Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What we've been up to….

I haven't got on here in a really long time. I can't believe that one of my last post's was in October, and here it is, the week before Christmas. Life has just been zooming by. I feel like a lot has happened. Harvest wrapped up, and we said goodbye to one of our close friends, not really goodbye, but they moved to Kansas. And so we won't be able to get together as often as we'd like too…..

Childhood friends are some of the best and the ones we look back on so fondly. We love this family so much!
It was then Thanksgiving, and we had a surprise birthday party for my wonderful mother-in-law…

She was totally surprised! It was great.
We got our tree and decorated for Christmas. It feels so much different then last year, trying to move in at this time. Much more relaxed and enjoyable.

And we received this from Compassion International….

It's our sponsor tour information box!!! It has our name tags, luggage tags, bubbles, stickers, and a tour book, explaining about our trip.
Yes, Nate and I are headed to  Haiti in February! We are so excited! For a few years now, I would get emails from Compassion about going on a sponsor tour, but we also had a tiny baby, still nursing infant, or I was expecting a child. This is the first time that it worked out.
So we are flying down, touring the Compassion facilities and seeing what they do down there, and we also get to meet our child and spend the day with him!
Friday we went to Tucson to get our shots for the trip. By the time we got home, we both had sore arms, and I had a fever and headache. Saturday and Sunday I was nauseous and Sunday evening I broke out in a rash. Today, Tuesday, the rash is almost gone and so are all the other side effects. And we haven't even taken the rare diseases (at least for the U.S.) yet. We have typhoid fever and malaria pills to take. But it will all be worth. We are so excited. I am hoping I will be able to blog about it either while we are there or at least take lots of pictures to blog about once we get back. The kids will be spending time with Nate's parents and their other cousins, so they are super excited about that.

But this is a little of what's been going on around here. I am looking forward to being stretched and grown by the Lord on our trip and just in general in the coming year. There are lots of changes coming to our life, some in good, but bittersweet ways. We will be losing another set of dear friends early in the coming year and that is always hard. Especially for our kids to understand. Moving is never easy, but we must be obedient and faithful to where God calls us to go. It's the "Great Adventure" and we get the privilege to come along!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas!
May the grace, kindness, love, joy, and peace of our coming Savior bless you in the coming year!  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Photos from the Farm....

The farmers favorite time of year has to be harvest. It's when they reap the seeds they have sown.  A year of tilling, planting, fertilizing, getting stuck pivots out, and lots of prayer have come to fruition. I love the smell of harvest. You can step outside and smell it on the air. The air is crisp and cool in the morning, warm and sweet in the afternoon, and chilly in the evening. In the words of Anne of Green Gables, "I am so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Clark bringing the cart to unload

Filling the trailer

new grain bins

waiting his turn on the combine

getting a "hand up"

Father and Son. Future of farming....


wide open country

View from up top the leg of the grain bins

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Living Epistles

When I was in middle school and high school, I dreamed of writing the next great American novel. It would become one of the most beloved novels of all time. It would touch and change lives. I would think out plots in my head, dream up characters, and have conversations between said characters in my head. I had favorite heroine names....Ariel, Emma, and Alaina. I took my drafts into my middle school Language Arts teacher, for him to edit, correct and critique. Looking back now, I can see how foolish I was. I believe truly great writers don't set out to write the next blockbuster, but rather they have to write because they will go crazy if they don't. It doesn't matter if anyone else reads it or not.

When I got married, I took an online writing class, but once I found myself pregnant, my heart lost interest. After having Charlotte, I felt the itch to write again. But everything I would write felt generic, like I'd read it before. I wanted something original.

I was thinking the other day, about the end of Anne of Ingleside, after Anne has met up again with Christine Stuart, the girl who tried to win Gilbert's heart in Anne of the Island. Anne is feeling frumpy and not very interesting next to Christine who has traveled the world. Christine makes a snarky comment about all the children they have and how when Anne was in high school she had such high goals of being a writer and is now only a mother. Anne retorts that now she is writing "living epistles".

