family life, Uncategorized

Big Dreams

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If you have been around here for a while, you know that Scott and I dream of one day owning a homestead. It feels like such a far off and impossible dream because of our current circumstances.

I’m going to take you back to late November/ early December. I was working at the library and chatting with one of our patrons. She mentioned that her husband was a farmer. In our talking I mentioned our dream of living on a farm. Her eyes got really big and she told me about a house that they own and rent. They don’t list it as for rent because they don’t want just anyone moving in, but the tenants had just moved out and the house is empty. She told me that if we’d really be interested to drive out and check it out some time. Scott and I drove by, and loved it. But, figured it would be way out of our budget and didn’t really do anything more.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really rotten day. I was discouraged and going to take a ton of bags of clothes and toys to donate just to get out of the house. Instead, I turned the opposite direction. I drove up to this beautiful farm house and walked around the property. I had permission to do this, so don’t get upset about it.

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I walked around and just stood in awe. I have always loved old farm houses. My family used to go riding around a lot when I was a kid. I used to love seeing the farm houses. My mom and I would get sad any time we’d drive by an abandoned one thinking about all of the memories that the house held. Anyway, I was walked back to my car when a truck came down the road and pulled in. It was the farmer himself. I told him who I was and what I was doing there so that he didn’t think I had vandalized his property or anything. His kind face lit up and asked if I wanted to see the inside.

You guys. I was literally fighting tears the whole time. He showed me each room. The house was built around 1860. He build on the front room himself, and put up some walls to make bedrooms in the upstairs. It had all been one big room before. When we were walking back to the door, he asked me what I thought of it. I told him that it was so beautiful, but I didn’t know if it was something we could afford. He told me what he charges for rent. I. Cannot. Handle. It. It’s so low, and he doesn’t feel right raising it even after I told him what most people charge for rent in our town. He was disgusted by that.

I called Scott and fought blubbering like a baby. What are the chances of bumping into this woman and the conversation happening? What are the chances of him just happening to show up to the house while I am there? What are the chances that the rent is going to allow us to live within our means and help us get out of debt? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?!

Scott talked to the farmer on the phone last night, and as long as there aren’t any major repairs that he doesn’t want to pay to fix, we will be moving in some time this year! There’s not an exact time frame, since he hasn’t looked at the house closely yet. March at the earliest. The farmer said that he had thought about just tearing the house down at one point, but the house is still in such good shape.img_0933

The house sits on his farm land, so it surrounded by corn/soybean fields and has several large pole barns that house his equipment. It will be loud during planting and harvesting season, I am sure. But, what an incredible thing for the kids to witness. There is a chicken coop by the house. We are planning some raised beds to plant vegetables.

I am speaking this while it is still very early. Something could happen that could cause it all to come crashing down. I know this. We were planning raised beds in the house we currently live in anyway, so we will be planting here or there in the Spring.

On Sunday night, our pastor was talking about prayer and being faithful. He said that so often we expect God to say yes that when he says no, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. (So, remain faithful in those no times.) This is going to sound pessimistic, and show the tole the past several years have taken on my heart. But, I truly have reached the point where I am saying that I don’t know what to do if God says YES to this. I know. That’s terrible. So, I am writing this post and sharing with the world. Will you pray for this situation. I am prepared for something to cause this to not happen. I know that if it falls through, God will have a reason. But, I am praying that it all goes smoothly.

I am so excited and really feel so honored that I got to look at this beautiful home and hear about the history of it. That alone was such a gift. I pray that we get to call this place home. But if not, God is still good.

family life, homeschool, Uncategorized

Unapologetic Motherhood

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We often talk about the “mommy wars” as though it is mothers against other mothers in the same phase of life. We often talk as though its the mothers in our playgroups that are judging our every move.

Maybe it’s there, but I don’t personally see or experience that.

I see and experience the world telling me how much I am doing wrong. Older women judging harshly the decisions that I have carefully prayed about and researched for my family. Women who are in no way affected by the decisions that I make as a mother. Men do it, too, but often it’s women.

