Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fun and Busy times for our Family

I told you how last week we were missing Mara and Ken. Well on Friday of last week the other kids and I drove up to Flaming Pine Youth Camp to join in activities for a day, spend the night and bring Mara home. It had been a very wet and chilly week at camp but Mara had thoroughly enjoyed it. Friday night they had awards and Mara and many of the other campers got the Master Camper award. Mara was pretty pleased about that.

Christy (holding Kade) and Anna were up there too and I had fun visiting and spending time with them.

The Campground is beautiful and I enjoyed taking some pictures. On Saturday morning Christy and I and our kids went out on the lake in one of the row boats there at camp.

After a picnic lunch we headed home on rather back woods roads in Northern MN and we enjoyed looking at all the scenery.

We made it home at around 3 pm and Ken made it home from the Twin Cities just about 20 minutes after us.

Ken and Jonathan got right to work on the tree fort (with some help from some of the rest of us too). It is so nice to all be home together again!
I missed Mara quite a lot while she was gone at camp and realized some of the reasons why when she came back. Saturday evening I went down by my bed to find a pretty little arrangement of wild flowers on my night stand compliments of Mara. She loves beauty and loves to find ways to share it with others.
This week we have been busy picking berries (and then of course- the big task of cleaning and caring for them all!).

On Tuesday morning some friends were going early and I decided to join them. The older kids wanted to go too so I told them that would be fine as long as they got up and ready quickly when I touched their shoulder and told them it was time to go in the morning. At 6 am I quietly told them it was time and all 3 older ones (I didn't try to wake Megan at all, she was staying with Ken.) hopped out of bed and were ready to go in about 2 minutes. We left the house at 6:15 and were able to get home in time for Ken to be to work. We came home with 4 heaping ice cream pails full.

One of the fruits of our labor was a yummy (and good for you!) fresh strawberry pie. I will try to share the recipe later when I have more time.

Tuesday evening we went Raspberry picking at my parents and were able to get around 3 gallons. It was fun to pick together as a family though at the end the kids all drifter off and it was just Ken and I picking. The kids have started to become pretty good pickers, it is just that the draw of doing other things at Grandpa and Grandma's is pretty strong.

This week the boys had their last baseball games. They had a lot of fun at them, and I even enjoyed it some but I am sure glad it is over. I am so happy to be able to stay home most days again!

Life is still busy however, we have the County Fair starting next weekend. Ken has a booth for his Agency (which I will be helping him at), we have a Republican booth which we are helping to get ready and set up (and I will be overseeing volunteers but thank-fully other people will be manning it) and the kids and I are entering a bunch of stuff it the fair.

Along with the fair, music students, flower business, Church classes and everything that needs to be done in being a homemaker I had started to feel a little overwhelmed. I have been praying about it and I feel at peace but I also decided that I had better take a little break from blogging for a bit. So unless I get a bunch of extra time on my hands or decide I can't manage without writing, I will see you again sometime in August. :-) There are tons of projects I want to tell you about but it will have to wait until then!

Meanwhile I would love to hear what is going on in your homes and I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have been reading through (slowly and carefully, and rereading things over so I get them) first John lately and this section of scripture is one that "jumps out" at me every time.

"My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." 1 John 2:1-6

I find this section so comforting in the fact that I do sin but this tells me that Jesus Christ has covered my sins and yours too! I also see a challenge: I need to keep His commandments. That is something I must do! I have found many people who have said things like "It is Love that is important" (and indeed it is the greatest commandment) and those that find feelings important and I am not saying those aren't but this scripture points out to me that our relationship with God comes from our obedience to Him and His word. We can't accept the forgiveness but forget about the obedience. If you don't obey Him you don't really know Him.

What are your thoughts on these verses? I would really love to hear!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One of those days....

On Sunday Mara headed up North to camp with my sister Anna and her kids. We missed her around our house a lot! Sometimes she can be pretty quiet and spend most of her time reading but I came to realize how much I count on her for helping around the house.

On Tuesday evening Ken headed South to take some continuing education classes in the cities. Most times we go with him and stay at Anna's , but I had a wedding to do, Anna wasn't there anyway and the boys had baseball so we stayed home. We missed Ken a lot. I am so incredibly thank-ful that I am not a single mother (and I am so impressed with those of you that are able to do that job)! Whenever Ken is gone is certainly reminds me of how needed a Father and a Husband are in a home.

While Ken and Mara were away we were pretty busy, the boys had ball (and I had to take them to all of the games since Ken wasn't home), I had music lessons to teach, church class to prepare for and Wedding flowers to do plus trying to keep up with being a mother and homemaker. It was going okay but Thursday was one of those days.

