Saturday, July 7, 2018

Animal Update

 I wonder if maybe I have forgotten how to blog. I guess we shall see. Between busy days and a slow computer I just haven't done much blogging for a while. But I have a different and faster computer (following the old one completely crashing which was a little nerve wracking as all of my business stuff was one it) now so hopefully I can blog a little more again.

I thought I would share some pictures of some of our new additions to this homestead....
 I had mentioned earlier that we lost our Mr. Sippi cat to an eagle this winter so we have been keeping our eye out for a new cat. Neighbors of some friends of ours had kittens that needed homes and so we ended up getting this little male cat. There was much debate over the name as Jonathan and I thought we hadn't gotten enough use out of the lovely name "Mr. Sippi" but others thought that we shouldn't name another cat that right away. It wouldn't be properly remembering the dead so that name was out. Our new cat is Mr. Nary. Named after the community that he came from.
 He is a pretty lively cat. And we have to keep our eye on him when it comes to our chicks. He thinks they are good wrestling partners.
 We did get 50+ chicks again this year. They are pretty big now though and the broilers are nearly ready for butchering so our numbers will go down. We got over 30 broilers and we have over 20 layers now again.
 Baby bunnies we the exciting surprise this Spring. One female had 6 bunnies then a month later she had 3 more and the other female had 2. The first 6 did well. The Mama of the 6 didn't take kindly to having more so soon however and she let the next 3 die. Concerning the 2 that the other female had, only one survived. He has been a very interesting bunny however. He was born to Naomi so Mara named him "Obed".  He (possibly a she - we don't know) has been dubbed Obed the Adventurer because of the many jaunts he has taken. He has had the amazing ability of wiggling about and finding cracks that he can get through since he has been very young. We have found him in his Dad's cage next "door", in the chicken run which is below and then 2 times Kitchi (our dog) found him out of his cage and carried him down to the house. He squeaked then and we rescued him and took him back to his mom. We are amazed that he survived and has actually even thrived.
 They love to be fed greens stuff to eat.

I do also have bees again this year. I am looking forward to lots of honey, Lord Willing, this fall.
Kitchi gave us a little scare this Spring by getting Lymes disease and getting quite sick. He didn't want to walk anywhere and limped majorly when he did move around. Thank-fully we are familiar with Lymes and figured that was the problem and the vet quickly agreed and prescribed an antibiotic for him and he improved quickly after that. In the picture above Aaron was helping him get back to his place on the hearth after he had gone out to relieve himself.

  The animals take work but they are also fun. With the boys gone to camp these last two weeks (they got home yesterday which is SO nice!) I have done most of the chores- it is actually kind of fun. They provide us with enjoyment, eggs, meat, honey, guarding the property and keeping mice away. We are also hoping to get fur in the future. I am thankful for our animals and that God provided them for us to have and use.

 Do you have any animals? 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mara's Open House

We have never really hosted big parties that center around one child (such as a birthday party - we do have family over for birthdays but not your traditional party) so it was different and pretty fun to be hosting a party in Mara's honor.

   Mara really enjoys traveling and going on adventures so that became our theme for the open house. It seeemed especially appropriate since she plans to go to Adventures In Missions this fall.


We had people sign in at our guest book. For decorations we had used maps various places, verses (mounted on maps) that talked about going places/the world etc. , I had a bunch of small pictures of Mara framed that highlighted different travels/adventures she had enjoyed throughout the years. I had those all labeled. We had flowers in little jars scattered around as well.

On the tables we put down brown paper then maps and then the picture, verse and flowers.


We had tables set up both inside and out. We were blessed with a super lovely day so most of the people sat outside but there were many inside as well.


My sister Keren brought over their hammock which was enjoyed.
The boys then put up theirs as well (we hadn't thought of it earlier) and all of them were used a lot of the time.
A lot of eating and visiting went on. We were really blessed by all that came to celebrate with us.

Church family came, Homeschooling friends,

Friends from Theater,
Lots of family, neighbors,
Employers,
and many long time friends. We are truly blessed by the friends that we have. I had hoped to get pictures of everybody but that didn't really begin to happen.
For food we continued with our travel/adventure them. Mara thought of foods that she has enjoyed from travels that she has been on and we then figured out what would work to serve a crowd, adjusted some ideas, tried out some new recipes and came up with a pretty yummy menu if I do say so myself.

One of her favorite things about Honduras was all the fresh fruit. So we have a large fruit tray in honor of that trip.

