Monday, February 28, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #24

I have a few more comments/topics to address about being a rural pastor's wife, but I thought I would take a break today and answer some comments that have been made about my rural pastor's wife series. I chose to not comment back on most of the posts that comments were made on-I just waited to address them here.
1. Thank you to those of you who left comments on this series. It's helpful to me to know that I'm not alone in some of this. Actually the most helpful comments were from those of you that don't live in rural areas but still do some of the same things-like stocking your pantry. It's not too late to add more comments on any of the posts in this series if you want to!
2. Helpful Teacher asked about my salad dressing recipes. I just picked some out of the cookbook-nothing fancy. The Lambs particularly like homemade poppy seed dressing with oranges and walnuts on spinach or lettuce. I only use walnuts because that is what I usually have, I think it would be good with almonds too.
3. Agnusdei1996 talked about the difference between our situations and how she doesn't miss/think about many things that I talk about in my posts. I don't know if I've stressed this in my posts, but the difficulty I have with being here is that I came from the second largest town in IN to a town of 113. There is no grocery store, place to buy gas, or bank in our town. I lived in Fort Wayne from 1989-2003 with the exception of 4 years at college but coming home on breaks. I learned how to drive in a big city and quickly got used to borrowing the family car to make a quick run to Target or the bank. I didn't have a car my first two years of college so I did shopping when I came home on breaks. When I was teaching I would run all over town to multiple stores to get supplies for my classroom. My other difficulty is that living in a small town would be easier for me if it was within 1 hour of a big city. I have a friend that was in that situation and she constantly complained about being one whole hour away from the city. She has now moved and would probably like to be back in that situation of only one hour away. But living 3 hours away from a big city, 4 hours from a really big city, and driving 1 1/2 hours to just get to a big town is difficult for me. I am thankful for the Internet and being able to buy things online or it would be even more difficult for me to live here. I'm don't mean this to sound like I'm complaining, because I am happy that Ram currently has a Call and the people are so nice to us here and I could go on and on about our blessings of living here (see some of the previous posts in this series). I also know that there is more to life than shopping. But that doesn't change that it was really difficult for me to adapt to living here when we first moved here as it was so different from where I came from. It really has become better since we moved here almost 8 years ago and I got used to it.
4. Esther commented that she wouldn't be able to survive without play dates and that she needed time to get together with her friends. I have a college friend that told me that once too. I think it is a blessing that we moved here before we had children, so I have no idea what I am missing with play dates because I've never had them. My comment to my college friend was that if she was in a similar situation as myself, she really could survive without play dates, even if she didn't like it. I learned things to do without having play dates.
Esther's other comment was that kids have to come in contact with germs some times. I agree and I'm sorry if the post sounded like I was truly afraid of germs and trying to keep my kids in a bubble so they didn't get sick. That was not the way it was intended. What I meant was this-when we used to have a babysitter come once a week, every week during the winter on the morning of babysitting day-we would have to call each other and make sure that we were all healthy enough for her to come over. Neither one of our families just wanted to pass germs back and forth and be sick all winter. Every week the day before babysitting day, I would think about if the runny noses were too bad to have her come etc. Her mom did the same thing with her before she came to our house. About once a month during the winter one of us would be too sick to get together and then I missed out on a babysitter. I'm thinking that the same thing would happen with play group. We did not go to ECFE last fall and it has not begun yet this spring. We were not sick with any major sickness so far this season. Our friends with kids in the area have been sick a lot this season. We still go to Sunday School and out to community events, so they had chances to get sick. But it wasn't the one hour every week in a room full of kids chance to get sick that they had at ECFE. The part of play group that I wouldn't want is the DECISION about healthy kids. I hope this explained this better.
Come back tomorrow as I continue this series on being a rural pastor's wife.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #23

Today I am going to discuss holidays and family visits. First I will explain what our family does. Ram's parents usually come and spend Thanksgiving with us. They would rather not come at Christmas or Easter when Ram is super busy with church. They try to also come in the spring for a visit, but that doesn't always work out since Ram's dad is not retired yet. Ewe's parents try to come 2 or 3 times a year. Ewe's parents are retired but Ewe's dad teaches a weekly Bible study that he doesn't like to miss. Last year they came for Easter and they enjoyed celebrating Holy Week at our small churches. They may try to come for Easter again this year. Sometimes Ewe's parents come when Ram has a conference to help Ewe with the Lambs. A consideration for when all of our family visits is when the least chance of snow/bad weather is. Ewe's sister tried to come visit us once a year. We would help her pay for a plane ticket because it is easier for her to come to us than for us to go to her. It was always tricky to figure out when she would visit because we live 3-4 hours away from the airport so she needed to arrive a time we could pick her up and depart a time we could take her back. This became a whole day to pick her up and take her back. It was always worth it to see her though. We won't see her at until at least October this year because she is in South Korea for a year. I have read many blogs that discuss holidays for a pastor's family so I won't repeat the whole discussion here. The fact is that we are too far from family to celebrate any holidays with them unless they come here. Ram is too busy on the major holidays to spend much time with family that visits. Here are a few ideas that we either do or I have heard that other pastors do for the holidays.
1. Celebrate at a different time of the year. If your family can only come in July then have Christmas in July. I think it would be fun to play Christmas music, have a Christmas tree, make Christmas cookies, and eat a Christmas dinner with the whole family in July. I have heard some locals here celebrate Christmas in October when they don't have to worry about weather and people can get off of work easier. Ram's family would love for us to make the tradition to celebrate the 4th of July with them each year and make that a big holiday that we always spend together. Instead of celebrating Christmas with your family on Christmas day, do it on Epiphany when things have died down at church a little bit (and depending on weather, maybe a lot). Last week we made a whole turkey dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes/gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin pie, lemon pie) just for our family to enjoy. Ram and Ewe plan to celebrate their 10th anniversary a little early this summer when Ewe's parents can babysit the Lambs.
2. Make your own traditions. Since it will just be your family at home for the major holidays, start traditions that your children can have done each year. Some traditions our family has done and would like to continue: Small gifts in the stockings for the 12 days of Christmas and a big gift on Epiphany. We eat crepes and lingonberries for Christmas and special snack foods-not a big Christmas meal. After 2 church services on New Year's Eve, we let the Lambs stay up a little later and have special snacks and pop (rare treat here). We make cut out cookies for several holidays each year. We have a party with special snacks and non-alcoholic pina colatas when Ewe gets the taxes done. We make a special breakfast for Valentine's Day. We decorate Easter eggs the day before Easter. We try to go out to eat for Mother's and Father's Day and if that doesn't work then we make a nice meal at home. We grill out hamburgers the first warm day in spring. We celebrate the Lamb baptism birthdays. The list could go on with a little planning and creativity.
3. I had the idea to celebrate the birthdays of our parents and my sister even though they aren't here. My idea was to have a birthday cake or special dessert on their birthdays. Last year we had a steak dinner and birthday cake on my sister's birthday even though she wasn't here. We have corn on my dad's birthday because he loves corn. We haven't done this a whole lot, but I like that the Lambs will learn when our family has birthdays even though we can't celebrate together. It's fun to e-mail a photo to them of their birthday dinner too! It's fun to break up the daily routine with this, especially because all the Lambs have spring birthdays so we can have birthday cake in the fall in honor of the grandmas.
4. We try to call our family often, but we make sure to call them on holidays and birthdays. A phone call means a lot to them. The Lambs understand when their birthday is when we call them on their day after we have sent their present a long time before so they could get it in time for their birthday.
Do you have any traditions or ideas to celebrate the holidays?
Check back tomorrow for more tips about being a rural pastor's wife.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #22

