Friday, November 11, 2011

Jason's First Post: 30 Things to Have in an Emergency Kit

Hi everyone!  Sorry on the lack of posts lately.  We were working hard to get the grandmother's house complete for them to move in, but ran into brick wall after brick wall in delays.  We ended moving them into our bedroom suite temporarily while we finish their house.  We will post pictures of the grandmothers and their animals that have joined the farm family as time permits.  Please be patient with us.  We are entering the busiest eight weeks of business at our retail shipping store.  If we don't get more posted before the new year please know that we're not ignoring the blog on purpose-we are just in survival mode!

Here's a link to Jason's first on-line article published on

Jason says to "Put together your kit so you can survive any coming disasters in the sweetness of your home!"



Friday, October 14, 2011

Giveaway Winner Is....Life Update as well

Sorry about yet another delay!!!  Fall time is always crazy, but this fall has been crazier than normal.  I unexpectedly had to work at our store on both Monday and Tuesday, and therefore, have been playing "catch up" all week long....

Our winner, drawn the old fashioned way "out of a hat with my eyes closed" is......

Denise's entry #4: "I liked Thomason Fine Art Group"!!!

Congratulations Denise!

You can message me via facebook and we will ship out a copy of the St Martha painting to you next week!

If you didn't already see that Mark and Nicole have combined their facebook pages to just one as The Pilgrimage then go check it out and "Like it" so you can keep updated on all their artistic adventures!

Life update:  We have encountered road block after road block with trying to put in the pre-manufactured house for Jason's mom and grandmother.  We have also gone through 6 employees in 6 weeks which is a new record for our store.  We thankfully still have one employee that is coming up on her one year anniversary at the store and two new ones hired.  The new employees have now last three weeks without quitting so it is looking promising that everyone will be trained up in time for the Christmas shipping season.  Needless to say Jason has been working 50-70 hour weeks at the store besides putting in the septic system and digging some trenches for electrical wire for the pre-manufactured house.  We are now waiting to hear back from some electricians to see if they can put in the converter equipment to change some of the appliances from natural gas to propane.  Then the electrical company can come and connect wires to the house and we can have a final inspection so his mom and grandmother can move in.  Please pray that this all happens quickly-so that they can be moved in BEFORE Thanksgiving!!!  Otherwise it won't happen until after New Years and we will have to readjust our business plan for Christmas.  (Normally I work 3-4 days/week at Christmas time because I don't have to pay myself as the co-owner.  The money our store makes at Christmas has to last until people start shipping in large numbers again which is normally around Easter time.)  Needless to say my husband and I are like ships passing each other most days.

All is well with the kids.  Joey and Jessie both just got picked to play on the All-Star team for soccer in two weeks.  Joey just put on two scout ranks this past Monday.  Jessie has started guitar lessons with a college student this fall.  Both kids are taking lessons on how to drive our miniature horse with a cart.  Katie and Anna are definitely all toddler....there is no telling what they are up to at any given moment.  Just today while I was helping Jessie finish some animal chores, Katie climbed up on some stuff and managed to find a sunscreen stick which she proceeded to apply all over her body-she even took off her pajama pants to make sure she got it all over!  She informed me that she was ready to go swimming-but it was a little too cold for that today.  Libby is getting big way too fast!!!  She is actually putting on weight faster than Anna and Katie did so I think I actually may have to go and buy winter clothes once again!  It's frustrating when the "hand-me-downs" don't fit because they are the wrong size/season.

We've had many changes on the farm and I will try to update soon.  We do have two different sets of company coming for the last two weekends of October.  I am also way behind on Creighton Model FC paperwork, but it's more fun to I will try to update soon!:)

As for my health, I have "adjusted" and am pursuing different options.  Some days are more painful than others both physically and emotionally with the uterus prolapse.  I have begun some internal physical therapy, which seems to be helping a lot.  We are hoping to have a "pelvic floor lift" surgery completed in January, which will hopefully help to avoid a hysterectomy.  It means another winter of bedrest/limited activities because I can't lift anything for two months and then will have limited lifting for another four, but the goal of being able to avoid synthetic hormones and not having constant/chronic pain is a good one to shoot for....I am also trying to come to terms with the possibility of not having anymore children.  I am slowly getting to the place where emotionally I can say that I will be okay if I don't have any more children naturally.  While I don't understand God's master plan at work here at all, I just keep trying my best to plod see all the blessings that I am receiving while trying to offer up "the good, the bad and the ugly" of each day....(and lately there seems to be more bad and ugly than good).....To thank God for the sunshine in between the rain....the beauty of the falling leaves....the fact that my husband has been able to take the skills he learned while building roads for the Army in Kuwait and use it to put in a septic system and trenches for electrical wires....that he can watch things on youtube and make it work for our house.....that my husband gets up each day at 6am and then keeps moving non-stop until between 10pm-12pm each night.....and like the energizer bunny he has been doing that over and over again for the past 2 1/2 months....that he is setting a lifelong example of what hard work and "taking care of your family" truly means for our children....and that he has done it cheerfully without complaint....that yesterday when I was about to cry about how far behind I was on my "to do" list, he just looked at me and calmly said, "We have a plan and we will get through this week....then we'll get through next week...."  I wish that I had Jason's calmness when life gets rough.....I am so thankful that God has given me this quiet strong "rock" to cleave to through this stormy fall!!!!

Wishing all of you the sweetful beauty of fall!



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Giveaway Extended

Jason and I have decided to extend the giveaway since no one entered it.  Shipping is FREE-even to Australia and New Zealand, so hopefully someone will win this great print of a beautiful painting!  I saw that several people liked our facebook page and one person even posted it on their facebook page, but everyone failed to come back and "enter" the contest by leaving a comment on the blog.

The details of how to win are as follows:

So if you haven't guessed it yet, our first giveaway has to do with St. Martha....This past July 29th was mine and Jason's fifth wedding anniversary and our 4th anniversary of living here on The Sweetness of Home Farm.....Jason bought me the following painting of St. Martha painted by Mark Thomason of Thomason Art Group as our fifth anniversary present:

With Mark's permission we are going to give away a digital reprint of this painting that was painted on a piece of distressed wood to one special person!!!

