Peek a boo!

I know, I know. It’s been a year since I’ve posted anything. Yes, we are alive and kickin still! Chuggin along slowly doing this homestead thing. Long story short, it was one hell of a year but by His Grace, we made it! Remember how things were beginning to spiral last year… well it all finally peaked (I hope!) and began to mend. To sum it all up: solo building a house causes a lot of stress, off grid causes more stress, raising children causes stress, extended family causes stress, life in general is crazy stressful, my anxiety hit all time highs, found out I had a heart issue (literally and spiritually), the family was in a spiral and basically just tried to survive until we (I) could get on top of things. Literally survive some days. Any and every crack in our familial relationships has been brought to light over the last year particularly. But sometimes, God has to tear us down to the core before He can build us back up stronger. That has become my over-riding lesson from this last year.


My heart, while difficult to finally get diagnosed, was mostly an easy fix with a cardiac ablation – basically they burned the nerves that were making it act stupid. And by stupid I mean like random out of sync beats but the most fun part (/sarc) was the marathon heart racing episodes. Who hoo for cardio while laying in the bed being perfectly still! #miracleweightlossplan Unfortunate side effect… being exhausted. All. The. Time. That was mostly fixed in January, another month to recuperate and the last couple trying to get some sort of order back to this crazy life of ours. My resting heart rate is still around 100 (“average” is 70-90) but with conditioning (aka excersize) my cardiologist hopes we can get it down a bit more before resorting to life-long meds (that ironically also are given for anxiety!).

The anxiety is manageable most days. Some days better, some worse. It was a strange new development for me since I’d never experienced anxiety like that before, let alone panic attacks. Still working on finding and fixing the root causes and reasons for its sudden and unexpected arrival. Some of it was adrenal related, although not to the clinical alopathic failure stages thankfully! Some of it is deeper. I’ve heard people say you spend your 20’s learning from your teen years and your 30’s healing from all of it. I can see that. What start as little seeds that don’t seem to matter, years later can turn into giant oaks that cause cracks and shifts earth. Throwing more dirt on those seeds don’t stop them from sprouting later, it just delays the inevitable. Note to my children: deal with hurts and issues as they arise, it’ll be better for you later.

The house and homestead… well, it is what it is. It’s nowhere near where we thought it would be by now. Accepting that God gave us this land, the building and the vision is about way more than just the physical. It is a process, a journey, that God has brought us to – and will bring us through. Each step, each month, has been filled with lessons. Yet He is so faithful, so patient with us! I’ll post a video update soon – promise!


As difficult as it has been, the family is being blessed through all of this growth, even when we struggle to see it. Everyone has stepped up in so many ways it truly blesses my heart. Let’s be honest, when mama is down things just don’t go how they should. But they have done so well stepping up and stepping in when needed, not complaining (ahem, often) but understanding.

Whats crazy is how much I have missed regularly writing! I couldn’t hardly form coherent sentences most of the time through the brain fog, forget being able to have a couple of quiet hours where I wasn’t sleeping (12 hour sleeps kills child-free time!), but I would start a post just to get the immediate thoughts out knowing at some point I would be able to finish them. I will be back slowly, a post a week is the goal. Maybe a 7 Quick Takes, a ‘What’s going on around the homestead’, maybe a link up. Let’s be honest, a FB post or pic on Instagram is more my ability span at this point since our life (and my brain) is still a bit chaotic and I am still trying to get things in some sort of workable order. But this blog, my perspective changer, our life and history, its like my therapy. And hopefully I can get some of those old posts finished up and published. πŸ˜‰

Missed you all! Love and God Bless <3

Mid-day Rambling with Occupied Children

Whew! This is the first time in 12 days I have been able to sit down at home and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. The sad part – we have been so busy running around getting stuff done… and I can’t for the life of me think of what we did or accomplished. I know a couple of those days were errand days. And at least 2 were going to the laundromat. Only 1 day was spent at my sisters. And yesterday was at the hospital… the other days… I don’t have a clue! Sad isn’t it.

Wait back up. Yes I said hospital. Everyone is fine, or will be anyway. I have had strep twice in the last 5 weeks. First time ever dealing with it. The first time I didnt know about the whole “throw away the tooth *paste*” part so reinfected myself. But the 2nd time I didnt get all the “normal” symptoms, just a general soreness in the throat/ear area so I figured I would get swabbed again. After a round of antibiotics I thought we were cleared… until Thursday when BabyGirl started acting sick. Her fever broke and went away after 12 hours, after hitting 104 briefly, didnt think much of it… until the Littles were down on Saturday – upset tummy, headache, tired – but no sore throat or fever. Google says children generally have hurting tummies with strep… great. I look in BabyGirls mouth and see those tell tell patches. Even better. Sunday morning the Littles both have them.

Here’s where it gets weird(er). By Monday morning, patches are gone on everyone. Still no sore throat!