I was working away on Flowers downstairs and the boys had been having fun working on a wood project in the garage and Megan was playing inside. I went upstairs and I thought I heard footsteps on top of the roof. It really sounded like that but I told myself, "No" there is no way that anybody would be up on the house. (We have a 2 story house and I couldn't imagine how or why anybody would be up there.) I thought the boys must have moved out to play on the deck and be stomping loudly and that is making it sound that way.

I checked the deck. Silent. No boys to be seen.

Then I hear them say something, it sounds like it is coming from outside Mara's second story window. I had better find out where the boys are quick.

I go out to the garage. Dark. Quiet. No boys. I open the back door of the garage and there they are. Jonathan is on the ground watching Aaron carefully climb down the snow scoops to the ground. They had climbed up the snow scoops to the garage roof and from there went on top of the house!

"We are supposed to play on the roof?!? We had no idea!"

Normally the boys are quite trustworthy. They are fairly responsible and don't get into lots of trouble. But they are boys and a discovery of a way to go on to the roof was just a little hard to pass up.

Later that day as I was again trying to get flowers done and they were supposed to be working on chores, I go upstairs to find in the hallway the piano bench with a stool balanced carefully on top and above that the attic door pushed up.

"You mean we aren't supposed to try to get in the attic? Why not?"

That evening left me pouring out my heart to God in desperate need of His help and grace. It was a clear reminder that my kids are not perfect and I am a long, long ways from being the person I need to be. I need God's help and grace or I will never make it! Thanks be to God that he generously provides both!

Friday, July 17, 2009

God knows...

Recently the boys discovered this baby bird in our yard. It had apparently tried to fly but not done such a great job. While we looked at it, his mother was jabbering away overhead so I hope after we left she took care of it.

The bird quickly reminded Mara and I of this verse:

Matthew 12:29-31
"Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? But not one of them falls to the ground without your Father knowing it. He even counts every hair on your head! So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."

In the economic times we are having now with many people losing jobs or struggling financially I thought this verse was especially relevant. We don't have to worry about anything, God takes care of the sparrows and He cares much more for you!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Project Time Tuesday

I have been having fun doing some sewing lately but I don't have any good pictures yet but I remember that I never shared this skirt that I re-did for Mara around a month ago.
It was actually a re-make of a "re-make" as I had made a t-shirt into a dress first (a couple of years ago) and now I cut it off and made it into a skirt and then added the ribbon and bow to it. Mara has really enjoyed the new look and so have I.
Next week I hope to tell you about some of my more recent projects! :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009


On Wednesday nights right now Emily and I have been having a blast doing a Kid's program called God's World Adventure Camp. We are trying to teach about different aspects of God while doing a lot of learning about the world He made. We have also been bringing in Bible stories that go along with the lesson.

This past Wednesday we talked about "God guides me. I will follow." I told about how God guided Abram after God told him to move but didn't tell him where he was going. I also taught from some verses that talk about God guiding us. Then Emily told about Monarch butterflies and how in the summer time they go to various parts of our nation and have babies and then when fall comes they all fly south to this one particular spot in Mexico. Scientists are perplexed as to how in the world they all know where to go (especially the babies who have never been there before) but it doesn't seem like a huge puzzle to us. God made them and He directs them.

As part of our program we have some monarch caterpillars that we are raising and watching turn into butterflies (Here is a post that explains how we have done it before). After they come out of the chrysalis we are hoping to tag them.

Some of the other fun things we did were:

:: Made a picture of the life cycle of a butterfly using fingerprints.

:: Watched a slide show with pictures of the monarchs and what they do and the place in Mexico.

:: Made yummy butterfly snacks. We used Ritz crackers and spread cream cheese on them (I planned on bringing peanut butter as another option but I forgot) and then we had all sorts of choices to use to make butterflies on them.

For bodies we had:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Raisins
  • Thick chives pieces

For wings we had:

  • Heart shaped cheese slices
  • Almond slices
  • Little lettuce leaves
  • Apple slices
  • Strawberry slices
  • Radish slices
  • Cucumber slices
  • Apricot slices

For antennae we had:

  • Chives
  • Carrot slivers

We also had sunflower seeds available for using.

Both kids and teachers had a lot of fun creating beautiful butterflies. It was a pretty healthy snack too! I got my idea for the snack here.

