Acceptance of "The Way it Is"

Life has been a bit crazy lately. But then again, as I write that…I think that every blog post I have written over the past two years has basically started the same way. I had this realization the other day when I was pondering if I was ever going to feel “on top of it.” My kids are swirling around, screaching, playing in dirt, bumping heads, crying…oh the endless crying. The mere thought of having to empty the dishwasher for the 2nd time in one day seems overwhelming. I keep thinking to myself…if I can just get past this hard stage then I’ll be ok…just make it out alive. Then I had this slightly unhappy thought of “what if this is just the way it is.”

We have made a lot of choices over the past few years that have really set us up quite nicely for a life lived on the edge…of insanity. When I am evaluating all of these choices, I honestly can’t really think of any that I am wanting to  let go of in order to save brain space. So, I have really had to sit myself down this week and talk to God about how in the world I am supposed to function in this way. For me, just coming to this acceptance has helped me. So on days when I feel like all my to-do list my swallow me up alive, I think about how this is just how it is right now and move along. I can personally waste a lot of time living in the “what if’s” and in the frustration that things aren’t the way I want them.

I specifically feel very challenged in the realm of child rearing and homeschooling. I have pretty much come to the determination that this was not intended to be done as a solo parent. Alex works outside of the home for 11 hours a day. That’s a REALLY long time to be alone with 3 children, manage a house and a business. It is for this reason that I feel I am putting every spare minute I have into building businesses that can help us achieve our ultimate goal of sustainability and for Alex to not have to work outside the house. It really is such a big dream.

It honestly brings me to humble tears thinking about how blessed we have been over these past few years. I cannot give God enough glory for what he has accomplished in our lives. I cannot thank our friends and family enough for the love, support and help they have been to us in all of our crazy endeavors.

So through it all, I fight hard and cry hard. Most days I don’t think I am going to get through it. Other days, I feel completely renewed and motivated. Accepting that this life that we have chosen is indeed a lot of work has helped me push past the regret, the envy, the pity and helped me put the pedal to the metal and make it happen. Fueled by passion, letting stress go.

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2015 Homestead Life Goals

2014 was a crazy busy year. We had babies (ok, just one but it feels like 5…), renovated structures, opened businesses, & ate way too many zucchinis. Come the end of the year we were tired. December was a rough month with water problems (2 pipe bursts) and mouse issues out the wazoo. Yeah…those little dickens are so determined. They chewed through our pest block foam spray from last year. Just so they could laugh at us while they ate all our tasty crumbs…Sorry, not to gross you out. The house has been officially sanitized. It was like spring cleaning in the dead of winter. Fun!

Annnyways. 2015 is going to be different. It is going to be full of so much opportunity. So here’s a few things on the checklist.

Homestead Goals

  • Expand garden and spread out the woodchips that were delivered last year
  • Make a better garden plan
  • Plant 3 new fruit trees & 3 new fruit bushes
  • Transplant all trees that have been in the “spare” garden for a year
  • Prune apple trees
  • Build duck coop and enclosure
  • Gutters on the house (not accomplished in 2014)
  • Build insulated house for the well pump (not accomplished in 2014)
  • Landscape front of house near porch
  • Paint one room of the house (living room or our bedroom)

Personal Goals

  • Last year I had pledged to buy better meat. I was pretty successful in that endeavor, I am happy with where we are in our eating habits right now. However, I would still really like to make it a priority to grow the bulk of our vegetables and can/preserve them for winter.
  • Finish the two courses I am enrolled in at Vintage Remedies. Enroll in two additional classes by the end of the year.
  • Finish the book Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 
  • Finish the book The World Atlas of Coffee
  • Do more educating on this blog

Coffee Business Goals

  • Integrate more missions-minded aspects into the site
  • Integrate an artists shop on the site
  • Partner with local businesses
  • Attend a local vendor event
  • Set up coffee shop at community events, such as concerts
  • Plan business expansion, including larger roaster

We are intentionally trying to keep all of our projects reasonable this year…and not trying to do any major renovating, building or projects that take more than a couple of weekends to complete. The past two summers have been crazy and we would like to actually enjoy a few days of summer without back breaking, sweat-to-death kinda work. I am sure you are all nodding your head in approval. Who is ready for a 2nd annual Camden County’s Largest Slip-and-Slide party!? Don’t ask me why I am already dreaming about summer…maybe its because we had the “first snow” of the season. I call it “snow” because of course all schools were closed and my kids had to get dressed in head to to winter gear to go play in the snow dust. Alas, I am not a cold weathered gal. Except that I have an excuse to drink more coffee. In fact, I think I’ll go brew another pot now…

What’s on your agenda for 2015? Comment and let me know!