Happy Birthday to Ewe's dad today!
I am going to talk about family vacations today. My parents live 2 days drive and Ram's parents live 3 days drive away. My sister is currently in South Korea after several years in South Carolina. We have no other living siblings. My sister came to visit us, but we never visited her since we moved here almost 8 years ago.
What we have tried to do with vacation time is one week to my parents, one week to CA to Ram's one living grandparent and Ram's parents come to CA the same time as us, and some years one week to a LCMS conference for Ram and we tag along and see friends. Many years it doesn't work to go to the conference. Unfortunately our parents live in two different directions so we can't do one big vacation and see everyone. We fly to CA and drive to Ewe's parents. Even flying to CA is difficult because we live 3-4 hours away from the airport. Because Ram has a tri-parish it is very difficult for him to be gone on Sunday. We try to time vacations that we are back for Sunday with the exception of one Sunday a year to go to my parents-it's too far to drive there and back if we didn't miss one Sunday. But our CA trips are usually back by Saturday night. Once I went without Ram with my parents and the Lambs to a wedding in CO. When I got back we both decided we don't want to do vacations without each other again.
1. For our trips to my parents, I plan for weeks before we go. I don't do Facebook so it is the old fashioned way of snail mail to the older people, e-mail to the younger people. Our last vacation we went to Fort Wayne, Saint Louis, and back to Fort Wayne before we came home. It actually worked to see everyone in our limited time without using Facebook. On this trip we saw 1 church friend from my single days, got haircuts with our "family beautician", 3 college friend families, 3 high school friend families, 1 Seminary friend family, several church friends from where Ewe taught, Ewe's last living great-uncle, Lamb 3's godfather, Lamb 2's godfather, played at the new Fort Wayne Seminary playground, went to the "new" public library, went to a splash pad, went to the Fort Wayne zoo, and of course spent time with Ewe's parents and sister. We also saw several friends at the installation service at St. Louis, but I'm not counting them in this tally. It was a lot of work to contact everyone and work out a time to see everyone and do everything we wanted to do. It was definitely worth the planning.
We also plan a few restaurants to make sure to go eat at. This is our chance to eat out at Fort Wayne restaurants. We also planned a time to have my parents babysit the Lambs so we could go to Hyde Brothers book store and out for lunch at the restaurant where we went out on our first date.
I sent my dad a tentative schedule for our vacation before we went. He thought we were trying to do too much in too little time, especially considering the ages of our Lambs. It all worked out. I treasure the time that we spent with friends and family on our last vacation and it helps me to get to our next vacation.
2. I would encourage you to set a tentative date (and where) for your next vacation even if that date is 2 years away. We went to Fort Wayne when Lamb 3 was a few months old. We did not return for over 2 years. When we decided to take our next vacation and Ram talked to the elders of each church to tell them the dates we would be gone, the elders were surprised it had been that long since I had been "home". It was a huge relief to me to have a date to look forward to. My parents had come here, but I hadn't been "home". As soon as I had the date I started planning even though it was too early to start contacting people about possible times to get together. I started thinking about places we wanted to go-possibilities for fall if the weather was nice, people that we wanted to see, restaurants we wanted to eat at. I didn't realize how much I needed this until I actually was planning it. It will be a long time before we go back to Fort Wayne, but I'm already thinking about places to take the Lambs next time.
3. I think by the way that I plan vacations, we probably see some friends more often than if we lived in the same town. I know I rarely got together with some of my high school friends when we lived in Fort Wayne, but they made time to get together when I visited last September.
4. Maybe some day we'll be at the point where we can take a vacation to go sightseeing around the USA, but in the meantime our way of doing family vacations will have to do. I'm not going to give up seeing our family when we only see them a few times a year as it is. There are so many places that I would like to take the Lambs as part of our homeschool education. We also have friends all over the country. I am jealous of friends who live within one day drive of at least one set of parents-that would be so helpful for us. Lamb 3 has never been to Ram's parents house and Lamb 2 doesn't remember ever being there. I think it is terrible that our Lambs don't even know what it is like to go to the home of one set of grandparents. Maybe some day we'll be able to go more of these places. For now, it is important to us to go to see our family.
5. I would also encourage you to find the time to take a short overnight trip with the family some times. We went to Mayo for Ram's check up in January. We stayed at a hotel two nights. He had doctor appointments, but we didn't have any other scheduled things for 3 days and the church members knew we were going to be gone that whole time. It was really fun to have no schedule-just swim at the hotel, do some shopping, eat out at a little nicer restaurants, etc. I didn't realize that I needed this break until we were there. Since our family vacations are usually very scheduled to make the most of our limited time with our family, this was a nice short get away. I hope to find time to do this again once or twice a year.
So how do you deal with family vacations?
Check back tomorrow for more tips about being a rural pastor's wife.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #21

Today I'm going to discuss Ram and Ewe "together time". I suppose I could look at my situation that I'm stuck in the house with just my family and rarely have visitors. I choose to look at my situation that I GET to stay in the house with just Ram and the Lambs.
Ram and I have never been away overnight together without the Lambs. We have only had babysitters a few times where we didn't have any Lambs with us. Last summer we did get a babysitter and go pick blueberries together. Last vacation my parents watched the Lambs and we went to a bookstore and to the restaurant where we went on our first date. But those dates without Lambs are just once or twice a year.
Ram and I started to have "together time" a few years ago. We try to both stop what we are doing and spend from 10-11pm together. The Lambs are always asleep by then and it's a good time to take a break-usually me from housework and him from reading/studying. During together time we try to do devotions (Compline) together and then spend the rest of together time "on a date". Sometimes we watch movies (episodes of Julia Child and Cosby Show are recent ones we have watched a lot). Sometimes we just talk. Sometimes we play games. We almost always have several nights around New Year's Eve where we play several rounds of the game Life. Sometimes we'll fix a snack and eat it together without sharing with the Lambs. Sometimes we'll have a glass of wine together.
We don't do together time every night although we intend to. Sometimes one of us is working on a project and we don't do together time. But our goal is to do it every night. Before we started together time we still had TV. Our normal routine was to both do our work (me-housework, Ram-write sermons etc.) and then sit in front of the TV until we were tired and we crashed into bed. I was so glad when we started together time that we broke this daily cycle. I treasure this time with Ram each night. It recharges me for another day of teaching/working with/parenting the Lambs. I'm glad to get the privilege to spend time together.
Come back tomorrow for more about being a rural pastor's wife.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #20

1. The state of MN has Early Childhood Family Education classes offered at the schools for children up to age 5. The usual format is to read a story, parents and children do art project and possibly science experiment together, then children play while parents discuss a parenting topic. I was impressed with ECFE when we did attend regularly. We did not start to attend regularly until after Lamb 3 was born. While I was pregnant I was hesitant to go to a room full of kids with possible germs each week. Before Lamb 3 was born, I was just too overwhelmed to add in a commitment to take the Lambs up to the school each week. Perhaps we missed the ideal time to take Lamb 1 to ECFE. Lamb 1 is too old now. The teachers are willing to let him attend, but I see him so much older than the other children that I don't really want him to attend. Most parents stop bringing their children to ECFE after they go to preschool. So Lamb 1 and 2 seem much older than the other kids that attend. The first year of ECFE the topics for the parenting part were good. After that, the topics seemed to be the same. I know we can always improve our parenting skills, but often the topics did not apply to me (with all boys, more than 1 child, regularly attend church, homeschool, no TV, etc.). For all these reasons we are not attending regularly any more. The teacher spoke to me about possibly teaching ECFE (the student part while the teacher taught the parent part). I'm considering this as it might be the answer for us for ECFE-especially Lamb 3 is missing out on what the other Lambs had by us not going to ECFE. We'll see. Anyway, see if your state offers anything similar to ECFE at the school. (I believe that MN has a unique program, but it's worth checking into.)
2. I want to post this in full disclosure of what there is to do in our local community. One of the neighboring communities received a grant to do early childhood education events/education. This often partners with ECFE, but does it's own events. They have now spent most of their grant money and now they are working on raising money to continue to do events for the children in the community. Ram is not an official board member, but he often attends their meetings. They love to have a dad at the meetings to get his perspective and ideas. This group was perfect for our Lambs-when it started all 3 of our Lambs were in the 0-5 age group. Some events they have done are field trip to farm; big toys day-bring in construction equipment, fire truck, etc. and let them pretend to drive them; dad/child reading nights, etc. We are thankful that our local community decided to do this and know that if we were even one community over from where we live, we probably wouldn't be close enough to participate in many of their events. We will miss this when all the Lambs are too old. Many of the events don't cost that much-just need some one to plan them and the community to participate.
3. I'm actually glad that there aren't children in this area with SAHM moms to set up play dates with. My Lambs have learned to play with their brothers well. I don't have to deal with discipline of another child/ren at my house. I don't have to clean up my house for them to come over. I don't have decide if my child is sick if we should cancel the play date. I don't worry about getting their germs if they don't know they are sick. Would it be nice to have another mom to come over and chat while the Lambs play with her child? Yes. Do I think it would be worth the hassle? No. Do I want to drive my kids some where else (either another child's house or some place in the community) to go to a play date? No.
Check back tomorrow for more about being a rural pastor's wife.
Do you have any final thoughts about being a rural pastor's wife with children?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #19

I have a few more random thoughts about being a rural pastor's wife with young children.
1. I've noticed on blogs moms that become stay at home moms sometimes blog about the things they miss from their working days. I moved here at a good time for me to transition from working outside of the home to staying at home which ended up being a good time to start a family. I am so thankful that I did not have the morning sickness when I was hospitalized and also work outside of the home at that time! But there are many times that I blog about and think about my life in the big city vs. living rural. It's not quite mourning the loss of living in the city, but almost. I miss that I can not attend concerts/big church services. I miss that my boys can not attend concerts with professional symphonies/orchestras. I could go on and on about things that I miss and the Lambs do not have opportunities to do while we live here. But those moms that blog about what they miss about their working days also blog about what they like about being a SAHM. They also blog about how thankful they are to be a SAHM. I miss many things about the city, but I'm also glad for many things about rural life.
2. I recently commented on a blog of a friend of mine with 8 year old boys who just had their birthday. She listed their presents and I didn't even know what some of their presents were-I just had a general idea. (I did know what the fishing pole and tackle box were though!) I'm thankful that in our rural living with homeschooled Lambs, that they don't even know about the latest fads and gadgets and toys to ask for them. I'm thankful that they were thrilled to receive Tinker Toys for Christmas from Great Grandma. I hope this "innocence" for toys lasts for a long time at our house. I think it will last longer while we live here than if we moved to a bigger town.
3. Living in a rural place has encouraged me (almost forced me) to take the time to do fun things/play with the Lambs/start some new family traditions. I don't think that if we lived in a bigger town that we would do some of the things that we do with the Lambs. I think they will remember some of this when they grow up. For example: We always have a "party" when I get our taxes done. I'm sure they will remember the "taxes are done" parties more than if we went out to eat at a restaurant. I get out the supplies to paint and do messy art projects-I probably wouldn't do that if they could go to play group once a week and do that. We play a lot more board games/card games as a family than I think we would if we lived in a bigger town. I'm thankful to be making these memories with the Lambs now that will hopefully last for their lifetime.
4. I believe that living here has strengthened my relationship with my inlaws. Although she's not a pastor's wife, Ram's mom goes 1 1/2 hours to do regular shopping and 3 hours to do major shopping just like I do. She has given me some tips for shopping and living a rural life. Sometimes we spent hours on the phone where she tried to give me advice to raise the Lambs giving her advice after raising 3 boys of her own. I'm not sure if I lived in a bigger town if I would have talked to her about some of this-perhaps I would have had other moms to talk to about these issues. Nor would I have had the rural living in common with her. I have many friends who don't get along with their mother in law. I can't imagine that from my experience. I'm sure this will not be the case for every rural pastor's wife, but perhaps being a rural pastor's wife will strengthen another relationship in your life even if it is not your inlaws or parents.
Check back tomorrow for one more day of discussing being a rural pastor's wife with young children.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #18

