My decision to leave the workplace and stay home

My decision to leave the workplace and stay home…

was a hard one! But it was the plan all along. Ever since we decided we wanted another child, and God answered with our little Liam, we had planned for me to leave the workplace and home school him…as soon as the debts were paid off.

Every single day, from the time he was born…until my final day in the workplace, almost 5 years later, was very difficult!

I missed him. I worried that the other children would pick on him and teach him bad habits. I worried that he would be unkind to other children. I was tired and short tempered and SO excited to see him every day after work. But we only had about 4 or 5 waking hours together on week days…

And for a while 3 of those hours were in the car, because we moved over an hour outside of the city when Liam was 3-1/2.

I was conflicted and unsure if I was making the “right” decision. Even though I am old enough to know that some things are neither right nor wrong in the broadest sense.

I was not sure if I would be a “good enough” mother, if I would have enough patience or if I would get bored being at home. If my child would be better off with less of me, or more of me. If our family would be better off with more money, or more of me. Would we ever…get…all…the…debt…paid…off?!

And then we did, it was all paid off and it was time to go for it, or be at peace with working.

I was not at peace with working.

I felt that I was stretched too thin to give my family my best, as long as I was working- even part time ( I did that for the last few months just to see if that would be a good fit).

So I left the work place, the 9 to 5… and stayed home… full time.

I still loose my temper from time to time. I still get overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities and I still doubt myself. But I don’t regret the time that I have had with this precious little boy.

I love the extra time that I get to ..just..think, to crochet, to clean..my..house…!

I have time to meal plan and scrimp and save,.. and..frett;P

I have time to get all the laundry clean and put away before my husband gets home from his looong commute. And time enough to cook nice meals.

I was just getting used to it.

…and then my husband was given a job offer only 3 miles from our very rural home.

A job that would mean being way beyond frugal…It will mean that we will have to sell things that we make and maybe pick up odd jobs here and there to make ends meet.

And I am scared!

But …I am also excited to spend more time with my husband. This new job will mean 3 hours more time at home for him …per…day!

So ..it’s okay. And I can be excited and scared all at the same time.

 

All great adventures start that way I suppose!

 

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Truly a weekend to remember

Vacations are a rarity these days, especially with a toddler and a barn full of hungry animals. Thankfully, due to the grace and friendship of neighbors who agreed to take on our responsibilities we spent this past weekend on the wonderful island of South Padre. It wasn’t just a simple time alone however. We enjoyed the tremendous pleasure of a Weekend to Remember Getaway retreat by FamilyLife. It was not only a great respite from the daily grind of farm and work life, but it was indeed a weekend to remember spent with the one I love.

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Our love for each other has been a wonderful adventure these past 10 years, but in these three short days we learned more how to better apply the precepts of love, respect and honor.If you and your loved one have yet to take a weekend to remember, we highly suggest you find a way to do so. If you’d like more information about the weekend getaway, please feel free to ask us.

Or better yet, find a Weekend to Remember event near you!

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Father’s Day and Dodging a Bullet

Father’s Day and Dodging a Bullet

This past weekend I was blessed with a wonderful Father’s Day! It has been much more difficult to get the whole family together since most of them have grown, left the nest and started out on their own lives. This Sunday though it was an absolute pleasure to welcome four of the six home for a day of talking, laughing, playing games and a visit to our “petting zoo.”

There were a few moments when the kids were together laughing and talking and I just stood back to savor the precious sounds in our new home. Other times I couldn’t help but to butt in and join the fun. It was really fun to watch our littlest try to keep up with the activity and conversation of his bigger siblings.

For dinner each of us crafted our own pizza and enjoyed devouring the results.  We followed up our meal with some homemade chocolate cookies and a game of Apples To Apples. It was a great time to have such fun around our dining room table again.

Once the festivities died down I wanted to take advantage of the setting sun (and temperature) so I hopped on my tractor to do some quick mowing. I ran the tractor along the fence line when all of a sudden the tractor died abruptly. I got it started again, but could not get it to go forward with the mower engaged. A quick inspection revealed that I had apparently failed to clean up a small bundle of wire I had used the previous weekend while putting up some fence. The mower blade had sucked it up and wrapped it tight around the shaft. I took a few quick tugs, but it didn’t appear it was going to be an easy fix. I gave up for the night in order to get back to the kids who were preparing to leave.

I returned my attention to the mower last night with some measure of anxiety since I had learned that the blades on a brush hog are tightened to such a degree that I knew I would be unable to remove them with my limited tools. I was armed only with a hacksaw, wire cutters and some pliers. Thankfully it took just a few strokes with the hacksaw and the tight bundle released itself. The pliers made an easy job of removing the remaining wire and the blade was free and clear.

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Almost there and fundraising

I can barely believe that our nearly three year journey will come to fruition in just a couple of weeks! Our house is almost complete and we will be calling the farm our home by the end of March.

We have been genuinely satisfied with our choice of a house construction contractor, Bland Construction. We have run into very few issues in the building process and even those were handled quickly and satisfactorily. I know had we chosen one of the other contractors we received bids from that this process would never have gone so smoothly and probably with less quality that those at Bland have provided.

houseOnce we get moved in, our next task is to begin bringing in the livestock, but before we can do that we need to finish fencing in the barn are where our new critters will call home. As such, we launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the money we need for fences, animals and all the associated accoutrements involved. Almost all of the fence posts are in the ground and we have all the fencing we will need to close it up. If you would like to financially help us out we would be extremely grateful as the cost of building and traveling between our city and future homes have been considerable.

