Meet Snapchat

Baby announcement! 

Meet Snapchat, our very first baby born on the homestead. 


Snapchat is a silky chicken, as you can tell by his/her small stature and extra toes. Snapchat is an adorable teeny sleepy little baby chick. And I am in awe at God’s little miracles and this tiny life that hatched in our chicken coop, discovered by the hubby when we he stopped in to gather the eggs. The telltale peeping gave it away and I couldn’t wait to run in and snap a few pics.


But things don’t always run so smoothly on the the homestead! Due to severe and surprising rooster aggression, we had to say farewell to our beloved Captain Jack a few weeks ago. There is no reason to keep a roo gone mean and we made sure his farewell was as kind and polite as possible. It was sad and disappointing but necessary for the safety of all who reside on and visit our homestead, including the chickens. But he left in his wake 2 broody hens with only unfertilized eggs to sit on. So we borrowed a few fertilized silky eggs, because those hens were new to laying and showed no signs of being brood. We delivered them to the broody wyandottes, hoping that all would work out well. But it didn’t.

The broody mama sitting on the silky eggs just didn’t take to Snapchat and gave her a great big peck and a wound. So we rescued poor Snapchat at just a few hours old and she is now quietly resting in the piano studio. To be honest, we weren’t really sure if Snap would make it through the night. But she’s a fighter and so far seems to be doing everything a baby chick should, peeping, drinking, sleeping, and hopefully, eating, too. Sometimes, broody hens get confused and kill their babies, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on those eggs to see if any more babies hatch. If they do, we can bring them in to snuggle up to Snapchat. If they don’t, we’ll need to ‘break’ mama hen of her broodiness, which is a whole other post and a whole other day.  For now, we are just enjoying our baby grandchick and hoping she recovers well from the henpecking she received.

In the meantime, we have a silky hen whose gone all broody on us. Perhaps there are more grandchicks on the way!

Edit: We found another tiny baby in the coop! Still ‘wet’ from breaking out of the egg. Meet Baby Twitter!


Insta-gratifying Paleo Blueberry Mason Jar Muffins

Muffins and paleo don’t usually happen in the same sentence, unless that same sentence uses the word, “Don’t.” That is, until now! Since I was having a super-duper blueberry muffin craving, I used my cake in a mug recipe ideas to recreate a pretty awesome, pretty darn near paleo blueberry muffin. (There’s also a completely Paleo version if you prefer!) You’ll be eating in less than 5 minutes. Want it? You got it. Click below.

Insta-gratifying Paleo Blueberry Mason Jar Muffins  


10 ways to get more done today

10.  Turn off the notifications on your cell phone. Only check email and messages during designated times. Don’t look at your phone more than oimagence per hour.

Every time it beeps, blurts, or dings your brain gets distracted from its current task, even if just for a millisecond. Turn them off until your work is done. Put the phone somewhere where you won’t be tempted to constantly glance at it.

9. Do the hard things first. Whatever it is that’s hard, distasteful, or annoying, do it first, do it quickly and get it out of the way. Your other tasks will seem easier and you won’t do them slowly to put off doing the yucky thing.

8. Have a short play session with your kids, then give them something fun to do on their own (.like playdough! ). They’ll be more content after having played with you for a bit, and you’ll have more chance to get something done with less interruptions. We use playdough, coloring, snacks, and reserved happy meal toys for just such occasions.

7. Take a nap if you need one. It’s hard to be productive when you’re exhausted, so squeeze in a power nap even if you have a lot to get done. It may seem counterproductive to waste time sleeping, but if you’re really dragging, it will help.

6. Make a plan. Take a few minutes to logically plan out everything you have to accomplish, putting it in some kind of logical sequence. It’s a lot more effective than just running around like crazy. IMG_1089

5. Be strategic – what needs done during nap time, and what can you do when the kids are awake? I can fold towels amidst games of duck duck goose, but I can’t focus enough to pay the bills when there’s a lot of commotion.

4. Fuel yourself. Drink water and eat foods that are going to give you solid, sustained energy, like protein rather than sugary carbs.

3. Don’t multi-task. We love trying to do 6 things at once, but our brains focus better and work more quickly when we focus on one thing at a time.