Becoming a stay-at-home mom? When the pregnancy test became positive, my life was no longer about just me. I had these little humans that depended on me to raise them. I wanted to cherish every second with them, and I am so thankful that I have been able to stay at home with them. It is hard work and exhausting, but it is 100% worth it. No, we don’t have 500 channels that we don’t need. No, we don’t have a second car that is also not needed. We don’t take fancy vacations or have the latest and greatest. To me, none of that matters. The people in my home matter more than anything else. God chose me to be their mother, and I can’t imagine a better job.

Our decision to homeschool our daughters? The assumption is that I am not actually educating them or teaching them how to be strong young women. The assumption is that they will turn out weird and unable to function in the real world. To be honest, I don’t care in the slightest if they turn out a little weird. As long as they aren’t cruel, I will take weird and unique any day.

What people fail to see is that the moment I found out that I was going to be a mother, I started praying about how we would educate our children. I weighed every option and carefully chose what we were going to do. I researched curriculum and found what would be best. I’ve been able to meet the needs of my child with dyslexia without having to fight schools to follow her IEP. We prayerfully approach homeschooling each and every year. One day God may call us away from it, but for now it is right. It is HIS will for US. More than that, I don’t owe an explanation to anyone.

 

Here’s the thing. YOU are your child’s mother. No one else. No one gets to tell you how to raise them. No one gets to make those choices for you. God knew that you were the mama your babies needed, and that is all that matters. There is so much freedom when you decide to stop worrying about what others think. If the people in your circle can’t support and love you with the decisions you make, then they don’t deserve a seat at your table.

Resolve this year to no longer allow the negative voices to affect your motherhood. Resolve to not allow negativity into places of your life where it doesn’t belong. Resolve to no longer apologize for doing what you know is right.

Unapologetic motherhood is my goal.

family life, holiday, home, kids, Uncategorized

Merry {day after} Christmas

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I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas yesterday!

We spent the morning unwrapping presents, building toys, eating our traditional cinnamon rolls, and laying around in pajamas.

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We were blessed to have my younger sister in town with her family, so we all planned to get together at my mom and dad’s house for lunch. Unfortunately, my older sister was very sick and her family was unable to come. We missed them a lot, but still had a lot of fun being together.

Scott’s mom and brother came over for dinner, and we had a relaxing evening. The girls were so excited to show their new presents to everyone.

We had a wonderful day, and today the Christmas hangover is real. One of our girls could not stay asleep last night. We are all tired and honestly, grumpy. The coffee mug my mom got me is very fitting today.

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In true Ashley fashion, I’m ready to take down all of the decorations and have a clean slate to ring in the new year.

When do you take down your decorations? I’m so curious to know if I’m the only one who enjoys taking them down soon after Christmas.

family life, holiday, home, kids, Uncategorized

The Great Conundrum

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I am really struggling with a great conundrum. Are you ready for it?

I really want to decorate for Christmas, but it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

Don’t throw stones at me! I’m not sure what it is this year. I am so ready to put up the tree. However, I am also hosting our families for Thanksgiving. Our tree will go up in our basement, which is away from where everyone will be for our Thanksgiving meal.

That’s acceptable, right?

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The kiddos are super excited for Christmas. Addi picked a Christmas movie when we were at the library this week. We have been watching a few Christmas movies here and there. Christmas music has been on since before Halloween.

There is currently 3 or so inches of snow blanketing the outdoors, which only adds to my strong desire to get festive inside. The snow looks so beautiful clinging to the tree branches and rooftops. It’s magical.

Pure magic.

If we find time, I think we will at least get our tree put up. Maybe.

Do you decorate before Thanksgiving, or are you a strictly after person?

family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Kids in the Kitchen

I love spending time in my kitchen. It is my happy place. I love baking bread from scratch and cooking up delicious meals for my family…and sometimes, the meals aren’t so delicious! I used to make homemade egg noodles pretty frequently, but haven’t made them in quite some time.

Harper has recently taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. She helped me make the cake for Addi’s birthday party. She’s so much fun.

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Look at her sweet face!! She was so excited to use the rolling pin.

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I loved watching her watch me and what I was doing. She asks so many questions in her sweet little voice.ย IMG_0103

Egg noodles don’t have to be perfect. Once I had finished cutting them one way, I let her have at it. She actually ended up not pushing hard enough to cut most of the noodles, so I had to go back over them. She had a blast.

