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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baby Jesus was born in our barn last night

Christmas Day has always been a bit of a day of reflection for me.  Our family has always celebrated on Christmas Eve; so Christmas Day is often a bit lonely.  However, this year it has been incredible…and so very laid back.  It was very sunny and fairly warm…I even hung clothes on the line to dry outside today.  We all slept in, the kids were thrilled with their gifts…and Sawyer informed all of us that Baby Jesus was born in our barn J  The endless possibilities that the future holds for us are immense and wonderful in so many avenues. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“He’s mine….that one…got a wild-haired side and then some….”

Baby Jack….Jack Henry….brother….these are some of the names of our youngest child.  He is an absolute trip.  He has such a funny, happy-go-lucky personality and makes us all laugh so much.  He is beautiful and I must say that I take it as quite a compliment when people stop me in a store and say “he looks just like you.”  (Which is also pretty funny considering that he is adopted J ) 

Don’t get me wrong..Jack Henry certainly acts like a 2 year old at times.  He throws fits when he doesn’t get his way…takes his siblings’ toys, pulls their hair and all of that fun stuff as well.  But 10 seconds later he is being a clown and making you laugh again and you forget about all of that.  Jack also thinks that he is quite the Casanova and loves attractive women.  He is a big flirt. 

Jack Henry came to us in a foster placement (when he was 3 weeks old) where we were asked to care for him “for a few months” while his grandmother was becoming licensed as a foster/adoptive parent out of state.  However, that obviously didn’t happen and we have been blessed with this incredible child.  I thank God every day for him.  We adopted him one year ago today.

The title of this blog is from a country song that is played on the radio a lot right now and it suits Jack Henry to a tee.  He most definitely has a wild-haired side and we wouldn’t trade him for anything.  I would happily take up for him in any situation J 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I already looked at all those pretty girls in that book.

Hearing these words coming out of your 3 year old’s mouth makes your heart sink a bit…what in the world is he talking about..then he comes downstairs carrying our Marilyn Monroe calendar.  Shewww….and thank goodness he has good taste.  J

It makes me happy that she is still considered a beautiful icon in this day and age.  I would give just about anything to look exactly like her!  But the images of beauty have changed so very much over the years and the waif-like images that are revealed on the runways and in most fashion magazines portray an unhealthy and unrealistic image to our society.  Just a week ago, Robert looked at that same calendar and said “wow, she has hips.”  A pretty strong statement from an almost 16 year old who has grown up with the stick-thin stars of today….

Thursday, December 1, 2011

2011

As Tammy said in her last post “what a year…..”  Last weekend, we were discussing the fact that we made a lot of major changes at the same time…adopting 2 more children (Sawyer and Jack Henry); relocating, COMPLETELY changing everything about our lives…moving from the desert to humidity capital USA, moving from the city to a farm, going from public school to home-schooling, trying to learn to homestead, and many, many more changes. We have certainly hit a lot of hurdles along the way…but we have not given up. 

I have had quite a time finding the “right” job.  After working for 7 years at Presbyterian Hospital…I have had multiple jobs since we moved home.  However, I think that I have finally found “the one.”  I will be working at the University of Kentucky Medical Center on the kidney transplant team.  I have primarily worked with children throughout my career; and I am excited that I will be working with primarily adult patients.  This is a much needed change in my life.  Working with children for 13 years…along with having a houseful….fostering for 7 years…you get the picture….

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A good day for Hot Chocolate and making recycled crayons……



Only the 4 little ones and us home today…everyone else is visiting grandparents.  It is a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.  So…my little domestic goddess decided that we should do an art project out of our homeschool curriculum; making recycled crayons.  We took all of our broken crayon pieces (we end up with a lot of these with a 2 year old in the mix), took off the wrappers, separated them into colors, and put them into cans out of the recycle bin.  We then put 2 inches of water into a saucepan and put the cans into it until the crayons melted (important to keep it on low heat because crayons are FLAMMABLE).  Then we poured the crayon mixture into muffin liners in the muffin pan.  We then put it into the fridge to harden while we went to Tractor Supply to purchase Calf “formula” and also to check on our booth at Martin’s Flea Market. 

The kids are coloring with them now while they enjoy hot chocolate and whip cream.  These are the days that you don’t want your kids to ever grow up.  These types of days get you through the other days that you have to walk away and count to ten……..

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This one is written by Tammy :)

Well we haven’t been on here recently….It seems the more we try to slow down the pace of our family, the more we speed up. However, I am happy to report that although the pace is not as slow as our expectations; it is 99% better.  The first year back in our home state has been trying.  We have struggled with the loss of Albuquerque; which I now often refer to as home.  As many know out in The Land of Enchantment, on more than one occasion they heard about the “FINE” state of Kentucky, and of course “The Kentucky Wildcats” may have been brought up a few times.  It is funny because now we reflect back on NM, and what we miss so much now.

The move; which of course was in the dead of winter and during the holiday season (which created additional struggles), was successful; and finally..we were here. Angie has spent the year struggling to find full-time employment which would provide insurance for me, and pay the bills.   I am happy to say that she starts working full-time at the University of Kentucky in December; and this job will take care of both of these issues. 

We have jumped through the hoops of a move; such as changing our driver’s licenses. And, don’t even get this family started about satellite TV, which we gave up completely in March. We added several new animal friends and we lost some our new animal famil: Annabelle the goat, Betsy the cow, a few chickens and 1 duck, and lastly our beloved great dane “Ruby Lee.”

On our small piece of Kentucky heaven, we have started the process of becoming a self- sustainable home. We have also taken steps to try various ways to bring income into the family.  The kids and I have 50 pullets en route from McMurry McHatchery.  We plan to free-range these chickens and sell the eggs in the spring at the Farmers Market in Frankfort. We have the goal of expanding it in the future. The ultimate goal is to use this project to hit several academic areas by Harman Farm’s School House. 

