Friday, November 7, 2014

Summer Fun In Town

Before Gardening Class
James getting ready to release ladybugs
What a busy summer we have had! It has been sort of hectic, but lots of fun too. The kids have been participating in all sorts of free local activities. From gardening classes at a historical farm to evening symphony performances in the park to bird hikes and play time at the mud park. We have been enjoying the myriad of things available to us in Nashville.

JoyAnna in her gardening hat
The Nashville Symphony has a series of free programs that they perform at local parks and we were fortunate to attend two of them. There was something so special about listening to all of those beautiful instruments singing together under the stars. James and JoyAnna were so excited to see how many instruments they could recognize, Lydia loved the lightning bugs that lit up the summer sky, and Gideon just wanted to be snuggled and nursed.

Intensely watching all of the instrumentalists take the stage and warm up

Happy to be at her first Symphony Performance!
 We also did things like "Touch A Truck Day", where a local park has all different types of community service vehicles on hand for kids to come and touch, sit in, explore and ask questions about. Each truck had long lines, so we could only pick a few. The ones the kids chose were the Police SWAT team truck, one of those huge mowers they use to bush hog the fields, they sat in a police car and a bucket loader. Once in awhile someone would "touch" the horn button. Wowzers! Was that ever loud!! Giddy was a champ and slept the whole time in the baby carrier.

On our way to "Touch a Truck!"
Lydia in the police car


We visited Old Stone Fort State Park. It sounded intriguing in the Tennessee book we borrowed from the library and we were so excited to go! When we got there we were totally disappointed. It was NOT what we were expecting at all, very hot, and the hiking trail had terrible cliffs dropping off the side of it down into a rocky river gorge. Not ideal for a bunch of little ones. It was so bad Lydia screamed hysterically until I took her off the trail and into a grassy field where we got eaten alive by mosquitoes and burnt by the sun. Ah...good times. But there was so redemption...we got lessons in how to throw an Atlatl!!! SUPER COOL!! 

Trying out the Dugout Canoe (that was full of icky rainwater, so they all had to pile to the front!)
James throwing the atlatl

JoyAnna's turn!

Beware of Trail Side Cliff!! Can anyone say Tallulah Gorge?!

SO FAR we haven't had any casualties...but beware!

Gnarly tree I found along the trail!
James and JoyAnna have participated in bug classes, bird classes, wildlife classes, plant classes, and all sort of fun things at Warner Park. Every time we go there are exciting things to see and learn. On one of our recent trips we saw hummingbirds, two new species of bird that we hadn't yet seen, a praying mantis, many stinkbugs, and a monarch butterfly that just hatched and was drying it's wings on a milkweed plant! Warner Park is also our favorite place to hike and play in the mud.

James acting like his favorite bug at the bug class at Warner Park (he's the only one with a hat on)

We also went to see Andrew and Skye Peterson at the Warden and the Wolf King book release. They performed "My Love Has Gone Across the Sea", and it was all that we expected and more! Skye sings like a bird. I'm sure her daddy is proud. James wanted to stick around to meet her, (I think he fell in love as soon as she began to sing!) and we stood in line for a very long time, but we had some diaper shortage issues that forced us to leave our place in line. (I really try, but sometimes I am terrible at keeping a well-stocked diaper bag!)

So many people showed up for this that we were some of the last people to be able to find any standing room at the back of the bookstore. There were toothy cows, fangs, gargan rockroaches, and even Pete the Sock Man was there!
Gargan Rockroach

Fearsome Toothy Cow

All We Want For Christmas Is...No Toys, Please!

Dear Friends and Family,

It's that time of year again and we are all busy shopping for Christmas gifts.

Ho! Ho! Ho! and all that jazz.  Or not.

Josh and I usually get asked about what gifts our children might enjoy for Christmas, so this year we thought we would just send a note out to help with some ideas if you were planning to send something. If not...great! Plan a visit instead!

Please. No. Toys.  

We will be moving soon and our children are up to their necks in toys already.

But...anything that we can do together as a family is a great idea!

Things like: (Click on any of the blue links below to see what we 're talking about!)

I. Gift Certificates or Tickets to do activities
2. Restaurant Gift Cards/Groupons (We love eating out as a family!)
3. For those who just prefer to give a gift that can be unwrapped, here are some ideas:
4. Or don't send anything and just come visit us in 2015!!!  (THIS IS THE BEST GIFT YOU COULD GIVE US!)

We love you and hope to see all of you sometime in the next year!!

Joshua, Heather, James, JoyAnna, Lydia and Gideon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Word of the Week - Psalm 1:1-2

Here is our first verse! 

Psalm 1:1-2

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, 
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers."

From Our Family to Yours

Several weeks ago Josh hung a white board in our kitchen. He wrote the first two verses of Psalm 1 on it and we recited it before each meal. The following Sunday he added the next two verses. Soon we had memorized the whole Psalm. That was encouraging!!

Won't  you join us in hiding God's Word in your hearts too? You will be so glad that you did! Each week we will add a new verse or two in case you want to memorize what our family has been working on too.

"I have hidden your word in my heart,
 that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees. 
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways."

