Busy days…

It’s been pretty hectic around here the past few days. I’ve been doing Master Gardener training every Tuesday and Thursday. That means that I have to go to the office on Monday, which leaves only Wednesday and Friday to keep up with Corbin’s home school work. He’s been doing really well with keeping his routine, but without me there being actively engaged in the process, the quality of his work has really dropped off. He’s still moving forward, just not fast forward.

I think it’s all worth it though. I’m learning a ton in Master Gardener class that will ultimately benefit Corbin and the whole family. Each day we have at least 1 speaker who is generally an expert in their field. All of the speakers so far have really been great. They all seem so excited about the topics they are presenting… it’s infectious. I’ve met some really cool people in the program too. As valuable as the information I’m receiving in class has been, I know the true value will be in the service hours portion of my training. I’ll be working alongside some pretty amazing gardeners. I’m super excited about that part.

One more update on our mega train trip next month, Grandma and her sister are officially joining me and Corbin! She’s really excited to be coming. I’m a bit more excited to have them along too. Safety in numbers I guess. Every day there has been a new drama with getting all of the rail passes purchased, and the journey booked. I know it will all be worth it in the end!

Setting Goals

Why don’t I have stated goals? I know the beginning of the year is a time for goal setting, so why don’t I have any?

If I’m being honest with myself, the answer is easy. I don’t have stated goals because of past failures. WTH? Why do I accept this? If I let the past hold me back, I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

So where am I? Here are a few of the areas I think I’m most on the right track:

– Make my bed every day. (Like a boss.)

– Keeping up with laundry (For the most part)

– Educate my child (Providing resources)

– Follow-through with commitments

– Daily bible study

– Honor commitments

– Tithing

Here’s what I need to work on:

1. Let God be my biggest judge. Only allow God’s plan guide me.

2. Say no to things. Don’t over-commit.

3. Meal planning.

4. Do it now. Don’t procrastinate.

5. Pay myself.

6. Have an assessment and planning day every month on the day of the new moon. (Doing this on the new moon would be useful because I garden based on the moon phases.)

6. Daily exercise for me and Corbin too.



All week I have been battling various bureaucratic nightmares which are driving me crazy! This morning I’ve been up since 3am trying to get document approval for a shipment to Dubai. I have revised the documents at least 10 times now. Every day, they want one more thing changed. (As I’m typing this blog post I’ve sent 4 more revisions.)

In addition to this ongoing saga, I’m also trying to order insulin pump supplies for Kyle. I ordered them Monday, but that was just a practice run I guess. The next day I checked to see if they had shipped, and they said I had a balance due of $21 from a previous order that needed to be paid before they could send it. So I paid that. The next day I checked to see the status of the order and it said that they were just kidding about the $21, what I really needed to pay is $50 more dollars. So I paid that. Today I log in to check, and now they need me to upload a revised doctor authorization order.


When situations come up over and over again, I have to ask myself what lesson is God trying to teach me? I keep going through the same things again and again. It’s so irritating.

So this morning I open up my Jesus Calling daily devotional to find this message:

I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged–never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect and easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

And then I open up my Daily Bible to find a lesson on Abraham’s obedience through the Isaac sacrifice, followed by an interesting inclusion about “Oriental bargaining” in the explanation of Genesis 23:1-2.

Of some curiosity, however, is the attention which the text gives to a transaction between Abraham and a man named Ephron who owns a cave which Abraham wishes to purchase as a burial site for Sarah’s remains. The transaction itself is an interesting introduction to Oriental bargaining, in which an apparent offer of a gift is nothing more than a subtle way of setting a price.

This reminded me that bureaucracy is not new. I am not the only, or the first, person dealing with these problems. I think the lesson here is to just chill. Everything will be okay because God is with me.

Also worthy of note are the two bible verses of the day from the bible apps I use. 1 was Matthew 6:19-21:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The other was Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So at this point, I’m thanking God for bureaucracy. That is so messed up. But I am so tremendously grateful for the reminder that I need to keep my eyes pointed towards Him and not be so bogged down by my first-world problems.

