Sunday, August 24, 2014

Work. And Hail.

Yes. Work is being done here. 

Just as we finished, the clouds opened and dumped rain and hail on us. 

The kids, building a fort in a nearby tree, were thrilled. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Snapshot: Jumping and Screaming

Kids on a trampoline on a summer day. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Comment About Depression

Re-posted from my FB feed.

I have one more comment about depression, and in particular the tendency for the Christian community to be dismissive of those who struggle with clinical depression.

One of the major problems we have is a lack of clear language in addressing the problem. As I see it, there are really two separate issues that both get lumped into the category of “depression.”
First, there is what I call “the blues.” Life gets you down. You feel sad. Problems seem heavy. You feel tired. You call yourself depressed. Everyone goes through this from time to time. When life gets better, it fades away again. You can choose to trust God. This state is what Matt Walsh is talking about when he said he has been depressed but chose to be joyful regardless. People may even go to the doctor and get medication for this, and that’s fine. We all go through rough patches.

Then, there is actual clinical depression, or MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). It’s a physical chemical imbalance that results in depressed feeling and hopelessness and fatigue, but the difference is, you can’t think it away. Yes, God can heal it, just as He can heal cancer or diabetes, but just like cancer or diabetes, sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes you have to live with it and manage it. And like cancer or diabetes, just choosing joy isn’t going to help. It sometimes feels like a dark cloud is over you even when doing your favorite activities or when life is going really well. Yes, it can develop as a result of stress or grief, but it doesn’t stay connected to those, because when the stress goes away, the chemical imbalance does not. Medication can help. Therapy can help. Time can help. Healing can help. Like eating a healthy diet helps manage diabetes, thinking in healthy ways helps manage depression, but it doesn’t cure it.

What also doesn’t help is people telling you to buck up and get over it. It’s like telling someone with skin cancer, “yeah, I had a mole, but I just ignored it and it was fine.” Ridiculous, right?

Mental health issues are hard to define, harder to diagnose and harder to communicate about. There is a huge stigma over them. It feels shameful enough to admit that our bodies are broken without having people tell us that it’s our fault. It’s hard enough to feel sick when you’re doing your favorite activities with your family. Having other people say that if you’d just try a little harder, the sickness would simply evaporate makes the burden a little heavier. It puts a heavier burden onto our families who are told that if they just pray better for us, or be good a little more often, we’d be okay. And when we’re not, they think it’s their fault. I grew up with that burden. The teaching can be so subtly destructive. 

I think it’s important to be clear in our definitions. Don’t claim you’re “depressed” if you’re just being a whiny-pants. Leave room for those who really do struggle with the condition of depression to have the respect they need and the support to manage it well and minimize its impact on themselves and their families. Pray for healing, sure, but don’t blame them when God’s answer is “wait.” Realize that perhaps that person is so much better at choosing to be joyful in the midst of trying circumstances than you will ever have to be, because they choose to get up every single morning, and choose to go about their day when that choice alone is more difficult than anything you might ever have to face. Thank God for your health; and then love that other person without criticism and without judgment. They probably don’t need a kick in the butt from you, because they are already ten times stronger than you’ll ever have to know.


Three weeks ago, Bean had a fever. He didn't want a blanket; he wanted a barf bowl. He watched a marathon of Curious George. 

Last week, Little Mister had a fever. He didn't need a barf bowl (thank goodness), but we missed church in favor of playing computer games and intermittently sleeping. 

This week, Curly wound up with temperatures in the 103 range. Little Fritz acted the part of nurse and comforter. Or maybe he just liked the warm place to snuggle. 

Fun With Bees

This is my normal hand. 

This is my hand on histamines. 

Sunday afternoon at the barn, I accidentally nailed an electric fence insulator into a wall that had previously been claimed by a nest of wasps. One of them punished me for it, and I've paid the price all week. 

Benadryl. Ice packs. More Benadryl. Hydrocortisone. More Benadryl. 

I think I only just woke up. 

Little Mister got stung on Tuesday while climbing our big willow tree in the back yard. As a precaution, we went ahead and took him into the ER, although thankfully this time he didn't go into anaphylactic shock. 

Ok, Mommy, your blood pressure can go back down again!

And in a very anti-climactic finish, Bean got stung twice and didn't react at all. 

Thank goodness!

Hubby bought three new bee traps yesterday and hung them up. 

Battle is joined. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


This morning, we dove in and tried the full schoolwork-list method. Several things became apparently obvious. 

1. Curly loves lists. She was happy and humming all morning. 

2. Mister HATED it. He was overwhelmed and whiny. He needs more autonomy. The problem is that Curly cries "unfair" when she has a list and he doesn't. This needs some serious problem-solving. 