We are working on potty training Lamb 3 this week so I don't have any time to blog without many interruptions. I also have "mommy brain" as it's all I can do to potty train and attempt to homeschool too this week. So when Loopers started to discuss being home with your kids all the time, I thought that was a good thing to post about today while I'm discussing being a mom with young children as a rural pastor's wife.
Ram's parents live a 3 day drive away (and with kids it is really pushing it to do it in 3 days) and my parents live a 2 day drive away. I have been blessed that after the birth of all of my Lambs, either my mom or Ram's mom came to be with us for a few weeks. I am extra blessed that my mom came to be with Lamb 1 and 2 when Lamb 2 and 3 were born-and especially that she was here before they were born. I don't know what we would have done if they would have been born before she would have made it here. I delivered Lamb 2 and 3 45 minutes away (and this was closer than Lamb 1 1 1/2 hours away!). I had my last miscarriage when Ram was out of town and it was really difficult to find people to watch the Lambs while I went to a few doctor appointments. I know that finding someone to watch your children when you go to the hospital to have a baby is a big concern for many rural pastor wives.
I see local moms here that take their kids to Grandma's so they can have a night out occasionally. Some of the grandmas are the daycare-either every day or at least once a week. One Grandma took her grandson to cooking class when I took Lamb 2 last week. We did have a dilemma even for cooking class because one adult was required for each kid. Someone had to stay home and watch Lamb 3 because he was too little to attend. So I took Lamb 2 last week and I'm hoping they don't cancel cooking class for lack of attendance so I can take Lamb 1 this week. It would have been so much easier if Grandma could have taken one and I took one and Ram stayed home with one. I couldn't imagine the mom that sent one with Grandma and didn't even go herself to cooking class.
I have never been away overnight without at least one Lamb since Lamb 1 was born. I hear moms talk about how they need their short breaks away-either a cup of coffee with friends or an overnight weekend away.  Living in this rural place neither one of those is possible. It is 1 1/2 hours to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee so I'm not going for a quick cup of coffee. Neither do I have any local friends to go for a cup of coffee. I need to use the babysitters that are difficult to find for when I really need them, not for a night out with my friends.
Once I went to IA (with Lamb 3) for one overnight with Loopers. I probably spent as much time driving there as I spent there.  Before I went I didn't do any of the preparation before a trip that moms would usually do. I didn't cook anything ahead of time and leave it for Ram to warm up. I didn't even clean up the kitchen before I left. But what I did have to do, was line up a back up to babysit Lamb 1 and 2 in case Ram would have to go visit someone in an emergency (and especially if it was a  middle of the night emergency). That was no easy task to find someone that planned to be home most of the two days I would be gone and also wouldn't mind a middle of the night phone call. Thankfully there was no emergency and Ram didn't have to call her, but I had to have some one lined up. I also had to come back on Saturday, I couldn't stay overnight on Saturday because someone had to watch the Lambs while Ram did 3 services on Sunday. I was jealous of the moms that were able to stay for the whole weekend. Then last year when the Loopers got together, Ram had a meeting out of town so I wasn't able to stay overnight at all. I didn't think it was wise to leave the little Lambs with a babysitter when both Ram and I were out of town. I drove 4 hours round trip to spend about 4 hours with them, not spend the night.
Here's a few ways that I cope with being with my children all the time:
1. I continually remind myself that the pregnant/breastfeeding/toddler time really will end. Currently I've had the last 1 1/2 years without nursing any one. There really will be a time when I can go away and Lamb 1 could watch the other Lambs if Ram had an emergency. There really will be a time when I can go to the bathroom without every boy leaving their toys to come check and see what I'm doing. There really will be a time when all 3 can sit in the pew at church with someone else watching them besides me while Ram is the pastor. I bet that time will come faster than I think it will.
2. I know that every mom is different and her needs may be different than mine. I would rather stay home than go out. So my "need" is time at home without watching the Lambs. This is almost impossible when we live rural-where is Ram going to take the Lambs? It's not completely impossible though. For a few years we had a babysitter-a homeschooled girl that came once a week to our home. She watched the Lambs while I mainly did stuff at home, once and awhile I would run to the town 7 miles away and run errands. I loved this time-sometimes I took a nap, sometimes I cleaned without helpers, sometimes I tried to catch up on correspondence without interruptions, etc. She moved away and I miss this. I'm am trying to line up another homeschooler to do this again, but I haven't been successful yet. I preferred the one afternoon a week babysitter to having a cleaning lady!
Sometimes there will be an event in the community (library or dad's reading night, etc.) and now that all the Lambs are old enough Ram will take all three and give me one evening home alone. This has only been recently-before I had one Lamb while he took the others. Sometimes Ram will run an errand with all the Lambs and give me a few minutes home alone. Sometimes Ram will take everyone to the post office and then take them to the town park to play afterwards to give me a little more time. I really appreciate these chances even if they are not often or for long.
3. A few times a year, I have two friends that live far away that I call and we talk for hours. Even if I can't get out for a cup of coffee, I can still talk to them. We usually talk way too late and I regret it the next day when I'm tired, but I really need this time. I think sometimes with e-mail and Facebook etc. we don't make the phone calls any more.
4. After the Lambs go to bed, Ram and I do our own things for a couple of hours and then we try to have together time (devotions and talk). If I can get the Lambs to bed on time (which doesn't always happen), it is comforting for me to know that I can have about 2 hours alone. Sometimes I'm interrupted with a request from the Lambs before they fall asleep, but I have most of that time.
5. I haven't done it recently, but last year in homeschooling, I expected the Lambs to leave me alone the first 1/2 hour after I got up so I could read my Bible and read something else. They played, got dressed, and Lamb 1 helped them get cereal while I read. I need to get back to that again. Of course they were boys playing loudly (even though they were trying to be quiet) while I was reading. It didn't take them long to learn Mama was serious about reading and not getting up and getting them anything during her reading time and I would help them immediately after the half hour was up.
6. Each day there is one hour rest time for everyone in the house. Lamb 3 always takes a nap. Sometimes I take a nap. Ram usually reads if he is home. Lamb 1 and 2 sometimes have quiet rest time-where they are in a bed and might fall asleep, but at least look at books, play with toys quietly-and other times they watch a movie-their only screen time allowed since we don't have TV. I don't know what I would do without this rest time-everyone in the house needs a break.
7. I would encourage you to talk to your husband about what your need is for a break from your children. Perhaps you can come up with a creative solution to give you short breaks even if it is not the ideal situation.

8. I also think some times about what my Grandmas and the farm wives would think about this "need". I'm sure they didn't get away overnight with friends. They were too busy doing all the housework and taking care of the kids to have a "girls night out". What did they do? Had the neighbor over for coffee, got involved in activities at church, etc. I know my Grandma had it a lot harder as a pastor's wife in TX when her family was in NE and she had 4 children in less than 5 years. What can I do like my Grandma? I could be better about inviting people over to our house for tea or coffee. I could go to quilting at church and make friends with those women even though they are all old enough to be my mom or grandma. One of the ladies at church was just telling me that the only time her husband ever changed a diaper was when she went to Ladies Aid at church once a month when her youngest child was still in diapers.
9. I would also encourage you to pray about this need. Perhaps God will provide that friend in your area that you didn't even know is there. Or He will help you come up with a solution to help you cope better.

I love my Lambs and I love being a SAHM, but sometimes I do need a break and that seems almost impossible when I live rural. I want to remind you that it is not impossible, you just need to be more creative than the moms that live in bigger cities. So how do you cope with being with your children all the time when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for more discussion about being a mom with young kids and living in a rural place.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #17