2. Get kids involved! Even young children can spread peanut butter on bread (with a child safe knife, of course), carry toilet paper, put dirty clothes in a hamper, etc. They love being helpers, and its great for them to learn the satisfaction of a job well done. You’ll be amazed at what they can really accomplish – you’ll all be proud of their new skills!

  1. Turn off facebook! ‘Nuff said.

The secret to saner mornings

There is a dream I have, of gently easing into my day, with a cup of coffee and a magazine and maybe some dippy eggs, and I am still resting in my bed, all snug and cozy, with cat at my feet, while the sun comes up, and I feel awake, rested, and at peace. And I have a few minutes alone with my Bible before the busy of the day begins, and I can think, and pray, and clear my head and just breathe. Oh to just breathe. Breathe in the scent of lavender, or peppermint, or the fresh morning air while I am at rest and at peace and the scent of coffee brings comfort and love.

Reality is so much harder. It is dark, and I am tossing about because I’m too hot or too cold, or maybe it’s my allergies and I think I can’t breathe, or maybe it’s the cat breathing in my air and asking for her breakfast. And finally, finally, I doze off again.

And suddenly there is squealing and shouting and pounding on the floor above and small children bounding in my IMG_0630door and jumping on my head and begging to be fed and I realize there is no gentle easing into my day, there is a harsh knocking awake and my body takes a small beating from excited children who cannot contain their energy because it’s a new day and who could possibly ever want to sleep another minute when there is a world to explore, a language to learn, and new discoveries like worms and dirt and tasty foods and math equations and a pizza party in the classroom and can’t we have apples for breakfast or bagels or eggs or just anything? And the bounding babies make me smile and laugh and cringe and dive under my pillow for just one more moment of sleep.

And finally the coffee maker turns on and there is the smell of dirty diapers, not the smell of lavender and lace and the harsh reality that the day has started long before I was ever even ready. And I drag my weary body up and out and sizzle up some breakfast for tiny little tummies who have much exploring to do.

And getting going is not so hard because there is no leftover work from yesterday. The dishes were done, and the backpacks were packed and the lunches were ready and in their little bags and 6 little sets of pants and shirts are all laid out in a row so there is no scrambling for baby socks or stain-free shirts and hole-less pants. Homework’s been checked and rechecked and signed and even water bottles are waiting in the fridge, ready for little fingers to grab and take along. And it may not be quiet, and it might not smell sweet, but I can sip a few sips of coffee as the baby sips her bottle and I can savor my eggs as the kids savor theirs and we can talk and tell jokes and jump together into this new day.

And the single secret to saner mornings isn’t to do lists or well-behaved babes or skipping breakfast or doing imagesomething that is very hard at all. The secret is simply finishing yesterday before it’s a new day, and putting away, and planning ahead, and whenever you can, to work until the work is done so that rest is more restful and the day starts shiny and new, without dragging along the baggage of the past to weigh down the newness and dull out the shiny and ruin a day before it begins. And it might not be the daydream beginning that is soft and sweet and smelling so good, but it is the closest and best that I can come to making the dreams I dream be my life. And someday the bounding bouncing babies will be seeking coffee of their own, and cringing under their pillows in their own cozy warm beds and I’ll remember the times they bounced me awake and all I wanted was peace and dreams and lavender and a saner morning. And the mornings are hard but they are good because they are full of laughter and sillies and bounding babes and I’ll just do my best to cuddle and sip as they drag me along and it’s ok because yesterday is already wrapped up tight and cleaned away and I can face this new day because joy is in it, and love is in it, and babies are in it, and God is in it first.

I heart salsa. Or how to grow your own salsa garden on your very own homestead.

IMG_0174I never saw myself as much of a gardener, until last year when I suddenly developed an appreciation for being able to plant, nurture, and harvest vegetables right in my own yard. Maybe it was the joy of my 5 year old, who would grab a juicy tomato right off the vine, and bite into like a golden delicious apple. Or maybe it’s how my very picky 8 year old will crunch away at fresh green peppers just as willingly as a chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe it was knowing where my food was coming from. Likely, it was the peace and joy I found from connecting with God in my garden. When things got hectic, I would steal away and visit my garden, and enjoy a little alone time with God over my precious tomatoes. My husband called it therapy. Tomato therapy.