The giveaway will be open from now until Sept. 30th October 10th.  Ways to win will be as follows:

1)  Follow my sweet blog and leave a comment down below.  Leave a comment if you already do follow.

2) Like "The Sweetness of Home" facebook page and leave a comment that you did so.  Leave a comment if you already "like" us on facebook.

3)Like "Thomason Fine Art Group" on facebook and leave a comment that you did so.  Leave a comment if you already "like" them on facebook.

4) Check out Thomason Art Group's etsy shop and/or their website.  Leave a comment down below noting which current art work for sale that you like best.

5) Spread the word about the give away by posting about it on either your own blog or on facebook.  Please leave a link down below in the comments so that I can verify the post.

The contest is open to anyone living in one of the fifty states of the United States of America, any of our oversea military bases, any U.S. territories AND CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND!:)  Giveaway ends on Friday, Sept. 30th Monday, October 10th.  We will announce the winner on Sunday, October 2nd- Tuesday, October 11th so check back then to see who won!!  If winner does not contact me via email by October 7th, 2011 October 18th with a UPS shipping address then I will select a runner-up winner.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid for this endorsement/giveaway.  We bought the painting from Mark and Nicole, but they are very sweet friends!!!!!  I wish they still lived here in Ohio instead of way far off in Colorado!!!!

Don't you love this painting showing St. Martha praying in between all her work?!

A life of true service for God has to be anchored with an active prayer life.

Wishing all of you the sweetness of peace as most of us start a new school year and are busy harvesting our homesteads!!



Monday, September 19, 2011

Funny Birthday Present

My Funny Birthday Present

Yesterday was my birthday.  I am another year younger.

I will try to get the blog updated next month with all the pictures of family visits, etc.  Right now I am working on some family and Creighton Model FCC projects.  Right now at this moment I am avoiding my laundry pile.

I asked my mother-in-law Debbie last month if she would get me a pink handled tool set.  My tools and replacement tools have all been "misplaced" around the farm...used for projects and never returned.

Debbie got me this:

A pink basket with tools.  The tools are:

bungee cords, a tape measurer, a small saw, a mag light, 132 pieces picture hanging kit, hex key ring set, pliers, and a 6 in 1 pink hammer screwdriver set....

Yep....that's when we lose my hammer we will lose my screwdrivers and vice versa....

I've been laughing since I opened it!!!!

What is the funniest present you have ever received?

Wishing you the sweetness of laughter,



Friday, September 9, 2011

Our 1st Giveaway: Thomason Art Group

I apologize for not having this up and ready to go as promised last month!!!

Let's just say life got a little bit stressful.....and I am VERY SORRY regarding the delay!

St. Martha is my patron saint.
She is the patron saint of servants.
Her feast day is July 29th, which is my wedding anniversary date with Jason.
(I was praying a novena for St. Martha's intercession regarding whether I was to get married again or stay single....four days later Jason proposed.....we picked her feast day as our wedding day a year later!)

Before I was even Catholic I lit the candle of service when inducted into the National Honor Society for high school.  When I decided to become Catholic I really seriously prayed and discerned about which saint I wanted to model my life after.  I wanted a biblical saint and St. Martha really took ahold of my heart.....Nothing gets me more riled up than hearing a homily or reading an essay that bashes Martha as being inferior to her sister Mary.....because she wasn't at all....Martha is mentioned three times in scripture:

1) Jesus' LOVING Rebuke of St. Martha: Luke 10: 38-42

2) Lazarus' death and St. Martha declaring Jesus as the Messiah BEFORE St. Peter did: John 11: 1-53

3) Martha's service: John 12:1-9

I will write a longer essay later regarding these three scripture passages that mention St. Martha.....she is a great saint to model one's life after!!!

So if you haven't guessed it yet, our first giveaway has to do with St. Martha....This past July 29th was mine and Jason's fifth wedding anniversary and our 4th anniversary of living here on The Sweetness of Home Farm.....Jason bought me the following painting of St. Martha painted by Mark Thomason of Thomason Art Group as our fifth anniversary present:

With Mark's permission we are going to give away a digital reprint of this painting that was painted on a piece of distressed wood to one special person!!!

The giveaway will be open from now until Sept. 30th.  Ways to win will be as follows:

1)  Follow my sweet blog and leave a comment down below.  Leave a comment if you already do follow.

2) Like "The Sweetness of Home" facebook page and leave a comment that you did so.  Leave a comment if you already "like" us on facebook.

3)Like "Thomason Fine Art Group" on facebook and leave a comment that you did so.  Leave a comment if you already "like" them on facebook.

4) Check out Thomason Art Group's etsy shop and/or their website.  Leave a comment down below noting which current art work for sale that you like best.

5) Spread the word about the give away by posting about it on either your own blog or on facebook.  Please leave a link down below in the comments so that I can verify the post.

The contest is open to anyone living in one of the fifty states of the United States of America, any of our oversea military bases, any U.S. territories AND CANADA, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND!:)  Giveaway ends on Friday, Sept. 30th We will announce the winner on Sunday, October 2nd-so check back then to see who won!!  If winner does not contact me via email by October 7th, 2011 with a UPS shipping address then I will select a runner-up winner.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid for this endorsement/giveaway.  We bought the painting from Mark and Nicole, but they are very sweet friends!!!!!  I wish they still lived here in Ohio instead of way far off in Colorado!!!!

Don't you love this painting showing St. Martha praying in between all her work?!

A life of true service for God has to be anchored with an active prayer life.

Wishing all of you the sweetness of peace as most of us start a new school year and are busy harvesting our homesteads!!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Silly Saturday

Silly Saturday Blog Link

Pieternella from Homestead Emporium has been trying to have a giveaway contest all summer long and has had very few participants.  I have been meaning to post and just keep to my credit I had baby #5 in June, three weeks of family visiting, some new major health set backs and now trying to gear up for homeschooling as soccer season starts.  This also begins the busiest time of year for our business along with (hopefully) a bountiful harvest on the farm.

Pieternella is trying to do something very good-she wants us all to realize that we are beautiful just the way we are-and that we need to love ourselves as we are right now.  She blogged a few months ago about how one of her daughters confronted her that they were not going to have any pictures of her because she wouldn't let the kids take her picture....been there and done that.

