Saturday, September 13, 2014

We're Still Here!

Where to begin? Oh, where to begin?

Hello sweet friends! I've missed you so much. {really} It's been an adventure. An adventure of extreme ups and extreme downs. Sigh.

In the past few months, we have packed up our home in the city, moved to the country, living out of a 300 square foot camper with no sewage, sometimes, no electricity and limited water in the beginning.

Here are a few select pictures (mind you, my camera is still not in full working mode, but I'm working on it. Need to take the lens in to be fixed) of the past few months, in random order. We still have no internet at home (with the exception of my small, limited phone) so Chick-Fil-A's WiFi will  have to do for now.
 
My washing machine in the woods beside the barn. This was part of my biggest problem, keeping clean clothing on 7 bodies during the rainy season here in Florida. But, I did it!
 
Our well, giving us refreshing spring water right from beneath our ground. Filled with minerals and freezing cold. When we first arrived at the property permanently, we were hauling water in buckets for animals and washing. Thankfully, we had a hose to hook up to our camper which gave us running water for our sinks and toilet. 

Here are the kids on our first morning without daddy. Rob commuted to work and after a pancake breakfast and chores we decided to make a play fort. One thing that I miss about living in the camper is that we used to play outside ALL DAY. It was HOT, but we were outside and the kids and I went walking and exploring all the time. We finally gave in and bought a pool to ease our heat exhaustion. Wish we would have done that sooner. I also kept the children alive via popsicles from our barn refrigerator.
Here is a mere glimpse of our wash drying on the line. It was constant. Having a dryer is such a luxury!!! A luxury I tell ya!

Our "Little House on the Prairie" fencing job. We needed a quick fence once we arrived at the property for Molly and Mabel. They hung out in the stalls we have previously built for them for the day until we got this sweet fencing up. Wish we would've put a little more time into the strength of it because Ranger was able to herd our Mabel around, causing her to jump the fence several times. Glad she was wearing a halter. The girls earned tags after that episode.

Daddy and Titus playing on the floor of the camper after dinner one night.

A rainbow over our new town. More pictures of our new area to come. Warning...serious quaintness warning!
 

Taped off hog plum trees so our land clearer didn't take them out.

Molly, waiting for her fencing.

The barn JAM PACKED with our stuff, waiting for the house to arrive so we could unload. We used the barn and a storage unit to store everything we didn't use on a daily basis. The daily things we put into the camper.

The camper after dishes one morning. One thing is for sure, we never needed more than 20 minutes to deep clean it!

Molly and Mabel in the Burger King parking lot while Rob ran in to get some "food" for lunch on our moving day. We got a few stares. {grin}

Our future home lot waiting for our house. We stared at it everyday, played dump trucks on it and waited patiently.

The barn Rob built.

Chicken coop awaiting chickens.

Ranger waiting to go.

Pulling in for the first time to permanently live there.

Pulling away from our city home. We have the BEST renter!!! A retired single guy who likes to improve houses. Score.

 

Good bye sweet city house.

Piano made it to the country too, don't worry.

We brought 4 out of our 5 babies home to this house which has been in my husband's family for a LONG time. Rob was living in this home when we went to high school homecoming. Crazy huh?

Our sweet Riley passed away the day before the move. She suffered a bacterial infection and the medication didn't work. That was one of the HARDEST things I've ever done! Our first kid, ya know. Ranger just doesn't measure up. Sorry big guy. You just don't. Maybe someday, you'll prove yourself, but Riley was the best.

The  mess after pulling in to our new home. Ug. Lots of organizing to do.

The dozer that cleared the way for the house.

The barn before we packed it with stuff and more stuff. We got rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but somehow we still filled a barn! Go figure. Spoiled Americans we are.

Sewage lines, because I KNEW you would want to see these! Hey, after having no sewage and just a simple RV toilet for a few months, you use your imagination on how happy we are to have flushing toilets again. Just keepin' it real. :)
 

The moving truck backing up to unload into the barn. It was a HOT day and we did it all by ourselves! Boo-yah!

Dad came over to help us get the old house ready for showings. Tear, we had to paint over our John 15 verse and tree. I did save the transparency for it though. He he

Our pack rat box ready to be hauled away.
 