Well it must have worked wonders, because last summer, I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. I mean, massive amounts of tomatoes. I mean, had I sold them at the grocery store, the profits from the tomatoes alone would have covered the cost of putting in the entire garden, from renting the tiller, to buying the fence, to buying all the pre-started plants for the garden.  But I didn’t do that. Instead, I learned to make salsa. I love salsa. And I especially love homemade salsa, because I can completely customize it to my taste. We ate  lot of salsa last summer, froze a lot of salsa last summer, as well as a few other tomato based dishes. It was completely successful, so I am planning my own little ‘salsa garden’ within my garden. You can do this too, and you can start it now, inside. (Keep reading for the link to my homemade salsa recipe).IMG_0171

Salsa gardens do very well in pots, raised beds, and in regular gardens. They are pretty much fool proof, even for beginners like me. Tomatoes and peppers are self-pollinating, so you should be able to bring your pots indoors at the end of the season to get at least a few more weeks out of your plant. Just be sure to bring them back in before it frosts!

Here’s how to start – Fill up a couple of empty cardboard egg cartons with organic seed starting mixture (yes, you can buy organic dirt! ) Plant your peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro seeds in your egg cartons. Keep them moist and place them in a warm sunny location inside, away from frost and cold. After the sprouts have started, you can cut apart the cartons and plant them right in your pot, green house or garden (after the danger of frost is done). You’ll also want some onion sets! And anything else you’d like to put in your salsa!


If you’re not ready to try your hand at starting seeds, you can pick up already started plants at Walmart or your local garden store. Or get one of these cute little kits from amazon (this is an affiliate link): Salsa Garden Kit.  I’ve already got some seeds started in my library, but I’m ready to plant some more. I’m planning on at least 20 tomato plants and 20 pepper plants this year, but maybe I’ll find room to squeeze in a few more! After all, you can never have too many tomatoes to share. And with your abundance, you can pass on a little bit of the peace and joy and love you feel from God when you spend time alone with Him, over your tomato plants.


And now… the moment you’ve been waiting for… SALSA! I hope you enjoy the recipe – please let me know if you try it and how you adjust it to make it your very own. And may God fill your heart abundantly
as you enjoy an abundance of delicious summer garden salsa.


New Recipe: I Need a Chocolate Fix 3 Ingredient Paleo Chocolate



In my house, it’s one of the 4 basic food groups. You know, protein, fruits and veggies, coffee, and chocolate. I’ve been taste testing lots of varieties of homemade paleo chocolate, and finally came up with my own version that I love! It’s totally delicious, decadent, easy, and versatile. I’m sure you’ll love it too, so I conjured up a recipe page so I can start keeping these yummy ideas all in one place. Enjoy!

Go here for the recipe: I Need a Chocolate Fix 3 Ingredient Paleo Chocolate 

A zombie apocalypse of biblical proportions

Are you a believer? In zombies, I mean. In that utterly fascinated, can’t turn away but totally can’t bear to look, peeking out from behind your fingers at the gory, horrifying images kind of believer. My seminary profs labeled it ‘fascination with abomination’ – when the horrors of this life, the frightening, the gory, the abhorred and abhorring, the terrified and the terrifying- capture our attention and we cannot break away, cannot escape its grasp.

Zombies are in the Bible.  Yes, zombies. In the very Bible. You probably didn’t read that story in Sunday School, did you?

Well, maybe they aren’t exactly called zombies, but the Bible has some remarkably similar imagery. I’m not gonna lie, there is some stuff in the Bible that even Stephen King couldn’t have dreamed up. God has a pretty amazing imagination and I’m pretty sure He can imagine anything He wants, zombies or not.  (If you like zombies and horror movies, you can read more about some of the imagery here, in this nifty article by Michael Gilmour). We don’t talk about in church much, but it’s there. Right there, in this Bible of ours.

There is this crazy, horrifying, can’t-turn-away zombie-esque story in the Bible that speaks to me. It hits me in the gut, in hits me in the heart, and leaves a mark on my soul. You might know it from an cliche of a children’s song, but the prophet Ezekiel experienced it as a kind of zombie apocalypse, a frightening, gory, can’t turn away, can’t get away kind of a vision – and it was all God’s idea.

