Friday, June 5, 2015

Unique Passion or is it a DNA Memory?

Have you ever gone antique shopping, collected certain items, or wanted to learn a language and wondered why you really like these things, when it really has nothing to do with anything, except that you like it?

My sister collected lighthouses, in the form of miniatures, art, etc., She never knew why she liked them so much...she just did!

We both have always LOVED the East Coast, and fell in love with Massachusetts. The history, the lush green countryside, the historic homes, on and on. I have always loved the coastal style of home, decor, etc.

Three or four years ago, {I've lost track now}, we started our Family History Journey. I know I'm probably being redundant, as I have shared a lot of this already; but, I still feel the need to share and put an all important question out there..

Could it be possible, that your DNA has a memory?

We all have passions, likes/dislikes, hobbies, or even extreme fascinations with certain cultures. But have you ever wondered if it's something deeper than, "it just interests me"?

The reason I ask this, is because through this journey of researching our family history, many "isn't that weird?" moments kept happening. At some point you start to think maybe this is more than coincidence.

Let me explain...

I'm 41 now, and when I was 24 and living in Honolulu, Hawaii for a short time, to be near my Dad and his family, I was working in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. One of my coworkers suggested that while on my lunch break, I stop by the psychic fair and get a "reading". I was single, and wanted to find out why, at that point in my life, I was still having trouble finding "The One"!

What else does a 20'something single girl ask a "psychic", Ha!

So...why not!

She was a young late 20-something "psychic", and I asked her the above question.

Her response was this...

"This is interesting...I see a very large ship, with large sails, like from a long long time ago. I see you. You have 3 children. Something happened and your husband died, and left you with the 3 children. Until you get over the loss of him, you won't be able to move on and find your true love."

I walked away thinking that was the most random and bizarre "reading" and made absolutely no sense!

Fast forward 14 or so years later, and Heather and I discover in our research that our Great Grandmothers Grandfather was a whaling captain in Honolulu. That was shocking enough, then I found this...

Notice the last obituary...


At this point, we find out it took over 6 months for our 3rd Great Grandmother to find out her husband died. We just felt sad. Then, later that evening, I kept rereading the obituary in my head.

Then, it HIT ME!

"Leaves a wife and three children to mourn his loss."

All of a sudden I remembered that "random" psychic reading, that didn't seem so random anymore!

Then, we find out he was from Lowell Massachusetts, his best friend married our 3rd Great Grandmother, and he was also a whaling captain, and in his retirement he was a lighthouse keeper in Honolulu.

Are you kidding me!

So now, the lighthouses, affinity for anything Nantucket, nautical, etc, all of a sudden makes scary sense to both my sister and me!

I bought this print below,10 years ago. I found it in a thrift store, and had to have it!

Turns out it's the Charles W. Morgan in Mystic, Connecticut, which was an American whaling ship.

Another, "Holy WOW", moment when I looked at this print with new eyes, after our research.

I put my questions about the elusive Dennis (Denis) Kelly on a whaling online forum. And in a twist of fate, a friend of a relative, saw the post and recognized the story. She told our cousin, who lives in Californina, and she got in touch with me! In another twist of fate her son was living in Texas too! The next thing I know, she comes for a visit!

This is all of us together last week, here at Thistle Hill Ranch!
Her boyfriend, her in the middle next to me, her daughter in-law and son Kelly...notice the name Kelly? Yes, it's from Dennis Kelly.
I somehow know our relatives that have passed on made this happen! It was the most amazing 3 hours. I felt like I had known them my whole life. So comfortable and so much fun!

I know people casually say they believe in fate, or that their loved ones are still with them, and you casually agree.

But, if you really think about it, do you ever wonder about those "loved ones" you've never met? What if they love us, and know us; yet we've never met? What if they want us to know them so badly, they latch on to our passions, and push us in directions to find them, know them, and love them too?

I think so often when we research our family tree, it's just a bunch of names and dates. Never any stories, never any pictures, never a "real" person. So how could you possibly get a real picture of who they were?

Watch any show like "Who do you think you are?", or "Genealogy Roadshow", and see their individual journeys. It all seems to start out the same way...looking for a name, date, and some more information. Then, you hear, stories like Brook Shields, finding out she had history in France, as in royalty. She mentioned she wanted to learn French, had traveled to France, loved everything French, and never knew she had a genealogical history in France!