I posted pictures of myself on facebook this past spring that actually took a lot of courage to post.  They were maternity pictures that I had taken with baby number 4, Anna.  I had them taken because I absolutely loved my sister's maternity pictures, but also because I wanted to record the very special time of being pregnant.  I didn't allow my first husband to take my pictures when I was pregnant with my first two children because I didn't want to record how fat I was then.  Now 30-40 lbs and three pregnancies later I would give up almost anything to be that skinny again, except maybe the ice cream, chocolate and my pepsi.:)  Then becoming widowed at such a young age and realizing that I may never be married again nor have anymore children gave me a wake-up call about how incredibly special the pregnancy time of life is.  Looking back at that four years of my life I also saw how few pictures there were of me for my kids to have because I was the primary one taking all the pictures (they were just babies/toddlers/little kids.)  My sister also had her maternity pictures taken while I was widowed.  After Jason and I married we experienced secondary infertility issues on my part-we went 16 months without conceiving a child.  (I had even had surgery seven months before we got married to hopefully fix my known infertility problems.)  We got pregnant with Katie, but she came 18 days early-five days before we had my maternity pictures photography appointment.  Thankfully we got pregnant with Anna without actively trying and I managed to have these pictures taken:

Now when Jason and I went to have the pictures taken I knew that in order to get the look I wanted in the pictures I had to "act" like a model....I had to allow myself to feel beautiful and not be thinking about how fat I was-nor could I allow myself to feel self-conscious or ugly.  I had to "fake it" in front of the camera and thus "made" happiness and love communicate from the pictures.  I wanted my children to see from the pictures how loved they were/are from the very beginning of their lives.  I was self-conscious about posting them on facebook, but since I was stuck on bedrest and knew I wouldn't be getting any pictures of myself pregnant with Libby I wanted to share the happiness and beautifulness of my fifth pregnant by posting pictures of my fourth one.  Now we have found out that we may not be able to have anymore children and I am devastated beyond words.  Therefore I haven't forced myself to blog.  I have lots of family pictures from the visits and a birthday to blog about from this past month, but I have been hiding away on the farm as I try to come to grips with the unexpected changes to my life plan once again.

I want all my kids to love themselves and thus I must teach them by loving myself-right now in this very minute.  Not when I hopefully finally get permission to work out again or when I lose 5 or 40 lbs, but right now at the end of a long day of beginning to flip rooms around in our house.  So, in the spirit of Silly Saturday here I am celebrating moving our bedroom into our former office and the "new to me" dressers we bought off of Craigslist.  I used my cell phone because I had just a few moments to work on this without any family seeing what I was up to. 

"Hi everyone!"

Here I am just being plain me:

Here I am being silly on Saturday!
This is the look I give my kids when I want them to do something, but I want them to laugh when they are pouting about having to do whatever chore it is they have been assigned to complete-it usually makes them laugh and go, "What?" all innocent like...then normally they will go off and complete the chore.  (It even works on my niece Victoria when she is visiting, but then again I think my brother-in-law may do something similar.)

That's it for this week!  I am falling asleep typing this.  Have a great week!  Make sure you check out Pieternella's blogwebsite and etsy shop-she sells the most comfortable menstrual cloths I have ever bought.  All the styles are great, but the bamboo velour is so soft and her dye jobs/fabric patterns are so pretty to look at!

Linking up with Homestead Emporium giveaway right here.

Check back September 1st for my first giveaway-Jason and I have something big planned in honor of our 5th wedding anniversary and our fourth year on the farm!

Wishing all of you the sweetness of loving yourself right now,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homeschool Plans for 2011-2012

We have been enjoying the sweetness of family for the past week which I will be posting pictures of later.  My father came to stay for six days with his girlfriend Melinda.  I would love to have Melinda as my stepmother.  I have never thought that or felt that way about any of his previous girlfriends since my parents divorced when I was 13, but I love Melinda.  My father is a better man with her around.  She seems to have brought him peace as well.  We had a hard time keeping up with my father.  He completed a lot of chores for us which I will write about later.

Libby was baptized this past Saturday!:)  Her godparents, Sunni and Arieh, helped with both set up and clean up of our cake reception.  They are such a blessing in our lives!

My niece Victoria is staying with us for a week and then we have my sister-in-law Mary coming to visit with my mother-in-law Sherry next week.  They will be driving out from Wisconsin.  It truly is a wonderful time of year to enjoy our family.

With all of this happening though it is time to think of homeschooling again, and since this blog is suppose to have posts about homeschooling, it seemed like joining a blog hop about homeschooling would be a helpful "push" into this area!:)

Since we homeschool year round I had the kids both begin completing math again today.  I had Jessie work on extra reading and Joey began working on English.  English is the subject he will avoid at all costs, so it is the one that was always last when I was on bedrest.  (My brother-in-law brought a Barbie computer for Victoria which has math and reading materials on it so she was homeschooling with the kids and helped with all the farm chores.  I love my niece.  She is very sweet and helpful!)

I was able to buy most of my materials while on bedrest, so here is what we have planned for the next school year, which we "officially" start after labor day though we will be slowly finishing up the old stuff/adding the new curriculum over the next month.
I am still using Mother of Divine Grace/Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist as my guide, though it is becoming very adapted to our crazy life as you will see.

Math: Teaching Textbooks
Even though Teaching Textbooks is slower than the other math programs, finding it two years ago solved our math battles.  I will continue allowing the kids to skip lessons unless they get an 85 or below. Then they have to go back and complete the skipped lesson.  This may mean that we complete the year early, but if we do we'll just start the next grade level.  Since I have 3rd-6th grade already that means I will only have to purchase 7th grade for Joey if that happens.  Though I buy the workbooks "just in case" the kids just use the cd's and use scrap paper as needed.

History, Geography and Art: MODG 6th grade Egypt program
I am combining these three subjects.  While I love MODG's program as a whole my kids are becoming very bored reading about American History.  Jessie has actually read most of the supplemental books that Joey read in fourth grade two years ago, so I am "bumping" her up.  We will follow MODG for history and geography.  I do have the calligraphy book they recommend for 6th grade art and a bunch of supplemental egyptian craft books.  I also have OLVS's Drawing God's Magnificent Garden.  I am hoping that this will free us up time wise by combining subjects.  I am also hoping that we will actually get more arts and crafts completed, along with science projects.  "Reading" as a subject is completed by all the supplemental reading we do for history, religion and science.  Jessie also has to complete Ohio state history, but I already have books checked out from the library for her to complete this month.  We may supplement with some of the 4th grade historical reading since she is an insatiable reader.

Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy
MODG recommends TOPS for 6th grade and 4th grade.  I bought TOPS and after it arrived went out and bought Abeka 4th grade series to complete with Joey two years ago.  Now granted it may have been different if I hadn't just had a baby when TOPS arrived and I had actually been able to get supplies together...but then again I don't think so....I like having a physical book for the kids to read.  Having a curriculum that was experiements only just didn't work for us two years ago and with three under the age of three I just didn't see it working this year, so sold the TOPS books.  In an effort to complete more science projects we are combining science as well for the kids.  I bought the notebooking journals and the science kits available from  I even managed to score a really expensive telescope off of cathswap for $50 plus shipping!

English: Voyages 4 and 6
Jason really doesn't like MODG's english program recommended for 2-5th grade, so I am modifying Jessie's english to Voyages 4.  I am buying the grammar syllabus from OLVS to be my teaching guide for Jessie.  Joey is signed up for Directed Study for both English and Religion with MODG so that someone else can help us with our writing battles.  I am hoping that he will "rise" to the occasion of wanting to perform well for someone else and that we will get more descriptive paragraphs out of the boy.  We will also supplement with MODG's poetry memorization for each grade as we have time.  Both kids enjoy the memorizing.  Joey will also be completing the Editor in Chief workbooks for his extra grammar practice that MODG recommends.

Latin: First Form
Both kids will be taking First Form latin with another homeschool mom.  I always throw latin "out the window" as soon as life gets busy.  First Form works well with Voyages 6 in learning the grammar rules.  The teacher said that Jessie could take the class as well, so that means that Tuesdays will be our "in town" errand/grocery shopping day.  The kids will bring extra reading with them and/or we will listen to dvd's, whether it is classical music, books on cd or religious things.  Driving back and forth for 35 minutes also means that we don't have an excuse for not praying our rosaries or divine mercy chaplets.

While we have completed The Writing Road to Reading program I just decided to change in the last two weeks.  I had already adapted the program by making the kids write out their words every day, but that gets really boring.  I decided to go with OLVS's Spelling workbooks, which means that Jessie has a phonics workbook as well.  We will start out the year reviewing the phonograms from The Writing Road to Reading which only takes the kids about a week and then we will jump into the new workbooks.

Hoping to join Catechesis of the Good Shepherd again, though I am not sure yet if I will volunteer as a catechist again.  I may wait at least one more year until both Katie and Anna can be in level one together before I volunteer to teach.  Joey will then have completed the program and he has expressed an interest in being a helper if I teach.  I would like to encourage that catechist interest that he has expressed.
Just ordered "God With Us" Byzantine catechesis materials.
Have Faith and Life materials as a back up.
MODG syllabus: Mark and Luke gospels with summary essays for Joey.  Jessie will summarize the Schuster's Bible History stories for writing and continue working on her Baltimore Catechism.
Numerous supplemental bible and saint books.
Just trying to live a liturgical life.

Music: 4th grade and 6th grade MODG
We will continue our study of classical music and begin enjoying the operetta's the MODG recommends for 6th grade.

Extra Activities:
Catechesis of Good Shepherd (listed above under religion)
(combined both Jessie and Joey onto one team by "bumping" Jessie up.
We are not playing on travel soccer for this fall.)

Horse class (fall): We will be taking lessons from another homeschool family on how to take care/ride our pony and drive the cart behind the miniature horse that we have now added to the farm.
(Pictures of the horse and pony will be added later.)

Altar Serving, Boy Scouts and Catholic Lego Club (Joey)

Little Flowers (Jessie)

May possibly participate in chess club if the mom has it again.

May possibly take dance/private tumbling lessons again.

May possibly take dog obedience lessons with Cupcake the new puppy/dog.  Will probably wait to sign up for this until I know for sure when Jason's mom Debbie will be moved into the grandmother's house.

(The problem with homeschooling is all the different classes/activities out there that you can join!  Have to figure out what things to say no to so that we can actually be at home!)

On a preschool note: I am signing Katie and Anna up for a two hour preschool on Monday and Wednesday mornings.  Debbie will take them into town and that will give her a set time that she can be away from Grandma Mercy and when she can go shopping/get her hair done, etc.  This will also give me a set time when we hopefully can complete experiments or the harder subjects without having three under the age of three around.  I am also hoping to have a Montessori type shelf set up with activities to give Katie and Anna their own "work" to do while we are working.  Katie is getting into workbooks, so hopefully my collection of coloring books will come in  handy again.

Wow-I think I'm exhausted just writing about all this.  Then again, this time of year is always exciting.  It's fun to break out the new books!
Let the adventure begin again!:)

Linking up here:

Classical Housewife

From the sweetness of my home to yours,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fighting Depression Yet Again

Last week I got diagnosed with Post Partum Depression.  I actually needed to have my C-Reactive protein levels run and I asked them to run progesterone levels since I have been fighting low progesterone for years now.  Dr. Thomas Hilgers has found a correlation with low progesterone and depression levels in women.  Of course, our local hospital screwed up the bloodwork once again and didn't actually run my progesterone correctly.  The Pope Paul VI Institute nurse went through a questionaire with me over the phone and I had some of the symptoms for post partum depression (PPD): general weepiness (which I knew) and the following three that I didn't know about in connection with PPD: insomnia, night sweats and hot flashes.  Thankfully I hadn't gotten to suicidal thoughts or wanting to hurt any of my children yet, but I had been fighting the feeling of "just wanting to run away."

I had suffered from night sweats and hot flashes after both Katie and Anna was born.  I had approached several different doctors regarding it, but got told that these were just from "my hormones changing back to normal."  There is nothing normal about a hot flash or waking up drenched in sweat and needing to take several showers a day when you don't even have time to take one shower while taking care of your nursing newborn and other children!  This kind of medical attitude has to come from health professionals that haven't experienced a night sweat or  hot flash.   I am frustrated to have not received the proper treatment two years ago, yet relieved that I finally have a diagnosis and solution by being treated with cooperative progesterone therapy.  Unfortunately I had a previous bad reaction to taking the progesterone shots, so I am just taking compounded progesterone pills twice a day....but these "happy" pills seem to be working! I have had far fewer night sweats and hot flashes than what I was experiencing last week.  My insomnia is also decreasing-I have been able to fall asleep earlier each night.