Today I am going to discuss the mom of young children part of my role as a rural pastor's wife.
Most wives that I know here work. There are some, but not a lot of moms with young children in this area. There is no play group or mom's Bible study group. Since I have lived here since I've had children, I'm not even sure what else bigger cities have that I don't have offered here. I have a college friend that just could not imagine my life here and how she would have survived being a new mother without the moms that she met at play group. I have several areas to discuss about being a mom of young children when I live rural. I don't know about being a mom of older children when I live rural yet. Perhaps some of you with older children can comment about that.
1. When I was pregnant with Lamb 1, I called La Leche League and the closest chapter or leader was 2 hours away. There was no way that was going to work to attend meetings or meet a leader when it was a 4 hour round trip and especially not when my baby was born with MSPI. I read a lot of books, made some phone calls to a friend who was a LLLI leader, and just continued nursing Lamb 1 until we both figured it out. Do I think my way was the best way? NO! I would have loved to be in a bigger city with a lactation consultant and easier ways to get help. Lamb 1 survived (and that is very true with him having MSPI) and I figured out nursing. Nursing got easier with Lamb 2 and 3. One of my friends suggested once that I get help from LLLI and was shocked that I lived in a place that was not available. I post this to encourage you to keep breastfeeding even if your situation in a rural place is not the ideal way. Most of the ladies that I have met in this area did not breastfeed. When they had problems there weren't the resources here to help them. It doesn't have to be that way, you can breastfeed even if you don't have all the resources that bigger cities have.
2. When we moved here the town park had two very old rusty slides and very old swings and that was it. I told the city council that we would personally pay for new swings and they should remove the old slides as they weren't safe. Around the same time some moms in town decided to do a fundraiser to get a new slide. The people in town were shocked that it took $3000 to get ONE slide. One of the dads built and painted a couple of see saws. The town paid for new swings. The big fundraiser weekend raised enough money to get the slide. So now our park in town has swings, see saw, and one slide. It's not a lot, but it's better than it was when we moved here. When we get to a bigger town the Lambs love to go to the park because it is a lot better than our small park. We have not purchased a swing set for the Lambs because they can walk across the street to the town park. I post this because even if your town park is small, it may be enough to save getting a swing set for your yard. We also try to make the time to take the Lambs to a park in a bigger town when we go shopping because this is not offered in our town.
3. Winter is the worst when we are stuck in a small town and can't get outside. It really does get better in the spring when we can at least take walks around town. I keep reminding myself that all winter when they are driving me crazy with cabin fever. I try to forget about the times of year that are too muddy for walks, about the mosquitoes in the summer, and the dogs that every one in town owns and Lamb 1 is afraid of. Even just going outside in our yard is better than being stuck in the house.
4. We were given a big discounted pass to go to the Children's Museum in the Twin Cities. On the way home from Ram's appointment at Mayo in January we took the chance to use that pass. I was so excited to have a chance to take the Lambs to a museum as they had only been to one small museum before. I thought it would be great to give them an opportunity to do what the big city kids do. Wow, was I surprised when we actually went. The Lambs hated the crowds which made them hate most of the museum. I wasn't that impressed with the Children's Museum as I compared it to the museums in Fort Wayne that I had taken my students to before. We did have a good time that day, but it wasn't what I had expected-to have a great time. There was a little educational for the Lambs, but not that much. I couldn't imagine that big city parents regularly take their children there. This was an eye opening experience for me-perhaps my Lambs are better off just playing at home and outside in our back yard than doing what the big city kids do.
5. I would encourage you to look what there is to do in your area for children. Some of the things that the Lambs have done here: In February and March different towns in the area have sports/leisure shows. I'm surprised how much there really is for the Lambs to do and learn at these. They enjoy walking around and getting candy, bookmarks, stickers, other small treats. Sometimes the zoo 1 1/2 hours away brings animals for a small petting zoo. PBS brings educational treats. DNR brings animal furs and other educational things to touch.
One of the towns has a big Easter egg hunt the day before Easter. They get candy in eggs and there are also drawings for bigger prizes.
In the summer there are a couple of youth fishing days. The Lambs have been given fishing poles, tackle boxes with supplies, etc. Lunch is provided and also bait. The Lambs are pretty little so they haven't caught very many fish yet, but they have the supplies.
We go to a couple of county fairs. We walk around and get the free stuff, see the exhibits, and the Lambs that are old enough try the tractor pull.
We have done some of the community education programs offered too. Recently Lamb 2 took a cooking class and we're hoping that enough kids sign up for Lamb 1 to take a cooking class too. In the past Lamb 1 and 2 have taken Spanish lessons.
Last summer Lamb 1 and 2 took swim lessons.
In the fall different towns have a town festival. We don't go to all the events they have scheduled, but we usually try to go to the parades.
There aren't the activities offered through the library or park board or church or other places that a big city would have, but there are some things to do here. I had to live here for awhile to find out what was offered. Sometimes we tried going to activities that we didn't really know what they were until we tried them. If we move from here I would be very sad for the Lambs to miss the youth fishing day and some of the other activities that we try to attend each year. I learned that instead of complaining about what I don't have in this rural area, to be thankful for what we do have.
I have more to post about being a mom with young kids in a rural area, so I will continue this post tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #16

We went to first service this morning and the rest of the services are canceled today. I was in charge of an art project for Sunday School today. Hopefully we will have church next week and do our art project. The Lambs saw me preparing and wanted to do it at home today. I told them they had to wait until Sunday School. We're ready for a blizzard. As long as I have an Internet connection, I plan to catch up on some photo organizing today. Ram is hoping I give him some computer time so he can watch Nascar!
I plan to post for a few days about being a rural pastor's wife with young children. I have 7 years experience with this. :) Lamb 1's birthday is coming up so I have birthdays on my mind right now so I'll start with that.
When Lamb 1 turned one, we invited a family from church with kids similar in age to our house for a birthday party. I would love to have this family over for birthdays again, but it's too difficult to merge our schedules. Because of their work and school, weeknights aren't good. Saturday night isn't good the night before church either. Saturday or Sunday afternoon would be the best time for them. Ram is tired on Sunday afternoons. I feel bad about making them "waste" a Saturday afternoon at a birthday party for one of the Lambs. Plus they live 1/2 hour away so that is 1 hour round trip just to drive to our house. Since Lamb 1's birthday is in March, I hate to plan something and have weather cancel it.
The Lambs don't have any other friends besides this family from church that are close in age to them. They know a few people in the community, but not much more than know their name. When Lamb 1 turned two I invited a few neighborhood kids but he didn't really know them well.
When Lamb 1 turned 3, we took cupcakes for dessert after Lent service.
When Lamb 1 turned 4, it was my turn to serve Ladies Aid so I took a cake with candles and napkins that he picked out. He enjoyed it when the whole Ladies Aid sang to him.
When Lamb 1 turned 5, I took muffins and juice and we celebrated at Sunday School.
When Lamb 1 turned 6, my sister visited. When Lamb 1 turns 7, we plan to just celebrate as our family.
When Lamb 2 turned 1, my parents and my sister visited.
When Lamb 2 turned 2 and 3, we just celebrated with our family.
When Lamb 2 turned 4, we went to CA and had a party at Great-Grandma's house.
When Lamb 3 turned 1, we just celebrated as a family.
When Lamb 3 turned 2, my parents visited.
None of the Lambs have ever had a birthday party with a bunch of kids invited. None of the Lambs have ever had a birthday party with all the grandparents attending. None of the Lambs have ever been to a birthday party with a bunch of kids invited. With the exception of this one other family from church, I doubt this will change as long as we live here.
In a way I'm glad I don't have to chauffeur the Lambs to several birthday parties each year. Nor do I have to buy something that the kid will either break a few days after we give it to them or it ends up at Goodwill because they didn't want it. Sometimes I think the Lambs are glad that they only have to share their new toys with their brothers and they can play with them right away-not wait until after the birthday party.
So what do we do for birthdays since we can't have the traditional kids birthday party?
1. We have started our own family traditions. Ram's mom usually sends a box with birthday gifts for the birthday boy plus one gift for the other boys so they don't feel left out. I arrange these on the table the night before and the Lambs open them first thing in the morning when everyone is up. They spend the rest of the day playing with their new toys.
2. The Lambs get to pick the meals for all day on their birthday. Sometimes I'm surprised what they pick. Lamb 3 picked clam sauce spaghetti for supper on his 2nd birthday!
3. Ram's mom gave us a special plate for the birthday boy. I bought some plates with birthday cakes on them at Goodwill to serve the birthday cake.
4. I make a homemade cake (nothing fancy) and the Lambs pick what kind to make.
5. Ram's mom sends us a lot of party paper plates, napkins, etc. in boy themes like Thomas, John Deere, etc. Since we don't have a lot of people at these parties, I never could use all this on their birthday. So other times of the year we use those. I have a huge stash and I should use them more often than I do. But I try to use them just for every day just for something different. I also use them as a reward (potty training success, Ewe finished the taxes, memorizing something for school, etc.).
6. All 3 Lambs plus Ram have a spring birthday. Even with this, we try to have a special dessert on their baptism birthdays too.
7. I have seen blogs of friends with some other good ideas for birthdays. Make homemade ice cream. Each child has a tablecloth and each birthday everyone writes on it with a fabric marker. Cut out of paper and decorate the number age of the child several times and hang that on the wall to be in the photos of the birthday child.
8. I have not done it yet, but as the Lambs get older, some time I want to have a party for the Lambs with our family. I would probably not do this on any of the Lambs birthday, possibly on their half birthday. But I think they should learn how to play pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, and other traditional birthday party games. I don't think in the age of taking your kids to McDonalds (does any one still do that?) or Chucky Cheese for birthdays that children still play these games at birthday parties.
9. Some of our church members give the Lambs a few dollars or a small gift for their birthdays. Our Lambs consider the older church members their friends. We appreciate this.
I see both positive and negatives for living here for the Lambs birthdays. The more I think about it, the more I'm glad that we celebrate birthdays as a family. I would encourage you to start family traditions for birthdays. I would encourage you to think creatively for celebrating birthdays. It doesn't have to be with a group of kids-can you celebrate at church or with Ladies Aid or with Sunday School, etc.?
How do you celebrate children's birthdays when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for more ideas of living in a rural place with young children.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #15