There are many stories like this!

I have loved our journey immensely. NOTHING is a coincidence anymore, I look at everything differently now.

My sister Heather brought this question to mind... {and forgive me Heather if I've chopped up your idea, but I think this is pretty close!}

~What if we don't just pass down eye color, hair color, and health. What if we pass down memories? What if we pass down passions or fears?

For example, when were afraid of certain things, for no reason at all! No previous experiences with that fear, we are just afraid!

I know... It really makes you think!

Ironically, several years after she proposed this idea, a study came out about this exact thing a year ago.

Here is the link:

So the next time someone asks you why you started a certain hobby, collection, or career choice, stop and think. It could be genetic! Your 4th Great Grandfather may have been an architect, whaler, scientist, lighthouse captain, artist etc.

It may not be as random a career choice or passion as you think.

Don't you just LOVE science?

Have a Great Weekend!

And when your out gardening, sailing, antiquing, etc. this weekend, stop and think... like one of my Pinterest Boards Titles

"Family History~I wonder if ?..."



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summer is Almost Here at Thistle Hill Ranch!

I can't believe it's taken me so long to post on my Blog!

Rushing to finish up with school so they don't go to far into June, rains putting a damper on every ranch duty, {Pun Intended}, and technical difficulties.

I had issues with storage on my phone, uploaded photos to my laptop and apparently didn't know that would delete them from my blog! Who knew???? I have no clue how to correct the issue, so if you see random missing photos in previous blog posts, you know why! So bizarre. Sometimes I hate technology, and my lack of knowledge in the field. UGH!

Moving on...

Our Homeschool year 2014-15 is coming to a long close! This has been the LONGEST year Evvvvveeeeer!

We learned we do not like the math program we chose for this's not enough practice, (so we supplemented), yet, too many lessons for a normal school year, so Double YUK! You live and you learn, and thank god for a knowledgable tutor.

We finished the entire book of Mythology, that covered Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, "Mythology", by Edith Hamilton. We loved learning all the gods and goddesses, for me it was a slight repeat of a High School; although, I'm pretty sure we didn't read the WHOLE book. We read this while learning Ancient History, Greek, and Roman History at the same time. I found that the boys were coming to me bringing examples of Greek and Roman influences in society, architecture, art, and even modern advertisements.

We had a very busy year of homeschooling and ranching, but somehow we managed it. While coming to a close in our school year, I stumbled on an ad for music lessons. They are an amazing family, that I'm lucky enough to get to visit with, while the dad/husband teaches my boys guitar.

They live in an amazing home that they've built all on their own. They keep telling me all they want to do with it, and looking around you see it is technically in various stages of renovation or construction. Yet to me, it's perfect! It's so welcoming and cpmfortable. It could be the beautiful spirit of the family. I feel very lucky to have stumbled on them to teach my boys. The boys feel lucky too!

Here is their darling momma cat with her babies.
This is the head of the family, Mr. Grubb, who has made guitar so much fun, that the boys practice without reminders. Thanks to Mr. Grubb, we may have campfire songs after all.

Back to ranching!

The prep/clean-up for Summer begins!

And here we are in FULL Thistle Hill Ranch Bloom! Purple Thistles Galore!

The rain in our area has been relentless, as I'm sure most of you have heard...Texas is a swamp!

The rain has held us back from a lot of ranch duties. This just means twice the amount of work, which means I stress out and freak out!

Last week, we had a few hours to get up the temporary fencing of chicken wire, to start training the ducks and geese to swim and come back to the coop.

Guess who did the fencing? Oh My was ME! I swore I would never put my pinky toenail in water I couldn't see my toe in...well, I guess sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

My hair went into a bun, and into the pond I went! I won't lie, it was so slimy and disgusting. Not to mention, any person who has ever watched the movie "Lonesome Dove", has that fear of going in any Texas water after a rain..."WATER MOCCASIN!" Is all I could hear in my head for the first few minutes.


But, I got the job done and the ducks and geese LOVE it!


For those of you that don't already know, we call our weekend the days my husband has off. He's off Wednesday and Thursday. So today being Wednesday, it's the beginning of our weekend. We finally have some sunshine, and at 6AM, we got up and got the day going before the storms roll in this afternoon.

