Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Things for Friday, Kindness, Maria Merian, and Scaly-itis Edition

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We have been having and on again, off again battle with our lawn mower this summer. It is super fickle and will only turn on if it feels like it, which isn't very often. Even when it does get going it doesn't cut very well because the blade is uneven. This means that even after mowing our lawn it still looks a mess because the grass is all different lengths! On top of that, I am the only one who can use the lawn mower because Jon is heavier than I am and it over heats really quickly when he drives it.

Ugg.

I have been feeling really bad about our yard all summer and have been trying my best to keep on top of it. About two weeks ago I was feeling especially bad about it because my sister and her fiance were coming to visit us and our yard didn't look very good. I was sad that their first view of our house would be through a jungle of grass. So the afternoon before they were suppose to arrive I decided to go out one last time and try to jump the mower battery... again... to see if I could get it to work. I wasn't too hopeful that it would work, but I wanted to try. I got side tracked blowing up the swimming pool for the kids and while I was thus employed Asher brought me the mail, excited that there was a letter, with no return address, simply marked "Farrell Family." I let him open it, which he did, and promptly threw the letter on the ground. Looking back now, I should have just left it there on the ground, but I picked it up and this is what it said.


It was signed "a concerned neighbor." I felt like I'd been hit with a baseball bat and slunk onto the ground. I was crushed. I couldn't believe that someone would be so unkind as to write such a mean letter, especially since they didn't know what struggles we'd been going through.

So, I bawled.

And bawled some more.

Then I called Jon and told him we should stop mowing our lawn for the rest of the summer... just to spite them.

And then I bawled some more.

When Jon got home we were able to talk more sensibly about the letter, and while it still really hurt, talking about it helped us see some important things. It was a real wake up call to Jon and I about how important it is to be kind. You NEVER know what someone else is going through. Kindness is always the best choice. Even when you think you understand a situation... you really don't... so just be kind. And second, we realized that we couldn't judge the person too harshly because, even though we'd never gotten the nerve to send a letter to someone, we both have thought unkind things like that before about other people and their homes. We really didn't have much of a moral high horse to stand on.

In the end, even though the letter still stings two weeks later, I'm grateful for it. Being on the receiving end of hatred and unkindness can sometimes be the biggest reminder of how important love and kindness are. I really hope that one day I find out who wrote this letter, just so I can tell them that.

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Classic Tabby snarl 

We've had two birthdays the last week! Rose turned five-years-old, which I can hardly believe, and Tabitha turned 1- year-old.  I love those two little girls so much. And even though they are both often feisty balls of pure energy, who exhaust my patience and challenge my parenting skills-- I can't imagine my life without them. They fill my life with so much joy and I love their personalities. I just need to get all their energy, passion, determination and stubbornness moving in the right direction and these girls will change the world! Or at least have a really good time trying.

I was especially excited about the gift I gave Rose for her birthday. A few months ago we checked this book out from the library. 



It is about a woman named Maria Merian who lived in the 1600's and was one of the first biologists. She studied insects and small animals and drew incredible pictures of them. She was one of the first to discover that butterflies and frogs underwent a metamorphosis. Basically, she is a really incredible woman. For some reason Rose LOVED this book. She'd ask to read it a few times a day. She also took to drawing pictures of butterflies all over her notebooks.

So for her birthday I got her a copy of the book, a butterfly journal,  and scoured the Internet until I found some prints of Maria Merian's work (which was hard to find!), downloaded the highest quality I could find,   printed them off, and framed them for her room. I think they turned out so beautiful!


And Rose was really excited about it all... which I thought was really funny. Who knew that a five-year-old would be excited about a 200-year-old biologist!

Tabitha's birthday present was much easier. We just bought a bag of balloons, blew them up and then dumped them in the living room. She was in heaven. It was the best one-year-old birthday present ever!

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Our chickens have scaly leg mites. Sort of like fleas or lice that live under their scales and makes their legs look something like this.


