Thursday, July 30, 2009

Preparing to Move--Selling the house and acreage

We have found a new house in Clyde and are looking forward to the new adventure God has in store for us there. Meanwhile, there are some things we have to finish up here in Coleman County.

We have been working for the last, um, I don't even know how long--two and a half years?--on building a house. Now we need to sell it. We haven't finished it yet and will need to come back each weekend and work on the house so that we can finish it and sell it.

I'll be honest. I'm mentioning this here in the hopes that there is someone who would love to come here and finish the work we started. If you are interested in buying our fenced property with 60+ acres (great for hunting as we know we have deer and turkey and dove and quail and have never even had to try to attract them), a pond, a 2200-ish sq ft house that isn't finished, but is certainly fine for living in, a 30x40 ft barn/workshop with electricity and concrete floor--adjacent to a large concrete pad, another barn on the property, a storage building off the driveway, solar panels that help offset the electric bill, and I'm not sure what else to tell you, please contact us. You can comment here or email Roger at mgrbik [at] gmail.com. We would offer a good deal if we don't have to finish the house. Once it's done, all bargains are over. We'll lose our motivation to be generous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Chickens

I lost interest in our chickens about the time morning sickness set in. I've been more miserable with this pregnancy than any of the others. It didn't help that we all got some stomach virus right in the middle of it. But I'm just having a hard time with getting going each day and getting anything done. Smells bother me a lot. And chickens smell. Some people will try to tell you they don't, but they do. My nose knows.

We free range our chickens. We would lock them up at night, then release them mid-day. This allows them to forage for all the bugs and such that they want, while still allowing us to collect eggs. However, lately I hadn't been doing that. They were just putting themselves up at night and then getting up at dawn, or earlier, and coming up to the house to hang out in the coolness of our porch. I had several excuses. The heat was pretty harsh and this allowed them to find a cooler spot early in the day. And I hated all the spider webs I had to walk through each night to lock them up. But the reality is that I just didn't want to be around them anymore. The smell was too hard to deal with for me and I'm just a lazy slug with this nausea. Plus they had quit laying anyway with the heat. Well, we still were getting some eggs, but not a lot considering how many chickens we had. Overall though, I just didn't want to keep raising chickens.

We were also getting close to the point where it was time to start new chicks and butcher the ones we had for soup and such for the winter. I was dreading that. I have learned living here that I can do whatever I need to do no matter how gross it is. But that doesn't mean I like it. I know it's healthier meat and eggs, but it's also more expensive to raise them ourselves and more work. I've heard from some people that they save money. I don't know how. Maybe they have other feed options? Maybe God is just blessing them more in that area? Whatever it is, we were spending more and working more and I'm ready for a break.

So we gave our chickens away. We have a family renting our blue house--the one we lived in when we first moved here. As a benefit of renting from us, you get free chickens. Roger, Clark and our renter packed them up in a dog kennel, loaded the chicken tractor on the trailer and took them over there. It was so nice to not be woken at 5am by the crowing of the rooster. I didn't have to feel guilty when I didn't walk through spider webs to put them up last night. I didn't have to go collect eggs or feed the chickens when what I really wanted to do was take a nap. Just quiet. And no new chicken crap on our porch!! We always saved our table scraps for the chickens and they would sit on the counter attracting flies each day. No more. I threw away the nasty container we collected them in. I could have washed it and that was a bit wasteful, but it felt so good.

Chickens aren't really that bad to keep. They are easy and fun and a good healthy way to grow your own food. But I was ready to be done. We could have kept them and moved them to our new place probably. We had chickens in Grapevine. But I was ready to be done. I'd been thinking I wanted to quit raising chickens for a while, but it seemed sort of a have to thing living here. As soon as I heard Roger got the job, I decided to quit raising chickens. We'll see if I take it up again some day on a smaller scale. I don't know. But for now, I'm loving that they are gone.

