If homesteading and gardening are hard work, then homesteading and gardening with children can seem downright impossible! We're taking a realistic look at what homesteading with children looks like and how to succeed with Rebekah Rhodes.
Many of you are probably familiar with Justin Rhodes or on YouTube the Justin Rhodes Show, but Rebekah inspires millions through their YouTube channel, their streaming app called Abundance Plus, as well as on her Instagram account.
Rebekah is in a unique stage of life where she has five children, ages 14-9 months (four sons and one daughter). Two of the boys are old enough to be fantastic contributors on the homestead, two are in training but still very helpful, and a baby who usually gets worn around the homestead in a carrier!
So she truly is speaking from her heart and experience in this podcast on homesteading with children.
This is episode #332 of the Pioneering Today Podcast and I'm proud to say it was sponsored by my books The Family Garden Plan and The Family Garden Planner, both of which will help you learn how to plant and harvest a year's worth of food for your family.
Live Each Day With Grace
Rebekah's biggest philosophy is to live each day with grace. While pregnant with her last child she was pretty sick and didn't have a lot of energy for gardening, so she gave herself a lot of grace while sick and harvested produce from the garden when she could.
Changing your expectations for the season you're in is important. You may not be able to do as much as you did the year prior, but that doesn't mean you're “failing” at homesteading.
Rebekah shared how she planned to can some tomato sauce and got three quarts in when she had to stop because the baby needed her. She counted this as a win because it was three more jars than she had canned the year before!
Furthermore, sometimes you can look at the things that need to get done and find the tasks that take less prep. For instance, it's much more labor-intensive to can tomato sauce than it is to can green beans.
So sometimes you can still get a lot accomplished, but they're tasks that can be broken up into smaller portions, or tasks that are quicker and easier to accomplish.
Get Kids Involved
Rebekah and Justin don't make their kids help them in the garden, but they do require their kids to be outdoors with them while planting, working in the high tunnel, or tending to the crops.
Usually by bringing them along the kids will get interested in what's going on and pitch in and help. Occasionally there's one kiddo just digging in the dirt, but more times than not they end up helping.
One way Rebekah gives grace while gardening with children is that they plant about 20% more than they think they will need. They've learned that with toddlers in the garden something will get stepped on, or pulled up before it should, etc.
Rebekah shared an experience with a foster son that she and Justin had a few years back. This particular son didn't like zucchini at all, but after growing it, harvesting it and helping prepare it, he loved it!
Sometimes getting kids involved in the process of growing and making foods they don't enjoy gives them more of an appreciation for the work that goes into putting that food on the table and they're more likely to eat it.
Set Kids Up For Success
You'll start to notice that certain kids lean more toward certain activities on the homestead. One of Rebekah's kids doesn't enjoy gardening but really does enjoy working with the animals.
So Justin and Rebekah try to help instill the skills needed for their children to succeed when they leave the home.
With my own kids, I tend to give them the responsibility of a certain crop in the garden that they enjoy eating. This gave them a little bit more of a sense of intentionality when tending to that crop.
Let Kids Decide
We got to talking a bit about “from scratch” eating, which is what many homesteaders tend to do when they garden and cook from scratch.
When kids get older and are learning to make their own health decisions, we both think it's important to teach your children why we eat the way we eat, but then ultimately to let them make their own health decisions.
Rebekah shared an experience where her son chose to eat some bread that wasn't gluten-free (Rebekah has to eat gluten-free so her children do, too), he asked if he could eat the bread and she let him make the decision.
Later that day, he wasn't feeling the best and told her that if he had the choice again, he probably wouldn't eat the bread.
Sometimes, letting our kids realize how different foods make them feel is the best classroom in teaching them about healthy eating.
Verse of the Week: Proverbs 28:19
Melissa K Norris: Hey, pioneers. Welcome to episode number 332. On today's episode, we are going to be talking about homesteading and gardening when you have children. We'll actually be kind of covering the gamut from when you have really young children, infants, toddlers, middlers, teenagers, and perhaps you even have a spread of children throughout all of those different ages, but really helping you to incorporate them into the homestead, and also a look at what it is honestly going to look at with some of these different ages when you have kids, because oftentimes we can have an unrealistic idea of what it should look like and what we will be able to accomplish versus what's really the reality. Then we kind of set ourselves up for failure, or we feel very disappointed, or we feel we haven't done what we wanted to, or as much as we should have, et cetera.
I am super excited to dive into this topic today, and I have a very special guest that we're going to be discussing this with. For those of you who are new, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast. nice to meet you. I am your host, Melissa K. Norris. I'm a fifth-generation homesteader and also the founder of the Pioneering Today Academy, as well as melissaknorris.com. Between the podcast, my courses, the membership, YouTube channel, all the fun places, I help thousands of people every single month use modern homesteading in a simple way so that they can create a healthier and more self-sufficient life for themselves and their family really no matter where you live, because we can incorporate elements of homesteading anywhere.
Today's episode is sponsored and brought to you by my book and planner, The Family Garden Plan book. This is literally step by step, chapters and worksheets and charts that take you through every aspect of planning your garden, knowing exactly how much you need to plant of fruit and vegetables based upon what your family eats and your climate, it also helps you figure that out if you don't know that yet, so that you can grow a year's worth of food for your family, if that is your desire, so from the planning stages, both on how much and what to plant, to actually planning out your beds and your orchards, so we include fruits for perennials, to harvest time, all using organic, natural methods, from companion plan planting, crop rotation, and all of it is for a backyard gardener, so for small gardens.