Pretty, huh?

It is spreading through our flock and Asher has been very concerned about it. A few days ago I noticed the kids going in and out of the house with buckets of soapy water. When I walked out to see what they were doing I found Asher, Rose and Abe giving our chickens baths in the soapy water and overheard them talking about the chickens having "scaly-itis" on their feet.

After this Asher announced that he was now going to be a "chicken doctor" and set up a little office outside with a sign that announced when he was in and when he was out. It only lasted a few days, but oh it was cute! We've taken to calling Asher our  "chicken whisper" because he spends a remarkable amount of time with the chickens-- enough that we've contemplated putting a chair in the chicken coop for him-- and is the most chicken obsessed person I've ever met in my life. Which is saying something because I once knew a woman whose chicken wore a diaper and rode around in her purse!

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Our home school support group started this week and our first field trip was to the Living History Farms. We had a great time. Rose and I liked the millinery shop best because we got to try on corsets... and I think I want one. Really, I do. A whole set of old fashioned underwear would be so much fun! As would wearing hats with all those feathers and ribbons.. maybe I could start something?

Or not.

The other thing we loved was this old sheep-- yes sheep-- powered butter churn. Tell me this isn't the most brilliant thing you've ever seen in your life.


I really think we need one of these. Forget butter, I could have my sheep-- or kids for that matter-- power all sorts of useful things!

The other thing that really struck me about the Living History Farm  was how many things have been invented in the last 100 years. It got me thinking about how much has changed in my life time (internet, computers, cell phones) and how different the world will be in 100 years from now. It made me wonder what the Living History Museum of the future will be like. In a 100 years will there be exhibits with things like CD players, phones with cords that plugged into the wall, computers you couldn't fit in your pocket and TV's you couldn't mount on the wall.  Will kids  exclaim, "Can you believe they didn't have the Internet?" in the same way my kids said, "Can you believe they didn't have electricity?" Will there be replicas of Walmart that people will walk into, the same way I walked into the old General store, and exclaim,  "Oh how quaint, they came here to get all types of things. Now I just order my things online." 

Who knows... but it is possible right?

What do you think will be in the Living History Museum of 2100 AD?

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And I promise that Part 2 of my Miriam post is coming soon. It has been harder to write than I expected. It is a complicated story... as are the modern day applications. I am also teaching online seminary again for our Stake (which I LOVE) and setting that up has taken a lot of my computer time the last month. But don't worry,  it is coming... just in case you have been dying of suspense.

Oh, also if you are on Instagram and would like to follow me my account is private, but if you send me a request and your profile picture doesn't look too scary, I'd love to connect with you. My account is hltfarrell.

Have a wonderful weekend and I'd love for you to link up-- even if it is later on in the week. I so enjoy meeting new bloggers! 


1.Courage in the face of hate 

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1.Courage in the face of hate 

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1.Courage in the face of hate 

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12 comments:

  1. Ugh. So sorry about that letter. Though it kind of made me laugh- people who write such things generally use poor grammar and punctuation. ( : Good for you for finding a way to overcome the hurt from that experience instead of letting it fester.

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  2. Wow, I'm very sorry you had to have that experience. Makes me sad that a concerned neighbor wouldn't try to reach out and help - especially if they saw you battling your lawn mower! I've been having some unkind thoughts toward someone and this put it into perspective - so thank you for sharing and the reminder that we can be a little more Christ-like in our daily actions.

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  3. I don't even know you (other than through this blog) but I feel sick to my stomach about that letter. I hate when those kinds of things happen. Because they shouldn't! I know I'm not perfect at not judging, but I sure have been trying because of personal circumstances that have exposed my imperfections and you definitely never know what people are going through!

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  4. Well this was obviously written by a woman. Men don't use the adjective lovely in this type of sentence. If it bothered her so much she should have come over to see how she could have helped. I love yard work and would help even if I lived just an hour away...but I'm in Ca. :( Maybe someone in your ward has one you can borrow?

