UNREALestate (The Day My Wildest Dream Came True)

This year we make the infamous step that propels us one step closer to actually becoming real grown-ups… renters to home owners. In our case this “step” has turned into more like a treacherous climb through uncharted territory. We have been looking for a home for over a year and a half. We knew when we moved into our rental home in St. Paul that our time here would be short lived, as it is being demolished by a developer in July along with two other houses next door to put up shiny new apartment buildings for college students to live in.

Once you begin your home search, there is an overwhelming realization that there are a LOT of factors to consider when buying a home. Size, number of bedrooms, price, location, distance from work, family, friends, parks, and stores that you frequent. Not to mention the lighting, layout, heating sources (gas, propane, wood burning stove), tree coverage, rules and covenant associated with certain neighborhoods (like can you have chickens? or keep bees?) and LAND. And oh how we dreamed of Land. Perhaps it was ingrained in us from watching Far and Away one to many times as kids. But Chuck and I just felt like out there somewhere was a little plot of land just waiting for us… and we were ready to race our horses and fist fight people in streams to stick our little stake in the ground. We had hobby farm dreams too and animals, beehives and a massive vegetable and flower garden.

But even through all those technical details, I could not help but shake the feeling that there was somewhere I was “supposed” to be. But where the heck was that. As a believer in a God, prayer was a large part of my process… and I was convinced that I would get some sort of magical warm feeling inside or get signs from heaven when I walked into the right house, and I would just know to stop freaking out about having a mortgage and buy the place.

Well… then there is the massive reality check called the housing market, and really there are not huge well priced little pieces of heaven close to the city just waiting for families to claim and call their own. Real estate close to the city is expensive… especially anything with decent sized land with outbuildings. Not to mention that it is currently a sellers market which means that you pretty much DO have to fight people in the stream to even be consider to purchase something. Those magical feelings I was searching for seemed non existent especially considering that we are first time buyers… and so many things were super confusing, namely trying to do negotiations when multiple offers were being considered. The buyer is completely in the dark and has absolutely no idea how much anyone else offered… all buyers just get asked to bring forth their final and best (EVEN if you already put forth the final and best). Not to mention there are all these people/ institutions involved in the process. Realtors, banks, lenders, appraiser, inspector… and they are talking about very large sums of money to our little family (Considering the largest purchases we have made in our 5 years of marriage has been a 10 year old  used mini van and a queen sized mattress)

Over the course of our journey we probably toured over 20 properties (raw land and properties with homes). In each case there were multiple people looking at the same properties… even though some of them had only been on the market for a day or two. At one showing, there were fifteen other buyers there the same night. We put offers on 6 properties… and all 6 times we lost to other buyers. Except once… one time our offer was accepted but then after paying over $300.00 to have an inspection we learned that the house was not worth what we had offered and we backed out. Each time I would get my hopes up, something that people kept telling me not to do. “Don’t get excited until the keys to the front door are in your hand!” But how could I not dream? As one good friend pointed out to me, “how can you buy a house unless you can imagine yourself living there?” and that is what I did each and every time. I imagined myself in the garden planting vegetables, or sitting and looking out the kitchen sink window… and I dreamed about what kind of adventures my kids might have as they grew up there.

After losing in a bid war to someone who swooped in under our noses and offered cash on the spot, over a house I was convinced was the perfect place for my family…. I lamented. Where is the humanity in all of this? With all these people we were working with the seller/homeowner was completely absent from the equation. That was the person I wanted to talk to. I wanted to shake their hand and show off my cute kids and convince them that I was going to be the best damn person to live in their house! (I am sure that for some people that is exactly why they hire all these third party people, is because they don’t want to know who is going to live in their house or feel biased in any way… but I was feeling desperate. I felt like begging at people’s feet to just give me a house!)

It all felt unfair, and I felt like crying and tantruming like a 3 year old who was denied the candy bar placed conveniently at tiny arms reach in the check out line. (Dang it… not grown ups yet!)

It started to feel like despite our best efforts we COULD NOT buy a house. It felt like we would never win. It felt like my Far and Away Dreams were just dreams and maybe God did not care where we lived after all…  Perhaps we would find our dreams a few years down the road and we would need to just live somewhere in the meantime. But I just kept praying.