Melissa's Random Thoughts on Moving Again

I guess I must be part gypsy. Actually, I don't know anything about gypsies. Are they real or some mythical creature? What I've always heard is that they like bright colors, steal/collect children, and move around a lot. Many times I've selected colors and been told, "hmm, that seems a bit gypsy-like". I've never stolen a child, but I do have an awesome collection of them. And there have been times we almost stole one accidentally when some random child just starts following the crowd of kids. It's usually as we're leaving a place and they try to wander out the door with us. Gets me some dirty looks sometimes, but hey, it's really not my fault. I am watching to be sure I have my kids with me. Can't they watch to be sure their ONE kid stays with them? Anyway, by some people's standards, I move a lot too. I don't think so. I love to move though. I love the adventure of finding a new home, meeting new people, and just change in general can be so exciting. I don't mean this when it comes to some of the political changes here lately, but that's another subject altogether which I do not feel like blogging about today. In the last few months I've had several moments of panicky feelings at the idea that we were settled forever here. I can't explain it, but it just didn't sit well with me. When I'm not moving, I'm rearranging furniture or making some other change in our home. It seems to keep me going.

Before we left Grapevine there were some signs that it may be time for us to go but we didn't pick up on them until after God said go. Then we could see that God had really prepared us for the move long before it was time. We were still sad to leave our friends and family, but there was an adventure ahead and we knew we were following God.

This time, I've been seeing we had several things that seemed to be in transition all at once, but I didn't connect that perhaps God would move us again. There were also several issues I was concerned and praying about but didn't know how God would answer these prayers. I believe He was preparing us to move again. Looking back, I can see the signs. And again we'll be sad to leave friends we've made, but there is adventure ahead and we believe we are following God.

I am personally so excited about this that I am losing sleep. The loss of sleep isn't so good, but I love to be this excited about something. I wake up at night and my mind just starts going fast with all the thoughts about a new house, and how to move from 68 acres to, well, we're hoping for 3 right now. So many unknowns and new possibilities and I just can't shut my brain down.

As time allows I will try to blog about some of the steps involved. I wondered aloud on Facebook if we should keep blogging and it seems there is interest still. Several people suggested changing our title and continuing to blog but at least one of my friends pointed out that we're weird enough that pretty much anything we do will cause people to say, "You're doing what?" So we'll keep the title.

Hopefully we'll have news today about what house we're moving to. Just waiting for a phone call. . .

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A post in which Roger explains why the family is moving from Coleman to Clyde

So, here is how our move came about. On July 13th I was in a conference call and one of the folks mentioned that the Mayor of Clyde, Texas was the acting City Administrator and their application process was going poorly. She mentioned to me that I ought to call him to see if any of my contacts in the city management profession might want the job.

Having never been to Clyde I drove up to take a look and it was a nice looking town. I figured I'd just go ahead and apply – the deadline was looming in two days, July 15th. I talked to Melissa and she just looked at me and said “Go for it.”

I found an old resume and updated it, wrote a cover letter and drove up on the afternoon of the 15th. On the morning of the 16th they called and asked me to come to an interview at 8:45 p.m. on Monday, July 20th.

On the 20th I interviewed and drove home. As I was talking to Mitchell and Faith my phone rang and it was the Mayor asking me to come come back the next night at 6 p.m.

On the 21st I went back for a second interview and it turned out I was the only one left in the candidate pool. I met with the Council for about two hours. I drove away from the meeting and about 30 minutes later the Mayor called and offered me the job. I took it. We are moving.

Four years ago I wanted a change. I wanted to know my kids, to break from the rat race in the metroplex and to not have to worry about the daily grind of city management. Now, I still want to be close to my kids and I believe that I will be able to even thought I have a five day a week job. Clyde is a city of about 3500, that is way less than the 45,000 in Grapevine. Clyde is not in the DFW metro area and we are trying to get a house where we can keep our cow. A big difference from being in the metroplex. I will still get stressed out, but I will also get to milk a cow every morning and that seems to be a good way to cut through the stress before it ever gets started.

So, we will need to change some of the blog description, but it will still be a running log of the weirdness that is the Nelson family.

Roger

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CNN = slanted load of crap

This morning I was cruising through some news sites and there in CNN's feed it said "Commentary: Health Care Can't Wait" Turns out it was Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. I read it, I disagreed and I commented. My comment was that I would trust government health care when my congressman, senator and president all had the same plan they wanted me to have. By the way, congress is exempted from having to follow this law. This is very typical as they are exempt from the almost all the laws they draft, other than raises.