I am so tired of "feeling sick and tired."  Just prior to my diagnosis I had told Jason that I just didn't feel right.  Part of that is my exhaustion from having a newborn and two toddlers under the age of three and from my infection, but most of that is from what we now know to be depression.  Hopefully when my bloodwork gets run again at the end of July I will have the diagnosis that my infection levels are back to normal and that my progesterone levels are increasing as well.  I want to be able to start exercising again and enjoying life with my kids again as well.  The horrible thing about depression is that it affects the entire family.  The saying "When momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" is so very true....everyone can sense the unhappiness and many times both the spouse and the children blame themselves for your unhappiness.

I don't want either Jason or any of our kids to ever feel as if "they ruined my life" because I chose this life every step of the way.  While there are many days when I would like to be anywhere but here at home dealing with all the messes of everyday life I instinctively know that if I was off "having a career" I would still be unhappy and wish that I was back at home with my kids.   It's a classic catch-22 problem.  Mary Hood in The Joyful Homeschooler talks about being "bound by chains she created for herself."  (I may be paraphrasing that quote a little bit. If not exact it's basically what she writes when talking about fighting her own depression/unhappiness with her life.)  Some days that is exactly how I feel-bound by chains I have created one decision at a time....yet if challenged, which decision would I undo: homeschooling, having any of my five children, buying the farm, having our own business, teaching Creighton Model???  I wouldn't change any of that....I want to change myself: be a better teacher, be a better homemaker, be more patient and loving, get rid of my bad temper, be a better mother, lose weight, be prettier and stop feeling so inadequate compared to all my friends whom seem to be so much better at everything than I am....

I am by nature an optimist and I am also someone who always gives other people the benefit of the doubt. I also made a conscience decision after my first husband Chris died that I was not going to let his death be a part of my top three moments in my life.  What I mean by that statement is that I didn't want either myself or my children to become one of those people you meet on the street and you wonder, "What the hell happened to you?"  I had to make a conscious decision to choose to be choose to live again....because otherwise I was going to be miserable forever.....I wanted to die.....I wanted God to turn back time and kill me instead of my husband....I was terrified that I was going to screw up my kids forever because I was so unhappy.

I remember that I almost didn't put up Christmas decorations the first Christmas after Chris died.   I couldn't imagine putting up a Christmas tree without him.  Thankfully my "catholic mom" Barbara challenged me on this issue.  Barbara attended our church in Pensacola and she "adopted me" after Chris died.  Barbara's father had also died when she was a young girl, leaving her mom to raise five kids by herself.  Barbara gently yelled at me, "My mom still celebrated the holidays after my dad died."  She reminded me that I had two small children who deserved a Christmas tree even at the ages of two and one.  After thinking about it, I did decorate-but I did it differently.  I didn't get a live tree.  I went out and bought a small artificial tree.  We still use the artificial tree even though we have another much larger artificial tree now.  The kids hang all of Chris' childhood ornaments on the small tree each year.  We also put up Chris' stocking from his navy ship deployment that has his call sign painted on it.  Barbara was right....after I decorated for my kids I actually was happier.  The pain of celebrating Christmas alone was still there, but in many ways I felt more connected to Chris.  I also saw the joy of Christmas through the eyes of my children and I felt happiness.

The problem with fighting depression is that even as I try to choose happiness each day, everyone around me still picks up my underlying unhappiness.  I also used to judge people that took antidepressants, but now I don't....sometimes you truly need help to feel better.  While I personally wouldn't take many of the traditional AMA prescription medications I do feel the difference with the progesterone that I am now taking and the naltrexone that Dr. Hilgers has prescribed me in the past to help deal with severe PMS depression each month.

For me the most important decisions that I have made in my life are these:

converting to Catholicism from being a "generic" Bible-banging Protestant and now trying to live an authentic Catholic liturgical life
Marrying Jason and Chris
Having each of my kids
Homeschooling my kids
teaching the Creighton Model FertilityCare System of NFP
(though buying the farm and living a farm life may soon bump Creighton Model to number six)

What are your top five life decisions?  If you have fought depression what suggestions do you have for getting through the dark times?

From the sweetness of our hot summer house to yours I am always,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Novena of Thanksgiving: Infant Jesus of Prague

Joey and Jessie come home today!!!
We have a busy weekend ahead of us since Joey has an altar boy retreat on Friday, we have a wedding to attend on Saturday and Joey leaves for his first overnight Boy Scout camp on for this week I would like to focus on:

1) The joy of being home together again-and trying to be patient as we all try to find what our "new routine" is over the next month.

2) Getting Joey unpacked just to repack his stuff for camp by Thursday night so that we can all enjoy Friday and Saturday.

3)  Setting up some playdates for Jessie for next week so that she won't be too jealous of Joey being away at camp.

4) Meal planning by "shopping" out of our freezer and cupboard for things that I can crockpot for supper since it is hot and I have a newborn baby to nurse.

5) Be patient with myself and my low energy level-try to focus on "to do lists" that I can actually accomplish and be thankful for those things instead of being frustrated by everything that I don't get done each day.

6)  Hug and kiss my kids each day.

Infant Jesus of Prague

Please join our family in a Novena Prayer of Thanksgiving for Graces
Received from the Infant Jesus

I prostrate myself before Your holy image, O most gracious Infant Jesus,
to offer You my most fervent thanks for the blessings You have bestowed on me.
I shall incessantly praise Your ineffable mercy and confess
that You alone are my God, my helper and my protector.
Henceforth my entire confidence shall be placed in You!
Everywhere I will proclaim aloud Your mercy and generosity,
so that Your great love and the great deeds which You
perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all.
May devotion to Your holy infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians,
and may all who experience Your assistance persevere with me
in showing unceasing gratitude to Your most holy infancy,
to which be praise and glory forever.