I take them to the clinic anyway for a swab. I’m done dealing with strep, we are going to knock it out once and for all – antibiotics for all. And if you know me and my crunchy ways, you know that’s so not me. Clinic said they can get 2 in that day and the other 4 “throughout the day tomorrow” because they each needed their own 15 minutes appointment block. So whats a mama of 6 to do? Go to the ER of course! Yes I was one of those parents. Within 1 hour they were all triaged and swabbed… and they decided to transfer us to the clinic who was suddenly able to squeeze us in 1 appointment block! Now that’s some power! A quick head pop-in from the Dr that they ALL swabbed positive, nurses station dumbfounded to have 6 children test positive but only 1 with current symptoms (her throat was red and tonsils inflamed but no spots or sore throat still), scripts were written and we were on our way an hour before the first “squeeze in appointment” time. Nice!

Today I decided we were going no where. Well until tonight when we have church again. But at least most of the day will be spent right here with the motivation that after chores are done it is a free day. Bam! Within 90 minutes everything was done! It was again, like magic!

Of course occupied children means only 1 thing – mama can pull out the laptop and do a little blogging. Fabulous!

Off grid washer… kinda

So I was totally going to blog about how awesome dehydrating food is… but I can’t. Because once again, the devil was in the details for me. I love blueberries – in muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, etc. Besides Bou, none of the other children are excited about them. So that means, yup, I don’t purchase them. Then I heard you could dehydrate them fairly easily. Sweet!

Insert Google Search fail.

Most everything I read said 8-10 hours. I borrowed my mother-in-laws dehydrator… and bought 4 pounds of frozen blueberries… before I thought about looking up the manual to the actual dehydrator I had in hand… only to find that it required rotating every 2-4 hours and blueberries take 36 hours.

Apparently those Bloggers from my Google search have the totes amaze Excalibur. I do not. They also have grid power if they don’t have the Excalibur. I again do not. Hence I am left with 4 pounds of thawed blueberries and a mess of blueberry drippings in the bottom of the kegerator. Sigh.

Instead I’ll show you this awesomeness – an off grid washing machine. Ok, so really it isn’t totally off grid. That would be our plunger washer. It works fine for small “oh need to wash this real quick” but is not practical for our little family of 8.

Which means hauling everything to the laundromat once a week and dropping $40 just to wash clothes (we line dry most things). There was an upside to it though – all laundry was washed in about 2 hours! Which meant I had 4-6 glorious hours with absolutely no laundry in the baskets. Mt. Washmore felt tackled every week, at least for a little bit.

So I had been on the hunt for a washer, ideally an HE. Then I was offered this one for $20 by my future-brotherin-law’s mama. For $20 yea I’ll take it! The only downside is it is a regular washer, using 40-50 gallons per load. Whereas an HE is around 25 gallons. One of the water tanks hold 250 gallons. We’re talking a difference of 1 weeks worth of laundry (5 loads) and 2 weeks worth (10 loads) from one tote.

So while I am still hunting for an HE (and saving up for a new one in case I can’t find one), this thing is still gonna save us some cash. Rainwater is free and it costs about $1 an hour to run the geni. Of course we can do other high power things while the geni is on – bake bread, vacuum… dehydrate :ahem:, Playstation, etc. You get the idea. No need to let power go to waste!

The set up is simple: rainwater from the roof, pumped by solar, but the actual washer still runs off the generator.


Connecting the tanks together was rather easy. I don’t know what these little rubbery things are but one end is 2″ and 1″ on the other. There’s little twisty clamp things to tighten each end down. They are in the plumbing section. Best I can tell ya. πŸ˜‰ At the T in the middle there is another little plastic piece (also found conveniently in the PVC section” that has a 3/4 inch thread on one end that fits the hose perfectly… and a whole lot cheaper than the $6 copper piece they were trying to sell me.


TaDa! 500 gallons of water storage!


This is a cheap $30 pump from Harbor Freight. I’m not sure how Mr. connected it all but I know the pump runs off the solar batteries directly. He also installed a manual switch to turn the pump on, eliminating the possibility of forgetting the water was on. Not that I ever get distracted from the current task at hand…


At first we had the hose connected to the back of the washer like normal but it took foreva to fill so I just put the hose into the tub. We have to catch it to push switch for the rinse anyway.


This isn’t the best empty method admittedly. Already creating a muddy crater mess. The plan is to run the pipe into some PVC and into the house garden sub-irrigation system. So far it works wonderfully!!

Update in the spring: Yes it still works great. Except for during the winter. I didn’t think about the hose and the water in the washer freezing. Wasn’t a big deal, just had to plan the washer usage differently. Like after noon during above freezing days. An HE is absolutely going to be necessary, it doesn’t take long at all to go through the water. The idea works, just have to tweak it to work for our little family. πŸ˜‰

Austin Anomaly 2015 – Part 2


Austin. The day of the Anomaly. And the weather was *perfect* for it! Low 70’s and cloudy. Cloudy wouldn’t normaly be considered perfect but when you are fixing to spend the next 4-5 hours walking all over the city – with 6 children – looking at your phone, cloudy makes it a whole lot better!