Master Gardener Training

I started my Master Gardener Training today! I’m so excited about this opportunity! I’m constantly amazed by the level of organization that these people have. Everything they do is so well planned and executed. They fed us all day long. I’m going to have to start walking to the classes just to burn the calories from all of the food they serve!

This afternoon we learned about composting. I learned how inept my current composting efforts have been. I came home with a list of things that I urgently need David to build for me. 🙂


Back to school for Cole.

I dropped Cole off at his dorm for RA training today. He’s excited for this challenge. This will be the first time he and Kyle aren’t living in the same room in their lives!

Before I dropped him off we went to HEB to pick up a few groceries. I think he earned a new respect for the whole grocery shopping process since he was spending his money on his food. I initially let him go in and pick up a few things, and then I went in to see how he was doing. It was pretty funny to see that he had no idea what the prices were of any of the items he had put in the cart. From there, I showed him how to compare prices etc. When we were at the register, I asked him how much he thought the total would be, and I told him my estimate. My estimate was about fifty cents over the total, and his was about ten dollars below the actual total.

I’ve taken the boys with me to the store countless times over the years, and I’ve droned on and on about the process of grocery shopping. And I’ve sent them in by themselves many times too. It’s funny how they never really learn until it’s actually practical to their lives.


Family Kitchen Fun

This weekend we finished harvesting our fall crop of various greens. About 10 pounds were blanched and frozen. We also dehydrated a few pounds of kale to make kale chips. In the past I have made various recipes, but this year I went super simple using only olive oil, lime juice from our lime tree, and a little salt. I think they turned out amazing. Kyle assisted in the production because he LOVES kale chips. Corbin assisted in the cleaning of the greens before blanching. Kyle also learned to make some apple fritters from scratch today. Yesterday they helped me pick all of the remaining limes, and greens. I love weekends like this with the kids all home helping and hanging around while I work on things.





Meaningfully Mean

Why do people say that their hearts are broken when they get sad? I think a more appropriate organ to take the damage would be the liver. We can still survive even if we lose 80% of our liver. Sometimes when people say mean things to me, I feel like part of me is dying. Maybe it’s a part of my liver. It grows back. No need to build a wall.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life. (Proverbs 15:4)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

I think God is saying that we shouldn’t say nasty things to people. And when people say nasty or unfair things to us, we should not respond. I believe that when people are truly trying to live in a way that honors Christ, they will not want to hurt each other—quite the opposite, they will want to encourage each other. Especially when both parties are trying really hard to become better people in general. 

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:1-11)


That’s my word for today. I think it describes the way I see the year ahead of me. I’m a bit irritated with myself because I don’t feel like I have a clear sense of direction for the new year. I’m not a resolution girl, but I do like to have a general idea about what I’m trying to do. I know that I’m supposed to be just fully trusting that God has a plan for me this year — so I guess I’m just being impatient.

I have really tried not to over-schedule my time this year because, in addition to this new homeschool challenge, I’m also participating in the Montgomery County Master Gardener Internship Program. (This makes me yippy-skippy happy!!!!) On Tuesdays and Thursdays for 7 weeks I will attend all-day training seminars taught by experts in various gardening-related fields ranging from water conservation to plant pathology. After the classroom section is over, I have the rest of the year to complete 60 hours of volunteer time in gardens maintained by Montgomery County. Of those 60 hours I have to spend: 8-hours in the floral garden, 8-hours in the vegetable gardens, 4-hours each in: Bog garden, herb garden, orchard/composting/adaptive, Aquaponics/Discovery Garden, Greenhouse, Shadehouse, Phone Room, Bee Keeping Area, and then there are 16 discretionary hours I can spend anywhere.

I know all of this sounds like a lot, but like I said, it’s broken up all across they year so it really isn’t too much. Corbin is going to be participating in the 4H Junior Master Gardener program so he will be with me most of the time too. So I don’t think I’m taking away from his homeschool time.

I’m just bummed about missing several weeks of a bible study at church with my bible study friends.

First world problems right?