Realizing that we would need to formulate a Plan B, C, and D. There was talk about moving the house we live in that is going to be torn down… but it is almost impossible to move a house this size through the city and would cost a small fortune. We also thought about perhaps building our own house, and started researching alternative building styles, cordwood being our current favorite. The owner of our rental said we could salvage things to use towards our building… so it seemed like an option (just neglecting the fact that we both have no construction experience… but I am convinced you can learn how to do just about anything in our day and age).

We decided that as we prepared to salvage and  purchase raw land to build on we would temporarily relocate our selves to Chuck’s parents house. They graciously offered to take us in until we could find something. Considering that plan, I put my beehives up at their house and planted a big bee forage garden with lots of flower and vegetables. It felt like perhaps my land dreams would be fulfilled at my in-laws.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: (Lately I have been studying and learning everything I can about permaculture. Ever since I went to school for nutrition, I have had this growing fascination with agriculture, and wanting to grow and eat my own food. Not to mention feeling really inspired by all the documentaries about our food system and bee keeping over the last few years. I have felt so moved by the work of people like Bill Salatin (the Food Inc. Farmer), Geoff Lawton, Bill Mollison, Susan Brown from Mademoiselle Miel, and all my local farmer friends that we buy raw milk from, and help me learn about beehives and let my kids play with the animals. There is a growing movement of people realizing that we need to change the way we produce our food in this country and that giant, pesticide laden, GMO mono crop mega farms need to transform back into the small family farm of the past. I can go on about this forever… and will in another post… but wait

WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH OUR HOUSE BUYING  YOU ASK…well at one point during our searching I jokingly said to my husband, “why can’t there just be a really cool hippie couple who is like minded who has already started our hobby farm and permaculture dream  but they just for some reason have to move? It seemed so convenient, and because it never hurts to ask, I said a prayer that night and asked God the same question.

So the search continued and we were in the midst of negotiations on a 10 acre piece of raw land that was formerly a corn and soybean field which we were again convinced was “The ONE”….

BUT WAIT (Que dramatic music)

During the middle of picking up the girls from school, and my awkward mommy moment of trying to get all 4 of my kids buckled in their car seats… Chuck calls.

He tells me that there is a craigslist ad for a hobby farm and that I am not going to believe it and I need to go and look at it right away. So I sped home and opened up the link in an e-mail… and just for dramatic effect, I want you to read just a taste of the craigslist ad too:

Hobby Farm 80 acres with Home, Barn & Outbuildings

This beautiful 80 acre Hobby Farm is located 45 min. North of the Twin Cities on the border of the towns of Cambridge and Harris, MN.

The land has about 50 farmable acres and 29 pristine wooded acres.

We ran an organic farm and CSA program for 3 years on the property. We had our organic animal feed greens growing in our biggest open field, along with our heirloom melons, organic vegetables & greens, and 3,000 strawberry plants also on it.
*the strawberry plants have been one year in the ground and will come back every year! They have begun to flower already, so sweet strawberries are on their way!

We have 2 separate fields, and 2 uncovered hoop house structuring for easy build, already carved out on virgin land that we also grew specialty heirloom vegetables, herbs, and culinary mushrooms.

Our home is a charming good sound structure that accompanies this amazing 80 acre property. We have also cleared a space on the top of our highest hill, which overlooks the entrance to our property, that is a perfect location for a dream home to build on the property.

Our 7 outbuildings are amazing! They are well built and sound and all in great condition!

Our Settlers Home is a historical gem. It was a rural home that nested one of the first families to settle this area in the late 17th century. It has been completely renovated with new floors and walls, and an exposed beam authentic ceiling that is truly stunning and authentic. We have a build in art studio room addition on the left side of the home that has served us as a true creative oasis! The right side is outdoors and has a lean roof great for parking ATVs, lawnmower etc. The main room is two stories. There is a standable attic with a built in shelf/closet. It was actually the shared bedroom for the family of six that lived in this rural home. It has power electricity.

Our 2nd building stores our property well and the pump in a small basement. Top level has space for organized storage, great for tools and houses our deep freezer.

Our 3rd structure is small but not in character! It is another historically gem build by the settlers. It stores wood for winter.

Our 4th structure is a shack house we used to house our pigs, they were happy to have a enclosed home instead of a lean. It does have electricity. It has an enclosed field with an existing electric fence ready to be plugged back in. It is adjacent to our forest with a nice wooded area of it included in our fenced in area which was great for our pigs to have a forest feel. They happily made a mud pit in a corner!

