When it comes to the list of thing I want to instil in my sons, the value of hard work is close to the top - right behind walking closely with God and treating others with love and respect.
So when my oldest son cooked up the idea that for his first car, he wanted to work odd jobs to save enough money to buy an old truck to fix up, I was all for it. I've helped him line up work, juggle his schedule, and I've happily run him to and fro.
His savings account is growing, and he's shown pretty impressive control despite having a decent amount of cash in his pocket at any given time. (With the exception of one swap meet that set him back a bit - but it's kind of fun to splurge every now and then.) I have to admit, I'm really proud of him and how focused he's been on achieving his goal.
As we were leaning over the fence talking to the neighbors this weekend, Dylan's summer goal came up as a topic of conversation. They thought what he was doing was great, and told him he could have their old farm truck if he'd bring it by to show them once he finished fixing it up. Just like that, my son's dream came true. From the moment he first started thinking about what his first car would be (which was pretty young), he's wanted an old truck to restore. Not only did these people make that dream a reality, it's the truck he dreamed of.
Personally, I believe God used the kindness of these neighbors to bless Dylan's hard work. Whatever your beliefs, it's hard not to smile when you see the way my son lights up when he talks about his truck. As a mom, it's an amazing feeling to see your child work hard for something and that be rewarded.
I can't wait to see the truck as it returns to its former glory.
I have a bit of a reputation for not letting a little thing like inexperience stop me from trying something new. When I'm venturing into uncharted territory, I study up on it for a bit and then dive right in, figuring the only way I'll truly learn is to just give it a try.
Some people in my life find this a touch nerve racking. Go figure.
My family started down the path to homesteading years before we actually moved to our farm. As I've sought to relearn the skills that came so easily to my ancestors, the Internet has been an invaluable resource. Usually. Every so often, Youtube lies and things aren't as simple as they seem. That, or I'm a dork. I'm telling myself it's the Internet’s fault, though.
Here are the top three things that I've found to be harder than expected since we started our homesteading venture:
Freezing eggs. I read somewhere that you can freeze eggs in ice cube trays to save them for those times when the ladies take a break. Sounds great in theory - mix the eggs as if you were going to scramble them, pour them into ice cube trays, then pop them out and stick them into bags when they're frozen.
The first time I went to "pop them out," they wouldn't budge. It's like the darned things had been glued in. I eventually figured out that I needed to run a butter knife along each of the four sides before they'd go anywhere. Even then, it can be a bit of a trick.
Still, if it saves me from having to buy eggs in October, it'll be worth the effort.
Milking goats. It looks so simple. Looks can be deceiving. I've tried and tried, heeding the advice of friends with goats and countless you-tubers, but to no avail. Apparently, I'm completely inept when it comes to extracting milk from a goat's udder.
My oldest son, on the other hand, seems to be a natural at it. He's now been gifted with the task of milking our girls twice a day. Sometimes being inept isn't entirely bad.
Cobbing. I read somewhere that cobbing is in our DNA, that our ancestors made mud houses for so long, people just naturally seem to know how to do it. Apparently, my ancestors did not get this memo. We jumped into our cobbing adventure with zeal. I knew it would be a lot of work, but there was something very appealing about sculpting my house with my own two hands.
Unfortunately, finding just the right mix of sand, clay and straw, the mix that won't crack when it dries, is a bit of a art - an art I am still mastering. So we have lots of small cobbed projects like rabbit pens and fire pits, but I've yet to come to a point where I feel confident I could cob a house and it not fall down around my ears.
I wouldn't mind the learning curve so much if I weren't so desperate to have a kitchen and running water again. I have to admit eyeballing the house next door when it went up for sale. But I'm determined not to give up. This is the week that I will master the mud...
I've decided it's time to tell Vance Davis's story. To do that well, I'm re-reading all of the books with him in it. Well, I'm attempting to, anyway. Any time I try to sit down on my front porch to read, this happens:
I finally convinced this crew to leave me alone and then I got distracted by Snickers teaching her baby, Forest, how to pick a fight with our young buckling, Skittlez. (My oldest son insists on the "z" - he says it makes the name more manly. Or is it manlier?)
Even with all of this cuteness abounding, I'm determined to work on this book. I'll let you know how it goes!
There is something I love about each of my books. Each novel released reveals some facet of me, some emotion I've struggled with, a piece of my soul. I've enjoyed each of them or I wouldn't have shared them with you, my reader.
But every so often, one of the books strikes a deeper chord. I find myself busting at the seams with excitement over releasing it. Throwaway and Jailbird were those kind of books for me. My upcoming release, Waiting for You, also falls into that category.
The novel doesn't contain some of the suspense found in the others. It's a love story, pure and simple. One of my early readers summed it up best when she said, "I want to crawl inside this book and live there." Yep, me too, Becki. Me, too.
There were times I didn't think this book was ever going to be written. My creative team would agree to a set of dates and I'd blow right past them with no progress made because life has been so incredibly crazy of late. (Even for me.) But the amazing team of people I work with rolled with it and got the book ready in spite of me.
Here's the official synopsis:
For years, Karise McAlister has been running: from her family, from herself, and from her dreams. Now she’s made it, with a successful career and a promising engagement. But when she meets the compelling and creative Aidan Donnelly, his down-to-earth charm provides the wakeup call Karise badly needs. Moving across country to start over, Karise devotes herself to her work, convinced she needs to be independent. But with handsome Aidan just down the road and a mischievous group of friends determined to set her up, Karise must face her concerns about life and romance head-on.
Waiting for You will be available for pre-order next week and released May 7!
I tell readers all the time that you don't have to read my books in any certain order to enjoy them. Each novel is meant to stand alone. I try to have at least one person who is new to my work read my novels before they're released, just to be sure they make sense all by their lonesome.
That said, part of the fun of the books operating in a shared universe is getting to see how characters are doing after their story has been told. All of the books intertwine on some level, but every now and then, there's one that brings multiple others in. My next release just so happens to be one of those books.
So if you haven't read Ties That Bind, Ring of Fire or Roses in Ecuador, now might be a good time to do so. To make that easier, my wonderful publisher has combined those three novels into one collection: The Unbridled Hearts Collection.
If you've already read all three books, thank you! Now please go tell all of your friends to read them. At three books for $5.99, it's a great deal!
And stay tuned for tomorrow's cover reveal for my upcoming release, Waiting for You. I simply cannot wait to share this book with you; I'm about to bubble over with excitement!
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.