Sigh. I love that. I am writing "living epistles". I may not write the next blockbuster novel that turns the world upside down and restores world peace, but I am helping to write the lives of my five children. There are so many days when the never ending laundry, dust, stickiness on the floors, and sibling fights and ungratefulness grate on my ears and heart and I wonder if this is all there is. Does anyone notice what I do? Do I make a difference? The answer is always yes. I want my children to look back fondly on their childhood. To not feel as though they couldn't play and imagine their hearts out. To feel safe and loved. To know Jesus love through my prayers, touch, and care. It is a constant battle to see the bigger picture. It's always so easy to become consumed with the small, the frustration, the weariness of motherhood. I don't wake up most mornings feeling like I am embarking on some great adventure and I am so excited to teach and train my kids. Most mornings I just want to be left alone so I can finish my cup of coffee. That's all I ask. Please. Lukewarm coffee is just not the same. But it's my life. And reheated in the microwave just isn't the same.

But the grace and mercy of Jesus. Right there for the taking, if I just stop and ask. To stop and thank Him for the gifts. The countless gifts of each and everyday. Even the messy, ugly and inconvenient gifts. There is always a blessing, an invitation to come closer. From Him who gave all, to us, to me, who just whines to drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

So I just want to encourage those writing "living epistles". It truly is a marathon. Pace yourself. Rest in His perfect love and strength. Trust.....

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday's photos from the farm

Yesterday morning (Friday), I woke up to this....

And ended the day with this.....

I had got 5 boxes of pears through Bountiful Baskets last Saturday, and Friday we canned. All.day.long.
80 quarts.
They aren't all pictured here. And we did use 1/2 gallon jars for most of it, but they equal two quarts. 
But aren't they pretty? There is something so satisfying and comforting in knowing you have food stored away. I have the best mother in law. And she has the nicest  friend who volunteered to come and help.  Fellow canners, unite! :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The other day I was convinced that I had the flesh eating bacteria. I had a small cut on my foot and had gone outside to grab something out of the freezer. I came back in and noticed it really hurt. I put some neosporin on it and went and laid down because I was tired from my allergies kicking it into high gear. I remember falling asleep and thinking that if it still was bothering me when I got up I'd have to call the doctor, and also hoping I wouldn't lose my foot.

Now, I have actually known of three people who have suffered with this, and I am not sharing to make light of it, but to actually share that I have anxiety issues.

I have struggled with anxiety the last couple of years. During pregnancy is when it is worst. During my pregnancy with Anne I thought my husband was cheating on me. I didn't share this with him until a year afterward. But we were working on our house and in the evenings he would leave after supper and go work on the house. I was home alone with the kids and after I got them in bed, my mind would wander. And I had this whole story made up. I would have myself so worked up until he got home.  Then after I had Anne, the worst was to come. As you know, if you've read Anne's birth story (here) you will remember I had some minor trouble with bleeding afterward. That evening after my midwives had left and my husband was passed out beside me, I had this dark, heavy feeling come over me. I was convinced that if I got up to use the restroom, I would bleed to death. I could hear the voices in my head telling me I wasn't going to live to raise my children. It was the hardest, loneliest, darkest weekend of my life so far. Just that heavy, anxious feeling.

A couple of days later, after my mom had arrived to give me a hand, I was working in the kitchen and the thought came to me, "Some days I just feel so attacked.." Wait a minute. I think I am on to something. Of course, I am being attacked. That moment I spoke out loud and said "No." No, I am not going to continue listening to these voices in my head. I am not going to give them access to my heart...to my mind. I started praying and quoting Scripture.

I wanted to share this because I know I am not the only one. Anxiety runs in my family. And I am thankful that I know it, and I am starting to see the warning signs, the triggers. I can give it over to the Lord. Now, there are times when anxiety has to be treated with medication. Maybe not forever, but at least temporarily. Maybe for years.

But I have found power and comfort in speaking aloud. If we keep it inside, we can become a slave to our thoughts, to our anxieties. God has promised us freedom. And there is freedom in speaking out loud the promises of God. Of telling the thoughts they have to go. Of verbally taking our thoughts captive.
I still don't have it all together, per the story up above, but I have a hope. And that is what I cling to.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Photos from the Farm....

We have a new member of the family....meet Dude! He defines his name....very cool, laid back, relaxed, doesn't get excited, unless you get in the way of his dried beet pulp! Autumn has a friend, and she seems really happy about that. It's so nice to see two grazing outside.

love seeing girls in dresses with cowboy boots!

