My Why: FREEDOM

Over the past year or so I’ve been a journey of personal development and self reflection.  I’ve read a number of personal development books, joined Facebook groups for support and encouragement and spent countless hours thinking about what I want to change in my life and what I want my life to look like.

As a result of all of this effort, I’ve solidified My Why and it is simply FREEDOM.

1)  Financial FREEDOM:  Throughout our 16 year marriage my husband and I have made a number of bad financial decisions.  Even though we were making a decent amount of money during the first 11 or 12 years, we lived beyond our means and we are paying the price now.  We purchased a business in 2010 and it barely provides enough income for our basic necessities.  We borrowed a lot of money from family members to purchase the business.  We have huge credit card balances (I’m embarrassed to tell you the amount, so let’s just say it’s way above the national average).  All of this debt creates a lot of stress for me, my marriage and in turn for my children.  I want the financial freedom that comes with being debt free.

2)  FREEDOM to work from home:  My husband works at our business 4 1/2 days a week.  I’m there for the 1/2 day that he is not.  We both work from home on nights and weekends.  We are working hard, but not working smart.  Although we have employees that work for us for the evening and weekend shifts, the business is not profitable enough for us to hire help during the day allowing us to be at home with our children.  Although we love being small business owners, we don’t have the flexibility that we had hoped for.  I want to create my own home based business so that I have the freedom to volunteer in my children’s classrooms or chaperone field trips and so that I can be the one to take care of them when they are sick rather than leave them with a sitter because I have to go to work.

3)  FREEDOM to move to a different house:  Did you notice that I didn’t say bigger house?  We don’t need (or want) a bigger house.  We simply need a different house with a different layout.  One that works better for our family of 6.  Currently we have the world’s smallest kitchen.  It only fits one person comfortably, but it’s where everyone wants to be most of the time.  A laundry room on the second floor would also be amazing!  I want the freedom to live in a home that suits my family and our needs.

4)  FREEDOM to give generously:  We give a small donation to our church each week and we donate small sums when a family member or friend is raising money for a worthy cause, but there isn’t much money in our budget for any other donations.  I want the freedom to be able to bless others whenever I see a need. 

my why

I would love to hear about your WHY!  Please share in the comments.

How to Bring Your Runaway Rooster Home

One evening I was spending an unusually quiet moment by myself.  My younger three children were in bed and my husband went upstairs with my oldest to watch TV in our bedroom.  I was reading and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Then I heard my rooster, Foghorn, making lots of noise.  It was already dark and I was surprised to hear him.  I ran onto the back deck and saw all three chickens right behind the house, obviously upset about something.  At this time of day they should have been locked in their coop for the night.

Foghorn, Muffin and Brownie  (Yes, I realize that Foghorn is not a Leghorn.  He is a Silver Laced Wyandotte, but he was supposed to be a girl.  When we figured out that he was a boy, Foghorn, was the best name we could come up with.)

Foghorn, Muffin and Brownie (Yes, I know that Foghorn is not a Leghorn. He is a Silver Laced Wyandotte, but he was supposed to be a girl. When we learned that he was a boy, Foghorn, was the best name we could come up with.)

With the craziness of our evening routine, I had forgotten to put them to bed.  Oops!  I grabbed a flash light, put on a pair of shoes and ran outside.  By the time I got out there, they had moved to the front yard.  I grabbed Brownie, one of the girls, and put her in the coop in the back yard.

When I returned to the front yard, the other girl, Muffin, and Foghorn had crossed the street and were in the neighbor’s front yard.

Why did the chicken cross the road?  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it!)  :)

I was able to catch Muffin and returned her to the coop also, but not the rooster.  He was spooked and was not coming back home!  No matter what I tried, I just drove him further from home.  I decided to leave him alone with the hope that he would come back on his own.

I called it a night and prayed that I would see him again in the morning.  At 5 am I heard him crowing, so I new he survived the night and was close, but I didn’t know where he was.

A few hours later I found Foghorn across the street two houses down.  He was hanging out in a stand of trees on the neighbors’ property line (I’m sure they loved that!).  A friend and I tried to coax him out.  No luck.  I brought some food over to try to lure him home.  No luck.

I posted a message on a chicken forum and didn’t receive any helpful advice.  I called my town’s animal control officer to ask if he had any advice for me.  He laughed at me and explained that because our town allows chickens to roam free, he’s never had to catch one.

Finally, I asked for help in a Facebook Group that I’m a member of.  It’s actually a group for bloggers, but I knew that a number of other members were homesteaders, so I thought they might have dealt with a runaway rooster before.  Rhonda at http://www.positivelythoughtful.com had the answer!

runaway rooster

She suggested that I bring one of the hens over to him, but hold on to her rather than put her on the ground.  Let them “discuss” the situation.  Then leave with her and he should follow.  It worked!