I am a HUGE fan of getting the kids involved in the cooking. My mom always had my sisters and I in the kitchen with her. She never worried about perfection if we were making something. She wanted us to learn how to cook. I want the same for my kids. I want them to be confident in the kitchen. The older girls are at an age where we feel comfortable letting them stir things in pots or pans on the stove top while we watch. I’m wondering when the fear of injury will go away.

My favorite day was when they learned how to make their own toast. Addi especially loves to make toast for herself and her sisters. I love that I can go a little slower on those mornings. They love feeling a sense of independence, and I love seeing them grow.

Do you encourage your kids to join you in the kitchen? I really can’t recommend it enough! Cooking is such a valuable “life skill” for everyone to learn!

family life, story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

A little Bit of This and That

Hi, friends.

It’s been a while. I’ve just been trucking along. We went to Boo at the Zoo on Friday even though it was so cold and drizzly. We actually had freezing rain in the afternoon. We told the girls that we could go on another day, but they really wanted to go. So, we bundled up and went. No crowds. Imagine that.

Let’s just ignore the mess that is my house. I clean and clean and clean. But, it seems to be fruitless.

Saturday I got to help my niece get ready for her first show choir performance. I was standing outside of the hospital room when she was born. Now, she is this beautiful thirteen year old girl doing something that I loved when I was her age. I cried. I fought tears every time she was performing, and when all of the show choir groups sang “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman, I lost it.

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I don’t even know how she got so grown… or how my own daughters are so grown. Time is such a bitter enemy.

Sunday, we took it slow. Church, rest, choir practice, and church. My mom-in-law drove over and had lunch with us. I didn’t get any pictures. I think I was a zombie by that point.

Monday, my mom invited my older sister and I over for a craft night. It was so much fun. We made Christmas crafts and, yes, turned on Christmas music. (Pandora’s Hipster Holidays station is the best.) We ate snacks and chatted.. it was perfect.

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I felt pretty miserable yesterday. I haven’t been eating the way I know I should, and I’m paying for it. As soon as Scott came home, I laid down for the rest of the evening. It doesn’t help that Harper has been waking up at 4:30 every morning when Scott leaves for work. I have horrible insomnia, and only get a few hours of sleep a night if I don’t take something to help me sleep. I only take something on nights that Scott doesn’t work the next day; so once a week usually. The exhaustion paired with a terrible diet (terrible for my needs) has been a pretty rotten combination.

I rearranged Harper’s room this morning in the hopes that she won’t hear all of the noise in the driveway. What kind of person builds a house with all of the bedrooms over the REALLY loud garage doors and driveway? A cruel one.. that’s who. (whom?) She has a sound machine in her room. I just don’t get it. She can sleep through her sisters’ obnoxious noises, but not Scott leaving for work. If you have any tips to keep me from losing my mind, I’m all ears. I can’t take much more.

I hope that your week has been wonderful and you are getting wonderful autumn weather wherever you are!

family life, story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

Weekend Recap

This weekend was so full and fun. I love weekends like that. We had summer weather, which is kind of annoying when it’s OCTOBER, but we wouldn’t let that stop us.

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Friday, we had plans to go to Lincoln’s New Salem for their candlelight festival. I invited my mom and dad to join us for the evening, and was so happy that they were able to come with us. We met them for dinner before the event. We made it into town a little before them, so we took the girls to see Abraham Lincoln’s home. Their minds were blown to see this incredible piece of history.

At New Salem, they had all of the cabins open and illuminated with candles. They had a militia camp set up as well as a few other camps so that you could see what live was like in the 1800s. It was SO crowded. I overhead others saying that they had never seen that many people come to the event. We were determined to make it to the tavern for gingerbread and apple cider. Naturally, we headed that way first to get our snacks. We needed fuel for the night, you know?

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We only made it into a few of the cabins before the kids were tired of the crowds and long lines; also a little scared of the darkness. It was past their bedtime, so we expected it to happen at some point. While we were walking, my dad was telling me stories about my grandpa building a cabin with his bare hands. I want to soak in all of the stories about my parents and grandparents. How much history has been lost by people not sharing the stories or remembering the stories?

