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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


Do you still blog?

People keep asking me if I still blog.  Obviously, they are people who don’t actually read my blog, because then they would know that I took a big break from all things that blog.

So, let’s get to know each other again, shall we?

Let’s start with Clay.  He’s two years past cancer and that’s a good place to be.  There are a couple permanent things that have changed him, like he lost some hearing, and he can’t play really rough sports where he might get clocked in the jaw too hard, but for the most part you would never know he was ever sick and for that I am forever thankful.  We no longer think about cancer everyday, but it did leave us more clingy and aware of our time together.  Clay just moved his office out of the house and into a building in town.  It’s been a much harder adjustment for him than me.  I can now vacuum and yell when I want and not have to worry about him being on a conference call. He has to get up earlier and put on business clothes and then drive to an office instead of rolling out of bed ten minutes before a meeting.  He also calls his office “650 square feet of loneliness”, which makes him the cutest and most pathetic man on the planet.  I’ll try to post pictures of his new digs, it looks like an old private investigator’s office.  If you are ever in town you should drop by and say hello to him. He has an open door policy.

And now for the kids, Ellen, let’s see, not much is new with her except for the fact that she’s GETTING MARRIED!  How?  What?  When?  NO!  Yes.  Yes, she is engaged to get married this summer.  I know what you’re thinking, I am not old enough for Ellen to get married, and you are correct.  I am too young.  I haven’t even finished college. I am just too young.  But, she’s getting married despite my age and we are very happy about it.  The man she’s marrying is a wonderful addition to our family.  I’ll write more about him later.  We have been slowly working on all the wedding plans.  The budget is small, but the plans are big, so it is an exercise in creativeness.  I’ve only freaked out a few times.

Seth moved into an apartment last winter.  He’s been working and knocking out a couple of classes. He shows up a lot more than I thought he would, mostly to hang out with his little brothers, do his laundry, and eat my food.  I always know he’s home because the house shakes when he starts wrestling with Levi.  He is 6’6″ tall and I think he weighs around 7,000 tons.  I have to stand on a chair to wipe the finger prints off the door jams that he ‘rests’ against. He interned at our church this summer for the youth and is a small group leader for the 8th grade boys which includes his brother.  Their relationship is very sweet.  It’s fun to see how proud Seth gets of his little brothers and how much they enjoy having him come over.  I have loved watching him become his own man. Did I mention that Seth is Ellen’s best man, best man of honor, best bridesman? Yeah, he is.  How sweet is that? He’s still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, but he has some ideas.  It will be fun to watch him get immersed into a profession once he finds his path.

I’ve decided that Isaac is from another planet.  He has such an elderly outlook on everything.  He is now 6’3″ tall and weighs around 170.  His legs are about 6 feet of his height, he’s basically a giraffe with blonde hair. We put Ike in a small public school last year.  He is my kid that can find the silver lining in any situation, so being new in school was not an issue.  The first day of school he raised his hand to run for student council even though he didn’t know what it was.  He wasn’t elected, but I thought it was amazing that he decided he should volunteer for that.  We had a good laugh about it when he told me that he was pretty sure only two people voted for him, one being himself.  Here are a few snippets that have come out of his old man mouth over the past two years.

“Mom, I’ve decided that kids shouldn’t have cellphones.  I don’t want to get one until I’m older.”

“I need a break from school where there is not a holiday.  You know there is just so much planning and preparation to be done and I just want to rest.”

“I don’t really like getting gifts.  The best part is when we go do stuff together.”

“Do I have to go to the dance?  You guys might do something better.”

“The city is nice, but I prefer the scenery in the country.”

Yeah, I am constantly needing to be resuscitated because of the shock.  He is a lot like his father, but even Clay didn’t have the type of logical reasoning that Ike has at his age.  It is weird, I talk to him about what is going on in the world and he asks good questions.  He’s humble and able to laugh at himself.  He gets embarrassed, but recovers quickly.  He is the kid that doesn’t like to put off what can be done now.  He has already written a little speech for the wedding and read it to Clay and I through tears and sobs.  He loves his siblings.  When I asked him if anyone at school annoys him, he says,”Oh, there are some things that kids do that are annoying, but they aren’t annoying.”  WHAT?!  What kid says that?  What kid can look past the irritating parts and see that every person has something good in them?  What junior high kid makes their mom feel like she needs to be a better person?!!  Okay, I know I’m boasting about him so I should also say that he can be annoying when he needs something and he loves to irritate me when I tell him to do something by asking WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS.