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    1. Thanks for the offer! I was serious when I said I didn't want to mow our lawn the rest of the summer just to make a point but everytime i looked at our yard all I heard was "you're a sloppy mess" and it was making me feel so depressed. Luckily we have a nice neighbor (not the one who wrote this) and a friend from church who both came over and mowed our lawn for us. And someone gave us a new mower (it doesn't work yet-- but hopefully it will soon) and so maybe that will be much better!

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  5. I'm so sorry you got this letter. I know several people who, over the years, have received unkind and anonymous letters. They are venting but have no idea the wounds they inflict on others and don't care or they wouldn't do it. We have had our trials as well and I try to remember that others have them too and we shouldn't judge because we don't know what they are going through. It would have been nice if they had offered to help and gotten to know you better. They missed an opportunity not only for service that would have "fed" them spiritually and emotionally, but might have made some wonderful friends. That is why the Savior told us to pray for our enemies--they usually have really hard hearts.

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  6. That sheep churner is the coolest thing I've ever seen!!!

    That letter is the lamest thing I've ever seen!!! How people can be so cruel is beyond me. For heaven sake notice the 4 kids and come do service and mow the lawn as a surprise! Now I'd be leery about meeting neighbors. Good reminder on kindness though.

    Good luck with your chickens. I miss having chickens. I hope your little doctor man can heal them with love and soap. :)

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  7. Read your post today and then not long after found myself reading this: http://witanddelight.com/2014/09/kindness-brave-everywhere-mean-people-know/ and smiling at the way lessons come in random bulk sometimes.

    May you and your sweet family be blessed! And may that ladies husband (or fellow's wife, if it happens to be a man who uses the word lovely ...) find some time to clean her windows. ;) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbFiB7oiQs4)

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    1. Lauren, I thought of that window cleaning story too! I guess it is one that we all need to remember.

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  8. Oh, don't we just love concerned neighbors! Once a concerned neighbor sent the police to our door because he/she was worried about our border collie (who has a fluffy fur coat) playing outside in our backyard in the snow. We had to reassure the officer that our dog loved the snow and could come in whenever she wanted, had shelter under the deck and food and water available to her. Little did our neighbor know that we had just moved in and it was easier to unpack with the dog outside. Here we didn't know anyone in that neighborhood and that was our welcome.

    I think moments like these (and that letter was just plain mean!) remind us to treat others with kindness because we know what it feels like to be treated unkindly.

    I liked the birthday gifts you gave your girls. :)

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  9. I'm so sorry you got such a mean spirited letter. We went through that over our lawn, only our neighbor filed a complaint with the police, the city council and the mayor claiming we'd neglected our lawn for three years (while also complaining about three other houses on our street, some of which were severely neglected rentals between tenants).

    Our lawn was maybe 6" tall. I even took a photo: http://www.mamablogga.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/neighborhood-007.jpg . Another neighbor mowed it (our mower was perpetually broken too), very kindly, and then all the bare patches and dead grass underneath the lovely growth showed. I'm sure the plaintiffs were very happy.

    We moved a few years later. Three weeks in our new neighborhood, and I was reported to the police for abandoning my children . . . because I told a tantruming 3-year-old I was leaving her, and my other children that I was angry--as I sprayed them with sunscreen and loaded them all up for their swim lessons.

    Some people like to complain and target others. If it wasn't you on this issue, this person would probably use another passive-aggressive ploy for some other "complaint," whether toward you or someone else. But yes, we can all use a little more kindness and understanding (and maybe some common sense!).

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  10. That is quite soul-crushing about the letter--because it seems like anyone with the energy to write a letter could also have the energy to offer to help out! And lawns really don't even matter, not in the long run. It's just grass, not worth people getting offended over! Oh, this makes me rather glad that my husband and I have never lived in the sort of neighborhood where people get bothered about grass. We lived in the country until we moved into an apartment complex..

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