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Saturday, I had signed my mom and I up for a craft at the library. Scott ended up having to work, and I thought I was going to miss out. My dad saved the day by offering to watch all three kids for me so that I could go! It basically thrilled the three of them to spend a couple of hours with their papa. They talked about how fun it was the entire day. My younger sister and her family got into town in the evening. I popped into my parents’ house to say hi to them and hug them all.

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Sunday started off as it always does- with our church family. We were running a few minutes late, but were still going to make it. Then, we got stopped a train. Then, the train stopped. That is pretty typical for this town, and everyone hates it. After church and lunch, we met up with my mom and younger sister’s family at the apple orchard. IMG_9541

I love this orchard so much. If you live anywhere nearby, you should definitely visit. They have delicious cider slushes, donuts, and all kinds of goodies. The people who work there are some of the nicest.

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They have a playground, hay bale tunnels, and even a toddler playground that is all free for you to enjoy. They don’t charge you for every activity, which is so common with some of the big-name orchards.

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I also got to hug a friend of mine that I’ve really only met in person once, which was a big cherry on top of a great weekend.

I love fun weekends where you get to spend time with the people you love and do all of the fun fall things. I’m holding on until later this week when the weather will actually feel like fall again. The schools are out today, but we are still working away. Instead of taking today off and staying in the house because of the heat, we will take another day off later this week when we can walk to the park and play!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend also, and that you enjoy your Columbus Day!

family life, kids, story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

Our Weekend in Pictures

Alternate title: Our Sunday in pictures.

Saturday, Scott and his brother left at 3 AM to go to Michigan to watch the football game in Ann Arbor. This left the girls and I solo all day. I invited my parents over for breakfast. I made biscuits and burnt scrambled eggs (lucky them) and my dad made bacon and gravy. It was so much fun having them over. We played a couple games of clue before they headed back home. Then, we loaded up and went to Target to walk around and get out of the house. I typically spend 6 days a week without a vehicle and trapped at home, so when I have it I am GONE. When we got home, I spent HOURS helping the big girls clean their room. Seriously, no one is allowed to bring any toys into this house unless they are a birthday or Christmas gift. I’m sick of spending hours with the junk my kids accumulate. Anyone else? That was our Saturday, and I didn’t take any pictures.

Sunday, we got up and went to church. I love my church family. I am so thankful that God brought us here to be with these people during this time in our lives.

The place that my mom works for throws a big family picnic each year. It was originally scheduled for Saturday, but the heavens opened up and INCHES of rain fell. It obviously was rescheduled. As soon as church was over, we headed home to change and go to the picnic. Unlimited fair food. Heck yes! Bounce houses for the kids to wear themselves out in were available. There were so many crafts and games. The girls got more than one pony ride.

 

 

I asked Chloe if she wanted to go play BINGO with me. She came so close to winning, but neither of us did.

Glitter tattoos and face paint may have been the favorite part. For some reason, Addi always gets super nervous and never wants to have it done. I don’t push it, so that’s why you don’t see her in these. Gah! They are so cute!! We spent ALL DAY here playing and having fun.

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I love days like this. They had a fireworks show once it got dark, and of course everyone loved that.

 

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend as well. Now, it’s back to the grind.

family life, story telling, travel, Uncategorized

Lincolnโ€™s New Salem: a Step Back in Time

Lincoln's New Salem

Over the weekend, we spontaneously decided to go to Lincoln’s New Salem. This was always my favorite field trip when I was growing up, so it was fun to take a field trip with the kids. When we got there, we were told that it was Bicentennial weekend at the park. All but one of the cabins was open for the public to walk through. There were people dressed in period costumes to tell you about the former owners of the homes/stores/shops. There was live music and poetry readings. It was such a fun day, and I’m so thankful that we got to see so much more than we thought.

 

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They love posing by statues. When we first got there, we went into the visitor’s center. There is a small museum inside where you can see different artifacts and learn more about New Salem. Next to the visitor’s center is a small cafe and gift shop. Then, you walk down the path in between a thick group of trees. It opens up, and you can see the homes.