Our 5th building is our Barn. Wired with electricity it is a spacious and has a built in wood rack for seeding, we used it in a stage of our mushroom cultivation process.

We have customized the barn space and layout many times and according to season, and it has well separated spaces ready for its new layout. We have wonderful counter space and double sinks with running water. Great for processing produce and an outside cleaning space.

Our silou is picturesque to our property.

Our 6th building is our Chicken Coop. It is a great structure and we housed our laying hens here. It is fenced in with a great hill in the front for them to happily graze.

Our property is ideal for grazing with rolling hills, and in addition we will be leaving our chicken tractor we have built and used effectively! It has a hook up to be transported by whatever is convenient, and it houses up to 100 birds who may be moved around the property happily and safely for happy grazing.

We have a small fruit orchard with two apples and a plum tree, along with multiple large enclosed fenced areas great for grazing livestock.

Our 7th building is two buildings in one! One side houses a great space for storage, equipment, and daily animal feeding grains. It has a small enclosed chicken coop inside with an access door to a fenced in outside area for birds. The outside fenced in area has a space with a wired top enclosure, great for young chicks safety, and a open top fenced in area to be weaned safely.

The other side is our main garage and storage shed. Spacious with a big sliding door for great visible access. It has a small space for attic storage as well.

We have 3 ponds in total scattered throughout our 80 acre property, along with a carved out farmers road scenically cut out through a beautiful wooded area that serves as a perfect connector of our 2 adjacent 40 acre plots. Our biggest pond is visible right off this beautiful farmers road.

Our 29 wooded acres are just simply AMAZING! It truly distinguishes our property!
We have multiple forest trails blooming with wildlife, and local flora and fauna. We have a seasonal spring that runs through our property with the most beautiful black soil and prized natural peat moss decadently spread throughout our forest. We have inoculated wood logs with culinary mushrooms ready to bloom throughout the property and also composted in our woods! We have an array of local mushrooms varieties naturally growing throughout our forests, including the highly prized morel mushroom which welcomes wonderful mushroom hunting adventures!

Deers and turkeys also run abound out here so if you are a hunting enthusiast you will have a happy hunting season on this property!

Detailed pics will be posted by tomorrow morning.

Serious inquiries only please.

PICTURES you ask? I am sure you all want to see the pictures. NO PICTURES not a one, but I did not need to see. I knew that this was my personal heaven, I had just read my dream. I immediately called the number to the AD in tears… yes I was crying like a giant baby.

I said, “Hello my name is Tacy and I am a little nervous, sorry I am crying, but I just read your craigslist AD and you just described my personal heaven and I really need to come and see it right away.”

Because I was so super anxious, I sent my brother and sister in law over to the house because they were only 7 minutes down the road. Luckily for my nerves sake, the homeowner was there and took them on an incredible tour. She told them she had got my message and was excited to meet me. My brother and sister in law told her all about me and Chuck and how perfect this place would be for our family…

My sister in law called me after the tour and said, “I am pretty sure once you meet Lucy it will be a done deal, she is just the most beautiful Hippie women, your age who started this farm 3 years ago but is from Miami and can’t stand the cold Minnesota winters and wants to go back to Florida.”

I got off that phone call… and my knees buckled and tears filled my eyes.

Could this really be happening? God really did hear my super random half joking prayer from months ago. It felt like the entire Universe was shifting just to make the humble dream of some obscure housewife in Minnesota. How can I even put into words the feeling I had in that moment. It was like heaven opened up for just a minute and I could see God sitting up there smiling and giving me the thumbs up…

This was it. No Mistaking. There was so much magic.

We had to wait a few days to actually go and see it. The longest couple days of my life. In my anxiety I wrote the home owner an e-mail, just telling her that I could not let this house go by without telling her a little bit about our story. The letter basically said that no one on this green earth would love that farm more than we would.

When we met Lucy and toured the farm it was everything that I thought it would be… not perfect by any means… but this incredible haven of endless agricultural possibilities. Oh the things I would grow… and learn, and the adventures my kids will have and the hard work and the love and the vegetables. Not to mention that it would bless so many families.

We toured it on our Anniversary, the first day of our 7th year of marriage… and it just so happened that this was the 7th house we had tried to purchase. In numerology the number 7 symbolizes perfection and completion… it just could not have been any more perfect and complete to us.