Levi is at home with me.  I’ve homeschooled him since first grade and have been using a virtual public school for the last three years.  Last year, I took him to a speech and hearing specialist at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City to have him tested for a formal diagnosis to give to the school so he could have accommodations during state testing.  My two youngest are dyslexic, Levi is severely dyslexic and has moderate dysgraphia and a minor language deficit.  Basically, what that means for him is that reading and writing are like learning a foreign language every single day.  I use a curriculum designed for children with dyslexia.  It is intense and exhausting.  He has made huge strides and can read and write, but not to the level that he would be able to read his text books independently.  I am hoping that we get to the point that he is able to work 50% independently by the end of this year.  I honestly don’t know if that will or can happen.  Some days are very frustrating for both of us.  He is such a smart little boy (and there’s nothing really little about him, he’s a gigantic kid for his age), he can build amazing stuff and loves doing anything that has a process like cooking, working on the cars or fixing things around the house.  He LOVES anything creative like painting, drawing, coloring, ceramics and crafts.  If every day was a science experiment and art class day his world would be perfect.  His eyes see things that others don’t see and because he learns by listening and watching his comprehension is amazing.  But, if he needs to read or write something or tell a story orally then everyone needs to get comfortable, because we are in for a long, halting mess that his brain will try to spit out.  Levi is so tender-hearted and sweet, he is also very stubborn and strong-willed like his mother which I believe will serve him well when he is older.  We are in a bit of a hole when it comes to getting professional help for him as are most dyslexic children.  If they aren’t dually diagnosed with another disorder such as ADD/ADHD that can require medications then insurance doesn’t recognize the need to cover any services.  I do wish I had some back up support though.  I don’t always feel adequate to do this job and yet, so far there hasn’t been anyone or any school to offer the support that he needs.  I know I’m not the only parent with a child in this situation, but it seems so strange to me that with all the research that has been done on learning disorders that we have to search so hard for assistance.  I feel like I’m on a deserted dyslexic island.  I am thankful that I had homeschooling experience with my older children and that I’m able to stay home to help him, there is my silver lining.

I guess that tells you what I’ve been doing.  I spend my days trying to teach Levi and not throttle him.  I’m helping Ellen plan the wedding.  The garden is asleep for the winter.  We currently have two dogs and maybe one cat, I haven’t seen her for a few days, she’s probably out on a hunt or in my neighbors barn.  Not having any farm animals over the winter will be a blessing this year.  I’ve started rehabbing parts of the house, like the downstairs bathroom.  It’s funny, how far behind we got on projects when Clay got sick and by funny I mean sad and by sad I mean we just don’t care because so many other things are more important.  I had to stop running last winter to get over a frozen shoulder.  Raise your hand if you know what that is.  If you know what it is, then you’re laughing, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T RAISE YOUR ARM.  It was all kinds of awful.  I’m not in pain anymore and I have probably 85% mobility back, but my gosh it was such a nightmare. I started running again in August, but I’ve been hit and miss and I’m not training for anything so it’s hard for me to really commit to mileage.  I’ll have to sign up for a race so I can get motivated again.  I’m still eating a plant strong diet.  It’s been two and half years.  I cook so differently now and my family eats all sorts of strange things that they now think are normal.  I do cook meat on occasion for everyone, but it is rare…the occasion, not the meat.  Hahahahaha!

Gosh, I didn’t expect to be so long-winded.  This feels a little like a letter to an old friend.  I hope any of you that still drop by here are doing well.  I miss this community of people.  I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers that I started out reading when I got into blogging have retired.  I think as our seasons in life change our focus changes as well.  I’ve entered that season where I no longer have tiny people at home that do cute things every day.  I have adults and a semi-adult and an adult sized teen and an adult sized tween.   Those adult sized kids and Clay are the reason I do all the things I do and sometimes I don’t have anything left to give.  They have wanted me to get back to blogging and I just didn’t have it in me, but maybe I’ll start this habit again, no promises.

Much Love from Coal Creek Farm,


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