We also opened a booth at Martin’s Flea Market; #334 on the corner of 151 and 127 it is stuffed full of items at bargains prices.  This project has been done by primarily by Angie; with Robert and me being the lifters.  By spring the goal is to have a green house in place, so that we can get our garden going earlier and also sell vegetables at the market.  Kennedy has taken a real interest in gardening and the goal is to give her a small area to do her own garden this year.   We have 2 bee hives which are doing well and plan to expand with 2 more hives in the spring.  Our goats are working on expanding the herd.  The calves; Daisy and Annie are growing like weeds.  Both are very friendly and the kids handle them a lot, so let’s just say that they put up with a lot.  The pot belly pigs continue to be useless (as Angie points out).  My argument is that they are good for the soul.  Our chickens have given us so many eggs I think the kids have grown a little tired of eggs at times.  The pony and miniature horse continue to be useless as well but I do plan on putting them to work this spring.  Robert and I have tackled little projects during the day while Angie is at work.  The kids and I are in full swing with school and although we struggle at times; it is working. 

Angie has found full time employment with UK and she comes home at night and jumps in with the kids. We are going to use this winter to hibernate, and work on projects.  The kids are spending time getting to know their family and new home state.  Robert is chomping at the bit to join the Marines, Sophie is always into something, Kennedy is blossoming as she explores her new surroundings, Sawyer has started asking if we need feed from Tractor Supply, and Jack is on the move with the rest of the family chasing him. 

Last year at this time we were wrapping up Sawyer’s adoption and aggravating everyone about Jack’s adoption (we wanted a date so that we could leave).  We were living in a packed up house and each day we would try to decide the logistics of visiting for Christmas in Kentucky and moving permanently to Kentucky.  The days were so long and the longer we waited; we became more frustrated. Then when we were just about to give up the Christmas visit we got the call the date for Jack Henry’s adoption was set and the whirlwind began.  So here we are trying to make a go at it now; one day at a time.  Sometimes when we are talking about the things we are doing I look back and want to say Angie and I are crazy.  But I am quickly brought back to reality, by something going on around us and realize that our family is struggling to make a go of this together and we are learning as we go, and how many families really get this opportunity? I hope you all continue to follow us during the New Year and look for our “accomplishments” and small mistakes.  The kids have started a book they plan to have printed as a reminder to these days. I have a feeling looking back will provide a lot of laughs. 




Monday, November 7, 2011

Ruby died

Ruby, our beautiful 120 pound Great Dane, died this evening.  She had been having some gastro issues (not uncommon for her) and Tammy had scheduled a vet appointment for her in the morning at   However, when we went to check on her…she was gone. 

Ruby was a clown.  I named her after my paternal grandmother; Ruby Lee Riddle Newman.  She was one of the goofiest creatures that I have ever met, and she loved her family very much.  She would let Kennedy (who weighs not even half of what did) pull her around by her collar. 

Ruby had some mischievous adventures in her short life.  When we lived in Albuquerque, we had a pool in our back yard.  When she was about 6 months old, she jumped in the pool; and obviously did not have the instinct to swim.  Robert hoisted her out before I even knew what happened.  It bruised up her belly and she was having a lot of trouble walking.  So..we whisked her off to the vet where she made a fool out of me by running around the vet’s office uncontrollably.  Then, last summer, on a very hot desert night; the gate to our fence got blown down.  I went out back to let her in and she was gone.  I was a lot like a crazy person driving all of the west side of Albuquerque looking for her.  When I finally found her it was like a Hallmark card.  I threw the Suburban into park on a main street (98th) and jumped out of the truck.  Ruby came flying across the road to me.  We literally stopped traffic. 


A part of my heart died tonight L

Recyclables of Harman Farm

We are off to a new adventure…we are renting a booth at Martin’s Flea Market.  It is located at the corner of 151 and 127; close to the Frankfort/Lawrenceburg line.  The website is martinsfleamarket.com.  Our booth number is 334 and my sister’s booth is right across the aisle from us in booth number 64.  We are selling decorative items, dance shoes, children’s items, a Margaritaville margarita maker, etc.  Every booth in the flea market is full and you can find just about anything that you are looking for…great for Christmas gifts!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Toys R Us catalog came today.......

A balancing act…isn’t that what parenting really is?  We really feel this way around the holidays.  When we first began fostering/adopting, we had the tendency to “overcompensate” for what the kids had never had.  We would “over buy” and this would overwhelm all of us on many levels.  Over the years we have certainly reduced the amount that we buy; for a variety of reasons.  First of all…the lovely recession, the hiking upward of food prices, gas prices, etc.  Also, we took a hit when we decided that Tammy would stay home with the kids full-time.  I think that it has been the best thing in the world for all of us; but financially it sure has been tough.  It has made us really the vast difference between what is “wanted” and what is “needed.”  And I am not going to lie…it has been tough!  I miss shopping!!

Anyway, this brings me back to the holiday discussion…we are really trying to teach the kids what the holidays are all about.  It is not about how many toys that you can accumulate and then 2 days later not even remember what you got.  We are not so great about teaching the religious part and are trying to find a church.  (we tried one a few weeks ago that just didn’t fit us; so we are on the lookout again)  However, we both have a very giving heart and the ability to empathize with others.  And this is what we are focusing on this year.  The fact that we are lucky to have such a great family; that we always have food to eat, a car to drive, electricity, running water, etc.  Many, many families around the world cannot say this.  So..we are going to pick a person or organization to donate to; not sure of the specifics yet...but I have some strong ideas J

Mission Statement for Harman Farm

Mission Statement for HarMan Farm

We are a family-owned and operated small farm who plans to ensure the opportunity to the next generation of Newman/Harris children who choose to maintain the life style of meeting their own needs with less depends on Big Brother. HarMan Farm will strive to produce healthy food and animals; for consumption by our family and the public. We will strive each day to improve the soil, the quality of eggs, and the livestock produced on our small farm.   We will strive in every aspect of our lives to educate ourselves on how our actions affect the earth and people around us. Therefore only non- hazardous materials will be used on our land and when possible our farm will use local products for all aspects of operations. Land stewardship practices will be a priority while maintaining our rural life values and being stewards of the community. This is done with the goal of maximizing profitability by using naturally made products.

