Thursday, November 19


It is dark outside but as I sit here on the lanai, I hear the crickets chirping and the pool pump churning up the water in the hot tub, which will be a welcome reprieve after a hard days work cleaning and unpacking. Inside the sounds of dinner clearing and children playing reach out to where I sit.

As we settle into this tropical life in a quiet neighborhood (well, quiet until we moved in) I am again struck by how God orchestrated this all so well.  Moving a family of ten a distance of over a thousand miles, emptying out a home and witling down all of life's stuff into a sixteen foot trailer, all while showing the house was more than I would have imagined I could handle.  It brought me to tears many times. But His grace was there. Our NY home gets handed over to the new owners on Monday and that large season of life living in the northern part of our country closes.

These days, I mostly just monitor comments on this blog, most of them on old how-to posts on butchering and homesteading.  I've been asked if we're still homesteading and we are, albeit totally differently.  Now we have less than a half acre, but it is ours debt free and the year round growing season will allow us to putter in the gardens we'll build to our heart's content.  There are fruit trees here too among the old pines and palm trees, grapefruit, sour orange, clementine, lemon, and fig off the top of my head.  My rhubarb plant which I tenderly brought south felt the warmth and poked its head out of the soil. It thinks it is spring and I'm looking forward to trying to nurse it along here, giving it a "winter" inside the air conditioning when it is done bearing.

Life has changed a lot and I have changed a lot since I began blogging.  Besides the obvious things like growth in family size, I see that God has taught me a lot about grace, forgiveness, hope, and the preciousness of life along the years.  Life is less formula driven than it once was. I would like to continue blogging, since writing is sweet to me but I can promise this blog will veer off course from where it began.  I don't forsee much animal processing here in the south but my passion for marriage and family still are as strong.  Studying the Bible has become so sweet to me and I'd like to share some of that here too. A few years ago I began writing a children's novel for a gift for our children, which will be their Christmas gift this year.  More of my free time now, like these moments after dinner or early in the day, is spent giving time to this new door God has opened.  I never imagined I would enjoy writing fiction as much as I have.  I do have the best nine cheerleaders cheering me on, which no doubt helps.

Below are some photos, just off my phone, from the move and our week and a half in the tropics.  Where ever you are, may God catch you aware of His love tonight,
The Hampton Inn has been fabulous. This morning half the staff stood around while we ate breakfast, asking questions about our family, asking if we've been contacted by #TLC (hahahaha!), talking to the kids and handing out Toblerone. Later, I introduced t There is no way to inconspicuously walk 2.6 miles down a highway to a hotel when you number ten. The server tonight at the restaurant said, "Hey, I saw you all out walking earlier!" then proceeded to lean back, count us in Spanish, and watch us greedily c Washing off the grime of travel this morning. I think the sunshine will stay a novelty for a while. #Florida #thehagartysdoflorida Florida in November. The struggle is real. @katiesgrasso Addie wants Lyla to see the flounder she caught with her new pink fishing pole. One day of laundry and Big Ben. #largefamilylogistics Pretty cool field trip this morning to a privately owned air transport company and the Sherrif's office helicopter unit.

Monday, October 19

The death of Lucas Leonard and the Evil Inside.

        The news of Lucas Leonard’s brutal death shook our sleepy neighborhood early last week. Texts flew between mothers as we tried to make sense of what had happened, find out where the children were, and what could be done.  In the aftermath we were faced with the horrible reality that the parents of Lucas were charged with beating him to death and also his brother, Chris, who remains hospitalized.  We were all also faced with the absolute shock that Debi Leonard had been involved.

      My thoughts flew back to the last time I’d seen part of the family, while chatting with Debi at the town pool, our boys doing laps, her face lit, smiling, and friendly as always, pausing in our conversation to cheer on her youngest, who successfully dove to the bottom of the deep end to retrieve a dive stick his instructor had thrown in.  He beamed back at her.  Debi handed him a towel and lovingly tousled his wet hair.  That is the way I knew Debi - affectionate, kind to everyone, warm and friendly.  We’d run into each other while our kids swam, played soccer or ice skated together in the winter.