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(Harper was refusing to carry her hat, so Scott put it on top of his own. He doesn’t usually wear this hat. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I loved getting to go inside and see how people used to live in the 1830s.ย  I’ll apologize now for the quality of some of these pictures. It’s hard to get good pictures in dark places.

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Everything is so beautiful.

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Harper really loved the beds. Most of these beds have a trundle bed underneath where the children’ would sleep– often 2-3 children on each.img_9114

The girls were so fascinated by all of the candles everywhere. It was hard for them to imagine life without lights.ย img_9111

The Cooper shop (building in the picture above) is the only structure that is original to the town. The rest have all been reconstructed. It was taken apart and moved to Petersburg where it stayed until 1922. Then, it was carefully taken apart and rebuilt in it’s original home of New Salem.

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The beds and furniture are all so beautiful. I am so thankful for our modern-day mattresses though. I can’t imagine sleeping on straw.

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Chloe and Addi loved seeing the spinning wheel. They were talking about Sleeping Beauty the whole time.

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This is the inside of a wool mill. The technology of their day was really incredible. This machine was powered by two oxen walking on another machine outside. (see below picture)

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That little high chair is so cute. Can you imagine having a baby in this time? Look at those floors.

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We really wished they had a sign telling about this barn above. Most of the cabins have gardens in the yard. Some have the barns.ย img_9138

This table is from the tavern. There was a huge fireplace with tons of cooking tools hanging from the mantle. I told Chloe and Addi about how they used to cook over the fire. This is where travelers would come for a meal. Through the doorway was a large room with several beds where they would sleep for the night.ย img_9119They all took turns pretending to lift buckets of water from the well.

 

 

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It felt like the temperature was a million degrees outside. In reality, it was over 90 degrees. We were so hot, and I can’t imagine how the period costume “characters” felt. We had so much fun despite the heat.ย img_9134

If you are ever looking for something to do in Illinois, I cannot recommend this place enough! Behind the visitor center is a campground. Across the road is a state park with a playground and hiking trails. It’s a quiet area, but It’s not far outside of Springfield. You can go into the town and there is a lot to see there also.

 

If you want to check out more information about New Salem, you can go here to this interactive map.

family life, recommendations, story telling, travel, Uncategorized

Port Huron, Michigan

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In our 7+ years of living in Michigan, Port Huron is my favorite place that we got to explore. The water is so beautiful and blue. You can see right down to the bottom. Just across the water is Canada. In fact, the Blue Water Bridge to/from Canada was over us when I took this picture.

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The girls always call Lake Huron the ocean, which cracks me up. It’s bluer than the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s unsalted. It quite literally takes my breath away every time we pull up to the water and I catch a glimpse. I could sit and stare at it all day.

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We sat and took it all in for a while before we headed to grab lunch. Our favorite place to go is the Raven Cafe. They have SUCH delicious food, and it’s in such a cool building. We used to go when we lived in Michigan, and have returned every time we visit the area. It’s that good. The people are that awesome.

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There is art everywhere.. I love the whole vibe of the place. They have the best grilled reuben. Their chai tea chiller is so good. So, so good.

Once we devoured lunch, we headed to the beach. One thing that you NEED to know about Port Huron beaches is that most of them are rocky. Water shoes are needed if you want to be able to move comfortably. I wore my Tevas in the water without problems. Scott ended up putting on socks to dull the pain. It seriously is SO painful if you aren’t prepared. ha!

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Since the beach sits close to where the river begins, you get to see tons of huge barges coming and going.

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This particular beach sits next to the Fort Gratiot lighthouse. We have yet to go up in it since we never remember that you have to wear close toed shoes. Who wears those to the beach?

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We moved up the coast a little bit and found a tiny slice of beach that was practically empty. It is a public beach sandwiched between two sections of private beach. It’s not as rocky, and the water didn’t have the same current as the bigger beach.

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Soak that in. The clear water. The beautiful rocks beneath. The blue.. so much blue. Every time we go, I fall more and more in love. I have seen three of the five great lakes, and Lake Huron is my favorite so far.

I hope that if you are ever in Michigan, you can visit Port Huron. If you do, you must stop in at the Raven Cafe! Also, find this house and if it’s ever for sale let me know!

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I will share more about our trip another day. For now, you can soak in the ten million pictures of this beautiful city with me.

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