Vision Statement for Harman Farm


Vision Statement for HarMan Farm


Established November 2011

Family Members: Tammy Harris, Angie Newman, Robert Harris, Kennedy Harris, Sophie Harris, Sawyer Harris, and Jack Henry Harris.


Our family will provide a real-life working model of what it means to live on a self sustainable homestead on a small piece of property, without destroying the land.
We will strive to take full responsibility for our actions, and correct our misdeeds. Our family will demonstrate respect for all people and living beings that touch our lives directly or indirectly.  Angie and I will strive to raise children who have strong work ethics; and the ability to address anyone they come in contact with as a human being with dignity and rights. Our goal is that our children are able to embrace Happiness which is all around them every moment of the day. And as they enter the world hopefully they will not to let it slip away; but will continue to embrace happiness individually and as a family.





Tammy Harris
Angie Newman
Robert Harris
Kennedy Harris
Sophie Harris
Sawyer Harris
Jack Henry Harris

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Up until last December, we lived in a large neighborhood.  As most of you know, we now live on a small farm in the country.  So, the question was-what do we do about Halloween?  My dad’s church, Graefenburg Christian Church, was having a “Trunk or Treat,” so we decided this would be perfect.  It gave the kids a chance to dress up (even Robert…who is almost 16) and get a little candy while visiting Papaw in the process.  However, our little ones were a bit confused about this process….as they were not going up sidewalks in West Albuquerque up to the doors of our many neighbors.  J

I have to say that I don’t like it when Halloween falls during the week.  That means that I don’t get to dress the kids up and I leave it all to Tammy.  I gave her some specific instructions in regard to Kennedy’s make-up (she was a snow princess); and she followed this pretty well.  However, all of the others kids had black make-up around their eyes, on their noses, etc.  I asked Tammy what this was and she said “it was that black pen in your make-up thing.”  Ummm….hellooooo…that is my Organic Wear (not cheap!!) liquid eyeliner!! I had to bite my tongue as we were in the church parking lot.  Oh well.

We have had quite an eventful weekend.  We took Sophie and Kennedy to their first concert; Taylor Swift.  Kennedy had a ball; but Sophie said that she is done with concerts…Kennedy and I will be going to the next concert alone J

Well, today marks the 13th anniversary of my girl and me.  We were talking tonight about how it doesn’t seem that like it has been that long.  We have been through so much together and our relationship just continues to grow.  In my humble opinion, a strong relationship contains BOTH chemistry and compatibility and we have a tremendous amount of both.  We are very lucky…I think that many people spend a lifetime trying to find the kind of love that we share. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Little Orphan Annie

At times I truly feel that we must have a “VACANCY” sign flashing above our door…This morning we were working on the farm and our neighbor from across the road comes over and says “Y’all want a calf?”  Apparently this calf was born just a few days ago.  Her mama died in childbirth and none of their other cows would let her nurse…so, it is a good thing that we have 2 bottles, because we are back to bottle feeding 2 calves!  She is absolutely precious, and appears to be much healthier than our original two. 
Also a bit of “net-working” in the process..Tammy found a good source of inexpensive, high quality hay for us to purchase for the winter. 

And her name is Annie :)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"What do you do?"

This is a question that adults often ask one another when they meet…what do you do??  Some people take great pride in their answer to that question; and some become a little stressed when it is asked.  What do you think a topless dancer would say?  I am an entertainer?  Or would she just answer you directly? 

Tammy feels a great deal of discomfort when this is asked of her.  She was a social worker for TWENTY years and has been a full-time parent for the last 3; caring for our children.  She does a wonderful job and as much as I love my kids; there is absolutely no way that I could stay home full-time.  Anyway; she never knows how to answer…can she say that she is a “housewife?”  Can she say that she is a “domestic goddess?”  I don’t think that either really fits J  One place that this really bothers her is at the doctor’s office.  When she says that she stays home with the kids, the answer is “oh.”  She says that she feels fine with herself; being a full-time parent, until someone asks that question.  Then she feels like she needs to go get a job. 

And Dear Mr. President…you have not protected “our type of family” like you promised that you would….universal health care is a great big joke…Tammy cannot go on my insurance; so we are paying Cobra premiums just to keep her insured…..And if I killed over tomorrow, she wouldn’t draw my social security….these are all risks that we take; being a same-sex couple with children where we have decided for one of us to be home full-time. 

Well, my girl will soon be able to say that she is a college student.  I am happy to say that she is returning to school in January to pursue the degree that she really always wanted:  agriculture J

"What do you do?"

This is a question that adults often ask one another when they meet…what do you do??  Some people take great pride in their answer to that question; and some become a little stressed when it is asked.  What do you think a topless dancer would say?  I am an entertainer?  Or would she just answer you directly? 

Tammy feels a great deal of discomfort when this is asked of her.  She was a social worker for TWENTY years and has been a full-time parent for the last 3; caring for our children.  She does a wonderful job and as much as I love my kids; there is absolutely no way that I could stay home full-time.  Anyway; she never knows how to answer…can she say that she is a “housewife?”  Can she say that she is a “domestic goddess?”  I don’t think that either really fits J  One place that this really bothers her is at the doctor’s office.  When she says that she stays home with the kids, the answer is “oh.”  She says that she feels fine with herself; being a full-time parent, until someone asks that question.  Then she feels like she needs to go get a job. 

And Dear Mr. President…you have not protected “our type of family” like you promised that you would….universal health care is a great big joke…Tammy cannot go on my insurance; so we are paying Cobra premiums just to keep her insured…..And if I killed over tomorrow, she wouldn’t draw my social security….these are all risks that we take; being a same-sex couple with children where we have decided for one of us to be home full-time. 

Well, my girl will soon be able to say that she is a college student.  I am happy to say that she is returning to school in January to pursue the degree that she really always wanted:  agriculture J

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where is my baby?