Part of the girls chores is to feed the animals. Anne is getting an early start. She likes bending down and picking up the hay and throwing it piece by piece in the feeder. The kids had their first lesson on him yesterday and it went really well. We have some timid riders who he will be great with, and the other two will be able to switch between. And I will be able to start learning how to ride! I climbed up on him before we bought him and  could understand why one of our daughters is a little uneasy. It's high! And when I look down I just think how much it will hurt falling off! :)

But that's what's new around the farm....I want to post some pics of my farmer working on his combine. Maybe next week. Harvest is just around the corner.....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

random thoughts

Hey there. I know I totally forgot to load pictures for Friday's photos around the farm. I have some on my camera, but I haven't loaded them yet. Anyway, I just wanted to get on here and  share with you the secret to awesome chicken salad. Many of you probably already know this, so please excuse my dumbness, but.....rotisserie chicken! I have started buying rotisserie chicken because it's almost the same price as buying a whole fryer and taking the time to cook it myself. Besides, my chicken never turns out as flavorful and tender as rotisserie chicken.  But you pick the meat off the rotisserie chicken, chop it fine, add celery, onion, sliced grapes, and glazed pecans chopped into small pieces. Add in mayo or miracle whip and bam! Amazing chicken salad. I make french bread and we smear it on the bread and it's a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I was always a little apprehensive about making homemade chicken salad because I was used to the chicken salad back in Pennsylvania. But my husband told me the other day that he likes this homemade kind better. Yay!

Also, in a totally unrelated subject....we started school last week and so far, I am really liking our new schedule. I usually try to cram as much as I can in the morning, but this year I just decided to accept that there will be some things that will have to be done in the afternoon. So this year we are starting around 8:30. For the first half hour we work on Awana memory work. Then Charlotte goes to math and the other two girls work on English. Then they switch. At 10 we have a half hour break for recess and snack. Plus, I can start on lunch if I need to. Then from 10:30-11 they do handwriting and spelling. From 11 to noon is free time. Noon we eat our big meal for the day. Then after the littles go down for naps we do either history or science, and the girls have reading time. We have also started to do spanish in the afternoon.  I realize that this probably won't be our schedule forever, but for right now it works, and I am so thankful. I don't feel so rushed. Part of it too, is probably the girls are getting older and able to do more on their own.

But the meal planning and housekeeping....that's a whole other story!!!!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday morning glory

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands....

Just a little gift I woke up to this morning.....we don't have clouds too often in the sky at morning except during monsoon, and we haven't had rain for a few days, so this was beautiful this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Saturday.....I will be husking and cutting corn! 

"I see your face in every sunrise; the colors of the morning are in your eyes... You're beautiful..." Phil Wickham

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Photos from the Farm

Several weeks ago we got away to Rucker Canyon. We hadn't been away as a family for a quite a while. Farming isn't a 9-5 job, but a lifestyle. It's not something you can turn off at the end of the day. At least farming with irrigation. When you dry land farm, you plant and let the rain water your crops. With irrigation, you have pivots to make sure are running and aren't getting stuck and flooding a field.

We had received a decent amount of rainfall so that most of our pivots were off, so we escaped up into the mountains. It's hard to believe this is only about 45 minutes or so from home..... 

Anne chowing down on watermelon

feeling like a big girl

watermelon is so good. especially in the mountains!

someone wasn't feeling so social

It was beautiful. There was water flowing, so the kids could splash in the little stream. It was quiet. All you could hear was the wind in the trees, and kids squealing with delight. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and watermelon. The kids played and splashed. They sketched trees and looked up woodland creatures in their nature guide book. Dad even cat-napped on the blanket. It was lovely.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

That time of year again...

That time of year is coming upon us again....school! I had hopes of starting this week, but with the sweet corn just about ready, I figured I'd better wait until the bulk of that was finished. We will have a lot at once for cutting and freezing, and then we have more that will be more staggered for fresh eating. So it looks as though school will be starting next week.

Larissa will be in fourth, Alaina second, Charlotte first, and then two toddlers. Yes, Anne is now toddling around! And Landon is a big three year old. I am not sure how the morning time will go with a very busy boy and a little girl who will be transitioning out of morning naps at some time during the year. It feels as though there is some kind of change going on.

The girls will be doing Math U See for math this year. Language Arts, Alaina and Charlotte will be doing Sing, Spell, Read & Write. Larissa will be finishing up her SSRW from last year, and then starting Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola. We are doing Sonlight for history this year. We will be doing American History. Science will be Apologia's Land Animals of the Fifth Day. I got the lapbook CDRom for that and so we will have a little crafty time, hopefully on Friday afternoons.  They will also be working on printing/cursive and I thinking about spanish. I don't know. Between piano, dance, riding lessons, Awana, and co-op starting in September, I feel as though we will be plenty busy. Too busy. How does that happen?