First we dropped off Momma Sandy and baby at our vets for Sandy to be bred. Hopefully if all goes well, we'll get her at the end of the week. Her buddies Bailey and Classy had a hard time watching her leave. It was so sad...

Baby Koa wanted to be right by Mom, and Momma Sandy was happy to be able to see his face.

See you soon Sandy and baby Koa!
Then we returned to inspect fences after the storm and get started on projects.
Here is a picture of our normally dry creek bed overflowing this week, and moving water into the real creek.
When the rain receded, we discovered rock formations that have been revealed after all the dirt and sedement has washed away. The creek looks new to me again, almost unrecognizable.
Wildflowers are everywhere...I never tire of them!
Finding critter prints along the creek makes me smile. So much we don't see, that's happening here at the ranch.
While finishing things at the barn, Daisy called to us to let her in the back pasture with her girls. I guess she was ready to be a Nanny again to her girls, after a two week vacation with the horses in the front pasture.

Today the main focus was on Duck Mahal. It was so disgusting, I had a hard time even standing by it! "Gagging"!

But, luckily my guys helped out and we got it all done! Hopefully we'll get some nice days next week, so I can get my shelves up and the outside plantings around the duck coop finished.

Have I mentioned how much I hate pending projects?


But....I wait!

Luckily today we have a little sunshine before the afternoon storms. But the clouds are already closing in.

Below is what I call the Hobbit Tree. The previous owners stacked fence posts around the base of the tree, and I won't let anyone move them. They make the tree look like something in the Shire.

But, hard work and rummaging in ponds and around the woods does have it's dangers. I'm not afraid of bugs, but there is something about them in my hair that makes squeal like I'm 5!

I was so itchy and shaky after pulling it out of my scalp, I couldn't even take a good picture!


So, off to the Doctor I go. This was a week ago, but a few "iffy" symptoms warrant a check. So pray it's not Lyme. So gross, so gross, so gross!

Preston got it last Summer, and after antibiotics is Lyme free. Hats, Deep Woods Off spray, and you can still get critters on ya! So always check yourself and loved ones...have I mentioned it itches and it's gross? What do you do? Check for ticks and if you get one get checked out.

Lots to do, but somehow it never gets old and we always love the rewards! Thistle Hill Ranch is a true example of a labor of love.

Do what you love, love what you do, and SNAP the jobs a game...wait...I'm pretty sure I mixed Mary Poppins and Confucious, LOL!

I will leave you now with pictures of baby birds about to leave the nest, snuggling before the rains come in; and our beautiful sunset here last night.

Have a Great Week!





Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thistle Hill Ranch or Swamp?

We have been inundated with rain! Texas has been in a horrible drought for years. Our part of the state is finally relieved of drought conditions! But, unfortunately now it feels as if we should build an ark.

I thought it was April showers brings May flowers?

This is a dry creek bed, for overflow, funneling into the Spring fed creek. Both are running like crazy!

I know the rain is always welcome here, but I have been desperately missing my walks around the ranch. If I want to take a walk, it now requires gallons of Deep Woods Off and rubber boots.

A little less than pleasant!

I did however, manage to snap some pictures of our busy couple of weeks. So I apologize for the delay in posts.

I guess when life happens, sometimes you have no choice but to just keep going!

Today I finally have time to share the last couple weeks in pictures!

First, our poor little duck with a bum leg, needed to be looked at. Our poor "Limpy"! Luckily, the vet said he has already learned to live without. So he's back with his friends and happy!

We call our place "Thistle Hill Ranch", & this is why. Beautiful purple thistles on the hillside. The rain knocked them over, but they sure do brighten a rainy day.

Our girls grazing after a big Texas storm!

Daisy looks so small in the waves of rye grass. The rains have the grass growing by leaps and bounds. I feel like I live in the English countryside, with everything so lush and green.

This was the last "boyfriend in a box" for our mares, that I had to pick up. Now we cross our fingers and toes, say a prayer, and hope the last two mares are finally pregnant. I will let you know the good news as I get it!
Did you see how I did that? Think Happy Thoughts!

My Mother's Day gift from my boys! I have always wanted an antique scale. This one is actually from an old grocery store in our town. It makes it even more special!