I cannot bear to watch horror movies. I hid under the covers when my husband watched Kujo. I still have nightmares of Freddie, and Sweeney Todd turned my stomach sour in the first five minutes. But this story – this little piece of history that is just one small part of His Story, I cannot break away from. It’s the Valley of Dry Bones.

IMG_7754I love this story because it shows me that God doesn’t always do as He’s told; He doesn’t always fit that mold we made for Him- He is an imaginative cinematographer, a detailed Creator, a hope-instiller. Ezekiel trained His whole life to be a priest so he could serve God. And in that apportionment of history, in that little time-lapsed view we see what an honor this was for Ezekiel and His family. And when he was just about 30 years old, when Ezekiel was just about to step into that honorable position of serving God as a priest, God gave him a new assignment. Ezekiel was to be a prophet instead. Ezekiel kissed his honor goodbye and stepped into the unpopular role God had been designing for him all along. Isn’t that just like God? To do something surprising to us but something  He had planned all along, something beyond our imaginations.

IMG_0201Fast forward a bit, to a time when the nation of Israel felt utterly hopeless. A whole nation of people without hope. Feeling alone. Feeling abandoned and rejected by God.  But God was up to something, and he showed Ezekiel what He was up to through a horrifying, can’t-turn-away zombie kind of a story. God showed Ezekiel a valley of dried up old bones.  Maybe you’ve watched enough horror movies that a valley full of old, sun-bleached, dried up bones wouldn’t make you a bat a pretty little eye. But to Ezekiel, who was taught his whole life that he, a dignified, ceremonially clean priest-to-be, must never come in contact with a dead body, it was the worst. It was stomach-souring, hide under the covers, peek behind his fingers, vomitous stench, kind of awful. And then God told Ezekiel to talk to those bones, to tell them to get up. And then those bones did the unthinkable, the ultimate, silent-screaming-inducing kind of a thing that only an old skeleton could do. Those old dead bones got up.  And they grew muscles. And veins and arteries and tendons and organs and everything else that makes the difference between a skeleton and person. Those dead bones became living, breathing, hoping people. And this entire, horrifying, stomach-souring show was so Ezekiel would know without any kind of question that there was HOPE for his nation, that God was going to bring that dead and deathly ill nation back to life. Ezekiel became far more than just a priest that day, he became a hope-instiller for an entire nation that needed to reconnect with God.

I hate to admit that I have a few dead bones around – dried up dreams, hopes that fell by the wayside. Plans that went wrong, horribly wrong. There’s a few spots in my life that have felt abandoned, rejected, dead. There are skeletons of failures tucked away in a few dusty closets, buried beneath smelly old shoes and lost mittens. But God is the hope-instiller, the breather-of-new-life into dead bones. The resurrector of people and broken plans and dead dreams. And this story is exactly what I needed, this gory, horror movie created by a loving God to show me that nothing is too dead and old for Him to imagebreathe into it new life.

God, the instiller of hope, the imaginative designer of our stories,  is breathing new life into some of my old dead and zombied dreams in surprising ways. What old bones, and dreams, and zombies, and plans, are you hiding away that need new life?

16 things I’ve heard as a foster mom.

Most folks are well-intentioned, merely curious, really good , kind people who simply don’t know all of the foster care lingo that we, on the parenting side, have become quite comfortable with. And after being a foster mom for several years, I think I’ve heard it all from complete strangers, from very sweet, kind comments about my darling babies, to funny, witty, and sometimes even dirty looks and down-right rude remarks that secretly make my blood boil. Usually, though, I’m too busy tending to my bustling brood to actually care what other people think, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I had a snappy comeback to pass along with an impish grin and a sticky hug from a quite thoughtful child. So here’s a quick list of some of the funny things I’ve heard – and what I wish I had said in the moment. Enjoy!