About 2 months ago we got a call from the past….a dear little boy that we cared for the first 17 months of his life was in danger of not having a place to go…Tammy and I both talked to his step-mother (who is also his guardian; because his bio father insisted on “getting him back” and then left him) who asked us to “take him.”  Well…being a social worker I knew that it was not that easy.  There was the legal part of this process that had to be dealt with; along with the psychological part as well.  We asked that a few professionals be consulted in regard to all of this and that she call us back.  And they have both disappeared.  All phone numbers have been disconnected, emails and facebook messages have not been answered, and we have no idea what happened.  They live out of state and we have no way of knowing.    Our biggest fear is that he is in foster care system and that he will be “lost.” 

A part of my heart died when this little boy left our home and he was placed with his dad and step-mother.  I picked him up from the hospital when he was 48 hours old and we never spent a night without him until the court system decided that he should send him to his bio family.   December 3rd will always be a tragic day in our family’s life. Not a day has gone by that we don’t think of that little boy and I don’t think that Robert has ever been the same.  I remember him telling Tammy and me that year that the holidays would be too hard and we just shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. 

I will never forget the day that the transition calendar started.  He and our 2 youngest daughters were all in preschool together and they were taking photographs that day and the teachers made the photographers wait until we returned from his first visit with his family because they knew that we would want these last photos of them all together.  I will never forget them sitting Sophie and Kennedy down and plopping him on their laps between them.  Tears started to pour in this little school. 

Those of you who make these types of decisions in the lives of children….please do not take it lightly. And please remember that sending children to their bio families simply because “they are blood” is not always the best thing.  We were the only family that he knew.  His step-mother told me a year ago that she had taken him for a psychiatric evaluation because of behavioral issues and she was told that he was forever damaged because his attachment had been broken.   We are so worried about both of them and wish that we had some answers.  We have maintained a relationship with her and we just don’t understand what happened. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moving on.....

I have missed blogging the last few weeks……we had a crazy outbreak of the stomach flu/virus in our house that lasted over 3 weeks.  In the midst of that, our baby had surgery to correct his strabismus….I am happy to report that everyone is over all of their ailments, doing well, and back to normal (whatever that is J).

And…I am saying good-bye to community mental health.  I am going back to healthcare full-time and I get more excited about it by the day.  I will still be in the NICU 2 days per week, and will spend my other 2 days a week in the Cystic Fibrosis clinic.  This is a population of patients with whom I have never worked and I am excited to have the opportunity to learn about something new.  One of the physicians with whom I am working has already mentioned flying me to one of the national centers to shadow a seasoned CF social worker to learn more about this disease and its many social considerations. 

This new schedule is also going to allow me to have a booth at Farmers Markets next spring/summer/fall and I am very excited about that.  We are making plans for what we want to plant to sell, etc.  We are hoping that this will be an addition to our household income. 

Homeschooling is moving along.  I think that the kids are enjoying this new curriculum and its Waldorf style of learning.  We are also adding our own things into their days as well.  Tammy does such a great job of adding fun things in for science and social studies.  They went for a nature walk yesterday and picked up leaves and other objects to make a project.  Some things that are in the curriculum are a bit interesting for our family…for instance, there is a project on family and it has you go back 3 generations for stories.  We include our families as well as things that we know about their birth families.  This brings up LOTS of questions and we just answer them to the best of our ability.  We know quite a bit about some of our kids' birth families; and others we don't know much at all.  Adoption is a very open topic in our home and I am glad that it is.

This photo was taken the Burgoo Festival here in Lawrenceburg.  We are really growing to love this little community :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our baby girl turns 7

Today is Sophie's 7th birthday...so hard to believe that our youngest daughter is certainly not a baby girl anymore.  She was 22 months old when she came to live with us and was soooo tiny-only weighed 18 pounds.  But she started her life as a 3 pounder so I guess that wasn't too bad :)  She has been so sick for the last week and I was thankful that she is finally over that virus so that she could enjoy it.  She got a kitten (we got him from the Franklin County Humane Society-their cats and kittens are $10 this month because they have so many that need homes) and Taylor Swift tickets.  I am going to take Kennedy and Sophie and we are all going to get pedicures and new outfits before the concert.  Tammy is going to the concert with us and the girls were asking if she was going to wear a dress...for those of you who know Tammy; that is pretty darn funny :)

I was looking through the photos of Sophie to find one to attach to this post-and when you find a photo of Sophie; most of the time Kennedy is there too.  They often tell people that they are twins; and they truly have the connection of twins.  Kennedy came to us 6 months prior to Sophie;  they are only 11 months apart, and they are as close as they can be.  Certainly, they do have their fights, but you better not say anything about one of them to the other!  They take up for each other no matter what.  I especially remember one time that Kennedy was hurt at school.  Kennedy said it didn't hurt and was basically just "looking" at her injury, but Sophie was close by; boo-hooing away because her sister injured.  Reflecting upon this makes me realize just how "blended" our blended family really is.  For the most part, we are not of the same biology, but that doesn't matter.  We are a family just the same and it is truly comical how often Tammy or I are out with one of the kids and people say "he/she looks just like you."  We just smile and say "thank you." 

Here is Sophie a few days after she came to live with us; and it is one of my favorites of her :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Warranty

Well Tigie has used his warranty already...tag got ripped off and Mama came to the rescue and put a new tag on him.  That tiger is going to be the death of us.

I think that the virus MIGHT be gone.  I am afraid to say for sure because every time I think that it is, we have a relapse.  Sophie seems to have been hit the hardest and I think that it is going to take some time for her to get her strength back. 

We are both in dire need of a day together, WITHOUT the children...sometimes it just hits you!  And the illness has taken its toll on all of us to the extreme. 

I'm trying very hard to have a better attitude and keep thinking positively...day by day...that is what I tell my clients; now if only I could utilize that advice myself! 

Until next time......