I have a quote hanging in my bathroom that says, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." (Marcel Proust) I bought this quote after we had lived here for a few years at a Crazy Days sale for $1.
It took me living here for a few years to look at living in this rural place with new eyes. Here are some of the new eyes that I can think of:
1. It is always windy here. -That's great because I can hang things on the line to save money on the dryer.
2. Many city people would be jealous that I can get raw milk delivered to my house for cheaper/or the same price as a gallon of regular milk from the grocery store.
3. Many city people would be jealous that my boys regularly go out to the farm to pick up eggs and once and awhile we get fresh farm eggs for free.
4. Many city people would be jealous that we have space to garden. We go pick blueberries in the summer. If our garden doesn't grow, we have friends that sell produce to make their living so we go buy from them.
5. Many pastor's wives would be jealous that our phone rarely rings from a church member and church members rarely stop by the parsonage. On the rare times that they do stop by the parsonage it is to deliver a present to us. It is truly an emergency if they call us.
6. Many would be jealous that Ram doesn't have office hours. His office is in our home. If I need him to take a break and change a diaper while he's writing his sermon, he does. Sometimes he doesn't get back to his sermon until the Lambs are in bed.
7. We have been blessed with a huge parsonage. If we move from here I doubt I will ever live in a house this big again.
8. We have time to read. Ram reads a lot. I read when I can. Once a mother asked me when I had time to read with three young boys. There's not a lot of other activities to pull away from our reading time. We read to the Lambs a lot.
9. We spend time as a family. Ram usually has 1 or 2 evening meetings each week. He usually teaches classes and has meetings 1 or 2 afternoons each week. Of course he has a long Sunday morning. But then the whole rest of the week besides what I just mentioned is just for him to visit people/study/prepare his sermon. He can set the appointments for what works with the rest of our schedule. The Lambs spend a lot of time with Ram and I know most children do not have so much time with their dad. I spend a lot of time with Ram. :)
10. We don't go from activity to activity like I see parents in the city do. We do take the Lambs to activities, but not often. I think sometimes children just want to stay home and play with their own toys, but parents have them involved in so many activities that isn't possible. This has also made the Lambs closer to each other. Their brothers are their friends.
11. The Lambs play in our unfenced yard and often play in the street too. I watch them but I don't go outside with them the whole time they are outside. (This has also made a problem when we are in a town or city-they aren't used to staying away from the street.)
I could go on and on about what a blessing it is to live here. I haven't always thought this way. It took some new eyes to be thankful for what I do have instead of complaining about what I don't have.
Can you think of other blessings of living in a rural place?
Come back tomorrow for tips about living in a rural place when you have young children.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #14

The posts in this series before discussed the rural part of my life here. Today I am going to discuss the pastor's wife part of my life here.
Ram has three churches. We are blessed that all three churches work together well. The churches rotate times so that someone does not always have to be late service. These are farmers that don't complain about having the early service! During the school year we go to the country church because they have Sunday School for our ages of our Lambs. During the summer I mainly go to the church next door so I save a little on gas during the summer. In the summer I also try to go to the church that is offering Holy Communion. If the other church is having something special or a potluck I go there. Sometimes it works that I can go to church next door and Sunday School out in the country. The churches combine to have one service for Lent, Holy Week, and Advent. This is nice because I am able to attend all the churches for these services.
I do try to attend as much as possible at our churches and circuit. We often go to the church dinner (fundraisers) for the other churches in our circuit. I know this gets to be expensive with a family, but I think it is important for the area church members to see the pastor and his family. These are small towns where everyone knows everyone and is probably related to them too. The Lambs love the extra attention and usually get seconds and/or second desserts at these. Of course we go to and try to help at the fundraisers for our own churches (as much as possible when Ram is the pastor with other services at the same time and I have 3 young boys by myself). When Ram does a circuit rotation for Lent, we go along. We have to hear the same sermon many times, but we get out to the other churches in the circuit. The Lambs shake hands at the door with Ram after services. We have attended almost all of the installations of the pastors that have been installed since we got here (which is all of the pastors in our circuit except for one). When a new pastor comes to our circuit, I try to take them a bag of groceries (mainly TP, paper towels, soap, etc. because we live so far from Walmart) and homemade bread and jam. We try to attend circuit pastor gatherings. Our circuit tries to hold them once in the summer and once during Epiphany. With the Lambs, I do not attend Ladies Aid each month, but we do try to go when they have something special and to their Christmas parties. (Yes, there are three churches so there are three Ladies Aids).
I was talking to a pastor's wife that had lived in her circuit for several years (longer than we've been here) and she still had not met all of the other pastor's wives in that circuit. She often attended circuit events with her children, but the other pastor's wives did not. We are the only pastor's family in our circuit that has children younger than high school age. Most of the pastors in this circuit have no children or no children at home any more. There is only one other pastor's wife in this circuit that does not work and she is extremely busy with activities at her church. Sometimes it is difficult for me to have a conversation with the other pastor's wives because I have so little in common with them. But I know their names and who they are and have a few chances each year to talk to them.
Ram has done about 45 funerals here in the last almost 8 years. I do not attend the funerals with the Lambs mainly because the churches are so small. I try to always offer to bring a cake or something even if is not my turn to serve. I try to take the Lambs to the funeral dinner, towards the end of the dinner. Then I know that the family has been served just in case they would run short on food. I also know that everyone will have more time to visit-both the family and our church members if we don't arrive right after the funeral. There have been times that I got to the dinner that they were almost out of food so I told the Lambs we were just visiting, not eating. Other times they have plenty so the Lambs have an extra piece of cake. After we eat and visit then I often have the Lambs help clean up-carry dishes to the kitchen etc. After they clean up a little then Ram will often take them home and I'll stay and help with dishes. It has only been recently that our Lambs were old enough to do this. I got out of doing dishes for about the first 5 years of living here because the Lambs were just too young for me to help.
When one of the churches is serving food either potluck or serving after Advent or Lent services etc., I try to bring something or at least offer to bring something. I know this is not required, but I feel that this is something that I am able to do with the young Lambs. There are many things at church that I am unable to do with young Lambs. I know that this could get expensive to always bring something. I buy cake mixes when they are on sale and plan for this though.
The first couple of years we were here we tried to have an Epiphany open house party for our members. Some that came said they had never been inside the parsonage while a pastor was living in it. The first year we had great attendance. The second year the weather wasn't good and only a few came. Because of weather and our young Lambs we did not have a party after that. I would like to plan a get together where all our members were invited some time in the summer when we wouldn't have to worry about the weather-maybe a Christmas in July party. I've thought of this but never done it.
I try to send cards to our church members. I recently had the Lambs make Valentines for most of our members (shut ins too) for one of our churches of our tri-parish. I hope to do a different church next year. It took them a long time to make that many Valentines. It took me a long time to get all 3 organized in envelopes for everyone. The members loved to receive homemade Valentines. They loved to be thought of and remembered at Valentine's Day. When I know when their birthday is, I try to send a card or have the Lambs make cards some times. I try to send get well cards and sympathy cards too. Sometimes Ram delivers these, sometimes we take them to church, and sometimes I mail them. I don't get the cards sent every time, but I try. I feel this is also something that the Lambs and I can do while they are young. We have such small churches that most of the members are adopted grandparents to our boys. The majority of our church members are age 65 and over. I don't have a lot in common with them because I am so much younger and I came from a big city and I haven't lived here for my whole life. They are all very nice and I enjoy the times that I do have to talk to them when I'm not interrupted by Lambs.
I know that if you live rural there may be many factors that you can not do what I listed here in your circuit and your church/es. Your circuit may be too far away. Your children may be too little. You may not be able to add one more thing to your already busy schedule. You may do different things at your church/es than I do. I hope that by listing this I don't make you feel guilty for not doing some of the things we do. I did want to post about this though. I like to get ideas from other pastor's wives of what I can do while I have young Lambs and I live rural. Some of the things I do I know I could never do if we were at a larger church or in a bigger city. I do want to encourage you to try to be involved in your churches and circuit. 
What do you do at your rural churches?
Check back tomorrow for some more about being a rural pastor's wife.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #13

