is never a dull moment in our house full of boys. It's quite an adventure for sure! Sometimes I wonder if I'm really cut out for this. I'm a mani-pedi, bubble bath, give me a massage kind-of-girl being thrown into a world full of wrestling, epic war battles and hilarious farts at the dinner table. But then I remember:

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127.3-5

So, is it all worth it? The loud burps, the stinky feet, the pure wildness, the testosterone-filled days?

You tell me.
Yep, livin' the dream. And loving every minute of it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ten Things I Swore I Would Never Do

I used to be a judgmental mom. I had a whole list of things I swore I would never do as a mother, or allow my children to do. And then I had kids. I am sure there are more, but here are 10 things I never thought I would do, in no particular order:

I will never allow my children to sleep with me.

Oh my, where do I even start with this one? Yeah, I'm pretty sure I broke this "never" before we even left the hospital with Madison. She stayed in our room for five months. And has slept in our bed many times since. Let's just say, this mama likes her sleep, and it is so much easier to roll over and nurse a baby back to sleep than it is to become fully awake, walk down the hall, nurse the baby, rock the baby, try to gently maneuver baby back into bed without waking the baby (an exercise in futility), and then attempt to get back to sleep if this routine happens to be successful. Yeah, I'm a lazy mom. What can I say?

I also have allowed children into my bed for any one of the following excuses ahem, reasons: "I'm puking", "I think I'm going to puke", "I just puked", "I'm scared of the dark", "I'm scared of the thunderstorm", "I had a bad dream", "I want to snuggle with you, Mama", "I wet the bed", "My brother wet the bed", "My sister wet the bed", "The dog pooped on my bed" (I wish I was joking), "Can I please sleep in your bed tonight?", "Daddy's not home and you need someone to keep you company", "It's really cold in here because the furnace is broken and it's 52 degrees in our house". Yeah.

I will never breastfeed longer than a year.

Again, this was one that I knew I would break from the word go. There is no way to describe the relationship and bond that is established when a mother nurses her baby. I remember the first time I nursed Madison, all I could think to say was "WOW!" I just kept saying that over and over because I was so in awe. And because she was a Hoover. Since then, I have become comfortable in my skin as an exclusively, on-demand, breastfeeding mama who practices baby-led weaning.

I will never let my daughter play with Barbies.

I used to hate Barbies. I mean LOATHE them. With a passion. I don't really know why. I guess maybe I thought they were degrading to women or some such nonsense. But my daughter, she is a girly-girl through and through. She is pretty much out of the Barbie phase now but she used to love Barbies. I am not sure how it started. I think someone got her one for Christmas one time and it was all downhill from there.

We still have some rules where Barbie is concerned. She has to be fully and appropriately clothed. No pregnant Barbie, no tattooed (nothing against tattoos) Barbie, and definitely no MasterCard Barbie. Thankfully we successfully avoided the Bratz phase. No way! Madison actually did get one for Christmas once and looked at it and said to me, "Why does it look mad?" I don't know baby, I just don't know.

I will never say "because I said so" or "because I'm the mom, that's why"

I always told myself that I would have a good reason for telling my children "no" and when they asked the inevitable "why", I would tell them. I would never use the above cop-outs. However, I have one particular child, that can be a bit, shall we say, obsessive? When this child gets an idea in his head, there is just no derailing that freight train. And then come the questions. And more questions. And arguments. And debates. And negotiations. And begging. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm the one doing the begging. "PLEASE STOP ARGUING WITH MOMMY. I'M THE MOM, I GET TO MAKE THE RULES. SOMEDAY YOU WILL GET TO MAKE THE RULES BUT THAT DAY IS NOT TODAY." Sometimes, "because I said so" is a perfectly legitimate reason. Yes, I know I have turned into my mother.

I will never let my child go into a store with dirty feet or a dirty diaper.

Oh man, was I ever naive! My child crawls across my kitchen floor and the tops of his feet are covered in dirt. I swear I mop my floor. But it is impossible to keep a child clean. And the degree of dirtiness increases in direct correlation with the importance of the occasion. Upcoming doctor's visit, and I want to look like a good mom who actually washes her child? Guaranteed diaper blow-out. Family picture day? Someone will puke, no doubt about it. Sitting on Santa's lap? Let's not even go there, shall we? Needless to say, we are now THOSE parents. The ones who let our kids take their shoes off in a restaurant. The ones who run out of diapers or wipes or changes of clothing when you need it most.