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Woe is me

This is the only way that I can describe the way that I feel about things right now.  I know that there are many people in this world who are MUCH worse off; and I am trying so diligently to have a better attitude…but it is not working.  I feel like I have been running uphill for the past year and I feel completely defeated and deflated.  I have THREE college degrees; including a Masters in social work and a Masters in business; and cannot find a full-time job that pays more than peanuts….I will be paying off student loans well into my golden years and still cannot find a good paying, solid full-time job in the state of Kentucky.  I am not asking to be rich…I am a pretty simple girl…I just want to be able to support my family and take a vacation once in a while….Oh and domestic partner benefits would be nice...but appears to be unheard of in this archaic home state of mine...and they are not offered by either of my employers..so we continue to pay COBRA health insurance premiums for Tammy from Presbyterian Healthcare...please Kentucky; join me in the 21st century...I am frustrated beyond belief. 

The fact that we STILL have the stomach virus in our house is not helping…Tammy and 3 of the kids have been hit hard.  They get better for a day, and then it is right back.  I have talked to the doctor’s office and the pharmacist who both indicate that this virus is terrible right now and there is not much you can do but push fluids to prevent dehydration..so; that is what we are doing. 

Also; we are having hen trauma.  I certainly wasn’t familiar with “egg binding” until this week.  Well, one of our chickens has it and she is miserable.  So, we are following the advice of the “Chickens” magazine and we have isolated her in a dark, quiet place and Tammy is putting her in a warm bath twice a day to try to let her relax so that the egg eventually makes its way out…oh the joys of farm life. J  If any of you other farmers out there have any advice, let us know. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our baby turns 2

Not the weekend I had planned…the stomach virus is going around our house, and when you have lots of kids, it is never an easy feat.  Our baby boy turned 2 today-yey Jack Henry!!  But the illness made a dent in our birthday plans.  We had planned to go the Louisville Zoo on Saturday for character day, and then on Sunday to the Josephine Sculpture Park for the fall festival.  We had to cancel the zoo, but I took the “healthy kids” to the fall festival and Tammy stayed home with the sick ones, as she is sick herself.  I have to say that I felt a little lost with only 3 children in tow.  When you have a large family, you find ways to keep track of them.  I count them CONSTANTLY.  And with 3 that feels kind of ridiculous, especially since Robert is 16 and towers over me  J

Having your baby turn 2 is also a bizarre feeling when you have cared for this many babies.  We took care of LOTS of babies during our 7 years of fostering.  They varied in age, developmental level, levels of in-utero drug exposure, and levels of physical trauma and neglect.  We loved them all very dearly, and it hurt my heart when many of them left to go onto other relatives or returned to their birth families.  I eventually learned that they carried the love that we gave them everywhere they go in their lives, and I could only hope that we made a difference in their futures. 

So..we are back to the drawing board on many levels in our family…to be continued………

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Loss and Victory

Sad day on Harman Farm today…we got up this morning and Betty had died.  L  This is definitely a part of this “farm stuff” that we do not handle so well……..However, this did open the door to talking to the kids about death and dying.  They all knew that Betty had been sick but we had all been working hard to get her well.  And I resisted doing the “I told you dance” to Tammy……

On a much happier note, Sawyer cocka’d (sp) in the potty today-woooooohoooooo!!!  The things that I get excited over these days is pretty pathetic J  This is one of the many words that we picked up in New Mexico, along with hita and hito.  We also picked up the word manano; along with the attitude and we love it.  Tammy has always been such a Type A personality and New Mexico had such a positive effect on her in regard to slowing down a bit. 

The rain this week has been tough on the famdamily.  We are all a bit stir crazy, from the dogs to the kids to the goats to us.  I have a 3 day weekend this weekend-wooohoooo!!  I sure hope that the weather gets better.  We have plans for a trip to the zoo and to Josephine Sculpture Park!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tigie Tragedy...........

Tigie is an important part of our family.  When Sawyer came to live with at 4 months of age; he came from a great deal of chaos.  He NEVER smiled; and was quite difficult to engage at times.  Well, we had these 2 stuffed tigers that he came to adore; one was brown and one was white. (We bought these 2 tigers at a truck stop in Little Rock, Arkansas during one of our trips to see Tammy's family over Christmas when we were driving from Albuquerqe to Maryland/Virginia).  Over time, he let the brown one go, but has hung onto to the white one; whom he named "Tigie" when he learned to talk. Tigie went everywhere with him.  He went on visits with his birth parents to the CPS office, he went to PB&J (an agency in Albuquerque where parents and children (who are in foster care)) go for parents to receive hands-on parenting instruction, and on every transport where CPS was involved.  In fact, the transporters would not even transport Sawyer if Tigie was not with them. 

Well, as time has gone on; and Sawyer is forever ours, both Sawyer and Tigie's role have changed tremendously.  I am happy to report that Sawyer smiles (A LOT) and although he can be difficult at times (as any 3 year old is); and he makes me so darn proud.  This little guy has undergone quite a transformation over the last 3 years :)  Along with the changes in Sawyer have come the changes in Tigie's role in our lives.  Tigie is no longer used as a "crutch" for traumatic events, but as a companion through thick and thin.  Tigie goes out with him to feed the animals on the farm, eats dinner with us most nights, and is always a companion with Sawyer in bed.  Before we leave to go anywhere or before anyone goes to bed at night, Tigie is located :)

So...an event such as the one that occurred yesterday was quite disturbing....Tigie has a tag that Sawyer rubs while he is going to sleep and his finger gets caught in the tag at times.  Well....this happened upstairs and Robert (our 15 year old) yanked the tag and ripped it completely off...I heard screaming and crying and went running upstairs to a red-faced distraught little boy saying "PUT IT BACK ON!!!!"  He was crying so hard that I thought he was going to hyperventilate!  It took me a few minutes to determine why he was so upset; both because Sawyer was so hysterical and I think that Robert was afraid to tell me-lol. 