This is from today..darling new baby birds in another one of our bird houses. I just love opening them to peek's like a present!

When you live on a ranch, there are beautiful things to look at, fun things to do, and a lot of HARD work!

One of the reasons I wanted to move to the country, was to show the boys what hard work really is. Funny thing about hard grows on you!

They never complain, they just DO!

They know they have to finish school work and chores before they can "play". I've noticed they seem to understand now, how hard work goes hand and hand with good character and success. Now they ask me what more they can help with!


This is Preston vacuuming the house. This is one of his everyday chores...did I mention that living on a ranch is messy?
This is last Wednesday...Stripping stalls is really hard work, and kinda yucky..let's be's GROSS! But, it has to be done!

And...creatures large and small appreciate your hard work, even if they don't say it. The key is to not look for approval from others, but to be satisfied in your work.


Our Baby Koa is growing like a weed! He is always curious and always wants to know what I'm up to. I could just eat him up he's so darn cute...although, I know I'm slightly prejudice.

And we have an announcement! Drum Roll Please!......................

The Boys Are in 4H!

I told you, we've been busy!

We are so excited! They went to their 1st meeting a month ago and the connection with the other kids was amazing! They were immediately welcomed into the greatest group of kids. This is what every parent hopes for. The parents of this group of kids are just as amazing. God has a way of leading you in directions and putting you exactly where you were meant to be. This wonderful Cooke County 4H group was such a gift. Wonderful parents, wonderful kids, and the opportunities for the boys are limitless. We can't wait!

Here are the boys, on the far left, with some of the kids, working the Bake Sale! We had a blast!

Hopefully next week I will have more fun pictures to share! Still working on getting Duck Ma Hal the way I want animals not helping the cause...ugh! Wish me luck!

More rain is expected, but luckily we are on a slight hill. Hopefully I will have more pictures to share sooner than later.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Homeschooling at Thistle Hill Ranch

I often get asked, " How do you do it all?"

The quick answer is, I don't!

This view in our back pasture, makes all the hardwork worth it! This will be our view in the next year or so, out our new house windows. Hard to be patient, but fun to look forward to!

If there is anything I've learned from my crazy upbringing, it was to just keep going, never give up, and you'll never know the answer to life's questions, unless you TRY!

So, the first all important rule I set for our family, is ORGANIZATION!

Organization is a MUST, with our home, ranch, and homeschooling. If you aren't organized, life that becomes, or already is chaotic, gets more chaotic and stressful!

When I talk about organization, I mean EVERYTHING!

So how do I stay organized? It takes work, but less work in the long run, than if I wasn't.

Here are a Few Examples:

1. When I get up in the morning, after getting dressed, I make a run through the house gathering laundry, & hand towels (every 2 days; because, let's face it, they get gross!), and start a load in the washer. The boys are getting up by this point, making their beds, getting dressed, and doing their morning chores.

~ The boys have individual, and together chores. These include: vacuuming (the entryway, back door area, which includes kitchen dining room, and laundry's very dusty/dirty on a farm), doing dishes, (unload and load morning dishes), feeding dogs and letting them out, feeding the cat, and changing all animals waters. Then, they move on to the ducks and geese coop, and then the barn for the horses. This is watering, feeding, & cleaning their stalls.

2. While the boys are completing their morning chores, I am doing various housework, (dusting, making my bed, folding laundry, and prepping any school lessons.

3. While the boys are doing their first 3 lessons on their own, I blog, mop, return emails, go through my calendar for upcoming Dr. visits, Veterinarian visits, grocery shopping, going through mail and filing receipts and other documents.

Early Morning Vet Visit for Artificial Insemination Round 2!

{I know that seems like a lot, and it is, but some of these things are daily, others not. So it stays fairly even keel...not too overwhelming.}

4. I plan their curriculum, pretty much to the letter, over the summer. Therefore, over the school year, I only have to adjust the curriculum on an "as needed" basis. This is part of the "being organized". This life we lead now is crazy busy, ( isn't everybody's?), and the way to stay sane is stay organized.

5. Day before yesterday, after homeschooling, I cleaned my bathroom from top to bottom, all drawers, baskets, (dumped old medications, lotions, etc.), wiped down all the drawers.