Our July 2011 Testimony to the Infant Jesus of Prague:

Last November 2010 I came across information about the many miracles regarding the miraculous image of the Infant Jesus of Prague, specifically regarding the many monetary miracles.  I informed my husband that we needed to be looking for an Infant of Prague statue that we could place money under while saying the Novena Devotion Prayer for the many monetary concerns we had, specifically being able to provide for our family from our in town business.  We had just found out that we were expecting another baby, which while wonderful was going to significantly change "the business plan" we had come up with for the next year or so.  To my astonishment Jason replied that we already owned one!  His mother Debbie had bought one for us in the past year and during one of her trips to visit they had placed it in our office, keeping it in its box because we didn't have room to display it at the time.  (I had been busy nursing when they had unloaded her mini-van and had forgotten being told about the statue since I hadn't "seen" the statue.)  Jason later displayed the statue and put a quarter underneath the statue.  Just three weeks later the time share that we had been trying to sell for over a year sold and after closing costs we had the exact amount we needed to pay our ob-gyn fees for the new baby!  (Jason now upgraded our quarter taped underneath the statue to a silver dollar and we moved it from the office to our family prayer altar in our living room.)

A month later I was put on bedrest for an infection, which also meant that we were receiving much higher medical now we had to pay more payroll costs because I couldn't work at the store and Jason had to come home early to help with supper and the kids. (Normally January-August we both work more hours to conserve our "savings" to get us through until our busier time of year which is September-December.)  I began praying in earnest for all our monetary needs, my health and the health of our baby, Elizabeth Grace-also known as "Libby."  I also began praying to the Infant Jesus of Prague for all the intentions of anyone praying for us, offering up suffering for us, bringing us meals and the Eucharist, covering our adoration hour, companionship, cleaning and/or babysitting.  Jason began praying rosaries for anyone who brought us a meal-and God provided SIX MONTHS of meals delivered about three times a week to us-many times from complete strangers and/or just acquaintances.  In God's sense of humor He also began answering the last prayer on my list: the build-up of our farm for providing for our family's needs.  I added that to our litany and two weeks later we were offered the Dexter cow that subsequently died.  (When I began praying about the farm I meant AFTER the baby was born......but God obviously had different plans for the past six months.)

During my bedrest we were able to also sell the above ground swimming pool that had come with the house when we bought it four years ago.  I was able to consign over 200 kid items this past spring, plus donate about nine more bags to Samaritan Ministries.  (Downsizing our many possessions had been one of my goals for 2011 since October 2010....we still have a lot more to do, but this is a good start.)  In May we discovered that Libby was breech, so I laid down upside down on a tilted ironing board off and on for a week while adding that prayer to our list to the Infant Jesus.  After we had confirmed by ultrasound that Libby had flipped they stopped the medication on June 1st that had been stopping the contractions I had been experiencing for the entire pregnancy.  I had been praying to the Infant Jesus specifically that "Libby would be born in the hospital right side up with Dr. Edwards (our ob) delivering as close to her due date of June 20th as possible."  (My last two babies had been born "sunny side up and I wanted to avoid that pain if possible since I have all natural childbirth.)  Libby was born on June 15th at 10:21pm after two weeks of on-again/off-again contractions.  We made it to the hospital at 9:15pm and Dr. Edwards arrived around 10:15pm-just in time to deliver her and unwrap the umbilical cord that was wrapped around her neck FOUR times.  (Earlier in the week our nine year old daughter Jessica admitted that she had put ALL her money-I believe it was around $21-under the statue so that Libby would be born BEFORE she and her brother Joey left for 18 days to stay in Wisconsin with their grandparents.  Jessie had also been praying over and over again that Libby would be able to see, hear and not die via miscarriage.....the Infant Jesus of Prague answered all of Jessie's miscarriage, Libby can see and hear, and both Jessie and Joey were able to be "snuck in before visiting hours" to hold Libby before they boarded the airplane the morning of June 16th.

We are very thankful to the Infant Jesus of Prague for the safe arrival of baby Libby, for the monetary blessings in unexpected ways: farm animals, the providing of meals, the selling of our "extra possessions".......for the bonding that took place in our family during this bedrest period and the new skills learned-both Joey and Jessie learned how to do laundry and some new cooking skills....they also took care of their mommy and two toddler sisters on many days when they didn't feel like doing so-they definitely learned the "corporal works of mercy" right within their own family.  God blessed us to be able to continue homeschooling throughout the illness so we won't have to play "catch up".......God granted Jason with good health and the grace to help "cover" my chores.....God granted us with good employees that willingly covered the extra hours at the store.....and once again God has blessed me with the miracle of surviving that which I didn't think I could survive....I have to admit there are many days that I wish I could have a "redo" on so that I could be more charitable and joyful towards my family members-but that is how life is unfortunately.....I am very thankful to be able to move again, even as I wait for test results to come back to find out if the infection is gone or not.....and even as I have to make myself "take it slowly" since I don't have the energy level or endurance that I had prior to my illness.....

Thank you Infant Jesus of Prague for all these things!!!!

To find out more about this miraculous statue see the official website of the original statue:

(I find it very interesting that the original Infant Jesus of Prague statue is contained in the Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague....Jason has a devotion to Our Lady of Victory from having grown up just a couple of hours away from the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory....and in fact his birthday present this year from his mother and all of us was a statue of Our Lady of Victory, which is  now on the opposite corner of the prayer altar from the Infant Jesus of Prague-and this was before I realized what the name of the church is where the original statue resides.)

Infant Jesus of Prague-Pray for us!

Linking to:

Cherish Hearts for Home

Hip Homeschool Hop

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Sweetness of Family

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This post is picture heavy since pictures contain "a thousand words"....

It's been an eventful ten days here at The Sweetness of Home Farm...Early on Friday, June 10th I woke up to continous contractions.  We called our friend Emily to come and watch the kids, but on the way to the hospital the contractions completely instead of bringing home a baby we brought home Stripe and Spot

Spot is the closest goat in the picture.  She is a French Alpine goat-just born in March.
Stripe is a one year old pygmy goat.
They are in the outdoor pen that we had built for our now deceased dexter cow.
Jason began tethering them in our tree line this past weekend to help with brush control.