Today I am going to talk about phones.
Land line phones: When we first moved here the church and parsonage had the same phone line. The phone would ring at both places. The church paid our basic phone bill, we just paid for long distance. After a couple of years here they disconnected the church phone and just kept the parsonage phone. After the church next door disconnected their phone the other two churches in the tri-parish decided to do the same thing to save money.
There were several reasons the church disconnected their phone. Some kids got in the church once and made some long distance calls. Sometimes the phone would ring during services-it might be a phone call for us, not for the church. There isn't someone at the church very often so it didn't seem worth the cost. They could always come over to our house and make a phone call if they needed to.
At first I was thankful the church phone got disconnected. It always freaked the big city girl in me out that anyone could go over to church and listen in on my phone conversations. I'm not aware of that ever happening and I doubt that would ever happen here, but I always thought of that.
Since the church phone got disconnected, the copy repair man and the candle supply company and the florist, etc. don't have any other number to call besides our home phone for any of the three churches. Telemarketers don't have any other number to call. (I am so sick of companies calling about our youth group!) Also, sometimes there will be a repair man over at church and his cell phone won't work so he has to come to our house to call back to his company or have a place for his wife to reach him etc. This seems to always happen when I'm in the middle of changing a diaper or something like that.
We used to also have dial up internet. Once someone was trying to call Ram for an emergency and I was on the phone with my mom. They had to call someone in town and they had to walk over to our house and tell us the message. I felt really bad about that. Soon after that happened we got high speed internet so we didn't have to worry about the phone line being tied up by the computer. But it could still be tied up when we were on the phone.
We now pay the entire land line bill since it is not connected to church any more. I don't see any way that we could give up our land line phone to save money. The phone number for the parsonage has always been the phone number for the parsonage. Sometimes we receive phone calls from members that have moved away but they still know the church phone number by memory. There needs to be two ways for people to reach Ram as a pastor-both land line and cell phone. There needs to be one main number that doesn't change for the parsonage and tri-parish. Land line is reliable in our small town when cell phone service is not.
Cell phones: I do not have a cell phone. Ram has one with the most basic plan possible in case people would need to reach him when he is not home. It is very rare for me to go some place without Ram that I can't either borrow his cell phone or get along without the cell phone. I was telling this to Glenda once and she said that as the Lambs get older I will probably take them more places and need a cell phone. I disagreed with her-if we still live here, I still don't think I will need a cell phone. There just aren't the options of activities for the Lambs to be in that there would be if we lived in a big city. I can't imagine spending the money for me to have my own cell phone. I wouldn't use it or need it often enough for it to be worth the cost.
Sometimes it would be a lot more convenient to both have a cell phone-like when we lose each other in Walmart, or we are running errands in a bigger city and he drops me off at one place and takes the Lambs to another place. But we can always make it without one, one of us just has to wait a little longer for the other one. This really doesn't happen very often because we don't go to a big city very often.
When friends/family visit us, they always play the game of seeing how long they still have cell phone service before they get to our house. Verizon is the only cell phone provider that works well in our town.
Last fall we tried getting me a Walmart pay as you go phone. I'm glad we got it so I had one for our trip to IN and to make phone calls without paying roaming charges when Ram was at Mayo. But it did not work until you got about 10 miles east of our house and not at all if you went west of our house. When I visited some friends outside of Rochester it did not work at their house (also a small town).
When Ram's dad visits, he enjoys a true vacation when his work can not call him on his cell phone (no cell phone service out here), but they have our phone number if they truly need to reach him. It is relaxing for him. If we all go to a town 1 1/2 hours away to go shopping, etc., he ends up on the cell phone most of the time we are there because his work can reach him finally.
In 2002 Ram and I took a vacation out west. When we left Mt. Rushmore we planned to call our friends we were going to stay with as we traveled through NE. We traveled down the highway for hours with no cell phone service. After living in Fort Wayne I just couldn't imagine that. By the time we had cell phone service (near the interstate) it was too late to go to their house. We told them we would get a hotel instead. Sometimes I feel like I moved to that no cell phone service place that we experienced on that vacation.
We don't use our cell phone to make long distance calls. The service is not reliable. We have a basic cell plan so it would be expensive to use it for long distance. Instead we use calling cards on our land line. This saves us a monthly fee to have a long distance carrier on the land line. Is it a pain to always dial the calling card number first? Yes. Am I used to this way of making long distance calls now? Yes and it's worth it because it saves us money.
When we first moved here we couldn't make any cell phone calls any where in our town. In the almost 8 years we have been here things have improved so especially outside of the house you can have a conversation on Ram's cell phone. But when Ram's parents or my parents visit, they can't use their cell phones in our town. There are so few cell phone towers out here that the bees that make honey out here are in high demand all over the country. Gradually the last 8 years a few more cell phone towers have been built to improve the service out here.
Some may be surprised that I don't have a cell phone when we live in a rural place because of an emergency. That is one reason why I don't have a cell phone. It's not worth the money because cell phone service is not reliable out here. I would be really upset if I was stranded some where and the cell phone didn't work.
A few years ago Ram tried Alltel. He still had some time left on his Verizon so he had both. We thought we would give Alltel a try for a month before quitting Verizon or he would give one to me and keep the other. Each time he drove to a new town and tried to use the Alltel he had to call Alltel on the Verizon phone and tell them he was in a new town that he had never made a phone call from before and they had to connect him before he could make a phone call from that town! We turned in the Alltel phone before the month trial was up and continued with Verizon. Perhaps they have solved this problem in the last few years, but we were very disappointed with Alltel. The Alltel phone would not have worked if he would have needed to make a phone call in a new town if he would have had an emergency.
I am glad that Ram has a cell phone that we share. I often take his phone when I run to the town 7 miles away. He'll call me when he has a question when he is picking up something at the store on the way home. He'll call me if he's going to be late getting home. If we go out of town the church members have a way to reach him.
This is what our experiences with phones has been out here in a rural town. What do you do about land line/cell phones in your rural towns?
I plan to post for a few more days about practical topics about being a rural pastor's wife. Then I have some more ideas of a little more serious topics about being a rural pastor's wife to discuss with you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #12

I posted about how I do meal planning here. I think it would be very difficult to plan a daily or weekly meal plan when I live rural. As I said a few days ago I do try to keep my pantry stocked so we could make most of what is on our meal plan list. Sometimes before we do major shopping I write on the list ingredients to make a few new recipes. Sometimes we like those recipes and they end up on our meal plan. Sometimes we just enjoy having a different meal once and don't put them on the meal plan.
I want to encourage you if you live rural to buy/put on your wish list for birthdays/Christmas nice equipment for your kitchen. I cook much more often living rural than I would if I lived in a bigger city. I can't order take out and have it delivered. I'm not going to make an extra trip into town to go pick up a pizza. Ram's mom has been generous with stocking our kitchen for our birthdays and Christmas gifts each year since we were married. We have purchased some items ourselves. They almost became necessities because we cook so often. Some of the necessities to me: A few nice pots and pans in different sizes, we started out with an electric griddle which we just replaced with a cast iron griddle that goes on top of the stove, breadmaker, yogurt maker (yogurt could also be made in the crockpot), crockpot, mixer, blender, food processor, nice knives, popcorn popper, Pyrex in several sizes for serving and storing, and wafflemaker. We were given an ice cream maker and although it is not a necessity, we really like homemade ice cream!
Something else that I have recently started is trying to make some things homemade instead of buying so many premade items. At New Year's we were out of cocktail sauce for our shrimp so I made my own. It only took a few ingredients and it tasted better and wasn't full of salt like a bottle from the store. I've also started making salad dressing homemade. This accomplishes a few things-I don't have to keep so many bottles of different items in my pantry and worry that they may expire before I use them. I don't have to worry about HFCS or salt in my homemade items. I can make a small amount fresh for each time we have salad. Most recipes only take a few items and don't take long to whip up. And they taste really good! I wanted to make homemade ketchup last summer but we didn't have enough tomatoes. I do make jam a few times each summer. It isn't as complicated as it sounds. I try to make granola instead of buying packaged cereal. We still buy some items premade (mustard, mayo, etc.) as I just can't make everything homemade. But the things we do make homemade have helped us to eat healthier, helped with the grocery budget, and made it easier to stock the pantry out here.
We make our own bread in the breadmaker, I try to always have eggs in the fridge, because Lamb 1 had to eat dairy free we started stocking rice milk, and we try to have a full pantry. Because of this, when there is a storm predicted, we rarely run to town to get supplies. Sometimes we can't make what we would prefer to have because we're out of an ingredient, but there are plenty of other choices.
Each week we try to make bread, yogurt, granola, and ice cream. We often make homemade dips like black bean dip and hummus and spinach dip. I don't know if it is better to make everything in one or two days a week (have a big cooking day) or to make one or two each day. We have done it both ways. I'm blessed because Ram often makes our bread and always makes our yogurt. Sometimes we don't get everything made homemade that we would like. We either do without or (gasp!) buy it from the store.
On the rare occasions that I do get to a restaurant, I study the menu pretty closely. I look at it for ideas of recipes we could make at home. I especially like to pay attention to what ingredients they put in salads. A salad tastes completely different with a few different ingredients. I also try to order something that would be pretty difficult to make at home (or takes expensive ingredients) because this is my chance to have something that I can't have at home.
I would encourage you if you live rural to start making more things homemade and to start building up your kitchen to be stocked with nice equipment. We have lived here almost 8 years and it is a gradual process. I gradually tried new recipes and added in more homemade items to make. We gradually got as gifts or bought our kitchen equipment.
Do you have anything to add about cooking when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for another practical tip for living in a rural place.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #11

Today I am going to talk about eating out when you live in a rural place.
We live 45 minutes away from McDonalds. It is in towns that we rarely go to. Lamb 1 was almost 3 years old before he even tried McDonalds food. There are some fast food restaurants but there aren't a lot and many of the small towns near here all have the same fast food restaurants (Subway, DQ, etc.). Of course there aren't any restaurants except for the local cafe in the small town we live in.
When we first moved here I went to a Pampered Chef party. The question was asked, how often do you cook? I was shocked that most of the local people (farm wives) that answered rarely cooked, they almost always ate out. I couldn't understand that-where were they eating out? Then I thought about how often there are benefit dinners here and church fundraiser dinners (there are a lot of churches). The small towns have for example taco nights at VFW etc. Some of the locals meet their friends at the local cafe almost daily. There are supper clubs and other local restaurants in the small towns near us. After living in Fort Wayne which is known for both it's churches and it's restaurants, it took me a little while to get used to this.
Ram decided to take the Lambs one at a time to the local cafe once a week for breakfast. This gives them each some time with Ram alone and he also visits with the locals. I do think it is important for the pastor to meet the locals where they hang out.
We can't afford to eat out often and the choices to eat out are not as many as in the city. When we travel (for shopping/vacations/Ram's conferences or meetings) we try to eat out one nice meal and either bring snacks or eat fast food for the other meal if we are gone for two meals that day. I think of a local that I talked to that said when they traveled to family several times a year 3 hours away when she was a child, they always packed a lunch. They never would have thought of stopping and paying for a meal. When we travel we pack lots of snacks, sometimes something like cheese and sausage to hold us over until we get to a restaurant.
We also eat out local for special occasions a few times a year like Mother's Day and Father's Day. But we don't do that every special occasion, sometimes we cook a nice meal at home. We were at Applebees a few weeks ago and I saw a little boy (maybe 3) celebrating his birthday. I couldn't imagine taking a 3 year old to Applebees for his birthday-we have celebrated all the Lambs birthdays at home.
I'll admit that there have been times that Ram traveled and I stayed home with the Lambs that I was jealous that he would have chances to eat out and I wouldn't. But it seems like some of those times he was eating with a group of friends and had no choice where he ate out. Or the kind of food that he would prefer he couldn't find that kind of restaurant. I learned that was a silly thing to be jealous about. I also know that even if we lived in a big city there would be many times that he would eat out as a pastor that I would stay home with the Lambs and not get to eat out.
Sometimes (not every time) when we get to a big city we eat out a nicer meal than we usually would, and I justify it as we only ate out once that month. Often if we eat at a buffet or at lunch it is much cheaper. When Ram went to Mayo for his checkup we ate lunch one day at an Indian food buffet. The food was excellent and unlimited trips to the buffet. All of us loved the food. I couldn't believe the bill was much cheaper than if we would have eaten at Applebees. Plus I would go crazy if we stayed at home ALL the time, it is a good way for us to go out to eat as a family once or twice a month. Because we don't eat out locally very often, I can justify spending a little more money once or twice a month on travel days.
Sometimes when we get to a big city we give the Lambs a list of what restaurants we know are in town and let them choose where we eat. They often pick restaurants where they know they will get full-like a restaurant with gyros.
I also had to get used to trying new restaurants in different towns (both local and on trips). There aren't a lot of chain restaurants. Some of the small restaurants are excellent. A local restaurant we like to go to doesn't always have a lot of business. When the Lambs were younger sometimes the owner would offer to hold the baby so we could eat. If a Lamb fell asleep I would set them on the floor on a blanket and Ram and I would have one less Lamb to watch during dinner. I know I never could have done that in a large city. Most of the time we don't have to wait for a table. When we get to a larger city we try to find a non-chain restaurant because it is usually cheaper and better food. We also try to go some place that we can't get locally like an Indian food restaurant while we have a chance.
What I do miss is it is impossible for Ram and I to go out on a date to go out to eat without the Lambs. For our last anniversary we took the Lambs to Mongolian Grill (in a big city) for lunch. We just live too far away from restaurants to go out on a date to them. It is too difficult to get a babysitter and I need to save a babysitter for when I really need it. We have taken advantage of when my parents visited they watch the Lambs so we can go out. When we visited my parents last time they watched the Lambs so Ram and I could go out to the restaurant where we went out on our first date. Small chances like that have helped. Perhaps this will get better as the Lambs get older too.
What do you do about eating out when you live in a rural place?
Since we don't eat out often, we cook at home most of the time. Check back tomorrow for tips about cooking at home when you live in a rural place.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #10