-Psalm 119:11-15

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


James recently lost his first two teeth!
Last summer when we were visiting Tennessee James had a dental problem. He was in a lot of pain. I visited the Weston A. Price Foundation to see if I could find a local dentist who did not advocate for the use of flouride and who would help us in our efforts to remineralize his teeth. We found a wonderful dentist in the area (who even accepted our insurance plan!) and paid him a visit. We absolutely loved him! He was very supportive of our desire to maintain our health through diet and natural methods and had great advice. He encouraged us to keep taking cod liver oil and suggested we visit a nearby grocery to purchase raw milk.

Look at that beautiful yellow milk! That's nutrition, folks!

We finally decided to make the 1 hour trip. In Florida, it was (and may still be, I am not sure) legal to sell raw milk to people as long it was/is labeled "pet milk", but never for human consumption. In Tennessee, it is not legal to label it as pet milk. The only way to legally purchase raw milk is to purchase a "cow share". You pay a certain amount to buy a portion of a cow. That money goes to care for the cow and feed it. I have seen this cost anywhere between $25 and $50 in our area. Then when you receive your milk there is a certain fee per gallon to cover the labor for bottling it and delivery charge.

Who doesn't love cream?

It took a lot of effort for me to not to laugh out loud when we entered the store to inquire about purchasing milk. Here is the scene that unfolded: Josh walked in holding Lydia with James and JoyAnna in tow. I came in afterwards with Gideon just as Josh cautiously leaned towards the lady behind the counter. He asked in a voice just barely above a whisper, "Do you have any raw milk?" The lady, perhaps playing along?, leaned forward and quietly asked, "Are you part of the program?" It was a little unnerving, like we were participating in a drug deal, but mostly hysterical for the same reason. How ridiculous we must have looked! She was such a sweet lady and explained the process, we signed up and brought back two gallons of milk. One is in the freezer for next week and the other is half empty already! We had some with our lunch, and Josh and I are sharing some fresh brownies and milk right now. It is creamier than pasteurized and homogenized milk, but otherwise tastes the same. Wonderful!

When talking about the herd share program, the lady behind the counter said,

"You can buy alcohol. 
You can buy drugs. 
You can buy cigarettes. 
But you can't buy milk. 
It's silly, isn't it?"

Yes, we totally agree. Our country is "udderly" backwards.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Photo Shoot

Here are some group photos I took of the kiddies last week. James is 6, JoyAnna is 4, Lydia is 2 and Gideon is 7 weeks old in these pictures.

Enjoying June in Nashville

June has been the month of fun, educational and free events in Nashville! JoyAnna took a wildlife class at Warner Park to learn how to walk quietly and observe birds and other animals. She loved it! James took an insect class there a week later and learned to identify different insects.  We usually meet friends there, play in the mud and then splash in the creek before we have a picnic and go home for naps. Here is a picture of James with his bug class…they were supposed to look like their favorite bug for the picture. You should have been there…it was hysterical! (James is the only one in a hat).
Insect Class Warner Park
We went strawberry picking in Lascassas, Tennessee. It was so much fun and the farmer was so sweet to the children. We picked a nice big basket full of gorgeous, ripe strawberries. And not the giant, mutant ones you get at the store. Perfectly sweet, tiny little strawberries…the way they ought to be. JoyAnna wore her strawberry dress…I wish I could have gotten better pictures. (I was sitting in the trunk of the van trying to take pictures with my left hand while nursing Gideon. Tricky, tricky, tricky!)
The Nashville Symphony performs FREE community concerts in June. We went to two of them. The children had never been to hear a symphony performance before, and I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it! Except for Gideon. He was angry. But I think it had more to do with being strapped into a car seat than the performance.
Lydia had us laughing so hard because she was so into the music, bobbing her head and tapping her foot whenever the music became loud and upbeat. Once it began to get dark, the lightning bugs came out and lit up the air all around. It was such a wonderful experience!

Last Friday we went to something called “Touch a Truck”. The kids got to climb in and learn about emergency and construction vehicles. For free. It was so neat. We got there towards the end and didn’t get to sit in all of the trucks, but they got to go in a SWAT Hummer, a huge tractor, and a police car. They had a few fire trucks, a police motorcycle, and some construction trucks too. Afterwards we met Daddy for lunch which made it an even more special day!

Slugs and Bugs

JoyAnna and Lydia got to go to a Slugs and Bugs mini-concert at Logos Bookstore in Nashville. Erma and I took them while Daddy and James went with Erpa over to Johnson City to pick up our van. It was so much fun!


(Can you see JoyAnna and Lydia sitting on the floor?) I got to talk to Randall Goodgame and his wife a little. They are so very sweet. Their three children were also there and sang too. I loved that they did that!

Andrew had no idea where the bunny (that he was supposed to have hidden) was hiding! :)

They were there with Jonathan Rogers who was doing a book signing for the re-release of his Wilderking Trilogy. I had never heard of him before and got to talk to him a little too.


The bookstore owners were very kind. They had a gentle old dog that JoyAnna instantly bonded with. She’s some sort of dog whisperer, I think. It is a really nice bookstore that I have been wanting to go back to.

A little while after we got back home, Josh pulled up in our van. I was so thankful that they had made it back safely and to know that whenever Gideon finally came, there would be a place for him to sit!