It applies to in-ground gardening, raised beds, container gardening, and as a lot of us do, a mixture therein of all of these different growing beds to grow as much food as possible. That is The Family Garden Plan. It has all of the step-by-steps and information needed to grow your garden through all of the seasons. Then The Family Garden Planner is exactly as it sounds. That is a day planner. You have the year, month, and then weekly, and then even hour-by-hour breaks it down, but from a gardening perspective. There are charts that will take you through each month and let you know, based upon your gardening zone and/or your first and last frost dates, exactly what you need to do every single month in the garden, as well as record, so that you have got this record. Every single year, you will be able to tweak things to create a better garden and have your own personalized gardening system.
But it walks you through how to set all of that up so that you don't miss anything, because sometimes in gardening, you just don't know what you don't know and what needs to be done in each specific month. It helps you create a day-by-day, month-by-month system that you're writing in, and that is The Family Garden Planner. Both of those can be found at melissaknorris.com. You can just hop over to the website, and you will see where it says shop. It's a little downward arrow. You'll click that, and you'll see books. You can go there directly, and it'll show you all the place as you can order. But at this moment of the recording, if you click on the general store, you will see where I have a few autographed copies left of both of those books that you can order directly from me as long as those are still showing in stock. You've got lots of options for getting those into your hands.
Now for today's episode, back to our interview and announcing our special guest, and it is Rebekah Rhodes. Many of you are probably familiar with her husband, Justin Rhodes, or The Justin Rhodes Show from YouTube, but Rebekah teaches and inspires millions of people to grow their own food, alongside her family, through their popular YouTube channel, as well as their streaming platform, Abundance Plus, and her individual Instagram account. I was very excited to bring Rebekah on because she is at a... I don't know if a unique stage is quite the right wording, but that's what came to mind, where they have very young children, kids who are middle aged, and then those who are even entering their preteens and teenage years. We wanted to do an episode.
Many of you have emailed in or left reviews or asked me for help in gardening and incorporating the kids, but also, if you have young children, how do you actually do all of that? Rebekah and I are sharing our tips in today's episode. Now, for any of the things that we mention, for any resources and links, you can grab all of those with the blog post that accompanies today's episode. You will find that in the show notes, or you can simply type in melissaknorris.com/332, because this is episode number 332, again, melissaknorris.com/332. Now let's get straight to this interview. I am very excited for today's guest. Rebekah Rhodes, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Rebekah Rhodes: Thank you. I'm excited too.
Melissa K Norris: I feel like we have ran in the same circles for a really long time, and I've even got to see you at some of the events, but it's never been where we've actually just got to sit and chat.
Rebekah Rhodes: Yes.
Melissa K Norris: I'm really excited that we finally get that opportunity, and about a subject that I have a lot of readers and listeners who ask for this. You definitely have more experience in it than I do. I'm excited for us to be able to offer this help. Just to jump in, what I think is great is you have a wide span of ages of children in your guys' household, where I am more in the phase now, my kids... I have two children. They're four years apart, but they are going on 17 and 13. It's a very different time with that age group and homesteading and what they're capable of doing and their responsibilities versus having toddlers and infants or having toddlers and infants with the teenagers and that, but managing a homestead because it is... When you're planting a garden and you've got livestock and you're cooking from scratch, there's so many different parts of a homestead household than you have with just a regular household.
Just running a regular household, just keeping things in order and people somewhat clean and food on the table is hard enough. But adding in the element of producing your own food and creating that food from scratch and oftentimes really taking the carcass and cooking that and then using those bones and making the broth and doing all of that, you're not buying that pre-made at the store, it's a whole nother element. A lot of people who are just coming into this or maybe are pregnant or having babies are like, "Oh my gosh, how do I fit all of this in?" I would love for you to speak to that.
Rebekah Rhodes: Okay. Well, yeah, Justin and I have been homesteading pretty much since we've had babies. It's one of those things that for us, it was like, "I'm pregnant. I'm growing this child. Oh my gosh, what am I putting in my body? How is that affecting my unborn child?" It's kind of like those things where you really start thinking about what you're eating because you're pregnant. That's some of our story. We've always had little kids, and now that first child, Jonah, he has just turned 14. I cannot believe I have a teenager, a 14-year-old. It's crazy. I have a 14-year-old, then I have a 12, 10, seven, and then nine-month-old baby. We do have quite the wide range. I want to say first off, give yourself grace. All the moms out there who are trying to do all the things, just give yourself grace because you can't do all the things. I'm just going to say that.
Melissa K Norris: Amen. Amen.
Rebekah Rhodes: You can do a lot. You can do a lot, and you can really do a lot of things, but don't beat yourself up saying, "I can't do all the things, so I can't do any of the things." Do some of the things that you can do that bring you happiness, that bring you joy, not to say don't do things that don't, because there's lots of things in life that don't bring you joy, but you still have to do them, like sweeping the floor. Maybe that brings you joy though. I don't know. Really, I think that just going into it with the grace mindset... Even this morning, I was trying to... We do minerals for our livestock.
It's a pretty extensive mineral program. I try to get to it twice a week. I didn't get to it yesterday because the baby needed me. I was like, "Today is my day. I'm going to get it done." He was on Justin's back. About halfway through the process, he got really cranky and was like, "I am done. I don't want to be on Papa's back anymore. I want to be with Mama in the nice, warm house," but we couldn't stop. We couldn't stop because the livestock... We had to finish. It was milking time. We had to finish moving the animals. There was things that had to be finished before we could get inside. I just had to push through today and just talk to him and just be like, "Henry, it's okay. We're going to get done soon. Mama is finishing."
As soon as I was finished doing my part of the tasks, because Justin and the boys could finish cleaning up, putting everything away, and doing all the things that they didn't need me for, I got Henry, and we went inside. He was able to nurse and get free from being on the back. It's some of that. You push through, and hopefully baby isn't cranky, but even then, sometimes you have to push through, even when the baby is cranky or the toddler is whining and doesn't want to be doing the job anymore. That is the tricky part of having livestock. With gardens, you can just let them go. Obviously, that's not ideal, but for instance, when I got pregnant with Henry in 2020, I had planted all of this gardening. I had planted so many gardens, and then I got pregnant. I had morning sickness, and I was super tired. We did get some stuff out of the garden, but the garden was not tended to the way I had anticipated.
I had all of these plans pre-pregnancy of making... I was going to can all these tomatoes. I was going to do this, and I was going to do that. We were going to eat strictly out of the garden for months. Then I got sick, and all I wanted to do was eat pizza. It's like one of those things where you're just like, "How is this possible?" But like I said, just give yourself of grace and just know that... Last year, 2020, that year, the gardens pretty much suffered. Then I had the baby. I had him in February. Then I was like, "2021's going to be better in the garden."
It was. I did get more produce out of it. I did not get to can my tomato sauce again. That was on my list. I did make tomato sauce. I actually did can some. I canned three quarts. That is it. But you know what? I call that a win because I did what I could with the time that I had. My babies tend to not want to eat a lot of food. They like to nurse, and they show no interest in food. I still spend a lot of time nursing, not as much as in the newborn days, but I definitely... You will find me sitting down pretty often to get nourishment into my baby. I did what I could, and I got three quarts done. I was happy with that because that's more than I did the year before.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. I think you're right. I think changing your expectations for those seasons is really important. I think this is true anytime. We're talking about in the context of having infants and young children, but too, sometimes you have these plans, and then you might get hit it with an illness that is debilitating or an injury or something that doesn't allow you to do what you had envisioned. I know when I've went through those different times, and even when my kids were young...
My daughter, who is my youngest, who is almost 13... But she was born in May, and that is when... Here, where we're planting all of our warm weather crops is about mid to end of May. The majority of the garden is going in at that time, and then of course through the next months is the harvest and the canning and all that, and so the same thing that year. We did still get a garden in. My husband took on a larger portion of that than he normally would. We normally do it together, but he had to do more of the planting. We just did less than we would, but we really tried to focus on... This is what I've tried to do in any of those harder seasons or less-than-ideal... which honestly, every season has its issues, but...
Rebekah Rhodes: Yeah.
Melissa K Norris: You know? Yeah. There's always something, but really focusing on the crops that mean the most to us that I'm able to preserve with the least amount of efforts, because I'm with you. I love homegrown tomato sauce. My goal is to never buy it from the store, but making tomato sauce is a lot more involved in canning than doing something like green beans. Green beans, you just have to snap. You just pour water over them. You could do a raw pack. There's no simmering. There's no de-seeding. There's no all of that. For us, beans are a really staple crop for us. They grow pretty easy. I'm not having to baby them. We get our seed from them. They're also my dried beans [inaudible 00:15:30] dried bean [inaudible 00:15:30]. I'm doing nothing other than letting them dry on the vine and then picking them in and bringing them in for the winter months.
That was one of the things that we just felt like that year, we didn't do hardly... Actually, I don't even know if we did tomatoes that year. I don't think we even did tomatoes that year, honestly. I think just really looking at what is really important to you, and like you said, and then giving yourself grace, even if those really important things... Some of them might not end up looking like the volume or how you had wished. I don't know about you, but that year we had way more weeds than ever because I simply was not going to take nap time and devote it to weeding. It was going to be harvesting or some of the other things that needed to get done.
Rebekah Rhodes: 100%. Our garden was a mess weed-wise. I did have for forethought to get grass clippings down. In my raised beds, I didn't have as much, thank goodness, weeds, but in the crop gardens, our bigger... where we grow our pumpkins and stuff like that, it was a weedy mess. I am thankful. Justin did step in. Last year, we froze some tomato sauce, or in 2020, we froze tomato sauce. Then this year we, froze a little bit, and then we canned a little bit. Tomatoes are my love language. Honestly, I was like, "There's no option. We have to grow tomatoes, even just for fresh eating," because I was like, "We have to have tomatoes." That's summer to me. That's my most... tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers.
Melissa K Norris: Yes, yes.
Rebekah Rhodes: I just love it. I know. I'm thinking. I'm like, "Next year, it's going to be more next year. I just know it." But who knows? Who knows what will happen next year? Because it seems like something always does.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. There's always something. I'm with you. At the time we're recording this, it's like we're in the middle of December. Yes, I've got my pickles. I still have my fermented pickles too actually. I've got my canned ones too. While those are lovely and I'm so thankful to have them throughout the winter months, they're not quite the same as just that fresh cucumber or that fresh tomato or, yeah, the fresh food from the garden, which I guess is good though because then it gets me geared up.
[inaudible 00:17:55] between kids, you forget a little bit as time passes what labor was like and what pregnancy was like, or at least for me. I had horrible pregnancies. I didn't enjoy being pregnant, to be honest. I felt sicker than a dog, and it wasn't just the three months. It was the entire time through. But as time elapses, you forget, and then you just remember this beautiful child and all of the loveliness. I feel like it's kind of like that with the garden. Right now, I'm forgetting all of the work and some of the woes that happen, and I'm just remembering the beautiful aspects. I feel like that's what winter does for gardeners. It prepares you for the next work season.
Rebekah Rhodes: It's so true. It is so, so true. You really do forget. It's so funny because we just had a baby this year. Now I'm looking at Justin, and I'm like, "Did we really start over?" Our youngest before Henry, Gideon, he's seven. We had a nice, long time where we could go on dates and sleeping through the night and all these things. We're not wiping anyone's butt. Then all of a sudden, I turned 40, and I was like, "We have to have another baby because this is almost over. This part of my life is almost over. I would really like to just have one more." It took us a couple years to have him, but he's here and healthy, thank goodness and [inaudible 00:19:18]. But it's funny, it's the same way with the garden because you forget. You forget all of the labor, and you look forward to it because you have that break in it. You know what I mean?
Melissa K Norris: Yeah.
Rebekah Rhodes: I don't mind. I'm thinking of all of the work that it's going to be, and I'm like, "That's going to be great," as I sit in my warm house and it's cold outside and everything's put to bed. My gardens are put to bed right now.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. I think it's a good thing because... I don't know, because my only experience with gardening is living with a Northern climate, so our warm weather growing season is relatively short, not as short as some, but it's like the end of May, I'm planting out the tomatoes and all the warm-weather crops, and then we're pretty much done with the majority of that harvest by mid, end of September, depending upon the year. It's all kind of crammed in there with the preserving. It's all this go-time. Right now, we still have some Brussels sprouts out in the garden, but the actual work is not there. I can go out and pick Brussels sprouts. I've got potatoes that I'm just root-cellering in the ground under layers and layers of mulch.
Sunday, I just went out. It was pouring down rain. It was gross out, but I was only outside for two minutes as I'm digging up these potatoes and then bringing them in the house. Yeah. Everything is put to bed, and you get to kind of romanticize it, which is nice. I'm very glad that God has put those seasons in there, both the childbearing and rearing, but also with gardening. Now, I don't know if you guys did this, but when the kids were really little, especially that toddler phase, so really from, I would say, two until about four, during planting time, on some of the things, I would go through, and I would mark the holes so that they would be at the correct depth, but then I would let them go behind me and drop the seeds in the holes.
Of course, they'd drop them like... Not all of them made it into the holes, but most of them pretty would. It took longer, because obviously you're letting [inaudible 00:21:25], but it allowed them to be in the process, which worked better than me trying to not have them touch or do anything for fear they would mess it up, because that never works unless they're at nap time or they can go to grandma's or something. I found that if I could incorporate them and at least try to mitigate it so that they felt like that they were helping... They technically were, and they were learning at the same time.
But by giving them very specific roles for whatever age they were... Still, they would mess it up, again, that grace and the expectations. Then as they got a little bit bigger, three and four, I would just give them seeds, and even at one, as long as they weren't seeds that they were going to choke on or put up their nose or something like that. But I would just give them a little section of the garden and just let them do their thing and play in the dirt while we were planting the rest of it, rather than try to keep them out of certain areas. I don't know. Has that worked at all for you, or do you guys have any kind of system on planting day?
Rebekah Rhodes: Yeah. On planting day, it's all hands on deck. We actually start a lot of our seeds. We do direct-sow some, but not actually most of our stuff. There's just a couple things that direct-sow. They obviously can help with that because, like you said, it's easy. If they plant a whole bunch in one section, you can kind of thin it out before it gets too crazy. Our kids have always participated. We don't require it, but we do ask them to be outside with us. When we're planting at the greenhouse or when we're transplanting into our high tunnel or into our crop garden, we ask that they just be outside with us. It doesn't matter if they're actually working with us. We kind of let them make those choices. Remember when you would go to the bank with your parents as a kid and they would always give you a lollipop?
Melissa K Norris: Yeah.
Rebekah Rhodes: You wondered, "Why? Why do they hand out candy at the bank?" Well, they want it to be a positive experience for the kids. That's kind of how we feel about gardening. We let them come, and we let them bring their toys. They're sometimes digging in the dirt. Sometimes they're just playing. Sometimes they're digging in the dirt and actually putting something in the ground. Sometimes they're just digging in the dirt and playing, and sometimes they're just running around, playing tag or whatever, whatever game they've come up with. It just depends. Just bringing them along with us and not requiring them to work, but just requiring them to be with us... When they're that age, they really have to be with you. They can't be off on their own. But even as they get older, we don't require our older children to work.
We're like, "Hey, we're going outside." They're always going to just pitch in. You know what I mean? They're not going to just sit there and watch. Sometimes they do, but most of the time, they do pitch in and do something. We're kind of creating that good feeling of being outside with all of us. We're all enjoying. We're all talking. Sometimes we're telling funny stories. Sometimes we're listening to an audio book. It just kind of depends upon what's going on. Yeah. We do that, and we actually plant more than we think we need, because something will happen to them via the children, toddlers especially. They'll get stepped on. The plants will get stepped on or pulled up on accident, sometimes not accident.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. Yes.
Rebekah Rhodes: It's just like one of those things. That's another way we give ourselves grace. We give them grace by planting 25% more than we think we actually need to get the harvest that we want. Then it helps the relationship. It helps the expectations because it's inevitable that something will happen to something that you're really looking forward to growing via a child. We've always just tried to do as much as we can together. It seems to be working. Gideon, he's our last of the first group. I feel like I have my first group and then my second group, which... He's going to be the only one in the second group because I'm not having anymore.
But with Gideon, Gideon is... He's seven now, and he's really starting to get more involved and kind of transition out of that playing space and more into the, "I want to help," and actually help, not help in quotation marks. A lot of it is with our kids too, we also asked them to help us, not required it, but been like, "Hey, can you hold this for me?" or, "Can you put this in in the hole?" or... You know what I mean? Especially that age two to four, they really, really want to help. They really want to participate and feel like they're doing something big. By allowing them to do that, you're really just setting them up for, one, learning what they enjoy and what they don't enjoy.
One child hates gardening. He's like, "When I get older, I hope I marry somebody that likes gardening so that we can have fresh vegetables, but I'm not doing it. I'm an animal person." But you know what? With him, it's great because now he knows that when he's older, when he's old enough and he's on his own, if he's ever on his own on a different farm... which I always tell my kids, they don't ever have to leave. They are more than welcome to stick around and participate in what we're doing. They're more than welcome to bring their family, and we can all do it together if that's what they choose to do. But now he has that. He has that knowledge, like, "I don't like growing vegetables. I don't enjoy that. I enjoy working with the animals." now he has a future, a future of what that would look like. It's exciting that he's been able to really cultivate that. I do love gardening, but I really do love working with the animals too, but I didn't learn that until I was in my 30s. You know?
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. I think you're right. I think it is really important to... Obviously, the child has to be of a certain age before you're going to be able to discover, "Where is it that they really enjoy?" and all of that. You're not going to know that if you don't have them exposed to things when they're younger, but what I found too, especially within the gardening aspect, is once the kids developed a taste for certain things, and whatever they enjoyed the most, if I had them be in charge of what they actually like to eat, then that tended to help a little bit more, like, "Okay, you're going to help plant this," or, "You're going to have this section," kind of giving them responsibility on a specific thing. But also, if it was tied to something that they enjoyed, that seemed to help some. But what I found really interesting...
I don't know if you've experienced this, but with my older son, we always had a garden, but we didn't really get super deep into really realizing where our food came from and then only sourcing it from places that raised it like what our standards are now, using organic practices and grass-fed and no GMOs and being super-good stewards of the land and all of those things. I feel like his formative years, we did have a garden, and we did raise beef, but we weren't doing chickens. We weren't doing pigs at that point. The garden and my cooking wasn't what it is right now. It wasn't to the level that it is now. The reason that I share that is because if you've got kids and you're coming into this... I wish that I had known everything I know now when I was pregnant.
I did eat the cleanest I ever ate at that time when I was pregnant. But my son, because, his palate was developed by the time he was three, four, which was a little bit later... He was exposed to... Nobody shoot me or send me mad messages, but he ate McDonald's chicken nuggets when he was little. Not all the time, but I'll be honest. He had crappy food. It was interesting though, because my daughter then, being four years apart, did not. As he aged, I've had a harder to time getting him to eat foods that she would naturally eat, because she didn't have anything to compare them to. Her taste buds only knew this.
I found that if I could get him involved in the garden and he felt some ownership and responsibility, not only on the vegetables he did like, or the fruits, but also on some of the other ones that maybe he wasn't as big a fan of... When he had some of that pride of like, Look, I actually grew this. We're going to have this for dinner or lunch," or whatever, he was more willing to eat and taste those things and then actually consume them than he was prior to that. Now, I don't know that you guys experienced that because it sounds like you got in there earlier than I did. Have you noticed any correlation or anything like that at all?
Rebekah Rhodes: Well, I would say... so Justin and I were actually foster parents in 2005, 2006. We had a foster son who... They didn't eat real food. We still, at that time, were eating fast food and junk food. We would expose him to that still, but we also had a garden. I remember this one particular foster son, he hated zucchini, hated it. But we had the garden. He went out, and he helped me plant, grow it, and then cook it. Then all of a sudden, guess who loved zucchini? This particular child, which I was like, "Wow," because I had heard that, like, if you get them involved, if you get them doing this thing, doing it, it's going to change them.
I saw that firsthand, and I was shocked. I was just like, "Wow, this is very interesting to go from, 'I don't even want to try it,' to, 'Okay, I'll try it,' and then enjoying it." I was shocked actually by that. With our birth children, we did not eat a lot of junk food. We had kind of gotten out of fast food at that point, but we used to eat the junk with the rest of them, so no judgment here from us. My children have never had soda. They have had spicy kombucha soda-type stuff, and they hate it. They were like, "This is disgusting," which I find hilarious because Justin and I grew up on soda.
We didn't drink it all the time, but we drank it enough that it was a treat here and there. That was something in our journey of coming from... I had read an article on high-fructose corn syrup and all the ways that it is bad for you and all those things. That was the very first thing that we cut out. Obviously high-fructose corn syrup is in soda, so we stopped drinking soda pretty quickly because we had decided together, "We don't want to put this in our bodies." I think it's funny because our kids, they just don't even know what junk food is really. I think it's funny because they'll hear, "An Oreo," and they'll be like, "What's an Oreo?" I'm like, "Cookies. They're actually pretty good. They're not great for you."
Melissa K Norris: Okay. The Oreo thing is so funny. For my listeners, some of them have heard this story, but it was interesting because when I was raised growing up, we were raised really frugally. Out of necessity, we really didn't have very much junk food. The same thing, soda pop was a very special, very occasional thing. Actually, when I was little, I didn't like it, the carbonation. I always would tell my mom, "It's spicy." It was the carbonation. But what's funny is I was actually a freshman in high school before I ever had an Oreo when I was at a friend's house, and she was like, "We're going to have Oreos for dessert tonight." She's all excited. I'm old enough to know that I should [inaudible 00:34:19] what this is, but I'm also old enough that I don't want to say I've ever had it before.
We have them that night, and I'm like, "They were okay, but I didn't think they were anything phenomenal." To this day, I'm kind of like an Oreo [inaudible 00:34:32] I'm like, "I could care less if I ever have an Oreo again or not." But it's really funny though, just the context that you have, I think, at the ages that you taste different foods and stuff like that. I will say with my son, because you take a four or a five-year-old, and because I have all the information to make these health changes in the way that we're eating and what we're going to be eating... A four and a five-year-old, it's really hard for them to understand why all of a sudden they don't get to have this thing anymore. For me, it was really important that my kids understood the why, not just because I said so.
One of the great things actually about the internet is I was able to show him some videos that actually showed under a microscope what is actually in these chicken nuggets and stuff. After he watched that... because it had been a battle. I would be like, "No, we're not going here." We didn't go there that often and everything. I showed him. I finally just started showing him the evidence I was seeing, but in a format he could understand. At five, he's not going to read a paper, but he could watch a video. After that, then it was fine. Even when he was in town with his grandparents, he would be like, "No, I don't want that."
Rebekah Rhodes: Wow.
Melissa K Norris: I think finding a way that they can understand some of our reasonings for things is really important, and it was very, very helpful for me to end that battle.
Rebekah Rhodes: 100%. I agree with that 100% because... Well, actually, so we did remove something from our diets that we used to eat, which is bread. I have Hashimoto's. In 2013, I went to a conference. One of the classes was on Hashimoto's and how to feel better. One of the points was to stop eating gluten. I came home from that conference, and I told Justin... I was like, "We're not going to eat bread anymore," because once I stopped eating bread, I felt so much better that I never wanted to eat it again, but that was me. That wasn't the rest of my family. But then I was so concerned with cross-contamination that I was like, "Hey guys, can we just not have bread or flour in our house at all? Because I just don't want to cross-contaminate, and it can potentially make me feel bad again," since I was feeling so much better. Of course, Justin was like, "Totally," and he was totally on board with giving it up. The kids, on the other hand, were like, "Do we have to?"
We still do gluten-free bread. I found a good gluten-free bread that we eat on occasion. I've learned to cook well gluten-free. If anyone's eaten gluten-free before, they know the trial and error that comes with that. You can eat some really gross-tasting things until you figure out the art of it and how to read a recipe and to understand and know which flours mixed which flours make the best product. Now, for the most part, I feel like we're not as deprived as we felt way back in 2013. I even laid on the couch and just bawled my eyes out because I was like, "I'm going to miss sourdough bread." But I haven't eaten it since 2013. I've had a couple of exposures on accident where I got a piece of pizza that wasn't gluten-free that I thought was gluten-free. I took a bite, and I knew instantly it wasn't gluten-free. We called the restaurant, and they were like, "Yeah, that's gluten." I was like, "Oh no."
There's a couple of those instances, but for the most part, I wouldn't go back. I eventually would like to try to make einkorn sourdough. I hear that that is something that people with Hashimoto's can tolerate, and especially long-fermented stuff. It's on the table still. I need to get through my postpartum because I've had kind of a crazy postpartum with my thyroid this time around. My thyroid's actually... It's really good. I just had blood work done, and all my numbers looked really good. I feel really good too, which is also half the battle there. I am looking forward to trialing that in the future.
I talked to my doctor, and she was like, "Let's get through postpartum and have several labs in a row where your thyroid is stable, and then you can give it a go," because I'm like, "I want to try," and not that we would eat a lot of it, but that's our thing. My kids feel... They feel sad sometimes that we don't eat a lot of bread, which it is what is. I can't change that. Actually, I used to let my kids eat gluten, and then a couple of them started reacting to it strangely with skin rashes and stuff. We cut it out completely, and all the rashes went away and haven't returned since I said, "Okay, nobody's eating gluten," because I can't let two of my kids eat gluten and not the other two. That would be a disaster.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. No, it would be. A couple things, yes, einkorn and especially sourdough einkorn is really good. Again, with those ancient grains, and einkorn even more so than spelt and fresh-ground... All those things, just like gluten-free, there is definite learning curves to baking and cooking with them. But the einkorn sourdough and einkorn baking, I feel, is easier than gluten-free, because I have done both. The einkorn is definitely easier. It is a learning curve if you're used to just going with regular, all-purpose flour from the store. There is some modifications that need to happen, but yeah, though, a lot of people have had a lot of success being able to do the einkorn for digestive reasons and a lot of different things, whereas other grains and other gluten-containing flowers, they've not been able to. But I did not know that you had Hashimoto's, and I don't have Hashimoto's, but I did have low thyroid. I was on thyroid medication for hypothyroidism for about six to seven years. I was able to come off it with labs confirmed...
Rebekah Rhodes: Wow.
Melissa K Norris: ... going on two years now. I know what you mean, but I also, like when you were... There are so many things when you were talking. That could be a whole nother podcast episode and then one, but what I've learned thus far in my journey with food and finding healing from multiple things by the food that I ate, and it's still a constantly evolving journey... But just like you said, when you noticed the way that you felt, and noticing things that were happening with your children, and when you took away a specific thing, how did it impact them?
Because I think there are a lot of foods that are common triggers, but we have to be aware of our own bodies and how things make us feel, and the same thing with our children, as much as we can, because they don't have that awareness level yet, at least not that an adult does, and then seeing and trying it, like, "When I remove this, what do we feel like? If I bring this back in or if I do this differently... Maybe I do einkorn, but, "like you said, "I'm doing a full sourdough with a full eight to 12-hour fermentation period. Does that change the way we feel after we eat?" and really just identifying the way that your body feels and reacts to things.
I feel like we as society [inaudible 00:42:13] have lost that, and even myself. I'll get busy and eat certain things and not be paying attention. Then over time, I'm like, "Man, I feel kind of crappier. Something's going on right now." I have to sit back and think about, "Well, what have you been eating? Exactly when did you feel by what?" Anyways, so I think that that is so key because I feel that sometimes we can be like, "Well, this worked for So-and-So." Maybe yes, it will work for you, but you have to really be in tune to your own self and noticing things.
Rebekah Rhodes: It's so true, and actually, it's interesting. Recently, I had a friend who had a baby, and I took some food over there. I took one of my children with me to help me with the baby so that I could be present with her a little bit too. When we were there, I had brought chili. Well, they eat gluten, so they had bread. Her kids, when they had their chili, had some bread with it. My kid said to me, "Can I eat some of that bread?" She was like, "Well, it's not sourdough," because she knows me. I was like, "Well, you make that decision. You're old enough. If you want to eat the bread, eat the bread." I didn't really think much of it.
I let him make his decision, and he chose to eat the bread. Then on the way home, when we were driving home, he's like, "You know, mom, I kind of don't feel good. I think it's the bread." It's really good, because now that he's old enough to be in tune with his body and to understand... He knows why we don't eat gluten, because I don't feel good. We do this because I don't feel good when I eat gluten. This is why we do things. We've educated our children a lot on the way we eat and why we eat this way, like you were saying earlier, and I let him make his decision, and then he was kind of like, "I don't think I would choose to eat the bread again if I had the choice."
Melissa K Norris: Interesting.
Rebekah Rhodes: I was just like, "That's interesting." Honestly, when I was like, "You make the decision," I wasn't thinking we were going to have this long discussion afterwards about how you feel, but he was like, "My stomach kind of feels weird." It was good. It was a good learning experience, because really, I know some people say gluten is the worst thing in the world you can eat. I personally don't feel like demonizing food groups is a good thing, but that's just how we live our lives. We don't eat gluten because literally I don't feel good when I eat it. It's not because I think it's the worst food in the world, but so many people can get kind with these ideas.
It was just good that he was able to... It wasn't a McDonald's Big Mac that he had to go and try that, the extreme of... This was homemade bread, blah, blah, blah. It wasn't a really terrible thing that he was eating, but it was a good learning process for him to see that. I don't know. I'm a big fan of letting kids learn and just testing things out, and under our umbrella. You know what I mean? Under the umbrella of being at home and learning what works for them and what doesn't work for them while they're here in our house. Then when they go out into the world, they're going to have a better sense of who they are and what they want in life. You know?
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. Yeah. No, I agree. My son is a teenager and getting to be a mid-teenager, however you want to phrase that there, and it's even interesting because he will be like... He had some heartburn.
Rebekah Rhodes: Wow.
Melissa K Norris: [crosstalk 00:46:23] get heartburn every now. I'm like, "Well, what have you been eating?" because I think a lot of people assume or... Even I did way back in the day before I really did a lot of elimination [crosstalk 00:46:35]...
Rebekah Rhodes: Yeah.
Melissa K Norris: ... and figuring out what triggered my heartburn and what didn't and all of that stuff, and GERD and ulcers. People just will be like, "Well, tomato [inaudible 00:46:45] spicy foods." Those seem to be just the two culprits that come to mind. For me, my homegrown tomatoes, and I can make chili, those don't affect me. For me, that's not my trigger foods. It's high-fructose corn syrup. It is a lot of refined sugar, those... food dye. If M&Ms come into the house and I don't have willpower and I end up eating some of them, I'll have heartburn that night, without a doubt.
I'm making that decision, obviously. I'm an adult, but knowing those correlations... He was experiencing it. He was like, "Man, I've been having heartburn." I'm like, "Well here's how to help it." I'm like, "What have you been eating lately then?" trying to help him, like you said, under that umbrella, helping him to draw that correlation rather than being like, "No, you can't have anything because I know it's bad." They have to have that realization in some of that testing on their own, but my hope is that he'll begin to draw those correlations that took me into my 30s before I really realized, or late 20s, that hopefully he'll have that from a much younger point in life. That's all we can do, because once they're out of our house, then we could hope they'll come to us for wisdom, but really, our job is to be able to instill as much of that as we can while they're still here.
Rebekah Rhodes: Yes.
Melissa K Norris: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on. I feel like we need to have a thyroid conversation, seriously...
Rebekah Rhodes: All right.
Melissa K Norris: ... because I want to get into it now, but I'm like, "Oh my gosh, we don't have time to do it justice." It's a whole nother topic and conversation, but one that is really needed. I would love to have you come back on and for us to be able to talk about that because I think it would be fabulous. But in regards to kids and homesteading and trying to manage, do you have any last parting tips or bits of wisdom that you would like to share?
Rebekah Rhodes: I think that I would like to share just when you have your children, so many times in our society, that it's like, "Well, I want to garden, so I'm going to do that alone without my family." I just want you to invite you to invite your children on your journey with you, not requiring it, but inviting them and being like, "Do you want to come with me to do this? This is something that I enjoy, and sharing it with you completes that joy." I think that's the biggest thing, is just invite them into this part of your life. If you're just starting out on the homesteading journey, invite them in and see where they can fit in into it. Then if they fit into it and this is something that they want to continue to do with you, then plug them into something that is theirs that gives them ownership.
It'll just bring you guys so much joy together, I think, because isn't that what it's all about, is having a joy and then finding someone to share it with, and then you guys having joy together? I think that's been one of the biggest things that Justin and I have learned, I think, in this homesteading journey for us with our children is inviting them in, inviting them to do this with us. It's just brought in so much joy for our entire family. When we sit down to a meal and so much of it is that we've all had a hand in growing, it's just a joy. It's a huge joy. I just hope that this somehow inspires you to bring your children along with you.
Melissa K Norris: Yes, completely agree. Thank you so much for coming on. For those who maybe aren't as familiar with you guys, where is the best place for them to connect and to find out more about what you guys are doing?
Rebekah Rhodes: We have a YouTube channel. It's called Justin Rhodes, that's my husband. That's our family YouTube channel. Then on Instagram, you can find me at Rebekah.Rhodes, and I'm over there. Sometimes I'm feeling inspired and will share, and sometimes I'm not. Those are the two best places, and then there's Abundance Plus. I didn't even think about that. That's kind of our streaming network for homesteading, and you can check it out at abundanceplus.com.
Melissa K Norris: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, and guys, we will have all of those links in the show notes so that you can easily access them and hop on over and check those things out. Thank you, Rebekah. It was so much fun getting to know you better.
Rebekah Rhodes: You're welcome. It was good to talk to you, and in depth.
Melissa K Norris: Yes. Yeah. I'm super excited to be able to continue the conversation on more things that we had in common that I didn't know. Thank you so much. I look forward to talking again with you soon.
Rebekah Rhodes: You too.
Melissa K Norris: Well, I hope that you enjoyed that episode as much as I did. I wanted to share this for our verse of the week. We are over in Proverbs and chapter 28 verse 19, "Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty." I really enjoy Proverbs. It's one of my favorite books of the Bible, because it is usually quite succinct and to the point, and there can be a lot of wisdom in just one single verse, as well as those verses only being one sentence.
There is something, especially in today's age and all of the things still happening in the world, at least at the time of this recording, that being able to take control of what you're doing in your own backyard and going out and being away from any type of media, though I will say I happen to listen to podcasts when I am out in my garden, but that is my choice of media, and I can choose exactly what it is that I'm going to be listening to... If you are listening to this podcast as you go about your homestead chores, know that I do the very same thing, and I'm so happy to be accompanying you while you are out and about doing those things. But there is something very, very grounding and also very peaceful and I find helps to reset my perspective, as well as, I'm sure, my breath rate, probably even blood pressure, when I can get out and away from things and I am just in my backyard with my hands in the dirt.
Sometimes it's even planning, just walking through the garden area and planning what we're going to do and envisioning what things are going to look like for the next year, especially at the time of this recording. We still have about a foot of snow on the ground. But I have found that spending time in the garden or out with the animals, not only does that then provide us with an abundance of food, but it really provides that grounding and peace that is such a valuable thing that feels like is easy to lose when we're consuming media or maybe out in different public environments based upon where you live and what things that you may be experiencing on what you are allowed and/or not allowed to do based upon certain things.
I just wanted to share that because I feel like working our land, and it might just be even pots of containers of stuff that you're growing on at patio. You might be like, "Well, I don't really have a bunch of land yet, but just those spaces," not only does it give us abundant food that can fill our stomachs and we actually are eating, but I feel like it gives us an abundance in mindset and peace. I don't know about you, but that's something that I could definitely use even more of in this day and age. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the podcast. I hope that you enjoyed it. I will be back here with you next week. Until then, blessings in mason jars, my friend.
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