Immune Boosting Elderberry Syrup

We’re creeping up once again on that dreaded time of year…the time when school starts back and the germies start spreading around. Sigh. I think sick kids is a parent’s worst fight. I’m going to be completely transparent here…I have some serious anxiety issues when it comes to my kids getting sick. I am constantly having to remind myself that I am not in control. I have to rest in the knowledge that God has not neglected us. I am also thankful that we have never encountered any serious illnesses. I wrestle with guilt when I feel anxiety over a runny nose when I know so many parents struggle with much worse issues. My heart goes out to you who are suffering from much worse. Nevertheless, it is a struggle that we can all relate to. As moms, our children carry part of our hearts around…ok, I won’t lie…my kids carry most of my heart. I would take their burdens any day. We know that is not how things are designed though. On this side of heaven we are going to have to keep fighting. I am looking forward to the day where these worries are no more.

In the meantime however, we strive to maintain the best health that we can through our own choices! I ultimately cannot control if my kids get sick or not, but I can give wellness my best shot! We accomplish this through a variety of ways, mainly diet, healthy vitamins, natural remedies, & essential oils. One of our favorite immune boosting “vitamins” is Elderberry syrup!! So, I thought we would share this today!

First, let me tell you why we think this is such good stuff!
1. Elderberries have been around for centuries and people have been using them to treat a number of different problems. They are known for their immune boosting properties, helping coughs, colds, influenza, etc. Elderberries are high in vitamin A & C and also high in iron. The antioxidant levels in elderberries are high and thus makes them a good candidate for combating free radicals in the body. Elderberries have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries or cranberries! Want to learn more about antioxidants? I found this article helpful and easy to understand!!

2. Elderberries are high in the polyphenol anthocyanin.

“Anthocyanins have been shown to boost the production of immune cytokines. The cytokines are key messengers in the immune system to help regulate the immune response. This allows the body to defend against disease. These studies have shown the antioxidant balance of elderberry to be greater than equal doses of vitamin E and vitamin C.” Read more

Studies have also found that they anthocyanins have been effective in reducing inflammation of the mucous membranes, thus helping sinus issues.

3. And if you still need some convincing read this:

“Viruses multiply by invading our cells through their hemagglutinin spikes. These spikes allow them to penetrate the cell membrane and move in and take control the cell. Elderberry contains a potent antiviral agent called “antivirin” which helps neutralize the activity of the hemagglutinin spikes. When these spikes are deactivated, the viruses are no longer able to get inside of the cell and replicate.”
Read more

Muahahah. Elderberry Super Powers! This is good stuff. Let’s make it shall we?

Immune Boosting Elderberry Syrup

  • 1 cup dried elderberries
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 knob of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup of honey, local and raw if possible!

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a stainless steel pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Turn the stove off and let the pan sit until contents have cooled sufficiently.
  4. Strain the elderberries and other ingredients out of liquid. Use a spoon to mash the berries in the strainer.
  5. {Optional} Often times I will add the smashed berries back into the pan and add another cup of water and boil for 10 more mins. After that,  strain them again and add to the other juice.
  6. After juice has cooled, add desired amount of honey for sweetness. We usually use about a 1/2 cup, any more than that and it is too sweet for us to drink!  If you can source some local, raw honey that will add to the immune boosting properties as well as help with seasonal allergies!! If not, regular honey is good too.

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We take this daily during cold and flu season or anytime someone is feeling a little icky. I don’t really measure the dosage out, I just put a little bit in a shot glass and give it to the kids…probably about a tablespoon worth. Actually, we usually use elderberry syrup as our chaser for our fermented cod liver oil!

 

References (Just in case you decided you really wanted to read more…lol):

https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu07/pdfs/charlebois284-292.pdf

http://www.naturalnews.com/043430_elderberry_natural_antivirals_health_benefits.html

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor! You knew that right? So I am not attempting to diagnose, cure, or solve any of your health issues! Please ask your doctor if you have concerns about your health! I am here as a mom sharing my story! 