       I tried to make sense of the evil inside and sought counsel from a pastor friend of ours on how to help our children cope with the stomach-sickening evil our community had been handed.  Our oldest daughter walked around in tears over her friend Grace Leonard’s loss and pain, and another one of our children coped by asking endless questions, his mind clearly trying to make sense of the insensible. Our pastor friend explained that when we do not have a clear understanding of the gospel, that is, that Christ has done everything and is everything - our hope, our salvation, our right standing with God - that we are left with despair and hopelessness and have to contrive a holiness or goodness of our own making.  The product of this seems to be the “church” Debi attended, where rules and harshness reigned in an attempt to obtain a holy life.  How I wish Debi and I had conversed about Christianity or church instead of the daily niceties and small talk!

      Our nine year old asked me, ‘Mama, how could she do that when she was such a nice person?”  Debi taught our Ella a crafting class several years ago and left a positive impression with our daughter. Carefully, I explained to her that niceness does not take care of the sin inside each of us.  Neither does hours of Bible reading.  Nor does being a kind person.  I could tell our sweet and sensitive Ella was struggling to make sense of this all.

      “Kindness is like a blanket for sin.  It might cover it up and make things look pretty, but the sin is still there, underneath.  The only thing that completely takes away sin is the death of Jesus on the cross, when He showed His great love for us by taking the punishment for our sin. After He did that, and we trust in Him, we’re left pure and shiny clean, standing before God.  There is nothing else we can do to make Him love us more or less.  All we do is love Him back and the goodness in our hearts then, is out of our love and gratefulness for Jesus.”

      While Ella snuggled in close for another hug, I prayed again for our hurting children and hurting community.  People ask where God was in situations like this.  My answer would be that He was ready to intervene through those who watched the beating and but then did nothing, He was in me when I failed to pick up any hints of the terror in Debi’s life, He was waiting for action in those in the community who knew something was terrible about that building and did nothing.  God didn’t let the Leonard children down; people did.  It is a story and endless scenarios all of those who knew Debi or the children will play over and over in our minds and hearts a thousand times as we try to figure out what we could have done.  In the end, we may have no answers but only confidence that God is good despite of our failings, that this grieves the heart of God, and that He is the only hope for the evil inside.

Edited to add: It is my sincere hope that Debi is, for some reason, taking blame for what she did not do. I think that is everyone's sincere hope, no? Let's pray for truth to reign.

Friday, June 26

Home for Sale - Sold!



Built in 1791 by Asa Shepherd, a first settler in what would later be Oneida County, this 3,354 sq ft home on almost two acres in desirable Sauquoit, NY has five bedrooms and three baths.


Beautiful character fills this home, from the hand hewn beams of the kitchen ceiling to the wide plank floors and tin ceilings.   The bricks in the kitchen hearth were hand made, with fingerprints over two hundred years old still visible in some of them.

A .99 bag of cranberries for the eight year old, needle and embroidery floss made a cheery strand above the coal stove. house1


The last eight years have been spent making this solid home into a beautiful one, with a chef's kitchen, refinished hard pine floors, a first floor master suite with master bedroom, walk in closet, large attached office/sitting room and full bath with a copper soaking tub.

Large dining room is open to the kitchen. 
White marble living room fireplace.

Upstairs is laundry, two more remodeled full baths, four bedrooms and a huge bonus room.
Got up while the house slept to air out this side of the house and give it a good scrub down, expecting loads of sawdust everywhere but our floor guy cleaned up so well after he was finished! #floors #plank #ahannahandseanproject #oldhouse #oldhouselove #
Refinished plank floors downstairs.

Adding a little bit of beauty to the front door this morning.  #brass

There may be kid litter on the floor below me and laundry behind me waiting to be folded but this bit of beauty caught me on the way downstairs. #interiorthursdays #interiordesign #oldhouse #oldhouselove

Entryway light, ceiling and seven foot tall double doors.


