Divine Country Living
For Deanna-lyn Reilley, moving from condo life on the island to country life in Ridgeland meant having chickens, a clothesline and a garden. That was until she got a call from an oncologist telling her she had cancer. The call came just two weeks after they had moved in, and it happened on Valentine's Day. On top of that, she and her husband Dennis were eighteen months into the process of adopting two young girls from Ethiopia. The sisters were already scheduled to leave the poverty-stricken country, which meant Dennis would have to go to Ethiopia alone, and the chickens, the garden and all other projects would have to be put on hold.
Battling breast cancer and helping Hannah and Candace adjust to their new life in America was Deanna-lyn's primary focus and challenge. During her time of chemotherapy treatments, Deanna-lyn discovered fighting off cancer was not fun. To offset unavoidable physical anguish, Deanna-lyn was able to take pleasure in the fact that Hannah and Candace were "happy little sponges." They spoke no English upon their arrival, so she had to come up with a plan for everyday communication.
"We started with 'Good morning' and then formulated every question so the girls could respond with 'yes' or 'no'," Deanna-lyn explained. Big sister, Rose, who was nine at the time, was instrumental in demonstrating the meaning of words. "Within six months, the girls were fluent in English and had completely forgotten Amharic, their native language," Deanna-lyn said smiling at her three daughters, all of whom she homeschools.
"Homeschool means everything is a lesson, from painting and making curtains for the hen house to building the playhouse by the pond," said Deanna-lyn. "Right now we're making chair covers and finishing quilting projects for the state fair coming up in October." The Reilley household has given up television and video games to pursue the simple things in life, such as studying scripture, classical music, knitting, cooking, baking bread, and raising hens that lay green eggs, proving Dr. Seuss was accurate when he wrote "Green Eggs and Ham". Without a rigid schedule to follow, Deanna-lyn and her children are free to "pontificate all over the place" whenever and wherever they like.
As one might expect, many of life's lessons happen naturally on a farm. Deanna-lyn considers writing, reading and mathematics lessons secondary when compared to opportunities to develop character, which she both models and teaches knowing that such personalized biblical training will help her children go a long way in this temporal life. If caught reading, the Reilleys, including mom and dad, would most likely be reading one of the books from the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, very fitting for the lifestyle they've chosen.
All Reilley animals are ascribed a child caretaker who then gives them a proper name. This involves a couple of fish, a cat, thirteen chickens, two geese, a rabbit who co-habitats with a teacup, pot-bellied pig, and two $2.00 ducklings purchased at the Seed and Feed on Main Street in Ridgeland. The pig's name is Peggy Sue (eee) and the Americana hen who lays green eggs is Ruth Dear. Rose is hoping her parents will someday say yes to a horse.
"Rose is our Mother Goose," Deanna-lyn said. "When the geese were a few weeks old, she put them in bonnets and sang to them. When we brought home our pet ducklings, Rose put on a yellow hat and slept in the bathtub with them."
Clearly, this former single mom who quit her profession to open a day care center so she would always have her kids by her side, has mastered the art of mothering. Swimming in blessings, the Reilley brood are some of the luckiest ducks in all of Ridgeland, South Carolina.
Married to: Dennis Reilley (who does an amazing job picking out Deanna-lyn's stylish new outfits)
Children: Ann (24), Joseph (21), Patrick (deceased), Rose (11), Hannah (9), Candace (7)
Motto: "When one teaches, two learn."
Teaching style: "Time to move the fence."
Interpretation: Keep children busy.