Disclosure: Some of the links provided in my posts may be affiliate links. You pay the same if you were to purchase the product through my site, however, I may earn a commission of your purchase. Helps keep our garden growing, ya know? Thanks for supporting the homestead!

My Buddy is Here!!

I promise this is not one of those posts that leads you on to thinking one thing and then I spring a surprise on you. Like the tale of the dying sourdough  or the confession of my love. No, no…I promise this one is for real. No sourdough involved.

Our newest little farm hand…aka my Little Buddy. Micaiah Alexander Monroe was born on April 3, 2014 at 8:22am. He weighed 7lbs 13oz (just one ounce shy of his big sister Elyse!)

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Micaiah just a few hours old!

His birth was miraculously uncomplicated. Although there were a few moments where things seems to be going downhill, the Lord was so gracious to spare me from some of my biggest fears. I was blessed to have some great support from friends and my hubby. The most hilarious story however, is my lovely friend who dashed in carrying two cups of Starbucks coffee while I was mid-pushing. Even with the gut wrenching pain of well…I’ll spare you the description…I was cracking up at the scene and feeling thankful that she did indeed make it to the birth. I also have to give a lovely shout out to my other friend who arrived in the wee hours of the morning (like 4am) to help me labor and make me laugh. Cuz that’s what I do when I am in that kind of pain. Finally, my dear Sister-in-law…Even though you didn’t make it to the actual birth…because you went in the wrong building…I still appreciate your after-birth presence. It will definitely be a story to remember.

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One day old!

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One week old!

Well, I know its a short post but just wanted to get this post up before too much time passes! As it is, caring for 3 kids is proving to be very challenging…hoping I get the hang of this quickly. Stay tuned for better pics!!

Snapshots of Moments- A Tour of Our Life in 2013

Goodbye 2013. You brought so much change, hope, love, laughter and hard moments. It is so easy to neglect all that we have done and accomplished in light of how much there is yet ahead for the next year. So, for my own sake I thought I would write at least one moment for each month of 2013 that stood out. Here’s our 2013 Journey.

January 2013

Alex goes on his first ever Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of men. They built a pole-barn structure for a YWAM camp.

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DR Jan 2

February

This month brought lots of trips back and forth checking our the progress of our new home being built. We had hopes of moving in as early as Feb but it didn’t happen.

House Feb

March

Elyse’s First Easter! The girls even had matching dresses and coats!

March Easter

April

April brought our long awaited moving day into the new house!! April 16th we were given the keys and we promptly drove “Home”.

Moving April 16

Moving april 16 2

May

We got moved in and then instantly got running on two feet! We started building the garage for Alex to store all his man-tools in! Oh…and Elly also ate her first hot wing at her Uncle Nicholas’ birthday party!

May Garage

May Elly

June

With all kinds of left over building materials from the garage…we built our first bon fire. Yes, marshmallows were involved 🙂

June Campfire

July

We celebrated our baby girl turning the big One! We also harvested our first zucchini out of the small garden we started as soon as we moved in.

July Elly Bday

July Zuchini

August

Wow, this was an exciting month! We found out we were going to be adding a new addition to the Monroe household! A new farm-hand! We also got started (and finished) building the fence that surrounds our “back yard”.

Aug Baby Annc

Aug Fence Building

September

This was a fairly quiet month. We needed some respite from the crazy summer projects. Little projects here and there and finishing up loose ends. Lea is practicing taking care of babies in an effort to get ready for her coming baby brother. And we continued to enjoy our country views…

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Sept Views

October

Got the fall garden going, although it didn’t amount to much as it turns out. We also got our wheat planted and some garlic planted. Most exciting is that we harvested our summer crop of Sweet Potatoes. That was a blast!

Oct Sweet Taters

November

Gearing up for the wintertime. Winterizing all the mowers and such. Just random projects here and there around the homestead this month. Not much you feel like doing when its starting to dip into the 30’s and 40’s. But…that’s why we have a fireplace! We tried out the fireplace in the den for the first time!

Nov Fire place

December

Welcome Christmas!! Our First Christmas in the new home! That was fun and exciting! We haven’t had a live Christmas tree in a few years now since we’ve been moving around so much. It was refreshing to have a real tree this year! We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas time off (except for a few days of sickness!).