3. All the kids working on a list at the same time results in bored Bean (read whiny, mischievous Bean), and too many simultaneous demands on my time and attention. I was trying to help Abi read a new book, treat my bee sting, fend off Bean's many questions, and correct the spelling on Curly's writing all at the same time. It did not work. 

I need to stagger the attention to each kid, and make sure Bean has something to do when his usual playmates are occupied. 

I need to figure out how to give Mister the autonomy he needs without frustrating Curly too much. 

Time to put on my thinking cap! Stay tuned. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I love fixing up this old barn

Lots of barn work today! (happy me) I worked there with only Curly and we installed all the electrical. Then later, Hubby and the kids came and we did some of the heavier stuff. The kids had a ball pounding nails into scrap wood. 

Rabbit holes dug out. 
Electric fence charger installed
Wires run from charger to both fences
Non-sturdy wall reinforced
Hole in the wall fixed
More bee nests killed
Old boards moved 
Old rusty nails picked up
Lots of thistles removed
Roof screwed back down
Door installed next to hay
Electric fence turned on and tested 
Concrete slab cleaned off
Gap in fence jury-rigged solution
More insulators installed where fence touched a tree

I can't explain why I love this old barn so much. It has certainly seen better days. It sort of has memories of its previous owners, who happen to be friends of mine, and that feels a little awkward. But it seems like if this little old barn had a personality, it would be happy to be useful again. In spite of its crooked walls and peeling paint, it has such a delightful way of welcoming me in, making me feel relaxed, as if I just put on an old pair of slippers and relaxed into a favorite chair. 

I am impatient to bring Rogan there. I can imagine him exploring the pasture, enjoying the grazing, playing games with Curly in the round pen, trying to steal a mouthful of hay over the stall door. 

I keep reminding myself that it's only a few more weeks and we'll be ready for him. A few more piles of stuff to move. A few more wheelbarrows of muck to haul. 

Speaking of muck, I finally got through all the layers of chicken yuckiness to the floor of the stall. In one corner. 

It's gonna take a lot of wheelbarrow loads to get all of that out of there. Not that I mind much. Just part of the project. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Schooly Ponderings

Buying math workbooks today, (Curly requested an actual workbook to work through this fall) and convincing my children that they really do want to use a reading list to choose literature. Mister has decided he wants to learn algebra. He spent the whole time during horse chores making up math puzzles, like 45 + X = 50. X = 5.  So I got him a playful "intro to algebra" workbook along with the 5th grade math workbook he can use this fall. At this rate, he'll be into calculus and differential equations before he has two digits in his age! (I'm joking. I hope he takes his time and learns each concept thoroughly. But he LOVES math.) Curly is going to do fifth grade math too, but she is more excited about art and her horse. 

For both of them, we decided together that science was going to be more physics-heavy this year. We did so much biology, anatomy and earth science last year, and I happen to love physics. Simple machines, trajectories, force, motion... It's gonna be fun. :) 

Bean wanted a workbook too, so I got him a "counting to 30" book. I'm curious how this is going to go! So far, he is doing great with Reading Eggs, so he might take off with math too. 

Abi read three little books for me today. Her reading speed has jumped a notch this month. I'm really pleased, because she needs to get more vocabulary, and it wasn't going to happen at the snail's pace that she was reading. 

For her math, we've been doing a lot of money counting, calendars and telling time, but I need to get back onto teaching addition. Note to self. Time to buy a pack of M&Ms and start adding!

I think all the back-to-school buzz has infected our house too. I wonder when our official "first day" will be? The day we're at the swimming pool all day, probably. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Meadow Creek 2014

This year, the Littles got to join us at Meadow Creek! I thought they were going to jump out of their skins from excitement!

Getting ready to take six people hiking was a lot of work! I also was struggling with health issues that made it harder. 

Finally, Friday night, there were six packs, six sleeping bags, six sleeping pads, two tents, and plenty of food!

Ready to hike! I was a little worried about Abi on the trail, but we figured out a method to guide her in which we tied a long hiking pole onto Little Mister's pack, and she hung onto the other end, along with using her cane. They went slowly, but she did fantastic!

We only hiked about 1/3 mile, and once we arrived on the little sand bar where we like to camp, the kids spent the whole afternoon in the creek. 

As expected, the kids stayed up until the stars came out, giggling, telling stories, playing with their head lamps. 

At one point, Bean's head lamp flashed around the tent so fast that Hubby dryly said, "Look, we brought a disco ball."

In the morning, Hubby wanted to try being the chef. Using the little whisperlite camp stove is fun!

At lunch time, we packed up to head out. A few miles to the east, the Johnson Bar fire was sending smoke to cover our camp site, and we were ready to start for home. 

Despite the smoke and despite me not feeling up to par, we had a good trip. The kids had a ball, and I love introducing them to the backcountry.