Muffin, Foghorn's favorite hen

Muffin, Foghorn’s favorite hen

I couldn’t believe it.  I brought Muffin, Foghorn’s favorite girl, and he followed us across my neighbor’s big front lawn and across the street.  He did get sidetracked by another neighbor’s garden, but a friend happened to be driving by at that time and she stopped to help.  She walked behind him while shaking her car keys, which was just enough to keep him following me and Muffin.

So now you know how to bring a runaway rooster home!

Has your rooster ever run away from home?  How did you bring him home?

Posted in The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead

Posted in the Homestead Barn Hop at The Easy Homestead

My Story: Miscarriages, Part 4

The 3rd time’s a charm, right?  Well, not for me!

On July 10, 2007 I had my 3rd positive pregnancy test in 8 months.

For 18 days I was hopeful, but scared.  I didn’t lift anything heavy for fear of causing a miscarriage.  I immediately stopped drinking caffeine.  I did anything I could think of to keep this baby alive.

However, on July 29th, I realized that I had lost this baby too.

I couldn’t believe it!  So many questions were going through my mind.  Why is this happening?  What am I doing wrong?  How do I fix this?  Will I ever be able to have more children?

I started to ask my doctor these questions.  I was told that they don’t really start looking for any medical issues until someone has had 4 or 5 miscarriages.  WHAT?  So I needed to go through this emotionally draining experience again before they will start to look for a cause?  I was frustrated to say the least!

I was under a lot of stress at work and I wondered if that could be affecting my ability to carry a baby to term.  My husband and I started talking about the possibility of me switching from full time work to part time and what that would mean for our family and our finances.

Our son, who was 3 1/2 at the time, had been in daycare since he was 11 weeks old.  With the thought that he might be our only child bouncing around in my head, I realized that I didn’t want to miss out on any more time with him.  I wanted to enjoy his early years without the stress of work always hanging over me.

My husband and I decided that it would be best if I stepped down from my position as vice-president.  In September I started working 3 days a week and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!  I enjoyed that extra time with my son more than I thought I would.

The pain of my miscarriages was still there and I still feel it to this day, but that pain helped me to appreciate the miracle that my son is and no matter how crazy he makes me, I am grateful for him every single day.


 

Here are the first 3 posts in this series.

My Story, Miscarriages:  Part 1
My Story, Miscarriages:  Part 2
My Story, Miscarriages:  Part 3


If you are going through the heartbreak of miscarriage and would like to chat with someone who knows what you are going through, please leave your email address in the comments and I will contact you.  

Hand, Foot and Mouth

The thought of fall conjures up thoughts of crisp apples, round pumpkins and the smell of cinnamon.  And if you are a parent of school aged children, illness.

My three year old, who just started preschool a few weeks ago fell asleep at church on Sunday.  He’s never done that before, so I knew something was up.  When he got home, he immediately fell asleep on the couch.

When he woke up he had a 103 degree fever which lasted for about 36 hours.  He slept most of the time.

He stayed home from school on Monday and Tuesday.  On Tuesday he asked for orange juice and I gave him some.  He took a sip and started crying, saying that it hurt.  Strep throat popped into my head.  Then I looked down at his feet and noticed a rash.

A grabbed a flashlight and looked in his mouth.  Uh oh…he had sores on the roof of his mouth.  I checked his hands and you guessed it, a few blisters.

The nurse at the doctor’s office confirmed that he had hand, foot and mouth disease.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a virus and therefore there is no cure.  The doctor’s orders were to treat the symptoms.

Surprisingly, my older two children have never had it, so this is a bit of trial and error for me as I watch the virus work its way through his system.

Tuesday night he had trouble falling asleep and I rubbed lavender on his feet to help him, but it didn’t do much good.  He was still quite restless.  Next, I tried melaleuca aka. tea tree oil and within 15 minutes he stopped rubbing his feet and fell asleep.

Melaleuca_15ml

When he woke up the next morning, he had more blisters on his feet and hands, but his mouth was clear.

Before he went to bed Wednesday night, I applied doTERRA’s Purify, a blend of essential oils, which just I arrived in the mail as part my September oil order (more on that in another post).  Purify helps to strengthen the immune system.  I applied it again when he woke up in the middle of the night.

Purify_15ml

This is what his blisters look like today.  He had more than he did yesterday, but they weren’t itchy.  I’ll apply Purify again at bed time.

foot

DSC_0498

hand

I’m so grateful for essential oils and to help my son get a restful night’s sleep event though he is battle hand, foot and mouth disease.

Want to know more about essential oils and how they can help your family?  Check out my essential oils page.


 

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA.  Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

My Story: Miscarriages, Part 3

After my first miscarriage in December of 2006, I was disappointed, angry, and scared.

I was disappointed that the baby we had conceived would never be born.  I was angry that there was nothing I could do about it.  I was scared that it would happen again.