So after I posted I noticed that CNN moderates the posts it allows. I went back three hours later and there were 25 comments under the Sebelius commentary. Mine did not make the cut. Most comments were like this one: "Need to get it done, sooner the better for this country. Only people still resisting are the ones profiting the most from the current system and those that are manipulated by the profiteers' misinformation." This is the comment from Geodin on CNN. At 7:30 p.m. there were about 40 comments, 15 or so more than when I checked at around noon.

At noon the "Commentary" tag on CNN had changed to note it was Sebelius and there was another one right under it "Boustany: Democrats' plans are a prescription for pain" Rep. Charles Boustany is a congressman from Louisiana. At noon there were 75 or so comments to his column. Most were like this one from Rob "Yeah, this guy thinks everyone should be able to pick "quality" healthcare. That is, unless you cant afford it. Then you deserve to die in the streets, right? It's about time the health system was overhauled."

I have yet to see a scientific poll that shows support for health care reform outstripping opposition among the population. Yet it seems there is overwhelming support on CNN. Maybe not, maybe they are so in the tank for BO that they even slant the reader opinion sections on the web page.

No MAYBE about it.

Roger

PS - just wanted to let this be known so that next time you hear about voter outrage on CNN you will know that they can't be trusted to play it straight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Offend or Be Offended?

Not a pleasant title, huh? But that's kind of how it seems to have turned out with our latest pregnancy announcement.

I am sorry to those of you who are truly happy for us and would have reacted with excitement, that I did not take the time to call you personally and tell you. I'm sorry you had to learn about our great news through Facebook or our blog. Please understand it is not that you didn't matter to us, but that we have learned we have to protect ourselves.

Have you ever had something really exciting come up in your life and then you tell someone only to be met with negativity? Imagine that nearly everyone you tell is negative about it. Wouldn't that make you not want to share? Yet the news is so happy and exciting you can't imagine anyone would be negative! Well, that's what it's like when a large family announces a new pregnancy. Sadly, we began experiencing it with our 3rd child.

The comments kept getting worse as we added to our family. The 5th was the worst. I guess we'd crossed some sort of line. But then it got a little better after that. I think part of the improvement was we quit telling people in person. We gave them a chance to react on their own before showing us their displeasure. Most people, if given time to think about it, still follow the old rule, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Things that people don't seem to realize are not nice:

"Don't you know what causes that?" Duh. You learn that in grade school these days whether you want to or not. It wasn't funny the first time we heard it and it isn't funny the millionth time either. I don't know a single mother or father who has heard that comment and thought it was funny. You are implying that this pregnancy is something we don't want. That's not nice. Not funny. Shouldn't be said. I am telling you this so that if you ever feel tempted to let those words come out of your mouth, you can know that it will not be well received EVEN if the recipient pretends to laugh. They are just being polite. Trust me.

"How will you ever have the energy for one more?" Let me ask you. Do you think this comment is helpful? Let's say the mother responds with something along the lines of I don't know. Do you have something helpful to say in response? This comments seems to suggest that you think this person is already not handling what she has and won't be able to handle more. If you think this is the case, either offer some practical help, or keep your mouth shut. No one needs discouragement to help them through a pregnancy. I have not yet had a single pregnancy where I didn't wonder, "How am I gonna handle this? Can I really do a good job raising this child? This is such a huge responsibility!" With my first couple of pregnancies, I could talk to friends or family and be encouraged and get back to feeling okay. I can't do that anymore. Everyone seems to think that while I've done a good job so far, this time I will fail.

"Aren't you getting a little old for this?" Um, when is a comment that implies someone is old EVER a polite thing to say?

There are more, but my point is really just please, please think before you speak. It's too late with us. We won't tell you in person because we've been offended far too many times by people we never would have expected to react that way. But I'm sure you know people who will have a third child or more. Please don't be part of the reason that they someday share their news in writing so they don't have to hear rude comments. We have to hear it at the grocery store from total strangers. We shouldn't have to hear it from people we love.

