We have puppies! They're cute and playful and fuzzy and chunky. And it's almost time to say good-bye to them and send them on to new homes where they will be loved by another family. Once these little guys opened their eyes and started moving around, it has been the boys job to play with them daily. Which really, wasn't too hard to get them to do. The warm weather and the puppies have enticed my boys to head outside for hours every day, and they've got the pink noses to show for it! The sunshine has been good for all of us and I am excited for spring!
One puppy adventure story happened the other day when the momma, Nana, was crying at the door. She sounded awful and we wondered if she'd been hit by a car, but it turns out, she was asking for help for one of her babies. Towards the front of the house there is a small pond- it's only a foot or so deep and maybe five feet across. One of the puppies must have been feeling adventurous as she curiously got closer to the water where we found she'd fallen in and was dog-paddling like crazy. Remember, it's still close to freezing every night and this was first thing in the morning, so it was cold. My mother-in-law pulled her out and we took her inside to dry her off. She shivered for another 25 minutes, the sweet thing, but before long she was ready to go out and play with her brothers and sisters again. 
I am often surprised by nature and the innate knowledge inside each of us and inside animals. When Nana had her pups, it was cold and snowy outside. She dug herself a small den, in the best place possible for her new little family, and we hardly knew that they'd been born at all! When the puppy fell in the pond, she instictively knew how to swim, at least a little, and Nana knew she needed help to get her out. I know we often hear new parents, myself included, wishing our kids came with a User's Manual. But you know what? It's in us. It's a part of us. It's not something you can always generalize and write down or fully learn from someone else or even consciously recognize sometimes, but being a mom or a dad is part of our very nature. It's part of who we've been created to be and it's pretty awesome. 
 
 
As I have found myself caught up in the beginnings of a homestead and dreaming about it's future, I find myself intrigued by it's definition. How do YOU define homestead? I picture a quaint, farmstead home with green grass and lilac bushes, rocking chairs on the porch. Chickens and horses close by. A flowering orchard and a big garden. The children willingly and happily work alongside Mom and Dad to care for the family farm and there is time for climbing trees and digging in the dirt, afterwhich they curl up in a favorite nook with a book. The farm is largely self-sufficient and the family gathers each evening, kneeling in family prayer to thank a loving Heavenly Father for their bounteous blessings. Picture Little House on the Prairie in the year 2016, replace their three girls with three boys and call it the Porter Family Farm.
To me, the word "homestead" captures that vision for me. I was sure it would have a lovely, romantic definition that I could share here with you. But guess what? It doesn't. My go-to dictionary, Webster's Dictionary 1828 doesn't even list it.  Mother Earth News does have an article about the history of the word "What Exactly does the Term "Homesteading" Mean"
 if you are curious. In summary, it came in to the English language with the Homesteading Act in the 1800's, but came to mean "back to the land" for people leaving the cities and getting back to their roots. Today it's grown to largely mean self-sustainable living, wherever you are.
Dictionary.com simply defines it as "any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home." That leaves plenty of room for your own vision, needs and interpretations to fill in the gaps as to what your own personal homestead might be. So dream a little. What does your homestead look like? 
*This isn't my personal homestead, but it would work in a pinch, wouldn't it?  :)