We just want to say a HUGE thank you to all of those who helped us pack, organize, move out, move in, wrote encouraging cards, came for visits (you guys rock and made my day on those days!), watched our babies, cooked us meals and brought them to us and PRAYED for us.
 
My husband is giving me "the eye" as we're nearing the closing of this Chick-Fil-A trip. The natives are restless and apparently the Chick-Fil-A employees would like to go home. So, I bid you goodbye for now, but will be back with more photos and updates, you can be sure.
 
Blessings and love to you all!
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Playing Catch-up and Goin' Country Updates

What stinks about this post is that there are NO pictures. Sorry folks. Coming from a visual learner, no pictures is no fun, however, I thought I'd take the time to update today.

The month of June has definitely kept this bunch busy!

Catch Up...

Lincoln celebrated his 7th birthday recently and we had a small, but fun party for him. I made him a vanilla cake with gumballs and a helicopter on top. He was stoked! This young man wants a pocket knife and this wise mama has been holding it over his head that he needs to prove maturity first. Needless to say, at the end of the day, it's customary for him to ask if he's been mature that day. I smile and encourage, even when there are mess-ups. Sweet boy.

Norah is about to celebrate her 5th birthday. My "baby" girl who is not-so-baby now. I had a misty-eyed moment last week with  my husband, thinking about her and how grown up she's becoming. Am I the only mama wanting to freeze time sometimes? Just adore her.

Isaac is our caboose for our summer birthdays. He'll be THREE this year. Our Fourth of July baby. I'll never forget holding him as he's not 24 hours old yet, starting out our hospital room window, watching the Independence Day fireworks. Such a precious moment. Now he's potty-training (slowly starting, we don't usually start until our children have hit 3 and are really ready), plays cowboys and Indians with big brother, and can scale anything in the house just about. My monkey.

Titus took his first steps on Father's Day. That was definitely the highlight of the day as we spent Father's Day packing boxes, filling in nail holes in the walls, painting, doing small home repairs, and cleaning things out. Every moment is so precious as nothing is easy with five children. There are always interruptions, boo-boos, discipline to administer, so we're feeling "the crunch for time", if you will. There have been many-a-nights up late painting and packing.


Goin' Country...
 
This process of moving started well over 2 years ago when we first began looking for properties. Then, to finally watch as it unfolds in its last days is almost like a dream. A dream that we often feel unworthy of, to be honest.

Our house is finished being built and is being stored away in a large warehouse (yes, they can do that with manufactured homes...pretty neato huh?) until our land clearing friend is done. We're having a 100 x 100 square foot area taken down (mostly of pine which can be dangerous if close to the house...a soft wood that can brake easily onto your  home), but I'd like to keep the actual logs for gardening beds. They'll rot away eventually, but it'll get us started and by the time they do rot away, we'll have killer soil (thanks to Molly and Mabel, of coarse).  I've never thought of myself as a "tree hugger" per se, but when Rob cuts them down one by one, I do often feel sad that such a beautiful creation has just ended its life. We're logging all of the wood to use for future firewood and garden beds though so they'll continue their life, just a different way.

Our chickens are gone. Our coop is gone. Our girls pulled SO.MUCH.WEIGHT around here that I don't know if I'll ever want to go without having chickens again. Seriously. They handled our manure perfectly and now to be shoveling and disposing it into the city dumpster just feels like a complete waste (no pun intended!). They ate our table scraps, took care of the weeds for us in the garden, and helped keep our backyard "raked over" with all the scratching they did. To feed 20 chickens (and we use Hiland's Naturals, non-GMO, non-soy feed), it's chump change to what they give you! Over a dozen eggs a day is what this family needs with the amount of baking and cooking we do. Dropping $4.00 for a dozen eggs when they're not coming from my own flock does NOT make me happy. I'm itching at the bit for new chicks. Trying to be patient. Gonna order turkeys this time also...yep, "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas".  Rob has been brainstorming chicken plucker ideas. An electronic one would be great, but we're thinking hand-crank possibly.