The reality is that if we'd have trusted our own reason, we'd have quit long ago. I think we'd have stopped at four children. But I know without a doubt that we'd have missed out on HUGE blessings. God challenged us to trust Him and we had no reason not to. We still have no reason not to trust Him. Our children are nothing but a blessing. Roger and I often marvel at how stupid we nearly were to try to stop the blessings. The joys we had no idea we would miss out on are too numerous to count. Yes, we've had to make some sacrifices and will continue to do so. But the blessings outweigh the sacrifices.

A new baby is good news to us. We will continue to rejoice in our blessings.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why don't we celebrate Christmas?

I get asked this question mostly in December. In 2007, I wrote up a little essay to answer the question. I considered posting it here, but I really didn't want to mess up anyone's holiday. And then I don't really think about it much unless someone asks. Well, today someone asked. I figured why not write about Christmas in July?

So here is the essay I wrote almost 2 years ago. We've learned more since then and realized I left out a few things, but I really don't have the time at this moment to edit this and it gives the basics at least. Feel free to ask questions if you'd like. If you aren't being rude or argumentative, but sincerely curious, we'll be happy to answer them.

I want to make it clear that I am not posting this to try to convince anyone or debate with anyone what YOU should do or not do. I am simply sharing why we made our decision. This is not posted here to persuade anyone, just to answer the question of why. What you celebrate or don't celebrate is between you and our Creator, not you and me.

Why don’t we celebrate Christmas?

I guess it started a long time ago. First we gave up Halloween. Many Christians can easily see that one. It’s pagan in origin and we could find nothing that glorified God in the celebration of it. And we’d stopped celebrating Easter pretty much completely. We had done away with anything about it that we knew was pagan—egg hunts, the Easter bunny, etc. We still celebrated the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday though.

Over the years we kept minimizing the materialistic side of Christmas. We phased out Santa when our oldest child learned the truth about him and wanted to know, “why did you lie to me?” I’d never thought of it as a lie, but what else can you call it? We weren’t telling the truth.

As with Easter, we tried to get rid of the pagan aspects of Christmas. We were still doing stockings, but then we tried calling them camel packs—as in the wise men bearing gifts while traveling on a camel. We gave each child one gift plus the “camel pack” stuffers. Then the children drew names and gave each other a gift. That’s not too bad. We were trying to get the focus on Christ, not ourselves or the gifts.

One year we did a birthday cake for Jesus. But it seemed so trivial. Here it was Jesus’ birthday and we were getting presents and eating His cake.

Even our decorations got reviewed. If we couldn’t find some spiritual symbolism to the decoration, it didn’t go up.

Then we noticed that in our daily Bible reading we kept coming across the same idea over and over. We read about how the Israelites kept turning toward pagan ways and mixing worship of God with pagan worship methods. God stated clearly that that was wrong. Exodus 23:24 says, "You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.” Deuteronomy 6:13-15 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.” Again in Joshua 23:7-8 "and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.”

We were reading this and we knew the origins of Christmas include taking a pagan festival and trying to make it Christian. This was to make it easier for the pagans to convert to Christianity. They wouldn’t have to give up their festivals. That had always seemed perfectly legitimate to me before, but I was starting to question that.

Then we learned that Ishtar (pronounced easter) supposedly laid an egg on Easter Sunday. This egg hatched bringing forth her son—Nimrod resurrected—her dead husband whom she had pronounced to be the Sun god. And when do they celebrate the birth of the Sun god? December 25th. How convenient that was for Constantine. All I had previously learned about him was that he was the one that stopped persecuting Christians. But now I was learning that while he did accept Christ, it was only as one of the many gods he worshiped. His favorite god was the Sun god. So he was able to set it up so that he could worship his favorite god along with Christ and everyone would be happy. The Christians were okay with this. Wouldn’t anyone be? They got to stay alive.

About the same time that we were learning all this, we were also wondering why we don’t celebrate the Biblical feasts anymore. Jesus did. God said to keep the feasts forever. Did “forever” mean to quit when Jesus was resurrected? Paul continued to keep the feasts after the resurrection. Why don’t we still keep them? We couldn’t find an answer. So we started to try to figure out how to keep the feasts.