We’ve been doing our research on the kind of sheep and goats we plan to acquire, but the process is one of those daunting tasks that we want to get right. My wife is very excited about the sheep and her plan is to purchase some Delaine Merinos for their wonderful wool. The goats are my project and I’m still wavering between dairy Nubians, meat Boers or a combination of both.

In other news, we did take a weekend off from working on the farm back in February in order to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas. There were a lot of great exhibitors there, but I most enjoyed the presentations by Joe Salatin and Wranglerstar. We also had the opportunity to meet the Wranglerstar and Homestead Kids families in person. It was a wonderful day of “downtime learning” and friendship.

On the move, one step closer to the homestead

movingday2014I picked up the U Haul truck early Saturday morning and by 8:30 am our “hive” was buzzing with activity. The day sure went by fast, but once I returned the truck and the sun started to fade my body tried to tell me it was time to take a break. I pushed through the overwhelming desire to collapse on the couch so we could arrange enough furniture to make the rental feel like home.

The dogs have already taken to the place and they sure enjoy chasing all the little bunny rabbits that frequent our back yard. Our littleman was so cute throughout the day, trying to find ways to be helpful. I’d give him a can of peas or a couple of his books and he would proudly take whatever he was given and help load up the new house.

I also managed a chuckle when I brought over the second load of furniture. The rental was in a great state of disarray, as to be expected, but I glanced in my teenage daughter’s room and she already had everything in place, the bed put together and made up with her new sheets and blankets.

We still have a few trips to make between the two homes to pick up small and stray items left behind (as well as all my tools), but we accomplished great things in two days. Of course in the midst of all the excitement I managed to come down with a sinus infection, but had to work through it. When you are on a deadline like this there are no sick days!

Once we get settled in to the rental we’ll begin another round of purging and organizing so that when the time comes to move to the farm we will be able to do it in one trip. We won’t have the luxury of being so close so multiple trips is out of the question.

Why we are making this transistion

© SmollaI have honestly been surprised at how many people are actually happy and supportive of our decision to leave city life behind. However, for every four or so people who love the idea there is one who asks, “Why in the world would you do that to your family?” ; “How are you gonna make that work?” — or something to that effect. I do have to be realistic and admit that I have asked myself these same things, but doing so has really helped to shape our decision-making into an even firmer picture.

Here are a few of the reasons (not in any particular order other than what pops into my head first):

Family

Modern life is nothing short of chaotic. Corporate employment, the demands of public education, and organized sports used for the purpose of giving kids “something to do” are among the short list of activities pulling families apart.

Even when we incorporate family dinner at the table to discuss family and activity issues, the minute the food is done everyone scatters to their next event.

The conceptual design of modern life has so many ways to escape from what is real that reality itself almost becomes a myth. The idea of something being real become so abstract that people seem to have to make uninformed decisions on what is real and what is not. These concepts become rooted in a societal soup that is so contrived and manipulated it is no wonder that families don’t know their members (and perhaps even themselves) very well.

A return to a rural farm is what we believe will help bring a family back in touch with each other. We will have to work together and communicate about concepts and ideas that are truly important and based upon things that are tangible, not peripheral and inconsequential.

 Food

Unless one buys their food from a local farmer’s market, the question about the source of what is on the table is always in question. How was it grown, how were the people who grew and harvested it treated, what is or is not in the food that we are eating?

Those questions are no longer in doubt when you bring your own food to the table. If there are hazardous chemicals in it, the fault is your own. Sure there are the real possibilities that a crop could fail, but wise planning and stewardship can prevent total disaster.

Spirituality

God is alive and well, but He sure seems to get a back seat in the normal day-to-day of “civilized society.” When a population derives its hope from corporations and governments, their view of God’s hand upon their lives is twisted and skewed.

On the other hand, when we can escape the sterile confines of brick and sheet rock walls to the expanse of nature’s grass, trees and weather, our understanding of forces bigger than us becomes much more tangible. We can see the intricate beauty of creation happening right in front of our eyes.

This builds a connection between the seen and unseen that goes almost unnoticed in a life that strives to artificially subdue the environment.

Peace

Nature is not silent, however, the natural noises of wind, rain, birds and other animals do not reach the ear in the same way that sirens and car alarms do. Most people find time in their schedules to escape from the chaos of urban life, but why not make urban life the anomaly rather than the other way around?

Pride

This is not the narcissistic pride that puffs one up artificially. This is a real sense of personal satisfaction that occurs when you see something you have done with your own hands. Food always seems to taste better when you know how hard you had to work to bring it to the table yourself. When you see the smiling faces of your family enjoying the fruits of YOUR labor and not someone those of some unknown stranger, there is a satisfaction that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Personal Growth

Who knew I could cut down a tree and turn it into a beautiful new gate for our property? People in the city have so much untapped potential it is almost a travesty to see it go to waste. In the city we spend so much time trying to get from this activity to the next that we lose the ability to truly try new things. We don’t experience our limits because we don’t often get the opportunity to challenge ourselves. Failure is certainly an option, but it is in the trying that we learn and grow.

Existence, to me, is not an hour on the couch watching television because my mind is too exhausted to create new adventures.

 Desire

Not everyone thinks this way, nor does everyone have what it takes to make this kind of transition. Believe me, even with all the previous reasons, without the desire to see it through, this would be a ridiculous move on our part. The reality is that we DO have this desire and it comes deep from within. It has been there all along, but we just didn’t know what to do with it. We tried to adapt to “civilized life,” but there was always a yearning to do things differently. Because we share this desire, we are willing to take our family on this journey, together.