Well...Tammy saved the day.  She made a make-shift tag for Tigie out of ribbon and sewed it on Tigie.  She even told Sawyer that the tag had a warranty and could be replaced at any time if needed. Thank God for my girl and her ability to fix things....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sucker Punch

We did it!  We added not only one; but 2 calves to our little farm.  They are absolutely darling and we named them Daisy and Betty.  Well...Daisy was the one that Tammy and the kids went to pick up on Friday; but miraculously, Tammy ended up with two.  The seller had Betty in a box where she couldn't even see out, so the seller "threw her in" for a small fee.  Well low and behold; Betty was very sick.  She was dehydrated and emaciated and needed a lot of extra nutrition and attention.  Thank God for our wonderful neighbors who are so good to us and who are very experienced with calves.  They assisted us in knowing what to purchase and even helped us get the nutrition down into Betty's belly.  We started off with a nutrition bag where we could put it directly into her stomach.  I found myself thinking back to my career at Presbyterian Hospital where I watched the nurses move the IV poles around trying to assist gravity for the kids with G-tubes :).  Well, I am happy to report that our little sick cow that Dr. Doolittle was talked into purchasing is doing much better. She took 3/4 of the colustrum by bottle this morning and has really strengthened up. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Designing a plan

There have been a lot of fun parts to all of this "farm stuff" but it is now time to really get "down to business."  My goal for this long weekend is to write a business plan, a mission statement, and a vision statement for our future....may as well use my MBA for something; since it has obviously not helped me find a wonderfully paying job!!  I will write this not only with our future in mind; but also the future of the kids; in case one of them decides to carry this on.  Another part of this process is going to be applying for grant money; so this should be very interesting.  After doing research, we are finding that this entire process is going to be long and tedious; and patience is certainly not a virtue in our family............

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Perseverance

When there is a will; there is a way; that is what I have always been told.  When we decided to move home and enter into this new adventure; we knew that it would be difficult; and perhaps at times; a bit crazy.  But that didn't stop us from trying!  We are not ones to "let the grass grow under our feet" as people say.  We set goals and just keep on going.........how else would we have moved 20 hours away from a soul that we knew  just to take a chance?  This desire also brought us back home to fulfll a dream that we have always had..

The back field of our property (about 3 acres) is a perfect example.  It was a complete MESS.  We tried to find people to mow it, bushawg it, whatever; and gave up.  Our dear neighbor mowed it for us once and then his mower was shot...so my girl; with her old muscles and quickly dropping weight, decided to do this herself.  She has been PUSH mowing this field...and her perseverence has paid off.  Look how great it is coming along.  I am so proud of her and proud of us for doing whatever it takes to fulfill our dreams.  However; she is getting very tired, so if anyone knows ANYONE who would like to help us in completing this project, please let me know!  Trade off would be an abundance of fresh country eggs, frozen fresh veggies, canned pickles, and homemade jam. :)

Taking the next step

We have decided to purchase a heifer for our farm.  She is a jersey/holstein and we pick her up this weekend.  She will eventually provide us for milk for both our family to drink, as well as giving us milk for our baby goats that will continue to be born.  We purchased a book; The Farmstead Creamery Advisor:  The Complete Guide to Building and Running a Small, Farm-Based Cheese Business, written by Gianaclis Caldwell.  With this purchase, we have one foot in the door toward our goal of a small creamery here on our little farm.  Of course we recognize that there will be a lot of hoops to jump through and that we have a long way to go.  However, it is amazing how reading one book can really motivate you and give you enough information to "ask the right questions."  Whether we are on our way to a small business or not; it is one step closer to our family being self-sufficient and truly "knowing what you eat." 

I particuarly love this quote from the book; "If we can't grow it, we can't eat it."  And although we are not there yet, we are working very hard to get there. 

Here's my favorite quote from the book; "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."  Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fall is coming and the kids are growing up....

It just seems to have hit me that our kids are growing up...our baby will be 2 next month and I can hardly believe it.  Time flies when you are busy; and we certainly don't have a lot of downtime around here.  The kids are maturing and turning into little people.  They are at a fun stage where you can truly carry on a conversation with them. 

I think that the transformation in our lives has been good for them.  They get home-cooked meals (we live too far from town to run to McDonalds or Dominoes), they get plenty of fresh air, they have extended family in their lives, our homeschool curriculum has them learning all day, every day, and not just when they sit down to "do work" and they seem to be so much calmer and happier.  I think that this peace has helped all of us in so many ways. 

Our fall schedule is crazy; but a different kind of crazy than we have had in the past.  We have art class, soccer, dance, and Kentucky Sea Cadets.  Tammy always said that she was going to paint the Suburban yellow because she often felt like it was a taxi.  God love that Suburban....it has been through and seen a lot...it has been to California, DC, Mexico, and everywhere in between.......

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dusting off the treadmill......

Literally....I hadn't been on it in 8 months....the treadmill didn't make it through the 2 days bouncing in the U-haul from Albuquerque to Kentucky....every time I tried to turn it on, it acted crazy and made weird noises.  So...Tammy took the whole thing apart yesterday, fixed it, and put it back together.  So...tonight I had my firest workout on it since December 15th...shewee, I sure can feel it.  However, I had also truly forgotten what a jolt of engery it gave me!  I want these 20 pounds that I have gained since we have moved OFF-along with about 60 more...so here we go.  I have got to get my willpower back too and stay away from the treats around the office; easier said than done!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Changes, changes

Changes, changes; let me count the ways........We are educating ourselves along the way in regard the changes that we have made within our family and our lifestyle.  Today is a prime example; Tammy and the kids made homemade noodles.  They seem to really get a kick out of seeing how food is planted, grown, canned, and made.  I believe that it allows them to enjoy their food more; as they are more understanding of where it comes from.  They are even asking "is this healthy?" And-it is an excellent way to utilize the abundance of eggs that we have right now!

We have been amazed at how well the kids have adjusted to these changes.  They don't ask about watching TV, running to the store all of the time, or playing video games.  They seem to really enjoy creative play and being outdoors a great deal of the day.  Everyday the girls dress up as different characters to play outside.

We are getting into the swing of homeschool.  Although our curriculum just arrived and Tammy and I have to wade through it before we start that part of homeshooling; we have been keeping them on a school schedule, working on reading and handwriting, do circle time in the morning, and some of their extra-curricular activities started this week as well. 