At the end of the tour we all hugged, and we told her that we wanted to pay her what she had asked for it. And she said, “perfect, you are my perfect buyers. You won me over with your e-mail. I wanted someone who would continue our work here. I don’t want to negotiate any more we will take it off the market.” She also told me that she had been praying for the right people to find it. Pretty cool huh!?

And there are lots and lots of other things that were so incredibly amazing. But somethings I just hold in my heart about it all.

So, My wildest dream came true. I am going to be an Organic Farmer. Many more stories to come.

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Bring in the Spring

I remember multiple people telling me that once you have three kids, all subsequent additions of children (4, 5, 6) were relatively easy… because naturally you know what you are doing and have done it before and it’s just easy right!?!? Well, I would like to dispel this rumor, I am not going to say that these people were flat out liars, but I think they may have been speaking from their own experience, which I am positive included a lot more spacing between each child. 4 kids 5 and under is not easy.  I think Jim Gaffigan nailed it when he said, “If you want to know what it’s like to have a fourth, just imagine that you are drowning and then somebody hands you a baby.”

I will say my appreciation for the baby phase has dramatically increased this time around. In the midst of the toddler noise pollution and hostage negotiations I seem to find myself in, he is like a slice of absolute heaven… which reminds me how much I love this blog post. Which points out that by your 3rd or 4th the baby is the “comfort in the chaos”. I honestly feel like I could spend all day making faces and funny noises at him and watching his eyes light up. The following video illustrates how I spend a good portion of my day.

But…Deep breaths. It is spring in Minnesota. There is nothing so incredible about suddenly being able to walk out your front door and feel sunshine… especially when you live in my house. Lighting in our rental home is pretty dismal, and often gives you the sensation that you are inside a small dungeon in the middle of the day. Winters here have been very oppressive, but not to worry… a bulldozer is coming to knock it down come July (another great story I should get around to telling soon). But the dungeon can not bring me down now… it’s spring and I’m letting it in.

I love watching my kids experience the magic of spring and be amazed at the wonder of life springing up everywhere. This year I felt that sense of childhood magic and wonder. At school my children’s teacher has some bud branches in a vase with eggs tied to it. And I thought, “Hey, I can do that!” So I did… and I felt really proud that I had one small decoration in my home. But then something happened and totally blew me away. The buds opened… in my dungeon, they sprung open and green life popped out. I just did not even realize that disconnected from the tree they would still open up. I was amazed that out of each tiny little bud there were like 13 leaves that began to grow… and they are still growing. Amazing. Inside that branch and that bud was life, and not just life… but nutrients, and information about how and when to grow.


(wow this photo actually makes my dining room look sunny and inviting)

It was the same with our little plate of Easter Grass… just a few wheat berries laying on the dirt… add water and presto! Life. It makes me want to start scattering seeds every where I go, I just want to see the miracle over and over again.


It is really important for me to remember the seasons, and with the turning of each one I reflect a little bit about the current season of my own life. Only a season to endure the challenges of the ages my children are… and yet ONLY a season to enjoy the really great things about it.

This is a little song the girls learned at school. I think the imagery is really lovely.

My lady spring is dressed in green, she wears a primrose crown.

And little baby buds and twigs are clinging to her gown.

The sun shines if she laughs at all,

and if she weeps the raindrops fall.

My lady spring, my lady spring.

Happy Spring.

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4 Crying Out Loud

This was an oft heard expression of my childhood, I believe it was one of my mom’s favorite declarations of frustration. Which was a good alternative to using expletives or the Lords names in vain, both of which she was opposed to. You have to say it in a Minnesotan accent to get the full effect… Which is something like “oh fer cryin out lowd!” You could usually hear it uttered after one of three instances. 

  • When you take a seat only to realize that there is an impending need for you to get back up. For example siting down in your car and buckling up and realizing you forgot your purse.
  • The malfunction of almost anything. Salt shaker that won’t shake or shakes out too much salt… Car that won’t start when your in a hurry, jammed sewing machine, you name it. This also includes malfunction of mouth or silverware that results on food spilled on clothing.
  • Being inconveinenced by another person. In which the expression is uttered under the breath after said person has exited. Example telling someone to shut the door behind them and they leave it wide open in which case you have to do it. If you had to get up from a comfortable seat this crosses over to reason number one and it is said with added fervor.