Happy Valentine's Day!
Today I am going to talk about my major shopping days.
The first week after Ram was installed he had people to visit in towns 4 hours, 3 hours, and 2 hours away. We didn't have any children yet so I went along while he visited all those people. Thankfully that is the most traveling he did all in one week. I quickly learned that if I was going to go shopping while he visited people, I would need to be organized.
It took me a long time (several trips to the same town) to learn which stores were in which town. One town 3 hours away has a nice scrapbook store. A different town 3 hours away has a nice Once Upon a Child. The city 4 hours away has Costco. Almost all the bigger towns have Walmart, but not all have Target or a store like Office Depot. Some (but not all) towns have a SuperWalmart or SuperTarget. The town 1 1/2 hours away has a Goodwill across the street from Target so you know where all the scratched/dented/overstocked things from Target go. I have bought brand new Target baby clothes with the label on them that were just one piece of a two piece set or were a little dirty, washed them and you would never know they weren't bought new. We have also found nice used (Lutheran) books at that Goodwill. Some of the towns have Sears with a clothing department, others just sell appliances. I can also return Land's End merchandise bought online at Sears if they have a clothing department. I try to buy most of the Lambs pants at Sears because they can be returned if they get holes in them.
In the back of my mind (if not written down on the shopping list) I always am thinking, the next time we get to that town with Once Upon a Child, the Lambs need ____ and ____ so I'm going to look for that. When Ram tells me he has to go to a certain town to visit someone in the hospital I immediately think of what our favorite stores in that town are. We go to those stores first and if we run out of time to go to all the stores we would like to shop at, we at least got to the specific to that town stores. I know when he usually has pastor's conference and we will be going to along with Ram to that.
We used to regularly get the Sunday newspaper mainly to use the coupons. We stopped doing this because so many of the coupons didn't apply to us. We started to buy less processed food. Many of the "new" items weren't on sale at our grocery stores out here yet. I never knew if we would get to a store to do major grocery shopping before the coupons expired.
What I did begin doing is looking online at the stores we will go to for their weekly ad the day before we do major shopping. If the towns we are going to have Target, Menards, Cashwise (grocery store), etc., I look at their ads. I write on my list what is on sale that we use. Sometimes it is a list of look at ____ and I decide at the store if we need it or want it.
These shopping days become long days. Once my parents were visiting and they did the whole major shopping day with the Lambs and me without Ram. They were exhausted by evening and we even skipped a few stores that day because I didn't need anything from there! Some days we don't get home until close to midnight. Everyone in our family is now used to these days now.
For the Lambs, we try to do at least one fun thing on these days. If it is nice weather we take them to a park for a little while. Sometimes we let them play at the play place at the mall. Some Menards have a play place in the summer. Some Barnes and Nobles have trains to play with. Sometimes the coffee shop has a little play area. This is a treat for good behavior for the other stores.
We usually let the Lambs pick the order that we go to stores. They know that the grocery is always the very last place we go so that we can get cold stuff home. But other than that I give them a list of the stores we want to go to and they each take turns picking the order we go to stores. Often Ram will take them to look (not buy!) at the toy section at Walmart and Target while I try to finish shopping before they are tired of looking at the toys. Often Ram will watch them play with the toys for sale at Goodwill while I quickly look if there is anything we want to buy. So usually Walmart and Target and Goodwill are high on the list for the Lambs when they get to choose.
Our major shopping days sometimes are at the end of our vacation or on the way home from a conference or meeting that Ram went to. At those times I have to be super organized and really make a priority list of stores/items to buy because every one will be tired. I have to take my list and coupons with me. But sometimes this works in our favor-on the way home from Mayo after Ram's surgery I stopped at Costco with the Lambs. They ate so many samples that they didn't need supper!
Do you have any other tips for major shopping days?
Come back tomorrow for more practical tips about being a rural pastor's wife.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #9

Today I am going to talk about stocking your pantry when you live rural.
Before I begin, it took us a long time to build our pantry up to where I am now. Please don't expect to go out and have a pantry like mine in one shopping trip. It is a gradual process where I stocked up on things when they were on sale and got a few extra items until we are at the point we are at now. When my sister visits me she is always shocked at how much food we have in the cupboard and in our basement. With my system there are some times that I have to throw some things out because they expire before we use them. But most of what we stock we do use before it expires.
Here are some items that we try to keep stocked up in our house:
Kitchen: I've seen cookbooks have a list of what ingredients you should have in a well stocked pantry. We have things for baking and cooking-major spices we use, flour, sugar, onions, garlic, oatmeal, canned goods, pasta, rice, tortilla chips, chocolate chips, ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. I also keep an extra box of baggies, foil, parchment paper etc. Also vinegar and other cleaning supplies, paper towels, dish soap etc. I try to keep several boxes of butter, a few kinds of frozen veggies, walnuts, etc. in the freezer.
Bathroom: I try to keep an extra of items we use like shampoo, soap, deodorant, razors, etc. A friend visited me once and she forgot to pack some items from her bathroom. When we went to the store she was going to purchase new ones. She was shocked that I had extra to share with her everything that she needed-toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. I also try to keep some small travel size of these items for when we have visitors. I buy huge packs of toilet paper and also multipacks of tissues a couple of times a year. We also have over the counter items for when we get sick. I can't run to the store for Tylenol or Pepto Bismol in the middle of the night if someone gets sick.
Office: We try to keep an extra printer cartridge for our printers and a couple of packs of paper.
Lambs: I read a blog once where the mom ran out of disposable diapers and had to run to the store in the middle of the night. That is not an option here. The local grocery store often does not have big packs of diapers and sometimes does not have any of the size of diapers our Lambs wear. I always have several packs of diapers here even now when Lamb 3 wears a combination of cloth and disposable. If I would run out he could always wear cloth until we got to a store to get more. I used to keep extra wipes on hand until I started to make homemade wipes.
Laundry: I always have several bottles of laundry soap, vinegar and baking soda (for washing diapers), stain remover, etc. I buy several bottles when it goes on sale.
In our basement we used to have our canned goods organized in boxes. About a year ago we put up some cheap shelves and organized everything. I keep my homemade canned goods on one shelf and our extra canned goods on another. It is important to be organized if you are going to have a well stocked pantry. If you can't afford shelves right now, put them in labeled boxes or have some kind of organizational system.
The day before I go major shopping I open up the cupboards and put on the list anything we are getting low on. I check our "pantry" in the kitchen, bathroom, Lambs room, and basement (laundry) for what we are low on.
We usually also have a list going so when Ram or I use up an item then it goes on the list. For example, if we run out of baggies then we replace it with a new box on our shelf and write baggies on the list. By having an extra box on the shelf I rarely completely run out of an item because it is either on the list or I notice we ran out when I check the pantry before shopping.
I have noticed with this system that my priorities in regards to shopping have changed since we lived here. We can make do without some items that I used to always keep on hand. Some things are easier to make from scratch than to keep on hand. For example, I used to buy a lot of cake mixes. They expire quicker than you think they would and I would throw a lot out. I still keep some on hand because I never know when there is going to a funeral and it will be my turn to bring a cake. But now I usually make cakes homemade when they are for our family. My well stocked pantry has changed since we first moved here as we try to cook healthier, had Lambs, and made different priorities in our pantry.
Our pantry also looks different at different times of the year. We eat more salads in the summer so I have more salad dressing (or ingredients to make homemade salad dressing) in the summer than I do in the winter. We eat more brats/hamburgers in the summer so I try to have buns and condiments then that we don't always have in the winter (in fact I rarely buy buns in the winter). In the fall I have canned pumpkin. In the winter we have sweet potatoes and squash and potatoes. I keep more on hand for baking around Christmas. As the seasons change I consider this and add to my list items we will need the next season.
A few times a year I do clean out and organize the pantry areas that I've mentioned here. I throw out the expired items, check the expiration date and try to make something with the ingredients that will expire soon. I have a few cake mixes sitting on my counter that will expire in March. I'll try to use them before they expire.
Your well stocked pantry would look different than my well stocked pantry. Some items that I use a lot of you would rarely use or wouldn't use before they expire. You may use some items often that I rarely use.
Do you have any other advice for stocking your pantry?
Check back tomorrow for more about how we shop while we live here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #8