Slowly the boys are joining us rather than working on be destructive and being little boys. Often you can see the wheels turning as they join in with the activities.  For instance; instead of Jack Henry just throwing everything off of the table, he looks at it before he throws it now-lol.  In all seriousness, we always thought that people were just being cheesy when they talked about the differences that it can make in your family when you do more natural and bonding activities together.  However, we see the changes that it is making in the kids already.  We have finally realized that you cannot parent all of your children the same, and that truly, all they want is attention and to be with you.  In the past, that has been incredibly difficult because we have had children with Reactive Attachment Disorder living with us.......and the more attention that you give them, the more they misbehave and try to emotionally pull away from you.  For those of you not familiar with this disorder....I will talk about it more in a later post.... 

Back to the fun stuff...........The kids are feeding the animals daily now with direction.  It is exciting to watch as we each transition in our own way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I miss Albuquerque.......Take 2

Please ignore my previous post "I miss Albuquerque."  I tried to get creative with the font and that didn't work out so well!!

As I said in a post last night, I am very glad to be home.  I have missed my family and friends very much over the last 10 years, and there is nothing like good ole southern hospitality.  I don't think that I have opened my own door since we got back here :)

However, we lived in Albuquerque for 8 years and I miss it terribly....more than I ever dreamed that I would.  Everyone there assumed that we were a couple, and they didn't care.  I really took that for granted.  We were treated with the same amount of respect and concern as any "married" couple, both in my work, while fostering, and just being out in the public in general.  However, any time that we went out to eat, the server would always hand Tammy the bill (male chauvenism I suppose; as she is pretty butch and I am not at all :) and she never had a dime!  But we always got a kick out that :)

Some of our neighbors here in Kentucky have been incredible and treat us just like family.  And I have been "out" for so long that I refuse to go back in, so my co-workers, whether they like it or not, are continually exposed to my diverse little family.  So, in our little community, we are here to stay...........

But I miss the green chile, the Mexican food, Mariachi music, our Saturday daycare, the mixture of cultures, the Hispanic heritage that was all around (especially since we have 2 Hispanic children), The International School where our girls attended and they were learning Spanish and Mandarin, The Bataan Military Academy that our son attended, and just the overall attitude of the west in regard to "I don't care what you do-just leave me and mine alone....
Albuquerque, New Mexico will always be a part of us.  Will we ever move back there?  That is a fair question; and quite honestly, I don't know.  But, all of our children were born there, we adopted all of our children there, and it will always be "in our blood..........."

This is a photo of Sophie and Jack Henry (our 2 children who are Hispanic-yes Jack Henry is-even with his blue eyes and blond hair lol :)) that was taken at our last trip to McCall's Pumpkin Patch in New Mexico.  Jack Henry is even wearing his Rio Grande Zoo hat that was purchased at the zoo in Albuquerque; which is one of our favorite places in this world.  We could go on and on about the things that we took for granted there...hindsight is 20/20......another one of life's lessons. 
Harman Farm

I miss Albuquerque

As I said in a post last night, I am very glad to be home.  I have missed my family and friends very much over the last 10 years, and there is nothing like good ole southern hospitality.  I don't think that I have opened my own door since we got back here :)

However, we lived in Albuquerque for 8 years and I miss it terribly....more than I ever dreamed that I would.  Everyone there assumed that we were a couple, and they didn't care.  I really took that for granted.  We were treated with the same amount of respect and concern as any "married" couple, both in my work, while fostering, and just being out in the public in general.  However, any time that we went out to eat, the server would always hand Tammy the bill (male chauvenism I suppose; as she is pretty butch and I am not at all :) and she never had a dime!  But we always got a kick out that :)

Some of our neighbors here in Kentucky have been incredible and treat us just like family.  And I have been "out" for so long that I refuse to go back in, so my co-workers, whether they like it or not, are continually exposed to my diverse little family.  So, in our little community, we are here to stay...........

But I miss the green chile, the Mexican food, Mariachi music, our Saturday daycare, the mixture of cultures, the Hispanic heritage that was all around (especially since we have 2 Hispanic children), The International School where our girls attended and they were learning Spanish and Mandarin, The Bataan Military Academy that our son attended, and just the overall attitude of the west in regard to "I don't care what you do-just leave me and mine alone...."

Albuquerque, New Mexico will always be a part of us.  Will we ever move back there?  That is a fair question; and quite honestly, I don't know.  But, all of our children were born there, we adopted all of our children there, and it will always be "in our blood..........."

This is a photo of Sophie and Jack Henry (our 2 children who are Hispanic-yes Jack Henry is-even with his blue eyes and blond hair lol :)) that was taken at our last trip to McCall's Pumpkin Patch in New Mexico.  Jack Henry is even wearing his Rio Grande Zoo hat that was purchased at the zoo in Albuquerque; which is one of our favorite places in this world.  We could go on and on about the things that we took for granted there...hindsight is 20/20......another one of life's lessons. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weight loss contest

Tammy and I are having a weight loss contest.  We are going to (attempt) to put $100 back per month, and whoever loses the most weight by January 1st wins the money.  We started this adventure last week; and we are pretty even right now.  I want to lose more pounds than she does......as I have gained 20 lbs since we have moved back home (eek) and she has been losing since then.  So..this will be interesting in our house..may the most will-powered woman win :)

Home

On August 15th; it will have been 8 months since we have been home.  It has been harder than I ever dreamed.  After living in such an open and welcoming environment for so long where no one cared that we were a same-sex couple, or that we had kids...moving back to such a conservative state has been really hard.  I am a southern girl at heart and always will be.  My accent is back thicker than ever; and I have to admit that I love it.  Although it has been hard, we are so glad that we are home.

Getting ready for school

Getting ready for school is a bit different in our house than in most; as we homeschool.  I ordered our curriculum last week for the younger kids; and our high-schooler pretty much goes year round and works on his classes as they are shipped to us.  However, there are still school supplies to purhase, scheduling to be made, and all of the "extras" to be added.  We are doing music, art, dance, soccer, and Sea Cadets at our house this year.  I am very excited about our new curriculum.  It is based on the Waldorf method, and is very interactional and inclusive of all our varying learning styles in our house. 