We then decided, as a family, that we just didn’t feel right celebrating Christmas anymore. We just can’t do it. We can’t see how it pleases God.

But do we feel like we are sacrificing something? Yes and no. We no longer celebrate a holiday that we celebrated all our lives. But God gave us many celebrations to keep. Hanukkah is not a commanded feast, but Jesus kept it (see John 10:22) and what a cool story that is! And most of the feasts that God gave us (what a great God! He “commands” us to celebrate and have fun!) are long—7 days for Passover, 8 days of Hanukkah, and the weekly Sabbath. We actually gained much more than we gave up.

We are learning so much about God through the keeping of these feasts. Much more than we ever learned singing Christmas carols, eating cookies, or giving and receiving gifts.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Weird Garden or Ignorant Gardener?

Today was homeschool park day. The topic of gardening often comes up. So today I was sharing about how my garden has nothing growing on one side. I commented that even the potato plants that had gotten so big had completely died. My friend Tracy just smiled. I appreciate that she didn't outwardly laugh at me. Then she explained that that is how you know when it's time to harvest your potatoes. Okay, I knew that, but I expected it to be Fall. I had no idea it would be so soon. So I feel stupid.

So I checked the dirt under those very dead potato plants and I found a potato for everyone still living at home. Sorry, Stephen, none for you! And this is just from a couple of potatoes that had sprouted in the house. I'd never really intended to plant potatoes. I just figured I'd see what happens. I didn't even cut them up like I guess I was supposed to do. I just took the sprouted potatoes and planted them in the ground. I was experimenting. I guess I never really expected anything to come of it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Weird Garden

I've mentioned my garden a time or two I believe. I've had trouble with gardening ever since we moved to Texas in 1994. There is some obstacle every time. There have been normal things like droughts and floods that have wiped out my garden attempts. But there have also been unusual things like getting a new puppy who decides to dig, eat or pee in the garden until there is nothing left of it. This year it was, I thought, the roly polies. Every year I fight it until I decide it just isn't worth it and then I give up. This year pregnancy nausea (it's not right to call it morning sickness when it lasts 24 hours--yes, I have it when I am up at night with kids) convinced me that the garden is not worth the trouble.

So tonight, after something like 4 inches of rain, I went out to take care of the chickens and my "garden tractor" is right there. I figured I should just take the door off it and let the chickens get in there and maybe eat some of the really tall weeds that grew in there. That's when it struck me how odd it is.

I've attempted the square foot garden method this year. So I purchased compost, vermiculite, and peat moss and mixed it together in the garden. I spread it out across the area and made a grid with string. Then I planted. The stuff I planted to the left of the door (my garden was in an old chicken tractor that we weren't using for chickens) grew, but we had a late freeze and most of it died. Then when I replanted, it was spring stuff--carrots, brocolli--and herbs. The herbs are still growing. To the right of the door, everything I planted either didn't grow or died right away. Seeds didn't sprout. Or if they did, they disappeared by the next day. It was strange. Then I discovered roly polies covering the plants and figured that was the problem. But we had them on the other side, too, and they did get a few of the plants over there.

But tonight I noticed that I had tall weeds growing all around the outside of the garden and all through the middle where I had a walkway. To the left I had lots of mint growing everywhere. To the right, nothing. Not even weeds. Not one thing is growing over there. Well, wait, I planted some fennel seeds which sprouted and one little plant is still there but it hasn't progressed beyond seedling in over a month.
What you see when you walk up to the "garden".

The left side of the garden with mint, an empty space where I pulled out the carrots, and tall weeds leaning over it.
The right side of the garden. The cups were traps to try to catch roly polies and I caught plenty. Interestingly, the spiders figured out that was a good place to hang out. But look, nothing growing.
Here you can see the weeds are tall inside and outside the tractor and even in front and behind it. Tall weeds are surrounding the garden, but nothing growing in my supposedly really great dirt.

So what's the deal? Did I buy bad compost or something? I mixed bags of stuff separately for the two sides. I've just never seen anything like this. Anyone have any thoughts?