The next few days I will discuss shopping when you live in a rural area. I think it is the most difficult practical part of living here after living in a big city. (Notice I said practical part-I'm not talking about being far away from family and other more serious topics.) Today I am going to talk about shopping local.
Of course shopping local is kind of a funny statement since about the only things I could buy in the small town we actually live in are postage stamps, cards that the Ladies Aid sells at our church, and the local cafe tries to keep milk and eggs for sale (I don't think we've ever purchased that there though). It took me a while to get used to shopping local may mean a half hour or 45 minute drive. Then I thought that sometimes when I lived in Fort Wayne, I would spend that long driving across town to a specific store, especially if it was a busy time of day with lots of traffic. I can't imagine those of you that don't even live in a small town like I do and even have what I have though.
My first tip is that you need to get used to shopping at regular business hours. The gas station closes at 9 or 10pm (you can still pay at the pump, but when we moved here there were still some gas stations that you couldn't pay at the pump). The grocery store closes at 9pm most days and 5pm on Sunday. When we first moved here our church members told us a funny story about the previous pastor. His wife needed something from the grocery one night so he drove to the town 7 miles away and they were closed. He tried another store in a farther away town and they were also closed. He drove around and was gone for a couple of hours and when he got home he did not have the ingredient she asked for! He couldn't find any store open. Perhaps our church members embellished this story because they thought it was so funny, but I would believe this would happen, especially on Sunday night. The drug store closes at 6pm during the week /2pm on Saturdays/closed on Sundays. I remember reading a blog where the mom said it was not an option to go to the drugstore to get a pacifier in the middle of the night when they couldn't find the baby's. I understood when she said that.
Along with that, make friends with your "neighbors" and come to an agreement that if you need an ingredient for a recipe sometime they will share and you will pay them back and they will do the same. Once someone came and borrowed some eggs from us. I borrowed some salt for canning once because the local store was completely out. I know if you are more rural and not in a small town like I am this not an option.
Second, look around your local area and see what you can take advantage of and be thankful for that. We may not have CVS or Starbucks, but we have a lot to be thankful for here. The town 7 miles away only has a few stores, but they have our "necessities". The local bank has a nice program for the Lambs to get prizes for making deposits in their savings accounts. While I wouldn't choose to shop at the hardware store in a big city, the local hardware store has a little bit of everything. We are blessed by a nice small health food store in this town too. I did not shop there at all the first several years we lived here. I was afraid the food would not be fresh there. I finally got brave enough to try it and was surprised that it had small amounts of most of the items a big city health food store would have. They have a wonderful bulk section. We've started spending a lot more of our grocery budget here. The drug store has a small Christian book store section inside it with many items from CPH and a nice gift section. The grocery store is small, but they have a little bit of everything. One of the times that Ram's parents visited, they wanted to go grocery shopping for some items for breakfast for themselves. They started out driving to the town 20 miles away and they were not able to find what they needed. Then they drove back to the town 7 miles away and it had what they needed. Sometimes his mom wanted very specific items for a recipe she was making while she visited and they had it. A lot of times I will look for an item at SuperWalmart and they won't have it but our small town grocery store does. You can also request items at the small town grocery store and because they are a small town store they will try to get it for you.
The town 20 miles away has a few more stores that we shop at. Hallmark, a bigger drug store with a nice toy section, farm supply store (with the best toys for boys that I have ever seen, only on sale around Christmas time, better than Toys R Us), Alco (small town Walmart type of store) etc.
So check out what IS available to you and even if it is not a store you would shop at regularly in a city, at least go inside and see what they do have for sale because you may be surprised.
Third, check out when the sales are. We shop almost every week at our small grocery store and get what is on sale. We usually spend less than $25 on these weekly trips, but we stock up on ingredients we use often that are on sale. I often send Ram with this weekly list when he goes to town to visit people.
Each local community also has special events and sales several times a year. In the summer there are "Crazy Days" where the local stores have sales and try to get rid of overstocked inventory. I have found items at these sales really cheap that were nice gifts for our family. At other times of the year there are other sale days too.
Fourth, if you are rural, you may be able to get food easier that the people in cities would love to get. I'm thinking of farm eggs, raw milk, honey, fresh from the farm fruit and veggies in the summer, apples and pumpkins in the fall, local meat. I know that you will not be able to get ALL these (I can't), but be thankful for what you can get. We were recently at Trader Joe's in a big city (I had never shopped there before) and I was surprised that I wasn't that impressed. Between what we can get at the local health food store and the grocery store 1 1/2 hours away,  there wasn't much at Trader Joe's that I needed or was cheaper than the stores we regularly shop at. I know that people in the big city would love to be this close to produce in the summer instead of shopping at Farmer's Markets.
I also want to add that I have talked with the locals here and I know several rarely go out of the local area here to shop. It can be done. I know one mom that said by the time she paid gas to get to the town with Walmart, bought lunch for herself and her kids, and ended up spending more there getting treats for her kids because she felt guilty they were wasting the day away from home she would spend a lot more money than if she just paid a little more at the local stores. I realize that I am blessed that we travel about once a month for Ram to visit someone in the hospital or go to a meeting or for us to go to some of our doctors. I would probably be like that mom that rarely shops out of the local area if we weren't already going out of town and then stopping to shop afterwards. There are months when Ram doesn't have to travel out of the local area and we don't have any appointments (especially in the winter when the roads might be bad) that we do all our shopping local or online.
I hope this encourages you to check out what you do have available to you locally and be thankful for that.
Do you have anything else to add about shopping locally?
Check back tomorrow for more about shopping when you live in a rural community.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Being a rural pastor's wife post #7

Today's post talks about some local services that we have available. Our small town that we live in has a post office, bar, cafe, small car repair shop, our LCMS church, and insurance office. If we want gas or to go to a small grocery or to go to the bank, or to go to a small drug store, we have to drive 7 miles to a town of about 2000.
1. Post office-our small town has a post office. There is someone at the window daily from 10-2 and Saturday from 10-noon. After it closes until 4pm you can pick up your mail but no one is there to help you (buy stamps, mail a package, or receive a box). I am so thankful to have this in our small town. When political people come to our door campaigning, I always tell them that we need to work to keep our post office as it is a necessity in this small town. There is no mail delivery to our house. There has been some talk of closing some of the small town post offices. If the post office closed we would still not have mail delivery. There would be outside boxes (like trailer parks and apartments sometimes have). If we received a box we would have to go to the town 7 miles away to pick up our box.
We walk to the post office whenever the weather is nice enough. It is a good chance for the Lambs and either Ram or I to get a nice walk in daily. We receive a lot of snail mail because the church is the same post office box as ours. We order a lot online that is delivered to our post office box.
I ship a lot from our post office. I have only used UPS once since we moved here because that company required that we return something UPS. Other than that I have shipped everything by just walking 2 blocks. I have mailed things to a missionary friend in Thailand and to some people in the military and of course packages to our family for birthdays and Christmas.
Sometimes it is frustrating that if we are gone on vacation if we get back too late to pick up the mail, we have to wait over the weekend to get our mail. But it is also nice that if we go on vacation we don't worry about having the post office hold our mail because they always hold our mail! 
I am posting this just so you are not surprised and know that you are not alone if you don't have mail delivery at your house. Please tell your Congressmen to keep the small town post offices open!
2. Local newspaper-We pay to receive the local newspaper from two local newspapers (in the mail) plus there is a free advertisements newspaper delivered to our house once a week. It took me a long time to get used to news only delivered once a week instead of daily. We could really subscribe to another couple of local newspapers because the area our church members are in is so spread out. Ram usually only reads these newspapers if I point out an article to him. But I read the newspapers from cover to cover usually the same day I receive them. There are things to do in this area, but the main way to hear about it is in the newspaper. If I didn't read the newspaper I wouldn't know activities to take the Lambs to or when the local stores have sales. I know that it is a priority for most of our church members to read the newspaper when it comes. Since I didn't grow up here I don't usually know who the people are in the newspaper, but I can still use the news. The "local" TV news only mentions our part of the state if something significant happens so the newspaper is the only way to hear local news. The weather report in the newspaper tells what already happened in the weather last week instead of a weather forecast ahead.
I am posting this to encourage you to subscribe to your local newspaper. Small town newspapers really are different than city newspapers.
3. Local radio-It took me a long time to get used to listening (or at least checking the announcements online) to our local radio station. I admit that I don't like the music most of the time, (Like when they play polka music while I'm trying to make lunch!) but there is other local news. Since the local newspaper only comes out once a week, most of the locals hear about funerals on the radio. There is a talk show in the afternoons broadcast from the big city that Ram and I enjoy. There is a program each morning where they will advertise for free items you are looking to buy or sell. We have advertised a few things we wanted to sell this way. We do have a small consignment shop in the town 7 miles away, but they hardly ever take consignments and it is such a pain to take things there. We even sold Ram's old SUV on this radio program. We would have had to pay to advertise in the newspaper. They announce birthdays and anniversaries and Ram and I were the anniversary couple of the week last year so we received a discount to a local restaurant.
I am posting this to encourage you to listen to your local radio station at least a few times a week to keep up with local news.
Do you have anything to add about how you get news when you live in a rural place?
Come back tomorrow for more tips to live as a rural pastor's wife.