The other day I found myself muttering this expression in one of my moments of frustration and ironically it made me laugh because I literally had 4 people crying out loud to me.

These under the breath expressions sometimes feel like my way to complain to someone as my role seems to be listening to everyone’s complaints. 

Interestingly enough the same day I ran to Walmart to pick up a few things.  Half of which I forgot because the baby started crying every time I stopped the cart and my brain shut off (an interesting and extremely unproductive side effect I experience when kids cry). Anyways as I rushed through the parking lot to try to get the baby in the van and get it up to speed so he would fall back asleep, a women knocked on my van window. I rolled it down in ten below weather only to have the baby intensify screaming. Then this woman began telling me a long drawn out story about her daughter and a surgery and needing money and she already had $20.00 but she just needed $1 more for whatever it was she was looking for… And as the story went on she cried louder and harder and tears filled her eyes and my babies cries continued to intensify. Finally I cut her off… “I have a quarter in my van and no other cash do you need a ride or something?” And immediately her tears stopped and she said “a QUARTER! A quarter isn’t going to help nobody” and she rolled her eyes at me and told me to take care of my baby. 

Oh for crying out loud!!!

Sometimes people ask me how I am doing, and honestly sometimes I don’t know how I feel except for frustrated that I am exposed to so many other people’s raw emotions all day it is hard to find my own. My kids remind me of this lady… Intensified emotion called upon at will and blasted at me until they either get what they are seeking or realize, as this women did, that I only have a quarter to spare or I frankly don’t care..

Hey that rhymed so now for an impromptu poem I composed….

4 little mouths crying at my feet, 4 little mouths that want something to eat. 1 little mouth proclaiming someone fell, 2 little mouths love to tattletale. 1 little mouth making farting sounds. 2 little mouths tell him to calm down. 1 little mouth screaming pain unbearable. 2 little mouths render toys un-shareable. 1 little mouth yelling pick me up. 1 little mouth from the bathroom shouts, “wipe my butt.” 4 little mouth snuggle up for a kiss. 4 little mouths when they are gone I’m sure to miss. 3 little mouths need to brush their teeth. Now shut your mouths and go to sleep.

I wrote this on a handheld device while wearing a baby sleeping in a carrier rocking back and forth with a 2 year old offering me pretend hotdogs… Needless to say there are sure to be typos.

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In a therapy session today I realized a few important things about myself. The first is that eating chocolate conservatively but on a regular basis is necessary for my survival as a stay at home mother of 4 kids 4 and under. The other is that I need to write. Like many things over the past few years I have tucked my writing away with the excuse that I have no time, no energy, and often not much noteworthy to say. Over the past year my life has changed in profound ways, and almost every night before I fall asleep I formulate a post in my head of all the things that happened that day… Yet none of those brain posts ever made it to print (there were some really good ones too… Now lost somewhere in the recesses of my memory bank). Today I realized I need to have some expression of myself on a regular basis. A chance to check in with myself about how I think and feel. As most of my day is spent confronted with the intense and often highly irrtional emotions of toddlers and having conversations about why it’s not ok to touch stove burners or use pieces of toilet paper that are 6 feet long. So today with a desire to have a healthy expression of myself I herby resume this blog. Which may be of no consequence to you but very noteworthy to me.

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Face to Face


Last month on the 23rd of December we loaded up a van of three very excited toddlers to go to the airport and pick up our daddy, who had been in the Philippians for almost two weeks. My pictures (taken with my ancient cell phone) do not fully encompass their excitement, nor the extreme adorableness of Fiona walking around the airport holding up this sign.


My husband had warned me that he was very dirty, grungy and had not showered for days. I was imagining him red faced, mud caked, with flies buzzing around his crazy hair. But, as usual, he looked completely GQ when he walked through the jet way doors, clean faced, smelling like essential oils, as always, and smiling like sunshine to see his little family (I wish I had a picture of that, but I was too excited to kiss his face to take a photo).

I really want to post some things in his words and from his perspective, but for now just my own reflections from it all.


Piles and piles of burning garbage. The people now walk a midst the remains of what used to be homes, schools, shops, trees, and everything they knew. The air is heavy with the toxic smoke, making breathing difficult… as if the weight of grief of  almost 6,000 lost loved ones was not suffocating enough.


It is hard to imagine what the recovery process will be like there. It seems the people there are still very much in a state of shock, and will be processing the effects and emotions of this events for years to come.


