Around the Homestead

Good-bye Ruby

We had to put our little dog, Ruby to sleep today. This has been coming for awhile, but was still sad. She had gone completely blind, couldn’t hear, and then woke up sick this morning. We just couldn’t put her through any more.

The story of how Ruby came to live with us.

And although she never fully warmed up to us. She did make a dramatic improvement with time.

Never say never, but we are fairly certain Ruby is the only Brussels Griffon we will ever have. She may be the only little dog we ever have. It was an experience.

We miss her and love her dearly.

Around the Homestead

Aspen’s 8th Birthday

We decided to forgo gifts from us this year for the girls and in exchange they chose what we did and where we at that day. Aspen chose a hands-on children’s museum and Beyond Burgers from a restaurant some friends of our’s own. Mom went with us, so it was a fun girl’s day out!

Canyon & Aspen

For her birthday party we always just have mom, dad, and my brother over for lunch, gifts, and of course dessert. We let them choose the meal and dessert. She chose tacos and chocolate cake.

Canyon, Aspen, and Mom
Aspen & Canyon

I think she enjoyed her birthday even without tangible gifts from us. We hoped this would make memories as opposed to more clutter. It seemed to work and she was not disappointed in anyway.

We love you Aspen!

Around the Homestead

A Much Needed Vacation…Part 2

Our next stop was Daytona Beach where Randy had a conference to attend and the girls and I spent time with his family and saw the sites.

Aspen & Canyon
from our oceanfront room balcony…yea!

We visited the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet our first day there. They rescue marine animals with the intent of releasing them after giving them proper medical care.

Marine Science Center, Ponce Inlet
Rescued sea turtle having blood drawn
Rescued Red Shoulder Hawk
Aspen miniature golfing.
Canyon miniature golfing
The girls with Grandma & Grandpa
Ponce De Leon Lighthouse

While Randy was at his conference for work the girls and I saw the sites. Randy’s dad and stepmom were so good to show us around and spend time with us. It was such a great experience for all of us.

Around the Homestead

A Much Needed Vacation…Part 1

Now granted it was really a work trip for Randy, but with all the scariness of traveling to China and the adoption of our little boy under question because of travel bans and safety concerns, it was truly the vacation and reprieve I needed.

We spent a few days with my aunt in Vero Beach, Florida. The weather was beautiful, the location was beautiful, and we just really had an incredibly relaxing stay.

Airboat ride to see alligators and birds…absolutely beautiful.
My Aunt’s backyard, the Intracoastal Waterway
Canyon & Aspon
Canyon & Aspen with Daddy
Boardwalk to the Beach
Such sweet sisters

We were so blessed to have such a beautiful place to stay and enjoyed spending time with family. Next up…Daytona Beach!

Around the Homestead

4 animals to the vet in one week…

It has just been a wild week at our house. Our little dog, Ruby, woke up throwing up in her crate and sounded like she was suffocating. We have no idea how old she is since we found her along the side of the road on a vacation. But we know that she has a heart murmur, is missing one eye, blind in the other eye, and can’t hear well. I loaded her up to take her to the vet thinking she probably wasn’t going to pull through.

When I went out to do chores that morning our little senior kittie, Scooter, had labored breathing on top of the fact he has been losing weight all summer. I had been feeding him a special diet three times a day and just couldn’t get weight on him. I decided to load him up too and get him checked out.

The vet was optimistic about Ruby. The thinking was that since she was a smashed-faced dog that the vomiting caused the gurgling noise because her lungs were clear, her heart was good, and she didn’t have a temperature. So we opted to do a nausea shot and take her home to see how she responded.

For Scooter, on the other hand, she said the labored breathing, the weight loss, and the fact that he was 15 years old was not good and his prognosis was bleak. We decided it was time to end his suffering.

If you have never had to make this decision for an animal, let me tell you, it’s a tough one. With nearly all of our animals hitting the senior years at once we are terrified about what the next five years is going to look like at our house. It is going to be a hard couple of years.

We brought Scooter home and buried him under the mulberry tree where all our other cats have been buried. We are continuing to monitor Ruby because we’re not sure she has made a full recovery.

Next was Laila, a boxer mix from our local shelter, went to the vet a few days later for a minor procedure. She was perfect and all is well with her, but it was another trip to town and another office visit. Cha-ching!