Yet, I was hopeful that the next time I got pregnant I would carry and deliver a healthy baby.

I took a pregnancy test on April 5, 2007 and it was positive.  I was excited, but guarded with my excitement because I was fearful that it would end the same way my last pregnancy did.

I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment for Wednesday, April 25.

I was so happy and hopeful when I made it to my appointment without any complications.  They confirmed that I was pregnant and that things were progressing normally.  I was still guarded, but my hopes were beginning to rise.

Until the next morning when I had some spotting.  I called my doctor and they said it could simply be from the exam I had the previous day.  They wanted me to go for blood work and an ultrasound on Monday, the 30th.

The ultrasound confirmed that I lost this baby too.

The ultrasound technician and the doctor were kind and sympathetic.  Again the doctor advised that I should wait a month before trying again.

All I could think was, why?!?  What am I doing wrong?  Am I causing these miscarriages?  Are we not meant to have any more children?

I was so grateful to have my son to focus on because without him I could have easily been totally consumed by my thoughts and my self-blame.

If you are going through the heartbreak of miscarriage and would like to chat with someone who knows what you are going through, please leave your email address in the comments and I will contact you.  

If you missed the first two posts of this series, please click the links below.

My Story:  Miscarriages, Part 1

My Story:  Miscarriages, Part 2

 

My Story: Miscarriages, Part 2

After our oldest child was born, there were many days that my husband and I thought that we couldn’t handle any more children.  Our son was a tough baby.  He was colicky.  He never slept, and by that I mean he would wake up 8 or 10 times a night and he only napped if we were in the car.  He was sick with colds, ear infections, and stomach bugs quite often.

I was working full time and he was in daycare which contributed to the poor sleep habits and frequent illnesses.

Some of you are probably thinking, “Well that’s just life with a baby!”, but as first time parents, we couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

He had a great personality and we loved being with him, but we really needed some good quality sleep.  Until that happened, we couldn’t considered growing our family.

When he was about 18 months, things started to get better and by the time his second birthday rolled around, we were ready to add to our family.

So when I took a pregnancy test on December 3, 2006 and it was positive, I was beyond excited!  Not only were we happy to know that I was pregnant, but we were also relieved that it didn’t take us long to conceive.  (It had taken us 18 months to conceive our oldest, but that another story for another post.)

I immediately started dreaming and planning for this new little life growing inside of me.  Then two days later, I learned that I would not be carrying this pregnancy to term.

I was devastated!  My husband was upset too, but it was different for him.  He hadn’t made a connection with the baby yet, but I had.  In two short days, I had so many thoughts about who this baby would be.  What (s)he would look like.  What (s)he would be when (s)he grew up.  I thought about everything that this little life could possibly be or achieve.

The one thing I never thought about was losing this baby.  The thought simply never occurred to me.

Yes I knew that miscarriage was always a possibility.  My first pregnancy was uneventful (until the delivery, which again is another story for another post).  I knew only one or two other women that had a miscarriage.  So miscarriage just wasn’t something I was worried about.

I called my doctor’s office.  They told me that I should go through a monthly cycle (so that I would have a LMP date to reference) and then we could try again.  They were polite but not very sympathetic.

Luckily I had my husband and my son to help me go through the heartbreak I was feeling.  Little did I know how many times I would need to lean on them during the next few years.

If you are going through the heartbreak of miscarriage and would like to chat with someone who knows what you are going through, please leave your email address in the comments and I will contact you.  

If you missed part 1 of this series please click here to read it.

Beets with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

My husband and I love beets! (Our kids are learning to love them too!)

We love them roasted.

We love them pickled.

And we especially love them served simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Yum!

beets vinegar oilThis was my sad, little harvest of beets from my garden.  With only four small ones, they weren’t enough to serve on their own, so I added them to a pasta salad that I made.

DSC_0458Thankfully, our CSA is much better at growing beets than I am and these were in my share this week!  These are chioggia beets.  Wait to you see what they look like inside!

DSC_0464Here is my favorite way of preparing and serving beets.

Beets with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

Ingredients:

1 bunch beets
1 T white vinegar
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1)  Cut leaves from beets leaving about 1 inch of the stems attached.

DSC_04652)  Place beets in pot.  Cover with plenty of water.  Add 1 T of white vinegar (this helps to preserve the color).

DSC_04683)  Bring to boil over medium/high heat.  Boil for 45 – 60 minutes over medium heat until easily pierced with a sharp knife.

4)  Remove beets from water and place on cutting board to cool.

5)  Once cool, cut off root end and leaf end.  Remove peels.  They should slip off easily, but if they don’t just use a pairing knife to cut them off.  Aren’t they beautiful?

DSC_04766)  Slice or cut beets into chunks and place in bowl.

7)  Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Serve chilled or room temperature.

DSC_0479I hope you enjoy this family favorite!

What’s your favorite way to serve beets?