Then, I moved on to my dresser drawers and closet. I do this twice a year. I move out the seasonal clothes and get rid of anything that is worn out or needs to be donated. This helps me keep my closet and drawers organized and current.

6. I clean out my fridge about every other week, to get rid of any forgotten leftovers, or expired foods. This helps me keep on top of grocery shopping too. Everything shopping need, is an event in the country. My favorite grocery store 25 minutes away. The boys haircuts, Target, Best Buy, ie. major shopping, is 30 minutes away. To maximize my trips, I plan haircuts, gift shopping, etc. and hit those places first and then grocery shop on the way home. This helps my weeks go by more smoothly. We have a great meat market and small grocer in town for emergencies or just quick meal needs too.

So what does ALL of this have to do with homeschooling on the ranch?

If I didn't have the rest of our daily lives organized, homeschooling would be a joke! I have my oldest getting closer and closer to being college bound. Planning a students credits for college, takes dedication and LOTS of careful planning. The extra curricular activities carrying into school credits, (labs, leadership in the community, community service, etc., etc., etc.), can be quite overwhelming.

This planning scares me to death! I won't lie...

But, if you stay focused, keep up on your daily life needs and chores, then everything else falls into place. Keep yourself surrounded with supportive, like minded people, and keep on keeping on!

One of the girls supporting the other during Artificial Insemination. So sweet!

Some people say I'm "overly organized", even OCD; but, I look at it as my safety net. I thrive in a clean, tidy, organized environment. Right down to fresh cut flowers in almost every room. {I pick wildflowers, cut trimmings from bushes, anything to bring the outside in and freshen/brighten my home.} It makes me happy, it makes me take a deep relaxing breath, and my family loves it too.

These are roses from my rose bush in the backyard!
I bought this 2 months ago, and it's doing well, the trick is 2 ice cubes every other week!
Fresh picked pansies. They actually produce more blooms, the more you pick. And an aloe plant has always been a must! They heal cuts and scrapes FAST!

When people tell me they don't care if their home is untidy, I sometimes wonder if that's really true, or if it is really because they don't know where to start?

Hopefully if you're that person, that doesn't know where to start, I have helped in some way show, it IS possible to do it all. My boys are older and they help tremendously. But, when they were little, I did their "now" chores. I just got up earlier or stayed up later. But, either way, it got done.

Homeschooling is easy when you PLAN!

Plan your curriculum around your life's time. Everyone has a different life, therefore, different life's time.

Our math and science is taught by online and CD tutors. Geography is something I started with them, and then, they continued on their own. I made out flash cards for every country, with their capital on the back, and organized them by continent. They have to copy them into a notebook, by continent and include their government, and top resources. Amazing what they are learning and researching on their own with this project. It is fun to here them mention the countries outside of school time.

This allows me "free time" to get all my stuff done. I'm here, so if there are any questions, I'm here to help. And as I mentioned before, we have a math tutor that comes once a week to help with any gaps.

Then, we have time after lunch, for the rest of school. Literature, is my favorite subject! I love all the literature we are finishing together. Papers they are writing, and exposure to history through literature too. I add in poetry, reading from an American Anthology book, and even Emily Post's Etiquette. They hate etiquette, but funny how several things from our lessons they have already needed! Not so dumb now!

This is our living room ottoman, where I'm usually parked, writing, planning, reading, and occasionally folding laundry here, instead of on the dining room table. Always with a coffee, or 2 tea bags and a dash of cream, or the occassional evening wine glass.
Our girls relaxing in the shade after the rain...more rain coming today!
Glen and the boys, checking out all the creek beds surrounding the property.

I hope I have helped give a glimpse of what our real life is like. It's definitely not for everyone, but it is something we love. We love the time as a family that is definitely fleeting. We also appreciate every moment we have on the ranch. We know they are growing fast, and homeschooling is just one more way to help them grow into strong, respectful, well educated young men, through hard work and lots of love.

This is Landen riding Bailey with Joe, who trains them in horseback riding.
This is Bailey's baby!
This is Preston getting Classy ready for Artificial Insemination.

So here's to all you hard working moms that do it all! It can be done...just keep doing! Have a great week...

Happy Homeschooling & Organizing!