It was so interesting to see the varity of people that play the game. I didn’t notice anyone else that had quite the crew we do but there were quite a few children.


November Luna #1331 is the moving Ingress portal. It was not live at this point.




XM is energy (those little white dots below), attracted to wifi and cell phones, it is found all over with heavier density in populated areas and also in Power Cubes (like energy shots).


We were on the Volatile team that targets special portals that are worth more points… only those special ones are unknown until that cluster is live. We kind of have an advantage since 5 out of 8 of us play – we are like our own response unit.




Suzanna Moyer is the reporter.


A couple days later, they released the Ingress Report for the anomaly… if you look in the background at the 4 min mark…


There we are! How neat!


The swag pack – with codes for gear and medals. In a static proof bag… you know to block it from the XM πŸ˜›


On our way to the first cluster. The city was very pretty. Walking truly gives a different visual experience of an area.


Like would we have seen this building? Let alone have enough time to stop and take a picture of it and talk about it while driving by?


The last portal of the day. We spent 5 hours walking around downtown Austin, pushing a double stroller, with 6 children. We didn’t lose anyone. We didn’t have any major breakdowns from anyone. We kept 3 of the 4 volatiles we were assigned. And we got to end the day with this beautiful view…


Ok, and this view. Someone left the peanut butter in her reach… while we were walking to the last cluster she decided it would be a perfect time to “wash hands mouf” with said peanut butter. She did a great job with the coverage… you know, had it actually been soap…


Finally! #NL1331 went live.


And we spent the next 30 minutes battling over it. I used a ton of gear but got major AP out of it!

Afterwards, we decided to head back to the apartment hotel and make dinner. In an actual kitchen. So off to our favorite store – remember the one from San Antonio! Only this Central Market was a lot bigger! I’ll admit to having a hard time containing myself seeing all the super yum food we used to purchase that isn’t found up here. All the fresh organic meats and breads and deserts and… ohhh… But I did (mostly) and walked out with dinner… ok and a chocolate cake. Hey it was Mr’s birthday weekend!


It was a pretty awesome weekend. There were a few people from our area that went down, it was nice to see familiar faces amongst the crowds. Even though we lost and had some leadership difficulties (unrelated to the losing), it was still a very fun event to be a part of!

Oh yea. And remember how we had left so much earlier to avoid the coming ice storm? No we didn’t get out unscathed. We were racing home trying to beat another round. Thankfully only encountering it with about 30 minutes left of the drive home.

Austin Anomaly 2015 Part 1

October 2014 our lives changed forever. The voice said it was more than just a game, of course that’s what a programmer would say. We dutifully read what each side stood for – the green Enlightened and the blue Resistance. And we chose. Drives to town and trips to the Little Big City became hunts and supply runs in more than one way. The abundant XM chased, portals began to be hunted down to be hacked, destroyed and taken ownership of. Ingress determined the route we would drive to get to the destination, based of course, on portal density. This “game” that Ada had spoke of – a mashup of geocashing and capture the flag – we learned was more than just a game. The rabbit hole goes deep and we were just at the beginning. It was a community. A solo game with collaborative effort when desired.

An Anomaly is where this solo-meet-community game becomes most obvious as you battle it out, doing your part to win the day for the larger team. That’s what this trip was. It also happened to be Mr’s Birthday weekend!

We stayed in a 2 floor suite at the Habitat Suites in Austin. Amaze!






Not only was it landscaped not like a hotel, a lot of the plantings were edible and free for the picking. You know, had it not been February and had I actually desired to cook a from scratch meal…


Sorry for the blurry pics. Frankly, it was 9 am, after we had driven all night long. Leaving about 8 hours early to miss the ice storm that was just an hour behind us. They were kind enough to let us check in at 9am instead of noon. All I cared about at this time was taking a shower and getting some sleep. πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t until I was uploading these that I realized I didn’t get a pic of the master bedroom. The 2 bathrooms were nice but typical hotel bathrooms. The couch folded out for a full bed.






How fitting that we stay in a hotel that has reminders of home πŸ˜€


The walk to the lobby and dining room for breakfast.




It’s FEBRUARY yall!



The Lobby



The breakfast was good. The service was wonderful! The first morning was biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, turkey sausage. Cane sugar for your coffee, organic milk and OJ. Cereal, fruits, gluten free bread available (with its own toaster for no cross contamination!). The server was so sweet and helpful, we enjoyed talking with her. At the end of the meal she asked if we would be there the next morning and said she would ask if the cook would make pancakes – chocolate chip pancakes! – but only if the children would eat them. Of course for my crew that is a non question πŸ˜‰



Yes she’s talking on her banana phone…


The pool area was pretty. And swimable. You know if I would have wanted to add in “swimming” to our busy weekend.