This house is looking empty and bare. Bitter sweet. The camper is getting fuller and fuller, but I sometimes wonder how long we'll actually be in it with the way things are slowly progressing. Our storage POD was delivered today and we pull out next Saturday. It's really starting to sink in and we're really going to miss our family, friends, and mentors beyond words. Raising our children together, worshipping the Lord together, crying together, praying together, studying God's Word and gleaning together, fellowshipping together, gardening together, just sipping sweet tea and soaking in God's goodness. Too miss our friends and family is an understatement. Thank goodness we're not moving out of state and we've already had friends promise to come and visit.

If there is anything that I've learned through this, I will say that it is to WAIT, LISTEN, and then FOLLOW.

I've been reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers lately and soaking in his wisdom.

He says...

"Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, He put him, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint's duty is to be still and listen. There is a darkness which comes from excess of light, and then is the time to listen. Genesis 16 is an illustration of listening to good advice when it is dark instead of waiting for God to send the light. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will make you in accordance with the vision He has given if you will wait His time. Never try and help God fulfill His word. Abraham went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all self-sufficiency was destroyed; there was  no possibility left of relying on common-sense ways. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not of displeasure. Never pump up joy and confidence, but say upon God. (Isaiah 50:10-11)." (Oswald Chambers)
 
He goes on in another illustration to say...
 
"If you open your mouth in he dark, you will talk in the wrong mood: darkness is the time to listen. Don't talk to other people about it; don't read books to find out the reason of the darkness, but listen and heed. If you talk to other people, you cannot heart what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. After every time of darkness there come s a mixture of delight and humiliation (if there is delight only, I question whether we have heard God at all), delight in hearing God speak, but chiefly humiliation - What a long time I was in hearting that! How slow I have been in understanding that! And yet God has been saying it all these days and weeks. Now He give you the gift of humiliation which bring the softness of heart that will always listen to God now. " (Oswald Chambers)
 
After meditating on God's Word for years and reading Mr. Chambers' recollections, I have only begun to scratch the surface of knowing my God and Savior.
 
This also speaks volumes...
 
"How many of us are set upon Jesus Christ slaking our thirst when we ought to be satisfying Him? Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?" (Oswald Chambers)
 
We're so eager to sign up for this area of service, or that area of service. When do we actually ASK GOD if this is something in which we should participate. When do we meditate on His Word and wait, heeding to see what He wants? I know I am guilty as charged. Slowing down is the goal now. Slowing down to listen, modeling for our children, the next generation, how to slow down and heed.

There was a time awhile back where I had to ponder on if this move has been of God or of our own desire. In the beginning, I think it was a simple desire of our hearts. It fell in line Scripturally. A desire to be out of debt completely, space to steward His creation while providing more "real" food for our family, etc. The more I saw God working, the more we saw revelation after revelation, showing us to continue in this process. I do believe that the Lord gives us passions for a purpose. He can draw our hearts towards certain areas to serve Him, as an instrument for His glory. As we read through Hebrews 11 (one of my favorite passages of Scripture), these amazing servants for God had REVELATIONS. It was revealed to them through God what He wanted them to do (I'm sure that Noah probably wasn't in the mood to build a large vessel to defeat an earth-wide flood and we are told that Moses wasn't too keen on approaching Pharaoh regarding freeing his slaves, etc.), and when we jump outside that revelation and do what WE want, we miss the opportunity for wholeness of Christ, truly knowing Him and His divine character.
 
Just because there is a door open, doesn't necessarily mean we are supposed to walk through it. We are to LISTEN for the Lord, watching as He moves and speaks to us, revealing. 
 
In all, we have definitely seen the Lord reveal to us that this move is His will and we are thankful for that revelation.
 
We only hope to be good stewards of what He has given us, never forgetting what he has done. We are sad to leave, but excited for new opportunities. The next week will be a difficult one so we ask for your prayers as we continue packing boxes (with 5 cute monkeys running around), attempt to organize our camper (with 5 cute monkeys running around), keep two cows dry in a small area as it's rainy season here in Florida (we get showers almost daily for a few months), paint (with 5 cute monkeys running around), attempt to paint and show a house (with 5 cute monkeys running around), and make time to visit with friends before we pull away.

"The soul has got out of intimate contact with God by leaning to its own religious understanding. There is no sin in it, and no punishment attached to it; but when the soul realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and produced for himself perplexities and sorrows and difficulties, it is with shame and contrition he has to come back...get into the habit of steadily referring everything back to Him; instead of his we make our common-sense decisions and ask God to bless them. He cannot, it is not in His domain, it is severed from reality. If we do a thing from a sense of duty, we are putting up a standard in competition with Jesus Christ." (Oswald Chambers)

I'm not quite sure how I'll be able to continue updating as after next week, we will be without Internet service for a bit. We'll be on Facebook, so you're welcome to join me there for the time being.

Blessings to you all, sweet friends!
 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Titus Turns ONE!

I can't believe my little baby is ONE.
(With Great Grandma)

A newborn, little boy who by far was our most fussy baby has grown into
the most content, happy little guy. He was colicky from months 2-5 and despised his car seat, so evenings and car trips were difficult, but none-the-less, we were so thankful for a healthy, baby boy from the Lord.
 
He's all smiles the majority of the day, scooting and crawling around, exploring everything in sight. Still no steps, but that's just fine with this mama. {smile}

Somehow, he wound up being a blue-eyed, blond baby who's baby pictures are very identical to Daddy's. He says "Mama" and "Dada", has 6 teeth and loves to be outdoors crawling in the grass, getting dirty like all little boys do. He adores his siblings and can put down 2 eggs for breakfast each day like no one's business.

Our sweet little fella. We can't wait to see what God has in store for you as you learn and grow in this big world. So much to discover. I know the Lord has big plans for you my boy.
 
We're getting ready in this house for our "Summer Birthday Line Up", meaning we have 4 birthdays all in a row...Titus, then Lincoln, Norah, and Isaac pulls in the tail end on July 3. We're birthday bananas and loving every minute of celebration together.
 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Farming In the City
 
 
This post has been churning in me for months now. Our brains have been caught up with moving for the past year, making decisions, researching permaculture projects that would benefit our piece of land, building our chicken coop, barn and stables, etc. Our brains have been so caught up that I thought I'd take a few videos to remember our little city farm. I have officially let our garden "go" this spring and we've been in take down mode. We've taken down the cows' barn and milking stanchion. We've been brainstorming how to disassemble our chicken coop and transport "the girls".
 
Yadda, yadda.
 
So, needless to say, we're not much to look at presently, but we're still savoring each moment here. I keep thinking, "Oh, we should do this here, or put up that there", but I pass on the ideas, writing it down for our new property. My head is whirling with ideas!
 
The past few years, I've had a running mental list of some of the great things about farming in the city and some of the not-so-great things about it.
 
Benefits:
 
1.) Everything is CLOSE. You don't have to walk a few acres or take a 4-wheeler to get anywhere. You can see your cows from the living room window. You see your garden every time you get into your car or walk out front.
 
2.) You can have a real impact on others in your community. I know that our family has really enjoyed getting to know neighbors as we let our cows graze out front. We've kind-of become the "Lemonade House" of the neighborhood, if you will. There's always somebody stopping by to play and visit an animal. We've really enjoyed some memories of having friends help us plant our gardens. We've had neighbors come by for manure (we can bless them with manure, while they bless us with taking it away!) and we've also been known to give out fresh eggs from time to time, blessing others. When we have an overabundance of lettuce, what better than to give to neighbors? We even have a back neighbor who cares for the animals for us when we're up at our property for weekends at a times. She gets free eggs and milk, while we get the security of knowing that our animals are taken care of.
 
3.) You have a customer base in your front yard. What better place to sell your excess eggs, fruit, veggies, etc.? You don't have to use any gas money or time to travel to sell your products. Hooray for that! Our milk co-op supplier has to drive an hour (one way) to deliver their products. It's an entire day of driving. And that's just to OUR location. That doesn't even include other locations. You could get crazy and if you can keep a rooster (I've heard of people keeping them in garages in large cages, so it can be done), you could essentially reproduce and supply chicks.
 
4.) Permaculture IS possible! Check out Geoff Lawton's Urban Permaculture video below...
 
 
 
 
Negatives:
 
1.) Grass is LIMITED. Grass sustains life. It helps feed basically all animals on a farm that would give you anything. We only have so much. Molly and Mabel come out every few nights to munch grass after we've eaten dinner. You know. Some people like to walk their dogs. We walk our cows. {grin}
 
2.) Manure can really "pile up" if you know what I mean. HOWEVER, if you have a chicken coop or a compost bin, you're all set. There just needs to be organization to it and it can be a real blessing.
We also purchased a worm bin this past year and have had some real success breeding Red Wigglers on our back porch. No one would even know they're there, unless we pointed them out. Great for fishing and in the garden. The chickens love a treat every once and while as well.
 
3.) You can have some legal problems if you want to keep animals. I've even known some cities to be stinkers with people wanting to keep edible plants or a garden in their front yards. Bleh! Blast those HOAs! {Remaining composure...calm, calm}
 
Wanna know a secret? Here's how we "got away with it", keeping cows and chickens, I mean.
 
Chickens...Our city codes don't post a certain number in the paperwork, but they do have to be enclosed. Well, we have a 6-foot fence encircling our entire back yard (we do let them free range, but not every day) and we do have a chicken coop. They have been known to escape and we've found lost chickens in our front yard, but our neighbors think it's cool and they have a blast catching them and throwing them over the fence. We've kept roosters before and although we're not "supposed to" keep them, no one has ever complained. We love the sound of cock-a-doodle-doing during breakfast and so do our neighbors. Not everyone may be as welcoming however. Really know your neighbors.
 
Cows...Our city codes have written that "any hoofed animal may not be within 100 feet of a non-owner". Well, when you live in the city, you're most likely within 100 feet of SOMEONE. Well, my genius of a husband said (always thought he should've been a lawyer), "Why don't you just go around to each neighbor and ask them if they're "co-own Molly"? Genius. Complete genius. So, that's what we did. After dinner one night, we went around and measured with a measuring tape everyone that was within 100 feet of us. Yes. We probably looked like fools. I always tell my husband that I "keep his life interesting". He agrees. Ah-hem. Anyways...all SEVEN neighbors thought it was neato and signed. Molly came home that next week (after we got her gate back up in the back yard). We keep our permission papers laminated and stapled to our fence so that if anyone tries to cause trouble, we have legal permission posted for them to see.

A few things about Keeping A Family Cow (wouldn't own one without this book by Joann Grohman)...She states in her book, "At various times I've kept a cow in a suburban garage and grazed her on the lawn. It definitely can be done."

There's also a Keeping the Family Cow website in which I find VERY useful, especially since we're rookies!

" 'A young fellow wantin' a start in life just needs three things: a piece of land, a cow and a wife. And he don't strictly need that last.' That's an old saying that used to annoy me once. Now that I'm an old lady with a cow but no spouse I am prepared to concede at least the validity of the underlying premise. " -Joann Grohman

 

Gardens...Don't know what to tell ya here. If you live in an HOA, you're probably out of luck. You could garden in your back yard. However, if you don't, look up your city codes. Honestly, we never looked up anything for our garden. We originally had it out back, but moved it to the front when our backyard shade completely took over. We've never had a problem. We're generous with leftovers and that helps too! We've even had other neighbors begin small veggie gardens of their own.

Joel Salatin's Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal book really has truth to it.

 
4.) You won't be able to be completely sustainable if that's your goal. You won't have enough space to grow wheat, grains, or really enough food for your family. I once had a sweet friend who thought that I actually grew ALL of our veggies and produce. So sweet. {I laughed, genuinely.} No. We don't even come CLOSE. We could grow more. Much more. But we have too much shade and would have to invest in some major tree work being done to welcome the right amount of sun we'd need for that type of growing. We have a swing set/play area out back for the kids and if we wanted to keep a pig or another chicken coop in its place, we probably could, but we like having a "clean space" for our kids to play and run, while keeping our animals on our second lot.
 
You know, I'm not against couponing necessarily ( I personally tried it once, but lost interest when all I could buy was food that our family didn't eat), but what can you usually buy with coupons?
Junk food. Let's start applauding the families willing to grow living food to save money. Think Victory Gardens here. {grin} I LOVE this cookbook. Don't have many cookbooks, maybe 6, but this one is my "go-to" most of the time, especially when I have baskets of green beans or tomatoes that need "a plan".
 