There was one particular occasion with Brady where we were out to eat and he had such an enormous explosion that by the time I had gotten him into the bathroom for a change, his entire back, neck, and arms were covered in...well, you get the idea. I am telling you, there were not enough wipes in the world to clean up this mess. So what did I do? Well, what any resourceful mother would have done! I held him under the faucet and cleaned him with soap from the soap dispenser. And Madison was my lookout. And then I proceeded to walk out of the restaurant with my freshly diapered (and bathed) baby. Unfortunately, all he was wearing was a diaper. In January. I'm telling you...THOSE parents!

I will never give in to one of my children's tantrums.

I have to admit, this is one I am pretty good at. I am no sucker, that's for sure, and my children know for the most part that if they throw a fit about something, they will not get that something. Then I had child #3. Let me let you in on a little secret about having your third child. Now this is highly advanced mathematics so try to keep up. YOU ARE OUTNUMBERED!!!! And we thought it would be a good idea to name our third child Brady. Does anyone happen to know what Brady means? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Brady means "spirited". That's right. And we're Irish. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and with my "spirited" child the battles are frequent. And don't forget, I'm a lazy mom. Sometimes, it's just easier to give 'em what they want.

I will never yell at my kids.

This one would be pretty funny, if it weren't so sad. I come from a family of yellers. I'm pretty sure that until I met my husband I didn't even realize people could communicate without yelling. It was seriously a novel concept to see his family sit down and resolve conflict without going on a tirade. In fact, in over 10 years of marriage, I can honestly say, Rick has never raised his voice to me once. I didn't want my kids to take after me in their communication skills so I resolved to never yell at my kids. This is one I try very hard to achieve, but way too often fall short. I guess one good thing has come from it though-I have mastered the art of apologizing to my kids.

I will never wear my baby in a carrier.

I never thought I would be one of THOSE moms. The ones who never put their babies down, who never have a moment to themselves, whose lives are dictated by the whims of an screaming adorable 7 pound bundle of joy. Well, my babies were closer to 9 pounds, thank you very much. I first became a "baby-wearer" out of sheer necessity. Need I remind you that I am sorely outnumbered? Not only that, but I actually have things I need to do that I use my hands for, so my carriers are invaluable to me. Add to that the fact that I can't stand to hear my babies cry, and I have become a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the baby-wearing club. And I love it! Tell me there is nothing more sweet than having a sweet baby snuggled up on your chest. I didn't think so. Don't knock it til you've tried it! Maybe I am a sucker after all.

I will never reward my child with food.

Don't judge me. Don't you judge me. When you have tried for the seventeenth time in one day to get an uninterrupted 5-minute shower, that Easter basket full of candy looks pretty tempting. Please, go have a peace of candy...and be sure to share with your siblings!

I will never lose myself in my kids.

Some women think in order to be a real woman you need to do it all. You need to have the career, and the perfect marriage, and the nice house, and maybe, if you have time, you can throw motherhood in there too. But be sure you stay true to yourself. Don't lost your identity. BALONEY!!! This is one I have NO regrets about. I AM A MOTHER. That is who I am. You cannot separate my identity from that of me as mother. It's not just a role I play or a hat I wear when it fits in my life. IT IS WHO I AM. I AM MOMMY, MOM, MAMA, MOTHER.  And that's okay with me. I don't want to be anything else. Sure there are other things I do that are important, there are other things I could say to identify myself. But this one? This one defines me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

What about you? Are you a judgmental mom? Were you ever? What made your top-ten list?


Today is also my mother's birthday. Our relationship isn't perfect but she's my mom. It's who she is. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Have You Ever Canned Sweet Potatoes?

I have.

Ethan checking out my new canning pot my in-laws bought me...just because. Wasn't that sweet of them?

Yes, we are THOSE parents.

Please don't turn us into CPS...we're just having a little fun!

And tell me, is that not the sweetest potato you have ever seen?

I'm linking this post up over at Raising Arrows.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Physical Education, Epsteen-Style

Today, after the kids had completed their assigned work for the day, they built a fort with the cushions of the couch and enjoyed a little physical activity. I snapped a few pictures of our highly advanced homeschool physical education curriculum. Enjoy!

Yep, that's how we roll. Good times.