My mind is brought back to Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake 4 years ago this month. I saw a statistic that today nearly 150,000 people are still displaced with out homes. Events like this do not resolve themselves quickly or easily especially when considering how poor these people are. Plus there are deep emotional wounds that will need to be healed. Yet as the news and press subside about such events for many Americans it will seem like a tragedy of the past, though the daily struggle in the Philippians, Haiti and other disaster torn areas continues on.



Sometimes in my life I hear of great tragedy that to me seems to be completely unbearable. And I look at pictures of people walking through the aftermath and think, “There is a person… alive, in the midst of it all. How will they go on? Will they find happiness in destruction?”


My husbands objective in going to the Philippians was to deliver relief aid good sent over by a charity organization directed towards children in need, from California. Unfortunately when him and his team arrived they found that the relief goods had been seized by the local government, and they would not release them. Unfortunately this kind of corruption happens way too often. There is A TON of money involved in disasters which seems to breed corruption.

But Chuck knew going into this that being able to deliver the cargo was a real possibility, and so with his suitcases full of essential oils and some good working boots he just got to work doing whatever he could.


Most of the essential oils went to these ladies, from Mercy In Action. They are a group of midwives who deliver babies for free. If you want to cry a little bit, just watch the video on their website (and if you have kids think about your first delivery).


I asked them last month what they were using the oils for. They said that the women have literally been smelling death and so they use them often for their aromatic properties, They are also used in massage and for pain relief (oh the wonder of Deep Blue and Peppermint oil). Oils can also be administered to newborn babies to help boost immune function (Frankincense and Myrrh are very powerful for infants)


The remainder just went to people he met on his journeys who had anything from open wounds that needed Melaluca and to people with Polio who were in desperate need of pain relief. It is sad to think that most Filipino people were without proper medical attention before the event due to poverty. Now many of them are in greater need with even less ability to receive it. The lady pictured above actually took Chuck around one town and took him into houses of people who were sick and he gave them oils.


It makes me so happy to look at this lady in her little shack with hundreds of dollars of oils in front of her… something she probably could have never purchased on her own. And then a complete stranger from a foreign land just walked up to her one day and bestowed this gift. That is awesome.

One of the things I love about essential oils is that they let people take their health into their own hands… and you can’t really screw them up (minus getting them in your eye… stings like a beast). They have no side effects.


Chuck was also able to help in some home rebuilding projects, not actually in the physical labor but in the paperwork. There are a lot of dollars tied up in Charity organization and churches that needs to be distributed and used but there is red tape and paperwork… and for some they have no idea how to fill it out.


He also made sure to distribute little bags of candy to kids. Which always gets a smile, plus Fillipino kids love to have their picture taken… it is the cutest.


And of course the little dollies that my kids hugged and kissed to fill with love travel around the globe to be hugged and kissed and loved.



And where you may wonder did he sleep? Well his bed is the blanket on this tile floor, and one of this traveling companions slept across that row of chairs because she was terrified of rats. (As I would have been too… and yes they were running around) This is an LDS church building. They are some of the only buildings still standing because they were really well made structures. There are about 45 buildings on Leyte and Samar and most of them are housing  over 100 people (or about 3,000 displaced LDS families).



Very soon after the Tyhoon water purification systems were put in place inside of each of the church units. I must say despite any reservations you may have about Mormons, they sure know how to get organized and get stuff done especially in situations like these.



Chuck told me that out of view in this photo (bottom right corner) was a man taking a bath, he declined to have his photo taken. But you can see how needed purified water is, if this is the bathing conditions for many.


Here is the scene of a food giveaway done by the organization Charity Vision that happened at one of the churches. Chuck said the lines would be incredibly long and some people would wait almost all day to get something to eat.


He was especially touched at one of the giveaways he helped with. They gave out the ingredients for spaghetti diner, which is the equivalent of a Christmas feast for most. He said the people were so happy.


I love now that these images flash my mind every time I eat a bowl of spaghetti. That it is not just the meal we throw together because we are pressed for time or don’t have anything else in the house… but it is a sign of abundance somewhere and celebration.


His last major endeavor was chainsawing this tree down. He joined up with a group called Charity Vision who had the equipment and transportation. Which can you see how big the root structure is compared to the guy standing there! This things was massive and despite a whole day of work they didn’t get it all removed.