I do recommend The Backyard Homestead for a good read on how to farm in limited spaces. The author breaks farms down in spaces of 1/10 of an acre, 1/4 of an acre, and 1/2 of an acre. Quite interesting and very possible to do!
http://www.amazon.com/The-Backyard-Homestead-Produce-quarter/dp/1603421386/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401474330&sr=8-2&keywords=backyard+homesteading
 
1/2 Acre
 
1/4 Acre


1/10 Acre
 
So without delay, here are two videos of our little city farm. As mentioned above, it's not much to look at right now as we're disassembling and undecorated (I love having hanging baskets around our chicken coop, and flowers everywhere), but I wanted to give you an idea anyways.







So the question is, is it better to farm in the city or country? Well, it depends. If it's ingrained in you to farm, you'll farm anywhere you can. It's true. There are positives and negatives to both ways and the main point is that you start somewhere with something. Get good at it and try something new. Farming is FULL of experiments. Many times we fail. Many times we succeed. When we do succeed, SHARE with others so that they may succeed as well.  I think as a farmer, you'll always covet. You'll covet a bigger barn, a greener pasture, a larger chicken coop, etc. Being content is key.

The BEST part is stewarding God's creation.

In my mind, is it worth the hard work, sacrifice, and sweat. Yes. I think I'd farm in a New York City sky riser if I could. {giggle}



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summertime Planning...
Making the Most of Your Time with Your Children
 

Summer is quickly approaching, within DAYS even. This is when the homeschooling mamas breathe a sigh of relief as textbooks are put away and we can wholeheartedly focus on some different aspects of learning. Our family doesn't sign our children up for the typical "camp-after-camp, just-get-through-it summer", rather we enjoy sitting down with our children, asking them what they want to learn over the summer. What projects do they want to embark on? What character are we going to work on? What are your goals as far as habit go? I'm getting giddy just blogging about it! {smile}

It's true. I LOVE this time of year. No, not the heat, but the freedom to conquer tasks that we otherwise might not have the time for during the school year. Don't get me wrong. We've had our "unschooling days" where we engulf ourselves with books and just going with whatever they're interested in, but we do try to adhere to a Charlotte Mason approach to learning and keep to a schedule/lessons.
 

As the "school" year (my 4-year-old insists we call it "learning" because they don't go to "school") wraps up, we've took a 1/2 gallon Mason jar and filled it with colorful index cards, listed with activities for the summer. I have one child who has been done with lessons since last month and she's been enjoying a little more freedom with some quilting, baking, rabbit raising, and free reading. One preschooler has been reading for awhile now and although we'll touch on some reading through the summer, she's been done for weeks now also. One lad is still working through a phonics book, last math pages, and is reading to us daily (and will throughout the summer). He has some wood carving projects in mind, thus we're using that as incentive for when his lessons are completed. Still just a few more objectives to get him caught up.

Hard to believe I'll be officially home educating FOUR Bates kids next year. Yep. Isaac has a little book he'll work through and will be doing basic number and letter recognition with me, counting (although we do that daily anyway with plates, forks, beads, carrot sticks, and everyday life things), etc. He'll do some cutting for hand-eye coordination and mainly habit training. He's definitely excited about his third birthday coming up soon. Little fella wants a helicopter. He's growing way.too.fast.
 
 
Here are a few, fun links for summertime activities that you could make a list of and check off, or put into a jar to pick out of. A list is nice because let's face it, the whole out of sight, out of mind thing is true. Although we have a jar, I'll be writing their lists on a poster board of personal habits and goals this summer to work on. I think I'll laminate it so that as we check things off with a Vis-à-vis marker, we can use it over and over for summers to come.

Lord-willing, we'll also be MOVING this summer to our property. Electricity is done. Well permits are pulled, so just waiting on the actual digging of the well to happen. It's so amazing how I didn't anticipate it would take this long, but apparently the codes departments are very THOROUGH in their inspections, paperwork, etc. THAT is what has kept us from moving sooner. 1/3 of the house is apparently done as well, so we're excited about that!
 