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Onward!

That’s it! What a lot we accomplished in a year! New houses, new babies, new memories! We are looking forward to 2014 with anticipation of what is to come this year. I have big hopes and dreams, hopefully I will get some time to sit down and write those out so we can look back again in 12 months!

For now…Welcome 2014!! 

 

A Kitty Turns 4!

Haven’t posted in a while! Darn Holidays…so busy. Not really, darning them that is…I am so thankful that we are able to celebrate these wonderful things. Like Birthdays! “The Cat” turned 4 and we gave her a whisker lickin good party. Hmmm. Maybe wrong choice of words. It was a purr-fect party. She had fun whatever we decide to call it!

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To start her day, Alex took the day off and took her out for a date. They went for coffee and a treat at the mall, and then went to the Ice Palace that had just opened. Apparently Lea was not too impressed with the snow as it was not “cold”. Someone told her it was just “rice paper” snow and she proceeded to tell me that when she got home. I asked it what the snow was like and she replied “Well, it wasn’t really snow, it was just rice paper.” No fooling that kid. We won’t even talk about her seeing Santa…hahaha. Then Alex took her out for lunch. She had a blast with daddy.

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All her friends came over in the afternoon for some kitty carnival games and kitty snacks. We played pin the tail on the cat, mouse toss (into wood cut out like swiss cheese), mouse hunt, and daddy got out the tractor and did some hay rides.

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For snacks we had gold fish, cheese cubes, fruits and veges. The kids all got to eat their snack out of a kitty food bowl. Hahah, that was classic. Lea picked to have cupcakes as a treat! As the kids were leaving, they each got to adopt a kitty. They were given a certificate along with some kitty treats (Kit Kat bars and a clementine orange). Way too cute.

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Later in the evening we had all the family down for pizza!

Lea had a blast…to the degree that the next few days she was in recovery mode (AKA-Not enough sleep grouch mode). It was worth it and it was memorable! I know this might not be the most exciting blog post you ever read, but I wanted to remember this! So, alas, here it is.

 Happy Birthday to My First Born! I love you Kitty!

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A Big Announcement!

We have an announcement….

Wait. Hold up. I know what you are thinking…

Another sourdough? Really Erica? I know, I know. I am a little obsessed with sourdough…or lack thereof because I seem to keep killing my starters. ::Cry::

But no, actually that’s not what I called your attention for to write about. I also felt the need to make up for my last incident of bait and switch blog post titles which left some of you very upset. Forget which one that was? Here ya go…“I have some sad news…”

Ya…now you remember. Haha. I secretly reveled in the fact that that particular night we got the most hits on our blog that we have gotten yet. /Blush/ Sorry to have scared you like that. I really should have apologized about that by now.

ANYWAYS. So, I promise this announcement really is true, and has nothing to do with sourdough. Sniff. 

Wait for it…

We are adding another homestead helper to our family! Yes, MonroePost Version 3 coming in April of 2014.

You can clap now…phew, see…I didn’t lie!

Yes, our sweet little pinto bean was quite the surprise this time around. We are feeling blessed and happy beyond measure of course! Lea is very excited and Elly is, well, 14 months so about as excited as one could be at her age.

So there ya have it.

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In other news…we had quite the lovely series of sunsets and moons around here. Tonight was a Harvest Moon and it was incredible. As was this mornings sunrise. So I’ll leave you with happy news in your heart and some lovely pictures of the ol ‘stead!

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Lies We Believe

**SOAPBOX ALERT**

Saw this picture in a magazine today. It struck me how unfair advertising really is. I mean…I can’t even describe on how many levels this is a lie. On second thought…ya know, I actually agree with the tagline…If only it were TRUE.

 

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What’s ACTUALLY inside the jar?

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**Off Soap box**

Oh and one last thing. Why are “natural flavors” an ingredient in food anyways? Is that a spice I have passed by in the spice isle? Sprinkle that one some of your baked beans and people will oh and ah and say “oh I really taste the natural flavoring!” (??) I believe we should eat food that doesn’t have a label (ie- fruits & vegetables, grains & meat).

Okay, I am really off now. If you need an Alfredo recipe, I’ll be happy to help you.