Some of the other things we had hoped to do but ran out of time were:

  • Give the kids a lightweight scarf (to be their wings) and then wrap them up in old connected computer paper (we have a bunch of it at the church building, where I read about this idea they used toilet paper but we had more computer paper on hand) like being in a chrysalis and then we would turn on music and they could slowly break out of their chrysalis and wave their wings to dry them off and then "fly"!
  • Give them juice in a cup that would represent a flower and then let them suck it out with a straw like butterflies suck nectar out of flowers. (The problem here was that I forgot the straws.)
  • Play a game where part of the kids would be butterflies and would have to get from one location (one side of the parking lot) to another without getting hit by a car, eaten by a bird or any of the other many things that can happen to butterflies while they are trying to migrate. (The car, bird etc would be other kids and they would tag the butterflies so that they wouldn't make it.)

We had lots of fun studying about butterflies and I hope this inspires you to enjoy learning about them more too!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Light, fellowship and forgiveness

"And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you,
that God is light,
and in Him there is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness,
we lie and do not practice the truth;
but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned , we make Him a liar,
and His word is not in us."
1 John 1:5-10
I find these verses moving every time I read them. Oh how thankful I am for God's light! I really want to continually walk in the light too!
Thank you God for your forgiveness and your cleansing!

Oh the things that Summer brings!

:: Wild flower bouquets picked lovingly by my children. We pretty much always have one on the table and sometimes there are about 5 or so of them!

:: Homemade jam made from berries (black raspberries from our trip) that the kids worked hard to pick.:: Music around the campfire. It isn't quite professional quality (He doesn't truly know how to play yet) but it is pretty sweet anyway!
::Fat old toads to enjoy. (Just for the record, it is the kids that like to hold them, not me so much.)
:: Produce from our garden and salads that are very, very fresh!
Psalm 92:1 & 2
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Thy name,
O Most High;
To declare Thy loving kindness in the morning,
And Thy faithfulness by night."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Energy report

It is Frugal Friday today and after a couple of weeks of not participating I thought it would be fun to get back in the action.

A few weeks ago I wrote about 50 ways to use less electricity. I thought I would give you an update on our progress and a couple new energy saving tricks I have learned.

Here is some of the goals we have accomplished:
  • Only turning the oven on once a week. We have been cooking our meals primarily on the stove top, campfire or in the crock pot. (I would love to say solar oven too but I haven't worked with that as much as I wanted to.) The times that I have turned the oven on, I used it to the maximum. The picture above is from the first weeks baking. I had the oven on for only 1 hour and 15 minutes and baked everything in the picture above plus another pizza that we ate for supper. (The pizza in the picture only had the crust baked as I was getting it ready to go in the freezer for another day.) I tried out putting stuff in while it was preheating and turning the oven off before the stuff was done. It worked fine except I left my sweet rolls in the oven to long after I had turned it off and they ended up a little to brown.
  • Hanging everything on the clothes line except Ken's dress shirts. I have only run the dryer for around 15 minutes each week. That has been a little challenging when we had a bunch of rainy days at first and then again when we came back from the reunion with a bunch of stuff that needed done but it has worked.
  • Taking shorter showers. I have definitely tried to speed up, I haven't timed them very often but the ones I did time I was able to take in only 3 and 4 minutes.
  • Turn off the lights. We have worked hard and stopping the habit of automatically turning on lights. Most of the time the light from the windows is just fine.
  • Turning off the computer. This still needs quite a lot of work, I have a tendency to forget, but I have made progress.
Then some of our "failures":
  • A couple of times I have decided to use the crock pot for supper but failed to get the stuff in it in time so I ended up cooking it the rest of the way on either the stove top or microwave. I don't think I saved much electricity on that one.
  • We did end up turning on the air conditioner for a couple of days. It had gotten pretty warm and very humid and our downstairs bathroom was not drying out and was having mold issues and also Ken threatened to spend evenings at his air conditioned office so the Air went on. Since then it has been actually chilly quite a bit and we have been tempted more to turn the heater on. :-)
My New Discoveries!
  • I was quite excited to discover a very simple and energy efficient way to cook rice. I discovered it quite by accident the other day. One morning a Malaysian friend of ours was coming over to help us cook Japanese food (as we were learning about Japan) and before I went to pick her up she asked my to put some sticky rice to soak. While I put it in the pan with water and set it on the stove and automatically turned it on. A couple of minutes later I discovered it boiling and I quickly turned it off and looked at it and it still looked like before so I figure Pei Lin would never know the difference. Well we headed off to get Pei Lin and pick up a few groceries and when we came back she asked where the rice was. I showed her and then when we looked at it, it was completely cooked. I had to confess after all, that I had turned the burner on for a tiny little bit. This week I tried it again but with brown rice (which is what we usually eat). I brought it to a boil, turned it off and let it sit for an hour. It was actually done more than I prefer, next time I want to experiment doing it for a little less time.
  • My other energy saver is for frying eggs. We eat fried eggs quite a bit and our whole family likes the yolks to be solid (nothing runny for us please!). I didn't used to cook them with a cover on but since that saves energy I have been trying to do that with pretty much everything lately. I discovered the eggs cook much quicker and I can turn off the burner when they are about 1/2 way done and they will just finish cooking on their own. I do use a cast iron skillet which I think helps to conserve the heat.
Those are some of the energy saving things that have been going on at our house. I would love to hear your favorite ways to use less electricity!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pounding on some flowers and leaves!