  1. You’re a saint for taking in those children.  ME? A saint? You must have me confused with someone else, because I’m just a normal, boring, imageregular, non-perfect, plain old, run-of-mill human being with normal, boring, regular, non-perfect, plain, old, run-of-the-mill problems who happens to be a mom. I’m taking life one day at a time just like everybody else. I make messy mistakes, sneak chocolates when the kids aren’t looking, beg God to let me sleep a little longer each morning, and I long for the peace and quiet of bed time every night. I’d say those children are saints for not complaining when all of the yummy dark chocolate has completely disappeared from their Easter baskets after I accidentally ate it all.  Shhhh don’t tell them I told you…

2. Are you a daycare? Not since the last time I checked.IMG_3428

3. Which one is yours? All of them. They are all mine. Every single one. Some people collect shot glasses, I collect children. Hoard them, as a matter of fact. And no, I won’t trade, sell, or barter any of my precious collection, they are worth far too much, but I’ll gladly help you start your own collection of highly adorable, completely priceless miniature human beings.

4. Is the mom in jail?  Well, I’m the mom and I am definitely NOT in jail. But thanks for asking about how I’m doing… as a matter of fact, I do feel a little trapped by the all the laundry I have to do each week…. How about I bring over a couple of loads of wash for you to fold?

5. What’s wrong with that one? What’s wrong with you?IMG_1655

6. I could never love another person’s child. Wrong. Just wrong. If you’re saying that (out loud even), you’re just trying to convince yourself not to get involved. Here’s how I see it. Any child under my roof is MY CHILD. And I will love him or her for the rest of my life and well into the next. Because that child is lovable and worthy of love. Love is a choice, an action, and I double dog dare you to choose it. You haven’t learned what love can be until you hear that child call you “Mommy” and I promise it will make your little heart burst with joy.

7. They’re lucky to have you.  I don’t believe in luck. I believe in Jesus.IMG_1628

8. Don’t you have enough kids? Nah. There’s always room for one more.

9. Are you going to adopt that one? Which one?

10. Doesn’t the mom want them?  Of course I want them!

11. Did the real mom do drugs? I’m the real mom.

12. You look great for just having a baby, I didn’t even know you were pregnant. Gee, thanks, at least someone thinks I look good!

13. Is the kid safe? Does he ‘have something?”  Well, the last time I checked, IMG_1528there were a couple of rocks in his pocket and he had just picked up a frog, but I’m pretty sure they don’t bite because frogs don’t have any teeth.

14. You must be in it for the money.  Hahahahahahaha.

15. Your husband must make a lot of money. Again. Hahahahahahaha.

16. Is that a drug baby? Nope. “That” is a child. A tiny soul, created by God, to grow and love and live and spend eternity worshipping Him. Why do you ask?

Just don’t look in my garage: 10 tips to declutter your space

Clutter kills my calm. I cannot stand to work in a cluttered messy environment. In order for me to be my most peaceful, creative, content, joyful self, I need visual order. I need ‘white space’ in my home and work. I need a clean slate when I wake up in the morning so I don’t have to deal with yesterday’s dirtied baggage before I start a brand new day. I need to be able to vacuum, scrub, and put things away quickly and easily. And I need to be able to childproof thoroughly. Very very thoroughly. That means clutter has got to go or I cannot function well. And as a mom of 6, I need to be running on all cylinders, all the time. There is no time for me to misfunction over missing stuff because there is just so much stuff that I can’t find what I need when I need it. It’s amazing how much stress clutter adds to our lives – whether it’s junk mail, email, extraneous stuff that piles up around the house, junk drawers that are too full to even close, and basements full of boxes unopened since the last move. It takes so much time and energy to deal with all of the stuff, and to me, a cluttered home means a cluttered brain. People often comment how clean, picked up, uncluttered my house surprisingly is for being a mom of 6. It’s probably not so much clean as it is uncluttered and picked up. And don’t you dare look in my overfilled cabinets which have to contain food for 8 or especially, my garage, where all the clutter actually hides.

10. Get the kids on board. Have you ever noticed what happens to a child’s playskills when there are too many toys at their disposal? The play area becomes a dumping ground, and the actual playing turns into chaotic game of running around and screeching rather than developing age appropriate play schemes and scenarios. But given just a few flexible toys, the imagination unfolds and amazing worlds and characters develop into delightful play. So get those kids involved in sorting, tossing, organizing, and storing toys. Let them show you their favorites and make some of the decisions.