When she went to Washington DC she enjoyed Philly Cheesesteaks so we decided to have those. This was what felt like the trickiest thing to have enough to feed a crowd and to keep it warm for the 4 hours of the party. I used a combination of roasts and steaks and with tons of help from my brother-in-law got it all sliced up into little slivers. Then I fried it up with seasonings and put it in a roaster pan to stay warm. It was delicious! We also sauteed sweet peppers, onions and mushrooms together and they went in another crockpot. Then we made a cheese sauce that went in a third. We also had homemade hoagie buns. I found this recipe to use and it worked very well (even with my using 1/2 wholewheat flour).
I also made refried beans something she had learned to enjoy in Mexico.
We also had the fixings for Ham sandwiches something that Mara enjoys and that we have fairly often on road trips or picnics.


Trail mix is something we have quite often on backpacking, biking and canoe trips. It worked well for the party too.

We had Banana pops (another fun memory from Honduras) for dessert. That was a super nice dessert to make ahead of time and it was truly enjoyed by many. I made them basically like this link. Since the open house we enjoyed finishing off the leftover banana pops and have even made more. I am about to make another batch. It is a nice easy cool treat that is healthier than many.

To drink we served Horchata (enjoyed in Mexico) and iced Mint tea (a favorite from our foraging adventures around here).

We also had the fixings for s'mores, a common camping treat. It was really windy earlier in the day and because of the fire danger we didn't start the campfire until the party was officially over but we still have a nice group to enjoy the s'mores.

We had plenty of food but not a huge amount of leftovers and we have been able to enjoy the leftovers. So nothing really went to waste. Yea!


Tree base (a favorite game with kids around here) was played.

So was horseshoes.

Some also went kayaking, played Frisbee, looked at bunnies, played with the kitty, played music and sang and a lot of visiting went on. I believe a good time was had by all.
Mara was super blessed with all the gifts she received. I had fun using a suitcase for a place to put the cards.
The party was officially over at 7 pm but we had people here until after 10:30 (and then of course our overnight guests stayed even longer :-) ). That was super fun! Visiting and eating s'mores around the campfire was a great way to end the day.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mara's Graduation

We just celebrated the first highschool graduation for our children. Mara has learned far more already then I could teach her (I am so thankful that I don't have to know everything in order for my children to learn it!) and she is ready to spread her wings.

We are excited for the new adventures in store for her but it is pretty bittersweet too. She plans to head off to a mission training program in August (all the way down in Texas and then off to another country) and we will miss her terribly but I am so excited for what she will be learning and doing. 


But that isn't until August... meanwhile the graduation. 

  With homeschoolers a plan for graduation isn't all set in stone like those that go to public school. I guess just like the rest of our schooling for our children we make our own choices, we try to figure out what will work best for us and for our children.

  We discussed various options for graduation and we were leaning towards just an open house with a special time of prayer, a diploma presented and a few words said at the open house but some other friends with a graduate as well really liked the idea of having a group graduation. Mara liked the idea too and so we decided to go with that as well as having an open house for Mara.


 Just in case there are other homeschoolers out there looking for graduation ideas I thought I would share what all we did. I know I have enjoyed hearing what others are doing and how they made it personal to fit their child.

  The group graduation idea was presented to the homeschooling community to see if others wanted to join us. We only ended up with 3 this time. Both are friends that we have known for a number of years so that is neat. In future years with other children I could see this growing but we shall see.


 We are super blessed to have good photographers in our family and my sister Keren took all of Mara's pictures and her husband Benjamin edited them.

 There were many decisions to be made when it came to planning the graduation service. Things like - would they wear caps or gowns or not. What colors? And so on.... They did decide to wear caps and gowns and have the colors of black, royal blue and silver.

  For the ceremony a well known pianist from our community who was also one of the graduates piano teachers played some prelude music, "Pomp and Circumstance" and also played while we sang "The Star Spangled Banner". Andy, a graduates dad, gave the greeting and opening prayer and then my Dad led the national anthem.

Then all 3 graduates did something. Mara read/told a story that she had written. As you may notice her hat fell off during it so it is laying on the floor. :-)
Louisa played a song on the piano.

JJ gave a speech.

Then we parents took turns giving out diplomas and saying a few words to our graduates while a slide show that they had made showcasing pictures of themselves played on the wall above.
Then Ken introduced our special speaker, Tim Tinglestad. He had a very neat talk for the graduates (but for all of us) on walking in the fear of the Lord. The whole ceremony was a blessing as much of it was focused on honoring Jesus Christ and following Him.

 Then, Jason, the other dad gave the closing remarks and a closing prayer.