I had a lot of fun making this project last week. I transferred a bit of the beauty of leaves and flowers onto a piece of white muslin by pounding them with a hammer.
Here is how I did it.
1. choose a nice leaf or flower (I found it worked best to do just one thing at a time) and lay it on a flat board.
2. Lay your piece of cloth over top and then use your hammer and pound on the cloth over top of where the flower or leaf is. The color will start to come through the fabric and so you can see where it is done.
3. After one piece is done then lift up the cloth. You will quite likely have to scrape a little of the pulp off of the cloth. Then you can keep repeating with something else until you get the "picture" that you want.
4. Use the finished product for your desired project. I glued mine on the front of a notebook, It is a sample craft for one that we plan on doing with the kids in our Wednesday night class at church. I have also heard of using this sort of thing to make throw pillows. I think it could also be neat on a hand bag or something like that. I do not know how well it could be washed. I hope to try it sometime however.
Some additional tips:
  • I found it worked well to take some flowers apart and just lay the petals out in the shape you want.
  • Don't use really squishy/watery stems, leaves or flowers. They can make a big mess and not look like themselves after they are pounded.
  • Have fun and do some experimenting on sample fabric before making the finished product.

Monday, July 6, 2009

BPW Reunion

We got back at around 1:30 this morning from a reunion in North Western Illinois at Rock River Christian Camp. It was a reunion of 3 large families that have been friends now for 4 generations. The total number there was 91 but it could have been much larger if everyone would have come.
The picture above is the Petersen family. My mom is the 4th child (out of 9) in the Petersen family. The 9 children all married and produced 32 grandchildren. Many of the grandchildren (such as me) have married and we have produced 35 great grandchildren so far and expect many more in the future.
The next family is the Blanshan family. Bob and June Blanshan had 8 children. One died as a child but the 6 of the others married and had children and then many of the grandchildren have now produced great grandchildren. I am not sure of their total numbers but it is quite a few. (Many of them did not make it to the reunion either.)

The third family is the Williamsons. Their family looks small compared to the other two but 5 children isn't really small by today's standards. Dale and Jerri (now gone up to heaven) had 5 kids and I believe 9 grandchildren and also a few great grandchildren.

We had a great time at the reunion. Some of the things that make us enjoy being together are:
  • Our love of God! This is the first and foremost part that really ties us together. During the reunion there are times set aside for basically church services where different men share from God's word as well as times of worship and prayer.
  • Our love of music. This is fairly universal in all 3 families. Most everybody loves to sing and many of us bring instruments to have fun playing together too.
  • Playing games. This is always a big part of the reunion though I didn't do quite as much of it this year without Ken along.
  • Lots and lots of visiting!
  • Enjoying the kids together and having special activities for them.

Here are some more various snapshots of the reunion:

~An icebreaker game where we had to keep a balloon up in the air. First we could do it any way, then we had to stop using one hand, then we had to stop using either hand, then we couldn't' even use our arms, then we couldn't touch it at all (air power only). At the last point I was definitely out and I had fun watching everybody else.

My Sister Martha and her family came from North Carolina. Megan and Lars (who are less than a month apart in age) were very happy to see each other. They walked around hand in hand at least a couple of times.

One the 4th we planned a children's parade for all of the adults to watch. It was raining to it ended up being an indoor parade. The kids had fun dressing up, putting on tattoos and making various decorations and then throwing out candy for it.

This is the parade group afterwards. The babies in strollers were our floats. (The strollers got decorated with balloons and such.)

Most people stayed in cabins but some of us camped. Anna and Travis put their tent up in between a group of trees. It looked very picturesque so I got their picture with it.

We had a great time but it is lovely to be home as well, especially since we are back together with Ken.

How was your 4th?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Have a great Independence Day!

Well we are heading off into a busy weekend that won't include computer time. The kids and I will be enjoying hanging out with Family and Friends at a 3 family reunion and Ken is going to be busily in charge of a local TEA party. We are looking forward to our various activities and I hope your weekend is fun too.

Happy 4th of July to all of you!


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