Chuck said that guys like these are the real heroes. This group of three friends named themselves Seagull Rescue, a nickname that stems from an old Mormon story. They spend their days going about doing good and looking for ways to rescue people.


Chuck wanted to go to the Philippians because he wanted to help the people Face to Face, I am glad he took lots of pictures for us to see that there is hope for them.

I am having a hard time summing up all of my thoughts. Perhaps I will write some more thoughts in a few weeks.

But for now don’t forget the Filipinos. Pray for them, they are still and will be for some time recovering. May God Bless them and may God show us how we can help.


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While you were away…

In an effort to take all of the junk I have been storing in my brain this past week and let it out I am writing this post to my husband so that hopefully when he comes home from the Philipines next Monday I can sit and LISTEN to his  stories and be inspired instead of spewing 13 days of toddler craziness at him.

Charles–  In your absence you should be happy to know that I have been in surprisingly good spirits. In a way I consider being here cleaning up the aftermath of our daily toddler typhoon the best way I can help the Filipinos at this point. I get so excited each day around 7:00 am each morning when you call to give us an update…. and my hearts sinks a bit when you don’t get an internet connection and we don’t hear your happy tales.

Fiona was so excited this morning to know that you were giving the Filipinos spaghetti diners, and I was moved to know that to them, spaghetti diner is like a Christmas style feast (man we are so spoiled).  When the house is crazy and I am trying to wade through all of our junk, I imagine you handing a simple doll to a child and how calming and comforting it feels to be around you.

chuck in phillippines

My head has been reeling with stories about everything that has happened in our house. My brain has been holding onto all the absolute absurdity. You know the crazy stories about poop every where and three crying kids at the store all going boneless, and the internet guy seeing me in my underwear….  I thought I would write you a really funny post about all the madness. But tonight I listened to Handel’s Messiah on MPR and have been reflecting over the week in a much more positive light. Plus for like the 700th time this week I called my mom and told her I was losing my mind and she said, “Stop saying that Tacy! You are going to be fine this is just the place in life you are in right now.” It has stuck really stuck with me, and so I have been trying to replace all of my thoughts about my insanity and nervous breakdown with positive affirmations.

This morning your mom came over to play with the kids while I ran errands, and she asked me how things have been going. Honestly, besides the fact that we miss having you around, things have gone amazingly well. I joked with her that I thought sending you to the Philipines was supposed to feel like a sacrifice, but it really hasn’t. It just feels really good.

People have been so unbelievably helpful to me and the kids. I have had visitors almost everyday to break up the day and give me a moment of adult conversation. I had childcare whenever I needed it, and people brought me lots of food…. someone even went to the grocery store for me with a list (I love you Jenny!) I was able to spend time with some friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and I even got to spend a night with my cousins (you know how much I love those Krammer girls!) And on Saturdays I get to sit quietly in the Chocolate showroom and listen to Christmas music.

Our van almost completely died, and my dad came and picked it up and completely fixed it, new battery and the latch on the hood works now. He said it was our Christmas present, boy does my dad know how much I love practical gifts!! And speaking of gifts everyday there has been a package on the doorstep, and you know how excited I get to open up boxes.

I have received two anonymous envelopes with money in them saying that they were inspired by your service. And that is pretty much the sentiment that everyone has shared, they feel like helping us while you are away is a way of helping you help the Fillipions. It is just like this massive outpouring of Love. It feels so wonderful.

I actually feel like the the repentant Scrooge, although not stingy with my money, or a workaholic, the past few weeks before you left I was really struggling with my parental anger and I just felt like a jerk all the time. Disciplining kids is HARD (another post topic) and it was really draining my life force. I started reading a new book on discipline that is really helping me to shift my approach and end each interaction with the kids on a positive note. Now I feel like shouting out the window, “It’s Christmas! Hey you! Buy the biggest Turkey you can find and send it to Tiny Tim!”

You have inspired me and lots of other people. I am glad that it has all worked out the way that it has. There is a chain reaction of Love and Service in motion in Minnesota, and I am sure that you are seeing it in the Philipines as well.

This wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a really, really incredible blessing.

We love you and I can’t think of a better Birthday present than having you come home on Monday (but you can still buy me a present if you want :)… oh wait I already picked one up for you… for myself😉

And now, a few photos:

Fiona had her preschool Christmas program. She sang every word to every song. I could not talk her out of the green leggings with red socks, I mean she was "Christmas Dorothy" for goodness sake. Lucas ran around like a nutcase the whole time.