Then on Friday morning one of our cats, Bandit, came out of the cat house carrying his front left foot. I was supposed to have an appointment an hour away that morning, I called our vet and she was leaving early, so I had to get him into town quickly, I hadn’t even showered, and then I would have to run him back home before heading to my appointment. I ended up cancelling my appointment and off to the vet we went with him before the weekend to see if it was broken. She didn’t think it was broken just by feeling it and since our vet bills completely exceeded their budget this month, we opted to just go with a shot and monitor before doing any xrays. Well, here we are on Monday morning and Bandit is still carrying his foot. I feel like I always make the wrong call on whether to xray or not and this time was no different.

We have to mail our last document to the U.S. Secretary of State and Chinese Embassy today for authentication, so we will take the big guy back into the vet this morning. It has just been nonstop animal stress lately. They bring us so much joy, but you really have to be on your toes and willing to drop everything if need be to get them the care they need.

Around the Homestead

If You Aren’t Using Rakuten….

You are missing out on free money!!!

I have started using Rakuten and wanted to share it here real quick. You shop online as you usually would and you receive a percentage of your purchases back. They just mail you a check! My largest check so far is hovering around $70. It’s the real deal!

Some of the stores I was already using that Rakuten gives cash back for:



Chewy (FYI it doesn’t work on autoship orders)

H & M (clothing)


Plant Therapy

Walmart/Sam’s Club


You just can’t lose putting this on your computer. It will automatically pop up to activate it when you visit a participating store. It’s that easy!

Around the Homestead

Cats, Cats, and More Cats….

Thought I would share some of the cats on our farm. Aspen loves to take my camera and take pictures of them, so some of these are her handiwork as well.

The first one is of the girls and Willie Nelson. Randy saved him out of the engine compartment at work when he was about 3 months old. He has become one of the most loved little guys on the farm for obvious reasons.

Aspen, Willie Nelson, and Canyon

And if Willie Nelson gets to be in a photo….so does Lenny. Fair is fair!

Aspen, Canyon, and Lenny
Diego & Willie Nelson
Frida… because you can never have too many black cats
Canyon, Aspen and Willie Nelson
(because this cat will just do anything for these girls)
Canyon & WIllie Nelson
Willie Nelson taking it easy on the hammock

We just love each and every one of these cats. It is so much work to care for them properly, but we wouldn’t change it for anything. They are all spayed and neutered, we lock them up every night to ensure they are safe, and love on them as much as possible every day.

Around the Homestead

State Fair Time

We love going to the State Fair. It is a big deal for our family. It kind of time stamps the beginning of the fall season, my favorite month September, and is just something our family really enjoys. We love the smell (yes the smell). It’s a little bit greasy fried food a little bit manure. We love the noise of the rides, the people working the games hollering at you as you walk by, and the hum of all the people walking and talking.

The night before going we did henna tattoos and had the best of intentions of crimping the girls hair and doing a fun hairstyle, but they ended up sleeping in WAY too late for that. Once our chores were done, our breakfast was eaten, and our bags and cooler of cold drinks and snacks were all packed, we were off! We had an hour drive, but the car was buzzing with excitement. Our schedule doesn’t allow a lot of time away from the farm for the most part, so on the rare occasions we are able to get away we try to make the most of it.

We don’t necessarily do all the rides, but we have a select few we always try to do. We love to see all the animals, but always have a sadness in the back of our minds as we worry about their future. We love the artwork inside the buildings. And of course, every year we make our way to the building where the butter sculpture is located. This year was amazing!

There aren’t a lot of food options for us, but the number of plant-based foods is growing. The offered Veggie Jaffles, Veggie Pitas, and of course the french fry. Our girls love to go to this spot where we can all sit at a table eat some fresh cut fries and have a mini can of tomato juice. The game was on, so it was super loud, but still fun.

We went back to the fair a second time to take the girls to their first concert. We figured an outdoor concert would be the best for their little ears and there just isn’t a bad seat at the grandstand even for them. We saw Zach Williams and Francesca Battistelli and had a great time. We love Zach Williams music and Francesca was so funny and cute, pregnant with baby number five. It was a much later night than we are used to, but everyone made it okay.

Around the Homestead

Introducing Canyon…

We adopted Canyon from China in May of 2015.

Canyon in China
Meeting Canyon for the first time.
Canyon with her Daddy
4th of July, 2016
December 2016
Canyon with her Daddy
Thanksgiving 2017
Christmas in Michigan, 2018

Canyon is the sweetest little girl you will ever meet. She has such a good heart and is always putting the needs of others before her own. Our lives would not be complete without this beautiful girl in our lives.