It lasted right around an hour. It was simple, fairly traditional, pretty emotional and it was a blessing to those who came. I know that Mara loved how it turned out as did all of our family. I also heard that over and over from guests who came.

   We were blessed by all who came to the graduation. Pretty much my whole family were able to come as well as Ken's parents and many friends. Mara's good friend Thomas, from Kansas, was able to come up as a surprise which was pretty fun. He is actually up here now for the summer staying with my sister and brother-in-law (his brother).


We had a display table for our graduates.  On Mara's we put some information about what she plans to do next in life. We displayed things she has made over the years, some things that are important to her (such as her Bible, ocarina, etc), a picture or so, some newspaper clippings and awards and such things like that.
Early on in the planning I had mentioned the idea of girls wearing white dresses in graduations around 100 years ago. Mara and Louisa liked that idea. Louisa bought a dress and we had the pattern and stuff to make one but didn't manage to get at it until around 18 hours before the graduation. But my sister Martha, Mara and I got it done. Okay the lining wasn't actually all properly sewn in but it was done enough to wear. It ended up being pretty amazing that Mara and Louisa's dresses were very close in style to each other.

We are pretty proud of our graduate.
We did decide to have a bit of a reception afterwards. We ordered a couple of cakes, got some M & Ms (the 3 families worked together to get everything done) and had coffee, lemonade and sweet tea. We also got balloons to decorate the tables and some of us had gotten together earlier to make some simple table centerpieces.  

 This is what the balloons were tied to. On the other side was their "class" verse - Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of good courage: do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."


 After it was over and most people (other than family) had left the kids started messing around and they were able to get all the table centerpieces (balloon weights and all) balanced on top of Mara's head.

 We also had an open house for Mara the next day. I had a lot of fun planning that and we had a ton of fun at it but I will have to tell you about that in my next post.







Friday, May 18, 2018

A Medieval Feast

On May 5th our homeschool co-op held a medieval feast. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work!) and I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of what we did with you. I wish I would have gotten a lot more pictures and that they were a lot better but this is what I have so here we go...

Preparations for the feast naturally started long before the feast was actually held (as it would have in those days as well). We had been studying the Middle Ages all year long and so we were learning about what would have happened as well as learning some medieval music and dance. We were also working on costumes, decorations and plans for food.

The day before the feast we all got together and worked on some final details. Here are a few pictures from that time:


A medieval feast would not be complete (we are sure) without  serving a peacock. Honestly we didn't pursue the idea of serving an actual peacock but we figured we could replicate the idea. One of the families donated a large turkey (which would not actually have been appropriate for the period) and we called that our peacock. In medieval times they would skin the peacock and cook it and then put the skin and feathers back on the cooked meat for serving at the feast -kind of gross, but whatever! We decided to make a paper mache peacock to go over our turkey for the feast. I made the paper mache part, Megan painted it and Autumn, Gracie and Megan made feathers for it and feathered it.
Chains ready to hold up our chandeliers. Various moms and children worked to get the decorating for the feast done. We decided to use the pew area of our church building for the dining hall so all of the heavy pews had to be moved. It was nice to have a bunch of teenagers for that job.
We had banners leftover from a play a few years ago so they were put into action for the decorating. Trumpets were made (from cardboard tubes) to hang some of the banners from.
It is amazing what some colorful banners will do to change the look of a room.

Stained glass windows were created by covered the windows with saran wrap and then gluing tissue paper onto the saran wrap. It made a very festive look. It was also a very fun job for some of the younger children to work on.
A grandma and a great aunt came to help with the making of Apple tarts/pies. The kids enjoyed using the apple slicers to help make the filling. I can testify that the end result was quite delicious. Elaine pictured with Helen and Martha did a tremendous amount of work to make sure that all the food ended up delicious.
 We were able to find tablecloths or a piece of cloth for every table and candles to go on each one. Emily sent the kids out to the woods to collect greenery and they came in with basically a whole tree. That's boys for you. She had them take it out again to cut into smaller pieces to use on the tables.