Our farm continues to grow and change daily.  We gave 3 of our roosters away today; as we have decided that we just want eggs and not baby chicks for a little while.  Also, having the roosters on the farm is a bit frightening, as we have little ones around and the roosters cannot be trusted around them...Currently we have dogs visiting as our dear friend is healing and we are taking care of her dogs.  We have such a welcoming crew here (children and animals) and I am very proud of them.  We fostered for 7 years and had 48 children come through our doors, and our kids assisted in helping all of these kids feel welcome (our kids were also a part of these 48 kids :).  Although I am so very glad that the "fostering" chapter of our life is over; it taught  us all a great deal about being gracious and flexible......

On a final note.....we found a 4 foot snake skin about a foot from our front porch this morning.  ewwwwww!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Trying to keep moving"

This phrase has a multitude of meaning in my life right now....we are attempting to make decisions about the direction our little farm is going to take; and these decisions can be quite difficult.  We have 3 things that we want to accomplish; an organic farm, a Grade A Dairy Goat operation, and a small country store where we sell our produce, our honey, and a multitude of homemade items (baked goods, sandwiches, etc.).  How do we "keep things moving" with all 3 goals in mind?  Well, to be quite honest, we haven't figured that part completely out yet.  Winning the lottery would be nice in regard to funding these adventures :)  But, we won't be relying on that.  So....I am searching grant opportunities for small farms, hoping to find one who will believe in us! 

This phrase "trying to keep things moving" also rings true to me in my 20 year long struggle with weight.  Before we had moved back home, I had lost nearly 70 pounds...but the scale continues to creep back up.  Oh, I do the usual; count calories and exercise for a few days, a week, etc., but then easily fall back into old habits when I get stressed, etc.  So...here we go again...."trying to keep things moving" along with that adventure as well.....

To be continued.....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Simplify

The last month or so has been quite eye-opening.  We have been surrounded by a lot of death and illness and it really makes you realize what is important in life.  We are making conscious decisions in regard to our lifestyle, what we consume, getting rid of waste, etc.  "Things" just really don't matter to me anymore....I buy most of my clothes at the thrift store, shop store sales, use coupons, and we are attempting to teach our children the same.  We are trying to weed processed food out of lives and raise the healthiest family that we possibly can; in every way.  Although there is a considerable movement in the world toward these changes, it can be difficult to convince your children that cable and an overbundance of toys are not what life is all about. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What a week..........

Today is the 3rd birthday of our beautiful baby boy.  He got a pony for his birthday, who he named "Harlan."  We had to convince him not to name him "Seven."  :)

We have had quite a week; including the virus "Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease" floating in our house.  And no; this is not caused by farm animals or kids running barefoot in the yard!  Just a virus that, according to our pediatrician, has been rampant in our small community.  And...our 6 year old has been giving us fits....not sure what is going on with her, but hopefully this too shall pass! 

We also tried to switch the kids from whole milk to 2% today and received a lot of flack from the 2 little ones.  However, they need to get used to change; because we will soon be switching from cow's milk to goat's milk, from our own does :)  We also have 3 baby does joining us this week from our farm that we work with in Tennessee.  Their names are Jezebel ( named by our 6 year old), Lisa (named by our 7 year old) and Claiborne (named by me).  Our big white rooster, "Kenny," went onto another home this week.  He had gotten a bit too aggressive for our kid-filled little farm.  We "lost" one of chickens this week; (a light brown hen that had originally lived with my sister and brother-in-law on the other side of our county) and she showed up today with 9 tiny baby chicks!

I have learned some lessons in canning/freezing this week.  I blanched and froze some corn that was a success; but when I tried to do the squash, it wasn't as successful because I left the squash in the water on the stove too long.  Oh well...live and learn I guess!!  My plan is to can bread and butter pickles tomorrow and hopefully some jams next weekend. 

My hours at one of my part-time jobs has been cut; so it looks like we are back to the drawing board in regard to job status...just not sure what the right answer is.  However, I do think that I am going to return to school this fall; no matter what.

We just checked on our bees and they are making honey furiously for us.  I am so excited to get our first honey out!  We are also exploring the idea of an oxen team instead of a traditional tractor. 

Until next time.....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Decisions, decisions

As I have mentioned before; Tammy and I have been together nearly 13 years; actually "met" 13 years ago July 1st...anyway..we have been on quite a journey since then; incluing the adoption of our children and this newest adventure of our farm and where our lives are "going from here."  This holiday weekend has allowed us to reflect upon what we want our own lives as well as the lives of our children.  We are again leaning toward homeschooling.  We are also (instead of) a small country store, planning to build our Grade A milking parlor for us and for our precious goats.  This is the largest part of Tammy's dream.  We are also incorporating the largest part of my dream; to have a small organic farm that sustains our family and allows
me to participate in local farmers' markets around our region to sell our multiplying produce, fresh country eggs, and fresh honey.  The last 6 months has allowed us to relfect on our lives, what we want, what we can (feasibly do), etc.  We currently get about 15 eggs per day from our chickens, eat daily from our garden, are training our pony to pull a cart, and playing with and nurturing our sweet goats who will soon make us wonderful milk, cheese, and soap (and baby goats!!)
 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The prejudices of a small community

We think of ourselves as such a "regular" family in so many ways.  We are 2 moms; all of our kids are adopted; 2 are Hispanic; but to us, we are just that; "us."  We may not be able to legally marry, but we are much more married and committed to one another and our family than many others I know.  Our kids may not have been born from our wombs; but they could truly not be any more "ours" than they are.  So; when an experience like what happened today at a local business happens; it catches us off guard.  We were refused service; flat out.  We went in, had to get our own table because they refused; and then they refused to wait on us.  Really...isn't it 2011?  Aren't there enough "social issues" out there in the world that we could stop focusing on a same sex couple who wants nothing more than to parent so many kids who are unwanted in the world???????  Give me a break.........who are we hurting?  And I REALLY love the reference to "these kids need a dad."  Um....none of these kids had a dad in their lives before....oh well, ignorance is bliss.