Throw out anything broken, old, hazardous, junky, or that comes out of a happy meal. No ifs and or buts. You’ll thank me for it in the long run.

Donate anything that is clean and in good condition that isn’t played with on a regular basis. No matter how much you love it, if your kids don’t play with it, send it to someone who will. Hint: If it’s lost in the bottom of the toy box, they probably won’t miss until you show them that you’re getting rid of it.

Put away anything that isn’t age appropriate and save it for the next child or donate it, sell it, pass it on.

Keep it if it is sentimental, the kids play with it a lot, or there is a developmental need for it.

If you can’t possibly bear to part with toys and books, at least put some away for short term toy rotation. Just make sure that they are well-labeled and stored without batteries (trust me, you’ll think you’re going crazy when those plastic bins start talking in the damp basement). After a few weeks, take out the current toys and replace them with the stored toys. Unless your children are very young, try to only keep as many toys in rotation as your children are able to clean up with minimal to no help from you.  You can always add toys back if you see they are able to handle cleaning up after play.

9. Avoid it. If you have an older child, it’s ok to just shut the door. Don’t look at the clutter if they are capable of managing it on their own. My bedroom rule is not that the rooms must be clean but that I must be able to walk to their beds and dressers without tripping, falling, or suffering from lego induced agony to my naked toes. If there is some clutter that you just can’t get rid of (um, bill paying, perhaps?) find a way to hide it, disguise it, or cover it up so you don’t have to look at it when you don’t need to. I keep my vacuum cleaner in the garage because the closets are full of coats and clothes (yup, mom of 6 equals an overflowing coat closet) and I don’t want to see it every single time I enter a room.

9. Home it. Do you remember the old saying, a place for everything and everything in its place? All of your stuff should have a home of it’s own. Shoes go in the shoe cabinet by the front door when you come in the house (plus it helps keep dirt, germs, and chemicals out of your home). Keys and wallet go right in the drawer (the one with the baby locks on it). Have the kids put their backpacks and coats away as you come in the door so there isn’t extra clutter just lying about for people to trip on or little kids to get into.

8. Rehome it. If there isn’t a space for it, rehome it. Give it away. If you have more coffee mugs than can fit in your coffee mug spaces, than find them a new home – either a cabinet that’s bigger or one that belongs to someone else!

7. Eradicate it. Seriously. Be ruthless. How often do you really use the waffle maker? When was the last time you made yourself an espresso? Examine your closet and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, anything that is worn, broken, out of style, or that you don’t wear on a regular basis. You probably have just a few outfits that you love and wear all the time. Get rid of just about everything else and you’ll spend much less time digging through your closet, your dresser, your laundry bins for the perfect shirt.

6. Erase it. The delete button works wonders! Treat your computer like you would your home – either file it, send it, or delete it.

5. Deal with it.  One of the reasons we have clutter is that we hang on to things in order to deal with them later. For example, we put the stack of mail on the counter to ‘look at later.’ But later gets busy, so the mail piles up and pretty soon, the counter is full, something gets spilled, and the pile of mail, which is mostly just junk, gets sticky and gross. Do yourself a favor – as you bring the mail in the house, deal with it. Toss it, file it, put it with the bills to pay. Same goes for kids’ papers, lunch boxes, toys, and receipts. Procrastination leads to piling. And piles of stuff destroys your calm.

4. Don’t buy it.  Just don’t. Don’t buy pictures, or pretty things, or anything at all unless you absolutely need it. The less tchotchkes the better. It means less things to distract your brain, less things to dust, less things to clean around. Less things to get broken, less things to have to child proof, too.

3. Sell it. If it’s saleable, consider selling it. Make a little cash and get rid of stuff. It’s a win-win.

2. Organize it.  Give it a home, the right home, in the right spot, in the right order, with the right label. And put it away every single time.

  1. Exchange it. The best rule is 1 in, 1 out. Kids got a new toy for their birthday? They get to choose one to donate or toss. Hubby got new underwear or socks? Make sure he remembers to remove the “holy” ones. Got a new purse? Send one packing so you don’t have to store the other.

Yes, yes, I make it a mission to seek and destroy clutter so that I can think clearly, create easily, and clean more quickly. But please please please, just don’t look in my garage..