I just don’t want to get off course from last year’s progress. God has brought me a long way, and I want to be sure that I’m still going in the right direction. Maybe God is trying to keep me from getting too comfortable in my routine?

Homeschool in the Garden

Today and tomorrow (despite the cold) the boys and I will be starting our spring garden seedlings in the greenhouse! Every year I do a garden layout in Numbers so we will know how many seedlings we will need.garden planning

Last year we ended up with about 750 tomato and pepper seedlings. IMG_4338

We start with newspaper pots we make using The PotMakerIMG_3390

When the seedlings are big enough, I transfer them into plastic cups so they can grow just a little bit bigger before they are planted.


It’s quite a chore to raise our own seedlings, but if you consider the fact that we planted over 100 pepper plants last spring, buying them at the store at $3-$4 each just really isn’t feasible. And that’s just the peppers! We also planted 64 tomato plants, along with a whole bunch of other plants like okra, squash, zucchini, etc.

Since we are homeschooling for the first time this season, I’m trying to figure out ways to incorporate gardening into our lessons more. Here’s what I have so far…

Science – I found this really cool interactive website at Exploratorium. And I found this great video about the science of gardening.


History – We use mostly heirloom seeds which generally have to be unaltered genetically for at least 50 years. The Smithsonian has a cool resource on the history of gardening in America. I like this website about gardening in early America too.

Economics – Simply from our family’s perspective, I want Corbin to see how we save money by growing a garden. There is a lot of debate about whether or not having a garden can save a family money. There is no debate in my mind that our garden saves us a ton of money. We combine food preservation, seed saving, and recycling to get the most bang for our buck. So for me, the question isn’t whether or not you save money by gardening, but do you personally have the self-discipline to put forth the effort to make it a profitable endeavor. We are getting better and better at this every year.

Religion – Gardening references are all over the place in the bible. From a personal standpoint, I can see how easy it would be for early Christians to understand the nature of God from a gardening perspective in a pre-grocery-store world. When you have a garden, you understand insect plagues, droughts, and plant disease blights, from a whole different perspective.

Math – With the square-foot gardening we do, there is a lot of basic math involved, but there’s a little bit of geometry in there too.

Computer Science – I’m a geek, so I do a lot of my planning and research using a computer. I want to teach Corbin to use spreadsheets in every day life for planning.

Chemistry – As much as we really, really try to have a perfectly chemical-free garden, the reality is that at some point in every season we do have to use some pesticides and fertilizer. There are a ton of chemistry lesson opportunities here. There’s also chemistry in the nutrients required by plants, soil quality, photosynthesis… I could go on and on.

Art/Literature – I wasn’t raised around a garden, so one of the things I was most impressed by was the beauty of the thing. I can’t fathom anything prettier than an okra blossom! Plants have been the muse for artists and poets since there were artists and poets. We are fortunate to have a garden sun deck that allows us to sit among the plants on warm sunny days and read too. 

For more information about our gardening shenanigans, check out my Gardening Blog.

2014. Bring it.

I’m coming out swinging this year.

2013 was an amazing year; likely a strong contender for the best year of my life so far. The twins graduated from high school, became Eagle scouts, and went to college. My full-time job was scaled back to part time, allowing me more time to make a commitment to homeschool Corbin. David and I are closer than we have ever been this year. He carried me through the rough transition when the twins went off to college… and a million other struggles I encountered this year. Every time I fell apart, he lifted me up and pointed me back to God. What a blessing it is to be married to someone like that!

One other thing I am proud of from last year is the deepening of friendships with several of my bible study friends. I feel so blessed to have so many godly women in my life now, who a year ago were just passing acquaintances. It’s really cool to have a group of people who will help pray me through whatever challenges I face. They inspire me, and help me stay in the lighted path God has set me on.

Oh and something that I just wrapped up yesterday, I READ THE WHOLE ENTIRE BIBLE! I used this version, which split it up into daily readings. For 2014 I’m trying this chronological version that also includes commentary. It will be interesting because I am planning to read each day’s section with Corbin as a part of his homeschool curriculum. It will be interesting to see how that routine plays out.

Thank you God for 2013! I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring!