Bartering; It’s a Beautiful Thing

One of the awesome things about having skills, and owning your own small businesses especially, is the ability to barter with other small businesses!  Michael and I have made some fantastic bartering agreements over the years, that have really made us feel like we got quite a deal. They have also enabled us to get more tasks accomplished sooner, than we otherwise would have been able to.

    Not sure exactly what bartering entails? Here is an official definition of the term:
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bar·ter
/ˈbärdər/
verb
gerund or present participle: bartering
  1. exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.
    “he often bartered a meal for drawings”
    synonyms: trade, swap, exchange, sell

    “they bartered grain for salt

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I bartered a few deals when I had my photography business running. Michael has bartered many great deals in his business, over the years. Michael works full time for our church now, but he still runs his own business on the side that started 15 years ago or so. He is a truck letterer and sign maker, and so the majority of his many client accounts are small local businesses; men with families they are trying to support. We always make an effort to support small business people, and do our part to help our own community thrive. We know many have done the same for us. Needless to say, Michael is tapped into a vast array of blue-collar trade services, and has known them all long enough to know who does the best work.

For example, Michael has exchanged his truck lettering or sign making services for [Read more…]

Our First Homeschooled Child Graduates from High School: College Bound

When she started out homeschooling, we felt like we had a lifetime ahead of us. Certainly any thoughts of high school, graduating from high school, or possibilities of heading off to college, just seemed like….another lifetime.  It was something I would always be prepping for anyway, for someday. But, it was so far off. And there was a whole lot of living, loving, and learning to do, in each day, between now and then.
01_2005_As-First-Year-Homeschool And we did a whole lot of all of those things. But like any of the most precious times of your life, in what seems like the blink of an eye……

Well, here we all are.  On the other end a lifetime, I guess, with the oldest of our four children. With our first homeschooled child. The one we always called our ‘Trail Blazer’.  She is graduating from high school, and definitely college bound.
We’re here at the end, and yet, a whole new, beautiful beginning.
[Read more…]

On the Topic of Dignity and Privacy – Our Kids’

Z3_childrens-feet

I know you’ll hardy be able to even fathom this, but I was not an easy kid to raise.  No, it’s true. Not from the time I was little, all the way through my teens and early 20’s.  My mother even had a nickname for me: ‘Mouth’.  And no, she wasn’t likening me to Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger.  She was referring to my frequent fresh-backtalkin’.  My mouth seemed to have a mind of it’s own, and it was pretty sharp, blunt and quick-witted! Or I thought so, anyway. My mother; well, she wasn’t so impressed.

I wasn’t clueless about the stresses my parents were under all of those years. They suddenly found themselves raising 5 complex kids, had great financial struggles, and were dealing with a host of other issues including health, extended family matters, and the frustration of trying to make dreams come true, for us all, out of nothing.

Knowing all of that at the time, I clearly was not clueless. I was simply….selfish.  Too wrapped up in me, myself, and I, to make their role as parents any easier.  Instead, I made it all so much worse.  I honestly, don’t even know what I would do with me, if I was my parent. (Although in her moments of sheer frustration, my mother did vocalize her wish upon me, a time or two, that I might have a kid just like me, someday.) I can only imagine the frustration and hurt I must have built up in my parents, on some days. My mother in particular, since my father worked so many hours, and my mother was the one there, trying to raise us the best she could. I was enough to handle on my own; never mind that there were 4 other kids being raised, besides me.

How did she manage? Where did she turn to vent, when she had ‘had it up to here’! ( I can still see her today, referring with her hand to that level juuuust over her own head. ).  I know she had some good friends (who also had kids) who she had over, who she had coffee with, and she was always shoo-ing us back outside because they were ‘talking’. Or, sometimes, I’d see the curly cord from that horrid green colored phone on our 70’s wall-papered kitchen wall, snaked through the crack in the doorway to the pantry, where she was talking to someone. Maybe even crying.  [Read more…]

Old/Antique Bottles


My family and I live on the south shore of Massachusetts, now. But I (Laura) was born and raised out in western MA, in the city of Westfield. Most times when I go back home to my parent’s house, my father urges me to take anything in the house that I want, for myself. “Anything at all”, he stresses.  I most always dismiss his invitation because, frankly, I want everything to stay there, just as it is.  Forever, really. But at least, for as long as possible.

You see, my mother passed away in 2005.  It’s so hard for me to believe it’s been that long already.  But what’s harder for most others to believe, is that my father has kept everything in the house, just as it was when my mother was there.  He even keeps it clean. Vacuumed, dusted, the dishes done; everything. You’d think she was still there.

It’s a 100 year old 3-story, 2 family house. Walking into that house, [Read more…]

It’s the Chicken Coop Reveal!

Finally, we are ready to reveal to you the chicken coop that has been in the works for 2 months!
We know many of you have been waiting to see it, and we have to tell you, we’re pretty darn excited to show it to you!

PLEASE NOTE: There are many photos in this post, so please give them time to load.  Then at the end there is a link to even more photos that I thought some would like to see, such as early stages of the coop being built (for those who may have missed it on Facebook), the inside of the coop, and and a closer look at some of it’s other cool features.

So, as lots of people know, I have wanted to get some chickens for so very long!  Michael has always said I could, but the time was just not right for a long time, while we got the inside of our home finished, our property set up as we wanted it, and ready, etc.
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve been living the little dream now, of having chickens, since we got 1 day old chicks about a week into July of this year.  Chicken-keeping has been as fun and exciting as we ever thought it would be!

01_building-of-chicken-coop
All I ever wanted or dreamed of for my someday-chickens, was a small and very simple coop. But, Michael really goes all out when he gets brain-storming. He’s very creative, ingenious, and handy in craftmanship, and well, he got sketching, as always. The detailed features also grew as he built it, and it has been pretty amazing and exciting to see it all come to life, built from the ground up, from what stared as little possible plans on paper.

02_building-of-chicken-coop
Many of you who follow us on Facebook  were able to see some progress photos of the coop that we shared, as we began to build.
The photo above was as far as we took you before we decided that anymore might ruin the surprise of the final reveal.
Especially when we were getting ready to stain it with color!  We figured many would be most curious about what color we’d choose.
(I mean, that’s an important and fun decision that needs to be made, I think.)
I considered many colors, but there was really one that was always just how I imagined my someday-chick-coop in my head, and while I looked at other colors, I just never could let go of that original image in my head go.
We hope you love it as we do, but it’s really o.k. if you don’t.  (We still will.).

And now for our 97% finished coop . . . . . .
[Read more…]