Then this past Wednesday, June 15th at 10:21pm Elizabeth Grace joined our family at 5 lbs 2oz and 18 1/2 inches long:

Jessie's prayers were answered because we were able to sneak her and Joey in before visiting hours Thursday morning so that they could hold their new baby sister before leaving to visit family in Wisconsin:

Katie and Anna think their baby Libby is pretty special as well:

We came home from the hospital to find that the Momma Duck had hatched her eggs!:

Then on Friday we helped out a friend in need.  We are going to graze their Jersey steers in exchange for getting to keep some of the meat:

My mother-in-law Debbie came down to help for the weekend.  It was such a blessing to have her help with meals and taking care of the toddlers while I focused on making myself rest and nursing Libby!

Joey and Jessie are in Wisconsin visiting my first husband's family.  They are all such wonderful people and mean the world to all of us.  We consider them all our family and thankfully they consider all of us family as well.

Joey absolutely adores his Uncle Jakey.  Jacob just graduated from high school and will be attending St. John's in Minnesota in the fall.

Jessie always enjoys her time with all the aunts and uncles.  I love seeing all the pictures.  Everyone always comments how blessed we are that our blended family looks like they are all complete siblings and not step siblings.  While this is very true it's also nice to see how much Joey and Jessie look like my first husband's family:

(Joey and Jessie with their Cousin Reagan above.  Jessie with Reagan and her Aunt Laura below.  By the way, Reagan and Laura both have the middle name of "Elizabeth"-we picked a saint name and a family name for our new daughter.)

My brother-in-law James married his high school sweetheart Amanda this past weekend.  I was really disappointed to miss the wedding, but have enjoyed looking at all the pictures.  We are so happy and privileged to have Amanda join our family.  We wish them many blessed years together and look forward to whenever God blesses them with children.  (Yeah-more nieces and nephews!)

We are looking forward to my other sister-in-law Mary getting married next February to her fiance Joey Sobotka.  Her Joey will be deployed in August to the Middle East, so are praying for his safe return and protection while he serves our country!

I have been blessed with two fantastic mother-in-laws.  Here is my mother-in-law Sherry and father-in-law Larry dancing at the wedding reception:

Here is Sherry with Joey:

Thank you for making it through this long post!  You've shown perseverance....just like Anna did when she insisted on holding her baby sister Libby for the first time.  (She held her for five minutes and cried when Jason picked Libby back up.  This is my favorite picture ever!)

We pray that you are all having a blessed summer and that you are enjoying life....remember to dance as if no one is watching you-enjoy all the blessings of God to the fullest.  Our Joey does this very well:

My mother-in-law Debbie took us out to dinner on Father's Day.  Happy Father's Day Jason-I  am so blessed by God to have found true love with a righteous God fearing man twice...I can't imagine my life without you, farm animals and all!

My goal is to try and make at least one blog post a week-knowing that some weeks this will happen and some it won't.  Just know that from my family to yours we are wishing all of you the sweetness of your home and family!



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hearts for Home: Birthday Traditions

Look who just turned 11! (How on earth is that possible?)

My oldest child, Joey, turned 11 last week Thursday.
Birthdays always "turn my heart towards home!"
They make me all "mushy" inside thinking about how fast the time flies by-even when one is on bedrest!
(Sorry if the picture is blurry-all I had was my cell phone to use last week.  The regular camera had gotten taken to our business.)
Last year after he turned 10 I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis....
where had those ten years gone and how could I possibly teach him everything he needs to know in the next eight years before he leaves for college?......
Thankfully my sweet hubby helped put everything back in perspective: we do our best one day at a time and remember that God's in control.

Birthday Traditions

My family really didn't celebrate birthdays or holidays as a kids growing up.
My mother still lives by some pretty untraditional ideas.
The first birthday tradition I "stole" from my friend Wendy K.-that is the birthday person gets to pick the menu for the entire day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Usually the kids always pick a sugar cereal that we only buy as a birthday present for breakfast.  I have found that I have to limit them to one big bowl each per day-so that maybe the box will last two days!

Joey's lunch menu got changed because our dentist fit us in at the last minute to adjust his retainer before he leaves to visit my late first husband's family for the next three weeks.  He got to have the extra special privilege of eating out on his birthday since we were all famished by the time we got out of the dentist office.  There was just no way that we were going to last for the thirty-five minute drive home plus cooking time for homemade macaroni and cheese.  The babies had already been playing in the waiting room for an hour.....some days you just have to waive the white flag of surrender.

For his supper he picked baked beans and salsa chicken-the chicken we used was our homegrown chicken.  As we ate it I couldn't help, but think about how even more wonderful it would be when we were eating our own canned salsa as well-hopefully next year!

Joey asked for homemade cookie cake, but in 91' weather without air conditioning in the kitchen and nine months pregnant, I just couldn't make that.  So, I did some brainstorming and realized that for the first time in seven years he hadn't put strawberries, his favorite fruit, on the menu.  So we compromised with "strawberry shortcake" for dessert.  I took the easy way out and bought the mini-cakes at the bakery and both big kids helped cut up, sugar and smash the strawberries.  All of us except for the birthday boy topped ours with whip cream-he just ate four helpings of plain cake and strawberries by himself.  (I guess he decided to give us a glimpse of how much he'll be able to pack away as a growing teenage boy.)  The strawberry shortcake got served in Homer Laughlin Fiesta Ware china that my mother-in-law and daughter Jessie got last Thanksgiving from their outlet store.  The outlet store has dollar paper grab bags and my mother-in-law has gotten really good at feeling the bags to figure out what's inside: bowls, coffee cups, etc.  She usually buys some bags for the kids to open whenever she stops at the store.  Last Thanksgiving Debbie and Jessie "scored" six of these two handed custard bowls-and they were all matching yellow.  Doesn't the strawberry shortcake look lovely?

Jason, Joey and Jessie enjoying their dessert:
(Jessie had been helping the babies "cool off" in the toddler pool in between supper and dessert time.)

Anna just eating the whip cream and strawberries.  Sweet sister that she is she left the cake for Joey to eat as one of his four helpings:

Katie eating her dessert (sorry I couldn't figure out how to flip this cell phone picture in the post):

Our last birthday tradition is only three years old.  Since we homeschool year round I came up with the tradition of "game day" for birthdays.  I usually leave a list for the kids to pick from when they get up in the morning.  For instance we've played Scrabble as our spelling class, charades as drama, baseball as gym, stretched uno to be math for a second grader-the sky's the limit.