So here are a few ideas from our family to yours!

1.) Start with Charlotte Mason's Handicraft and Art page...meaningful projects without the mess of pom-pom balls and colored Popsicle sticks in which you'll throw away. Making handicrafts that are beautiful to keep and use as years come and go are such a treasure.

2.) 121 + Skills for the Modern Homesteader is always a great list to go through and check off things with your kids. Even if you're an apartment or city homesteader, go for it!
 

3.) You could make a poster board with lots of ideas, keeping it up all summer, checking off the exciting things you did. This list is also helpful to steal, ahem, use. {grin}

4.) If you'd like the challenge of exploring the great outdoors this summer with your children, may I suggest Hours in the Out-of-Doors by Karen Smith and Sonya Shafer (because Sonya Shafer is amazing!!).  This book's contents include:

Chapter 1: Benefits of Nature Study
Chapter 2: When to Do Nature Study
Chapter 3: What Nature Study Looks Like
Chapter 4: Keeping a Nature Notebook (my own insert...We CHERISH looking back on these!)
Chapter 5: Supplementing Nature Study
Chapter 6: Guiding Your Child in Nature Study
 
Hit your dollar store and collect a few butterfly nets, buckets, bug cages, etc. You just never know what you'll find out there. {grin}
 

 
5.) Habits...One important thing that seems to happen (usually right after a baby has been born) is that our good habits tend to slack and get replaced with lazy ones in which we need a re-training time to get back on track. You know, you have your kids well trained to wake up, get dressed, start morning chore charts, etc. and then when baby comes, everybody is in survival mode. And hence, retraining time begins. Summer can have this effect as well. An evening set aside to re-read Charlotte Mason's advice on Habit Training could bring much benefit to one's family. I just LOVE this link!

6.) Most of all, I hope you'll pass the temptation to keep your kids "busy" with entertainment-like activities/gadgets to instill in them a love of Scripture and a love for the Lord. Take this precious time to lay out a blanket outside in the morning (maybe with a lovely, hot breakfast) and just read Scripture and pray. We've done a few mornings of "home church" in our day (sickness, exhaustion, etc.) and those times are so precious, just sitting  under a morning sky, on a blanket in our grass reading Scripture, praying and singing praise songs to our Creator. Get to their HEARTS. Do some searching of your own regarding Biblical History, Theology, Apologetics, Hermeneutics, etc. so that you may better answer their questions.

7.) I used to be very skeptical of Pinterest. Still am at times, even though I just recently in the past few months jumped on the "band wagon" if you will.  I must have looked like a complete idiot trying to sign up for it! Took me hours to figure it out. This NON tech-savy gal struggles with things like that.
 
I have to pray every time I'm logged into it that the Lord would guard my heart. I think, especially as women, we love to decorate our houses with beautiful things, myself included, but when it can really take over your heart to where it can consume us if we're not careful.

God wasn't kidding when he told us in Exodus 20:17:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

It happens. (Another example of a commandment from Scripture as an absolute standard which is good for us to practice...not coveting..., yet it's not against man's law to covet.)

We have to guard our hearts and be thankful for what the Lord has given to us and give to those who have less.

Never-the-less, Pinterest, (with hearts guarded) CAN be a great tool to find ideas, and great homesteading/farming information at that! Especially for city farmers like yours truly. Long ago, you went to a wiser farmer friend for advice on getting rid of Red-Tailed Hawks in the area (who are eating your chickens left and right), but now, we just jump on the computer. I'm looking forward to having like-minded neighbors, possibly able to help in such areas. Computers will never be able to replace human contact, relationships, emotion, and hands-on experience of getting rid of Red-Tailed Hawks. Thank goodness for that!
 
 
 
10.) Don't forget to purchase a National Audubon Field Guide book if you intend to identify nature. I keep one in my purse, just in case {wink}. I can't tell you how many times we've used it to reference things.

I hope this list has given you some ideas for this upcoming summer.

Blessings as you embrace time with your own precious ones, nurturing their hearts, spending TIME with them, and taking on new and exciting tasks at hand to be remembered for years!

(All photos courtesy of Google.)