Something different I am doing this year is I got each of the girls their own planner. I want to try and write out the week's assignments so they can see what they have to do and then can check it off when they are done with that day's assignments. Some of them do well with the idea of checking off a list. We'll have to see if this mom can keep up with it. (smile)

The next big thing is figuring out the house cleaning routine and fitting it in with schooling so it's not all done on one day. I would like to spread it out, yet feel unsure about how to do it. And the school schedule too. I want to try and do our main subjects, math and language arts, in the morning, and then after lunch doing history, science and their own reading. It sounds and looks so simple on paper, yet trying to stick to it is the hard part.

I am also still trying to fit in ladies bible study and worship team practice....so it feels as though our plate will be full. Full of good things. Yet I am praying as we go into this year, it will be with an open hand and that when I feel the nudge to cut something, I won't be afraid to do so. Wisdom, a discerning spirit, patience, flexibility.....oh how I need all of this!

Here's to a productive, inspiring, hope-filled year!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The boy turns three

Three years ago today, I woke up about 3 in the morning with contractions about five minutes apart. Emotionally I was a mess. My parents had come out and my dad had to go home the day before. He just missed meeting his grandson by 24 hours. Nate got up with me. We set up the birthing pool, took a walk and got ready for baby. About 5:30 I called my midwife and told her my contractions were 3-4 minutes. She said she would get ready and head out. Our girls were up about 6:30. My mom helped get them breakfast and dressed. By this time, my contractions were strong enough that I had to stop and breathe to get through them. At 7 my midwife came, my mom left with the kids and it was time to do the hard thing! About 9 I got in the tub because my lower back was hurting. I was feeling a little unsure about my labor because my contractions weren't really consistent. About 9:45 I had Stephanie check me. She broke my water and just after 10, Landon came into this world. He was huge! At least for me. He weighed in at 9 lbs, 3 oz. I guess that's what happens when you are NINE days late!!!

I couldn't imagine our family without him. Boys are daring, destructive, and loud. But he loves to be read to, prayed for, and firmly says, "Mommy, I luf you...kiss my lips." Sigh. Love him.
Happy Birthday, Son.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday's Photos from the Farm

It's been raining here....the grass is growing, the flowers and corn are taking off, and the kids have discovered MUD!

This week I thought my photos from the farm would be devoted to the "farm kid". The kid who the great outdoors is their candy store. A land of exploring and pretending. 

I grew up on a dairy farm. We had lots of room to run and play. We had random forts and hideaways. My school friends enjoyed coming out to the farm because we had space. We could play capture the flag, basketball, kickball, football, lay on the hill and count the stars at night. We could set off fireworks and have bonfires. And we ate our meals together. I will never forget one summer I had friends over during the day and they couldn't get over that we ate lunch together as a family. I didn't know any differently.

the "Pond"

raft the kids built

splashing in the water

swimming hole?

don't they look like a fun bunch?
I am thrilled that my kids get to enjoy the same freedom. They aren't afraid to get outside and get a little dirty. They enjoy collecting frogs and tadpoles. They like to feel the mud squish between their toes. They build homes for the little worms that come to the surface after a good rain (yuck), but at least they (the worms) stay outside! 

....just a few perks of being a farm kid....

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday's Photos from the Farm....

Is it Friday again, all ready?!? We are in full swing monsoon around here....

thunderhead building in the afternoon out my back door

raining down at the south farm
isn't that cool? My hubby took this..
looking for some mud

sunset out my back door

The clouds are awesome this time of year. There really is no other word to describe them. You can see a tiny puff of white in the morning over the Chiricahua's and by lunchtime it's this huge, anvil shaped cloud with amazing height.

We have been getting rain the last few days. Last night we did get some hail as well, which isn't desired. We have a half circle of corn that got hit pretty hard, but we will just have to wait and see how bad the damage is. At least it's just a half circle and not everything! :)

With monsoonal rain comes life. I love the rain. I love watching the desert come to life, hills and roadsides green up. You see the occasional wildflowers and poppies springing up alongside the road. The corn seems to grow a foot overnight.

The downside is the mud. Oh, the mud. if there are puddles of water within 50 feet of the house, our kids will find them. I don't mind them playing in the mud as much as I mind the cleaning it up later. But you can't have one without the other.....and if you want to see the wild woman in me unleashed, just trek mud across my just cleaned floors! :)

But I do love you monsoon.....just please don't hail on our corn again!