  You may notice our bread plates. Trenchers are actually the more authentic name. I don't know that ours turned out super authentic looking but bread trenchers were the common thing to use at feasts. Rebecca and I made 90 + trenchers for the feast. Kandi also brought along a gluten free substitute for those with allergies. You may also notice the knife and spoon but no fork. Forks weren't invented yet so we made all of our feast goers go without as well. There were no major complaints so that was good. :-) Don't bother to notice the cup and napkin. They were not authentic. We simply did not have enough authentic cups for that many people (and we supposed they would not want to share the way the would have in Medieval times) so we just went with cups and bowls that were at the church building. We should have had a basic and towel with a servant for each table instead of a napkin but our servants were also our nobility and so that didn't work so well.
Emily lighting candles - thankfully you can't see the unathentic tool that she is using to do so. :-) I found a way to use some of the olive oil jars that I have been saving. We wanted something to have water in at each table and didn't have pottery or silver pitchers as nice as that would have been. Mara had found in her research that green was the most common sort of glass in medieval times so I thought that would be perfect to use my olive oil jars for water jars.
Costumes are always fun in my opinion. That is not the opinion of everybody but most of the kids seemed to really enjoy them. Quite a few adults got into the costume wearing too. Some people had costumes already or sewed there own but a bunch of them needed help. Heather and I (with grateful help from some who offered up costumes to be used) worked to costume everybody. It was a big job but pretty fun. I really got into the sewing of shepherds hoods especially. They were so easy to make out of scraps, so quick to sew up and really could make you look like you were wearing a costume very quickly.
Elaine had gone to a fabric company near here and told them about what we were doing and they offered a bunch of fabric scraps and trims for free and then gave her larger pieces for a small amount. That made sewing even more fun. The outfits worn were not completely authentic by any means but we all gave the impression of being from medieval times anyway and it was fun.


We tried to get a picture of all who where in costume in front of the banquet all. They didn't all make it into the picture but it was close. There was a cardboard castle wall behind the people and underneath the draping tulle but it is well covered with people. :-)

And then the feast begins!

Here is the schedule and menu:
Parade of the Fancy Foods (so they could then be taken to the kitchen to be put on platters)
1st Entertainment:  “Summer is a Cummin In” performed by the children ages 7 and under.

1st Course

Split Pea Soup
Bread

2nd Entertainment:  “Be Thou My Vision” performed by Zithers Group
2nd Course
Pork                                       Blancmanger                      Carrots
Peacock                               Wortes                                 Beets
Pheasant                             Duck
                           
3rd Entertainment:  “Shiarazula Malazula" and "Greensleeves" performed by Musicians and Dancers

3rd Course
Apple Tart
Ginger Cookies

4th Entertainment:  “Hot Cross Buns” and “Te Deum” performed by Recorder Group
4th Course
Cheese
Nuts
Grapes

5th Entertainment:  “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming” performed by Singers

Beverages
Water
Grape juice

Barley water
Megan and Autumn carried the "peacock" around during the parade as it was largely their creation. I didn't get a good picture of them but at least you can see a full picture of the room with our chandeliers, the head table (that was partially empty much of the time as the teens that sat there were either performing or serving at the time) on the raised dais (stage) and the fireplace up in the corner.

Sorry for the blurry picture but this shows the showstopper food - the roasted pig. I had thought it would be really cool to roast a whole animal on a spit over a fire for this feast but as the time drew closer I know that I just couldn't manage to take that on. I had to much going on in my life and not enough experience (the lone experience being a duck when I was a teen - over 20 years ago). So I had given up on the idea but one of the dads in our group did not. He found an Amish family to get the whole pig from for a decent price and then another guy who said he would roast it for free. It was a Russian (I think) man who has roasted pigs many times but was excited to prepare it this time in the medieval style that he had learned from his grandpa 40 years ago. So a big thanks goes to Arnold for transporting the pig around (raw and cooked) and getting all the details figured out and a thanks to Victor for roasting it for us.
 I had always read about "the pig with an apple in it's mouth" before but had never seen it in person until now. I am excited that the kids got to have a real "feast" experience with the roasted pig. A bunch of the boys also tried eating pigs tail - Aaron had of course read about it and thought they should all try it.
The smaller children had bells and puppets to go along with "Summer is a Cummin In".
Angel wore the lovely hat that Megan had made for me for a different month. I was thankful that she was willing to wear it as I figured it would be far to impractical for me and all the work that I needed to do in the kitchen.

Megan and friends played "Be Thou My Vision" on zithers - an instrument that they learned for this feast. I though it was cool to find out that both the words and music to "Be Thou My Vision" were written in Medieval times (the words do sound like that) but they weren't combined until later.
Some of the feasters at our table. Everybody at our table - parents, grandparents and young children dressed in costume which was pretty fun. I loved that some of the grandparents even got into dressing up (even sewing their own costumes).
Our musicians for the Medieval dancing.  Funny story about this picture - when the musicians got up there I saw Aaron sit down on the edge of the stage and I figured he would be hard to see down there so I caught his eye and motioned for him to stand up so that I could get a good picture. He made some motions back at me but didn't move. I looked sternly at him and motioned him up again. He still wouldn't move so I gave up. I am glad I did because I found out later that he was struggling with not losing his pants. I had made pants for him with a drawstring but I guess the drawstring had gotten lost. I guess he decided it would be fine to just pull his pants up, put the tunic over top and then put a belt over the top of that which would hold everything up. Only problem was that it didn't work very well and at this point he was feeling like he could lose his pants at any time so he was generally holding them up when he moved around but he couldn't do that and play the mandolin at the same time. Anyway - thankfully he didn't lose his pants and all went fine.