Unfortunately because of all my on again/off again contractions I didn't think ahead to get a sitter to help entertain the two toddlers-they really don't cooperate well with board games right now.  (At least by Jessie's birthday in October my mother-in-law and Jason's grandmother should be here to help out with game day-yeah!)  So, Joey got to pick a movie off of netflix to watch during the afternoon heat and talked to most of the long distance family members before 6pm that night.  Then thankfully Katie and Anna went down early for bed.  While I was getting the babies down Joey and Jessie played a few games on the Wii and then the four of us played Blokus-awesome game!  Think board game version of tetris-and I won both rounds!

The birthday presents and cards are opened when everyone is present-so that means the birthday person has to wait for daddy to be home from work.

So, this is how my family "keeps our hearts at home" for birthdays....what does your family do?

Check out all the other "Hearts for Home" links!:)Cherished Hearts at Home

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Sitting Hen

Duck hen waiting.

Last week Wednesday I went in for an ultrasound check and they found that baby Elizabeth Grace, aka Libby, had flipped into position and was no longer breech. Since I was at 37 weeks they had me immediately stopped taking the medication that I had been on since January for stopping the contractions....things looked really promising. For pretty much two days I had strong on-again/off-again contractions, especially during the middle of the night. We made the mistake of cancelling our company that was due to come over for dinner on Friday night, so of course, my labor stalled and stopped. Since then, even though we have had two storm systems blow through, I have only had a few contractions here or there...

It is God's sense of humor kicking in of course. We have been specifically praying since January that "Libby would be born in the hospital with Dr. Edwards as close to her due date as possible right side up...." (My last two babies came out "sunny side up"-very painful births that I hope not to repeat.) Libby's due date is June 20th, so as much as I would like her to come out NOW-or even to have come last week-I have to be thankful for God's faithfulness to our constant prayers....Now of course it is 90+' outside-which makes a 9 month pregnant woman, in an old farmhouse without central air, pray even more for a quick delivery....(Thankfully we do have window a/c units in two of the bedrooms. The other two units are not working properly and have to be taken in to be repaired.) My two oldest kids leave in a week for my brother-in-law's wedding in Wisconsin and I have to admit that I was hoping Libby would come early so I could attend as well....but instead I will be here in Ohio-hopefully holding a new born baby or still trying to patiently nurture my "something sacred on limited bedrest"-the newborn baby that God has blessed us with......

We now have three duck hens sitting on eggs and at least one of them rarely leaves her nest. They have all taken up residence either near or inside our barn. The one hen that rarely leaves her nest is actually inside the barn....I can't even imagine how hot it is in there for her the past few days....yet she stays on those eggs-nesting her babies.....and hopefully around the same time that Libby is born we will see her leading out several newborn chicks! I have told my husband that we need to find a way to band/mark the duck hens, because you always want to keep your hens that are good nesters...I want to make sure that we keep any hens that actually produce new life.....

The picture above is one of the hens finding her way onto the top of back deck railing last can see that the garden had become all grass again from all our rain this spring. We've now been plowed and my husband has been able to plant potatoes, tomatos, green peppers, onions, lettuce and spinach. We have a lot more to go, but it is tough with his full time job, the rain and my bedrest to get it all done-we just try to remember that slow and steady will eventually win the race. Whatever we get planted during this time is a blessing to the family.....and is more than we have been able to do in the past few years with the opening of our business.

Wishing all of you peace in your sweet homes!



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hearts for Home

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I am taking a challenge called "Hearts for Home" is to try to come up with 4-6 things that we can do each week to keep our thoughts, prayers and actions in our "hearts for home."

I thought this kind of appropriate since I am on the last few weeks of bedrest-all I want to do is have this baby so I can go to church or go shopping or even walk around without contractions starting!!!!

This weekend was so hot and we don't have central air in our house....Jason had to take apart our bedroom window air conditioner because the toddlers had dropped loose change that they found on his night stand in it....then it still didn't work right-it made loud screeching, we put the two oldest in one room together and stole one of their air conditioners for now...the bedroom is just now starting to cool off....I have been so hot and irritable all weekend.....and the big kids too. We broke out the toddler pool for the kids to play in, but all I kept hearing about was how much they can't wait to go to the big pool in town.....all I kept thinking was I can't wait for that either-so stop complaining!!!!!!

So, for this week I want to focus more on my kids-trying to remember that they are kids and this six months of bedrest has probably seemed like an eternity to them. Just enjoying the time I have with them before there is a new baby consuming all my attention for awhile and before they go visit family in Wisconsin for a few weeks. We are going to complete our homeschool testing-both for the state and the MODG I want to try to plan "something fun/reward" for them each day-even if it is just making homemade popsicles and/or icy drinks.

Being thankful for my husband who hasn't complained once about having to take care of me all these months....and he has done so much with the farm and business at the same time....he has also been making "extra" time to help me "nest" by starting to work on rearranging things in the house that I wanted done.

Trying to enjoy the our "toddler babies"-who move non-stop and are both trying to be big girls all the time.....We have been trying to potty train Katie who is almost three and the 20 month old Anna keeps pulling off her diaper as well to sit on the they are both pulling out their toothbrushes all the time....Katie has been trying to dress/undress herself....all things that are good, but I keep wanting to say, "Not right now...after the baby is born..." Thinking to myself "diapers are easier, dressing them myself is easier, brushing their teeth can wait...." I want to try to be positive and focus on reinforcing to them how good all these things are that they are trying to maybe get better at enforcing a bedtime routine....

Last, but not least, thanking God for the past six months....He chose to make my "whole world" just this house....and I have had the "miracle of surviving what I didn't think I could survive" once again. If gas gets to the point that we really can't go anywhere except one day for shopping and church on Sundays, the kids and I will not only survive, but the end we have each other and that is what is most important in life....serving God right where we are!

So, what 4-6 things can you do in this week to focus on keeping your "heart for home"? In the end the truest sweetness of home will be when we hear God's voice saying to us, "Well done my good and faithful servant!!!"

Check out the website that I found this challenge from:

God's blessings to you all!