Fiona had her preschool Christmas program. She sang every word to every song. I could not talk her out of the green leggings with red socks, I mean she was “Christmas Dorothy” for goodness sake. Lucas ran around like a nutcase the whole time.

Daphine was tickled to get to stay at preschool with her big sister and shoved as many cookies in her mouth as she could before I dragged them all out the door.

Daphine was tickled to get to stay at preschool with her big sister and shoved as many cookies in her mouth as she could before I dragged them all out the door.

Every time Lucas gets any opportunity to put on someone else's shoes he will. He has been especially fond of your red sneakers.
Every time Lucas gets any opportunity to put on someone else’s shoes he will. He has been especially fond of your red sneakers.

Your mom brought us a Christmas tree and it is gorgeous and the kids all got new dresses and suits... looking real good around here.

Your mom brought us a Christmas tree and it is gorgeous and the kids all got new dresses and suits… looking real good around here.

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Send Love, Hope and The Essentials

This Wednesday I dropped my very slender and handsome husband off at the Minneapolis International airport. I wondered, had I packed him enough granola bars and trail mix for 13 days… and I said a little prayer that his luggage would arrive safely with him because he was carrying some incredibly important cargo. Off to the island of Leyte in the Philippines.


Over 12 years ago Chuck served a 2 year LDS mission on the island of Leyte. He learned to speak the Cebuano, and developed a love for the Filipino people and culture. It is hard not to love people for whom you have served. He has always hoped that someday he would get to return. Yet, never would have imagined it would be under such circumstance.

After the Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island….we in our own small way were devastated for them. Chuck began to find it difficult to sit in his office chair at work, answering seemingly trivial questions about real estate software, when he was viewing images online of the apocalyptic damage. To hear stories of parents whose children were torn right out of their arms or imagine them walking the street surrounded by their dead became difficult for him to bear and he was driven to figure out a way to help.

He began looking for places he could donate money, but wondered to whom? Which Organization would be best? Then he found out that some former missionary companions were going to the island to deliver cargo sent from Giving Children Hope, a charity organization in California, and they asked if Chuck would like to come too.

There were a lot of details that were super unclear… how would he get work off? Could we afford it? Would the cargo load get there? How would they distribute it once there? Could Chuck get a passport in time? Would he be safe? Would he be able to help? Would his wife go insane in his absence?

But in spite of all doubt and fears we decided that he should go. And little by little things started falling into place and pretty soon he was buying plane tickets. Then lots and lots of gear and in the midst his very last minute preparations he had a very inspired idea.

Around here we are Essential Oil users… ummm perhaps “junkies” would be a better term. They pretty much constitute 95% of our family health care and prevention, and we consider them to be a pretty invaluable asset to us. And Chuck thought, “What if I could bring oils to the Philippines, a whole suitcase full.” He started reaching into his oil network and asked for any donations he could get. The response was awe inspiring.

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Almost immediately packages were overnight-ed to our home filled with oils. Two giant boxes arrived only hours before he had to board his plane. We had to carefully repackage and wrap them to fit in his luggage and miraculously they filled an entire suitcase. We are really touched by the individual users of doTERRA who contributed and to organizations like GiveOils and the Healing Hands Foundation, which were willing to contribute to Chuck… just some random guy taking a suitcase over.

The kids and I wanted to send him with something too. It was not much but we bought some simple dolls and stuffed animals and different kinds of candies to give to the kids who might be scared or sad. I told the girls that we could make them extra special if we filled them will love. And so we gave each one a hug and a kiss before we packed them up for their long journey.



(Side Note: That is Daphnie’s new favorite way to smile)

Tonight I sit at my computer (which I have not had the internet in my home for 4 months… Chuck lovingly ordered it for me before he departed so I could be in the know) and I wonder what is he doing and what is he seeing and experiencing? I hope to post some updates as I receive them.

We knew that this Christmas we wanted to help someone…. we tossed around the idea of soup kitchen service, nursing home caroling, gifts to the poor. Just trying to instill some sort of message to our very small children that Christmas is not about presents under a tree. It is about much greater gifts.  It is about LOVE, and the One who Loved us First. May HE watch over my husband, and bring him home safe to us on my Birthday, December 23rd.

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