I am personally not much into dancing (I don't like the sensuality that can go with so much of it) but when I looked into some of the medieval dancing it was actually pretty fun and not sensual and good exercise. We had the kids do a circle dance and a court dance (to Greensleeves) that included some curtsying and bowing.
Just another view of our banquet hall.
The head table. Most of our teenagers sat up here though some ended up not being able to come to the feast. Jonathan sat with them some but mostly he was working at video taping the whole thing so he was up in the sound booth.

Aaron sat at the end of the table where he was able to get up and blow the trumpet whenever anything needed to be announced. Ken kindly agreed to be the herald so whenever Aaron blew the trumpet Ken would get up and announce the next food course or the next performance. Another boy, Zachary, had planned to blow the trumpet but he got sick and was unable to come and so Aaron took his place. Aaron is not good on the trumpet but he can get a fair amount of sound out anyway.

Some lovely ladies at one of our smaller tables.
More lovely ladies (and one young gentleman).
More feast goers.
A bunch of young gentlemen or knights in training perhaps. The one on the left (front) was our jester for the evening.
Several kids had learned to play the recorder over the course of the school year (Mara worked to teach them) and they played a couple of songs.
Mary holding our table's platter of grapes, figs and cheese. There were two types of homemade goat cheese made by a couple of the moms and then some sharp cheddar.
We also enjoyed some nuts.
The final performance of the evening was some plain song singing. It is done accappella and without harmony and was common in that time.
Our family at the banquet. It was fun to have both sets of grandparents there. It would have been lovely to have more family come as well but we limited our guest list so that preparations wouldn't get overwhelming and so that we would have enough space. As it was we did have some extra space but that probably wouldn't have been the case if we could have all invited as many as we wanted to.

Funny story on my dress. I had been working on a dress for me out of a tan colored linen look material. I was embroidering flowers around the hem and it had been one of my last projects as I wanted to make sure that all the kids had clothes first. I took it with me to co-op the day before the feast in case I had time to work on the embroidering. No matter how much embroidering I got done I intended to wear it the next evening. But I couldn't find it. I made a special trip back to the church building to look for it and then I looked for it at home (just in case) and I looked all over the van. No dress. Thank-fully my sister Martha had sent down some dresses that we could use if we wanted to. I had parceled most of them out to other mothers but there were a couple left. So I tried them on and Ken thought I should wear the one above. It wasn't as authentic as the one I was making but it was made in generally a medieval style and I was thankful to have it. Of course as soon as the feast was over I found my dress - right in plain sight in the church office. I don't know how I missed it. I wondered if God somehow worked things out so that I did - telling me that I didn't have time for that anyway.
My dad as a knight. Emily had made this fun addition to our castle (with possibly some held from her mom (Mary).
Kate wearing another dress that my sister sent down - one that they had made for my niece Heidi.
I wished I would have gotten more pictures of the kids in their clothes - it felt like the evening passed in a flash. The dress above was one I remodeled from an adult sized formal dress with spaghetti straps. It was fun to rework it.
Mara was the most authentic person there. She made this wool dress by hand carefully studying medieval styles. Then she is wearing a linen underdress as well. All of it was sewn and embroidered by hand. She made all of her own buttons too. It has been a fun project for her. I made a little crown for her to wear and another Mom gave her a piece of cloth to wear for a "veil".
 Jackie, one of the moms made all of the yummy bread that we ate. There was a leftover loaf that I ended up getting to take home. I wanted to show my lovely tray that I had for some of the bread. Before the feast I had been keeping my eye out for any serving things that might work for our feast. I wanted to make things look as authentic as possible but I didn't want to spend much. My brother Luke had sent over a box of stuff after doing some garage cleaning. In it were 3 wooden things like this - the were cabinet door samples (I am sure something he got from his work at the lumber yard). I thought - those will work for bread plates! And so I washed them up and they worked just fine.

   So that was our feast. It was a lot of work but in my opinion totally worth it because of all the fun we had, the things we could experience and all the learning that went on.

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