Kitchen has bluestone countertops, island prep sink, stainless and black appliances, double ovens, and top of the line shaker cabinets. Floor is original hickory plank.


Hearth wall in kitchen, chimney is lined for use. Huge walk in pantry room to the left of the hearth.


Two days of insanity for the first showing. It took slowly banishing small humanoids from each room as it  was cleaned until we were all gated in the kitchen to get us here. Showing a big house with many children is not for the faint of heart but hallelujdiningroom1

Large, bright dining room, refinished plank floors, tin ceiling.



Almost finished. #marble #subwaytile #fireplace #ahannahandseanproject #decor #decorating #livingroom

Spacious living room with bright, natural light, working marble subway tile fireplace,
beamed ceiling and wall of bookcases.
 Chimney is lined for use.
Upstairs bonus room.
Large, bright, built in workstation for the kid's homework or computer and this room
 has a secret entrance just for added fun.


Oh you pretty little bathroom you. So far you've come since blue flowered linoleum and Mother Mary Blue everything. Now only your tin ceiling and antique mirror give a subtle nod to your past. The second full upstairs bathroom.


Bedroom #1. Sunny and spacious with its own attached bath.



Bedroom #1 bath  Cork flooring, spacious shower, new vanity, toilet, fixtures.


Bedroom #2 Lots of natural light, huge picture window, built in loft bed, built in bookshelves.




Bedroom #3. Huge space with lots of gorgeous natural light, large closet.


Bedroom #4.  Large closet, lots of natural light throughout the day. Beadboard ceiling and schoolhouse lights add to its character.

Master bedroom with walk in closet, hand stenciled floor, original tin ceiling and beautiful natural light.



Master Suite room #2, perfect office space, nursery, craft room....

 Master bath with Italian tile, copper soaking tub with custom copper faucet,
pedestal sink and chandelier.


More cleaned up door hardware beauty.
Some of the antique hardware found throughout the home.

Thanks to pinterest, our mudroom is clean and tidy. Copper pipe and curtain rings hanging mittens and hats, boot racks to hang boots, coat hooks for everyone and bins for ski boots and little kiddo mittens.

Mudroom conveniently located off the back deck entrance with boot racks, cast iron coat
hooks and plenty of room for all the kid's sport gear.

#Oregano. Can't help but love it. It comes back every year lusher than the last.

This property has established fruit trees including five varieties of apple, cherry, plumb, Asian pear, berry bushes including red currant, black cap, raspberries and blackberries, mulberry bush, cranberry, strawberries, rhubarb, an herb garden, tons of perennial plants.

This home sits on just under 2 acres with lovely neighbors, on a quiet country road, in a great school district
.  Taxes are roughly $3500 yr
Sauquoit schools.

All new water systems, new well, new natural gas furnace and an oil furnace less than ten yrs, option to heat with wood in either of the two lined chimneys. Home has been remodeled and restored throughout with additional spray foam insulation added to exterior walls during renovation.
Cellar is dry with concrete floor, an automatic sump pump, and tornado shelter.

Home has new gutters, woodshed attached to rear of garage, full workshop attached to the garage, and a gazebo in the yard.

Stone and block foundation, cedar shake siding, two porches and rear deck, vinyl replacement windows, new landscaping.

Priced to sell at $269,900.  Private showing for preapproved buyers. Open house dates to be announced.
Contact Sean at (315) 601-1403

The last of our sugar maple's glory till spring when they drip out sweet sap for us to boil.

 The sugar maples in autumn. 

Early morning view from the kitchen window. 
One of His new mercies this #morning. #nofilter The views, sunsets and sunrises from this property are wonderful.

A huge thank you to all you lovelies who shared our home info and link. We are hugely thankful that we have a contract on the house and should be closing shortly and our caravan heading south!

The following links mention the original settler who built this home, Asa Shepherd.
1. Rootsweb
2.Google Books, mentioning Asa as one of the "three boy pioneers"
3. Our Country and It's People